TEACHING PSYCHOLOGY TO STUDENTS WITH EXTENDED MATHEMATICAL OR PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION TRAINING
Recently psychology is included in curriculum for training students of any specialty. According to the Russian educational standards, almost all higher school students study psychology or certain aspects of its. Those students are supposed to acquire knowledge about the theoretical fundamentals of psychology, study history of psychology and major psychological theories. To analyze teaching psychology to students of non-psychological specialties, it is reasonable to focus on two kinds of them: future mathematicians (including students learning computer science and information technologies starting with deep and extended mathematical training) and future public administration officers.
Students of these two specialties are similar in certain ways in terms of teaching psychology. They have tense emotional state. A mathematical student’s training requires spending a lot of time for information assimilation, doing homework, and writing code of computer programs. Besides, the information to learn and remember is very special with its enormous volume and extreme strictness and exactness of mathematical laws, rules, and propositions. It leads to students’ chronic working overload, difficulties in social communication, somatic diseases, frequently seen intolerance towards people who cannot think so exactly and logically as mathematicians can, etc. Future public administration officers are expected to be exposed to stress while communicating especially intensively. They must solve great number of heterogeneous tasks. Authors` experience demonstrates that the most of students may need additional psychological knowledge and some of them may need assistance to avoid such difficulties and distorted socialization. The most important information for them is how to plan a day, to meet the daily routine, to keep working hard, to detect symptoms of emotional tension and to control frustration. This information can form a sufficient part of a psychology course.
Authors are confronted with difficulties that pure theoretical information without extended comments on specific practical applications is met by students of the both mentioned specialties as plainly useless and unnecessary. As a result, the students try to get only practical recommendations on optimal and effective behavior and are unready to accept the reasoning beyond these recommendations.
Psychological testing should be used carefully for both of these categories, but because of different reasons. Mathematicians perceive psychological tests in an atypical way. They want to respond to extremely accurate and clear sentences or questions. If they do not like a test they begin giving wrong or sporadic answers and thus undermine testing procedure and results. When teaching psychology to mathematicians, a lecturer should apply psychological instruments that fit expectations and high intelligence level of this group. As for public administration officers, improperly trained these students fail to apply psychological tests correctly. As a consequence, such approach forms wrong, lop-sided, misleading impression about scope of testing technique applications.
There is another feature that should be taken into account when working with mathematicians. It is clearness of definitions. While a concept remains undefined, mathematical students will either keep asking about the definition or begin disregarding the subject. To prevent it, any new notion should be introduced with its definition.
© 2008 Victor Karandashev