Third International Conference on the Teaching of Psychology
Houcan Zhang,
School of Psychology,
Beijing Normal University,

Presentation (ppt)


Psychology is playing an ever more important role in human welfare along with societal development. This can be seen in many countries, especially in developing countries spurred by rapid social and economic development. Psychology as a science and profession is indispensable in all fields of human endeavor, and the teaching of psychology is expanding dramatically in scope and coverage in universities and schools, which can be seen particularly in China.

In the early 1950s, after the founding of the People’s Republic of China national construction was the main focus of society and basic scientific research in the life sciences was more or less neglected, some parts of psychology had been criticized as bourgeois ideology. No more department of psychology continued its existence in universities. However, psychology related to education necessary for teaching children and students was recognized by teachers and parents, thus some courses on psychology for college students majored in Education remained, including general psychology, developmental psychology and educational psychology. Psychology as a major discipline in the university curriculum started from early 1960, but during the turmoil of the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976) psychology was criticized again and totally abandoned.

When psychology was re-established in the early 1980s, there were only 5 psychology departments in China, the psychology courses taught were mainly basic scientific subjects. However, on entering the 21st century, there are now more than 120 psychology departments, and psychology is also taught in many universities for non-psychology major students, especially in Medical Schools and Schools of Organization and Management.

Regarding the teaching curriculum, besides the general basic courses, in order to meet social demand along with the rapid economic growth, more new courses are offered. One group relates to the physiological basis of the human mind and research methodology, for the purpose of strengthening students basic scientific foundation and to keep up with the global trend in the advancement of science. Courses such as multi-statistics and courses relating to the application of psychology in different fields are taught in some key universities; CAI and individualized education are added in the teaching of educational psychology. Organizational and managerial psychology, counseling psychology etc are also welcomed in the teaching curriculum. In addition, the teaching technology of psychology has changed, aside of laboratory work field studies and seminar discussions are stressed as well. As a consequence, psychology graduates have a high employment rate and are welcomed by all sectors of society. The teaching of psychology is becoming more and more important in the Chinese educational system, capacity building in teacher training and curriculum improvement are being emphasized. Social progress requires psychology and psychology promotes social progress. The teaching of psychology is closely linked to social progress.

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