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Translating Psychology from the Classroom to the Community

By Rachel Moore and Michael K. Scullin (Baylor University)

Hi all! We’re Rachel Moore (student) and Michael Scullin (professor), and we are teaming up to show you how to go from being a student of psychology to an ambassador of psychology.

Across two class assignments in 2016, Baylor University students translated psychological science from the classroom to the community. The students collectively produced 15 community outreach projects on sleep health and 19 “news” videos on human cognition. Below we interweave the professor’s view and student’s view on the two classroom assignments.

Community Outreach Project on Sleep Health

Professor Says:

As a sleep researcher, I spend a lot of hours in the lab (not sleeping), without direct contact with the families who might benefit from my research. Therefore, I asked the local Children’s Science Museum if my lab could create a “pop-up” exhibit. For an entire day, we held a booth of sleep science activities and taught kids and their families about sleep. It was a lot of fun. I think we learned as much from the families as they did from us.  Following this transformational experience, I challenged students in my Sleep class to create an innovative, community-based outreach project that promoted sleep awareness.

Student Says:

The community outreach project intimidated me! It extended beyond the comfortable bubble of homework and tests, and I feared the impending face-to-face interaction with strangers. In the beginning, I remember thinking I was in no position to interrupt people’s lives with some information I learned in classes—why would they want to listen to me?  Understanding that friends, family, other students, or strangers may exist on the receiving end of our work raised the stakes to convey information as clearly and effectively as I could. So we had to buckle down and ask ourselves, “What do we find important? Who should know this information? How will we share?”

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