This report on the status of the Educational Psychology Department will cover staffing, outreach, research and development thrusts, curriculum and some particular concerns about integration of the psychology program and staff with the primary and secondary programs.
While we have eleven staff involved in delivering courses in psychology, only three are carrying what could be called full teaching loads in psychology. Two are part-time; two have administrative responsibilities (one in another department), and three are cross-appointed to other departments, and one has a reduced load because of involvement in a special project. This makes for a very busy and richly diverse department, but also a staff that has minimal opportunity for contact with one another. It is difficult to get a sense of being a department, although we are working at this in several ways. We have had two workshops with David Hunt from OISE to work on team building and to assist us in the process of reviewing our psychology curriculum. We have also had seminars offered by members of the department to get to know each other in terms of our professional work and interests, and we also have invited others from outside the department to learn about their programs and interests and how we might respond as individuals and as a department (we have had Michael Fullan, Jim Fair, Michael Connelly, and Don Robertson speak to us). I propose to continue this process.
In terms of outreach, we have through several projects been in contact with other departments and agencies in the local community throughout the province. We have been involved with the Elementary Education programme through Julie Ellis and myself; Ruth Pike is involved with an evaluation of the Technical Studies programme and the TAP programme (which includes involvement with the York Region and Dufferin-Peel Separate School Boards); Conchita Tan-Willman and myself are involved through the PRIME Mentors Project with the Toronto Board and the Metro Separate School Board, involving 10 elementary schools; Ruth Pike is involved with the Lake Superior Board of Education on a learning skills project; Brian Durell is involved with Ron Ragsdale at OISE in a rather extensive study on the implementation of projects for the use of computers in the classroom; Ralph Dent is engaged in a comparative study of suicide among adolescent students in Sweden, England and Ontario; Rick Volpe is involved in collaborative study with Russ Fleming. These are few of the departments outreach thrusts.
Another outreach thrust in process is the formation of an advisory group to the department. We have approached several people who have expressed an interest in serving in this capacity and who could contribute positively to the deliberations of the department in an on-going review and evaluation of its program offerings. I have invited Dr. Ron Skippon, Chief Psychologist of the Toronto Board to act in this capacity; he has expressed interest in serving. I have also asked the Secondary Education Department to be represented at our departments meetings, as we hope also to have someone from the Elementary Education Department. Others who have been approached and are considering are Prof. Una Elliot for her knowledge of curriculum design. Others will be added from time to time as may be appropriate, perhaps someone from OISE. Carl Corter of ICS has also been invited to attend department meetings. By thus broadening the base of our deliberations I am hopeful that we can make the department's offerings in our teacher education program more innovative and better integrated.
The department's commitment to research and development is strong, as can be seen from the above description of the extent of our outreach and involvement in the field. In addition to those I have already mentioned, I should mention our involvement in the last CSSE Conference in Quebec City, in which five members of the department were involved in both organizing and making presentations. Also, special attention should be drawn to the agreement of affiliation between the Faculty and the PRIME Mentors of Canada for the Development of Creative Potential. The program was begun two years ago and has just finished its first full year of operation under special funding from the Ministry of Community and Social Services, the Ontario Ministry of Senior Citizens' Affairs, the Laidlaw Foundation and NORAM Capital Investments. Both Prof. Tan-Willman and I are involved in doing an evaluation of the program which we call and Impact Study, which has been funded by the government.
Other commitment to research and development is reflected in the fact that the Council's standing committee on Research and Development is co-chaired by two members of the psychology department (Profs. Julie Ellis and Norah Maier) and five of the seven members of the committee are also members of this department (Profs. Ruth Pike, Rick Volpe and Ralph Dent).
Another important thrust to which the members of the department are committed is a thorough review of our course offerings and an reconsideration of the place of psychology in teacher education. This review is still underway. We have conducted two surveys involving members of the department, students, other departments in the faculty and school personnel outside the Faculty. These surveys are being analyzed and have not yet been discussed by the department. Patterns do seem to be emerging which I am sure will deserve discussion with the rest of the faculty. It would be premature to suggest at this time what these patterns are, but we will do so as soon as practicable.
My report thus far leaves me with two concerns. While our outreach in the field is quite extensive, this is not matched with our involvement internally with the Elementary and Secondary Department programmes in any meaningfully integrative manner. I can several reasons for this. One difficulty is time. We are so busy elsewhere we have little time or energy for involvement in programme development within the Elementary and Secondary. The P/J and I/S practice teaching split, when a staff member of our department is involved in both programmes, makes it difficult to hold department meetings. Also, just have a member of the department teaching in both departments can make it almost forbidding to be involved in attending meetings or activities of each, let alone trying to find time for own departmental meetings. In addition there is a different kind of mind-set required in shifting from one department to the other, even if one is teaching the same course. It ends up not being the same course, but a different preparation.
Another concern of mine is the fact that so few members of the department are involved in the field based part of our faculty's
programme, although our outreach to the community is extensive.
Somehow our review of the program and the deliberations begun during Renewal 89 at the Briars will have to address this concern, if indeed it is a real concern at all. The unexpected large number of members of the faculty responding to an invitation to participate in open discussion of the place of psychology in teacher education at our meeting at the Briars leads me to hope that there is a climate welcoming our departments greater involvement in planning and delivering the programme offerings in Elementary and Secondary Education.
Another concern of mine is the location of the department in 703 Spadina. Being out of the mainstream of faculty traffic, so to speak, and facilities, imposes limitations on what we can do. I imagine that many contacts are lost and innovations in programme are curtailed because of the travelling that has to be done between the two buildings. We are short of space and that affects us as much as anyone in the building, if not in some instances more.
Also, our building is badly in need of sprucing up and renovation. This has its effect on morale and willingness of people to spend time at the faculty.
In summary, let me just say, I am impressed with the strength of our department and the extent of our contributions to the faculty in teaching, research and outreach. However, this is not to deny that there is room for improvement and I think it is fairly obvious where we need to look. I am confident that strategies are in place both within the department and within the faculty to strengthen and enrich our contributions and to increase our capacity for greater collegiality and cooperation.
November 21, 1989