Psychology and Education

Undergraduate

We offer two options within the Psychology and Education major: Option I: a 60 credit option that leads to teacher licensure in early childhood (PreK–2) or elementary (1–6) education. Option II: a 44 credit option that does not lead to teacher licensure. We also offer a minor in education with teacher licensure. The minor in education with teacher licensure provides another route to completing the coursework necessary for applying to Mount Holyoke’s teacher licensure program. There is no major in education.

Program Overview

If you are considering pursuing teacher licensure while an undergraduate at Mount Holyoke you will need to contact the Five College Teacher Licensure Coordinator for an appointment (preferably by the middle of your sophomore year), to review your options, the licensure requirements, and application procedures for acceptance into the licensure program of your choice. As a candidates for any of Mount Holyoke’s teacher education programs, you must complete a sequence of courses in the Psychology and Education Department prior to the spring semester of your senior year. The spring semester of your senior year will be devoted almost entirely to the practicum, which is a full-time student teaching assignment in an area school.

Several options are available to complete the teacher licensure course sequence in relation to your major or minor:

  • If you wish to work towards an early childhood or elementary license you have a choice of majors. You can major in psychology and education or, with careful selection of courses, any liberal arts major the College offers. Most students who major in something other than psychology and education elect to complete the education with teacher licensure minor because it provides the course work necessary for applying to Mount Holyoke’s teacher licensure programs.
  • If you wish to pursue a license in middle or secondary school subjects or certification in the arts, you will typically major in that subject area, with careful selection of courses to meet all licensure requirements.

We encourage you to visit the teacher licensure program and to contact the Teacher Licensure Coordinator for further information.

If you have already completed a bachelor's degree, the Master of Arts in Teaching program, through the Professional and Graduate Education division, offers a route towards licensure.

Alum Connections

Stories from Psychology and Education Alums

Lila Reid ’15 MFA Candidate in Dance

Marisol Fernandez ’19

she/her/hers

Our courses

In addition to a 100-level introduction to psychology and several seminars designed especially for first-year students, we offer upper-level courses in social psychology; personality and abnormal psychology; developmental and educational psychology; perception, cognition, and language; and biological bases of behavior. If you are interested in teaching, we offer seminars and practicums leading to teacher licensure. You are encouraged to undertake independent study projects and may discuss this option with any member of the department.

Selecting courses in your first year

If you are interested in the fields of psychology and/or education, you should begin your program by taking a 100 level course in psychology. We offer PSYCH-100 (an introductory course) both semesters.

After the 100 level course, you will move on to Statistics (Psychology 201) and then Research Methods (Psychology 200), either of which can be taken at the same time as other 200 level courses.

Courses and Requirements

Learning Goals

By participating in coursework and experiences constituting a major in Psychology and Education, students will acquire the following knowledge and skills:

  • Through introductory courses, students will gain a comprehensive overview of the field of psychology, the intersections among sub-fields, and the connections among theory, research, and practice (including both classic and cutting-edge questions and problems within the field).
  • Through core courses such as statistics and research methods, students will learn a variety of research approaches (both quantitative and qualitative), develop technological skills and facility with a variety of software, and become fluent in the ethical issues involved in human and non-human research.
  • Through intermediate and advanced courses, students will learn how to read primary sources of psychological and educational research (both contemporary and historical), and learn how to analyze underlying assumptions, apply theoretical frameworks, and evaluate the validity of empirical evidence.
  • From the curricular offerings, students will understand how psychological and educational questions and research may reflect gender, race, and social class biases and learn innovative ways of applying theory and research to critical social issues.
  • Through our unique focus on research and independent study, students will have opportunities to develop skills as articulate writers and speakers and will gain additional research experience through participation in research projects with distinguished department faculty.

Requirements for the Major in Psychology and Education

Two options are offered within the psychology and education major:

  • Option I: requires a minimum of 60 credits and leads toward teacher licensure in early childhood education (PreK–2) or elementary education (1–6)
  • Option II: requires a minimum of 44 credits and does not lead toward licensure

Option I: Leading to Teacher Licensure in Early Childhood or Elementary Education

A minimum of 60 credits (including the student teaching practicum in the senior year):

A 100-level psychology course4
PSYCH-201Statistics4
PSYCH-204Research Methods in Psychology4
PSYCH-230Developmental Psychology4
PSYCH-233Educational Psychology4
EDUC-205Social Justice in Education4
EDUC-263Teaching English Language Learners4
One course at the 200 or 300 level in Area D (perception, cognition, and language) or Area E (biological bases of behavior) of the psychology curriculum4
At least one course at the 200 or 300 level in psychology in Area A (social psychology) or Area B (personality and abnormal psychology) or Areas D or E (whichever area was not selected to complete the Area D or E requirement above)4
One Psychology laboratory at the 300 level, if not completed in meeting the Area requirements above 1,20-4
EDUC-300The Process of Teaching and Learning: Developing Literacy in Early Childhood and Elementary Schools4
EDUC-320Observing and Assisting in Inclusive Classrooms (junior or senior year)2
EDUC-325The Process of Teaching and Learning: Developing Math/Science/Technology Instruction and Curriculum4
EDUC-322Practicum Seminar on Teaching and Learning: Early Childhood and Elementary Education4
EDUC-323Student Teaching in Early Childhood and Elementary Schools10
Total Credits60-64
1

All lab courses have the word "Lab" or "Laboratory" as the first word of the course title. 

2

 EDUC-395 for lab credit may be substituted for the 300-level Psychology lab. If choosing the EDUC-395 for lab credit option, the project must include analysis of data (e.g., quantitative, qualitative, archival, biographical), using any empirical method (e.g., experiment, case study, interview) and must be presented orally to the department at the end of the semester. This option requires a minimum of 4 credits of EDUC-395.

Other Requirements

  • Distribution/General Education Courses. In addition, applicants for the early childhood (PreK-2) and elementary (1-6) licenses should plan their distribution courses so that they will fulfill general education requirements in math, humanities, and social sciences consistent with field of subject matter knowledge requirements designated by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education as appropriate for the early childhood and elementary licenses. See the appropriate program director or the teacher licensure coordinator for assistance in selecting this course work.
  • Lab in Early Social and Personality Development. Applicants for the early childhood license (PreK-2) must enroll in PSYCH-331. This course can be used to fulfill the requirement for a Psychology lab at the 300 level.

Additional Specifications

  • Students who declare a psychology and education major automatically fulfill the College's "outside the major" requirement.

Option II: Not Leading to Teacher Licensure

A minimum of 44 credits:

A 100-level psychology course4
PSYCH-201Statistics4
PSYCH-204Research Methods in Psychology4
PSYCH-230Developmental Psychology4
PSYCH-233Educational Psychology4
EDUC-205Social Justice in Education4
One additional course at the 200 or 300 level in Area D (perception, cognition, and language) or Area E (biological bases of behavior) of the psychology curriculum4
At least one course at the 200 or 300 level in psychology in Area A (social psychology) or Area B (personality and abnormal psychology) or Areas D or E (whichever area was not selected to complete the Area D or E requirement above)4
One Psychology laboratory course at the 300 level 1, 24
8 additional credits in psychology above the 100 level. These credits must be at the 300 level, unless 12 other 300-level credits were completed in meeting Area requirements 38
Total Credits44
1

 All lab courses have the word "Lab" or "Laboratory" as the first word of the course title.

2

If choosing EDUC-395 for lab credit, the project must include analysis of data (e.g. quantitative, qualitative, biographical), using any empirical method (e.g. experiment, case study, interview) and must be presented orally to the department at the end of the semester.  This option requires a minimum of 4 credits of EDUC-395.

3

300-level courses can be completed outside the psychology and education department if they are in a related field.

Additional Specifications

  • Students who declare a psychology and education major automatically fulfill the College's "outside the major" requirement.

Requirements for the Minor in Education

The minor in education (with teacher licensure) provides students with the course work necessary for applying to Mount Holyoke’s teacher licensure programs. Further information about teacher licensure programs and procedures for admittance into one of the programs is found within Teacher Licensure.

Students who elect the interdisciplinary major in psychology and education (Option I) complete the same education course sequence requirements as the education minor, but through completion of the psychology and education major.

Requirements for the Education Minor Specific to the Early Childhood and Elementary Teaching License With a Major in Any Discipline Other than Psychology and Education

For students pursuing early childhood or elementary licensure with a major in any discipline other than psychology and education the requirements are:

A minimum of 44 credits:

PSYCH-230Developmental Psychology4
PSYCH-233Educational Psychology4
EDUC-205Social Justice in Education4
EDUC-263Teaching English Language Learners4
EDUC-300The Process of Teaching and Learning: Developing Literacy in Early Childhood and Elementary Schools4
EDUC-320Observing and Assisting in Inclusive Classrooms2
EDUC-325The Process of Teaching and Learning: Developing Math/Science/Technology Instruction and Curriculum4
EDUC-322Practicum Seminar on Teaching and Learning: Early Childhood and Elementary Education4
EDUC-323Student Teaching in Early Childhood and Elementary Schools10
An additional course as required for your level:4
PSYCH-331 for early childhood (PreK–2) applicants
Total Credits44

Required Courses for the Education Minor Specific to Teaching Licenses in Middle or Secondary Education, Foreign Language, Dance, Music, Theater, or Visual Art

Students pursuing middle or secondary (as well as foreign language, dance, music, theater, or visual art) licensure must take a minimum of 40 credits:

PSYCH-230Developmental Psychology4
PSYCH-233Educational Psychology4
EDUC-205Social Justice in Education4
EDUC-263Teaching English Language Learners4
EDUC-320Observing and Assisting in Inclusive Classrooms2
EDUC-330The Process of Teaching and Learning in Secondary and Middle Schools4
EDUC-331Student Teaching in Secondary and Middle Schools10
EDUC-333Practicum Seminar on Teaching and Learning: Middle and Secondary Education4
A subject-specific methods of teaching course at one of the Five Colleges4
Total Credits40

Course Offerings

EDUC-205 Social Justice in Education

Fall. Credits: 4

When do we bring up issues of identity (i.e., race, class, gender, etc) in a classroom? What do teachers need to interrupt racism and other types of oppression? How do societal issues affect schools and communities? This course examines the historical, social, and legal underpinnings of social constructions and how perspectives on racism and other types of oppression have influenced lives within school communities. Topics include white privilege, white supremacy, and accountability, achievement and opportunity gaps, gender oppression, classism, and the impact of anti-oppressive pedagogies on multiple levels. Intersectionality of race and other identities will also be addressed. Essays, response papers, and final project are required.

Applies to requirement(s): Social Sciences; Multicultural Perspectives
Other Attribute(s): Community-Based Learning, Speaking-Intensive, Writing-Intensive
L. Reilly
Restrictions: Course limited to sophomores, juniors and seniors

EDUC-233 Educational Psychology

Fall. Credits: 4

What do we learn? How do we learn? Why do we learn? In this course, we will study issues of learning, teaching, and motivation that are central to educational psychology. We will explore the shifting paradigms within educational psychology, multiple subject matter areas, (dis)continuities between classroom and home cultures, students' prior experiences, teachers as learners, ethnic and gender identity in the classroom, and learning in out-of-school settings.

Crosslisted as: PSYCH-233
Applies to requirement(s): Social Sciences
B. Packard
Prereq: A 100-level psychology course or AP Psychology.

EDUC-263 Teaching English Language Learners

Fall. Credits: 4

This course addresses core competencies outlined in the Massachusetts Department of Education's English Language Learner certificate requirement. Readings in language acquisition theory, language learning and teaching, effective lesson design and assessment, Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol, and knowledge of intercultural learners are covered. Students will have experience developing and adapting lessons and curriculum to address the needs of students. All participants will have opportunities to connect theory and practice.

Applies to requirement(s): Meets No Distribution Requirement
Other Attribute(s): Community-Based Learning
J. Jacoby
Instructor permission required.
Advisory: Permission of instructor. Preference is given to students enrolled in the teacher licensure program.
Notes: Required field experience for licensure students

EDUC-267 Children's Literature for Educators

Fall. Credits: 4

This course introduces various genres of children's literature, including literature for adolescents; explores equity and social justice issues; and examines approaches to using literature in the preK-8 curriculum with an emphasis on social-emotional learning and making literature accessible to all learners. Students will read a variety of texts across genres and discuss ways to integrate literature into curriculum and learning as they expand their knowledge and appreciation of children's literature. Literature will be examined from multiple perspectives.

Applies to requirement(s): Meets No Distribution Requirement
L. Reilly
Instructor permission required.
Advisory: Preference given to juniors and seniors in the teacher licensure program.

EDUC-295 Independent Study

Fall and Spring. Credits: 1 - 4

The department
Instructor permission required.

EDUC-300 The Process of Teaching and Learning: Developing Literacy in Early Childhood and Elementary Schools

Spring. Credits: 4

Through a balanced and integrated approach students will learn to develop literacy in early childhood/elementary schools. Class members will learn about emergent literacy, diagnosing language needs, integrating phonics skills in a literature-based program, the teaching of process writing, children's fiction and nonfiction literature, and the use of portfolios for assessment. Course required for spring semester practicum students. Course evaluation is based on written and oral work done individually and in groups. Requires a prepracticum.

Applies to requirement(s): Meets No Distribution Requirement
Other Attribute(s): Community-Based Learning
L. Reilly
Instructor permission required.
Advisory: Preference given to EC/ELEM/English (5-12) licensure students in the junior year.

EDUC-320 Observing and Assisting in Inclusive Classrooms

Fall and Spring. Credits: 2

Students are expected to complete a supervised field experience full-time every day during January Intersession in an inclusive classroom in a school setting. Placements can be located within or outside of the Five College area. In addition to the field experience component, students attend three course meetings (detailed below). Reading and writing assignments focus on a survey of learning disabilities, descriptions of special education programs, understanding Individuals with Disabilities Education Act policies and placement options, interpreting Individualized Education Program plans, and planning curriculum for inclusive classrooms.

Applies to requirement(s): Meets No Distribution Requirement
S. Frenette, L. Reilly
Instructor permission required.
Prereq: One of the following: PSYCH-230, PSYCH-233, EDUC-205.
Advisory: This course is limited to seniors that have been accepted into the teacher licensure program. Permission to participate in prepracticum experience for credit is contingent upon attendance at the meetings in November. Consult Ms. Frenette in October for exact dates.
Notes: This course is required of all students pursuing teacher licensure. Graded on a credit/no credit basis. Three mandatory meetings (2 hours each): one in November, one in December, and one in February. Prepracticum: five days a week for three weeks in January.

EDUC-322 Practicum Seminar on Teaching and Learning: Early Childhood and Elementary Education

Spring. Credits: 4

This weekly seminar provides students with opportunities to examine curriculum development models, develop an integrated curriculum unit utilizing state and national content area standards, review researched based models of classroom management, and engage in dialogue with practicing teachers regarding numerous aspects of teaching and student learning. Additional topics covered include the arts in education, physical education, legal obligations of teachers, and home-school communication. As is the case in all pre-licensure programs, there is continued emphasis on addressing the needs of students with disabilities and English Language Learners.

Applies to requirement(s): Meets No Distribution Requirement
Other Attribute(s): Community-Based Learning, Speaking-Intensive, Writing-Intensive
S. Frenette
Instructor permission required.
Advisory: Limited to students accepted into the practicum year program

EDUC-323 Student Teaching in Early Childhood and Elementary Schools

Spring. Credits: 10

Students participate in full-time student teaching in early childhood and elementary classrooms for 12 weeks. During this semester-long field-based placement, students hone classroom management skills, implement an extended integrated curriculum unit, deliver lessons in all content areas, and develop a wide range of assessment skills. The practicum culminates in two weeks of Lead Teaching, during which the student is responsible for managing all aspects of the classroom program. Students work with classroom teachers and college supervisors to address Professional Teaching Standards as required by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts' Candidate Assessment of Performance.

Applies to requirement(s): Meets No Distribution Requirement
Other Attribute(s): Speaking-Intensive, Writing-Intensive
S. Frenette
Restrictions: This course is limited to seniors.
Instructor permission required.
Prereq: EDUC-300, EDUC-320, and EDUC-325.
Notes: Credit/no credit grading. 5 days a week for 12 weeks full-time student teaching in school site (includes Mount Holyoke College's spring break); limited to students accepted to the practicum year program.

EDUC-324 Observing and Assisting in Early Childhood and Elementary Settings

Fall and Spring. Credits: 1 - 2

Discussions and fieldwork provide the student with an opportunity to understand the classroom as a learning community. The tutorial includes several meetings focusing on the student's participant observations and assigned readings. Fieldwork includes a minimum of 20 hours on site, individually scheduled in early childhood (pre K-2) or elementary (1-6) settings. Assessment includes in-progress reports and a final project related to fieldwork. Course graded on a credit/no credit basis.

Applies to requirement(s): Meets No Distribution Requirement
Other Attribute(s): Community-Based Learning
S. Frenette
Instructor permission required.
Notes: 1 credit (20 hours of prepracticum); 2 credits (40 hours or more of prepracticum). Credit/no credit grading.

EDUC-325 The Process of Teaching and Learning: Developing Math/Science/Technology Instruction and Curriculum

Fall. Credits: 4

Students will learn about inquiry-based science/math curriculum and use of technology in PreK-6 classrooms. They will construct more extensive understandings of science/math instruction by developing lessons that implement the Massachusetts Frameworks incorporating the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics. Emphasis will be on learning diverse management and instructional practices, such as the use of manipulatives, problem solving, cooperative learning, and project-based learning. Students will also become more adept at developing effective approaches to using assessment to guide instruction. All participants will have opportunities to connect theory and practice.

Applies to requirement(s): Meets No Distribution Requirement
Other Attribute(s): Community-Based Learning, Speaking-Intensive, Writing-Intensive
L. Mattone
Instructor permission required.
Advisory: Preference given to students accepted in the practicum year program.

EDUC-330 The Process of Teaching and Learning in Secondary and Middle Schools

Fall. Credits: 4

This course addresses the question: what does teaching for understanding look like, and how can we plan for it? Informed by current research and effective teaching practice, students learn to plan and implement curricular units and lessons that engage adolescents, strengthen their literacy skills, and further their understanding of content. Topics include establishing a supportive classroom environment, designing equitable learning situations for students from diverse racial, ethnic, cultural and linguistic backgrounds as well as students with special needs, using digital media to enhance learning, and examining the connections between pedagogy and classroom management. All participants will have opportunities to connect theory and practice.

Applies to requirement(s): Meets No Distribution Requirement
Other Attribute(s): Community-Based Learning, Speaking-Intensive
R. Ambuter
Instructor permission required.
Advisory: Students wishing to gain experience for Teach for America (and other teacher residency programs), the Fulbright Scholars program, Science Buddies, etc. may enroll with permission of instructor. Required for all teacher candidates accepted into the middle and secondary licensure program.

EDUC-331 Student Teaching in Secondary and Middle Schools

Spring. Credits: 10

Students participate in full-time student teaching in middle or secondary classrooms for 12 weeks. During this semester-long field-based placement, students hone classroom management skills, design and implement curriculum, and develop a wide range of assessment skills. Students work with classroom teachers and college supervisors to address Professional Teaching Standards as required by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts' Candidate Assessment of Performance.

Applies to requirement(s): Meets No Distribution Requirement
J. Matos
Restrictions: This course is limited to seniors.
Instructor permission required.
Prereq: EDUC-320 and EDUC-330.
Notes: Credit/no credit grading. 5 days a week for 12 weeks; full-time student teaching in school sites (includes Mount Holyoke College's/Amherst College's spring break); students must apply for and be accepted into the practicum semester a year prior to the practicum.

EDUC-332 Observing and Assisting in Secondary and Middle School Educational Programs

Fall and Spring. Credits: 1 - 2

This is a fieldwork-based independent study course. During the fall and spring semesters it involves 20 to 40 hours of individually scheduled fieldwork in a secondary or middle-school classroom or educational program. Students keep a reflective journal, read relevant articles and essays, meet regularly with the instructor, and write a final report.

Applies to requirement(s): Meets No Distribution Requirement
Other Attribute(s): Community-Based Learning
J. Matos
Instructor permission required.
Notes: This course is graded on a credit/no credit basis.

EDUC-333 Practicum Seminar on Teaching and Learning: Middle and Secondary Education

Spring. Credits: 4

This weekly seminar provides students with opportunities to design and discuss case studies involving adolescents in middle and secondary school settings, review researched-based models of instruction, and classroom management, and engage in dialogue with professionals regarding numerous aspects of teaching and student learning. Additional topics covered include reviewing the legal obligations of teachers, addressing the needs of students with disabilities, English language learners, and developing effective communication between home and school.

Applies to requirement(s): Meets No Distribution Requirement
Other Attribute(s): Speaking-Intensive, Writing-Intensive
J. Matos
Instructor permission required.
Notes: Limited to seniors who have been accepted into the practicum year program. Section 02 is limited to Amherst College students who have been accepted into the practicum year program.

EDUC-395 Independent Study

Fall and Spring. Credits: 1 - 8

The department
Instructor permission required.

Contact Us

The Psychology & Education Department offers courses that cover developmental psychology, social psychology, personality & abnormal psychology, perception & cognition and bio bases of behavior. Options for teacher licensure in education are also offered.

Cheryl McGraw
  • Academic Department Coordinator

Next Steps

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