The replication crisis has been an important topic of discussion in recent years for psychology researchers. However, are these discussions reaching students? It makes sense that they would because these students will one day be the up-and-coming researchers in the field.
A similar question was posed by researchers Chopik, Bremner, Defever, and Keller (2018). Through chatting with undergraduate instructors, they found that most instructors had a difficult time integrating topics related to the replication crisis into their lectures, or they weren’t sure where to start tackling such a topic in a way that would be digestible to their students. The researchers sought to produce a solution to this problem by developing a one-hour lecture with accompanying script that would detail the history of the replication crisis and potential treatments for it. (If you want to check out the lecture and script, click here.)
This lecture was tested in larger and smaller classroom settings at both research oriented and liberal arts schools. The week before and after hearing the lecture, students filled out surveys measuring their attitudes about the field of psychology and were asked to read and answer questions about a media article covering a finding with low replication rates. After hearing the lecture, students also answered a few comprehension questions.
They found that student attitudes toward the field were relatively stable. Additionally, they believed that reproducibility is a problem in psychology, but this problem is not specific to psychology. More interestingly, students reported that the amount of media attention a finding receives is not indicative of the reliability of those findings. The researchers concluded that the lecture was effective in conveying the major points surrounding the replication crisis. They also noted that this lecture would continue to be updated and tested as the discussion on reproducibility endures.
This article does a great job displaying a definite gap in student education (When students were surveyed before the lecture, only 31% had heard of the replication crisis!) and provides a fairly simple solution for instructors to fill it. If we want students to become competent researchers and smart consumers of science, it’s logical that this topic would be covered in upper division or research methods courses.
Chopik, W. J., Bremner, R. H., Defever, A. M., & Keller, V. N. (2018). How (and whether) to teach undergraduates about the replication crisis in psychological science. Teaching of Psychology, 45, 158-163.
Written by Jen Blush