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Assessing Psychology Majors' Knowledge of Psychology Using the Auburn Psychology Term Test (APTT)




Brandt, Julie

Type of Degree





Student assessment is a pressing issue for educators. This research addresses the proposition that students who perform better in psychology classes do so because they learn psychological terms and concepts with greater precision. Forty-two participants, graduating seniors from 2 different psychology programs, completed the Auburn Psychology Term Test (APTT), a yes-no recognition test of psychology key terms. The Approaches to Studying Inventory (ASI), ACT, GPA, and written EVA? (Ecological Validity Assessment of psychological knowledge) were also collected to address the issue of construct validity. The ASI provides a measure of study habits via 2 variables: Reproduction and Meaning. A student with a Reproduction orientation to studying prefers clear-cut standards about the material they are required to learn, so that they may perform successfully on tests and achieve the grade or the degree they seek. Although not mutually exclusive, the Meaning orientation describes a student who approaches the educational process in order to use new knowledge in acquiring a deeper and more integrated understanding of his or her world. No differences between the 2 sample populations were found. Other important findings include APTT’s lack of correlation with psychology GPA, which reflects its usefulness as a tool that assesses something unique about the knowledge graduating seniors have obtained. APTT scores predicted greater EVA? scores, indicating greater quantity and quality of written application of psychology terms to psychological phenomenon in a cartoon. This provides more support for the assertion that the APTT is a highly useful assessment tool – performance on it correlates with performance on tasks that address 3 of the American Psychological Association’s guidelines for psychology major assessment. Additionally, the ability to correctly reject pseudo-terms is key to better performance on the APTT, and this ability correlated with higher ACT and lower Reproduction orientations to studying.