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ERIC Number: EJ1146401
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2017
Pages: 11
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-0965-948X
The Nature of Psychology: Reflections on University Teachers' Experiences of Teaching Sensitive Topics
Hulme, Julie A.; Kitching, Helen J.
Psychology Teaching Review, v23 n1 p4-14 2017
This paper describes one aspect of a larger scale qualitative study conducted to investigate psychology-specific issues in learning and teaching in higher education. Participants included academic psychologists from across the career spectrum and from diverse UK universities. A semi-structured focus group methodology was employed, and results were analysed using thematic analysis. A key theme related to the nature of psychology, with a subtheme of teaching sensitive topics. For our purposes, we define "sensitive topics" as topics within the psychology curriculum that may elicit an emotional or distressed response amongst learners. Psychology engages students in academic study and assessment that is relevant to their own personal circumstances or that they can find upsetting. Participants noted particular challenges when teaching sensitive topics, but also observed the value of doing so for students and society more widely. We explore the perceptions of university teachers with regard to teaching sensitive topics in psychology, reflect on the implications within higher education, and by extrapolation, within pre-tertiary education. We close with recommendations for curriculum developers and educators within both sectors.
British Psychological Society, Division for Teachers & Researchers in Psychology. St Andrews House, 48 Princess Road East, Leicester, LE1 7DR, UK. Tel: +44-1162-529551; Fax: +44-1162-271314; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: United Kingdom
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A