A report: IUPsyS Work group on Education of Psychologists
Janak Pandey, Chair and member of the IUPsyS Executive Committee
Rainer K. Silbereisen, IUPyS President
When I took over the Presidency of IUPsyS, one of my main goals was to bring the Union into a position where it could offer its members, the science of psychology, and broader political audiences, valuable information on the pivotal research insights of the discipline and scientific guidelines for their utilization in promoting human welfare. I anticipated this being undertaken from a global perspective and achieved with the best possible experts. Within this general framework, we in IUPSyS saw the training and education of psychologists as particularly important for the quality our work, be it for the purpose of science or in the interest of the recipients of psychological services, policy makers, and the public. With this in mind, a group was formed under the leadership of Janak Pandey with the initial task of a comprehensive stocktaking of commonalities and differences across countries regarding issues such as content of academic programs, who studies psychology, and towards what ends. Janak is eminently qualified in this position as former Head of the UGC Centre of Excellence for Behavioral and Cognitive Sciences, and Coordinator of the Centre for Advanced Study in Psychology of Allahabad University, a National Fellow of the Indian Council of Social Science Research and currently Vice-Chancellor of the Central University of Bihar. The first results of an especially designed survey encouraged IUPsyS to apply at a science foundation for funding a workshop. This will enable us to take the work further and to discuss it against the backdrop of general issues of training and education with renowned international experts on programs and standards for psychology as a science and a profession. We want to bring the materials prepared for the workshop papers into a form that will lead hopefully to a resource book under the IUPsyS label. The book will also tackle the complex question of what frames or standards in terms of aims, content, duration, and certification academic programs in psychology should fulfil, wherever they are offered around the globe. Congratulations to Janak Pandey and his colleagues for what has been achieved so far, and what is already on the horizon.
Following the adoption of its Strategic Plan in 2008, the International Union of Psychological Science established a Work Group to focus on Education for Psychologists. Its terms of reference are:
- to consider the systems and structures of education for psychologists internationally;
- develop guides and standards for education and training in Psychology;
- to consider ways in which the work on the European Certificate in Psychology (EuroPsy) may be helpful in this task;
- to consider the feasibility of a more international curriculum and to take steps to develop this.
The Work Group has the following members: Janak Pandey (Chair and EC member), India; Allan Bernardo, Philippines; Jim Georgas (EC member), Greece; Silvia Koller, Brazil; Martin Pinquart, Germany; Boris Velichkovsky, Russia; Ann Watts (EC Member), South Africa. The Group was constituted in March 2009.
Each national society member of the IUPsyS was requested to nominate a representative to work with this committee, and representation was also invited from a number of international bodies. The following constitute the reference group: Duan Huang, China; William Gomes, Brazil; Pascal Hueget, France; Vindhya Undurti, India; Hyumnie Ahn, South Korea; A. Haringsma, Netherlands; Boris Velichkovsky, Russia; George Bishop, Singapore; Omar Khaleefa, Sudan; Guler Okman Fisek, Turkey; Gerry Mulhern, UK; Robert Murphy, United States; Hassan Kassim, Yemen; William Gabrenya, IACCP.
A survey of the status of Psychology Education
The Union recognizes that variations in the history and development of psychology across countries and regions mean that there is much variability nationally, and sometimes even within a nation, in issues related to the education of psychologists, to professional practice, to the recognition of psychology as a profession, and to regulatory mechanisms. A variety of activities for collecting information are in progress. To address its first goal, the Workgroup is eliciting information about the development and present state-of-the-art of psychology education at undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral levels.
The group initially suggested and planned to have a national status report of each member country. However due to low representation of the member countries and other factors, this proved not to be possible. Instead, one member of the group with expertise in educational issues worldwide, Martin Pinquart, led the development of a questionnaire to seek information on undergraduate, graduate and doctoral programs as well as on training for practice and the overall status of psychology within IUPsyS member countries. Group members and nominated representatives of national societies were invited to pilot and help refine a draft version of the questionnaire by completing it for their country and sending comments back to Martin. Thus the questionnaire has been piloted across a range of countries and adapted on the basis of the feedback received. Finally, the questionnaire was posted on the IUPsyS website for completion by its National Members.
Round Table session of Workgroup
The Work Group, together with a number of national representatives and members of the Union's Executive Committee, held a half-day round table meeting during the IAAP Congress in Melbourne, Australia in July 2010, under the auspices of the Union. The meeting was planned to facilitate communication with the national and regional representatives to identify important issues, and to consider the follow-up. Such an overview will facilitate the development of a comprehensive approach for raising the quality of psychology education and service.
Seventeen participants, representing 12 countries, were present: Oscar Barbarin (USA), Michel Denis (Honorary Life Member, France), Jim Georgas (EC member, member of the WG on Education, Greece), Nick Hammond (Executive officer IUPsyS, UK), Pascal Huguet (Secretary, France), Omar Khaleefa (Sudan), Silvia H. Koller (Brazil, member of the WG on Education), Pam Maras (EC member, UK), Gerry Mulhern (UK), Janak Pandey (Chair of the WG on Education, EC member, India), Anand Prakash (India), Pierre Ritchie (Secretary General, Canada), Rainer K. Silbereisen (President, Germany), Gonca Soygüt (EC member, Turkey), Annie Trapp (UK), Boris Velichkovsky (member of the WG Russia) and Ann Watts (EC member, member of the WG on Education, South Africa).
The questionnaire described above had been posted on the web several weeks before the Melbourne meeting. At the time of this Round Table meeting, 26 countries from all regions of the world had completed the questionnaire. Unfortunately, Martin Pinquart was unable to attend the round table meeting. On his behalf, IUPsyS President Rainer K. Silbereisen presented the preliminary data from the questionnaire based on those countries that had responded. Whilst there was not enough data to make international comparisons or to draw any solid conclusions, this first set of data does reveal interesting information. Most notably, although the 26 countries do represent different regions of the world, the basic psychology courses, such as developmental, personality, social, methods, statistics, within the undergraduate program prove to be quite similar across countries.
Discussion regarding the responses received identified that missing information from a number of countries was a major problem. For example, some items require careful and thorough inspection and the use of statistical information at the national level, which in many countries may not be available. Other questionnaire items deal with the estimated reputation of the levels of education both between and within countries. Because these items heavily rely on the raters' subjectivity, they should be interpreted with caution when analyzing related data. Finally, some questionnaire items may have a different meaning for different countries, which may add further complications. However, all participants in the meeting agreed that the questionnaire has many strong points and a few limitations that will be overcome.
Data collection through the survey is continuing and it is hoped that as many National Member countries as possible complete the questionnaire to enable reliable conclusions to be drawn. To encourage this, an extended deadline, to the end of 2010, was agreed. It was further agreed not to rely exclusively on the representatives of national societies, but to ask for the cooperation of university faculty in psychology in completing the questionnaire. The questionnaire is also being translated into Spanish in order to facilitate completion of the questionnaire in Hispanic-speaking member countries throughout the world. Martin Pinquart will lead the analysis of the survey data, with support from other members of the Group.
Through the questionnaire, and from other evidence, the Work Group will be able to focus on basic information such as the core competencies, nature, and structure of the training programs, and accreditation issues, as well as on the generic similarities and differences between countries regarding these points. This might offer a data-driven perspective on what is "fundamental psychological science, knowledge and practice" worldwide.
For the future, and on the basis of the evidence collected through the survey, it is planned to seek funding for a workshop to bring together international experts on psychology education, to explore the analyses of the findings with them and to consider the implications for psychology education and training. It is envisaged that an outcomes of the international workshop will be a book as well as an IUPsyS Symposium at the International Congress of Psychology in Cape Town in 2012.
Symposium at ICAP July 2010 Melbourne
In addition to the Round Table session, a symposium entitled Psychology Education, Training and Practice around the World, was held in Melbourne. The objectives were to present an overview of psychology education in different regions of the world, to assess the nature and extent of training imparted to prepare psychologists for practice, and to describe standards of education and training. The symposium provided an opportunity to raise awareness among the congress participants of the IUPsyS program.
Abstracts for the Symposium and details of presenters may be seen at: http://icap2010.eproceedings.com.au/11.2_Symposia.pdf (page 156).