Did you really think I meant …. that? Nope. I’m referring to paper assignments for my seminar for first-year college students, “How to Think Like a Psychologist.” POT refers to “Proof of Thinking.”
I want my students to learn how to think—critically, empirically, and ethically. To help students accomplish this goal, I assign POT papers rather than giving tests (except for the open-book final). POTs are 1-page papers that students write about each reading assignment they do. Here are my reasons for having students write POTS instead of taking tests:
First, one of my principles is that the best way to learn a skill is to practice it. Having students write on a regular basis gives them more practice than occasional tests. Second, writing is a good way to “learn by assessment”: Students get more immediate feedback about how they’re progressing in the course. They turn them in that day the readings are due. Then we have lots of options about how to use the papers. For example, students who wrote great papers can teach their colleagues.
The third reason for POT papers may be the most important: POTs change the way students read. It’s a much different experience to read while thinking, “How am I going to use these skills—what might a write about?” than to read while thinking, “How many pages left?” Or, “I’ll read this now, but I don’t really have to learn it for three weeks when the test comes.”
Here some of the major points on the assignment sheet I give to my students:
I recommend that students write POTS while not under the influence of POT. Even here in Colorado.
Mitch Handelsman is a professor of psychology at the University of Colorado Denver and the co-author (with Sharon Anderson) of Ethics for Psychotherapists and Counselors: A Proactive Approach (Wiley-Blackwell, 2010). He is also an associate editor of the two-volume APA Handbook of Ethics in Psychology (American Psychological Association, 2012).
© 2014 Mitchell M. Handelsman. All Rights Reserved