Civic engagement in the field of Psychology

Main Article Content

Tiffany Chenneville
Susan Toler
Vicki T Gaskin-Butler


The purpose of this article is to describe the importance of, and recommendations for how best to promote, civic engagement among undergraduate psychology majors. In this article, we will describe how the goals of civic engagement are consistent with the specific curricular goals of undergraduate psychology programs. We also will (a) review the empirical support for civic engagement in the field of psychology and describe the implications of this method for teaching students about diversity; (b) discuss some of the challenges associated with incorporating civic engagement in psychology courses as well as provide strategies for overcoming these challenges; (c) discuss some of the unique ethical issues related to civic engagement in the field of psychology; and (d) provide recommendations, using specific examples, for how to incorporate service-learning activities as a means of encouraging civic engagement in psychology courses.


Download data is not yet available.

Article Details

How to Cite
Chenneville, T., Toler, S., & Gaskin-Butler, V. T. (2012). Civic engagement in the field of Psychology. Journal of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 12(4), 58–75. Retrieved from


American Psychological Association. (n.d.). Civic engagement. Retrieved from

American Psychological Association Education Directorate (2009). Civic engagement and service-learning. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. Retrieved August 10, 2009, from

American Psychological Association. (2007). APA guidelines for the Undergraduate psychology major. Washington, DC: APA board of educational affairs task force on psychology major competencies. Retrieved from

American Psychological Association (2002). Ethical principles and code of conduct. Retrieved April 30, 2009 from

Barrow, F.H. (2008). Who is in charge of this: Service-learning as a context for youth empowerment through policy participation in after-school program. The Journal for Civic Commitment, 11. Retrieved February 18, 2009, from

Bella, R.N., Madsen, R., Sullivan, W., Swidler, A, & Tipton, S.M. (1985). Habits of the Heart: Individualism and Commitment in American Life. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Bringle, R.G., & Duffy, D.K. (2006). With Service in Mind: Concepts and Models for ServiceLearning in Psychology. Sterling, VA: Stylus Publishing.

Bringle, R.G., & Hatcher, J.A. (1996). Implementing service learning in higher education. The Journal of Higher Education, 67(2), 221-239.

Bulot, J.J., & Johnson, C.J. (2006). Rewards and costs of faculty involvement in intergenerational service-learning. Educational Gerontology, 32, 633-645.

Fenzel, L.M. (2001, April). Enhancing the benefits of service-learning in undergraduate psychology courses. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association, Seattle, WA.

Fish, S. (2003, May 16). Aim Low. Chronicles of Higher Education, p. C5.

Goodman, R.D., & West-Olatunji, C. A. (2009). Engaging students in outreach as an extension of advocacy to achieve praxis. The Journal for Civic Commitment, 12. Retrieved February 18, 2009, from

Grier-Reed, T., Detzner, D., Poch, R.K., & Staats, S. (2010). Toward multicultural community engagement. Academic Exchange Quarterly, 14(3). Retrieved from

Grimes, T.R. (1998, August). Creating opportunities for service-learning through the applied psychology course. Paper presented at the Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association, San Francisco, CA.

Handelsman, M.M., & Rosen, J.A.A. (1987). Informed consent of students: How much information is enough? Teaching of Psychology, 14 (2), 107-109.

Hurtado, S. (2007). Linking diversity with the educational and civic missions of higher education. The Review of Higher Education, 30(2), 185-196.

Hyde, J.S. (2007). Half the human experience: The psychology of women (7th ed.). Boston: Houghton Mifflin.

James, W. (1910, August). The moral equivalent of war. McClure’s Magazine, pp. 463-468.

Kenworthy-U’Ren, A. (2008). Creating paths forward for service elearning. In A. Dailey-Hebert, E. Donnelli-Sallee, & L.N. DiPadvoa-Stocks (Eds), Service-eLearning: Educating for Citizenship, (pp. 9-22). Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing.

Kretchmar, M.D. (2001). Service-learning in a general psychology class: Description, preliminary evaluation, and recommendations. Teaching of Psychology, 28(1), 5-10.

Laird, T. F. N., Engberg, M. E., Hurtado, S. (2005). Modeling accentuation effects: Enrolling in a diversity course and the importance of social action engagement. The Journal of Higher Education, 76(4), 448-476.

Laird, T. F. N., Engberg, M. E., & Hurtado, S. (2002). Modeling the effects of a diversity course on students’ preparation for a diverse democracy. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting for the Study of Higher Education. Sacramento, CA.

Long, A.B., Larsen, P., Hussey, L., & Travis, S.S. (2001). Organizing, managing, and evaluating service-learning projects. Educational Gerontology, 27, 3-21.

McDonald, T.W., Caso, R., & Fugit, D. (2005). Teaching and learning operant principles in animal shelters: Perspectives from faculty, students, and shelter staff. Journal of Instructional Psychology, 33(4), 310-321.

Mio, J.S., Barker, L.A., & Tumambing, J. (2009). Multicultural Psychology: Understanding our Diverse Communities (2nd ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill.

Nigro, G., & Wortham, S. (2006). Service-learning through action-research partnerships. In R.G. Bringle & D.K. Duffy (Eds), With Service in Mind: Concepts and Models for Service-Learning in Psychology, (pp. 161-170). Sterling, VA: Stylus Publishing.

Osborne, R.E., & Renick, O. (2006). Service-learning. In W. Buskist & S.F. Davis (Eds), Handbook of the Teaching of Psychology, (pp. 137-141). Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing.

Plante, T.G. (2009). Five ethical values to guide professional behavior. In T.G. Plante, Spiritual practices and psychotherapy: Thirteen tools for enhancing psychological health, (pp. 103-114). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Prentice, M. (2007). Service-learning and civic engagement. Academic Questions, 20 (2), 135145.

Rocheleau, J. (2004). Theoretical Roots of Service-Learning: Progressive Education and the Development of Citizenship. In B.W. Speck and S.L. Hoppe (Eds.), Service-learning: History, Theory, and Issues (pp. 3-21). Westport, CT: Praeger Publishers.

Rosenthal, G.T., McKnight, R.R., & Price, A.W. (2001). Who, what, how, and where the typical psychologist is…the Profession of Psychology scale. Journal of Instructional Psychology, 28 (4), 220-224.

Ward, K. (1996). Service-learning and student volunteerism: Reflections on institutional commitment. Michigan Journal of Community Service-learning, 3, 55-65.