A psychology teacher is a professionally trained educator who specializes in instructing students on the concepts of psychology. If a psychology teacher earns a bachelor’s degree, he or she can instruct high school students, while teaching psychology at a college level requires a PhD. The range of psychological topics a teacher lectures on will generally depend on the age level of his or her students and the specialization of the class.
One of the most common duties of a psychology teacher is to teach students the introductory concepts of psychology. Many introductory psychology courses provide overviews of the seven main approaches to behavior: cognitive, behavioral, evolutionary, psychodynamic, sociocultural, biological, and humanistic theories. Teachers will generally also focus on scientific issues that relate to psychology, such as the functions of different areas of the brain and how they contribute to mental illnesses.
More advanced psychology classes may involve a psychology teacher focusing on the research methods used in psychological studies and experiments. He or she may teach students about the history of famous psychological experiments and their effect on the study of behavior. A teacher may also lecture about topics involving the ethics of research, such as the importance of unbiased observation and of not causing psychological trauma to participants in the name of research. Research-based psychology courses also generally involve coursework involving how to properly determine statistics.
A psychology teacher who teaches at a higher level may pick more specialized topics. A common specialized psychology class involves the study of abnormal psychology. Abnormal psychology is a category that generally includes mental disorders, such as personality disorders, depression and manic disorders, and drug or alcohol addictions.
Another common specialty psychology class a teacher can instruct on is developmental psychology. This subset of psychology typically focuses on the different psychological issues that occur during the entire lifespan, from the beginning stages of development to adolescence, middle age, and the elderly dealing with mortality. Psychology teachers who lecture on developmental psychology may also teach students about different parenting styles and how children learn most effectively at the different stages of their development.
Psychology teachers may also choose to center their classes on the effect of psychology on different social issues. Social psychology classes often focus on different communication styles and which ones work most effectively. These classes may also touch on topics like the psychological issues of gender or race, such as discussing the origins and effects of discrimination or researching how different genders or races are portrayed in the media and how that possibly influences people’s perspectives.