This semester I revamped my courses in Advanced Social Psychology and Judgment and Decision Making at the psychology UG program at University of Hong Kong to focus on "Doing more good; Doing good better", using EA as the baseline paradigm to exploring psychological science in social psychology and judgment and decision making.
You can see the syllabi here:
In their first task, submitted this week, the students collaboratively wrote first draft of books. The books are open for viewing and commenting, ad you're VERY welcome to browse and give feedback.
The way this course is structured followed the Problem-based Learning approach, where the focus is the student's journey of learning, discovering, and figuring something out. Therefore, all tasks have two stages, the first allows students to receive feedback and then to improve and resubmit an updated version at the end of the semester.
Keep in mind: 1) This is a 1st draft for feedback, final submission will be end of semester. 2) This is the 1st year I'm running this. Students (and I) still figuring things out. We'll improve with time. 3) These are UGs. Please be gentle, kind, & constructive, try & remember your days as UG.
The two books are available in the following links:
- Effective Altruism using Psychological Science collaborative book
- Influence, persuasion, and behavioral change for doing good collaborative book
To aid students in their journey, I also started two related resources, which I'll keep updating as the students indicate what they're missing:
- Effective Altruism resources collaborative guide.
- Evaluating scientific evidence collaborative guide.
What did students cover?
In the EA psychological science book:
- Maximizing good through career choice
- Animal Welfare
- Climate change
- Existential threats
- Global Poverty
- Emerging Technologies
- Evaluations of charity impact/effectiveness
- Addressing impediments to charitable giving
In the Behavioral Change for Good book:
- Social proof and social norms
- Pledges and pre-commitment: Social and public
- Persuasion techniques: DITF, FITD, Low-ball
- Goal reference points (+Motivation)
Their next tasks will build on these foundations to make this more practical:
- Social Psychology: Evaluating charities in the different domains, to see whether there's something we can contribute to these directions with social psychological science.
- JDM: Designing an intervention - applying findings to social challenges - Donations and charitable giving.
The final task will be about overcome impediments to charitable giving and a competition of interventions with real pre-registered data collection comparing the different interventions by the teams.
All my teaching materials are shared publicly, lectures included, so you're welcome to use those as you wish (CC-by): https://osf.io/cyvtb/
The lectures this year are focused on leveraging the Effective Altruism paradigm, especially in the Social Psychology course, and you can watch some of the interaction and download the slides content in the link above or on the YouTube channel (which has chapters that are easier to browse).
We would like to learn from the EA community.
You're welcome to have a look at our tasks, syllabi, and lectures, browse and comment on the first draft books they submitted this week , and give suggestions and feedback on those and our upcoming tasks. This is all a learning journey, and we're testing things out.
Hi Gilad, looks like a fascinating course; thanks very much for sharing your teaching materials so generously.
I may borrow some of your ideas next time I teach my 'Psychology of Effective Altruism' course. (Syllabus here).
I'll be very curious to hear how your U. Hong Kong students react to the EA material. I taught an online 'Decision Making' course last year for Chinese U. Hong Kong - Shenzhen (CUHK-SZ), which included a fair amount of EA material on X risks and longtermism, and was very impressed with the students' open-mindedness and interest in these issues.
I wondered if Chinese culture tends to instill more of a longtermist, multi-generational perspective. Or maybe students had just seen lots of science fiction movies depicting X risks, such as Shanghai Fortress (2019) or The Wandering Earth (2019).
Thanks, Geoffrey, I actually saw your syllabus on the EA forums and used some of that, thanks for sharing that with the community, it helped me think more about what I wanted to do with our course and inspired some of the directions. Please do feel free to build on that. Would be happy to see what you come up with, if you're willing to share back.
Actually, all of the lectures are recorded (link), though most times you can't really hear the students very well because they don't have a mic so I sometimes cut that out, but you can definitely hear my questions and reactions to what they're saying. It can give you an indication of the kind of interaction we have in the classroom.
Doing classroom engagement and discussion is a bit tricky in our cultural context, it has been easier in other places I've been to. It takes a while for the students to feel comfortable with the possibility of making a mistake or questioning the professor, but usually somewhere mid-semester some key students overcome that and then class engagement become a bit easier.
I don't know about other cultural influences, but what I can say for sure is that in term of ability and execution the students I've taught at HKU are some of the most remarkable students I've encountered. What we've achieved together in the last 4 years is nothing short of remarkable, they have exceeded my expectations in every step of the way (example of us completing 120 replications and extensions of classic findings in JDM: https://mgto.org/core-team/). I am hoping that we'd be able to do similar things with the EA directions, we'll know by the end of the semester if this realigned paid off and what students felt about it. Change and uncertainty are always a bit difficult with students who sometimes want a clear idea of how to get a high grade and the investment involved, so I'm hoping there are enough side-benefits to what we're doing here to compensate for having less of that with me this semester as we figure things out together.
Thanks for your detailed reply. The CORE Team project looks fascinating; I'll email to follow up about it.
Your impressions of Chinese students match mine. My students never spoke up much in class, but they were avid contributors to my weekly online discussion forums, where they seemed to feel freer to connect the course material to their other courses, their own lives, current events, and Chinese pop culture (which was very educational for me!). (It helped that contributions to the discussion forum determined 30% of their course grade.)
Thank you for sharing this Gilad, I'll get back to you with some links and suggestions tomorrow.
Hey Gilad, I had a very quick look at what you shared. These all seem like good courses with good teaching materials and projects. The student chapters seemed interesting from a quick scan, but I don't have time for feedback.
My only quick feedback is that I wonder if it would be good to make explicit that the student groups could post their chapters on the EA forum? Some could like that people will engage with the material and some of the materials could be of interest to the wider community and attract some comments.
I imagine that you already know about the EA Behavioural Science Newsletter and see that you are in the public directory (I didn't initially realise you were in the directory, hence the comment above).
Thank you for taking the time to have a look and go through things. No need for in-depth feedback, the two books are over 400 pages long :)
Yes, I've been trying to catch up with the behavioral science/JDM/Social psychology folks who do EA, and have signed up to almost everything I saw on the topic. I am learning a lot from that.
We will definitely make an official preprint and share everything with the community. I would rather invite other to comment on the Google Docs than post permanent copies on the EA forums, because this is all work in process and we are figuring things out throughout the semester. Once they submit their final copies, I'll try and make that a bit more official with a new post, and will then aim to make this into more of a community effort inviting the EA members to become our collaborators/coauthors, which is our usual way of doing things.