At a Glance


  • Social sciences

Instructional Level

  • College & CEGEP


  • Introduction to Psychology

Tasks in Workflow

Social Plane(s)

  • Individual
  • Group
  • Whole Class

Type of Tasks

  • Collecting & seeking information
  • Discussing
  • Solving problems
  • Debating
  • Writing
  • Presenting

Technical Details

Class size

  • Small (20-49)


  • Single class period (< 90 mins)

Instructional Purpose

  • Application & knowledge building


In this activity students learn about how each of the 6 different schools of thought in psychology (behaviorist, structuralist, neuroscience, functionalist, psychoanalyst, and humanistic) approach the same general concepts.

In class, students by groups of two are assigned a perspective and then in double teams (two groups of two) they are assigned one general concept (ex. fear). Each group of two will research how their school of thought approaches their concept and prepare a written explanation that they will use to debate and explain that point of view to their counterparts. Once they have debated and explained each school of thought’s respective arguments, they come to a consensus as to which school of thought’s approach makes the most sense. A representative from each double group will then present this conclusion to the class and this feeds into a larger discussion on the goals of each school of thought.

Finally, each group of two hand in their written notes and then at home students complete a reflective assignment on the conclusions they had reached in their double groups.

Instructional Objectives

  • Students will be able to explain psychology’s six major schools of thoughts’ historical perspective and evolution
  • Students will be able to summarize the goals of each of the six major schools of thought
  • Students will develop teamwork and debating skills

Workflow & Materials


Activity Workflow

View on CourseFlow

Contributor's Notes

Selma Hamdami

Selma Hamdami

Dawson College, Montreal

  • Students get a deeper understanding of historical perspectives
  • Students learn to debate each other with facts
  • Students learn that the outcome of a debate is not necessarily winning (there is not always a right or wrong answer)
  • Students are able to see how, through each perspective, all are still touching on the same concepts/issues
  • It gets students used to what they will be seeing and dealing with in their field
  • When students do not know each other it is hard to debate at a deeper level due to shyness with each other
  • Time management is sometimes a challenge as it is hard sometimes to find the right moment to cut off group work and move on to later stages of the assignment
  • Seeing as the success of the debates rests greatly on their preparation, sometimes it is challenging since the students do not all prepare evenly
  • Have the students do exercises together beforehand so that they are more comfortable and familiar with each other by the time this activity is done
  • Try to reduce the level of competition between the students so that it is a safe environment for people to share ideas
  • It is important to prepare this activity well in advance and to support their learning with readings so that they are able to enter into the debate already informed

Applied Strategies



Leave a comment! Activities get better when we receive feedback and understand how they might be adapted and reused. Please let us know what you think after using this Activity, or if you have questions about how it might be used differently.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *