I don't want to spoil the party…

… but everything you know about psychology is wrong, according to Dr Phil Banyard's Annual Conference magical mystery tour through myths in psychology, education, and methods. Emma Davies reports.

Dr Banyard’s keynote in the student stream at the Annual Conference was an entertaining and thought-provoking call to action, which served to question our overreliance on the usual suspects in our teaching.

Portraying Milgram and Zimbardo as the ‘Two Ronnies’ of psychology, Banyard described how psychology students across the universe are inducted into our discipline via such studies, carefully crafting almost identical essays to all who have gone before them. Is it time for a revolution? Banyard (Nottingham Trent University) argues that there’s a place for ‘classics’, but we should question assumptions about their influence and status.

As teachers, we often feel as though we work eight days a week marking, preparing our lectures, or giving our students the help they need. However, putting yourself through this misery may be of little benefit when it comes to getting better student feedback. A study conducted by Dr Banyard and his colleagues suggests that it’s only love that matters. Feedback does not appear to be related to the quality of the learning experience that you deliver, but to how your students feel about you. Perhaps it is worth thinking of a few jokes, or handing out small amounts of money to get those ratings up!

Banyard also entertained us with evidence of brain activity shown on an image taken from a dead salmon, to illustrate the foibles of scanning methods. He argued that, although these techniques are here, there and everywhere, we should be wary of being impressed by fancy equipment. Could brain scanning be the new phrenology?

Despite the title of the talk, Dr Banyard’s overarching message to students was not to run for your life, and pick another subject, but to be sceptical and think for yourself when you learn about something new. As educators, we may also need to get back to basics and the value of our current teaching in order to move on from what we did yesterday, ensuring that the real excitement and value of psychology can be conveyed to our students. 

- As this year’s event was in Liverpool, which remains Beatles crazy, Emma Davies took up our challenge of shoehorning Beatles lyrics/song titles into the report to the left. How many can you spot? There’s a prize on offer… let us know on Twitter @psychmag.

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I dont have twitter but thought I'd share my findings. There are 15 Beatles songs in the report.