Psychology students get their five seconds of TikTok fame in IntroPsych TikTok competitions
MacIntroPsych is turning the nightly routine of scrolling through TikTok into an educational habit, with psychology-themed posts and TikTok competitions for IntroPsych students. To get students engaged in the online learning environment, the course has taken to social media to make course content fun and accessible.
As the course was originally taught in a blended learning format, IntroPsych was well-prepared for the shift to online learning. A major difficulty faced by the university in transitioning to an online learning environment was transferring in-person lectures and tutorial components to an online format.
“[This year, we saw] such an outpouring of support, love and gratitude for the work that we put in and that definitely made it all worth it. Not to mention, we saw a huge increase in enrollment in PSYCH 1XX3 compared to previous years — we have 100 additional students this semester. I really thought this year would be like the rest of 2020, a bit of a dumpster fire, but it ran better than I could have expected. The students were engaged, happy and funny,” said Dr. Cadieux.
In the past, IntroPsych held meme competitions on Twitter, where students sent in their best original psychology-related memes leading up to important examinations. The TikTok competitions emerged from the Twitter competitions, in a natural shift to the up-and-coming social media platform.
The transition to TikTok competitions was driven by the IntroPsych TAs, who turned their joke of becoming “TikTok famous” into a reality. They started the TikTok account in January 2020 but started posting videos more frequently in fall 2020. Now the most popular video on the IntroPsych TikTok account has surpassed 40,000 views.
“One of the awesome things about both the professors is they’re very much down to try anything that’s interesting or anything that the TAs are passionate about. The IntroPsych team isn’t afraid to have fun and incorporate learning into fun and vice versa and I think that’s what really helped set the foundation for this TikTok sphere that we made,” said Zoe Thompson, a fourth-year psychology, neuroscience and behaviour student in her second year as an IntroPsych TA.
The TAs were inspired by Darrion Nguyen, a TikTok creator who produces educational and accessible science content for students. The teaching team creates their own psychology-related videos based on difficult course concepts throughout the semester with the goal of making course content more digestible for students.
The next TikTok competition will be around the April exam period. To enter the TikTok competitions, students can let their creativity run wild and post any TikTok related to IntroPsych course content with the contest hashtags.
The top two entries are chosen by the number of likes, while there are two additional TAs’ choice runner-ups. UberEats gift cards are reserved as prizes for the top four entries.
“[Creating TikTok videos] is a form of elaborative rehearsal. It takes a lot of thought because you have to know something about pop culture, but you also have to know something about the concept that you’re teaching [to put] them together in a thoughtful way,” said IntroPsych professor Joseph Kim.
The IntroPsych team encourages students to make the most of their university experience and take responsibility for their learning in and outside of classes.
“The onus is on the instructor [to facilitate student engagement], but at the end of the day, it’s also up to the students to put in an effort and make an investment in their own learning,” said Kim.