Aiming to connect psychology with societal issues: are senior secondary Psychology curricula across Australia up to the task?

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


As we continue to grapple with the pandemic and complex societal issues, the extent to which Australian curriculum addresses its aim 'to develop active and informed citizens who are responsible global and local citizens' is under increasing spotlight. In this paper, we consider the aims within the published senior secondary school psychology curriculum policy documents across Australia. Document analysis suggests four key themes. Firstly, the goals of
‘learning psychology’, ‘learning about psychology and science practice’, and ‘doing psychology’, were evident in all curricula, however learning about nature and use of psychology was less frequent. Secondly, while there were
possibilities to ‘connect with societal issues’, these were not necessarily explicit.
Thirdly, there were limited opportunities for students to ‘learn about, through and from action to address complex issues’, such as a) grapple with ill-defined problems, individually and collectively, and b) critically reflect on their use of psychological knowledge and values with such decisions. Finally, interdisciplinary connections were overlooked. In sum, while
curricula may signal the need for students to apply psychological concepts to real-world contexts, when it comes to complex societal issues, students tend to remain positioned as onlookers rather than engaged, psychologically literature
citizens. A closer exploration of school psychology education is needed, including how the subject may create conditions to develop active and informed teaching and learning, fostering for more just, equitable and sustainable
future ways of life as recommended by UN’s Agenda 2030.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 8 Sept 2023
EventAustralian Psychology Learning and Teaching (AusPLAT) Conference 2023 - University of Tasmania, Hobart, Australia
Duration: 8 Sept 202310 Sept 2023
Conference number: 4th


ConferenceAustralian Psychology Learning and Teaching (AusPLAT) Conference 2023
Abbreviated titleAusPLAT 2023
Internet address


  • psychology education
  • psychology curriculum
  • curriculum policy
  • climate change
  • psychological literacy
  • societal issues

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