The Impact of Strengths-Based Assessment Education on Undergraduate Students’ Knowledge of Disorders and Mental Illness Stigma

Rhea L. Owens, Sean Heaslip, Meara Thombre

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: While abnormal psychology courses have traditionally focused on psychopathology, there are several benefits to adopting a strengths-based approach. Objective: This study examined the teaching of a strengths-based assessment approach (the DICE-PM Model), compared to teaching as usual, in an undergraduate abnormal psychology course. Method: Two sections of an abnormal psychology course were taught a strengths-based assessment approach while two sections were taught as usual. All participants completed measures of knowledge of psychological disorders and mental illness stigma at the beginning and end of the semester. Results: Both groups demonstrated significant improvements in knowledge of disorders and a significant decrease in mental illness stigma with the exception of one category assessed (recovery), generally with small effect sizes. Those in the strengths group, compared to the control, showed a significantly greater decrease in mental illness stigma involving anxiety related to others with mental illness, though also with a small effect. Conclusion: Findings suggest strengths-based assessment education does not compromise the instruction of psychological disorders and is equivalent to a traditional abnormal psychology course in reducing mental illness stigma. Teaching Implications: Such an approach may be beneficial early in students’ education to reduce mental illness stigma and promote comprehensive assessment practices.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalTeaching of Psychology
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2021.

Keywords

  • abnormal psychology
  • assets
  • positive psychology
  • psychopathology
  • strengths
  • teaching

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