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Developing psychological literacy: Student perceptions of graduate attributes


Correspondence: Jacquelyn Cranney, PhD, School of Psychology, University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW 2052, Australia. Email:


This cross-sectional study examined student perceptions of psychology graduate attributes (GA) and of psychological literacy (PL), which were expected and found to be significantly related. GA and PL ratings were moderately high, reflecting substantial awareness, perceived development, and perceived importance of these concepts. These perceptions varied as a function of degree programme major and year, and specialist units completed. The general pattern for overall group differences for most GAs, from highest to lowest ratings, was (1) psychology major students who had completed specialist units, (2) psychology major students who had not completed the cornerstone/foundational unit, and (3) non-major students (who had completed a few non-specialist psychology units). Where there were significant interactions, students in Condition 1 tended to give consistently higher ratings in all 3 years, while those in Condition 2 showed some increase across the years, and those in Condition 3 gave lower ratings in Year 3 than in earlier years. All students in Condition 1 indicated that they were aware of the term psychological literacy; this was not the case for the other students. Once PL was defined, however, all students rated this concept as important. The limitations of this study, as well as implications for teaching strategies such as cornerstone and capstone units, are considered.