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THE SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY OF BOOK CONSERVATION




WHAT IS THE GENERATIONAL CURRICULUM?

This volume contains a selection of student reports from the Generational Curriculum in Social Psychology at the University of Hawaii, directed by Dr. Leon James and Dr. Diane Nahl. The Generational Curriculum is an experimental teaching resource. It Is intended to facilitate a learning environment which triggers prosoclal motivational behavior In students. Through it the instructors intend to promote a more concrete interest in course topics, as well as to arouse social comparison among students. The Generational Curriculum technique is used to stimulate modeling among students as they read each others' reports, both within and across semesters. It can also be used as a learning resource since students read of each others' examples of how the textbook topics are illustrated in their individual daily life experience. Two characteristics facilitate creation of a generational record from semester to semester:

1. The reports are on students' daily life experience, hence leading to sharing of peer attitudes.
2. The students are instructed to write to fellow students as an audience rather than to the instructor, thereby evoking the striving to teach a peer.

THE SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY OF ALTRUISTIC BOOK-HANDLING BEHAVIOR


The topic under study in the reports in this volume is "Altruism and Aid" (see E. Krupat Psychology is Social, 1982, Ch. 6). The issues raised by literature reviews and textbooks in social psychology center around research on bystander intervention: When do people come to each other's aid? Does urban crowding lead to hurnan apathy? Which appeals for conservation will be effective? Within this focus on studying what triggers prosocial behavior, the class was given an exercise to observe their own altruistic behavior towards library books.
On June 15, 1983 the class viewed the Hamilton Library book conservation slide tape program, kindly made available by Margie Smith, Head of Circulation.

The slide show "Preserving Books: Everybody's Business" was chosen because it represents an actual, salient, and relevant altruistic appeal being made to the students for conserving books in the UH libraries. The slide show presents many incorrect methods of handling books which gradually work to decrease their life span. The crux of this appeal to altruistic motives of students in the proper and careful handling of books, is that a person must be sensitive and responsive to the cumulative damage books incur. Unlike a glass object which breaks instantly when dropped, books break in many stages after several injuries. The psychological challenge in altruistic behavior towards books consists in overcoming erroneous habits, ignorance, and lax character traits.

BOOK CONSERVATION SLIDE SHOW: CLASSROOM INTERVENTION

The students were instructed in these topics through the following channel s:
-reading the recent research reported in Krupat
-listening to and taking notes on lectures
-discussing in dyads and triads the Good Samaritan story, bystander intervention in emergencies, doing favors, etc.
-doing a class exercise as described herein, and reporting their observations (samples in this volume)

Our use of the slide presentation differs from the use intended by the library in the following ways:
1. We screened it on a classroom wall using different equipment.
2. It was viewed in a unified group context with a joint focus.
3. The group was guided to study the content in relation to their own behavior.
4. The material was presented in the context of studying the dynamics of a social paychological topic: altruism & aid.
Immediately after viewing the program in the classroom the students were instructed to
1. Write down each new item of information received from the presentation.

2. Compare in writing their past and present library book-care behavior to the ideal library book conservation behavior presented.

3. Indicate the extent to which they plan to alter their current behavior.

4. Relate the content of the presentation and their own book-care behavior to the topic of altruism.

RESULTS
Students have identified specific behaviors in the following areas:

-changes in their awareness of how books should best be handled
-the extent to which they have accepted the recommended conservation criteria

-past assumptions they have held about the care of books

-conflicts they experience in handling library books
-selfish tendencies experienced in connection with books
-their own image of the library

-attitude changes resulting from exposure to the program in the context of a study of altruism in social psychology

-some inner dynamics of choosing altruistic behavior over selfish or irresponsible behavior

-social forces of laziness, responsibility, habitual courtesy, wanting to be helpful to unknown people, putting another's

interest ahead of one's own, taking the library for granted, etc.


In a psychology course on learning and motivation taught by Dr. James' students prepared Generational Curriculum reports for which the conservation slide show served as a stimulus. In this exercise students fill out at several different times a semantic differential instrument which helps them measure their attitudes towards books, libraries, librarians, desire for library skill improvement, frequency of use of libraries. In this self-observational training approach students can become aware of the dynamics of their own attitude change by observing the forces of resistance versus the forces of conscience.


Student Reports Using These Instructions

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