ECP Corner

This blog contains submissions from STP's Early Career Psychologists (ECP) Committee to the ECP Corner column in STP News from January 2020 to the present.  The ECP Corner first appeared in the November 2016 issue of the newsletter, which was then called ToPNEWS-Online.  You can read ECP Corner columns from November 2016 through December 2019 in past issues of ToPNEWS-Online here.

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For their monthly column, the ECP Committee wants to research and answer questions that mean the most to you. If you have a question, fill out this simple form and your question may be featured in an upcoming column.

  • 10 Sep 2020 12:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Dear ECPs,

    It’s only September and I’m already getting requests for letters of recommendation! Do you have any tips for how to do this effectively and efficiently while balancing my other professional responsibilities?

    Sincerely,

    Mastering LORs

    Dear Mastering LORs,

    Despite the fact that letters of recommendation for graduate school, grants, and awards are a major part of the jobs of many teachers, this is one of the many skills that we often don’t receive formal training in. We’re so glad you asked, because we have a few tips to offer to make this process both simpler and more effective, for you and your students.

    Tip 1: Find some exemplars

    Often, by the time we are asked to write our first letters of recommendation, we have not actually seen one. This makes sense, of course, considering that most letters that were written for us were confidential. Just like any style of writing, letters of recommendation have norms and conventions. Seek out some examples. Specifically, ask a colleague if you can see some letters they have written, especially if they were for similar purposes (i.e., what does a letter for a PhD program in psychology look like? An MA? Med school?). Drew Appleby and Karen Appleby, psychologists who have researched and written on the graduate school application process for years, offers specific examples for various skills in these two articles: Letters of Recommendation for Graduate School, Six Paragons and Letters of Recommendation for Graduate School, The Final Six Paragons. And of course you can search the Internet, though in our experience, letters from similar others for similar purposes are more helpful.

    Tip 2: Provide information to your students about the process, ahead of time if possible

    The more you can organize and filter the requests from students up front, the better. A lot of students don’t know norms and rules around requesting letters or what information to provide, so help them out! Consider including this information on your personal webpage or making a resource that can be shared with course sites. If you’re not sure what to advise, you’re in luck! We have some thoughtful and generous colleagues who have shared experience and research-based advice framed for students online.

    “A Quick Guide for Requesting Letters of Recommendation” from Dana Dunn

    “How to Request a Strong Letter of Recommendation”  from Drew Appleby and Karen Appleby (Molly’s personal favorite)

    “Kisses of Death in the Graduate School Application Process” from Drew Appleby and Karen Appleby

    In addition, if you have specific guidelines for what qualifies students for a letter from you (e.g., 1 year of being a research or teaching assistant; at least 3 courses; working together in at least 2 contexts, like RA and student), provide this information up front.

    Tip 3: Collect additional information from the student to help you write a strong letter

    In addition to information about the schools/programs/deadlines, consider what else would help you write the strongest letter you can. I always have students fill out the Strong Letter of Rec Form from Appleby and this has transformed my letter writing. You might also request a transcript, a writing sample, a draft of the personal statement, a resume or CV, a statement of goals, etc. Bonus tip: Collect all of this information in an online form like Google Forms or Microsoft Forms to make it easier to find later!

    Tip 4: Be thoughtful and selective with the language that you use

    It may not surprise you to learn that subtle biases may shape the way you discuss your students’ qualifications based on race or gender, and this may unintentionally impact the way these students are viewed. Luckily, there are resources out there to help you select your words carefully!

    “Avoid gender bias in reference writing” from the University of Arizona Commission on the Status of Women

    “Avoid racial bias in letter of reference writing” from Asmeret Asefaw Berhe and Sora Kim, UC Merced

    Tip 5: It’s okay to say “No”

    Finally, you are totally allowed to be selective or strategic with the number or types of letters you write. You may find yourself overwhelmed with the sheer number of requests you receive, and need to kindly turn down requests - protect your time! You may also receive requests for letters you do not feel comfortable writing, either because you cannot write a strong letter based on student qualifications or you do not know the student well enough to write a letter. Either way, be honest, kind, and firm with explaining your reasons to students. In my experience, students don’t realize that a letter from someone who does not know them well may actually hurt rather than help their applications. They simply ask the person they are most comfortable with. After I explain this, they thank me for providing this insight and usually have other mentors to ask instead. You, of course, need to be mindful of department norms to make sure you are contributing to the overall load (i.e., how many letters do most people write? what decision rules do others use for saying yes/no?), but please don’t feel like you have to say yes to every single request, especially if your letter will not prove helpful anyway.

    We hope these tips help you feel more confident going into recommendation letter season, and if you have any more questions, please come see us on Twitter or Facebook and we’d be glad to help.

    Your STP Early Career Psychologists Committee

    Karenna Malavanti, Ph.D.

    Albee Mendoza, Ph.D.

    Molly Metz, Ph.D.

    Janet Peters, Ph.D.

    Daniel Storage, Ph.D.


  • 10 Aug 2020 12:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Your ECP committee is sharing a snapshot of what it has been like to be an ECP during the COVID-19 pandemic.

    All ECP committee members are early career professionals. We have navigated changes in teaching delivery this spring and are spending our summers planning for an uncertain future while also trying to plan our promotion portfolios, etc. This is our 2020 teaching time capsule.

    Karenna: Like many ECPs across the nation, I had to quickly switch delivery for 4 classes during an extended spring break. As you all know, this is not an adequate amount of time to prepare online course delivery for 3 different preps, and, to be honest, it was a bit overwhelming! However, since these were classes I had already taught before, I felt that I could (at the very least) support my students through this sudden shift to online. I focused on organizing my modules with engaging presentations, YouTube videos, demonstrations, and mental health resources. While I don’t think my Spring 2020 courses were “model” online courses, I felt that students were well-connected to each other and myself, and they learned what I wanted them to learn. For the summer, I taught two online courses: one synchronous and one asynchronous. I felt much better prepared when I had about 4 weeks to prep for online course delivery. Just as in face-to-face teaching, I felt that I learned so much by prepping a new course (even though these were classes I had previously taught in the summer session before, just in a different modality). I learned to foster community better by using the Groups feature in Canvas for discussions and responses, and also found that a mid-week deadline (in addition to an end-of-week deadline) worked well for checking in and making sure students didn’t fall behind. I will be using both strategies moving forward, as I will be teaching online exclusively this fall. This October, my promotion portfolio is due, and I will be reviewed by my colleagues and dean for promotion to Senior Lecturer. I am spending part of my summer making sure that my portfolio highlights all the hard work I’ve done in the last few years!

    Daniel: I feel very blessed in that, while most of my teaching tends to happen face-to-face, I was fortunate enough to have had several opportunities to teach online prior to the onset of COVID-19. Additionally, the University of Denver is on the quarter system, which means we were able to finish up the Winter quarter face-to-face before transitioning to online for the Spring quarter. Thankfully, this made for a relatively smooth transition from face-to-face to online teaching. I taught three classes in the Spring: Introduction to Statistics, Psychology of Diversity, and Social Psychology—the latter being with graduate students. I already had an asynchronous implementation of Introduction to Statistics ready, so that was fairly easy to copy and paste (with minor adjustments) for the Spring. The other two courses were very discussion-focused, and it felt most appropriate to make them synchronous. I was happy with these choices, and I believe I was able to accomplish my course objectives despite the pivot. This was also a great time to support my colleagues who haven’t yet taught online, and I enjoyed helping them learn how to record videos, use Zoom’s functions, and so on. In the Fall quarter, the University of Denver plans to offer a mix of face-to-face, hybrid/hyflex, and online/distance classes. I will be teaching two classes online (Introduction to Statistics, again) and one class face-to-face (Data Analysis Using R, for the first time). Times are certainly uncertain, but overall, I’m enjoying the extra challenge and opportunities for innovation in our teaching. I hope you feel the same!

    Albee: I remember telling my students on a Friday in March 2020 that classes would be migrating to an online format and that class was the last one in which we would be together in-person. They had multiple questions during that class along with strong requests to make the class asynchronous, and I remember being honest with them and saying, “I don’t know” many times. The Monday after, my institution offered workshops to learn Microsoft Teams. I had to understand that platform well enough to use it for my own teaching as well as to help my students navigate it. After modifying several assignments and making new deadlines for the 4 classes I was teaching, I communicated all changes to students using email and the learning management system. I was worried about students being able to access content (some of them did not have working laptops or computers at home) so I provided instructions to download apps (e.g., Microsoft Power Point, Microsoft Teams, YouTube, Turnitin Feedback Studio) on their smartphones. To enhance my content, since I honored my students’ requests for asynchronous delivery, I directed them to more online resources (e.g., TED Talks). Since I planned on having guest speakers in the classroom, I demonstrated how to record on Teams to my guest speakers (e.g., professionals who majored in psychology) and they were kind enough to do a lecture virtually so that students were able to hear their stories. In terms of academic honesty, I utilized Turnitin.com more heavily, having most assignments submitted in that platform. In addition, I changed my exams, so students have a choice on what questions to answer. This helped students get a sense of ownership in their choice of questions and it was relatively easy to detect cheating if two or more students answered the exact same questions in the exact same order. Overall, there were more extensions of deadlines and more incomplete grading. In terms of advising, I did more work on the front-end as I prepared their degree audits prior to each meeting then we met virtually on Teams. In terms of scholarship, I actually attended more conferences this year since I could attend them virtually and costs are relatively lower. In terms of service, committees have met through various means including Teams, Google Hangouts, and Zoom. There were actually more meetings since we did not have to travel and since we stuck at home. This fall, my institution is planning to conduct classes face-to-face. Thus, I am going to be more mindful about what to do in an in-person setting. I will plan on more games, videos, discussions, and activities so that class time is spent wisely. The changes due to the pandemic informed my teaching practices (i.e., backward design) and the decisions I made during the spring may actually help me in the fall as I work on my tenure portfolio. Like Karenna, my portfolio is due in October. Wish me luck!

    Your STP Early Career Psychologists Committee

    Karenna Malavanti, Ph.D.

    Albee Mendoza, Ph.D.

    Molly Metz, Ph.D.

    Janet Peters, Ph.D.

    Daniel Storage, Ph.D.

  • 10 Jul 2020 12:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Dear ECP Committee,

    I am considering my tenure/promotion portfolio and am concerned about how to present my work and having enough evidence for all areas due to many changes and cancellations from the COVID-19 pandemic. Please help!

    Sincerely,

    Perturbed About Portfolio

    Dear Perturbed About Portfolio,

    First, peruse your institution’s Faculty Handbook and check what areas are considered when reviewing promotion/tenure. For most institutions, there are three main areas in which faculty members must provide evidence to be considered for advancement. Typically, in addition to a self-written narrative, additional sources such as letters from colleagues, peer teaching observations, or student course evaluations may be required.

    Teaching: Narrative

    In the area of teaching, faculty members may reflect on several questions as they write their narratives:

    ·        How soon did you have to make changes to your classes due to the pandemic?

    ·        What changes did you make?

    ·        What resources did you utilize (e.g., STP ECP columns )?

    ·        What trainings did you attend (e.g., in-person, virtual, individual, intra-institution)?

    ·        How did you deliver your materials?

    ·        What changes did you make to your communication practices?

    ·        What changes did you make to assignments or grading methods?

    Teaching: Additional Sources

    ·        If you completed narrated PowerPoint presentations or recorded lectures for your courses, could you ask a colleague to evaluate your teaching using that format? There are often digital forms available within each institution to standardize this process and inform the evaluation.

    ·        If you utilized online platforms such as Kahoot or Poll Everywhere for review sessions or formative non-graded assessments, could you include that and accompanying data (e.g., how many students participated, what were pre vs. post review differences) as part of your portfolio to demonstrate engagement?

    ·        Being involved as a mentee in the STP Mentorship Program may provide great benefit and can help in the area of teaching.

    ·        While there is much controversy on the topic of student evaluations, what (if any) constructive comments have come up about your teaching from the students via the open section on the evaluation or via email informally (e.g., responding more quickly via email, having more virtual office hours, etc.)? These may be worth sharing in the portfolio.

    Scholarship: Narrative

    In the area of scholarship, faculty may have had several challenges such as not having students readily available in-person to be subjects in research, not having research assistants to help conduct data entry or data analysis, not receiving funding for research projects, or not having access to labs at all.

    ·        What are ways to conduct research using affordable online formats? Several schools have funding to access Survey Monkey or Qualtrics to obtain survey data. Other schools may have in-network systems such as Microsoft Forms to complete survey research.

    ·        What are ways that research assistants can be granted access to data? Perhaps some schools have the capability of distributing secure laptops or grant permission to download applications into home computers or borrowed laptops (e.g., SPSS).

    ·        If completing individual, original research is not possible due to not having research subjects, perhaps it may be time to consider being part of the solution to the replicability crisis. There are available databases on which to replicate research on websites such as the Center for Open Science, Collaborative Replications and Education Project (CREP), and Psychological Science Accelerator.

    ·        If you would like to be part of an existing effort, several organizations have the opportunity to contribute to ongoing projects. For example, Psi Chi’s Network for International Collaborative Exchange (NICE) supplies the proposal, a sample IRB, and ongoing support as a way for faculty and students to be involved in projects (e.g., getting participants from their schools).

    Scholarship: Additional Sources

    ·        There are a number of conferences that are opting for a virtual format (e.g., EPA, APA, APS). If you were accepted previously for these conventions, you have the opportunity to present your projects digitally. Some conferences require synchronous attendance and participation while others mandate a prerecorded talk uploaded by a certain date. Including your work in these conferences can certainly be part of your portfolio. Notably, if travel previously discouraged you from attending conferences, having them in a virtual format and participating remotely can demonstrate continuing educational interests, increasing professional development, and being able to network with outside colleagues.

    ·        Another way to be involved in scholarship is to contribute to peer-reviewed journals as a reviewer and, if you believe you are qualified and have the time/energy, an editor. For example, APA, Sage, Wiley, Psi Chi, and Springer not only offer opportunities to review or edit journals but have tutorials and trainings on how to complete the process.

    ·        An unsolicited or solicited email or letter from a research mentee or a student from a research methods, experimental psychology, undergraduate thesis, or capstone seminar class may be useful, especially if they describe your availability, your research know-how, and your commitment to publication and/or presentation of their work.

    Service: Narrative

    Though we were all challenged in concentrating on our teaching during the move to online format, there may be a number of ways to demonstrate service, locally and nationally.

    ·        What campus-wide or nation-wide efforts did you join (e.g., sending in a farewell message for virtual commencement, wearing different colored socks for World Down Syndrome Day, completing a virtual 5K for autism awareness month)?

    ·        What committees are you active in at your institution? What have they accomplished this year? For example, there are institutions who need early career faculty to be involved in committees such as IRB, Common Read, or Academic Appeals.

    ·        What committees are you active in outside of your institution? What have they accomplished this year? There are ways to complete service within the discipline. There are calls for involvement on sites such as STP, APA, and many more.

    Service: Additional Sources

    ·        Asking a tenured or senior colleague to write a strong letter on your behalf may be helpful. There are often digital forms available within each institution to evaluate areas of strength and improvement.

    ·        Volunteering to be the faculty advisor for student organizations such as Best Buddies or NAMI. There are ways to conduct activities online (e.g., hosting a virtual walk, hosting a fundraiser, etc.) and impact communities even with social distancing.

    Lastly, please know that you are not alone in this state of worry! The most important part of presenting your portfolio is making sure that the areas are covered as best as they can be, that your narrative is concise and reflective, that the required paperwork is completed (e.g., inclusion of chair evaluation, inclusion of a Table of Contents), and that the document is handed in by the deadline. We hope that this information can provide ideas and strategies as well as opportunities for involvement and leadership.

    Stay healthy, stay safe, and stay well,

    Your STP Early Career Psychologists Committee

    Albee Mendoza, Ph.D.

    Daniel Storage, Ph.D.

    Janet Peters, Ph.D.

    Karenna Malavanti, Ph.D.

    Molly Metz, Ph.D.

  • 10 Jun 2020 12:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Dear ECPs,

    I’d like to spend part of the summer preparing for my fall classes, which I expect to be at least partially online (though our institution has not yet made a final decision). I am overwhelmed by everything I am seeing. Can you help me think about course planning?

    Sincerely,

    Overwhelmed Summer Faculty

    Dear Overwhelmed Summer Faculty,

    Yep, we hear you. Not only are the disruptions difficult in and of themselves, but the copious amount of information about converting courses to online is overwhelming (even when the info is helpful). We’re going to help you by clarifying some of the main points to consider. Our goal is not to be comprehensive, but rather to present big picture ideas to consider and organize your planning. We have tried to add in resources for those of you that want to dig deeper, as well as some of our own lessons learned.

    Consideration 1: Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs) & Course Design

    At the end of the course, what do you want your students to know? I mean, really know. Anytime you make changes to your course (COVID related or not), this is the first question you should ask yourself. Creating a hybrid/blended/virtual/term-du-jour course follows the same pattern as any other course change: identify your SLOs and build from there. Once you know what students need to know, you can start planning the components of your course: projects, assessments, class discussions, etc. You will need to decide which components should be online vs. face-to-face (if teaching hybrid) and which elements should be synchronous vs. asynchronous.

    If this starting stage feels overwhelming, here are a few resources you can use to give some structure to your planning efforts.

    ·        Virtual Instruction Readiness Quiz (San Diego State University)

    ·        Blended Course Planning Forms and Steps to Create a Hybrid Course (Oregon State University)

    ·        Hybrid-Flexible Course Design (EdTech Books)

    ·        Consider Immediacy & Bandwidth

    ·        Low-Tech High-Returns Online Teaching Tips

    Consideration 2: Accessibility

    As faculty, we need to ensure our courses are accessible for all. This includes considerations for accessibility (captions for lectures, documents that are screen reader friendly, etc.) and access (recognizing that there will be large variability in how and when students will be able to access the course content). As you plan your course for the fall, these considerations should be a central focus in your decisions. Though institutions differ, most have some sort of regulations or support that you should be checking into. Reading the STP Diversity Committee’s advice on inclusive pedagogy might be a good place to start thinking about these issues. This conversation (+ transcript) from EdSurge Live also considers accessibility and universal design in this age of remote online teaching.

    Consideration 3: Social Engagement & Presence

    As fellow ECP Crissa Levin noted in STP’s Facebook group, we need to play to the online medium. That is, we should be doing teaching techniques that do well online, not the teaching techniques that we like or are used to (from Crissa Levin).

    Considerations for creating social presence and engagement:

    ·        Create a welcome video at the beginning of the semester that welcomes students and excites them for the course content

    ·        Interactive techniques you might be able to adapt depending on your course

    ·        Some thoughts on what online engagement looks like and how to assess it (though this is for a K-12 audience, many considerations apply to post-secondary educators as well)

    Consideration 4: Assessment

    Faculty have questions about how to create assessments that are valid, minimize the likelihood for academic dishonesty, and are scalable for classes of different sizes. Some of the most important considerations coming out of the literature is to create transparent assignments so that students know exactly what to expect, make sure your assessments support your SLOs, provide well-designed rubrics, offer examples of performance at various levels, and provide ongoing feedback. If you are concerned about academic integrity, consider using an honor code as one approach (Purdue Honor Code Resources as an example).

    Consider some alternatives to standard exams, like these end-of-term essay questions.

    Putting it all together

    Thinking again about your course holistically, consider these strategies of award-winning online teachers, which speak to each of the above considerations.

    You might also consider checking out our favorite podcast, Psych Sessions: Convos About Teaching ‘n’ Stuff, whose recent episodes have been about various aspects of this shift to online teaching, with lessons learned and tips from seasoned online instructors.

    Once you’re done designing your course, you might consider using one of the many available rubrics to self-assess the course you have created.

    Finally, if you feel like you have the emotional and mental bandwidth this summer, here is an open course in best practices for online teaching from NISOD (National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development).

    We hope this helps - and don’t forget to continue practicing compassion for your students and yourselves. Although the most urgent crisis period seems to be behind us, these are still not normal times and considering carefully how to take care of ourselves and each other is just as important as ever. Happy Teaching!

    Your STP Early Career Psychologists Committee

    Albee Mendoza, Ph.D.

    Daniel Storage, Ph.D.

    Janet Peters, Ph.D.

    Karenna Malavanti, Ph.D.

    Molly Metz, Ph.D.

  • 10 May 2020 12:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Dear ECPs,

    As a faculty advisor, I am struggling to juggle teaching tasks while helping students register for upcoming semesters. What challenges have you encountered while advising students during the quarantine? Are there any strategies that we can learn from this time to streamline advising practices for future semesters?

    Sincerely,

    Asking Advice on Advising

    Dear Asking Advice on Advising,

    We understand the uncertainties brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic are affecting enrollment numbers, availability, and format of courses. Dr. Albee Mendoza provides some insights on the challenges of advising relationships during this difficult time. 

    Increasing (Efficiency of) Communication

    With the social distancing precautions being taken due to COVID-19, many higher education institutions have extended administrative deadlines, implemented new policies, and changed course delivery (sometimes these changes happened more than once!). Communicating these changes effectively with advisees may be a challenge, especially with the higher volume of emails they are receiving on a daily basis. The most important thing is that communication is still taking place, but there are many reasons why both students and advisors are struggling to keep up with email. It may be the case that neither party is intentionally ignoring their growing inboxes but there are a lot more emails to comb through and they may miss messages that need a response.

    Tips for streamlining communication:  

    ·        Make sure that your emails are being recognized amidst the plethora of messages: a concise and clear subject heading (e.g., Graduation Petition Due TOMORROW!), a body with bullet points and spaces, a short message, and a call to action at the top of the email can help the students digest important information. You could even specify [Response Requested] in the subject line to make expectations clear.

    ·        Set clear expectations (perhaps in an email autoreply) about expectations for timely communication (for both you and the student).

    ·        Cut down advising emails substantially by creating a course on your school’s learning management system for your advisees only. Advisees can check that course site for announcements about campus-wide deadlines (e.g., virtual graduation video due tomorrow) as well as departmental deadlines (e.g., internship application due tomorrow). 

    ·        Consider using GoogleForms (or a similar service) to collect and organize key information about your advisees (e.g., Are you interested in an internship? What minors are you pursuing?). Though you may have to remind them to complete the survey, you will then have key information housed in a single spreadsheet instead of lost to your email archives!

    ·        Create a GoogleDocs FAQ for your advisees and update it with any new information that applies to multiple cases. You can organize the topics using Headings (which will appear as a table of contents on the left) to make it easily navigable, and clearly indicate new information with the date it was added. Having a source of information with live updates cuts down on lots of back and forth emails!

    Increasing Productivity

    With so many emails, you might decide talking live may be better so that there is a set time and date to discuss issues. Due to social distancing, advisors have had to move away from paper signups taped to the hallway or drop-in office hours. 

    Tips for increasing productivity of advising meetings

    ·        Use an online calendar (via email like Outlook or Gmail) or service (like Calendly, YouCanBookMe, SignUpGenius, or Doodle) to schedule advising meetings - you’ll be amazed at how much back and forth email this cuts down! 

    ·        Hold virtual sessions using school-based platforms such as Microsoft Teams or Zoom. You can also use chat functions on these platforms - no video necessary! Even after the quarantine, you may find that having virtual advising hours can be helpful to certain types of students (e.g., commuters, nontraditional students, etc.), so think of this as a great opportunity to learn the tools that will help lots of people in the future. 

    ·        Get the same questions repeatedly about how to find a resource, how to navigate the school catalog or degree audit, or how to calculate a GPA? Make FAQs, resource guides, or even how-to videos (Loom and Screencast-O-Matic are easy to use and have free options) to share with your students to cut down on email and make actual meeting times more productive.       

    Prepare for these meetings by checking out the advisee’s unofficial transcript or course history and consider filling out the major and/or minor checklist electronically. Whether a graduation checklist or degree audit is consulted, the strategy of reviewing them together can help both advisors and advisees so they can check/double-check what classes they took, what classes need repeating, and what classes are needed for graduation. An electronic completion of a checklist may be time-consuming to set up, but it will be a great resource for the future. 

    Typically, advising meetings are focused on what courses to take or drop. In the current climate, this may be difficult if students do not show up for their appointment. It can be tempting to just make a plan for the student to expedite the process, but this takes away their autonomy and a possible learning experience. Less time in meetings can be spent building a schedule or reviewing basics (especially if you create resources as suggested above) and more time can be spent on how to find classes that meet both the graduation requirements and future goals. As an overarching benefit, advisees will gain the knowledge and confidence to find classes on their own if a class is full or if there is an overlap of class times. The advisor’s role is to double-check their efforts and perhaps more time in the meeting discussing major-specific advantages (e.g., opportunity for internship, scholarships available, interest in departmental student organizations). After the meetings, advisors can type up their advising notes for an electronic summary that they can save and/or send to advisees.

    Increasing Empathy

    The Class of 2020 is being dubbed the Class of COVID-19, and many graduating seniors are feeling the grief of not being able to participate in an important developmental milestone (not to mention the anxiety about entering the job market at this time). Those who were fortunate celebrated ‘fauxmencements’ before they were forced to return home. This is an unprecedented time for everyone. As faculty advisors, we may see underclassmen not return to our institutions as they reflect on this semester. Perhaps they want to be closer to home or they need to now pitch in financially. It is okay that advisees are upset and anxious about this new normal. The article available here provides some strategies to promote emotion-focused coping, connectedness, self-care, and optimism.

    Be healthy, be safe, and be well,

    Your STP Early Career Psychologists Committee

    Albee Mendoza, Ph.D.

    Daniel Storage, Ph.D. 

    Janet Peters, Ph.D.

    Karenna Malavanti, Ph.D.

    Molly Metz, Ph.D.


  • 10 Apr 2020 12:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Dear ECPs,

    I don’t even know where to start. In addition to all of the work I am doing to move my courses to an online/distance-learning delivery and support my students (not to mention supporting my family and trying to take care of myself), I’m also worried what this whole situation means for my evaluation and promotion. I don’t really want to dive into the internet with my questions, though, because all of that information can be overwhelming. Any words of reassurance for me?

    Sincerely,

    Pushing through the Pandemic

    Dear Pushing through the Pandemic,

    We hear you. Things feel pretty overwhelming right now, but the one thing that has provided me (Molly) comfort is just how communal and generous our professional community has been in pulling together to support each other. I don’t want to overwhelm you with too much information, so this month, we want to share with you just a few favorite resources and tips. 

    First, please adjust your expectations for the remainder of your term. This is an unusual and unprecedented experience for most of us, and the old rules just don’t apply.  Pare back the moving parts of your course, and return to the basics of your learning outcomes – how can you help your students achieve these outcomes while minimizing stress and uncertainty? A decent plan communicated clearly and soon will likely be far more valuable to your students than a perfect but complex plan communicated next week. I know this sounds hard to the perfectionists amongst us, but consider the benefits of a satisficing mindset over a maximizing one.

    Rebecca Barrett-Fox urges us to “Please do a bad job of putting your courses online,” a reminder that these are extraordinary times and we’re all dealing with a lot. Good enough is good enough. Finally, the mid-term adjustments we are making now are NOT the same as moving a course to a fully online version, so take any online teaching advice with a grain of salt. For those of our colleagues on the quarter system, this general advice still holds – you have only had a couple of weeks (at most) to shift your Spring quarter plans to an online format, whereas planning a fully-online course may take months. Do your best for your students, for sure, but be mindful of what you can reasonably expect to accomplish with so little lead time.

    Second, limit your information gathering to colleagues in your department, your university, and your domain. Every field has different needs and norms, and getting sucked into an argument about the best way to teach public speaking online if you are not, in fact, teaching public speaking may not be the best use of your time and emotional energy. Further, your department or unit may have specific technologies they require, and if so, that is one fewer choice you have to make! If you can, find a colleague or two who you know have similar teaching styles and philosophies as you, and work together to make a game plan or create resources (e.g., a how-to document on how to use Bb Collaborate works for everyone using the same LMS at the same institution!). Here are just a few resources that have come together in the last couple of weeks to support you through this time.

    ·        http://tiny.cc/stpmasterlist
    Pinned post in STP Facebook group compiling numerous resources. This group is amazing but a little unwieldy sometimes - I strongly recommend using the search function to narrow down the posts you sift through!

    ·        http://tiny.cc/lectureswap 
    Google Spreadsheet tracking psychology faculty willing to swap online lectures or guest lecture if the instructor is unavailable due to illness or caregiving. Includes undergrad/grad level, areas/topics of expertise, and contact info.

    ·        http://tiny.cc/videoswap
    Google Spreadsheet tracking lecture videos made by psychology colleagues.

    ·        http://www.amazingeducationalresources.com/A massive list of education companies providing FREE subscriptions due to school closures. Includes resources aimed at all levels of education. I don’t recommend reading the whole thing, but you can search the name of a specific app you are interested in. Useful for your own classes, but also for any kiddos in your family!

    Third, as you note, this term will eventually be over, but those of us who are formally reviewed (i.e., annual progress, probationary/tenure/ continuing status, regular student evaluations of teaching, contract renewal, etc.) might be worried about how your choices now will affect your reviews. We cannot answer this for each of you, of course, but we urge you to contact your chair, dean, or union about specific policies for your school. Here are two spreadsheets tracking administrative responses and policy changes – if your employer is not on here, then there is lots of precedent to provide support for any motions submitted to your leadership!

    ·        http://tiny.cc/adminresponse
    Google Spreadsheet tracking university administrative responses, including switching to pass/fail grading, adjustments to faculty review criteria, extensions to tenure/review clock, and **removal or adjustment of student evaluations of teaching for Winter/Spring 2020.

    ·        http://tiny.cc/tenureclock
    Google Spreadsheet tracking policies specific to tenure/review clock extensions, including sources of statements.

    ·        https://apastyle.apa.org/blog/canceled-conferences
    Don’t forget: Work accepted for presentation at a conference still counts! Here are APA’s guidelines on references for cancelled conference presentations.

    Finally, take care of yourselves. This is not a sprint, and we cannot continue to support our students, families, and each other if we are not supporting ourselves as well. There are tons of lists and resources out there for self-care in addition to hobbies and activities, but here are just a couple to start with (note: the ECP committee benefits in no way by sharing these resources, except by having happy and healthy colleagues)

    ·        https://www.downdogapp.com/
    Down Dog is offering free subscriptions for everyone until April 1, and for teachers AND students until July 1 (K-12 AND college). Access online practices in yoga, barre, HIIT, and general fitness.

    ·        https://www.headspace.com/covid-19
    Headspace is offering additional free meditation tracks for everyone, plus additional resources for businesses, educators, and healthcare professionals.

    ·        https://www.virusanxiety.com/
    Meditations, Q&As with mental health experts, random internet things to occupy yourself, and more.

    ·        When you’re having a hard time, try to remember all of the wonderful examples of the human spirit we have already seen displayed in these extraordinary times.

    Sending you warm, healthy, and sanitized thoughts (and wash your hands!). This is hard, for sure, but you’re not in this alone.

    Distantly yours,

    Your STP Early Career Psychologists Committee

  • 10 Mar 2020 12:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Dear ECPs,

    At my institution, faculty are required to serve as academic advisors within the major. It is an area that is evaluated during promotion/tenure review. How do I best report my faculty advising practices in my portfolio?

    Sincerely,

    Tracking Tasks for Tenure

    Dear Tracking Tasks for Tenure,

    Thank you for your question! Several members of the ECP Committee have completed their portfolios successfully. In fact, our own Janet Peters (pictured at right) recently obtained promotion to Associate Professor! Completing the promotion/tenure portfolio may arduous, but the result is a product that demonstrates months of hard work.

    Depending on the institution, there are several ways to define faculty advisors. It seems from your question that a faculty advisor is someone who is assigned Psychology majors and helps them plan their undergraduate schedule and progress to graduation. Some institutions have staff advisors, others utilize one to two faculty members as advisors as a service commitment, and others expect all faculty to serve as academic advisors for all undergraduate majors in their department.

    Albee Mendoza (pictured at right), currently the only ECP in the team serving as an academic advisor, shares advice and best practices.

    Provide evidence of meetings with your advisees during the semester.

    During the Add/Drop period early in the semester, I meet with advisees to make changes on their current schedule as students realize the requirements of their selected courses. After these meetings, I complete a summary of our time in order to remind them of tasks, to document what changes were made to their schedule, and to describe what courses need to be considered come registration time. Advisees also come to me during the graduation petition period, midterm reporting period, and withdrawal period. After these meetings, however brief they may be (i.e., required signature), I send an email to the advisee about the interaction for documentation purposes. [Demonstrates completion of required tasks for advising]

    During registration period, I strive to meet with 100% of advisees (I usually have 15 to 25 advisees). I utilize an online scheduling system (i.e., SignUpGenius) to keep track of who is coming when. I make myself available outside of office hours and provide meeting times the week before registration opens until the week after it closes. I email my advisees to indicate available times and how to prepare for their appointment. [Demonstrates additional availability to accommodate advisees]

    If the numbers are available and they are in your favor, then you may consider contacting the Information Technology department or Academic Affairs office to report your individual retention and/or graduation rates compared to the institution’s retention and/or graduation rates. [Demonstrates excellence in the area of faculty advising and contribution to the institution’s mission]

    Provide evidence of resources that you find most useful.

    Like at many institutions, there was no formal training by my institution to serve as a faculty academic advisor. There were voluntary sessions with the department of Information Technology to learn about the technological aspects to register students. I learned about the advising process from asking colleagues in the department as well as consulting the college catalogs. On my own, I utilized STP’s e-books such as Academic Advising: Models, Students, Topics, and Issues and Academic Advising: A Guide to the Sub-Discipline. [Demonstrates the advisor’s willingness to learn more about these practices and understand the needs of individual advisees]

    My college catalog is a bit unwieldy, which makes it difficult to ascertain exactly what classes are needed for the major. To overcome this challenge, you may consider creating a user-friendly checklist, mirroring the information on the catalog and containing the general education requirements, major requirements, major electives, and general education electives. This checklist may include when courses are typically offered (every fall, once a year, etc.) and the prerequisites for specific courses. Similarly, you may think about creating a checklist for the minors that your advisees typically select, which may be more time-efficient than looking up the requirements every semester at registration time (e.g., how many credits are needed to complete the minor?, what specific classes are required?, what prerequisites are needed for those required classes?, when are classes usually offered?). For my institution, popular minors include Criminal Justice, Human Biology, History, and English. [Demonstrates the advisor’s production of resources to maximize efficiency during meetings]

    Provide evidence of specific activities you do to serve your advisees

    Send an email of office hours at the start of the semester to advisees. [Demonstrates that the advisor is available and thinking about their advisees, especially to accommodate them for the Add/Drop period, and is available to them for the entire semester]

    Send emails throughout the semester to advisees about important college-wide deadlines (e.g., when to withdraw from classes, when to sign graduation petitions, when late fees are incurred, etc.) [Demonstrates the advisor’s own knowledge of these deadlines and their willingness to be available to students to discuss these issues]

    Send emails about department-specific meetings and activities (e.g., Psychology Club Movie Night), community-wide internships and events (e.g., Out of Darkness Suicide Prevention Walk), and nationwide programs and awards (e.g., Psi Chi Regional Travel Grants) [Demonstrates the advisor being engaged with the department’s student organizations, the larger community, and the field as a whole]

    Rely on the expertise of different departments throughout campus to support students’ success and professional development (e.g., using the early alert/academic progress report system, referring advisees to on-campus tutoring services, providing contact information for disability support services, encouraging participation at events hosted by the career counselor) [Demonstrates the spirit of interdepartmental collaboration and the encouragement of students’ professional development]

    Provide evidence of professional development activities focused on faculty advising

    Get involved in academic advising committees.

    Attend local, regional, or national talks about faculty advising like NACADA Drive-Ins.

    Learn about best practices in serving a variety of student populations (e.g., attending trainings on working with first generation students).

    Collaborate with other departments and discuss faculty advising practices.

    Complete research and present about faculty advising.

    = = = = =

    Because institutions differ in the weight of faculty advising in promotion/tenure review, please make sure to check with colleagues. Please feel free to reach out if you have questions or comments about this topic.

    = = = = =

    Sincerely,

    Your STP Early Career Psychologists Committee

    Karenna Malavanti, Ph.D.

    Albee Mendoza, Ph.D.

    Molly Metz, Ph.D.

    Janet Peters, Ph.D.

    Daniel Storage, Ph.D.


  • 10 Feb 2020 12:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Dear ECPs,

    I read your column every month and while it’s great to hear from you so consistently, I also wish I knew each of you a bit better! What are each of your roles on the ECP Committee? If I have an ECP-related question or want to get involved in ECP-related activities, which one of you should I talk to?

    Sincerely,

    Hoping to Get Involved

    Dear Hoping to Get Involved,

    We’re thrilled to hear that you’re interested in getting to know each of us and our roles on the ECP Committee better! Below, we have each included a quick little blurb to give you an idea of what we do on the ECP Committee and what our vision is for 2020 (that is, our 2020 vision).

    All committee members: We attend virtual meetings monthly, write for the ECP column (switching off who will be the lead writer each month), attend the Annual Conference on Teaching, communicate via email regularly, and contribute to ECP programming at ACT. We enjoy hearing from ECPs, so please do not hesitate to reach out to us on social media accounts or email us.

    Daniel: In 2020, I have three main roles as part of the ECP Committee. First and foremost, I will serve with Karenna as co-chair of the committee. This means a good portion of my time will be spent organizing monthly meetings of the ECP Committee, drafting newsletters such as this, managing the committee’s budget (used for awards for ECPs, swag for the Annual Conference on Teaching, and so on), and answering emails sent to stp-ecp@teachpsych.org. Beyond these responsibilities, I will also team with Albee, the committee’s newest member, to redesign the ECP website. The website is up and running now but is currently a bit bare. Our vision is for the website to be filled with many resources for ECPs to use in their daily lives by the end of 2020. This is an excellent transition into my third role on the ECP Committee, which is to design and share resources for ECPs. As one example of what this will look like, I am currently compiling a list of teaching and learning centers that each contain a wealth of resources related to the teaching of psychology. I plan to post this list, along with links to relevant resources designed by each teaching and learning center, to the ECP website as part of the redesign. I am always open to more ideas about what other ECPs would find useful, so please do not hesitate to reach out. I look forward to serving you this year!

    Albee: The STP ECP Committee is an active group! In addition to the responsibilities everyone shares, I am teaming up with Karenna and Daniel to complete several tasks. With Karenna, I plan to develop visual materials and have them available on social media and listservs to encourage attendance and participation at ACT’s social hour as well social hours at other conferences that may be an avenue for ECPs to meet (e.g., APA). With Daniel, I am updating the ECP website to include more resources that can support the marketability of ECPs by providing information on opportunities in the areas of teaching, advising, scholarship, and service. For example, in the area of teaching, ECPs who teach introductory psychology have an opportunity to be a reader for Advanced Placement Psychology exams in the summer months. In the area of advising, the National Academic Advising Association (NACADA) provides information on various programs, events, resources, and communities for faculty advising. In the area of scholarship, ECPs with a doctorate degree can serve as reviewers for the Psi Chi Journal of Psychological Research and provide editorial service for a scholarly journal. In the area of service, ECPs can serve on STP committees centered on the teaching of psychology. My vision for 2020 is to recruit more ECPs from underrepresented groups and support them in their career path by providing resources with opportunities for advancement and enrichment.

    Janet: We’re a collaborative bunch, so we all do a bit of everything. It’s part of what makes this team so fun! But we also have areas of specialization. Similar to last year, I will be the professional development coordinator for 2020. In this role, I am the lead on what we present at ACT; I solicit ideas from the group, write up the abstracts, and submit to ACT. Last year, our group presented a two-hour workshop on ways for ECPs to strategically document their teaching for awards, hiring, promotion, and tenure. Currently, we are brainstorming what we might submit for presentation at ACT 2020. We’re always open to what ECPs might be interested in discussing at ACT, so please feel free to email us.

    Molly: In my second year on the ECP committee, I will serve a few key roles in addition to our shared tasks (like preparing our newsletter columns). First, with Karenna I help manage the ECP social media presence, with a focus on Facebook. We use our social media accounts mainly to share information and opportunities relevant to ECPs, but if there is something else you would love to see on Facebook or Twitter, please let us know! Second, I am the appointed GSTA liaison, and as such serve as the point person for any potential collaborations between ECPs and graduate student instructors. Finally, last year I spearheaded our ACT Speed Mentoring event, and plan on improving that session and proposing it again this year! That said, although we all have our specific roles, one thing I love about this committee is just how collaborative we are, and so we all pitch in when needed!

    Karenna: I am a co-chair this year with Daniel, which means we serve as the ECP points-of-contact for STP leadership and perform a lot of administrative (i.e., behind the scenes) tasks for the committee. Last year I took the lead on scheduling STP ECP social hour events at regional and teaching conferences and planned the first-ever ECP Reception to celebrate the amazing ECP and STP programming at ACT. I will continue to serve in the Social Events Coordinator role this year as well as work with Molly on our social media channels. Specifically, I spearhead our STP Early Career Twitter account (@STP_ECP); many thanks to all of you who follow us! We are excited to have Albee on board to assist with getting more great ECP opportunities to our followers. My vision for this year is to plan another great ECP Reception (Hope to see you all in Pittsburgh this October!), continue to provide ECP-related information on social media, and have another great year of working with this inimitable team!

    Sincerely,

    Your STP Early Career Psychologists Committee

    Karenna Malavanti, Ph.D.

    Albee Mendoza, Ph.D.

    Molly Metz, Ph.D.

    Janet Peters, Ph.D.

    Daniel Storage, Ph.D.


  • 10 Jan 2020 12:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Dear ECPs,

    Prepping for a new semester over winter break can be daunting. Do you have any tried-and-true productivity hacks or time management skills to share with us as we prepare for a new semester?

    Sincerely,

    Getting Started on the Right Foot

    Dear Getting Started on the Right Foot,

    Daniel’s productivity hacks: By far, my biggest recommendation for enhancing your productivity is to adopt a to-do application, if you haven’t already. I used to be one of those people writing down all my to-dos in a virtual note on my desktop, simply deleting tasks in the note when completed. I began my to-do app journey with Wunderlist, a fantastic app which was recently bought out by Microsoft and is in the process of being replaced by Microsoft To-Do. The power of to-do apps cannot be understated. You can plan which tasks you would like to accomplish on any given day, set deadlines for each task, group a variety of tasks into a single project, and break down an overwhelming task into multiple smaller steps. It is very satisfying to check off to-dos and reflect at the end of the day–or the end of the month–at the record of how many tasks you accomplished. After trying many different to-do apps, I personally settled on Things 3. Note that Things 3 is exclusive to Apple devices (Mac, iPhone, iPad) and involves a one-time purchase. There are other fantastic apps that are cross platform (e.g., Todoist), but often ask for a modest subscription (e.g., $30/year) to access the full suite of features. My best recommendation for a free alternative is Microsoft To-Do (which works on all platforms, including Apple devices). It takes a bit of work to set everything up in the beginning, but it is absolutely worth the effort! I am far more productive than I was before, and I have less to remember!

    Albee’s hacks: Like Daniel, I have several apps that help me to accomplish the task of making a to-do list and organizing my thoughts/ideas for the upcoming semester. For example, I like Color Note on Android, which organizes lists via color and has a text or checklist feature. Along with these technological time-savers, one of the main tasks that increases my productivity in planning for the semester is doing an office hours schedule. I have colleagues who log into the class management system or utilize the school's course search multiple times to search for class information while preparing for their classes (e.g., drafting syllabi, creating the course calendar, responding to student emails, etc.). This takes up time that could be spent on other tasks (e.g., making lecture slides, planning for first-day activities, writing for the STP newsletter , etc.). While some may only include office hours in their office hours schedule, I found including the following information in my office hours schedule to be extremely helpful: I include the name and section of each class for the semester, the days and times of each class, the location of each class, the number of students in the class with a corresponding date (24 students as of 1/2/20), and the days and times of my office hours. I also add one to three recent pictures of me and/or my family and/or my colleagues. This helps me reflect back on last semester, helps students get to know me, and helps me get in the mindset of the next semester. Once that is complete, I print out a copy for outside my office and one for myself. This makes the aforementioned tasks and other organizing activities (e.g., making separate folders for each class) a little less cumbersome because the class information is easily accessible

    Janet's hacks: If you haven't made your syllabus yet, then I recommend using the automatic syllabus date generator; it always saves me a ton of time figuring out the dates for my classes and entering them into my syllabus (link). As I plan my course and create the schedule, I try to build in at least one "catch-up" day per unit - this gives me the freedom to expand a class discussion or do an extra in-class activity without stressing about excluding other content. It also gives me a buffer in the event that school is closed due to weather or if I get sick. Once you've made your syllabus and designed your course, you might start thinking about the grading and feedback you will be giving over the course of the semester. To help use my time more efficiently, I create my rubrics in our learning management system (we use Blackboard). This means I can quickly select the appropriate mastery level of the student for each criteria and leave a few developmental comments. The LMS then automatically calculates their grade based off the rubric I have designed. This system means that students get clear feedback and grades are posted automatically. I hope these tips help!

    Karenna’s hacks: One of the best time-savers I have is to use backwards course design when developing my courses/syllabi. I’ve found that by thinking about what I really want students to know about psychological science, my assessments and class activities are better aligned to my student learning objectives. This helps with student buy-in and actually makes selecting assessments, course material, assignments, etc, much easier, which saves me a ton of time! Like Janet, I also use the Rubrics function and additionally use the weighted grading option on Canvas, which has saved me so much time at the end of the semester (and helps students know where they stand throughout the semester). Lastly, I recommend documenting your service/ mentoring/ research (and more) activities on an informal Google doc or DropBox doc that you can readily access (I do this weekly). That way when you need to update your CV or portfolio during evaluation time, you can easily grab the information with the added bonus of not forgetting anything!

    Do you have any pre-semester tasks or productivity apps that help you save time?

    Sincerely,

    Your STP Early Career Psychologists Committee

    Karenna Malavanti, Ph.D.

    Albee Mendoza, Ph.D.

    Molly Metz, Ph.D.

    Janet Peters, Ph.D.

    Daniel Storage, Ph.D.


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