Welcome to the Society for the Teaching of Psychology (STP)

To view previous Letters from the President, click here.

To read President-Elect Susan Nolan's initiatives for 2021 and the task force members for each initiative, click here.

January 1, 2021

2020 is over! At last!

A year ago, I celebrated New Year’s Eve at home in Jersey City, NJ, cooking dinner with my husband (and falling asleep well before midnight). We had flown back that day from a week’s vacation in Colombia, where we had joined dear friends for a holiday visit with their family, whom we were meeting for the first time. With the benefit of hindsight, it all sounds so daring. There was hugging, dancing, and crowding on public transportation. We even shared food!

I was a bit anxious upon my return about getting all my prep done for my spring courses. At that point, it hadn’t even crossed my mind to describe my spring courses as “face-to-face.” Based on my usual teaching load, that would have been like describing mail as “snail mail.” Fast forward to March…

Who could have guessed that travel would soon grind to a halt? That hugging or meeting strangers – your friends’ parents even – would be forbidden? That we would be socially isolating for months and months (and months)? Reading preprints from disciplines far from our own, trying to understand how to thwart a dangerous virus? Developing strategies to combat misinformation? Teaching remotely, while scrambling to develop creative ways to engage and assess? Supporting our students not just in their studies but in their lives (even more than usual) as they faced illness, family difficulties, financial strains, and emotional distress? And all of this compounded by growing awareness of a second longstanding pandemic of racism? Not me.

A year later, we have all learned so much. I have learned from friends, family, colleagues, and students, but also from STP. STP’s resources, new and old, have served as encyclopedic reservoirs of helpful information, including about how to be better at teaching online, increasing student engagement, and practicing anti-racism. And our members have reached out to share resources and insights through STP’s social media. Our Facebook page, in particular, which has more than 16,000 members, has been a source of information, solace, and more than one meme that made me laugh out loud!

It was against this backdrop that I planned my presidential task forces, in the hopes that their work would better situate us for future challenges. I put out a call for task force members months ago, and I am thrilled that so many experienced instructors and scholars volunteered to participate. The members of the task forces are diverse demographically, institutionally, and in terms of their roles; we are lucky to have graduate students and early career psychologists among their numbers, as well as very experienced instructors. And so many task force members are new to service to STP, or in several cases, new even to STP!

We also are fortunate to have experts in each of these areas agree to serve as chairs. I am excited to follow the work of these task forces as these strong and experienced leaders guide their talented colleagues. I hope that many of you will reach out to these task forces if you have ideas or suggestions. You can see rosters of the task forces here.

Task Force on Integration of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) and International Initiatives Across STP: The DEI/International task force, chaired by Arlen Garcia, will continue the work on DEI that 2020 President Amy Fineburg initiated. The task force will explore how to more fully integrate STP’s DEI and international initiatives in all we do, including membership, programming, awards, and resources. The task force will examine the structure of the organization, including whether there might be more explicit connections across the five Vice-Presidential areas or whether a new structure would help STP move away from the siloed nature of our current structure. The task force also will offer suggestions to increase inclusion and equity, including with respect to internationalization, in all areas, including with respect to our membership, leadership, award/grant applicants, and invited speakers. To provide input related to this Task Force, please email: TF2021Diversity@teachpsych.org.

Task Force for Resources for “Pivot Teaching”: The task force, chaired by Jenel Cavazos, will gather, solicit, and publicize resources for “pivot teaching” – e.g., changing modalities mid-semester, accommodating individual students whose situation has changed, integrating more flexibility into courses generally. The resources might include information on shifting to online, hybrid, or HyFlex modalities, for providing online resources for students in a face-to-face course, and for communicating with students in flexible, creative, and inclusive ways. The task force will prioritize top-notch, evidence-based, student-centered teaching and learning as modalities and other conditions shift. For questions related to this Task Force, please email: tf2021pivotteaching@teachpsych.org.

Task Force on Statistical Literacy, Reasoning, and Thinking: Guidelines 2.0: This task force is particularly close to my heart because I chaired the first iteration of this task force in 2012. The outcomes of our peer-reviewed statistical literacy guidelines were published on the STP website in 2014. Since then, there have been far-reaching changes in the ways in which statistics is taught, and the ways in which changes in best practices for research methodology have driven how statistical analyses are approached. The task force will create updated STP guidelines for statistical literacy, reasoning, and thinking to incorporate what we have learned from the open science movement, data ethics initiatives, and new analytical approaches. The task force will be chaired by Jess Hartnett, with Garth Neufeld chairing the subcommittee targeting the introductory psychology course and Erin Freeman chairing the subcommittee targeting the psychology major. For any questions related to this Task Force, please email: TF2021Statistics@teachpsych.org.

I look forward to serving as STP President this year, as we (hopefully) emerge from pandemic restrictions. STP is made up of a remarkable group of people who care deeply about teaching and about the scholarship of teaching and learning. I have two new year’s resolutions. Most importantly, to emerge from this pandemic, with support from the STP community, as a better instructor and scholar and ally to members of marginalized groups. And secondly, to travel again, ideally with locals, and hopefully back to Colombia where I will dance and hug and crowd onto public transportation with abandon!

Ok, so, the pandemic is not getting better and the plans for this academic year probably won’t work. I’m predicting that, at some point, we will have stretches of time where every day will be like a snow day – will we meet today or not? So, let’s take a detour from the angst and worry over Academic Year 2020-2021 and celebrate some truly wonderful psychology educators.

One of my privileges as STP President is to bestow Presidential Citations to two colleagues “who have made extraordinary life-time contributions to the Society and/or to the teaching of psychology.” The two people that I have honored this year are among the best teachers and people I know.

Loretta Neal McGregor, PhD, is a Professor of Psychology at Arkansas State University and is President of the Faculty Senate. Loretta earned her bachelor’s degree from Ouachita Baptist University, her master’s degree from Emporia State University, and her doctorate from Wichita State University in Human Factors Psychology. She has taught in higher education for almost 30 years. She served for 8 years as department chair at Arkansas State in the Psychology and Counseling Department. Prior to her tenure at ASU, she was an assistant professor at Southern Arkansas University and her alma mater, Ouachita Baptist University.

Loretta has served the teaching of psychology for many years as an advocate for quality undergraduate education for all students. She has taught courses across the undergraduate psychology curriculum, including research methods, statistics, and introduction to psychology. She has been a member of APA’s Board of Educational Affairs and served as Division 2’s (STP’s) Associate Director for Society Programming for the APA Convention. She was a long-time Advanced Placement (AP) Reader and Table Leader, helping to ensure quality scoring of AP Exams for students around the world. Loretta is one of the most preeminent scholars of the life of fellow Arkansan Mamie Phipps Clark, the pioneering social psychologist who, along with her husband Kenneth Clark, conducted the “Black Doll/White Doll” studies that ultimately influenced the 1955 Brown v. Board of Education decision from the United States Supreme Court. Loretta is a sought-after speaker on teaching, learning, and Dr. Clark’s contributions to the field. She is an alumnae of the Leadership Institute for Women in Psychology (LIWP). She is the first African American awarded a Presidential Citation from Division 2.

Kristin Habashi Whitlock is the AP Psychology teacher at Davis High School in Bountiful, Utah. She also teaches courses at Weber State University in Ogden, Utah. Kristin has been teaching AP Psychology at Davis since the course’s inception in 1992, and she has been involved with the AP Reading since 2001. She has been a Question Leader, Rubric Master, Table Leader, and Reader at the Reading and has served as an Advisor to the College Board and on the AP Psychology Development Committee, which is charged with developing questions for the AP Psychology Exam.

Kristin has been active in promoting quality high school psychology instruction for most of her career. She helped found and directs the Utah Teachers of Psychology in Secondary Schools (U-TOPSS) Fall Conference and is a member of the APA’s Introductory Psychology Initiative group. She served with me on the Steering Committee for the APA National Summit for High School Psychology, co-chairing the “Psychology is a Science” strand. She has served as chair of TOPSS and has presented at just about every major psychology and psychology-affiliated conference that exists, including NITOP, ACT, NCSS, and Psychology One. Kristin is generous in sharing good psychology instruction with others, including being a co-author of such resources as the Barron’s AP Q & A Psychology book and presenting at AP Summer Institutes each year. Kristin is the first high school psychology teacher awarded a Presidential Citation from Division 2.

I am sad that I won’t be able to see them in person this year at our Annual Conference on Teaching (ACT) since we had to move that event to an online experience. So, I made some lemonade out of those lemons and recorded a Zoom-cast with Loretta and Kristin to explore some of their perspectives on teaching and to show you all what amazing, caring, excellent teachers and people they are. Please enjoy our friendly chat.

Speaking of ACT and going virtual, please take a moment to listen to me, Tom Pusateri (our Executive Director) and Jordan Triosi (Director of ACT Programming) discuss our decision making process for going virtual and what we are looking forward to for this year. Thanks to Eric Landrum and the PsychSessions podcast team for taking the time to interview us and share how much we will miss seeing everyone in person this fall. (And take some time to browse around the PsychSessions site to find interviews with amazing psychologists and psychology teachers!).

Amy Fineburg

2020 STP President

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