Christopher Poirier: I'm a member of STP, and This is How I Teach

10 Sep 2014 2:36 PM | Anonymous

School name: Stonehill College

Type of college/university: Small liberal arts college

School locale: Easton, Massachusetts, a small town 30 minutes south of Boston

Classes you teach: General Psychology; Child Development; Research Methods in Psychology; Advanced Research in Developmental Psychology; Capstone

(Photo credit: Patrick O'Connor Photography)

What book or article has shaped your work as a psychology teacher?

I have learned a lot from reading the Lessons Learned: Practical Advice for the Teaching of Psychology series. I am embarrassed to admit that I have not read the volumes cover to cover. However, the selected readings have been quite helpful in shaping how I teach courses and interact with students. In addition, Teaching of Psychology has been an invaluable resource for improving my teaching.

Tell us about your favorite lecture topic or course to teach.

My favorite course to teach is Child Development. The main reason that I love teaching this course is because it gives me an opportunity to share stories about my two children: Cameron (6-year-old) and Kennedy (3-year-old). In addition, we have a Child Development Playroom on our campus, and my students are required to complete two observational research projects. Often, my wife and children are the participants in the playroom! It is a wonderful opportunity for me to blend family life and work.

Describe a favorite in-class activity or assignment.

I enjoy covering children’s eyewitness memory. I assign one of Maggie Bruck and Stephen Ceci’s articles on the suggestibility of children’s memory. Then, during class we watch a short video on a recent criminal case that involves a young child as an eyewitness. Finally, we have a class discussion in which we apply some of the suggestible interviewing techniques to the case. I really love this class because it clearly demonstrates the application of developmental research to improve children’s welfare. Notably, my students usually agree with my assessment and often rank it as the best class of the semester.

What teaching and learning techniques work best for you? (quizzes? homework? take home exams?)

I rely on over a dozen different techniques. I present material via multiple media (e.g., YouTube videos, PowerPoint), provide a variety of in- and out-of-class activities (e.g., writing assignments, small group discussions, class discussions, reading assignments), and use multiple assessment tools (e.g., low-stakes quizzes, cumulative exams, papers). Taken together, this approach has been well-received by my students.

What's your workspace like?

It depends on the time of year. If it’s the beginning of the semester, my office is extremely neat and organized. However, if it’s the end of the semester, my office could be condemned.  

Three words that best describe your teaching style.

Passionate, fair, challenging

What is your teaching philosophy in 8 words or fewer?

Apply evidence-based practices to enhance teaching.

What is something your students would be surprised to learn about you?

I don't like to get my hands dirty. For example, I eat donuts and pizza with a fork.

What are you currently reading for pleasure?

People have time to read for pleasure?  Does Teaching of Psychology count?

What tech tool could you not live without?

The Blackboard Learn course management system

What's your hallway chatter like? What do you talk to colleagues about most (whether or not it is related to teaching/school)? 

I am extremely fortunate to be on the faculty at Stonehill College. One of the best aspects of my job is having the opportunity to interact with my talented colleagues, both within and outside of the Psychology Department. When we are not talking about work-related issues, we discuss music (Dave Matthews Band!), the Boston sports scene (Patriots! Red Sox! Bruins!, Celtics!), and our children (cute and smart!). It’s an ideal working environment.

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