School name: St. Catherine University
Type of school: St Kate’s is a private Catholic university. The undergraduate college is for women only; its associates and graduate colleges are co-educational. I teach primarily in the College for Women.
School locale: urban area
Classes you teach:
Seminar courses with service-learning, Learning Principles & Applications, General Psychology with Laboratory, History & Systems
Average class size: 18
What’s the best advice about teaching you’ve ever received?
I take a lot of my inspiration from great teachers I’ve had. It isn’t so much what they said or the advice they gave me, but what they did. They valued each student in their classrooms and taught with passion.
What book or article has shaped your work as a psychology teacher?
Fink’s Creating Significant Learning Experiences: An Integrated Approach to Designing College Courses. I read this book and attended a day-long workshop Fink was facilitating when I was a graduate student. It has shaped how I view the potential opportunities I have to work with students.
Briefly tell us about your favorite lecture topic or course to teach.
My favorite course to teach is Learning Principles and Applications. I love digging deeper into topics students are only able to touch on in introductory psychology courses. I require students to apply and practice everything we learn about and I like to think students have as much fun as I do!
Briefly describe a favorite assignment or in-class activity.
In all of my courses students need to work in teams in some capacity and in one of my classes students work together throughout the semester on a research project. One of my favorite in-class activities is building team-work norms and skills. When I introduce that we will work together in teams for the semester, I put students into teams and I give them the task of building the tallest tower out of toothpicks and Dots. It’s fun and silly, but afterwards we have opportunities to debrief and talk about the essential components of team work and face-to-face communication.
What teaching or learning techniques work best for you?
I have embraced the flipped teaching style for content-heavy courses. Students tell me they prefer to watch lectures (or professionally produced videos) on their own time as they value the practice and application activities we engage in during class time. The in-class activities also allow me to tailor my instruction to students who are more advanced as well as intervene with students who are struggling with the fundamentals.
What’s your workspace like?
I think I’d lose my mind if my office weren’t neat and clean!
Three words that best describe your teaching style.
Relational, engaging, humble
What is your teaching philosophy in 8 words or fewer?
Building relationships, engaging students authentically, learning from students.
Tell us about a teaching disaster (or embarrassment) you’ve had and how you dealt with the situation.
In class one day I was going through an example of classical conditioning and it had something to do with sheep in a field with an electric fence. A student made a silly comment about the example and I responded with “Not baaaad.” I flushed at sharing such an awful pun and my students broke out in uproarious laughter. I thanked them for laughing with me at such a bad pun!
What is something your students would be surprised to learn about you?
In a seminar course in which we explore career options and discuss career preparation, I often tell students about how I worked at a one-hour photo shop after I finished my Master’s degree. (I’m not sure if they are more shocked that there used to be one-hour photo shops or that I had to work there after I earned a Master’s degree, but it opens the door to some great conversations about the paths our careers can take!)
What are you currently reading for pleasure?
The book I’m reading now is kind of “meh.” But I love listening to podcasts! My favorites: More Perfect, Code Switch, and Radio Lab!
What is your hallway chatter like? What do you talk to colleagues about most (whether or not it is related to teaching/school)?
It’s Minnesota, so we talk about the weather a lot! I also chat with colleagues about weekend plans, someone’s child care crisis (because there’s always one!), and great restaurants.