Society for the Teaching of Psychology
Division 2 of the American Psychological Association

Susan Long: I'm a Member of STP and This is How I Teach

28 Feb 2018 11:43 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

School name: Lake Forest College

Type of school: Small Liberal Arts College

School locale: Near a major city

Classes you teach:

Gender-Based Violence, Cross-Cultural Psychology, Community Psychology, Research Methods & Statistics, Introduction to Psychology Laboratory, First-Year Studies: Social Labels and Identity

Average class size: 15

What’s the best advice about teaching you’ve ever received?

Do fewer things well.

My teaching mentor, Dr. Bette Bottoms, provided this guidance while teaching a “how to teach” course in graduate school. It’s now my mantra – for class lecture, syllabi, research, committee work…and life! Focus on a few things you can do well and farm out the rest!

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

The classic, McKeachie’s Teaching Tips, and recently, Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning (Brown, Roediger, & McDaniel, 2014).

Briefly tell us about your favorite lecture topic or course to teach.

I love teaching z-scores in Research Methods and Statistics. Calculating probability using the Normal Distribution is such an elegant and beautiful visual on the whiteboard. It’s when I can really see statistics beginning to click in my students’ brains. It adds a tangible element to the rather esoteric study of probability theory.

Briefly describe a favorite assignment or in-class activity.

In my senior seminar, Gender-Based Violence, each student chooses a country and complies data on violence against women, violence prevention, and social services for sexual assault and intimate partner violence in that country. There is little psychological research on these topics, in comparison to the United States. Thus, students use new types of sources (e.g., WHO reports, United Nations Reports) to summarize the state of sexual violence globally. This assignment is eye-opening to cultural differences and attitudes about violence against women and children.

Students write up a report on their chosen country, and we hold a session of the United Nations in our classroom. During the most recent session, we discussed how the refugee crisis intersects with violence against women, and what each welcoming country could do to address that violence.

What teaching or learning techniques work best for you?

When I write my lectures, I always consider the question, “Why is this important?” I’m an applied community psychologist, so it’s hard for me *not* to think about real world applications of the material. For students, I think this grounds the lectures in the real world.

What’s your workspace like?

Standing desk with a table for meetings—I prefer a round table for meetings with my colleagues and students—we’re working TOGETHER.

Three words that best describe your teaching style.

Energetic, Fair, Clear

Tell us about a teaching disaster (or embarrassment) you’ve had and how you dealt with the situation.

Our statistics teaching lab has a telephone. During class the phone rang, and I looked at the students bewilderedly and asked, “Should I answer it?” They were just as surprised as I was, so I picked up the phone, turned on my pre-grad school telemarketer voice, and answered, “Hotchkiss Hall, Room 9.” It was a fax sent to the wrong number. The students cracked up and remarked on that day throughout the semester.

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

I see many, many concerts and host bands passing through Chicago.

What are you currently reading for pleasure?

Without You There Is No Us by Suki Kim

What tech tool could you not live without?

My iphone

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

Gardening, kids, and future avenues for students.

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