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

E-xcellence in Teaching
Editor: Manisha Sawhney
Associate Editor: Annie S. Ditta

  • 03 Mar 2022 10:57 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    William J.A. Eiler II, Jamie L. Bromley, Ryan A. Rush, and Bob A. Bromley (Franklin College)

    *Note: For the version with figures and additional resources included, please follow this link:

                Neuroscience, as a field, has exploded over the past two decades (Society for Neuroscience, 2021). It seems to be everywhere one looks: Bookstores, popular media, continuing education workshops, etc. While it may be included in many undergraduate psychology curricula (NCES, 2019), smaller schools may still be wondering how to incorporate neuroscience research into their programs. Additionally, some may still be struggling on how to include neuroscience concepts and activities across undergraduate programs. Fortunately, with some ingenuity and creativity, both of these things are doable and affordable for most undergraduate programs, especially smaller schools with probably even smaller budgets. This article will share ideas for neuroscience-based activities to include in psychology courses that are engaging and informative for students. Additionally, ways to involve undergraduates inside and outside of the classroom in community service and neuroscience research will be discussed. Finally, resources for purchasing affordable equipment like EEG and eye tracking and using 3-D printing to create equipment at low cost will be shared.

    Growth of Neuroscience and Career Opportunities

                According to the National Center for Education Statistics, there were 6,191 Neuroscience degrees conferred in 2017-18 (NCES, 2019). This reflects a 7% increase from the previous year, and a 30% increase from the previous decade (2007-2008). The job outlook for the those in the field of Neuroscience is expected to grow 17% in the next decade (2020-2030), which is much faster than the average (OOH, 2021). The most common areas for employment in the Neuroscience field is research and development, academia, hospitals, pharmaceuticals, and physician’s offices (OOH, 2021). While there are many opportunities to pursue Neuroscience in graduate programs, with 52 Master’s programs and 58 Ph.D. programs currently offered in the United States, there are also career opportunities for undergraduate students that have an educational background in Neuroscience. Some of these careers include pharmaceutical sales, equipment technicians, medical and healthcare managers, research assistants, and many more (OOH, 2021). Thus, including Neuroscience across the psychology curriculum will greatly benefit students in numerous ways and can provide additional career opportunities for them.

    Starting Small in General Psychology

                For a basic introduction to Neuroscience in a General Psychology course, students without a background in Biology may be intimidated and not engaged in learning about the brain and nervous system. One activity that is easily incorporated into General Psychology courses would be creating neurons with Play-Doh. We have been doing this activity at Franklin College for the past 12 years, and students have greatly enjoyed this and have performed better on their exams when asked about the structure of neuron. Students are divided into groups and provided with several colors of Play-Doh. They are instructed to build a basic neuron on a blank piece of paper and label the main structures and describe the functions. Each student in the group is assigned one part of the structure to build so that everyone is involved and engaged. Once neurons are complete, students view the different neurons and vote on the best one in terms of accuracy and style. However, they are not allowed to vote for their neuron! We often feature the winners on our social media department pages with the student’s permission, and we often give a small prize to the winning students, like one of our department stress brains (See Figure 1: Play-Doh Neurons).

    As with the Play-Doh neuron activity, we have observed that engaging in hands-on neuroscience activities enhances the student’s retention and their interest in a potentially boring, overly technical topic. Therefore, we created a similarly engaging neuroanatomy laboratory for use in our introductory classes. As human brains are difficult to obtain outside of a medical school setting, we use sheep brains as an alternative for this activity. Various biological sample vendors, such as Carolina Biological ( offer these brains at affordable prices, approximately $15 apiece. Using the sheep brains, we highlight the similarity of neuroanatomical structures with similar, previously discussed structures of the human brain. For our lab, we pre-cut the brains into two hemispheres along the midsagittal line, this not only effectively doubles the number of brains, but it also allows students to observe subcortical structures. These brains, when handled and stored properly, can last across a number of semesters. In addition, if needed, we have found that small cake pans from your local dollar store work just as well as more expensive dissection trays while Amazon is a good source for inexpensive dissection probes. Though this activity could “gross out” some students, most enjoy the ability to interact with real neural tissue and report that this lab is a beneficial learning experience.(See Figure 2).

    Student and Community Involvement

                Two ways to increase student involvement and excitement in Neuroscience would be to create a Neuroscience student group on campus and provide community outreach through public library programs for school-aged children. Before we had a Neuroscience major, our students wanted to create a Neuroscience Club, and they went through the process of developing a new student organization, a constitution and by-laws, and requesting a budget through our Student Involvement division. Neuroscience Club is continuing to grow, and they now have plans for field trips and to visit regional graduate programs in Neuroscience. Other club activities include demonstrations of the Neuroscience equipment, sharing research projects, or bringing in guest speakers. A club is a great way for students to meet others with similar interests and to spread the word of the Neuroscience programming on campus.

    Additionally, the club partnered with our Psi Chi chapter to create Brain Day at our local community library. We reached out to the children’s librarian in charge of programming, and for the past three years, we have offered an educational program on learning about the brain for elementary school students. The college students staff different hands-on stations for the children to learn about reaction times, explore sheep brains, create brain hats or color brain ornaments, and test out the important of cerebrospinal fluid on protecting the brain with an egg experiment (See Figure 3).

    Neuroscience Equipment for Undergraduate Education

    Although there are numerous ways of providing low-cost, engaged learning activities in neuroscience, much of the equipment and materials used in the study of neuroscience are prohibitively expensive and represent a significant hurdle to small schools wishing to offer a neuroscience curriculum. However, we have experimented with a number of ways, such as employing emerging technologies and searching out innovative start-up companies, to overcome these obstacles and provide our students with meaningful opportunities in neuroscience despite our limited budget.

    Recently, we have begun to embrace the utility of 3D printing and the opportunities it can afford in the development and creation of inexpensive equipment. Although the thought of 3D printing may be a bit daunting, the technology is surprisingly accessible with a shallow learning curve backed by innumerable websites and YouTube videos dedicated to the training of the uninitiated. Entry-level printers also have a very reasonable price point. Our department purchased the reliable PRUSA Research i3 MK3S printer ( for $749 USD; however, similarly capable open-source printers such as the Creality Ender-3 V2 ( can be found for around $250 USD. Thus far, we have printed a number of free, pre-existing files found online for use as demonstration models and teaching aids such as a life-size replica of Phineas Gage’s skull, rat skulls for the demonstration of stereotaxic surgery, and models to demonstrate popular optical illusions. You can even find step-by-step tutorials that allow you to covert MRI images into 3D files for printing. Recently we have begun to use design software such as Tinkercad and Fusion 360 (both of which are free for educational institutions) to create our own 3D models. Specifically, we have been working with various students to combine open-source electronics such as Arduino controller boards and Raspberry Pi microcomputers with 3D printed designs to create a modular operant chamber similar to those that typically cost thousands of dollars (See Figure 4). It is our goal to create additional behavioral neuroscience testing equipment such as elevated plus and radial-arm mazes, rotarod, and activity monitors, using 3D printing. 

    Utilizing Innovative Companies

    As mentioned above, providing students with meaningful experiences in neuroscience can be difficult on a small budget so, in addition to employing emerging technologies such as 3D printing and open-source electronics, we have also sought to improve our laboratory capabilities by seeking out smaller innovative companies for equipment rather than larger more well-known suppliers. One example of this is our recent acquisition of electroencephalographic (EEG) equipment through the company OpenBCI ( at a fraction of the cost of such a system through other suppliers (stand-alone bundles start at $1300.00 USD). Although we as faculty are still new to the world of EEG, this equipment was so easy to set up and calibrate we have already been able to use this fully open-source system in the classroom to demonstrate the concept of neurofeedback by allowing students to turn a fan on and off with their mind. We have been working with a group of students to integrate the electroencephalographical and the electromyographical capabilities of this system to control a remote control car, while another student began using the system to conduct sleep study research. In addition to our EEG system, we also recently began working with an eye-tracking system purchased through Gazepoint ( Equipment through this company was much more affordable than similar equipment offered by more well-known companies such as Tobii and offers us the ability to provide research opportunities to our students in emerging fields such as neuromarketing.

    We have also found several other smaller companies that produce various products that are perfect for in-class demonstrations of neuroscience concepts. For example, Backyard Brains ( is a small start-up company that offers affordable equipment for neuroscience demonstrations. My favorites from this company are “RoboRoach” which allows you and your students to control an actual roach through the manipulation of its sensory systems and the “Human-Human” interface that allows one person to control the movement of another person’s arm through the stimulation of motor neurons. These are fun, easy demonstrations that have an appreciable impact on students and are relatively affordable with prices from $159.99 USD or in a bundle with three additional products for $999.98 USD. Our students have also really enjoyed the impairment goggles purchased from Drunk Busters ( These goggles simulate the visual impairment that accompanies the use of psychoactive drugs such as alcohol, marijuana, and ecstasy. There are numerous ways you can use these goggles to demonstrate impairment due to drug use such as cup stacking and mock field sobriety tests, but my personal favorite is having them attempt to drive using a steering wheel controller paired with a driving video game such as Forza.


                As you can see, incorporating innovative and engaging activities is accessible to most undergraduate psychology programs and even for high school teachers, if you are aware of the money-saving opportunities available. We will continue to explore new ways to engage students and the community to learn about Neuroscience and to encourage students to consider careers in this exciting and ever-growing field.


    Chapter XII: SFN at 50 Years: Focus on the Future. Society for Neuroscience. (2020). Retrieved December 21, 2021, from

    U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2021). Medical scientists. In Occupational Outlook Handbook.

    U.S. Department of Education. National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). (2019). Digestof Education Statistics.

  • 01 Feb 2022 5:29 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Alexander B. Swan (Eureka College)

    Picture it (pun-intended)—you and your students, all starting intently at the screen as Joy and Sadness, with the help of Bing-Bong, desperately try to get back to Riley’s Headquarters to break her out of the funk she’s feeling after moving across the country to a new place and a new school. Yep, that’s the plot of the Pixar film, Inside Out (2015). But wait, why are you watching an animated movie in your psychology class, taking up precious time for material?

    What if I told you that this is precious material time? It may seem odd if you’re not used to using full class periods for film viewing, but from my experience, it is a fantastic learning and material-delivery tool (e.g., Bluestone, 2000; Mishra, 2018). One discussion that tends to arise when I mention using films in class is the use of documentary films vs. fictional Hollywood film, such as Inside Out. The argument tends to be about using factual information rather than fictionalized information, either based on completely fictional and fantastical plotlines or a fictionalized account of a true story. I hear this argument and find docs to be wonderful teaching tools—and some even have great entertainment and production value. But in this essay, I want to promote the use of fictional films as pedagogical tools that not only entertain, but also promote critical thinking skills. 

    The Ways to Use These Films

    The primary way I use fictional films in my classes is to promote critical thinking skills. Perhaps one of the strongest ways to accomplish this is by having students assess the accuracy of portrayal for the intended psychological concepts (Bluestone, 2000; Fleming et al., 1990; Gregg et al., 1995; Wedding & Niemiec, 2014). For example, in Inside Out, there are several psychological concepts that can be broached, including emotions, memories, or even depression. I use this film in several classes and tend to highlight that the film had noted emotion psychologist Dacher Keltner as a consultant. Students can explore how connected the emotions portrayed (Joy, Sadness, Disgust, Anger, and Fear) are to the current understanding of emotion research. With respect to memories, students can explore our current spatial models of memory, especially long-term memory, are shown in the new world of a person’s head.

    On the other side of the portrayal coin, bad portrayals of psychological concepts, can also spur critical thinking. One of my top films to explore bad psychological science is Lucy (2014). Students are immediately thrust into a world that has famed scientists believing in the myth that humans only use 10% of their brains. Of course, using more means special powers, right? A better example of exploration of accuracy, however, comes in the form of the film I have used the most in my classes: Memento (2000). In this film, the main character suffers from anterograde amnesia, similar to what is described about H.M. by Scoville and Milner (1957) or the many documentaries on Clive Wearing. There are accurate portrayals of the memory impairment, like how another character is described to have been put under memory tests or how the main character nearly describes recalled memories in general; but then there are inaccurate portrayals, like the length of the main character’s working memory or how he describes it in several ways to other characters. Students have to grapple with the differences presented in the film to the information presented in the material of the course. This nuance is crucially important to build critical thinking skills.

    Another way fictional film pedagogy is useful in the classroom stems from the desire to use varied material to reach students at all stages and backgrounds. While some students might prefer the straight empirical findings of the hottest psychological studies, many others prefer the varied active learning quality that can come with film in the classroom (Gregg et al., 1995). Along with the portrayal argument, the artistic nature of the film can be beneficial to understanding psychological concepts. Boyatzis (1994) explores how students can use a fictional film to discuss emotional and social development. Fleming et al. (1990) discusses usage of psychological disorder films to explore intimately how a character might deal with their disorder, or how others in their lives might deal with the disorders. I’ve explored recently in great deal with colleagues how films like The Hours (2002) portrays three women with depression and bipolar disorder across three distinct time periods, and how the culture of the time periods impacts how these women are treated and how they cope. With fictional films, you can get a glimpse of how these characters directly deal. While this is possible with documentary films, there is a sense of disconnection without the artistic direction of the scene, the camera angles, or even the music. This extra stuff can give students a deeper insight into the struggles of characters and their illnesses. 

    A third way I like using fictional films in my courses is the discussion about the filmmakers’ decisions. These are people with limited knowledge of psychological concepts in general, and thus their perspectives are useful windows for students to explore. Students can approach the content from the perspective of filmmakers and discuss their lay understanding from those that put the spin on the fictionalized material. For example, A Clockwork Orange (1971) clearly portrays the use of aversive conditioning on the main character. And the director, Stanley Kubrick, describes and films the features of the process with relatively accuracy. But if we compare that to M. Night Shyamalan‘s Split (2016) and the portrayal of Dissociative Identity Disorder, it is clear that he as a writer-director doesn’t necessarily understand the nuance and appearance of the disorder (albeit, the world is somewhat fantastical). 

    How to Assess Learning with Films?

    If you’re interested in incorporating films into your classes, either using class time or assigning the films to view outside of class, there are several ways to assess whether that critical thinking and evaluation of the artistic material is connected to your course learning outcomes and conceptual material.

    The most common assessment appears to be the analysis paper. This is the typical assignment I use with films in my classes. Boyatzis (1994) describes in detail the various prompts you can include to encourage students to evaluate the course material within the context of the films. While the prompts in the paper are geared toward child development, they can be adapted for whatever material your course focuses on, such as memory, psychological disorders, learning, or even sensation and perception (yes, there are few films out there for this niche topic!).

    Gregg et al. (1995) offers additional examples of assessments, such as having students watch a film from a list of options and create a diary of experiences they have had similar to the characters in the film. Another option, specifically for a psychological disorders course, is to have the students evaluate a character’s symptoms using diagnostic criteria from the DSM or the ICD. I do caution the use of the latter, as students should be given a clear disclaimer that films will likely exaggerate symptoms for narrative reasons and may not reflect the reality of the conditions in real life or the appropriateness of the diagnostic categories.

    One additional option of assessment that I tend to use in my introductory psychology course is the use of a short answer question on a test. This is usually a broad open-ended question that doesn’t require too much psychological knowledge—it’s an introductory course after all—or deep viewing practices (e.g., multiple viewings to capture all the nuance).

    One thing to keep in mind when designing these assessments: engage in previewing the films and highlight the concepts that you find to be the most appropriate. There is going to be a lot of subjectivity in the film analysis, especially from younger students toward older films. I tend to keep my rubrics as open as possible, so that students can have the freedom to apply the course concepts to whatever scene they see fit. Sometimes, my students capture things that I do not. For example, when I showed Inside Out to my Psychology in Film course, one student pointed out the interesting gendering of the emotion characters in the minds of Riley vs. the adults in the film. It was clear that this was something I had missed, and I now use this information in all discussions I have about the film.


    Where To Find Appropriate Films?

    As a firm believer that most films are psychologically-based, because as humans, we tend to make art about ourselves, it’s likely you’ll be able to find films everywhere you go. But, if you’re just starting out in this pedagogical practice, I can recommend several places to find great films for various subdisciplines in psychology.

    Of course, trying an internet search for “psychology films” will bring a wealth of information. However, it’s hard to know which results are good and which aren’t so good. Indiana University maintains an excellent repository, which includes ratings (and who among us doesn’t love data?). It’s called the Cognitive Science Movie Index (, and while the name might indicate niche films or films that you couldn’t use in a social psychology class, you’ll be pleasantly surprised! There are several keywords to narrow searches and many films have been tagged to fit multiple concepts and ideas within psychology. As I mentioned, there are three ratings for each film, each on a scale from 1-7: overall film quality (it might be a decent cognitive science movie, but does the film stink?), relevance (it’s tagged with AI, but is it really about artificial intelligence?), and accuracy (how accurate is the portrayal with what we currently know about that topic?). The great news about these ratings is that they are user-generated. So if you pick a film from this Index, you’re invited to add your ratings after viewing. I’ve used this resource several times, as many of my courses are in this realm.

    Gregg et al. (1995) lists several films in different psychological categories, each used by one or more of the authors in their courses. Boyatzis (1994) includes several films related to child development and this list has a bonus: foreign language films, in case that is of interest to you as an instructor or in the case that you give the option to your students to choose, their film interests.


    Give It a Try!

    If you haven’t engaged in film pedagogy before, I hope this essay was a decent help to get your journey started. Again, fictional films are varied and should be used with as much preparation that you give to your other course pedagogy and assessments. It may be simpler to use documentary films, but I definitely suggest broadening those film horizons. You can aid your students’ critical thinking abilities by offering them an artistic exploration of the content, in a funny, thrilling, and entertaining way! I consistently get student evaluation comments, anonymous and otherwise that tell me they appreciated the incorporation of the films in class. You get to have your very own Monty Python moment and exclaim, “And now for something completely different!


    Bluestone, C. (2000). Feature Films as a Teaching Tool. College Teaching, 48(4), 141–146. 

    Boyatzis, C. J. (1994). Using feature films to teach social development. Teaching of Psychology, 21, 99–101.

    Fleming, M. Z., Piedmont, R. L., & Hiam, C. M. (1990). Images of Madness: Feature Films in Teaching Psychology. Teaching of Psychology, 17(3), 185–187.

    Gregg, V. R., Hosley , C. A., Weng, A., & Montemayor, R. (1995). Using feature films to promote active learning in the college classroom. U.S. Department of Education, Office of Educational Research and Improvement, Washington D.C. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED 389367).

    Mishra, S. (2018). The World in the Classroom: Using Film as a Pedagogical Tool. Contemporary Education Dialogue, 15(1), 111–116.

    Scoville, W. B., & Milner, B. (1957). Loss of recent memory after bilateral hippocampal lesions. Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry, 20(1), 11–21.

    Wedding, D., & Niemiec, R. M. (2015). Movies & Mental Illness, 4th Edition (Vol. 47, Issue 9, pp. 737–738).
  • 06 Jan 2022 3:59 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Guy A. Boysen 

    Department of Psychology, McKendree University 

    I knew I was in trouble when the student would not stop emailing me. The emails always came the night before homework was due and felt like one of those classic foot-in-the-door scams that starts with “Do you have time for one question?” and escalates to “How much money would you like to donate?” A typical series of emails went something like this: 

    Student email #1: “The assignment says give an example of harmful dysfunction. What do you want us to say for that?” 

    Student email #2: “So the example is in the reading?”   

    Student email #3: “I’ve read and I can’t find it. Please help me.”  

    Student email #4: “Would mental illness be an example?”    

    Student email #5: “Can you give me a page number? I can’t find it.”  

    With each assignment, I was doing more and more of the student’s work. And with each assignment, I was growing more and more resentful. Then, the student started to criticize my teaching to other professors. I really, really disliked this student.   

    Intense dislike of students is something that teachers do not talk about. Certainly, griping about students is a popular topic of conversation in academia (tied with griping about the administration and griping about parking), but teachers rarely admit that there are some students they seriously dislike. It seems so unprofessional, so petty, so unteacherly. I wanted to do research on this topic for years but always put it off as too distasteful – who wants to be known as “that professor who hates students”?   

    Eventually, I overcame my wariness and surveyed college teachers about their experiences with disliked students (Boysen et al., 2020, 2021). As it turned out, I was not alone in disliking the occasional student. In fact, disliking students was common. Although teachers said dislike had many negative consequences on their teaching, they also provided ideas for how to manage it. I summarize these results in the sections that follow.  

    How Common is Intense Dislike of Students? 

    Have you ever had a student in a class that you intensely disliked? If you said “yes” to this question, you are like a lot of other college teachers. In fact, across two independent surveys, about 50% of college teachers said that they had intensely disliked a student. This not to say that it occurs frequently. About 80% of faculty who had experienced disliked said that it happened, at most, once every couple of years. Nonetheless, it is typical for college teachers to dislike a student at some point in their careers.   

    When asked what caused the dislike, teachers cited reasons ranging from the trivial – “Constant talking/whispering during a large lecture class” – to the terrifying – “He found me multiple times per day to intrusively and anxiously ask me questions about grades or assignments in a somewhat angry way.” Although reasons varied widely, the most common ones will sound familiar.  

    By far, the most common reasons for dislike centered on students’ disrespect for the teacher or the course. For example, one teacher reported dislike for a student who “was rude in class, dismissive of the material, and would challenge everything they got wrong.” Another teacher quoted a student as saying “well, I talked to my biology instructor and he says this class isn't important." Psychology teachers respect themselves and their science, so it is difficult to encounter students who do not share this respect.      

    Other common reasons for student dislike might be broadly characterized as “bad behavior.” Academic irresponsibility was a frequently reported form of bad behavior. One teacher provided a typical list of student laxities including “lack of motivation; not attending class; not completing assignments, but submitting blank documents to try to get points.” Such poor academic behavior can be infuriating to teachers who have a passion for psychology and helping others learn the topic. Being disruptive is another bad behavior. Acting out in class, playing on electronic devices, having side conversations, and hijacking discussion are just some of the disruptions that teachers said led to dislike.     

    Finally, teachers reported that some students simply have unlikable personalities. Narcissism, arrogance, smugness, and neediness are annoying personality traits that lead teachers to dislike students. Entitlement is another trait that riles up a lot of teachers. Some students expect special treatment and become upset when teachers do not meet their demands. One teacher said, “I would not grant a delayed grade for the course given the student had not completed anything all semester. The student then sent an email to the Dean full of lies about my alleged unwillingness to work with her.” Teachers like to feel helpful, not used. Ultimately, the complexities of human relationships make some conflict inevitable, and relationships between teachers and students are no exception.  

    How Does Disliking Students Impact Teachers? 

    In the previous section, I characterized dislike as infrequent because about 80% of teachers experience dislike only every few years or so – this glosses over the 20% of faculty who dislike students every year, hardly an insubstantial number. I hope these folks are alright because disliking a student can be quite stressful. In my own experience with the student who wanted me to do their homework, just seeing their name in my inbox spiked my blood pressure. This is just one example of dislike’s many stressful consequences.        

    Disliking a student can take an emotional and motivational toll on teachers. In my surveys, teachers said that they worried about interactions with the student inside and outside of class. One teacher stated that “I dreaded running into the student elsewhere on campus. When I did, I would get very anxious and tried to avoid them.” Sometimes teachers started to doubt themselves and their teaching ability. Or, if a student’s behavior was threatening, teachers became fearful. For example, one teacher said that fear of a student’s behavior led them to have “my cell phone out at all times in case I needed to call security.” As can be expected, dislike can cause a decrease in motivation: “It made me dread going to teach that particular class.”  

    Dread for a course is not the route to teaching effectiveness, and some teachers reported that dislike made them worse teachers. The problems posed by just one student sometimes hurt the class overall. One teacher said, “It put me in a grumpy mood whenever I was heading off to that class, which directly affected how I taught. It took a toll on me and I know other students could feel it.” Some teachers lost their focus: “I became distracted while teaching due to managing my own emotions.” Another teacher said that “it increased the cognitive load on me as I taught and simultaneously needed to stop their misbehavior.” Teaching is hard enough; the added distraction of a disliked student makes it doubly challenging.   

    Interacting with a disliked student, inside or outside of class, can become a burden. Teachers may hide in their offices, stay off email, and put off interactions with the student. Sometimes, it was too much to take. As one teacher said, “I finally lost it and screamed at the student in a two-minute diatribe that I still regret to this day.” Even in extreme circumstances, teachers should not lose their tempers with students. Thus, it is important to do something about dislike before frustration overcomes pedagogy.   

    What Can Teachers Do About Disliking Students? 

    So, student dislike is common and stressful – that sounds pretty bleak, but there is hope. In my survey, I also asked teachers how they dealt with dislike, and they provided many possible solutions. In general, their responses fell into two categories: managing student behaviors that cause dislike and managing reactions to the student. Starting with managing student behaviors, teachers should consider basic classroom management techniques (Svinicki & McKeachie, 2011; Wingert & Molitor, 2009). There are well-established tricks for keeping students’ attention, managing classroom discussions, motivating students to do coursework, dealing with excuses, and prevention of cheating. If something is interfering with teaching or learning in the classroom, do something about it.   

    Teachers do not have to fight classroom-management battles alone. The teachers in my survey asked their colleagues for suggestions. In addition, they occasionally went to administrators for support and intervention when circumstances became dire. Nonetheless, the responsibility for managing students ultimately falls on the teacher, and the most common response to dislike was intentional professionalism. Teachers established rules. They stuck to policy. Hard as it was, they treated disliked students fairly. As one teacher put it, the answer to dislike was “setting clear boundaries, communicating clearly and assertively, [and] not backing down.”         

    Not all reasons for dislike can be eliminated through classroom management techniques. Students can be innovative rule breakers, noxious personalities tend to persist, and interpersonal dynamics can produce unexpected conflict. For all these reasons and more, teachers must also be prepared to manage their reactions to disliked students. Ultimately, the most important skill is to be professional under all circumstances. Keep calm, think before acting, and treat the disliked student with respect – these are tough but essential rules.   

    Keeping things professional on the outside does not prevent internal storms of emotion, so teachers also reported using general stress-reduction techniques to deal with their reactions to disliked students. They sought social support from trusted colleagues. They engaged in self-care such as meditation and counseling. Finally, some teachers said that they employed cognitive shifts. They reframed the situation to emphasize that the problem was about the student, not themselves. Or, they tried to empathize with the student, doing things like imagining the situation from their perspective. Sometimes, getting to know a student just a little better is all that is needed to switch them from an enemy to an ally.   


    So, what happened with the student who kept emailing me for answers to homework? In a professional, constructive way, I explained that my objective was to teach students to read and think critically – as such, I was done giving out answers to homework questions via email. I never let on that I knew about the criticism. The emails stopped. I was less stressed. To be frank, the student still kind of annoyed me. There is no perfect solution to the problem of disliking students. However, teachers should know that it is a common, stressful experience that can be handled professionally. With that knowledge, they can prepare for challenges that lie ahead.  


    Boysen, G. A., Isaacs, R., Chicosky, R. L., & Delmore, E. E. (2020). Intense dislike of students: Frequency, causes, effects, and management among college teachers. Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in Psychology. 

    Boysen, G. A., Sampo, B. Axtell, E., & Kishimoto, A. (2021). Dislikable students: The perspective of college teachers. College Teaching. 

    Svinicki, M. D., & McKeachie, W. J. (2011). McKeachie’s teaching tips: Strategies, research, and theory for college and university teachers. (13th ed.). Wadsworth, Cengage Learning. 

    Wingert, D., & Molitor, T. (2009). Best practices: Preventing and managing challenging classroom situations. Currents in Teaching and Learning, 1(2), 4–18. 

  • 16 Dec 2021 6:45 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Lynne N. Kennette

    Durham College

    Phoebe S. Lin

    Framingham State University

    Students who take at least one online course during their program are more likely to complete their degree (Wavle & Ozogul, 2019). Recently, various different types of e-learning have been implemented, but online education existed before COVID-19. Unlike synchronous online courses where live instruction occurs on a weekly basis (much like a traditional classroom), asynchronous courses provide students with added flexibility as there are no daily/weekly time-specific attendance requirements. In this way, students still encounter the weekly content provided by faculty (by way of recorded lecture, activities, videos, etc.), but at the time of their choosing (though most have regular, usually weekly deadlines for students). This asynchronous online learning environment is what we are referring to in this article. When we are discussing asynchronous online learning, we frame it as learning that occurs within a specific semester at an institution, with weekly/bi-weekly deadlines, and not the open ended, self-paced courses, like some massive open online course (MOOCs) where you can enroll whenever and end whenever (we also recognize that the grading is often quite different in these courses compared to a more traditional asynchronous online course).

    Although not all students will benefit from the asynchronous online learning environment, many do, and many students prefer it (Cutherell & Lyon, 2007) for various reasons (including some of the benefits we discuss herein). Below, we propose that online asynchronous courses provide several benefits for students including physiological ones. Additional benefits include removing barriers, motivation, flexibility, and time for reflection.


    Physiological Benefits

    The two major physiological benefits of asynchronous learning are more sleep and less stress. First, because the class work can be completed at any time, there is no need to wake up early to get to class, or earlier to have enough time for a potentially long commute. Second, asynchronous learning affords students benefits that can help lower stress. For example, saving money on parking and commuting costs (gas, transit pass, etc). Additionally, some of the daily life stressors (e.g., traffic, line-ups at the coffee shop) can be reduced or eliminated. Daily stressors such as these, as well as long commutes, are linked to higher levels of stress and high blood pressure (Antoun et al., 2017; Hoehner et al., 2012).


    Removes Barriers

    Other benefits revolve around the theme of removing barriers. For example, some aspects of universal design for learning (UDL; CAST, 2018) are easier to implement online (e.g., closed-captioning, larger font size, etc).  Therefore, students may not need to self-identify their need for accommodations, at least in instances where the online course is designed following the principles of UDL. By increasing accessibility, this reduces or eliminates unearned advantages of more privileged students, such as able-bodied privileges, cultural privileges in language fluency, etc. This then would allow students who could be at a disadvantage in traditional face-to-face classrooms to thrive and achieve improved learning outcomes.

    Another example is that, in some cases, financial or family limitations may make it necessary for someone to choose a program at a school that is nearby rather than a program that they are actually interested in, regardless of where they are located (Pastore et al., 2009). Additionally, a woman needing to share personal information related to morning sickness/pregnancy, miscarriage, etc. can be avoided as can other ailments that can affect both sexes (e.g., injury). Further, asynchronous learning in a remote environment can benefit pregnant students by eliminating potential bias from the instructor given that findings show pregnant individuals are negatively stereotyped as less capable and less committed to their work (Morgan et al., 2013).

    Additionally, non-traditional students may also benefit in unique ways (some of which are discussed in later sections, such as due to the added flexibility). In some cases, asynchronous learning levels the playing field by providing fewer status cues and providing some reassurance with some anonymity in the online environment (Hachey, 2017; Melkun, 2012). Thus, students of underrepresented groups may feel more at ease knowing that these environments can reduce the likelihood of encountering microaggressions (subtle or indirect forms of prejudice) tied to identity such as race/ethnicity, gender identity, age, etc. (Sue, 2010).



    Knapczyk et al. (2005) found that students felt a strong sense of community in asynchronous classes and that students may feel more comfortable expressing themselves in an asynchronous format due to the anonymity it provides (especially for non-traditional students), leading to better dialogues, including among students who may not typically participate in a face-to-face class (Hachey, 2017; Melkun, 2012). Another benefit is that this could lead to increased representation of voices from marginalized groups, who are often hesitant to speak out due to anxiety associated with the risk of being stereotyped, further oppressed, encountering racial gaslighting, or reluctance to offer a counter-perspective that differs from White peers in a predominantly White setting (Fries-Britt & Turner, 2002; Walls & Hall, 2018).



    The flexibility provided by an asynchronous course is unequalled in any other learning modality (Pastore et al., 2009). Learners have a great deal of control and flexibility around how and when they complete their learning, which means they can schedule their learning time based on whatever need (work, children) or preference (early birds vs night owls) are relevant to them at that time (and easily adjust if those needs change). This may be especially beneficial to non-traditional students who often have to balance multiple competing responsibilities such as long work hours, being a caretaker for a family member, etc. (Hachey, 2017).

    Its convenience also lets students learn to manage their own time (Pastore et al., 2009), which gives them a chance to practice/learn soft skills (time management, etc). They can also develop their autonomy and self-regulation (Vonderwell et al., 2007). By refining their time-management skills and increasing self-reliance, this can lead to greater discipline and work ethic, well-preparing them to enter the workforce when they have completed college.


    Deeper, More Reflective Engagement with Content

    When learning occurs asynchronously, students have more time to reflect on the content (Driscoll, 1998) which may lead to deeper discussions about the content (Hara et al, 2000). Because of this deeper engagement, as well as problem-solving, and engagement with peers, students are more likely to engage in critical thinking in asynchronous online discussions (De Wever et al., 2010).

    With asynchronous learning, this could also encourage students to discuss the course material with someone not enrolled in the class (romantic partner, family member, roommate, etc.) when trying to understand a difficult concept. Engaging with course material more deeply, by elaboration, or making connections to other content through a discussion with another person, facilitates the new information being transferred to long-term memory and is more easily retrieved at a later time (Baddeley, 1997; Craik & Lockhart, 1972). Further, the asynchronous format increases the opportunity to teach the content to a non-expert (again, someone not enrolled in the course), which can also improve understanding; this is because teaching someone requires that we retrieve the information from memory, which we also know improves retention and later recall (Koh et al., 2018; Roediger & Karpicke, 2006).

    By removing the opportunity to receive immediate clarification from the course instructor when a question arises, asynchronous learning can also encourage students to independently research a concept and look up additional information independently. Doing so can increase engagement with the material and drive intrinsic motivation to master the information using self-reliance rather than dependence on the instructor. Research has indicated that the more time and effort invested in a task, the greater the value we place on the outcome (Aronson & Mills, 1959). Thus, if students make a greater effort to independently seek clarification when a question arises, this could increase their motivation to obtain high achievement in the course by increasing the perceived value of their learning outcomes.



    One of the major challenges experienced in any classroom is the lack of student motivation, particularly intrinsic motivation. Pink (2009) proposed that one of the internal drives that help develop greater intrinsic motivation is autonomy- having a sense of control over our work and personal lives. The freedom afforded in asynchronous courses is motivating and may allow students to be more creative as well (Pink, 2009).

    Further, motivation to attend synchronous sessions can be difficult, especially in the context of Zoom fatigue (Bailenson, 2021). Therefore, allowing the lecture to be watched when they haven’t been in front of a screen all day or to access sections of the lecture spaced out over time, where learners really do control the pace at which they receive information, is advantageous to students. Past research has also shown that there is a cost to using video such that synchronous zoom-type meetings increase cognitive load (Hinds, 1999). Related, by giving students the option to learn the material in multiple study sessions rather than in one attempt, the spacing effect will likely improve retention of the material by allowing more information to be processed, reflected on, and encoded into long-term memory (Ebbinghaus, 1885).



    Although we have focused on benefits for students, there are also benefits for the faculty teaching these courses (see Kennette & Lin, 2021, for a discussion of the benefits of remote work for employees). When employees benefit, it should come to reason that the educational experience can be better for students as well. Of course, not all courses are created equal (regardless of delivery mode), so, much like there can be less effective in-person courses, so too can there be ineffective asynchronous online courses. But in the case of well-designed, asynchronous courses, students do report greater satisfaction and perceived learning, especially when students were more active in the course and had more (asynchronous) interactions with classmates and/or instructors (Swan, 2001). Well-designed online asynchronous courses provide a consistent course structure, not too many modules, frequent interactions with the instructor and other students, and lively discussions (Swan, 2001). In these instances, some research has shown that students tend to prefer to receive information asynchronously rather than synchronously (Cutherell & Lyon, 2007), so for some students, this approach is appreciated.

    Regardless of preference, in many cases, asynchronous courses really are the best of both worlds with synchronous meetings possible with faculty or among students, either during virtual office hours or other scheduled times or to work on group projects (see Lowenthal et al., 2017 for some considerations). So, institutions should see asynchronous online classes as a valid approach to education, which may provide opportunities that are valuable to many groups. By expanding learning/classroom formats, higher education can become more accessible to a greater number of learners, increasing equity in society.




    Antoun, M., Edwards, K. M., Sweeting, J., & Ding, D. (2017). The acute physiological stress response to driving: A systematic review. PLOS ONE 12(10).

    Aronson, E., & Mills, J. (1959). The effect of severity of initiation on liking for a group. The Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 59, 177-181.

    Baddeley, A. D. (1997). Human Memory: Theory and Practice. Hove, UK: Psychology Press.

    Bailenson, J. N. (2021). Nonverbal overload: A theoretical argument for the causes of Zoom fatigue. Technology, Mind, and Behavior, 2(1).

    Craik, F. I. M., & Lockhart, R. S. (1972). Levels of processing: A framework for memory research. Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal Behavior, 11, 671-684.

    CAST (2018). Universal design for learning guidelines version 2.2.

    Cutherell, K., & Lyon, A. (2007). Instructional strategies: What do online students prefer? MERLOT Journal of Online Learning and Teaching, 3(4), 357-362.

    De Wever, B., Schellens, T., Valcke, M, & Van Keer, H. (2010). Roles as a structuring tool in online discussion groups: The differential impact of different roles on social knowledge construction. Computers in Human Behavior, 26, 516-523. 

    Driscoll, M. (1998). Web-Based Training: Jossey-Bass Publishers.

    Ebbinghaus, H. (1885). Über das gedächtnis: untersuchungen zur experimentellen psychologie (Memory: A Contribution to Experimental Psychology): Duncker and Humblot.

    Fries-Britt, S. L. & Turner, B. (2002). Uneven stories: Successful Black collegians at a Black and a White campus. The Review of Higher Education, 25, 315–330.

    Hachey, V. K. (2017). Nontraditional student participation in asynchronous online discussions. [Unpublished dissertation]. University of Minnesota.

    Hara, N., Bonk, C. J., & Angeli, C. (2000). Content analysis of online discussion in an applied educational psychology course. Instructional Science, 28(2), 115-152. 

    Hinds, P. J. (1999). The cognitive and interpersonal costs of video. Media Psychology, 1(4), 283-311.

    Hoehner, C. M., Barlow, C. E., Allen, P., & Schootman, M. (2012). Commuting distance, cardiorespiratory fitness, and metabolic risk. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 42(6), 571-578.

    Kennette, L. N. & Lin, P. S. (2021, June 28). Healthier at home. APS Observer

    Koh, A. W. L., Lee, S. C., & Lim, S. W. H. (2018). The learning benefits of teaching: A retrieval practice hypothesis. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 32(3), 401-410.

    Lowenthal, P. R., Snelson, C., & Dunlap, J. C. (2017). Live synchronous web meetings in asynchronous online courses: Reconceptualizing virtual office hours. Online Learning, 21(4), 177-194. 

    Knapczyk, D. R., Frey, T. J., & Wal-Marencik, W. (2005). An evaluation of web conferencing in online teacher preparation. Teacher Education and Special Education, 28(2), 114-124. 

    Melkun, C. H. (2012). Nontraditional students online: Composition, collaboration, and community. Journal of Continuing Higher Education, 60, 33-39. 

    Morgan, W. B., Walker, S. S., Hebl, M. M. R., & King, E. B. (2013). A field experiment: Reducing interpersonal discrimination toward pregnant job applicants. Journal of Applied Psychology, 98, 799-809.

    Pastore, R., & Carr-Chellman, A. (2009). Motivations for residential students to participate in online courses. Quarterly Review of Distance Education, 10(3), 263-277. Retrieved from

    Pink, D. H. (2009). The surprising truth about what motivates us: Riverhead.

    Roediger, H. L. & Karpicke, J. D. (2006). Test-enhanced learning: Taking memory tests improves long-term retention. Psychological Science, 17(3), 249-255.

    Sue, D. W. (2010). Microaggressions in everyday life: Race, gender, and sexual orientation. John Wiley & Sons.

    Swan, K. (2001). Virtual interaction: Design factors affecting student satisfaction and perceived learning in asynchronous online courses. Distance Education, 22(2), 306-331. 

    Vonderwell, S., Liang, X, & Alderman, K. (2007) Asynchronous discussions and assessment in online learning. Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 39(3), 309-328. 

    Walls, J. K., & Hall, S. S. (2018). A focus group study of African American students’ experiences with classroom discussions about race at a predominantly White university. Teaching in Higher Education, 23, 47-62.

    Wavle, S., & Ozogul, G. (2019). Investigating the impact of online classes on undergraduate degree completion. Online Learning, 23(4), 281-295.


  • 19 Nov 2021 3:51 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Jacqueline A. Goldman

    Oregon State University

    One of the best components of the psychology major is its ability to be applied to many other fields and occupations (Gurung et al., 2016) but also its ease of self-reference of material (Dunn et al., 2010). Even though we as educators in this field find this to be obvious, it seems that many of our students struggle seeing the personal and meaningful connections of psychology course material. This lack of meaningful connection or utility value being especially prominent in statistics, research methods, and other high-level courses (Sizemore & Lewandowski, 2009). When many of our psychology majors do not have intentions of going to graduate school in the psychology field, these courses can feel even less relevant for our students (Conroy et al., 2019). At first this may not seem like an issue, as you do not necessarily need to find personal relevance in every piece of content that is learned, but we do know that helping students to find connection in meaningful ways to course content can help them better retain material in the long term (Heddy & Sinatra, 2017; Pugh, 2004) which is arguably the goal in any course. Given Psychology’s self-relevance, it seems that relating course content to students’ every day experiences would be almost second nature, but for many students this does not occur spontaneously (Vansteenkiste et al., 2018). One way we can encourage and facilitate meaningful and personal connection to course content is through a construct called Transformative Experience (TE).

    The development of the transformative experience framework came from research by Pugh (2002) who based the construct on John Dewey’s work on learning and aesthetics. Research by Pugh (2011) combined various components of transfer (applying learning to a new task in a new context; Marini & Genereux, 1995), conceptual change (a cognitive reconstruction of knowledge; Dole & Sinatra, 1998), and task value (a students’ belief of the degree to which an academic task is worth pursuing, Wigfield & Eccles, 2000). Thus, a transformative experience, refers to using course content in an everyday experience to see and value the world in new ways (Wong et al., 2001). Within the construct of TE, there are three pieces that need to occur for a true transformative experience to have happened: motivated use, expansion of perception, and experiential value. In essence: students apply concepts to their everyday experience, that then changes the way they see that concept/phenomenon, they then value that concept for its ability to influence their experience, and as a result, their everyday experience is enhanced (for a review see: Pugh, 2011). So, what might that look like in a course setting?

    A Demonstration

    Let’s look at an example of a student who has a transformative experience with the construct of positive reinforcement within operant conditioning. Motivated use, in this case, refers to the application of course content into a context where it is not required, similar to transfer but without prompting. An example of this would be a student using positive reinforcement to understand why giving their dog a reward for going potty outside increases that behavior. Expansion of perception focuses on the change in that person’s perception or existing schemas being altered by the concept/construct. In this example, our student who used their knowledge of positive reinforcement (giving a reward to increase behavior) to perceive rewarding their dog in terms of the effects of the reinforcement. Before, the student may have given rewards to their dog (or withheld them) without much consideration because they were not aware of the impact on behavior. Now this student sees this everyday even through a different lens because of the course content. Finally, experiential value is the value perceived due to the direct consequence of their motivated use of the construct or content. Back to our example of our student now seeing rewards through the lens of positive reinforcement, they now experience and value their world in new ways due to their experience of using course content in their everyday life. They now are more efficiently potty training their dog and that is valuable because they can increase desired behavior. This entire experience of motivated use, expansion of perception, and experiential value are the necessary components of a transformative experience. The question now becomes, how do we create these opportunities in our classes?


    Applying TE in the Classroom

    First, I like to lead with the research that demonstrates the advantages of TE. Although its construct creation is still relatively new, the findings associated with facilitating TEs in classroom environments (both K12 and higher ed) have demonstrated clear benefits (Heddy & Sinatra, 2017; Heddy et al., 2017; Pugh et al., 2010). Previous research in STEM courses found that engagement in TE was related to increased interest and perceived instrumentality (Pugh et al., 2017); TE engagement generated positive affect and interest in social studies education (Alongi et al., 2016); and contributed to scientific conceptual change and academic achievement (Heddy & Sinatra, 2013). Several methods have emerged regarding how to elicit TE within classrooms. I will discuss the most common methods: the Teaching for Transformative Experience in Science (TTES) model and the Use Change Value (UCV) discussions. Both methods are effective but have varying amounts of educator and class time requirements. In a perfect world we would use the most successful interventions in our courses, but as educators we must balance what is feasible and what is effective given class time restrictions.


    The TTES model was developed in 2010 by Pugh and colleagues and has ample evidence of having been effective in inspiring TE within classroom settings (Alongi et al., 2016; Heddy et al., 2017). This model includes three general components: framing the content in terms of its experiential value, scaffolding re-seeing, and modeling transformative experiences. These components are to be modeled by the instructor and are to be conducted during class time. 

    Framing the content is specifically having the instructor refer to content in terms of its value and ability to enrich everyday experience. This can be done through discussing the immediate usefulness of the content in everyday life, or simply conveying the purpose of learning this content to enrich daily experience. This can be in terms of their immediate experience (using positive reinforcement to increase desired behavior) or even in reflecting on previous experiences. 

    Scaffolding re-seeing refers to going beyond your current perception of everyday events and objects and seeing them through the lens of a new construct or idea. By scaffolding re-seeing, the instructor is providing structure and effort to help students perceive everyday objects in their own experiences through the lens of the course content. For instance, using classical conditioning to discuss why we might respond to hearing a text message ‘ding’ in public, when it’s not our own phone. By providing these examples and coaching their re-seeing, you can then have students share examples of their own re-seeing of everyday objects and events and give feedback to guide their experiences.

    Finally, modeling of transformative experience is just as simple as it sounds. Within class, take the opportunity to share your own personal experiences of TE and how you have applied curricular content in your own everyday life and how you have used it to re-see the world. This should also include expressions of how this has led to a developed interest and experiential valuing of the content. Although this model has been adapted into various courses and contexts with benefits of increased conceptual change, and higher levels of TE (Alongi et al., 2016; Heddy & Sinatra, 2013) it does require extensive class time use as well as hands on scaffolding and feedback from the instructor which is a major shortcoming.

    UCV Discussions

    Noticing the need for a TE intervention that took up less course time, but still allowed for scaffolding of student TEs research by Heddy et al., (2017) developed a small group discussion format called Use Change and Value discussions. The UCV acronym aligns with the three components of TE (Use – motivated use, Change – expansion of perception, and Value – experiential value) and most of the work happens outside of the classroom with less peer and instructor feedback than with the TTES model. Originally the UCV discussions had students keep journals where they wrote out responses to the UCV prompts:  1) Discuss how you saw an example of course content in your everyday life (Use) 2) Discuss how seeing that content in your real-life experience has changed how you see that topic (Change) 3) Discuss why that experience was/is valuable to you (Value). Students would then bring these experiences back to the classroom and would take some class time to share their TEs with their peers and instructors to receive feedback and scaffolding. These discussions took a fraction of the time that the TTES model did and allowed for peer feedback on their experiences as well. Research using this format had been successful in facilitating higher levels of TE, interest, and academic performance compared to students who did not use UCV discussions (Heddy et al., 2017). Since previous research has also demonstrated a positive connection between TE and task values such as intrinsic, utility, and attainment value (Goldman et al., 2021) it seems no surprise that engagement in TE can be beneficial beyond just engagement.

    Further, UCV discussions can be formatted in a journal/weekly discussion format to have students continually be thinking about how the content is related to their own experiences and how events in their own life can be explained through course constructs. This method may be more appropriate for online courses, adding an additional benefit of allowing students to provide examples from their own lives. This can bring a further connection to the course through autonomy of choosing what to write about as well as relatedness in sharing personal experiences, which can be an obstacle in online courses. 


    Alongi, M. D., Heddy, B. C., & Sinatra, G. M. (2016). Real-world engagement with  controversial issues in history and social studies: Teaching for transformative experiences and conceptual change. Journal of Social Science Education, 15(2) 26-41.

    Conroy, J., Christidis, P., Fleischmann, M., & Lin, L. (2019, September). Datapoint: How many psychology majors go on to graduate school? Monitor on Psychology, 50(8).

    Dole, J. A., & Sinatra, G. M. (1998). Reconceptualizing change in the cognitive construction of  knowledge. Educational Psychologist, 33(2-3), 109–128.

    Dunn, D. S., Brewer, C. L., Cautin, R. L., Gurung, R. A. R., Keith, K. D., McGregor, L. N.,  Nida, S. A., Puccio, P., & Voigt, M. J. (2010). The undergraduate psychology curriculum: Call for a core. In D. F. Halpern (Ed.), Undergraduate education in psychology: A blueprint for the future of the discipline (pp. 47–61). American Psychological Association.

    Heddy, B. C., & Sinatra, G. M. (2013). Transforming misconceptions: Using transformative experience to promote positive affect and conceptual change in students learning about biological evolution. Science Education, 97(5), 723–744.

    Heddy, B. C., & Sinatra, G. M. (2017). Transformative parents: Facilitating transformative experiences and interest with a parent involvement intervention. Science Education, 101(5), 765–86.

    Heddy, B. C., Sinatra, G. M., Seli, H., Taasoobshirazi, G., & Mukhopadhyay, A. (2017). Making learning meaningful: Facilitating interest development and transfer in at-risk college students. Educational Psychology, 37(5), 565-581.

    Marini, A., & Genereux, R. (1995). The challenge of teaching for transfer. In A. McKeough, J.L. Lupart, & A. Marini (Eds.), Teaching for transfer: Fostering generalization in learning (pp. 1–19). New York, NY: Routledge

    Pugh, K. J. (2002). Teaching for transformative experiences in science: An investigation of the effectiveness of two instructional elements. Teachers College Record, 104(6), 1101–1137.

    Pugh, K. J. (2004). Newton’s laws beyond the classroom walls. Science Education, 88(2), 182– 196.

    Pugh, K. J., Linnenbrink-Garcia, L., Koskey, K. L. K., Stewart, V. C., & Manzey, C. (2010).  Motivation, learning, and transformative experience: A study of deep engagement in science. Science Education, 94(1), 1–28. https://DOI:10.1002/sce.20344

    Pugh, K. J. (2011). Transformative experience: An integrative construct in the spirit of Deweyan pragmatism. Educational Psychologist, 46(2), 107–121.

    Pugh, K. J., Bergstrom, C. M., Heddy, B. C., & Krob, K. E. (2017). Supporting deep engagement: The Teaching for Transformative Experiences in Science (TTES) model. Journal of Experimental Education, 85(4), 629–657.

    Sizemore, O. J., & Lewandowski, G.W. (2009). Learning might not equal liking: Research methods course changes knowledge but not attitudes. Teaching of Psychology, 36, 90–95.

    Vansteenkiste, M., Aelterman, N., De Muynck, G.-J., Haerens, L., Patall, E., & Reeve, J. (2018). Fostering personal meaning and self-relevance: A self-determination theory perspective on internalization. Journal of Experimental Education, 86(1), 30–49.

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    Wong, E. D., Pugh, K. J., & the Dewey Ideas Group at Michigan State University. (2001). Learning science: A Deweyan perspective. Journal of Research on Science Teaching, 38, 317-336.;2-9


  • 06 Oct 2021 3:36 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Gabrielle P.A. Smith, PhD

    Texas Woman’s University (TWU) 

    I, like most academics, was anxious as I prepared for my first day of teaching. I agonized about everything, from my outfit, to the lesson plan. I questioned what my teaching persona would be, and if my students would like me. Did I even want them to like me, can like and respect coexist? I hoped my first day would go off without a hitch, I was not prepared for a run in with a colleague to be a precursor for the navigation of Blackness in the professoriate.

    “What will you do with your hair” – this from an airy voice in the hallway waiting for the copier. “Excuse me?” I asked, taken aback as this tiny voice was referencing my Teeny-Weeny Afro (TWA). I did not know how to respond. I had considered how most white students in a college town in Alabama would navigate my Blackness but had not even considered a change in my appearance.

    “What do you mean? Are you changing your hair or something?” – I decided a matter-of-fact statement was best suited for this copy room ambush. Stuttering ensued, and with a face two shades redder, my peer stammered out a sentence akin to “I just thought you might straighten it or something; I heard of people doing that for important things.”

    Important things.

    Black woman’s hair, accents (specifically from Spanish speakers, Asian people, and residents from the South), attire for LGBTQIA folx and Muslim people, and people with names deemed “hard to pronounce” are some of the aspects of identity often policed in academia (Boustani & Taylor, 2020; García-Bullé, 2019; Syed, 2020). Despite sitting in the ivory tower researching and offering insight into the discriminatory practices outside of the academy, we are not very apt at looking inward.

    Recently a slew of online communities began discussing the idea of Black women’s natural hair being deemed as unworthy of special occasions or professional spaces (Inman, 2021). Discussions about Black women’s hair are everywhere, from the CROWN ACT (a movement to prohibit race-based discrimination against Black hair in the US workplace and academic spaces) and embracing natural hair and even talks about respectability politics concerning the use of bonnets in public (Johnson, 2017; Official CROWN ACT; Pitcan, Marwick, Boyd, 2018). Even now, as we prepare for the Olympics, ShaCarri Richardson’s hair is a topic of conversation, reminiscent (albeit more positively), of the way Gabby Douglas' hair was scrutinized (Gillespie, 2020; Inman, 2021). The policing of Black women’s hair was not new or novel. However, at that juncture of my career (2012), conversations about Black women’s hair were not as public or progressive. Most of my conversations about my hair happened with other Black women, however, these conversations did not include interactions with people I considered friends. Thus, my understanding of the navigation of my hair in my academic world on an interpersonal level was not that accessible.

    In my two years at the University, no one had seen me with straight hair. The last time I straightened my hair was my last semester of undergrad at Spelman College. I had no desire, then or now, to straighten my hair. However, the message seemed clear, straight hair equals professional hair; the way my hair grew from my head did not. I wish I could say that I followed up with an eloquent, informative, and quotable takedown, but I cannot. I stated that “I do not straighten my hair for anyone or anything besides myself.” I ended the conversation there. Later, I broached the topic of my hair as a point of dialogue in a discussion in the Teaching of Psychology, a required course on teaching for all graduate student teachers, including me. The Teaching of Psychology professor was extraordinary and led us a transparent conversation that everyone in the space needed to hear.

    However, that experience made me realize that I was ill-prepared for this side of the academic journey. I was aware that many people expected professors to be older tall white men. I was none of those things, and as a young, Black woman standing under 5 feet, I expected not to fit the mold. However, I was not prepared for the willingness of others to openly express their desire for me to tweak myself to squeeze into this ill-fit model. Professional expectations in the corporate world were well established, but the academic sphere only mentioned tweed jackets and rim-framed glasses. Induced assimilation in a career path frequently touted as aligned with freedom and agency was jarring. Also, as a graduate of a historically Black college, almost every Black professor I knew rocked natural hair unapologetically.

    While my TWA has grown and expanded throughout my time teaching, the need to navigate my personal racial identity alongside my professional identity has remained constant both inside and outside of the classroom. I often teach courses that either center (e.g., The Psychology of the African American Experience) or engage Blackness (Global Perspectives) in ways that highlight my race more than other courses in the field. Classroom interactions vary widely based on course content and the identities that are salient to the course.

    Being Black in the front of a classroom that discusses Blackness is different from being white or any other racial or ethnic group teaching the same topic. Words such as race and diversity are interpreted as Black when they leave my lips. Even when I express that diversity is intersectional and allows space for an array of lived experiences, the follow-up is always an expectation of a bias toward racial issues that will impact my teaching (Crenshaw, 2013; Dill, 2009; Icaza Garza & Vázquez, 2017).

    Most of the focus on identity in the classroom is centered around navigating this for undergraduate students and not how to navigate it for graduate students, staff, or faculty. Further, our conversations about navigating identity in the classroom often center on students’ personal identities and those immediately around them. While the emphasis on student identity is essential, it is not the complete picture. Identity is relevant even outside of the classroom. In other campus spaces, the identities of all involved parties: teaching assistants, lecturers, professors, department chairs, provosts, presidents, administrative assistants, housing staff, facilities staff, and all other campus entities impact the social environment of our academic spaces. These identities are often not considered; however, they can and must be examined when advocating for diverse and inclusive spaces. Even the climate off-campus, in the surrounding social spaces of our campuses, are imperative environments to consider. Everything in our social environment bleeds into the classroom, including experiences informed by our societal position. Thus, we need to be proactive and consider the environment both within and outside our classroom doors.

    If we want to create diverse and inclusive campuses, we need to make sure that we are actively attending to the needs of all campus members. Honestly, we need to be thinking beyond the classroom and attending to identity in all campus spaces. Are you examining the entire campus for areas of improvement concerning diversity? Are we asking questions about inclusivity and belonging concerning the library and the cafeteria? Are we assessing the makeup of our diversity committees and task force and ensuring these loads are not disproportionately distributed to faculty, staff, and students of a few demographics? Do we have diversity and diversity-related initiatives, but are they only regulated to certain areas of campus? Is the institutional rationale for diversity inclusive, or does it center on the educational benefits of students in the majority a critical benefit of diversification (Starck, Sinclair, & Shelton, 2021)? What are the local politics, and how do they impact our campus community? Are some campus members having to navigate belonging on campus and navigation of identity-relevant issues off-campus?

    As a Black woman from the US South, a Social Psychologist, recently promoted to Associate Professor, who has issues with mobility and identifies in a multitude of other ways; I should be tapped to do things both related and unrelated to diversity issues. My colleagues who do not identify as Black, Indigenous, or a person of color, disabled, women, who identify as cis-gendered and heterosexual, and are privileged in various other ways (e.g., language) should also be engaged in diversity work. Every demographic is needed to ensure that our spaces are diverse, and diversity should not be a buzzword or call to action for historically underrepresented groups. The invisible labor expected of those often excluded from academic spaces is unwarranted. It contributes to preconceived notions when someone who looks like me or others with diverse salient identities steps in front of a classroom. The labor should be shared, but often it is not. Thus, the social categorization and social bias of Black professors, staff with disabilities, Latinx students, Muslim administrators, etc., are socially constructed by the campus environment and how we regulate diversity issues to certain departments and specific people (Author Unknown, 2017; García-Bullé, 2019). It is not enough to embrace diversity and increase the numbers; there must be concrete actions to ensure that the needs of all members of the community are assessed and addressed.

    As stated by Toni Morrison, “When you get these jobs that you have been​ so brilliantly trained for, just remember that your real job is that if you are free, you need to ​free somebody else. If you have some power,​ then your job is to empower somebody else. ​This is not just a grab-bag candy game.”​ Reviewing our campus community and ensuring that it is accessible, welcoming, and inclusive to all, even those we disagree with, is imperative to true diversity. Dedication to diversity should be all-encompassing, it is everyone’s job, and the definition of diversity should always be defined broadly.Page Break


    Author Unknown (2017). Social Categorization in the Classroom. PSYCH 424 blog. Retrieved from

    Boustani, K., & Taylor, K. A. (2020). Navigating LGBTQ+ discrimination in academia: Where do we go from here? The Biochemist, 42(3), 16-20. https://10.1042/BIO20200024

    Crenshaw, K.(2013)Mapping the Margins: Intersectionality, Identity Politics, and Violence Against Women of Color’. Stanford Law Review, 43, 1241-1300.

    Dill, Bonnie Thorton (2009) “Intersections, Identities, and Inequalities in Higher Education”, in B. T. Dill and R. Zambrana, eds. Emerging Intersections: Race, Class, and Gender in Theory, Policy and Practice. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, pp. 229-252.

    García-Bullé, S. (2019). The Accent as a Basis for Prejudice in Academia. Observatory of Educational Innovation. Retrieved from:

    Gillespie, C. (2020). Gabby Douglas reveals bald spots from years of wearing ponytails: 'I was so embarrassed'.

    Icaza Garza, R.A, & Vázquez, R. (2017). Intersectionality and Diversity in Higher Education. Tijdschrift voor Orthopedagogiek, 7/8, 349–357. Retrieved from

    Inman, D. (2021). 5 things you should know about olympian Sha’Carri Richardson. Retrieved from

    Johnson. Desiree (2017). .Do you feel pressured to straighten your hair for formal events?

    Official CROWN Act. The Official CROWN Act.

    Pitcan, M., Marwick, A. E., & Boyd, D. (2018). Performing a vanilla self: Respectability politics, social class, and the digital world. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 23(3), 163-179. https://10.1093/jcmc/zmy008

    Starck, J. G., Sinclair, S., & Shelton, J. N. (2021). How university diversity rationales inform

    student preferences and outcomes. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 118(16), e2013833118. https://10.1073/pnas.2013833118

    Syed, A. (2020). Hijabi students navigate the discussion around wearing hijab in academia. Retrieved from:

    Young, D. (2016). The definition, danger and disease of respectability politics, explained. The Root. Retrieved from

  • 06 Sep 2021 2:50 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Gary W. Lewandowski, Jr. 

    Monmouth University  


    Teaching is easily my favorite part of being a professor. If this past year has taught us anything, it’s that the modalities and ways we teach are constantly shifting, often back-and-forth more than a few times. Although the “how” of our teaching has changed, the “why” remains the same: to support and educate our students in ways that help them improve their lives.  


    Pandemic teaching has been a reminder that teaching takes many forms, many of which lie beyond the classroom walls. Early in my career, at an SPSP Teaching Preconference, I had the pleasure of seeing David Myers give a talk where he made a simple suggestion: Writing is a form of teaching. It stuck with me. Suddenly writing became a lot more appealing.  


    Whether you’re crafting a journal article’s introduction, a chapter, a book, or a blog post, writing in a clear and engaging style determines your ideas’ usefulness. Yet, despite writing being such an essential skill, we don’t discuss it nearly enough.   


    Lately, it’s practically all I think about. Over the past 2 years, I’ve been immersed in writing a trade book (Stronger Than You Think: The 10 Blind Spots That Undermine Your Relationship…and How to See Past Them), revising my research methods textbook, and editing a book on the self in relationships. To keep my head above water during that time, I’ve learned a lot about how to be a better and more efficient writer.  


    I wish I had learned it a lot sooner. Hopefully I can help make your writing journey a little less bumpy than mine by offering a few new insights, or at least some helpful reminders.  


    It takes time. I’m not sure it’s a Gladwellian 10,000 hours, but improvement in anything requires that you put in the reps. Writing is no exception. These days, I write a lot. Every day. Often a couple hours a day. (No one would be more surprised to hear that than my graduate school self.) But it helps. As they say, writers are made and not born. In my case, writing more has made me a better writer. It has gotten easier, but…   


    It’s never easy. If you’re waiting for the moment where perfect sentences naturally and easily flow through you, I hope you’re patient. The fact is, conveying ideas clearly on the page (or screen) is unbelievably difficult. Achieving clarity is a process. It doesn’t mean that you’re a bad writer, just that writing is hard. Fun fact: Some of these sentences are my fifth try, none are my first. Still, most aren’t quite as polished as I’d like. Writing forces you to put your perfectionism aside. 


    Be a professional. Writing is essential to your career success. Respect it. Professionals show up, put in the hours, and commit to getting better. Build your skills by reading books on being a better writer. You likely know about Strunk & White, but also check out William Zinsser’s On Writing Well. Read it, refer to it, practice it. Reviewer 2 adeptly rips apart parts of your manuscript, but you rarely get line edits designed to improve your writing’s clarity. Find someone who writes better than you and get their feedback. I’m also big believer in the BIC (Butt-In-Chair) method. Carve out a set time each day to sit and write at the time of day you’re most productive. Put it in your schedule. I start with 30 minutes and if I’m feeling it, I keep going. If not, I work on something else guilt-free.  


    What “counts”?  Here’s the trick: I almost never work on something else because I count LOTS of activities as writing. Too often we only think of writing as clean ready-for-publication paragraphs. That’s setting the bar way too high. Instead, I consider all of these “writing”: brainstorming ideas, reading articles, taking notes, outlining, writing out key sentences, revising previous drafts, and writing first drafts. Counting more activities allows me to build the habit and maintain momentum.   


    Writing pipeline and “sloppy copies.” Like a research pipeline, having several things in your writing pipeline makes it easier to have lots of things “count.” The hardest most intimidating draft is the first one. Take the sting out of it by only committing to a “sloppy copy” that is full of typos, missing citations, and barely understandable sentences. Get crazy, make some APA style errors too. The important thing is to get your ideas down in an uninhibited way. You could also do this via voice-to-text. Whatever it takes to get started. If you’re not ready for that on a particular day, the other pieces in the “pipeline” are there to revise. Besides, all good writing comes from revising.   


    Do it on deadline.  Whether you’re the “pressure makes diamonds” type or not, a little time blocking is helpful. I don’t know about you, but as a hopelessly overscheduled academic and parent, large chunks of time are hard to find. (I’m currently writing this in a dark parking lot while my daughter is at softball practice.)  In other words, don’t wait for the perfect conditions. Just write. Even when I have more time during regular writing sessions, I force a little artificial time pressure. Perhaps you’re familiar with the Pomodoro technique where you work for small chunks and take frequent breaks. I use something similar of my own creation: the classic vinyl technique. I have a record player in my office and commit to writing for one side of a record (which is about 20-25 minutes). Flipping the record requires a mini-break that helps punctuate my screen time, and if I want to keep listening to the record I have to keep writing. (As I revise this, I'm currently listening to Jimi Hendrix Are You Experienced?  It’s awesome.) 


    Read. I’m also a believer in reading “counting” as a writing activity. Reading is like maintenance run that allows you to keep your writing fitness, without the pressure of a more strenuous writing session. It’s also the cheapest writing coach you can find. When looking for things to read, pick something light. If you must do non-fiction, choose something outside of your research area and ideally not a journal article. Seek out good writing outside of academia wherever you can find it. A stellar recent example is Amanda Gorman’s “The Hill We Climb.” It’s a masterclass on using language, word choice, rhythm, and delivery. It’s clear, cogent, and captivating. Just like good teaching.  


    Parting Thoughts 

    Certainly these suggestions aren’t “one size fits all”, but I hope they fit most. If you’re skeptical about some aspects, engage in little rugged empiricism and give it a try. You never know what might click.  


    We often refer to ourselves as “teacher-scholars.” Remember that when we do, teacher comes first. As a teacher, the students come first. As a writer, the readers come first. It’s our job to write in a way that draw readers in and allows our ideas to reach as many people as possible. The APA wants us to “give psychology away” which “means sharing the broad benefits that psychological science and expertise have to offer in order to enhance society and improve the lives of others.”  We do that when we teach, and we can do it when we write.  

  • 02 Aug 2021 11:52 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Kara Sage 

    The College of Idaho 

    One morning back in February, amidst the start of a spring semester teaching all online, one of the librarians at my college emailed me. He wanted to chat about how students were feeling about the increased reliance on technology in their daily lives on our small liberal arts campus. Though it is no secret that today’s college students are often attached to their technology, the circumstances of the pandemic and online education had required a new type of screen use over the past year. Screen use that was not voluntarily chosen. Screen use that crept into all aspects of their lives. Screen use that was exhausting. 

    We chatted back and forth for quite some time, with me interjecting a variety of thoughts and ideas from my perspective as a professor and researcher of media psychology. Throughout the ebb and flow of our conversation, my increasing realization was that students sat in a somewhat odd digital space at this moment in time. With so much screen use thrust upon them over the last year, they had simultaneously become more reliant on their screens for daily functioning while also feeling more and more burnt out by their screen use. Hints of these juxtaposing experiences and emotions were often evident in my virtual classes; they desired to break free of their screens and finally get outside, see people, and mingle, but the current context prevented them from fully doing so. 

    As we neared the end of this unanticipated year online together, the moment seemed ripe to reflect and consider the future together. Inspired by my conversation with the librarian a few months prior, I decided to toss one of my class’ usual term projects out the window. Instead, I wanted to create a meaningful active learning experience for students that would speak to this moment in time.  

    Together we reflected on our experiences with education during the pandemic. It was clear that my students had the end of the pandemic in sight. First and foremost, they very much wanted to see faces again. They were often tired of starring at little circles on a virtual call as opposed to being with actual people in a classroom. They recognized that online learning had its place as well, but they missed the close-knit community that characterized the small residential college that they had chosen to attend. They worried about their peers too. Maybe half of their peers had never even stepped foot on campus. They also repeatedly referred to the desire to reactivate student-mode for fall semester. Many habits had developed over the last year that they would need to undo, such as waking up just a few minutes before class or doing laundry during class. Students worried about complacency in their study habits, noting the need for a stricter schedule and better time management. That said, they also thought that some of the digital tools they had learned were neat. They had some concerns that they’d never be used again, and all of our time becoming more online learning-savvy would be for naught. 

    Following their reflections, I posed our next step: let us design interventions, activities, and policies together that could help our campus when we return for fall semester. In small teams, students brainstormed, collaborated, and designed what proved to be a sound list of suggestions for fall semester. It became clear that what is required for fall semester is a systematic approach to rebuilding a sense of community on campus. Such efforts needed to be campus-wide and involve all constituencies – students, staff, and faculty. I mentioned earlier the pairing of screen reliance with feelings of burnout. Agreeably, student initiatives often reflected their attempts to reduce problematic screen use habits. Paired with pandemic-related behaviors like quarantining, students felt that the negative effects of their reliance on the screen had been exacerbated throughout the year. As one example, they had not been able to bond with other students as closely. That said, they often also spoke to the fact that we needed to not just throw our newly acquired digital skills and apps out with the bathwater. Reflecting a good moral from media psychology, they emphasized that we could reap benefits when we had the just-right amount of technology in our lives. 

    Below, I share some of the ideas and initiatives inspired by our class conversations and projects. Ultimately, it is the responsibility of all colleges and universities to actively take steps to help students transition back to campus life, recognizing that we can’t just step right back into old patterns from almost 1 ½ years ago. Many students weren’t even our students then. We must have a plan in place to build a welcoming, inclusive environment and set our new normal. 

    • Offer welcome back events. These initial welcome back events are more important than ever. They help students to meet people, get acquainted with campus, unplug from screens, and connect to campus life. Some activities can encourage student bonding and collaboration from day one, such as campus scavenger hunts and intramural sports. Other options can encourage students to connect with new activities or like-minded others, such as booths advertising different clubs or lunch tables organized by hobbies. And yet additional activities can represent the unprecedented, shared experience we just had, such as faculty or staff-led forums emphasizing how to rebuild study habits and maintain mental health.  

    • Build student and faculty connections. Activities similar to speed dating could help facilitate quick get-to-know-you introductions on campus to meet new people and avoid potentially awkward introductions after such a long time apart. A student-student circle, with students rotating to the next seat every few minutes, would help students quickly get to know some of their peers. A faculty-student circle conducted in the same manner could help both students and faculty get to know each other before the first day of class. 

    • Spend the first day of class building community. The first day will be an adjustment in so many ways. It has been a significant amount of time since most students and faculty were in the physical classroom. Spend the day getting to know each other. Do icebreakers. Place students into study groups that they can work with throughout the entire semester. Consider setting up office hours visits to chat with the professor, either as individuals or in small groups. 

    • Have a technology policy and use new digital tools positively. Given the increased use of screens over the past year, having a technology policy in place will help remind students of their expected use in learning and the classroom. But students and faculty also just invested a lot of time into learning new digital tools. In our case, we mastered Microsoft Teams as a virtual learning and conversational platform and encouraged use of supplemental tools like PollEverywhere and Kahoot for participation. Plan for positive use of these tools for learning, such as to complement exam review, conduct student surveys, or hold virtual office hours in off-hours. 

    • Consider more flexibility and active learning when planning your class. Any adjustment comes with its own challenges. Recognizing that this time WILL be an adjustment is key. Students are transitioning back to campus life, and lingering effects of the pandemic are still in play. Thus, extra flexibility in terms of attendance or late assignment policies or similar may benefit the classroom environment. Students also haven’t had the chance to have in-person discussions or move around with others in the classroom in some time. Incorporate active learning into your semester’s activities. 

    • Encourage mental health awareness. Life has been stressful and traumatic for some. Students will need time to readjust. Consider on-campus seminars on mental health topics. Consider syllabus statements that recognize mental health and connect students with resources. Consider activities like meditation, therapy dogs, and yoga across the semester. Consider continuing to offer virtual mental health services on top of in-person services. And, importantly, don’t simply ignore that this past year and a half has been a mental struggle. 

    The pandemic undoubtedly increased stress for many students and will have ripple effects for some time to come in as-yet undefined ways. When we welcome our students back to our institutions in the fall, we must address that the time is now different. Let’s listen to our students. Let’s build our new community. Together, we can move forward. 


  • 08 Jul 2021 2:13 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Crissa Levin (Utah State )

    Distance learning is becoming increasingly common, both in response to the pandemic and in normal years (Seaman et al., 2018). This modality brings additional challenges, particularly with retention and engagement (Bart, 2012). Research on distance learning provides clues, however it can also be useful to look also at the related field of computerized psychoeducation interventions, as these are ultimately a different form of teaching online. This form of distance teaching receives far more research attention (including funding), and therefore can be useful in decoding the mystery of student engagement. 

    Below I will present a model for engagement in online teaching based on research and experience that is broken down into three overlapping areas: Micro-Studies, which are ultimately the student’s assignments; Micro-coaching, which is basically how you can build motivation enhancement into the communications that you’re having with your students already; and Information itself, which in this brief version of the model will refer to lectures and how this necessary aspect can still be essential even though they can feel unengaging in online modalities. 


    Assignments can be conceptualized as little studies, where the outcome is like the dependent variable (and construct validity matters). The independent variable is what you are teaching, and it’s worth thinking about – is the course content lined up with the course assessments in such a way that you can really differentiate the learning from the course? So far, all of this is entirely relevant in both in-person and online classes, and is not an original idea (Masland, 2019). However, what is particularly relevant for the web-based environment is communicating this thinking to students. Student motivation is increased by letting students know why exactly they are doing this assignment and what it is trying to measure (Tyler-Smith, 2006). So the first step of importance here is to think through every step of a micro-study, and the second step is to include this information in simple terms as part of the instructions to students. 

    One example of where this is particularly important in online teaching is the regular use of discussions. We know that it is useful to have regular interaction between peers in online classrooms (Mbukusa, 2017; Akcaoglu & Lee 2016), but it is common to see discussions lead to a sea of responses stating some form or another of “I agree,” which really is the prototypical example of a lack of online engagement. An alternative might be to instead start with the outcome and work backwards. What would you like the students to prove they are able to do?  

    In one of my courses, I described the setup for a behavioral problem, and asked each student to describe how they would use the current chapter to develop an intervention. The catch was, they only had 4 sentences for their intervention, which meant the intervention would be definitively incomplete. Students were required to respond with more information to another student’s post, ultimately adding on to another student’s intervention. Because they were being trained in various behavioral interventions (IV) the outcome was how effective they were at applying these interventions (DV). This also met the goal of student interaction online, but did so in a meaningful way, and students got to know each other and interact weekly while still actively applying content. 


    Among the most important things to keep students engaged and motivated in an online course, both in my experience and based on a variety of studies, is to bring oneself to the online class (Dennen, et al., 2007). This can mean anything from being genuine about your own self and life in your announcements, to not trying to cover imperfections, to ensuring that there is a person and voice in your feedback and, as regularly as is feasible, for your own instructor role. This has great meaning for students and is particularly important to helping students stay connected with the content and the course.  

    Reviewing the literature, it starts to feel like engagement interventions for online teaching (and web-based psychological interventions) center around the same tenants as those of Person-Centered Therapy. Beyond genuineness lies positive regard and empathy. It is beyond the scope of the current writing to detail how and why these skills play well within an online context, but one simplification is that students who take online classes are demographically different than students who take in-person classes. Two primary differences between the groups are age and working status – our online students tend to be working adults who are juggling full lives and fit school in between the cracks (Johnson, 2015; Ortangus, 2017). Through this lens, it becomes much simpler to have respect, warmth, and empathy for our students even when on the surface it might in other contexts seem they are not trying. This change in how we relate to our students when we are already spending time giving feedback and providing information can make a substantial difference with regards to which students tend to stay and engage. 

    In one example of how I use micro-coaching in my courses, I have created a jingle (song) to go with my weekly video announcements. I give my weekly announcements off-the-cuff, with only an outline of notes to guide what I will be discussing. I do not edit the content, and instead poke fun at my own mistakes. This is not only because it is familiar to many students to see raw and genuine video, and is not at all actually because of the time savings; this is to help students connect, and to see me as a real person who is really telling them about the week. And while the course data does suggest that some people do not watch regularly, or some people skip around, there are other reports of people who watch with their spouses every week or notice when the announcements are late.  


    It has become common to hear online lectures get a bad reputation, with many comedians joking during the pandemic that online teaching is simply no better than watching YouTube or Ted Talks. That does not match with either the data or with my experience. There is evidence that students do tend to lose attention after a certain amount of time, however I have yet to see a comparison regarding this group-level attention check in online lectures and in-person lectures. An alternate interpretation of this evidence can simply be: many students do zone out during lectures, and this might be even worse online – especially in longer videos. What’s missing from the discussion that shorter lecture videos are essential is how incredibly essential it is for the genuine presence of the instructor to break down the material in the context of the course, in lecture format (Brown et al., 2016). In a far less-scientific way, I have also consistently found through internal surveys that students select lectures as the first or second most useful assignment in each online class I’ve taught over the last seven years. That said, everyone who worked during 2020 had our fair share of zoom burnout and became familiar with how hard it would be to consume information if it was delivered in the same format as in-person lectures. So what becomes important then may be to recognize that while lectures are essential, to be successful online, they ought to be made into micro-studies and ought to use some micro-coaching to combat the increasing problems with engagement.  

    To use micro-coaching and micro-studies in my lectures, I first am sure to be genuine, and to “bring myself” to my lectures. I often tell stories about my own life at times that I’m trying to convey examples. To make these lectures into micro-studies, I started with the outcome, and determined that simple attention to the content (simple reiteration) was the DV, with an added goal of reinforcing “showing up” if possible. So, I focus on the outcome of attention and memory to what was just said. To do this, I pause the lectures at key times using lecture interaction software (I use Kaltura, but many are available), and it asks a question that is meant only to ask how to re-state content that was said at some time over the last several minutes. The questions are spaced out and intentionally simple, which focuses on attention but also helps to reinforce “showing up” as opposed to punishing drifting off (that which naturally occurs). This slight change in focus shifts students out of multiple patterns, including zoning out after a few minutes. This occurs because of playing to the modality of the online medium. By helping students to keep their attention between questions, because they don’t know which part of the lecture will be important for the simple question coming up, this helps to keep students attending. By bringing myself – by being genuine and showing up in each lecture of the semester, there’s a steady and stable presence throughout the semester that allows for connection in the course, and keeps students connected not only to the content, but to the instructor. 


    Ultimately, it is much more time-intensive to teach online courses than in-person courses. This is due to the editing time that is avoided by just showing up in-person, due to the motivational coaching needed for the different modality itself, but also for the different types of students that find their way to online courses. This time comes from putting a lot of yourself into the course as well – to adding to your feedback the little comments that let your students know you’re a person, maybe one who laughs and sees good in people and their work. This all can be quite time intensive. And because of this differential time impact, matched with the loss of smiling faces and interactions unless something is wrong. It might not be for everyone, but I find it useful to remember that we are reaching a different set of students, in a more challenging environment, and providing the same promise of education. It’s a tall order and a meaningful one, and that challenge can be rewarding.Page Break 


    Akcaoglu, M., & Lee, E. (2016). Increasing social presence in online learning through small group discussions. The international review of research in open and distributed learning, 17(3). 

    Bart, M. (2012). Online student engagement tools and strategies. Faculty Focus. Retrieved from free-reports/online-student-engagement-tools-and-strategies/ 

    Brown, G., Leonard, C., & Arthur-Kelly, M. (2016). Writing SMARTER goals for professional learning and improving classroom practices. Reflective Practice, 17(5), 621-635. 

    Dennen, V. P., Aubteen Darabi, A., & Smith, L. J. (2007). Instructor–learner interaction in online courses: The relative perceived importance of particular instructor actions on performance and satisfaction. Distance Education, 28(1), 65-79. 

    Johnson, J. M. (2015). On-Campus and Fully-Online University Students: Comparing Demographics, Digital Technology Use and Learning Characteristics. Journal of University Teaching and Learning Practice, 12 (1), 11-13. 

    Masland, L. (2019, October). You were trained as a scientist. Isn't it time to start teaching like one? [Keynote Address] The 19th Annual Conference on Teaching in Denver, CO, United States. 

    Mbukusa, N. R.Kibuule, D., Lates, J. (2017). Overcoming barriers of isolation in distance learning: Building a collaborative community in learningAdvances in Social Sciences Research Journal, 4(17). 34-42. 

    Ortagus, J. C. (2017). From the periphery to prominence: An examination of the changing profile of online students in American higher education. The Internet and Higher Education32, 47-57. 

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    Tyler-Smith, K. (2006). Early attrition among first time eLearners: A review of factors that contribute to drop-out, withdrawal and non-completion rates of adult learners undertaking eLearning programmes. Journal of Online Learning and Teaching, 273-85. 


  • 11 Jun 2021 12:44 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Clemente I. Diaz, M.A. 

    Baruch College, City University of New York 

    Roni Reiter-Palmon, PhD 

    University of Nebraska at Omaha 

    Psychology is an extremely diverse field. Its diversity can be seen in its various subfields as well as the numerous career paths one can pursue. Consider the fact that individuals with a bachelor’s degree in psychology were employed in 92 different occupation categories, individuals with a master’s degree in 74 occupation categories, and those with a doctoral degree in 61 occupation categories (American Psychological Association Center for Workforce Studies, 2018).  While the field of psychology is diverse, there is one constant regardless of which career path one takes or which subfield one pursues, we will be working for most of our lives. Yet despite this, most introductory psychology courses don’t cover Industrial-Organizational (I-O) psychology (i.e., the psychology of work). 

    Why I-O Psychology should be included in Introductory Psychology 

    There are various reasons to include I-O psychology in introductory psychology courses, the most basic being that working is a fundamental aspect of human life and behavior. In fact, estimates show that we spend roughly one-third of our lives at work. It’s no surprise that under its guidelines for the undergraduate major the American Psychological Association (APA) has specifically included professional development as a key goal (APA, 2013). Additionally, whether one agrees or not, the vast majority of students pursue higher education in hopes of increasing their employment outcomes (Eagan et. al, 2016, p. 70). Undergraduate psychology majors are not exempt from this trend given that over 56 percent of 2018 psychology graduates were either employed full-time or seeking employment (National Association of Colleges and Employers, 2019). Interestingly, and contrary to what most of us believe or would like to believe, the majority (56 percent) of psychology majors don’t pursue graduate studies of any kind (American Psychological Association Center for Workforce Studies, 2018). Although the inclusion of I-O psychology in introductory psychology won’t serve as a magic wand in preparing students for the workplace, it’s a good start.   


    Tips for incorporating I-O Psychology 

    I-O psychology isn’t usually included in introductory psychology for many reasons, but generally revolve around the following themes (in descending order): not in designated curriculum/textbook, not enough time, and lack of subject matter knowledge (Diaz, 2018). This section will provide tips and resources targeting each of these themes. 

     Not in designated curriculum/textbook 

    According to data collected from the Open Syllabus Project, the most frequently used introductory psychology textbooks don’t cover I-O psychology (Butina, 2019). The lack of coverage is a topic that the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology (SIOP) has made a concerted effort in tackling through the creation of the Getting I-O into Intro Textbooks (GIT SIOP) taskforce ( In addition to reaching out to publishers, GIT SIOP has developed a vast array of free educator resources (sample syllabi, one-page I-O content summaries, PowerPoints, a stand-alone I-O psychology chapter, and other supplemental material). These resources can be accessed via the following website - In addition to SIOP’s educator resources, open source publishers such as OpenStax ( and the NOBA Project ( each have a stand-alone I-O psychology chapter along with a PowerPoint and test bank. 

    Lack of time 

    Unlike more specialized, or upper level, psychology courses, introductory psychology tends to cover an exorbitant amount of content which can often overwhelm instructors. It is not surprising that some instructors have difficulty incorporating additional content. When time is a primary factor, the best solution is to integrate new material into already existing content.  

    Using the table of contents from Myers and DeWall’s (2021) introductory psychology textbook (according to the Open Syllabus Project David G. Myers authors the most frequently assigned introductory textbooks), we highlight I-O psychology topics which can be discussed at varying points in the semester. I-O psychology draws from many other areas of psychology therefore it is not too difficult to integrate content into already used material.  

     1. Thinking Critically With Psychological Science - Cursory glance of the psychology of work 

    2. The Biology of Mind - Neuroleadership, Organizational Neuroscience, Neuroscience of trust 

    3. Consciousness and the Two-Track Mind - Drug use in the workplace, presenteeism 

    4. Nature, Nurture, and Human Diversity - Workplace diversity (e.g., training, recruiting, discrimination) 

    5. Developing Through the Life Span - Career transitions (e.g., entering the world of work, aging and work ability) 

    6. Sensation and Perception - Managing workplace perceptions (e.g., attitudes, interests, work setting) 

    7. Learning - Training and development, training transfer 

    8. Memory - Impact of memory loss at work, working memory and task completion 

    9. Thinking and Language - Judgement and decision making (e.g., evidence-based management); creativity and innovation in the workplace 

    10. Intelligence - Individual differences and their assessments in the workplace (e.g., cognitive abilities vs. emotional intelligence, relationship between cognitive abilities and performance) 

    11. What Drives Us: Hunger, Sex, Friendship, and Achievement - Application of motivational theories to work setting 

    12. Emotions, Stress, and Health - Emotional labor, burnout, workplace stress, occupational health and safety, impact of Covid-19 on workers, work-life balance, occupational health psychology 

    13. Social Psychology - Group dynamics, teamwork, leadership, power and authority 

    14. Personality: Individual differences and their assessments in the workplace (e.g., relationship between personality traits and performance, how and why is personality assessed), personality traits associated with different types of leaders (e.g., charismatic, situational) 

    15. Psychological Disorders - Mental health stigma in the workplace, work-induced disorders 

    16. Therapy - Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) and other workplace interventions 

    Since the integration of I-O psychology content into current material only provides a surface level view of the field (versus having a unit specifically devoted to I-O psychology), instructors should also consider giving assignments that allow students to gain a more in-depth understanding of the subject (e.g., informational interviews, job analysis). One possible assignment is Department 12’s free I-O psychology mini-course. This 30-minute SIOP material-based course provides an overview of the field and culminates in a certificate of completion for anyone who obtains a 70 percent or higher on the end-of-course quiz. Department 12’s mini-course, in addition to other valuable information (e.g., articles, podcast episodes) can be accessed via the following link -  


    Lack of subject matter knowledge 

    Not feeling well-versed on a subject can result in any instructor not incorporating said topic. But where should one start in hopes of better familiarizing oneself with I-O psychology? In addition to the educator resources mentioned earlier, SIOP publishes a free quarterly publication titled The Industrial Psychologist (TIP) which covers a variety of topics. Current and back issues can be accessed on the SIOP website ( Other great resources include, ScienceForWork ( and IOAtWork ( both of which provide research summaries.  

    Podcasts more to your liking? There are numerous I-O psychology related podcasts out there. Some well-regarded podcasts, in no particular order, include:  

    ·        Department 12 (  

    ·        The Indigo Podcast (  

    ·        Mind Your Work (  

    ·        Midnight Student (  

    ·        The World of Work (  

    ·        Workr Beeing (  

    ·        Worklife with Adam Grant (   

    Still don’t feel comfortable speaking about I-O psychology? SIOP has you covered once again. Consider reaching out to an I-O psychology professional for a guest lecture via SIOP’s Advocacy Registry (  


    In this article we have made the case for the importance of adding I-O psychology to the curriculum of introductory psychology. The concerns expressed by faculty members teaching introductory psychology courses have been noted, and we have attempted to provide solutions to each one. Specifically, resources are available via the national organization (SIOP) that allow for either a full unit on I-O psychology or integration of specific I-O topics into existing course materials. Further, expert resources such as speakers and podcasts are also available. 


    American Psychological Association. (2013). APA guidelines for the undergraduate psychology major: Version 2.0. Retrieved from    

    American Psychological Association Center for Workforce Studies (2018). CWS data tool: Careers in psychology. Retrieved from   

    Butina, B. (2019, July 25). The most assigned psych textbooks. Retrieved from  

    Diaz, C.I. (2018). Incorporating I-O Psychology into Introductory Psychology. Psych Learning Curve: Where Psychology and Education Connect. Retrieved from  

    Eagan, K., Stolzenber, E.B., Ramierz, J.J., Aragon, M.C., Suchard, M.R., Rios-Aguilar, C. (2016). The American freshman: fifty-year trends, 1966-2015.  Los Angeles: Higher Education Research Institute, UCLA. Retrieved from  

    Myers, D.G., DeWalls, N.C. (2021). Psychology (13th ed.). Worth Publishers. 

    National Association of Colleges and Employers (2019). First destinations for the college class of 2018: Findings and analysis. Retrieved from  





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