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

Tips for Spring Classes

03 Jan 2023 12:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

Welcome to 2023! Your ECP Committee is excited to kick off a brand new year. In 2023, we are hoping to continue to provide opportunities for early career teachers of psychology to network and receive support from their peers and other colleagues within the larger STP organization. In addition, we hope to provide useful teaching resources and tips along the way! To that end, we know many of you may be thinking about upcoming Spring classes–whether it be prepping a class for the first time or trying to think about re-vamping a class that you will be teaching again. Below are some quick tips or beloved favorite teaching techniques and tools from our own ECP Committee!

Amanda: Think-pair-share is a technique that I use in all of my courses (big and small). For larger classes, I ask students to consider a question alone (e.g. “Does falling on ice cause hot chocolate sales to increase?”) and report it with polling software like Vishal mentioned. Then, students talk in pairs or small groups about why they chose the answer they did. Finally, students share how their thought process has changed and their final answer, either through polling software or out loud. This has been a great way to identify common misconceptions my students have as well as to help me figure out any sticking points in my larger classes.

In terms of course design, I enjoy using backward course design and group projects. Backward course design involves thinking of your course goals first, designing assessments that evaluate these goals, and then designing lessons. This has helped me be more intentional with my courses, and make sure that students learn the important information. In addition, scaffolding semester long group projects has provided a way for me to provide students with some autonomy in their learning. It’s fun to see how they think to apply the material we cover and to learn more about the topics they find interesting!

Courtney: I really love having students use an online social annotation tool called Perusall ( I have found that it is a great way to keep students engaged in the reading and I am able to use some of the examples, questions, and comments they generate to spark class discussions. Plus, Perusall will grade student engagement with the platform for you–saving you some time! In terms of re-vamping classes, I also highly recommend checking out the STP Facebook page. This has been so helpful for me if I get stuck on trying to think of new activities or demonstrations for a particular lesson! You can search past discussions and if someone hasn’t asked about it yet–add yours in!

Dina: I share Courtney’s love for Perusall and my students seem to really like it, too. I recommend having students annotate the Syllabus as their first assignment in Perusall. It’s a great way to ensure students read the Syllabus (an effective alternative to a Syllabus Quiz) and answer any questions they have so you can focus more on course content in class.

Vishal: When I was in graduate school, a faculty member introduced me to Poll Everywhere, and I use it in every class now! It is free (for classes under 40 or so students) and allows instructors to ask anonymous, ungraded check-in questions for students to answer. After students answer, I can display results so everyone can see what their peers thought. This provides a good chance for discussion about the question as well as something for me to think about if most of the class got a question wrong or seemed to misunderstand. Students consistently write in evaluations that this exercise makes them feel more comfortable and less stressed, so I use it every semester now!

Looking for other ideas? Don’t forget you can still access online content from the 2022 STP conference here. This can be a great way to get even more great ideas for your classes and help you feel recharged heading into your Spring (or winter) terms! Wishing you all a great new year!

Your STP Early Career Psychologists Committee:

Dina Gohar, Ph.D.

Courtney Gosnell, Ph.D.

Ciara Kidder, Ph.D

Vishal Thakkar, Ph.D.

Amanda Woodward, Ph.D.

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