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

Q&A with GSTA Steering Committee

10 Apr 2021 12:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

Submitted by Kelly Cuccolo and William Ridgway

This month’s Corner will be the final installment of our Q&A series with Steering Committee members. Below, we are featuring this year’s social media outreach committee members.

1. Type of doctoral program, year, & expected graduation:

Kelly: I am a fifth-year doctoral candidate in Experimental Psychology at the University of North Dakota. I will be graduating in May of 2021.

William: I am a third-year doctoral student in Psychological and Brain Sciences at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. I will be graduating in Summer 2023.

2. Classes you have taught and/or been a GTA for (undergraduate or graduate):

Kelly: In my first two years of my program, I was a GTA for Psychophysiology, Biological Basis of Behavior, Developmental Psychology, Introduction to Psychology, Diversity Psychology, and History and Systems. Since 2017, I have been the instructor of record for Introduction to Psychology, Introduction to Personality, Social Psychology, and Abnormal Psychology. I have also been an adjunct instructor for Lake Region State College and University of Minnesota Duluth.

William: In my second year of the program, I was a GTA for Statistics for Psychologists. Since the 2020 academic year, I have been the instructor of record for Introduction to Psychology and in Fall 2021, will be the instructor of record for Forensic Psychology.

3. Experiences you have been able to participate in because of being a part of GSTA:

Kelly: I have been able to disseminate information on teaching pedagogy, and diversity and inclusion to other graduate students to help them improve their teaching.

William: I have been able to take an active role in providing graduate students with important resources and best practices for teaching. Additionally, being a part of GSTA has allowed me to forge incredible relationships with other graduate students and faculty members outside of my own academic institution.

4. Benefits of GSTA on your professional development and future as an academic:

Kelly: I have really appreciated being able to connect with other students who are committed to equitable teaching and using empirically supported practices in the classroom.

William: I have been exposed to new information and perspectives pertaining to the teaching of psychology that have allowed for me to more effectively connect with students and structure courses that result in students having the ability to play gracefully with ideas. Ultimately, the continuous adoption of new perspectives and styles of teaching allow me to grow into an ideal instructor.

5. Impact of GSTA on you personally:

Kelly: I really feel supported in my teaching by being part of the GSTA – it is very personally fulfilling to build these connections and also to know you have people to turn to for advice on teaching.

William: It provides one with a supportive community that results in you feeling safe enough to take risks. There are so many ways in which a subject can be approached, so having individuals you can discuss various ideas with is important. The process and feedback allow for an additional level of confidence in how you choose to lecture on a particular topic.

6. Advice (teaching and/or research tips) for other graduate students:

Kelly: Do what works for you, find what works for you. Everyone is going to have a different style of teaching that is most effective for them so don’t try to force yourself to teach in a way that doesn’t fit your personality, values, and goals. Also, don’t be afraid to ask for help, or to admit that you’re wrong or don’t know an answer – students appreciate the honesty and humility.

William: The many pieces of advice when it comes to teaching is extensive, so I will discuss a couple of them. First, when it comes to that first day in the classroom, make sure to walk through your course in detail and express the expectations for your students. It is true that you never get a second chance to make a first impression. Thus, a professional introduction and thorough review of what to expect, is extremely important. Second, do not try to lecture on all the material presented in the textbook. It is important to identify what needs attention in class. Accomplishing this will allow you to take time to teach important or complex topics, instead of speeding through a lecture trying to cover each piece of information presented in the textbook.

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