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

GSTA Corner

This blog contains submissions from STP's Graduate Student Teaching Association (GSTA) to the GSTA Corner column in STP News from January 2020 to the present.  The GSTA Corner first appeared in the April 2016 issue of the newsletter, which was then called ToPNEWS-Online.  You can read GSTA Corner columns from April 2016 through December 2019 in past issues of ToPNEWS-Online here.

For regular updates on GSTA activities, follow us on Twitter (@gradsteachpsych) and Facebook (groups/theGSTA), join the GSTA Listserv, check out our Blog and past entries for the GSTA Corner, or write to us at

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

    Submitted by: Kelly Cuccolo, Laura Simon, William Ridgway, and Maaly Younis

    In this month’s corner our focus is on the importance of maintaining consistency in our role as instructors throughout the semester. Similar to students approaching the end of the semester, we as instructors can also decline in motivation or performance. The purpose of the corner is to identify the importance of maintaining student rapport and the ways in which we seek to do so consistently throughout the semester. Specifically, how we allow for an immersive and enthusiastic classroom environment throughout the semester

    Kelly: As we progress to the end of the academic term, students and instructors alike are feeling burned out and in need of a break. Given that rapport plays an important role in positive student outcomes, such as perceptions of learning (e.g., Demir et al., 2019) it is important for instructors to maintain those interpersonal relationships. Gratitude may be one simple way to promote student engagement and strengthen interpersonal relationships (Algoe et al., 2008; Flinchbaugh et al., 2012). In my classes, I work our mental health chapters into the end of the course given that this is a high-stress time for many students (and instructors). I express gratitude to my students for their hard work thus far in the course and acknowledge feelings of stress and burn out. This not only helps me remember all the effort and quality work I’ve gotten during the semester but also helps students’ feel acknowledged and visible. I also have students write letters to people who have been helpful in their personal/academic journeys, but whom they haven’t formally thanked. Many students get emotional during this exercise but feel re-energized and focused afterwards.

    Laura: As primarily an Introduction to Psychology teacher, it is easier for me to be consistent as the semester gets tiring because the content, I enjoy teaching tends to coincide with the end of the semester. So, as it becomes harder to maintain energy and classroom dynamics, I get energy from the subjects I teach. Like with all jobs, some days are harder than others to be a positive and energetic force in the classroom, but I try to give myself grace on those days. I have also found that being transparent with students has been beneficial because they feel the fatigue throughout the semester and they may not realize that other people feel it too, making them feel understood or possibly less alone. Being transparent about semester fatigue is also a good opportunity to discuss coping skills and other healthy habits that I try to incorporate throughout my content as well, such as good sleep hygiene during Consciousness, study habits during Memory, etc.

    William: Throughout the academic term, students’ engagement and motivation to learn can become compromised. To maintain engagement, motivation, and excitement, instructors – who can also decline in motivation or performance – can employ various strategies to combat potential disinterest and reluctance, especially as the term ends and impaired mood, fatigue, and sleep become more likely. First, instructors should always be a role model for student interest and get to know their students. This foundation allows for transparent conversations to take place that can address challenges students face collectively. Second, instructors should attempt to create assignments (e.g., term papers) that are both varied and novel (Patrick et al., 2000), and that provide a sense of control and choice over their learning (Patall et al., 2010). For example, consider a class like Forensic Psychology in which a term paper can focus on one of a multitude of well-known psychology and law cases, each focusing on a different area (e.g., eyewitness misidentification, repressed memories, false confessions, insanity defense, competency to stand trial). Such assignments allow for students to apply their interests, allowing for an enthusiastic approach. Last, instructors can combat potential disinterest and reluctance by engaging students in group discussions and assignments in which they are able to get to know one another and as a result, support one another. The collective pursuit of accomplishment can lessen feelings of overload. Overall, it is important for instructors to remain cognizant of the fact that student performance can become compromised – especially toward the end of the academic term – and implement strategies to assist with combating that moment.

    Maaly: The end of semester burnout is real, and it hits both of us, teachers and students. As graduate teaching assistants, we experience it both ways as teachers and students as well given our unique positions. I tend to think of the ways that I would like to be supported as a student. As such, I encourage my students to take mental health days. I also talk to them about how managing stress is a big factor to end the semester peacefully and successfully. I tend to incorporate graded activities such as self-care, acts of kindness to help the students engage with themselves and others as well to stay motivated to learn and complete their final products. I also tend to incorporate fun extra credit activities to increase their motivation to complete school assignments. Students repeatedly reported on their evolution that these activities make them feel they are cared for as both humans and learners. I found that the key during this time of the semester is to demonstrate compassion and understanding along with providing the students with tools to combat the burnout.


    Algoe, S. B., Haidt, J., & Gable, S. L. (2008). Beyond reciprocity: Gratitude and relationships in everyday life. Emotion, 8(3), 425–429.

    Demir, M., Burton, S., & Dunbar, N. (2019). Professor–student rapport and perceived autonomy support as predictors of course and student outcomes. Teaching of Psychology, 46(1), 22-33.

    Flinchbaugh, C. L., Moore, E. W. G., Chang, Y. K., & May, D. R. (2012). Student well-being interventions: The effects of stress management techniques and gratitude journaling in the management education classroom. Journal of Management Education, 36(2), 191-219.

    Patall, E. A., Cooper, H., & Wynn, S. R. (2010). The effectiveness and relative importance of choice in the classroom. Journal of Educational Psychology, 102(4), 896-915.

    Patrick, B. C., Hisley, J., & Kempler, T. (2000). “What's everybody so excited about?”: The effects of teacher enthusiasm on student intrinsic motivation and vitality. The Journal of Experimental Education, 68(3), 217-236.

    Schriver, J. L., & Harr Kulynych, R. (2021). Do professor–student rapport and mattering predict college student outcomes? Teaching of Psychology.

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

    Submitted by: Maaly Younis and Kelly Cuccolo

    Mental health concerns can impede academic achievement, well-being, and quality of life. Mental health in higher education seems to be a topic of conversation, especially in the face of the disruptions and stress caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. As such, educators may be seeking ways to protect, or enhance the well-being of students, and even feelings of connectedness.  Gratitude may be one way that educators can achieve these aims. Gratitude involves bringing mindful attention to the positive aspects in one’s life (Emmons & Stern, 2013) cited in Biber (2020). Biber (2020) further discusses the benefits of implementing gratitude practices as part of the classroom environment as it serves different purposes such as increasing prosocial behavior, increasing positive social interactions between the students and raises the students’ cognitive and emotional awareness. Gratitude exercises have also been found to reduce feelings of depression, anxiety and stress and improve connectedness and engagement with others and school in general. Furthermore, gratitude is associated with students’ satisfaction with school and trust in their teachers (Biber, 2020).

    Teachers can implement gratitude exercises to help promote emotional regulation with their students, hone concentration, and emphasize social–emotional learning. Teachers can use the creation of a gratitude wall to instill gratitude in their students and promote emotional and social well-being. For example, expressions of gratitude from college professors have been positively associated with student engagement (e.g., attendance), connectedness, and well-being (e.g., happiness; Howell, 2014). Indeed, gratitude seems to be a relatively simple way to increase student engagement (Flinchbaugh et al., 2012). For instance, Flinchbaugh et al., (2012) had students complete a gratitude journal (listing up to five things students were thankful for in their lives) weekly before the start of the first class of the week. Zakrzewski (2013) provides a plethora of examples and activities for those looking to implement gratitude into their courses.

    *Adapted from Difficult Dialogues (Vanderbilt University). Other useful resources are available at Carleton College and Learning for Justice


    Biber, D. (2020). Social Emotional Learning for a College Classroom. College Teaching68(1), 49-52.

    Flinchbaugh, C. L., Moore, E. W. G., Chang, Y. K., & May, D. R. (2012). Student well-being interventions: The effects of stress management techniques and gratitude journaling in the management education classroom. Journal of Management Education, 36(2), 191-219.

    Howells, K. (2014). An exploration of the role of gratitude in enhancing teacher–student relationships. Teaching and Teacher Education, 42, 58-67.

    Zakrzewski, V. (2013). Gratitude Activities for the Classroom. Greater Good Magazine. Retrieved from

  • 04 Oct 2021 12:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Submitted by William Ridgeway, Laura Simon, and Kelly Cuccolo

    Teaching certain types of content, particularly content that might be personally meaningful to students, may spark unexpectedly difficult and personal questions and conversations. The conversations may be focused around race, gender, sexuality, or any element of a students’ personal identity. As such, it is important that before you even step into the classroom, you consider how these topics might resonate with your students and how these conversations will move you closer towards accomplishing your course learning goals.

    If having challenging and brave conversations is an important part of how you will accomplish your goals for the course, consider trying to make this clear in the syllabus and setting the tone appropriately on the first day of class - this might look like community building through icebreakers where students get to know each other, and having students taken ownership of what they want discussions to look like.

    It may also be beneficial to understand where students might be “coming from” with questions, insensitive comments, or becoming defensive/argumentative. For many, college is a new experience where their previously held beliefs are challenged or turned upside-down for the first time in their life, possibly creating cognitive dissonance. Other students simply may not understand that what they said or did was inappropriate. This is an opportunity for you as the instructor to help scaffold the way they reflect on what was said or done. Not everyone in your classes will be prepared or have the skills to navigate uncomfortable experiences, so it may be your job to help create a space where learning and growth is prioritized (because everyone is human and makes mistakes).

    In the moment, when conversations become charged, you might remind students to take a breath and a moment to attempt to understand the other person’s perspective before responding. Another strategy is to have students take a moment to journal or do a quick write about their feelings before continuing with the discussion. For additional strategies, please visit the September GSTA Corner,

    Despite the best possible preparation, you could ever do as an instructor, there will always be unexpected moments, questions, or events that were unavoidable or unanticipated. These events are not a poor reflection of your preparedness, but the very nature of teaching. In the moments where something unexpected happens, take a moment to collect yourself or formulate a response, utilize your training, and proceed with the knowledge you have gained throughout your education. It may be beneficial to reflect following the question or event on what went well or what could have been improved. At the very least, you will get an interesting story out of the experience and it will help you be more prepared in the future.

    *All information adapted from:

    Some great resources:

  • 03 Sep 2021 12:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Submitted by: Laura Simon, William Ridgway, Madeline Bruce, and Adam Green

    Classroom Discussion and Attention Seekers

    In The College Classroom: Conflict, Change, and Learning, Mann et al. (1970) discuss eight student classifications: compliant, anxious-dependent, discouraged worker, independent, hero, silent student, sniper, and attention seeker. Various needs underlie each classification, resulting in different approaches when it comes to classroom management. For example, consider the attention seeker — an individual who will continually try to be noticed, suggesting a cooperative orientation. When it comes to classroom discussion, attention seekers are appreciated for their ability to help keep the discussion going; however, the role of attention seekers can stand in the way of other students’ chances to participate in the discussion. In approaching such a dilemma, Svinicki and McKeachie (2014) recommend conveying to the class the importance associated with each student’s unique perspective. Instructors can also ensure that each student has had the chance to speak when calling on different individuals raising their hand to participate. In cases where the instructor is still experiencing an issue, a conversation can occur outside the classroom. While these conversations can be approached using different methods, certain comments can be beneficial in allowing for the instructor and attention seeker to be viewed as collaborators, such as “The other students are starting to depend on you to do all the work, so let’s make them speak up more” (Svinicki & McKeachie, 2014, p. 178).

    Prevention is Key!

         Ground rules: syllabus and first day. Firm but fair. Transparency and clear expectations

         Awareness of your environment: classroom sizes influencing how an instructor responds (structure of the course - sizes of classes and discussion; knowing exits for emergency)

         Creating a space

         Be aware of department and university policies

         Have a mentor: try to learn from their experiences, address the groundwork that is being laid before a problem arises.

         Heterodox Academy provides a sample syllabus statement to establish ground rules for difficult conversations

         To create a classroom environment that supports respectful, critical inquiry through the free exchange of ideas, the following principles will guide interactions among all of us in this class:

         Treat every member of the class with respect, even if you disagree with their opinion

         Reasonable minds can differ on any number of perspectives, opinions, and conclusions

         Know that constructive disagreement sharpens thinking and deepens understanding

         You will not be graded on whether your instructor or peers agree with your opinions

         You will be graded on the evidence and reasoning that leads to those opinions

         These principles guide the following expectations:

         Sharing diverse perspectives, informed by critical thought and presented with compassion for others, is highly encouraged.

         Respecting those who are sharing information and ideas. This includes actively listening to what others are saying and supporting each other by contributing to discussions.”

    In the Moment

    At some point in the semester, there will be a situation that you were not able to prevent or anticipate. Having situations is normal, how you react to it is what is important.

         Use your resources

         Do not hesitate to call your university’s classroom assistance, maintenance, IT, etc. as soon as possible.

         While being true to yourself and your communication style, you can appropriately use humor or exert an authoritative presence.

         Moderate the discussion

         Remind students of ground rules.

         Remain calm and model appropriate behavior.

         Allowing all students the opportunity to have a voice.

         Validate students’ emotions.

         Reframe or de-escalate to the best of your abilities.

         Being the authority in the room may be a new role for you but take comfort in knowing you can step up to the challenge.

         You are probably going to get uncomfortable questions at some point (whether it is about the content or classroom expectations, etc.). It is okay to say you do not know, research the question, and come back with information. This models a humility and tenacity that will help our students.

         If necessary, address the issue, whether that is directly or indirectly. "We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented" -Elie Wiesel.

    After the Fact

         Address the problem with your supervisor as soon as possible.

         Be sure to make incident documentation if appropriate. Depending on the situation, it can be very important to create a paper trail with a detailed report of what happened.

         Re-state ground rules and review expectations the next day.

         Take care of yourself! Classroom management can be stressful, be sure to use your support systems and coping skills.


    Mann, R. D., Arnold, S. M., Binder, J. L., Cytrynbaum, S., Newman, B. M., Ringwald, B. E., Ringwald, J. W., & Rosenwein, R. (1970). The college classroom: Conflict, change, and learning. Wiley.

    Svinicki, M., & McKeachie, W. (2014). McKeachie's teaching tips: Strategies, research, and theory for college and university teachers. Cengage.

    GSTA News

    Congratulations to GSTA Steering Committee member Madeline Bruce for proposing her dissertation with distinction this summer.

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

    Submitted by: Adam Green & Maaly Younis

    Teaching a course is a great responsibility. You have the privilege of introducing your students to a part of psychology for the first time. They depend on you as a source of accurate, complete, and clearly presented knowledge. Designing a course is no small task and can even seem overwhelming at times. We recommend starting with broad goals, which you can use to build your course around. The way you design your course and its syllabus should help you accomplish your goals. For example, the way you assign points to tests versus activities reflects on the goals you prioritize (i.e.assessment of knowledge gained versus student engagement).

    What should you include in a course?

         Take the viewpoint of a student: what type of activities are useful and stimulating to you? Which simply seems to be busy work? (e.g., applying social psychological concepts to commercials versus comprehension quizzes on book chapters.)

         From a teacher’s perspective, can you use these stimulating activities to evaluate their learning? If yes, fit as many into your course as possible! If no, still include them, just also include enough other ways to measure their learning.

         The goal of education is to induce learning. Learning is best accomplished through engagement with relevant material, preferably presented in an interesting way.

         Completeness versus thoroughness: we have a limited number of weeks (usually about 10 or 15) to teach an entire field within psychology. We can neither teach every topic within our field, nor can we be perfectly exhaustive when discussing any given concept. What we can do instead is to provide sufficient information and motivation for students to begin their own exploration of the field, both during and after your course.

         To aid you, select a textbook (should you use one) which presents a full breadth of information in ways which engage students by providing applicable examples of concepts in the real world. Keep the cost of the book in mind as well!

    What does a good syllabus contain?

         Within your syllabus, clearly state your expectations for the course. Your syllabus is your vision for the class, and should be treated as your promise to the students (barring unexpected occurrences, which seem to be so common these days!).

         Your syllabus is a resource for your students. A large majority of questions which may come up during the course of a class should be clearly answered in the syllabus, which you can kindly direct your students to when they inevitably ask them, anyway.

         Include information on your contact information, the textbook, office location/hours, grading policy, student learning outcomes, behavioral expectations (including academic honesty), a timeline of the course, along with mandated important material such as disability policy.

    Beyond the Syllabus:

         You, as the instructor, are the leader of a class. This means you have a great deal of power in determining the tone of the class. Be positive, supportive, and engaging. Your students are likely to follow suit!

         As is intuitive for anyone who has been a student (i.e., all of us!), the enthusiasm the instructor shows for the subject matter is key in engaging students.

         If you can add to this by encouraging students to get involved with the material through experiencing engaging activities in class, participating in research through a research lab, or just exploring on their own for curiosity’s sake, you have succeeded as an educator by enabling both present and future intellectual development.

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

    by: Maaly Younis, William Ridgway, Adam Green, Kelly Cuccolo & Madeline Bruce

    At the end of every semester, there is always this moment when we, graduate teaching assistants, become concerned about how to interpret and deal with teaching evaluations. It is a daunting task, especially if it is your first-time teaching. A very important thing to remember is that research that has been done in this area shows that teaching evaluations have little to do with your efficacy as a teacher (Darling-Hammond, 2012). In this month we are sharing with our fellow graduate teaching assistants our ways of handling these evaluations and what they mean to us in terms of developing our experiences as instructors.

    Maaly: Although I believe that teaching evaluations are not a 100% reliable source of data to evaluate my teaching efficacy, there is still value to the students’ opinions of how they perceive my teaching practices. So, I find it helpful to keep a reflective journal where I document and reflect on my teaching practices in terms of what works and what does not. Comparing my reflections to the students’ opinions is a good way to improve my future teaching planning and also keeping the practices that have good results and are perceived positively by the students. Another technique I use is peer evaluation. During the semester, I ask a few of my colleagues or mentors to observe my class and provide feedback. These notes are also helpful if any of them are consistent with the students’ feedback. In general, it is important not to let the negative comments put you down and remember that there is always room for growth and expansion as instructors in training.

    Kelly: It can be easy to focus or dwell on that one negative evaluation, or those few critical comments, but take time to reflect on what you can act on and improve for future iterations of the course. You can’t change yourself, but you can make adjustments to the course such as talking slower during lectures or making assignment instructions clearer. If you tend to dwell on the negative feedback, it might be helpful to have a trusted mentor read through your evaluations first. They can help summarize what students saw as the strengths and weaknesses of your course, and help you process what changes you can realistically implement to improve.

    William: Teaching evaluations — considered by some to be deeply flawed measures — can be quite useful for continued development. They attempt to point instructors in the proper direction, regardless of whether that direction stems from positive or negative feedback. Typically, instructors will tend to focus their attention on negative feedback and find it difficult to value a compliment and critique equally. Thus, it is important to remember that every instructor will receive negative feedback at some point during their career, and such feedback should be acknowledged. It is important to note what has worked well and what needs improvement. Finally, always remember to account for your experience. There are so many factors that comprise a “pristine” course and many of those factors are constantly evolving and are a function of experience.

    Adam: It is important to remember that while we all want good reviews all the time, it is simply not going to happen. This is because there is no one teacher, or teaching style, that will be effective for and please all students. For example, some students are in search of accurate information which they can take with them into their further studies. Other students may not care as much for the nitty-gritty details, and instead want easily digested facts or rules which they can rely on when memorizing information for tests. Still others may simply despise the content itself and no teacher on the planet could make them enjoy it (stats teacher here!). Thus, we will always receive some lukewarm or negative feedback about our teaching. What we should focus on is which bits of criticism do we care about and respond to? Decide for yourself what areas of your teaching you consider important, and that you could improve upon. Reviews will probably never all be perfect, so the important thing is to decide which feedback you take to heart and which feedback you leave behind.

    Madeline: Between our sincere desire to leave every student happy and the research that finds that teaching evaluations can be quite flawed and biased, processing and using student feedback can be difficult. What I would offer is to seek a mentor, a colleague you trust, or as my mentor puts it, “an old head who’s been there: make sure they have some grey hairs.” They can offer insight on common compliments and complaints, and, having likely known you for more than a semester, can help determine feedback from venting. There are times students provide constructive feedback for the course, but there are other times they take that space to leave concerns about issues on campus and beyond. Bringing another colleague can help illuminate themes so we can understand how to help students in and out of our classroom.


    Darling-Hammond, L., Amrein-Beardsley, A., Haertel, E., & Rothstein, J. (2012). Evaluating teacher evaluation. Phi Delta Kappan, 93(6), 8-15.

    GSTA Team News

    Congratulations to GSTA Steering Committee Member Kelly Cuccolo for her new position as an assistant professor at Alma College!

    Congratulations to GSTA Chair Maaly Younis for successfully defending her dissertation!

  • 10 Jun 2021 12:00 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Submitted by Kelly Cuccolo

    Last April I attended the virtual Midwest Conference on the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning [SoTL] hosted by Indiana University South Bend. This conference had an additional ‘Twitter Conference.’ Each presenter was allotted five-minutes, during which they put together a thread of 6-12 tweets relevant to their paper. Presenters then had five minutes to interact with the Twitterverse. Dr. Alison Kelly and I presented our paper, Improving Student Time Management Using Instructor Implemented Intervention, in this format. We created infographics using Piktochart (a free source) to accompany our Tweets.

    This experience was beneficial, as it has practical applications for the classroom. Being limited to 280 characters and one picture per Tweet enforced concise planning of the presentation; it made me think about the most important background information, study design elements, results, and implications. This was a great exercise in specificity, concision, and communicating information clearly to a broad audience. I also got to network! I could easily follow anyone who liked or replied to my Tweets which ended up being a great way to find other people passionate about SoTL. Infographic assignments may be beneficial for students to help them develop scientific communication and critical thinking skills. Instructors could even consider hosting classroom Twitter conferences where students present and explain class concepts to their peers. The limited space prompts students to use critical thinking skills to select the most important pieces of information and concisely convey them. Some examples of ways in which instructors could utilize infographics and Twitter include having students debunk myths, create public-health style announcements, explain or critique research papers, or explain theoretical concepts.

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

    Starting in June 2021, Maaly Younis and Adam Green will take over as the Chair and Associate Chair of the GSTA, respectively. We thank Amy Maslowski for her leadership and efforts as the former Chair of the GSTA! We are also excited to introduce Madeline Bruce as the newest member of the GSTA Steering Committee.

    Maaly Younis, GSTA Chair

    Maaly Younis is an Educational Psychology doctoral candidate at the University of Northern Colorado. Her research foci are studies of transformative learning and academic engagement, Photovoice, culturally responsive pedagogy, and diversity and inclusion. She teaches several undergraduate courses such as Introductory Psychology, Educational Psychology & Psychological Statistics.

    Adam Green, GSTA Associate Chair

    Adam Green is a doctoral candidate at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. His research interests involve moral and political beliefs, and how these impact perceptions of others. He has assisted in several courses including Undergraduate and Graduate Research Methods, Undergraduate Statistics, and Graduate Statistics. He hopes to support and improve GTA experiences through the GTSA, as well as make statistics a less scary topic to learn (and teach).

    Madeline Bruce, GSTA Steering Committee Member

    Madeline (Mads) J. Bruce is a PhD candidate in Clinical Psychology at Saint Louis University. Her research currently focuses on posttraumatic adjustment and identity. Interested in evidence-based practice in her clinical work, research, and teaching, her work on trigger warnings was some of the first to subject this controversial topic to empirical scrutiny. In her free time, she enjoys ultra-swimming, running, and eating.

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

    Submitted by Laura T. Simon, William Ridgway, & Adam Greene

    Presentation experience at virtual conferences

    Laura: I presented two posters at two different conferences this Spring. While each conference had their own system for submitting and “presenting” posters, the experience at both conferences was very similar. The posters were available for viewing during the entire conference and each conference had a “live” poster session where the author(s) could be on a chat or in a video room to talk with people who “stopped by” the poster. In general, most people who presented posters have noted they did not get many (if any) people who attended their poster session.

    William: Throughout this past academic year, I have presented at a variety of virtual conferences, with the most recent being comprised of a paper talk. Like in-person conferences, virtual conferences have advantages and disadvantages. Prior to being changed to a virtual environment, the first conference I was scheduled to attend during the pandemic involved international travel. While always appreciative for the opportunity to enjoy a new city and/or country, I was pleased to know that I would not have to endure the economic cost typically associated with conference travel, specifically the funds the university does not cover through the typical reimbursement process. In fact, this was my general outlook on virtual conferences until a truly post-pandemic world was seen again; a lens through which economic cost could be alleviated. It did not take long for me to realize that virtual conferences, while reducing economic costs, also come at a social cost.

    Adam: I presented as the first speaker in a symposium at the Midwest Psychological Association conference. Unfortunately, my talk began at 6:30am, due to my current location on the west coast. Given that caveat, the presentation went quite smoothly in my opinion. However, the speakers were in a zoom call, while the viewers watched via live stream on the MPA site. Due to this, I had no way of knowing if anyone was watching, which meant that the best strategy was to imagine that I was simply presenting to the others in the zoom call. While this led to some good questions and interactions between the presenters, the audience was not able to interact with us. This was my first symposium experience, and I have to imagine that in-person ones would be both more challenging and interactive with a visible audience.

    Benefits of presenting at virtual conferences

    Laura: I was grateful for the opportunity to disseminate my research to others during the pandemic. While posters generally had very little traffic, I hope people were still able to view them outside the “poster sessions”.  Worst case scenario, it was still something to put on the CV.

    William: While virtual conferences provide benefits such as a reduction in economic cost and more ideal access to those with disabilities, physical or otherwise, they come at a social cost. One of the reasons conferences are looked forward to in part, is due to the social engagement one experiences when presenting their research. While various organizations have done a noteworthy job of attempting to recreate an in-person experience to the best of their abilities, virtual conferences are simply not the same.

    Benefits of attending virtual conferences as a graduate student

    Laura: As a graduate student, one of the most beneficial parts of conferences (besides presenting) is networking. The virtual conferences I attended attempted to have chat rooms or “networking lounges” for people to stop by to network, but I found very few people used them. Without those important networking opportunities, the best part of conferences was attending symposiums and learning new information.

    Challenges of attending virtual conferences for graduate students

    Laura: For me, the most challenging aspect of attending virtual conferences was the additional workload. Due to the virtual nature of the conference, it didn’t have the pre-pandemic expectations of taking the time off of a regular schedule to travel to a different location. Without the idea of being in a different location for the conference, it was difficult to separate a “normal” work week from the conference week, leading to the conference adding onto a normal weeks’ worth of meetings and work. A major recommendation I have is for those who attend virtual conferences to block off conference time in their schedules like they would if the conferences were in person.

    William: Despite the social cost that comes with virtual conferences, I very much feel as though they should have a place in a post-pandemic world, however, it is equally important to highlight the value of in-person conferences and the level of engagement that they afford to students and faculty alike.

    Other comments on virtual conferences

    Laura: I did not anticipate the zoom fatigue I experienced from attending virtual conferences. It surprised me how draining it was to sit in front of the computer all day (despite virtually working for over a year) and did not give myself time in between conference sessions to recharge like we would during in person conferences. Because virtual conferences don’t seem very different than working from home, don’t forget to take time to rest and recharge like you would for conferences in person!

  • 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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