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

<< First  < Prev   1   2   3   4   5   Next >  Last >> 
  • 10 May 2020 12:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    by Adam Green (Southern Illinois University) and Terrill Taylor (University of North Dakota)

    Teaching statistics for the social sciences is difficult for many reasons. Varying levels of stats familiarity, interest, and aptitude among students are just a few challenges that instructors must recognize in order to provide effective statistics instruction (Strangfeld, 2013). Students enter college with many different backgrounds in statistics and math in general. Even at the graduate level, students enter programs with diverse statistics experiences. Many/most students are not particularly interested in stats and must take the class simply to complete their degree requirements. In addition, some students have gotten the idea from past experiences/instructors that they are not ‘stats people’, which leads them to approach a stats class with an attitude of learned helplessness (Tomasetto et al., 2009).

    So what can you do about this? Thankfully, there are ways to address each of these issues, though there are never any miracle ‘cures’. Here, we provide a few tips and resources for grad students who teach stats.

         Use pre-tests! Knowing where your students are at in terms of statistics knowledge when you begin a course is crucial. Even if it means changing the syllabus, try your best to adapt your teaching plan to the needs of the students. Also, use a post-test at the end of the semester (the same as the pre-test and not for points) to get a clear picture of what impact your class made on their statistical skill (Delucchi, 2014).

         Curb your enthusiasm (at least a little). An instructor being enthusiastic about a topic is generally a good thing in teaching. However, as a graduate student who is teaching statistics to undergrads, you are probably much more into stats than your class is. To avoid ‘losing’ your class, try not to expect your students to find the same joy you might get from seeing a very normal distribution or a large effect size (Tomasetto et al., 2009). Show your students that you understand that statistics can be confusing and sometimes tedious. That being said, some energy will always make your lessons more interesting for your students!

         Acknowledge your mistakes. One thing we all learn upon entering graduate school is that we do not have the time or energy, let alone the capacity, to be perfect. This applies to our statistics know-how as well. One thing about teaching is that we instructors learn new things each time we teach a course, whether through updates in the field or learning that we were mistaken about something the whole time. If you slip up or find out new information later which proves you wrong on something, you are being a good teacher when you let your class know that you were wrong and correct the information.

         Make the material relatable. Understanding statistics can be a daunting process, especially when the examples used in stats problems in and of themselves are tough to comprehend. It can be helpful to ask the class for topics or issues that they may be interested in and use this to help present/teach the material. This can be done by incorporating topics of student’s interest in your teaching presentation or offering assignments that allow students flexibility to create their own examples. Nonetheless, being flexible can go far!

    For further ideas for activities or ways to improve your teaching, check out this new e-book by the STP.


    Delucchi, M. (2014). Measuring student learning in social statistics: A pretest-posttest study of knowledge gain. Teaching Sociology, 42(3), 231-239.

    Strangfeld, J. A. (2013). Promoting active learning: Student-led data gathering in undergraduate statistics. Teaching Sociology, 41(2), 199-206.

    Tomasetto, C., Matteucci, M. C., Carugati, F., & Selleri, P. (2009). Effect of task presentation on students’ performances in introductory statistics courses. Social Psychology of Education, 12(2), 191-211.

  • 10 Apr 2020 12:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    submitted by GSTA Steering Committee

    We wanted to start this Corner by acknowledging the incredible work that many instructors have been doing to transition their courses online, support their students and mentees, and take care of themselves and their loved ones in this challenging time. We are also deeply grateful to all the instructors who have generously shared their materials, strategies, and words of encouragement with others. In this spirit, we’ve dedicated the first part of this Corner to sharing some of the strategies and resources that we, as graduate student instructors and teaching assistants, have found especially helpful. We hope you will find these useful too!

    Supporting Our Students:

         Communication is essential. Send students emails to keep in touch -- social distancing can be lonely but it doesn’t stop us from establishing a supportive community. Post announcements on the course website / learning platform (e.g., Blackboard) to update and inform students about course expectations and their progress. Remind students that you are still available during office hours (and outside of those hours) to talk about class, as well as other concerns (as you feel appropriate).

         Be flexible with students: this is a tough time for everyone. If you typically enforce a strict policy (e.g., no late work), be more willing to accommodate student requests. Some institutions have decided to provide students and/or course instructors the option to choose whether they would like to change the grading guidelines to Satisfactory/ Unsatisfactory as compared to traditional letter grades. Given the unforeseen circumstances that have likely impacted students’ learning opportunities, advocating for such grading changes for your courses may be appropriate.

         Many students may be unfamiliar with learning online, so be prepared to offer students guidance. While this document is tailored to students at the City University of New York, many of the strategies are useful to students transitioning to distance learning at any university.

         Compassion in the times of uncertainty is a key to help your students transition to online learning. Students may be going through major life changes in terms of their living situation and access to resources. To help address students’ higher levels of loneliness and anxiety, it may be helpful to provide an ungraded discussion board for students to share news, stories, comments and stay connected to you and to other classmates.

    Support for Instructors:

         Don’t approach the current mid-semester transition to online courses in the same way that you would approach developing and teaching an online course. Instead, Fox’s blog post, titled, Please do a bad job of putting your courses online, can help you think through how to move your course online in a way that supports your students’ needs and recognizes the difficult circumstances that you and your students are facing.

         Read and share resources with colleagues. Here is an evolving collection of co-authored resources that may help you navigate teaching online with contributions including Jacqueline Wernimont (Dartmouth College, USA), and Cathy N. Davidson (CUNY Graduate Center, USA). You can also join the STP Facebook page to learn about the awesome and creative ways other GTAs and professors are navigating this online teaching world!

         If possible, allow students to complete the course work asynchronously (with synchronous office hours and/or group review sessions). Some students might not be able to attend synchronous classes and need alternative support. If you do decide to include a synchronous component in your course, it can be helpful to establish guidelines and norms for the online learning environment. These might include a conversation about muting microphones when not speaking, operating camera placement, considerations on the setting and whether it is okay for other individuals to be around. Providing support to students and working collaboratively to address students' concerns are important.

         Refer students to appropriate resources for managing difficulties they may experience online. This may include IT support for internet issues, or approaching situations with grace should students experience connection difficulties. It may also require additional efforts and compassion to ensure students have the necessary equipment needed to successfully complete the course.

    Most importantly, be kind to yourself, especially if it is your first time teaching online. Remember that your students will remember your kindness and compassion during this time more than anything else!

    Upcoming Changes to GSTA Leadership

    GSTA Chair, Elizabeth S. Che, will step down June 1, 2020. Liz served as the GSTA Deputy Chair from January 2017-December 2018 and has been Chair since January 2019. We thank Liz for her leadership and many contributions to the success of the GSTA! Current GSTA Deputy Chair, Jessica E. Brodsky, will be taking over as Chair for the remaining term.

    Join the GSTA Steering Committee!

    We seek one new member to join the GSTA’s six-person Steering Committee starting June 1, 2020 for a six-month term, with the option to extend for another year. The Steering Committee oversees GSTA budget, expectations, and programming. Steering Committee members are expected to meet regularly in person/teleconference/video conference.

    If you are interested in joining the GSTA Steering Committee, please complete this form by May 15th, 2020. Please email Jessica Brodsky with any questions.

    Other GSTA Activities and Initiatives

    For regular updates on GSTA activities, follow us on Twitter (@gradsteachpsych) and Facebook, check out our Blog, or write to us at

    You can find out more about us at or at the GSTA resource website, where we periodically post ideas and materials.

    GSTA Steering Committee

    Elizabeth Che (Chair), The Graduate Center, CUNY

    Jessica Brodsky (Associate Chair), The Graduate Center, CUNY

    Adam Greene, Southern Illinois University

    Amy Maslowski, University of North Dakota

    Terrill Taylor, University of North Dakota

    Maaly Younis, University of Northern Colorado

  • 10 Mar 2020 12:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    On October 25, 2019, the GSTA held our Tenth Annual Pedagogy Day Conference at the CUNY Graduate Center. Pedagogy Day is a forum for doctoral students and faculty to come together to think collectively about pedagogy and the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) in today’s diverse undergraduate classrooms. The theme of the conference was Transformative Teaching. Transformative pedagogy moves beyond the traditional “information-transmission” teaching paradigm by providing students with the knowledge and skills to become engaged citizens empowered to make positive changes in the world.

    Our keynote presentation was delivered by Professor Cathy N. Davidson from the Graduate Center, CUNY. Professor Davidson is the co-founder of the Humanities, Arts, Science, and Technology Alliance and Collaboratory Her presentation was inspired by her recent award-winning book The New Education: How to Revolutionize the University to Prepare Students for a World In Flux. In her workshop, titled Revolutionizing Learning, Professor Davidson looked at the origins of the modern research university and its current legacy presence. She addressed the changes we need to make now and then focused on ways that each and every one of us can begin—right now—to make changes in our own classrooms that help our students to learn better and make teaching more satisfying for professors too.

    You can view the video here.

    CANCELED: GSTA meet-up at EPA

    The GSTA teaching symposia and informal meet-up at EPA 2020 have been cancelled due to the majority of presenters and organizers traveling from the New York area. Sorry for the inconvenience!

    However, if you’re a graduate student presenting Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) research at EPA, please let us know the time and topic of your presentation and we’ll be happy to share it on Twitter! Tweet us at @gradsteachpsych or send us an email at

  • 10 Feb 2020 12:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    GSTA at NITOP 2020

    GSTA members had a great time at the 2020 National Institute on the Teaching of Psychology in St. Pete Beach, FL. It was inspiring to meet so many dedicated and innovative instructors of psychology!

    Say Hi to the GSTA at EPA!

    Members and former members of the GSTA will be presenting at this year’s Eastern Psychological Association (EPA) Conference taking place in Boston from Thursday, March 12 to Saturday, March 14. If you are in the Boston area, please join us!

    GSTA Meet-Up at EPA

    Grab a drink and join us at 5pm on Friday, March 13, 2020 at M.J. O’Connor’s at the Park Plaza Hotel. All are welcome, especially graduate students and early career psychologists!

    GSTA Members Presenting at EPA

    GSTA members have organized several symposia that are part of the STP’s Teaching Symposium Series. On Friday, March 13 (11am-12:20pm in the Stuart Room), we will be sharing recent findings on “Teaching Attitudes and Behaviors of Novice College Instructors.” This symposium will describe results from two surveys distributed through the GSTA assessing graduate student instructors’ approaches to teaching, model teaching characteristics, emphasis on workforce-relevant skills, and awareness of students’ academic motivations.

    Just a few minutes later (12:30-1:50pm in the Stuart Room), we will be sharing strategies for “Transformative Pedagogy,” including a flipped learning model, embedding quantitative reasoning throughout the curriculum, and using role-play to increase understanding of research ethics. Many of our presenters are also authors of chapters in the upcoming second volume of the GSTA’s e-book series How We Teach Now. This a great opportunity to get a sneak peek of just a few of the great resources in the new volume!

    Presenting at EPA? Let us know!

    Let us know the time and topic of your presentation and we’ll share it on Twitter! Tweet us at @gradsteachpsych or send us an email at Listserv

    The GSTA has an online discussion list DIV2GSTA, To join the listserv, visit here and click on “Subscribe or Unsubscribe” in the Options box on the right side of the screen. After you subscribe, you may send messages to the list at

  • 10 Jan 2020 12:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    As you may have heard, 2020 marks a big change for the GSTA. Starting this year, the GSTA has moved away from having a designated host institution to a regional model with representatives from institutions around the country. We thank the Graduate Center, CUNY for hosting the GSTA for the past two terms and Dr. Patricia Brooks for serving as the GSTA Faculty Advisor during this time.

    We are excited to announce that four new at-large members will join the Chair and Deputy Chair in steering the GSTA for 2020! Dr. Meera Komarraju, Vice President for Membership will serve as the new GSTA Faculty Advisor. The steering committee will have its first virtual meeting in January to discuss GSTA budget, expectations, and programming. We look forward to working together to support graduate student instructors!

    Meet the 2020 GSTA Steering Committee!

    GSTA Chair

    Elizabeth Che is a doctoral student in the Educational Psychology Program at the Graduate Center, CUNY. Her research interests include the use of Wikipedia editing to develop students’ writing and other teaching practices that foster development of workforce relevant skills. She teaches Introductory Psychology at the College of Staten Island.

    GSTA Deputy Chair

    Jessica Brodsky is a doctoral student in the Educational Psychology Program at the Graduate Center, CUNY. Her research interests include media literacy assessment and instruction, and development of online resources for teaching students how to read scientific texts. She teaches Experimental Psychology at Hunter College.

    GSTA Steering Committee Members

    Adam Green is a master's (en route to doctoral) student at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. His research interests involve moral and political beliefs. He has assisted in several courses including Research Methods, Applied Behavior Analysis, and Advanced Statistics. He hopes to support and improve GTA experiences through the GTSA.

    Amy Maslowski is a Counseling Psychology doctoral student at the University of North Dakota. She received her master’s degree in Clinical-Counseling Psychology from the University of Minnesota Duluth. Amy has undergraduate instructor and graduate and undergraduate GTA experiences. She is involved in SoTL research and published and presented in ToP outlets.

    Terrill Taylor is a Counseling Psychology doctoral student at the University of North Dakota. He has served in several teaching experiences at the graduate level, which includes having taught courses on research, introductory psychology, and helping skills. He is currently the lead instructor for an undergraduate course on U.S. diversity.

    Maaly Younis is an Educational Psychology doctoral student at the University of Northern Colorado. Her major areas of research are studies of transformative learning and academic engagement in teacher education, Photovoice, and culturally responsive pedagogy. She teaches several undergraduate courses such as Introductory Psychology, Educational Psychology & Psychological Statistics.

<< First  < Prev   1   2   3   4   5   Next >  Last >> 
Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software