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

Kristina Pham: I'm a member of STP and this is how I teach

16 Jan 2024 10:50 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

School name: Casper College

Type of school: Community College

School locale (including state and country): Casper, WY, USA

How many years have you taught psychology? 11 years

Classes you teach: General Psychology, Human Sexuality, Research Methods, Sports Psychology, Research Methods, Marriage and Family, Biological Psychology.

Specialization: Teaching, Minority Stress, Humane Education

Average class size: 20

What’s the best advice about teaching you’ve ever received? It wasn’t said directly to me by the person, but is a quote we refer to often in Chabad. “Imagine you could open your eyes to see only the good in every person, the positive in every circumstance, and the opportunity in every challenge” by Rebbe M. Schneerson. I keep this above my desk because following this advice makes me the best teacher for my students and myself.

What book or article has shaped your work as a psychology teacher? Our Babies, Our Selves by Meredith Small. It changed how I felt about children and raising children, which led me to become a teacher and a psychology instructor. While it is about raising children in different cultures, it helped shape my views about relating to students of all ages.

Briefly tell us about your favorite lecture topic or course to teach. Marriage and Family is my favorite class to teach because it includes many of my favorite topics. I love seeing my students learn that the purpose of marriage has drastically changed over time, despite their belief that marriage was always about finding “the one.”

Briefly describe a favorite assignment or in-class activity. I love having students read short stories to connect ideas. My favorite assignment is reading Flowers for Algernon to discuss intelligence. My students also love this assignment. Using the stories turns the topic of measuring and thinking about intelligence from dry to full of emotion.

What teaching and learning techniques work best for you? Ungrading has been successful for me. My students feel more free to try new things and to participate more because they are not worried about their grades.

Mixing small activities into lectures makes the class more fun. When we use a short activity for discussion, and then I fill in additional notes, the students are more engaged in the class and the topic.

What’s your workspace like? My office is full of work completed by my students and gifts given to me by students and classes. There is always a stack of books on my desk that I want to read. I keep candy on my desk. There is also a Nespresso machine for keeping me caffeinated and when students need a longer discussion with me.

Three words that best describe your teaching style. Flexible, fun, hands-on.

What is your teaching philosophy in 8 words or fewer? Create life-long learners, not memorizers.

Tell us about a teaching disaster (or embarrassment) you’ve had and how you dealt with the situation. I can’t think of a specific instance, but I have definitely had assignments that didn’t go the way I planned. I don’t get embarrassed. I admit to students that things are not going as planned, and we need to scrap it and do something different. I think they appreciate the honesty and not having to keep doing something that clearly isn’t working.

What about teaching do you find most enjoyable? The students. I always enjoy getting to know them, hearing their views, and laughing with them in class. I look forward to going to work every day because it is like seeing my friends. 

What is something your students would be surprised to learn about you? I share so many personal stories as part of my teaching. I don’t know if they would be surprised by anything.

What are you currently reading for pleasure? Madame Restell by Jennifer Wright

What tech tool could you not live without? This is old school, but a video projector. I don’t use a lot of tech in my classes, so I could get rid of what I do use pretty easily, but I rely a lot on videos and movies.

Has your teaching changed because of the Covid19 pandemic? If so, how? (positive and/or negative changes) Most of our chatter is just stories about our day or our lives. Sometimes, we discuss issues we are having and ask for an opinion. In my building, we mostly have a lot of fun and laughter in the hallway. I don’t think my teaching has changed due to Covid, but I think students have changed, and not for the better. Students seem more needy (I don’t love that word, but can’t think of a better one). But the neediness seems to come from a lack of effort on their part. I have found being back in the classroom post Covid quite frustrating at times.

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