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

Alisa Beyer: I’m a member of STP, and This is How I Teach

05 Apr 2014 4:08 PM | Anonymous

School name: Northern Arizona University, Extended campus

Classes I teach: child and adolescent development, developmental psychology, adult development, research methods, statistics, organizational psychology

What book or article has shaped your work as a psychology teacher?

When I was in graduate school I read McKeachie’s Teaching Tips (11th edition).  It was a great read while starting out teaching. Also while I was in graduate school, I read Dempster (1993), Exposing our students to less should help them learn more, published in Phi Kappa.  I really tried to think about the less is more approach while feeling overwhelmed with what I had to teach students.  I also tried to connect ways to elaborate and it got me thinking more about the textbooks I choose (if I had the choice). 


Tell us about your favorite lecture topic or course to teach.
I really enjoy teaching developmental psychology courses, research methods, and statistics.  Recently, I have begun to teach more and more on-line (administrative request).  This has led me to shift a bit on my favorite lecture topics/courses.  In person, a few of my favorite topics are infant cognition (child and adolescent development), adolescent cognitive abilities (child and adolescent development), creating formulas in excel (statistics), and career and work (adult development and aging).

I have found it easier to transition the developmental courses online.  For online courses, I keep the same shell recipe for the different courses I teach (with some adjustments).  This semester I am teaching research methods online -- keeping the rigor of the face to face requirements (4 credit writing intensive course).  I am focusing the semester on a broad research topic with the class first participating in survey research (I have students fill out a questionnaire during week 1 that serves as data for this project, and then they do a literature review of the topic and write up the findings as their first research paper write up) and then we move to experimental designs on the same topic (group based projects that they can collect data online).  I am hoping that this becomes a favorite course.


Describe a favorite in-class activity or assignment.
Anything that brings information alive to students and where they are connecting to the learning material.  I keep telling them the best way to know you “know it” is to be able to explain it to someone else and come up with your own examples.  Any activity I can develop or find that does that is a favorite.  My favorite assignment for developmental psychology was a service learning project I did while at Dominican University.  Student worked in a low-income Kindergarten or first grade classroom.  I had bi-weekly assignments connected to their classroom time.  The main project was to develop fun, educational games.  Students worked in pairs to develop games and the class chose four to be implemented.  The class worked on creating the materials to play the games in the classroom and for the kids to take them home.  We then had a game day for the classes and the kids took the games home.  Students then wrote a final reflection paper.  It took me a couple of iterations before I felt like the project really connected well with students and course content.


What teaching and learning techniques work best for you? 

For online teaching, I use the exit ticket every week to check in on student learning (I also ask what they feel they learned really well).  For the exit ticket, students need to respond with an explanation or application of a concept covered that week along with a question they still have about the material.  Students look over each other's exit ticket posts and respond to peer posts.  The exit ticket is a weekly discussion board.  I follow up with a quick clip video of common topics students asked about in addition to responding to each student's posts.  

I also use rubrics for grading papers, projects, and discussion boards.  I try to use as many assignments with an applied approach.


What are three words that best describe your teaching style?

practical, authoritative, invested


What is your teaching philosophy in 8 words or fewer?

Emphasize science, make it applied, and come alive.


Tell us about a teaching disaster (or embarrassment) you’ve had.

Last summer, as an adjunct I submitted copies for the final exam for an evening summer course.  The copy center moved with renovations going on, and it closed before my class started.  I only came to campus once a week.  The copies were not in my box.  Luckily I had access to a printer and could print them all off, but it was a rush and stressful.  Come to find out, in my panic, I did not see that they were in the mail box below mine.  I still can’t comprehend how I missed them.  We started class five minutes late and I was just glad the class was almost over. 


What is something your students would be surprised to learn about you?

I like driving stick-shift--I really wish I did not trade in my old car for a minivan I run a destination half-marathon race at least once a year.  My husband is Canadian.  Things they already know--I am an identical twin and mother of three children.


What are you currently reading for pleasure? 

I just finished How Children Succeed by Paul Tough.  Before that I read Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay. 


What tech tool could you not live without?

I really enjoy using Poll Everywhere and I use YouTube weekly to post class quick clips.  And, I just got a new desk mount that allows me to work standing or sitting (see picture!).

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