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

"This is How I Teach" Blog

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Teaching shouldn't be a private activity, but often it turns out that way. We don't get to see inside each others' classrooms, even though we'd probably benefit if only we could! In order to help Make Teaching Visible, we've introduced this blog, called "This is How I Teach." We will be featuring the voices of STP members twice a month. Psychology teachers will tell us about how they teach and what kinds of people they are -- both inside and outside the classroom. 

Are you interested in sharing your secret teaching life with STP?

We’d love to hear from you!  To get started, send your name, institution, and answers to the questions below to the following email: howiteach@teachpsych.org.  

  1. Tell us about your favorite lecture topic or course to teach.
  2. What are three words that best describe your teaching style?
  3. What is something your students would be surprised to learn about you?

"This is How I Teach" edited by: Mindy J. Erchull, Editor (University of Mary Washington); Jill M. Swirsky, Associate Editor (Holy Family University); Victoria Symons Cross, Associate Editor (University of California, Davis); and Lora L. Erickson, Associate Editor (The Chicago School)

  • Emeritus Editors: Rob McEntarffer
  • Emeritus Associate Editors: Virginia Wickline
  • 12 May 2023 9:44 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    School name: SUNY, Buffalo State University

    Type of school: Urban-engaged, diverse public school; we offer undergraduate and graduate degrees with a few (soon to be more) doctoral programs.

    School locale (including state and country): Buffalo, NY, USA

    How many years have you taught psychology? None- LOL. I am a special education teacher and teach in the department of Exceptional Education housed within the School of Education. We prepare candidates to become special educators at the undergraduate and graduate level. I started as an adjunct in 2003 and became full-time faculty in 2012

    Classes you teach: I teach all of our early childhood special education classes at the graduate level (Assessment, Intervention/Instruction, Managing Behavior, Emergent Literacy and Cognition) as well as some ABA courses, and an Overview of ASD class. I also co-teach a course with faculty from our SLP program called “Sign Language For Students With Autism And Developmental Disabilities”All of my courses are designated as service learning, so we are out in the community, working with children and families.

    Specialization (if applicable): e.g., clinical, cognitive, teaching, etc. Teaching and service, specifically autism spectrum disorder, early childhood special education

    Average class size: 20-25

    What is the best advice about teaching you have ever received? Take what you do well and run with it! (Note: a glimpse into my room would most likely show a flipped classroom with small group discussions)

    What book or article has shaped your work as a psychology teacher? This is a tough question. Probably the “white book,” Applied Behavior Analysis by Cooper, Heron, and Heward.

    Briefly tell us about your favorite lecture topic or course to teach. I am fairly behavioral, so I like teaching anything that relates to evidence-based ABA practices. I also love teaching early childhood language/literacy/cognition as we bring in a lot of content from storybooks and television/movies. Kids’ television shows get a bad rap but there is gold there if you look for it

    Briefly describe a favorite assignment or in-class activity. I have two assignments that are pretty closely related. We discuss quality indicators for young children’s literature and then closely examine our favorite children’s book from our past to see how it measures up. We discuss why we loved it as a child and then align it to quality indicators. We do the same thing with our favorite children’s show. It is eye opening. My students are often shocked to see how much garbage is thrown at us by marketers and learn to appreciate the merits of well-done children’s media. I also have a pregnancy simulation long-term activity that we do to study development, using a real app called Ovia, but tweaked for our purposes. Students get a kick out of being pregnant, especially the rare male candidates I have from time to time.

    What teaching and learning techniques work best for you? Reviewing new content as a class with many pauses for whole or small group responding (I like response cards or whiteboards) and then breaking into smaller groups to complete discussion and application activities. I love playing around with innovative ways to group students, especially in my early childhood courses, so that we are modeling good practices for their own classrooms. We use different techniques each day and discuss the “how” and “why” of each. By the end of the semester, I love that my students know everyone in the class well, and not just those that sit next to them. They also end up with a toolkit of ideas to use in their own classrooms.

    What is your workspace like? A little more cluttered than I would like but time is always short, and the to-do list is always long. My workspace is often my dining room table as those COVID carry-over habits are hard to break. As corny as it sounds, I do try to make my workspace warm and inviting, especially if I am grading papers as I want to be in the best mood possible. I always light scented candles (warm vanilla), bring in as much natural sunlight as possible, and make sure to have a dog or two at my side.

    Three words that best describe your teaching style. Interactive, genuine, confident.

    What is your teaching philosophy in 8 words or fewer? Assess early and often.

    Tell us about a teaching disaster (or embarrassment) you have had and how you dealt with the situation. I do not multitask well. Many years ago, as an adjunct, I was trying to talk while finding a video of Dwight from The Office to demonstrate a token economy system with Schrutte Bucks. Somehow I managed to pull up a video of two people engaged in a colorful act. We had snacks in class that day, so my students joked that I am the best professor ever – I feed them and show them porn

    What about teaching do you find most enjoyable? Students, students, students! I love the interaction with them. Teaching is so rewarding in and of itself, but when you get to see students experience that “aha” moment, it is like winning the lottery, every day.

    What is something your students would be surprised to learn about you? I started my career in journalism as I wanted to be a sportswriter. I love all sports, but especially my Buffalo Bills (the Bills Mafia is real and awesome), the Sabres, and most other professional sports with the exception of WWE. Is that even considered a professional sport? I honestly have no clue.

    What are you currently reading for pleasure? I have been trying to start Simon Baron-Cohen’s The Pattern Seekers: How autism drives human invention for months but cannot seem to work it in. If I stopped aimlessly scrolling through my phone at night, I would find the time.

    What tech tool could you not live without? There are several. I love Zoom (another COVID carryover) and am completely reliant upon my Outlook calendar, especially the reminders. I also really like the Bookings app on Microsoft Office, which is a gamechanger all the time, but especially during student advisement weeks. Flip is a great resource. I also really like Yuja for video quizzes.

    What is your hallway chatter like? What do you talk to colleagues about most (whether or not it is related to teaching/school)? Buffalo Bills, kids, dogs, food, restaurants, cooking shows, stress, and how we need 36 hours in a day.

    Has your teaching changed because of the Covid19 pandemic? If so, how? (positive and/or negative changes)  My teaching dramatically changed because of COVID, mostly for the better. I streamlined my course content, and really concentrated on essential knowledge, skills, and dispositions. I rely heavily on the flipped classroom model and utilize technology as much as possible. I require my students to meet in small groups outside of class time and let them know they can invite me to pop into their meetings if they have questions or are stuck on a concept. I am also very deliberate about looking out for the well-being of my students (the teaching profession took a big hit during COVID) and have stolen an assignment from my friend, Pam Schuetze, that requires students to attend to their own self-care and reflect upon it. I assign points to it, which helps to ensure students will take it seriously and actually do something tangible for themselves to decompress.

  • 28 Apr 2023 4:09 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    School name: SUNY Buffalo State University

    Type of school: Comprehensive college that is part of a large state university system

    School locale (including state and country): Buffalo, NY, USA

    How many years have you taught psychology? 28 years

    Classes you teach: Child and Infant Development classes, Research Methods, Senior Seminar, Child Advocacy courses

    Specialization (if applicable): Developmental Psychology

    Average class size: Ranges from 12 (senior level capstone courses) to 40 (for introductory level developmental courses)

    What’s the best advice about teaching you’ve ever received?  Students learn best when you care and when they can see your passion for the content.

    Briefly tell us about your favorite lecture topic or course to teach.  I love teaching Research Methods because doing research is one of my favorite aspects of my job. I also love seeing students who are terrified of the course and convinced that they will never do or like research start to appreciate the research process.

    Briefly describe a favorite assignment or in-class activity.  I have begun introducing service learning into several of my courses.  One project that I particularly like involves a collaboration between my infant development course, a special education graduate course and a speech/language pathology course on our campus.  We place our students into interdisciplinary teams, designed to mimic the type of teams that would provide special services in schools.  Students are then trained to conduct developmental screenings using the Ages and Stage Questionnaire (ASQ-3) and the ASQ Social-Emotional questionnaire.  They then provide developmental screenings to children from birth to age 5 in the community (day care centers, children’s museum).  Those scores are then provided to HelpMeGrow, an organization that connects families to needed resources in the community.  Student are then asked to present case studies orally and to write a developmental report based on one of the children they have screened.  Students love this project which provides them with important applied experiences related to working with children, assessment and understanding developmental milestones.

    What teaching and learning techniques work best for you? For years, I have flipped many of my classes.  I love the classroom time this provides for more active learning and discussion in class.  Presenting content outside of class in the form of videos with embedded quiz questions as low-stakes assignments also promotes mastery of the content because students are permitted to retake the quizzes as many times as they like.

    I also find service learning to be a powerful technique.  Students love the applied work and the sense of mastery that comes with learning content and immediately applying it in an authentic situation.

    What’s your workspace like?  I work best when my space is organized and free of clutter.  I have a color-coordinated system for the various ongoing projects I have.  I surround myself with plants and have a small reclining chair and ottoman in the corner that I use when reading journal articles and other materials.

    Three words that best describe your teaching style.  Here are the words that I personally use to describe my teaching style: Project-based learning, student-centered, inquiry-based learning. 

    I also asked a group of students that know me quite well to describe my teaching style.  These are students that have taken several classes with me and have been involved in a short-term travel abroad experience that I co-led with another instructor.  They described my teaching style as: organized, creative and accessible (which they defined as meaning that I provide content in a variety of ways so that all students understand the content).

    What is your teaching philosophy in 8 words or fewer? Teaching must be accompanied by ongoing learning.

    Tell us about a teaching disaster (or embarrassment) you’ve had and how you dealt with the situation. Most recently, I had a service-learning project interrupted by a blizzard.  Many students were scheduled to complete a service-learning project that was canceled due to the weather and we were unable to reschedule their project.  Since many other students had already completed their portion of the project, I had to quickly pivot and find another opportunity for students that was somewhat comparable in terms of time and provided them with similar experiences that related to class content.  After many phone class and emails, I find an alternate project for students to complete. Although stressful for me, students were pleased with the project and I developed some new community contacts.

    What about teaching do you find most enjoyable? Watching students ignite a passion for a particular area of psychology or determine a career plan.

    What is something your students would be surprised to learn about you? Students are often surprised to learn that I was a military brat growing up, that I spend two summers serving as a river guide and that I was a music major in college (with a psychology minor) rather than a psychology major.

    What are you currently reading for pleasure? The Paris Library by Janet Skeslien.

    What tech tool could you not live without? Our Learning Management System (currently switching from Blackboard to D2L Brightspace).  I use it to organize all of my class materials for each unit and week.  Students have access to much of the content but there is quite a bit that I keep hidden so that I can use it in class or immediately make available based on student interest.

    What is your hallway chatter like? What do you talk to colleagues about most (whether or not it is related to teaching/school)? Most recently, we have spent a lot of time talking about changes in higher-education.  This includes the financial difficulties facing many institutions, the changing student demographics and concerns about the preparation students have when beginning college.  This also includes discussions about the changes we see in students as a result of the pandemic (classroom behaviors, study skills and mental health concerns).  Nonacademic conversations most recently have been heavily centered around the Buffalo Bills because they have been having such a great year and they provide a much-needed distraction from other local and global concerns.  Go Bills!

    Has your teaching changed because of the Covid19 pandemic? If so, how? (positive and/or negative changes) I have developed numerous strategies for using technology to scaffold learning.  Many were techniques I had to use when forced to switch to online learning and have continued to learn as supportive methods when we returned to face-to-face learning.  I am currently developing new writing assignments in response to the development of the artificial intelligence bot, ChatGPT, which will ensure that students continue to practice writing in a world where technology can write “some” content for them.

  • 14 Apr 2023 10:17 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    School name: Saint Francis University.

    Type of school: Private, catholic, primarily undergraduate university with about 2,000 students.

    School locale (including state and country): Loretto, PA, USA.

    How many years have you taught psychology? I began teaching psychology as an adjunct lecturer in 2007 and been teaching full time since 2014.

    Classes you teach: Biopsychology, Sensation & Perception, Learning, Canine Learning & Behavior, Psychopharmacology, Introduction to Psychology, Neuroscience Seminar, Animal Minds, and Animal-Assisted Health & Education.

    Specialization (if applicable): e.g., clinical, cognitive, teaching, etc. I am trained as a behavioral neuroscientist with a specialization in psychopharmacology. Within the past few years my focus has expanded to include animal-assisted interactions and the scholarship of teaching and learning. 

    Average class size: There are 10-12 students in my smallest classes (Canine Learning & Behavior), and 25-30 students in my largest classes (Biopsychology, Introduction to Psychology).

    What’s the best advice about teaching you’ve ever received? Have fun in class! If you are having fun, your students are probably having fun too.

    What book or article has shaped your work as a psychology teacher? Animal Cognition by Clive Wynne and Monique Udell. The book celebrates the capabilities demonstrated by animals, combining rigorous science with pure fascination and love for animals. The book inspired me to create my “Animal Minds” course.

    Briefly tell us about your favorite lecture topic or course to teach. My favorite course is my “Canine Learning and Behavior” Course. Enrolled students live with shelter dogs for an entire semester, bring them to class, train them according to psychological ‘learning’ methodologies and facilitate their adoption. We end every semester with a ‘Puppy Graduation’ ceremony. Working closely with the community, my students learn to write animal shelter-focused grant applications and integrate the dogs into human-animal interactions in nursing homes and elementary classrooms. This course embodies everything that I love about teaching.

    Briefly describe a favorite assignment or in-class activity. It is commonly believed that the consumption of a poppy-seed pastry can lead to positive results in a drug-use test. Well, this is not a myth. I use saliva drug detectors, poppy-seed pastries, and a ‘within-subject’ or ‘between-subject’ experimental design to demonstrate this concept to my students. This activity is integrated into my “Psychopharmacology” course (e.g., pharmacokinetics), “Biopsychology” course (discussing the opioid pandemic) or even into my “Introduction to Psychology” (discussing research methods or psychological misconceptions). It is an activity that students do not forget.

    What teaching and learning techniques work best for you? During my first year of full-time teaching, I wanted to know what students were experiencing in my courses. I thus integrated mid-term and final surveys that were tailored to course content and enabled me to receive feedback from students throughout the course. I found the surveys (especially at mid-term) to be super helpful since they gave me ‘real-time’ reflections of details that I could improve in my course design, miscommunications that I could clarify, and an opportunity to let my students’ voice be heard. Years later, I still use these in all my classes.

    What’s your workspace like? My office is packed with books, human (and dog) snacks, and random equipment that I need for my courses. I love my office, but I spend most of my day running around campus, checking up on animals housed in other buildings and participating in activities happening all around campus.

    Three words that best describe your teaching style. Enthusiasm, passion, dedication. I am certain that one day I will be teaching “Biopsychology”, talk about the wonders of the brain, and will just spontaneously combust . I honestly love what I am doing.

    What is your teaching philosophy in 8 words or fewer? Every problem can and will be solved.

    Tell us about a teaching disaster (or embarrassment) you’ve had and how you dealt with the situation. It was the first class of the first day of my first year at Saint Francis University. As I stepped into the classroom my shoe broke open, right at the front near the toes. Every step I took, my shoe opened, closed, and made a funny squeaking noise. Well, I pretended that nothing was happening, my students pretended that nothing was happening, and I taught the class till the end. Today I would probably have taken my shoes off and taught in my socks.

    What about teaching do you find most enjoyable? I truly enjoy creating new courses that allow me to learn new topics in depth. To me, there is no better way to learn then to teach. I also cherish my collaborative work with my students, finding that I have so much to learn from their perspectives, opinions, experience.

    What is something your students would be surprised to learn about you? When I was preparing for my move from Israel to the USA in 2007, I knew that I had to work on my English. I also needed motivation. My students may be surprised to learn that I improved my English by reading “Harry Potter” books. Literally, with a dictionary.

    What are you currently reading for pleasure? ‘Some We Love, Some We Hate, Some We Eat: Why It's So Hard to Think Straight About Animals’ by Hal Herzog.

    What tech tool could you not live without? Canvas, and other LMS platforms. They allow me to remain organized and consistent.

    What is your hallway chatter like? What do you talk to colleagues about most (whether or not it is related to teaching/school)? Since I started teaching the “Learning” class (involving rats), the “Canine Learning and Behavior” class (involving dogs), and lately, the kitten-integrated variation of the “Learning” class, hallway chatter mostly revolves around animals; how cute they are, how much trouble they can get themselves into, how they can be trained, etc. Talking about animals seems to brighten everybody’s day .

    Has your teaching changed because of the Covid19 pandemic? If so, how? (positive and/or negative changes) Prior to Covid19, a student who had to be away from campus (due to an athletic event, family or health-related reason, etc.) would be forced to miss a class session. During the pandemic, I discovered how easy it was for students to join class remotely or for me to record my session and share it. Today, I allow students (within reason) to join my sessions via Zoom. My students understand that face-to face course attendance is required but appreciate the opportunity to remain on track when away from campus.

  • 17 Jan 2023 10:10 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    School name: University of Mississippi

    Type of school: 4-year university with masters and Ph.D. programs

    School locale (including state and country): Oxford, MS, USA

    How many years have you taught psychology? 12 years

    Classes you teach: I currently teach Learning, Psychopathology: Integrative approaches, Psychology of parenting, and a graduate seminar on college teaching. I have taught Introductory psychology, Developmental psychology (lifespan and child), Children and Families: Community Work, Internships in Psychology, Statistics for the Behavioral Sciences, and Research and Writing in Psychology.

    Specialization (if applicable): e.g., clinical, cognitive, teaching, etc. Clinical

    Average class size: 100 (typical range is 10 – 150)

    What’s the best advice about teaching you’ve ever received?  It is actually advice I received from a clinical supervisor (Dr. Marvin Goldfried) about clinical work, but it is the best advice I have received that I apply to teaching. He told us “You are responsible to your (students), not responsible for your (students).”

    What book or article has shaped your work as a psychology teacher? This is extremely hard to narrow down to just one; I think An evidence-based guide to college and university teaching: Developing the model teacher by Richmond, Boysen, & Gurung has shaped it the most though.

    Briefly tell us about your favorite lecture topic or course to teach.  I love teaching the psychology of parenting class; it is so applicable and so rewarding to see students changing their mind about controversial parenting practices. I also love it when they tell me they are implementing strategies either with their own children or with children they work with or are related to, and they are finding them beneficial.

    Briefly describe a favorite assignment or in-class activity.  I enjoy role-playing an individual who does not know the research about a topic and then challenging the class to teach and convince me to follow the research advice (e.g., why I should sleep at least 7 – 9 hours a night). The students come to life in a fun way as they realize I’m not going to give them the “right” answer and I’m going to pretend like I don’t even know it or the research backing it up.

    What teaching and learning techniques work best for you? In my face-to-face classes I find activities like retrieval practice (written prompts as well as quiz-style questions), think-pair-share, and discussions of the material they are learning work best with my teaching style. In my asynchronous online courses, I find it most helpful to structure the courses with a variety of activities so that I can scaffold their learning process within lessons and across the semester. I try to have the general process for each module and unit start with them becoming familiar with the new material, then engaging actively with the new material, and finally demonstrating their understanding before moving on to more advanced coursework.

    What’s your workspace like?  I am lucky to have a very nice office space with an L-shaped desk. So, I have a standing desk converter with my computer and two monitors on one part of the desk and the rest is available for other work and meetings.

    Three words that best describe your teaching style. interactive, supportive, challenging

    What is your teaching philosophy in 8 words or fewer? Set the contingencies to help my students succeed.

    Tell us about a teaching disaster (or embarrassment) you’ve had and how you dealt with the situation. My first semester at the University of Mississippi I was asking for examples of passive genotype-environment correlations, where the parents pass on the genes but also create the environment that would make the child more likely to develop that characteristic or trait, such as Mozart’s dad also being a musician who had lots of musical instruments and other musicians in the house. So, many students gave excellent examples, and I thanked them for their examples. Then one student gave the example of the Mannings. I said, “I’m not familiar with the Mannings, but thank you for your participation”. All 100+ students audibly gasped and then the student said, “Like Peyton Manning?!?”. I immediately turned very red as I realized that he was talking about the football family that is famous on campus. I then talked about how they were getting to see my reaction to embarrassment as I kept blushing.

    What about teaching do you find most enjoyable? Helping students learn information and strategies that are going to help them long-term.

    What is something your students would be surprised to learn about you? I have been with my husband since we were 15.

    What are you currently reading for pleasure? I'm trying to decide on my next book, I finished one last night. One of my favorite books that I read this year was The vanishing half by Brit Bennett.

    What tech tool could you not live without? Definitely TextExpander

    What is your hallway chatter like? What do you talk to colleagues about most (whether or not it is related to teaching/school)? What is going on in the department and each other's work lives as well as personal lives.

    Has your teaching changed because of the Covid19 pandemic? If so, how? (positive and/or negative changes) The primary change in my teaching is that I am much more flexible with deadlines. I am still trying to figure out the best way to be flexible while also keeping students on track. Another big change is that I stopped giving in person exams if the exam can be done on our learning management system just as effectively.

     

  • 16 Nov 2022 9:20 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    School name: West Liberty University 

     

    Type of school: Public 4-year university with about 2,000 students

     

    School locale (including state and country): West Liberty, West Virginia, United States

     

    How many years have you taught psychology? I began teaching one credit hour statistics labs as a graduate student in 2018, I’ve been teaching full time since Fall 2021.  

     

    Classes you teach: I mostly teach research methods, statistics, intro psychology, and various developmental psychology courses.

     

    Specialization (if applicable): e.g. clinical, cognitive, teaching, etc. My educational background is in translational experimental psychology with a focus on developmental psychology. Within the past few years my focus has expanded to include the scholarship of teaching and learning. 

     

    Average class size: About 15-20 students.

     

    What’s the best advice about teaching you’ve ever received? There will always be things that need to get done. You cannot do everything all at once all the time. You need to be a human, too! 

     

    What book or article has shaped your work as a psychology teacher? I read “Radical Hope: A Teaching Manifesto” by Kevin Gannon a few years ago and one quote has stuck with me since: “Teaching is a radical act of hope. It is an assertion of faith in a better future in an increasingly uncertain and fraught present.” In this profession I think it is easy to get hung up on the hundreds of tasks we have to balance every day. On more challenging days I sometimes have to remind myself why I’m doing this and what is truly important. I teach because I have hope for a better future and I know my students will go on to do great things. 

     

    Briefly tell us about your favorite lecture topic or course to teach.  This question is always a challenge! I think I have a tie. I recently got to create and teach a special topics course titled Early Adversity and Resilience, which is one of my primary research interests. Both semesters I taught it, students engaged in such thoughtful discussion. They were able to make connections to many other courses they have taken and how they can use the course information in their post-graduation lives. I also love teaching statistics. Students usually have a lot of anxiety about taking the course and I enjoy seeing students’ confidence grow once they realize that they can become “math people” too. 

     

    Briefly describe a favorite assignment or in-class activity.  This semester I’m working with my statistics students on semester-long research projects where they will design a study, obtain IRB approval, analyze data, and present it to the faculty and students in the psychology department. This is the first time I’ve done this assignment, but I think it will become a favorite!  

     

    What teaching and learning techniques work best for you? I try to build in a lot of scaffolding into my classes and that seems to fit my teaching style well. I like to ask my students lots of questions to guide their thinking. In skill-focused classes, like statistics, I use a lot of the gradual release of responsibility framework (“I do, we do, you do”) in my lectures. 

     

    What’s your workspace like? My office is small, but I love it. Fluorescent lights aren’t my favorite, so I usually rely on natural sunlight and a lamp for lighting. I’m a pretty organized person, but I usually have a lot of notes, to-do lists, books, and a dozen other things on my desk by the end of the day. 

     

    Three words that best describe your teaching style. Reflective, empathetic, and authentic.

     

    What is your teaching philosophy in 8 words or fewer? Your students have to know you care.

     

    Tell us about a teaching disaster (or embarrassment) you’ve had and how you dealt with the situation. About one week into my first semester being a “real professor”, I was giving my first lecture in an intro psychology course. We were discussing how psychology has a lot of myths, including that we only use 10% of our brains and how very intelligent people, like Albert Einstein, are thought to use more of theirs. I explained that one theory regarding Einstein’s intelligence was that he had structural differences in his brain, like having more melanin. I meant myelin, of course, but didn’t realize my mistake until I had said it a couple of times and my students had very confused looks on their faces. I laughed it off and said something to the effect of, “Well, that’s definitely not what I meant. Let’s try that again!” It wasn’t the most embarrassing thing that could have happened, and think I recovered well, but I felt like hiding under a rock the rest of the day!

     

    What about teaching do you find most enjoyable? I love being able to get to know my students and see them grow over the course of a semester, both academically and personally. I am lucky in my current position to have many of our students over multiple semesters, so I get to know them pretty well by the time they graduate. 

     

    What is something your students would be surprised to learn about you? I think my students would be most surprised to learn I dreaded taking intro psychology as an early undergraduate student. I was an English major and didn’t see how that course would benefit me. Two months into the class I changed my major to psychology!

     

    What are you currently reading for pleasure? I just started reading Lunatic: The Rise and Fall of an American Asylum by Edward S. Gleason. 

     

    What tech tool could you not live without? I love using the program JASP in my statistics courses. It’s open source and so user friendly. 

     

    What is your hallway chatter like? What do you talk to colleagues about most (whether or not it is related to teaching/school)? Our department is small and our offices are close together, so we’re always talking to each other! We go to each other for advice and encouragement or just to talk about how our classes are going, how our families are doing, or our weekend plans.

     

    Has your teaching changed because of the Covid19 pandemic? If so, how? (positive and/or negative changes) I admittedly did not have much teaching experience prior to the height of the pandemic, but I have noticed some changes in my teaching. I find myself thinking more about my students’ wellbeing and what things they face outside of the classroom, both good and bad. I also intentionally build in more opportunities for my students to interact with each other. I missed being a part of those interactions as a teacher, but I think, in general, my students crave the social aspect of learning. I am also more aware of how important it is to be flexible! 

  • 21 Oct 2022 1:55 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    School name: James Madison University

    Type of school: Public university with 20,0070 undergraduate and 2,096 graduate students.

    School locale (including state and country): Harrisonburg, VA USA

    How many years have you taught psychology? 26 years

    Classes you teach:   Currently, I am teaching two courses:  1) Psychological Statistics and Measurement and 2) Learning Strategies. The Learning Strategies class is designed for students facing academic suspension. Other courses I have taught in the past include General Psychology, Psychological Research Methods, Social Psychology, Senior Seminar on the Psychology of the Holocaust, and a few graduate level classes.

    Specialization (if applicable): e.g. clinical, cognitive, teaching, etc. Social Psychology

    Average class size: 25

    What’s the best advice about teaching you’ve ever received?

    I am going to share two pieces of advice. First, the best piece of advice is to have fun while teaching. If I enjoy sharing information about a topic; hopefully the students can also enjoy thinking about it.

    Second, a faculty mentor once advised me to trust my students. When I started teaching, I was suspicious of my students assuming they would try to take advantage of me. According to my mentor, consistently being suspicious of my students harms the classroom environment. Although I trust my students, I still take steps to reinforce academic integrity.

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

    Just in Time Teaching:  Blending Active Learning with Web Technology by Novack, Patterson, Gavrin, and Christian. 

    Briefly tell us about your favorite lecture topic or course to teach.

    This is a hard question!  Typically, my favorite course is whatever class I am currently teaching. I enjoy making psychology relevant for my students. As a social psychologist, some of my favorite classes focus on how the power of the situation can cause people to behave in unexpected ways.

    Briefly describe a favorite assignment or in-class activity.

    For my statistics students, I enjoy exploring a data set from a published study. I hope the practice of using data from actual studies help students understand the relevance of statistics for the field of psychology.

    What teaching and learning techniques work best for you?

    I use different techniques for different classes. Overall, my main technique is lecture and discussion. My students can contribute to the lecture via in-class discussions, demonstrations, or pre-class questions.

    What’s your workspace like? 

    My desk is a bit messy!  I have a standing desk, but I rarely use it.   

    Three words that best describe your teaching style.

    Energetic, Informative, and Empathetic.

    What is your teaching philosophy in 8 words or fewer?

    Motivate my students to engage with course material.

    Tell us about a teaching disaster (or embarrassment) you’ve had and how you dealt with the situation.

    I was teaching a General Psychology class to approximately 300 students. As I walked past the podium, my pants brushed across a sharp edge and my pants ripped exposing most of my leg. Thankfully, there was tape in the classroom. I quickly taped up my pants, made a joke, and then continued on with the class.

    What about teaching do you find most enjoyable?

    This is an easy question!  I like learning from my students. As I get older, it gets harder for me to relate to my students. By hearing about their opinions and experiences, I gain insights into life as a student in today’s society.

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

    As a teenager, I was a magician. I used to do magic at children’s birthday parties. I also conducted a few magic workshops at a local library.

    What are you currently reading for pleasure?

    I just finished Upgrade by Blake Crouch.

    What tech tool could you not live without?

    My smart phone is probably my most critical tool. It allows me to keep up on emails and helps me stay on track for my various meetings.

    Has your teaching changed because of the Covid19 pandemic? If so, how? (positive and/or negative changes)  

    Since the pandemic begun, much of our conversations have been focused on how the students are changing. After taking so many online classes, some students appear to have difficulty adjusting to the social and academic aspects of in-person classes.

    PSYCHSESSIONS LINK: In this episode Eric interviews Kevin Apple from James Madison University in Harrisonburg, VA. Kevin serves as department chair, and he clearly sees how important the chair is to providing vital services to constituents. The institutional innovation of Assessment Day allows Kevin and the department to leverage assessment in a meaningful way to 'close the loop' and inform changes which lead to measured student outcomes.

     

  • 16 Sep 2022 4:07 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Louise Chim (she/her/hers)

    School name: University of Victoria

    Type of school: Public university (22,000 students) with undergraduate and graduate programs.

    School locale (including state and country): Located on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada on the traditional territories of the lək̓ʷəŋən, Songhees, Esquimalt, and W̱SÁNEĆ peoples. 

    How many years have you taught psychology? 11 years (2 years co-teaching as a graduate student and 9 years post-PhD)

    Classes you teach: Introductory Psychology (I and II), Statistical Methods (I and II), Cultural Psychology, Psychology of Diversity

    Specialization (if applicable): e.g. clinical, cognitive, teaching, etc. I’m a teaching focused faculty member and I teach primarily undergraduate courses. My training is in cultural psychology and affective science.

    Average class size: I teach both range of class sizes (50 to 300) depending on the course and term. I also coordinate the introductory psychology program with about 900+ students per term.

    What’s the best advice about teaching you’ve ever received? When I was starting out and had many new course preps on topics I wasn’t an “expert” in, my mentor told me to aim for “good enough” rather than trying to create the perfect course/class/assessment. I continue to strive to make iterative improvements in my courses rather than trying to do everything all at the same time. 

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

    What has shaped my work as a psychology teacher the most is the learning and reflecting that happens from interactions with the teaching community. That has been the most pleasantly surprising thing that has come from becoming a psychology teacher. The community that has shaped my work as a psychology teacher include workshops and groups organized locally at my university (e.g., psychology teaching seminars, working groups to support instructors teaching first-year classes, workshops and symposia about decolonizing teaching and learning) to regional and international conferences (e.g., TIP Northwest [https://www.tipnorthwest.org/], PsychOne [http://www.psychoneconference.org/])

    Briefly tell us about your favorite lecture topic or course to teach.  My two favorite courses to teach are cultural psychology and statistics.

    With cultural psychology, my favorite part is when students

    • realize how much their assumptions and biases about what makes a “good person” is fundamentally shaped by their cultural context;
    • recognize how much of what we know about psychology is not a diverse representation of the world;
    • and see themselves represented in some of the research we talk about in class.

    With statistics, I find it rewarding when the course exceeds their expectations (and it ends up being even one of their favorite courses in the term) and when students who come in anxious with a fixed mindset about statistics realize that they can grow and learn and ultimately are able to succeed in the course.

    Briefly describe a favorite assignment or in-class activity.

    I enjoy using community engaged learning projects in my statistics class. Students apply what they are learning in class to a larger project and also interact and learn from community members.

    In my cultural psychology class, I like to do activities that show them the individual variation in psychological concepts. For example, I ask students write down all the choices they’ve made today (including some possible choices they may have made in class) to show that there is variation in what people consider a choice or not (e.g., Savani, Markus, Naidu, Kumar, & Berlia, 2010).

    What teaching and learning techniques work best for you?

    I find that I am my most authentic teaching self when I have students engage in active learning in class. I try my best even in more “lecture-style” large classes to intersperse discussion, activities, multiple choice questions, low stakes writing or assignments in class. I also try to have a balance of activities where they are engaging in self-reflection and when they have to work in pairs or smaller or larger groups.

    What’s your workspace like? In terms of set-up, I have dual monitors and a standing desk but decorating my office space is still a work in progress after 9 years of being in the same office. 

    Three words that best describe your teaching style.  Approachable, relatable and relevant

    What is your teaching philosophy in 8 words or fewer?

    I don’t think this quite sums up my teaching philosophy but the best I’ve come up is: “Create flexible and transparent structure and guidelines.

    What about teaching do you find most enjoyable?

    See previous question about which courses are my favorite ones to teach.

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

    That I played collegiate ice hockey.

    What are you currently reading for pleasure?

    I just finished The Skin We’re In by Desmond Cole.

    What tech tool could you not live without?

    A learning management system, particularly for coordinating and structuring large intro psych classes.

    What is your hallway chatter like? What do you talk to colleagues about most (whether or not it is related to teaching/school)?

    You’ll find me talking to colleagues most about teaching-related questions and good / new places to eat in Victoria.

    Has your teaching changed because of the Covid19 pandemic? If so, how? (positive and/or negative changes)  

    One change that happened because of the Covid-19 pandemic is that my university provided us with easy access to online tools such as zoom and Microsoft teams. With a lot of students commuting to campus, this provides students with easier (virtual) access to office hours.

    PSYCHSESSIONS Podcast: In this episode Garth interviews Louise Chim from the University of Victoria in Victoria, Canada. She played on the hockey team for 2 years as a Harvard undergraduate before pursuing graduate work in psychology / affective science at Stanford. Her resilience and patience are impressive, and she now serves as an associate teaching professor at UVic, and is actively involved in TIP Northwest & Psi Chi.

    https://psychsessionspodcast.libsyn.com/2021/10 


  • 15 Aug 2022 12:27 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    School name: Tarrant County College Southeast Campus (TCC) and University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center (UTSW)

    Type of school: TCC is a two-year college and UTSW is a medical center with no undergraduate students.

    School locale (including state and country): Dallas, Texas

    How many years have you taught psychology? 1.5

    Classes you teach: TCC: General Psychology, Lifespan Growth and Development, Biological Psychology, Research Methods; UTSW: Research Design and Multivariate Statistics

    Specialization (if applicable): cognitive, behavioral neuroscience

    Average class size: 15-20 students

    What’s the best advice about teaching you’ve ever received?  The best advice about teaching I have ever received is probably: (a) to never reinvent the wheel since thinking simply is often more powerful than trying to think extravagantly and (b) always take a deep breath since that’s all it often takes to soak in the fun part of the job, solve a problem, or have a great idea.

    What book or article has shaped your work as a psychology teacher? Transforming Introductory Psychology edited by Regan Gurung and Garth Neufeld, Powerful Teaching: Unleash the Science of Learning by Pooja Agarwal and Patrice Bain

    Briefly tell us about your favorite lecture topic or course to teach. I really enjoy teaching case studies in the neuropsychology world since they offer a lot of depth and insight into behavior and how the brain functions. I also love teaching about research methods, design, and statistics. No matter what subfield people pursue, this topic is fundamental and follows us everywhere! I think it also helps us understand the world around us and formulate opinions in a world that relies on data and statistics.

    Briefly describe a favorite assignment or in-class activity. One of my favorite activities that I did as a student was a year-long research project that turned into a poster to present at a departmental end-of-year event. It taught me a lot about IRB submissions, the research process, working in teams, and putting data into perspective. As an instructor, I really enjoyed having my students complete an assignment where they could create a 10-minute mini podcast episode on a psychological topic of their choice or write a letter to someone in government about how the topic can apply to policy advocacy and change. Students did a great job with this, and I saw how much they learned and applied to the real world!

    What teaching and learning techniques work best for you? I really enjoy structuring most classes by doing a few minutes of review at the beginning, outlining the objectives of the current day, going through lecture and activities for that content, and then ending class with anonymous (e.g., Poll Everywhere) review questions that help prepare for assessments.


    What’s your workspace like? I need a clear workspace! I really only keep what I am actively working on in front of me, and that includes only having computer programs or internet tabs open if I am using them. This helps me stay focused on the task instead of bouncing back and forth and losing trains of thought. I will often have a cup of coffee, a water bottle, and music or a podcast in the background.

    Three words that best describe your teaching style. interactive, real-world, and enthusiastic

    What is your teaching philosophy in 8 words or fewer? Equip students with skills to evaluate and understand the world.

    Tell us about a teaching disaster (or embarrassment) you’ve had and how you dealt with the situation. My first semester at TCC, I was teaching introduction to psychology. When building the syllabus, I never marked Labor Day, Thanksgiving, and other holidays, so a student genuinely thought I expected them to attend class during the holidays.

    What about teaching do you find most enjoyable? I always believe that everyone has their own story. Teaching gives me an opportunity to get to know people from all sorts of backgrounds and walks of life. It makes teaching psychology a more meaningful experience since everyone can share their views or personal experiences in class, helping everyone understand these concepts in the real world.

    What is something your students would be surprised to learn about you? My students are sometimes surprised to learn that I am a vegetarian, have officiated a wedding, and was in the hospital for 30 days in fifth grade (something tied to cerebellum first, then malaria the second time).

    What are you currently reading for pleasure? Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom and Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

    What tech tool could you not live without? Laptop! I do a lot of writing and journaling for fun, and the laptop holds all of it.

    What is your hallway chatter like? What do you talk to colleagues about most (whether or not it is related to teaching/school)? Coffee, recent sports games, funny stories from class, board games, and TV shows (huge fan of shows like Brooklyn 99, Schitt’s Creek, Friends)

     

     

  • 15 Jul 2022 11:13 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    School name: University of Oklahoma

    Type of school: 4-year flagship state school; R-1 classification

    School locale (including state and country): Oklahoma, U.S.

    How many years have you taught psychology? 13 years as a professor, 4 more as a graduate student.

    Classes you teach: introductory psychology, occasionally lifespan growth and development. I will be teaching a graduate course on psychology teaching for the first time next spring and I can’t wait!

    Specialization (if applicable): technically my Ph.D. is in social psychology, but my job description is master teacher and program coordinator for introductory psychology. I’ve never actually taught a social psychology class!  


    Average class size: 450-500

    What’s the best advice about teaching you’ve ever received? My major professor in graduate school, Dr. Nicole Judice-Campbell, used to tell me, “I’m no different than you are; I’m just a few more years down this path.” She is still the best teacher I know, and I used to think that I’d never be able to be anything like her. Her advice gave me the space to just grow into my own teaching skills and understand that teaching is a journey rather than a destination. For a perfectionist like me, it is so important to receive the message that we are all still learning!

    What book or article has shaped your work as a psychology teacher? Doug Bernstein’s article “Bye Bye Intro: A Proposal for Transforming Introductory Psychology” (2017) really impacted me. I’m cheating a little bit because I saw him give the talk at NITOP so it was really a double-hit sort of thing. But his idea that we need to teach in a way that is impactful to society rather than catering to potential majors (who are unlikely to remember the content anyway) made a lot of sense to me. I created several new assignments based on his ideas in the semester following his NITOP talk, including one where students create an infographic debunking one of psychology’s greatest myths. When I decide what course content to include in class now, I think about whether it will broadly impact the students’ lives rather than whether a psych major would need it for a later class.

    Briefly tell us about your favorite lecture topic or course to teach.  I have a lot of students, so I use a small army of undergraduate teaching assistants to help me run the course (usually 10 or so per class). They are enrolled in an upper-division Instructor’s Aide course, and although it’s not a traditional “class” that I get credit for teaching, it has become one of my favorite parts of my job. I get to know the TAs well, and I spend a fair amount of time mentoring them on psychology-related and life-related things. It also keeps me at least somewhat knowledgeable about the lives of 18- to 20-year-olds, and I use them to bounce off ideas and get suggestions on all sorts of things. Some move on and I never hear from them again, but many others end up returning as TAs for multiple semesters or becoming research assistants. One long-time TA will be joining me as a graduate student this coming fall! 

    Briefly describe a favorite assignment or in-class activity. I give three different surveys throughout the semester to get a sense of how the class is feeling. The last survey includes an open-ended question about the performance of their undergraduate teaching assistants, and I go through and share the best ones with the TAs themselves. They love hearing that they’ve made a difference in their students’ lives, and I love getting to show them how important they really are. Everyone is so supportive of each other, and it’s just such a great, positive way to end the semester.

    What teaching and learning techniques work best for you? I use a lot of repeated testing and elaboration during my classes. Since they are so large, I rely on student response systems to help keep the class engaged and get a sense of how well they are understanding the content. Every few minutes, they will get some sort of question – it might be matching, true/false, multiple choice – but it will be practice from the content we’ve been learning. They can consult their notes and talk to friends, but they typically won’t find an easy answer in their book because I like using application-based questions that make them think. The TAs and I all walk around during the questions, listening to the conversations and discussing where we can. Once the answers have been submitted, I like to dig deeper and ask students to share how they knew which answer was correct, how they could change the question to make one of the other answer choices correct, and so on. I’m trying to train their cognitive flexibility while strengthening recall and boosting class interaction at the same time.

    What’s your workspace like? Very neat and tidy. I’ve been 100% digital in my work since about 2015, so I don’t have papers or journals lying around. Everything lives in the cloud, which is helpful since I move between my campus office and home office a lot. I like to think that my office is friendly and welcoming to students; I have a lot of family pictures, owl décor (my favorite!) and modular furniture that can be moved around to accommodate different groups.

    Three words that best describe your teaching style.  Energetic, authentic, application-based.

    What is your teaching philosophy in 8 words or fewer? Communicate excitement and connect psychology to everyday life.

    What about teaching do you find most enjoyable? Mentorship. I value the relationships I’ve built with students because we both contribute to each other’s knowledge about the world. I pride myself on being approachable, so it is important to me that students feel comfortable seeking out my advice or perspective on whatever challenges they’re facing.

    What is something your students would be surprised to learn about you? I am very involved in singing (I started college as a music major). I sing with a group called Canterbury Voices, which is an auditioned group that performs major concerts several times throughout the year. I have gotten to be a part of many unique experiences as a member of this group, including singing in the Titanic musical with Lyric Theater in Oklahoma City and performing several times with the Oklahoma City Philharmonic. We will be singing onstage with Andrea Bocelli in his “Believe” tour when it comes to Oklahoma City in two weeks!

    What are you currently reading for pleasure? Ok, I can’t believe that I’m admitting this, but I absolutely love vampire romance novels. I’ve read the entire Anita Blake series, the Black Dagger Brotherhood, and several others. They probably appeal to my just-world beliefs because they are predictable and the good characters always win, but honestly they’re just fun.

    What tech tool could you not live without? Top Hat, 100%. I’ve been using their student response system since 2016, but I’ve also added a custom textbook, exams, and several other assignments to their platform. At this point, I’d say 75% of my class is run out of Top Hat (with the other 25% in Canvas).

    Has your teaching changed because of the Covid19 pandemic? If so, how? (positive and/or negative changes). Because of the size of my classes, I was online for an entire year during the worst of the pandemic. When I returned to the classroom this last school year, I kept in-person attendance completely optional and reworked my participation assignments to be completed in person or online. I also kept the online exams that I had implemented during the Covid year, since they worked really well. My class is now optimized for in-person learning but is adaptable to moving completely online for any student(s) who require it. I’m glad I’m able to provide this level of flexibility at the individual student level, and I know I’ll be well prepared if we are ever forced to pivot online again in the future.  

    PSYCHSESSIONS CONNECTION: Listen to Garth and Jenel talk about her introductory psychology courses!

    E140: Jenel Cavazos: Introductory Psychology Master Teacher, Systems Oriented, Thoughtful Mentor


  • 17 Jun 2022 10:06 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    School name: Seton Hall University

    Type of school: Private, Catholic, primarily undergraduate but there are Master’s and Doctoral programs.

    School locale (including state and country): South Orange, New Jersey, United States

    How many years have you taught psychology? Since 2006 at Seton Hall but I taught my first class as a graduate student in the summer of 2002.

    Classes you teach: I have taught a variety bur lately it is mostly Research Methods, Cognitive Psychology Lab, and Orientation to the Psychology Major.

    Specialization (if applicable): Cognitive

    Average class size: 18-25

    What’s the best advice about teaching you’ve ever received?  Be authentic.

    What book or article has shaped your work as a psychology teacher? Specifications Grading by Linda Neilson

    Briefly tell us about your favorite lecture topic or course to teach.Unsurprisingly, as an experimentalist, I love talking about a 2x2 design and all the potential combinations that can occur and how great it is that we can answer so many questions using this approach.

    Briefly describe a favorite assignment or in-class activity.  Around 1/3 of the way through Research Methods we watch the Ted Talk “How Racism Makes Us Sick” and then go through all the ways it demonstrates what we have learned so far. In addition to the content being brought up the rest of the semester as meaningful, they get a chance to see how much they now can apply from the class.

    What teaching and learning techniques work best for you? I put cognitive psychology into action and focus on spaced learning with plenty of retrieval practice.  

    What’s your workspace like?  Piles of books, papers, and notebooks. Plus lots of things about who I am outside of work so there’s race bibs/medals, pictures of my family, nods to my concerns about EDI, and a framed picture of the Cleveland skyline, which is the city closest to where I grew up. We have generously sized offices so I also have a small sofa, which has come in handy on many occasions.

    Three words that best describe your teaching style.  Compassionate, Transparent, Deliberate.

    What is your teaching philosophy in 8 words or fewer? We are in this together, thankfully.

    Tell us about a teaching disaster (or embarrassment) you’ve had and how you dealt with the situation. This one is stumping me, suggesting I should take more risks! Other than the occasional turn of phrase that I don’t realize has taken on a new meaning, I can’t think of anything that rises to the embarrassment or disaster level.

    What about teaching do you find most enjoyable? Watching how much students can grow and change in the short term of a semester or the longer term of their full college experience.

    What is something your students would be surprised to learn about you? I was a pack a day smoker in college.

    What are you currently reading for pleasure? The School for Good Mothers by Jessamine Chan.

    What tech tool could you not live without? Blackboard grading in browser.

    What is your hallway chatter like? What do you talk to colleagues about most (whether or not it is related to teaching/school)? A bit of everything from classes, to committees, to concerns. I consider many of my colleagues to also be friends and this makes going to work rewarding in many domains of my wellness.

    Has your teaching changed because of the Covid19 pandemic? If so, how? (positive and/or negative changes)I have doubled down on thinking about what is most important and how I can create an equitable classroom that doesn’t also mean I spend my whole life grading.

    BONUS PSYCHSESSIONS CONNECTION: Listen to Marianne talk with Garth about teaching research methods, specifications grading, and more!
    E142: Marianne Lloyd Part 2: Education Innovator, Reflects Meaningfully, Genuine Commitment to Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion

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