Your ECP committee is sharing a snapshot of what it has been like to be an ECP during the COVID-19 pandemic.
All ECP committee members are early career professionals. We have navigated changes in teaching delivery this spring and are spending our summers planning for an uncertain future while also trying to plan our promotion portfolios, etc. This is our 2020 teaching time capsule.
Karenna: Like many ECPs across the nation, I had to quickly switch delivery for 4 classes during an extended spring break. As you all know, this is not an adequate amount of time to prepare online course delivery for 3 different preps, and, to be honest, it was a bit overwhelming! However, since these were classes I had already taught before, I felt that I could (at the very least) support my students through this sudden shift to online. I focused on organizing my modules with engaging presentations, YouTube videos, demonstrations, and mental health resources. While I don’t think my Spring 2020 courses were “model” online courses, I felt that students were well-connected to each other and myself, and they learned what I wanted them to learn. For the summer, I taught two online courses: one synchronous and one asynchronous. I felt much better prepared when I had about 4 weeks to prep for online course delivery. Just as in face-to-face teaching, I felt that I learned so much by prepping a new course (even though these were classes I had previously taught in the summer session before, just in a different modality). I learned to foster community better by using the Groups feature in Canvas for discussions and responses, and also found that a mid-week deadline (in addition to an end-of-week deadline) worked well for checking in and making sure students didn’t fall behind. I will be using both strategies moving forward, as I will be teaching online exclusively this fall. This October, my promotion portfolio is due, and I will be reviewed by my colleagues and dean for promotion to Senior Lecturer. I am spending part of my summer making sure that my portfolio highlights all the hard work I’ve done in the last few years!
Daniel: I feel very blessed in that, while most of my teaching tends to happen face-to-face, I was fortunate enough to have had several opportunities to teach online prior to the onset of COVID-19. Additionally, the University of Denver is on the quarter system, which means we were able to finish up the Winter quarter face-to-face before transitioning to online for the Spring quarter. Thankfully, this made for a relatively smooth transition from face-to-face to online teaching. I taught three classes in the Spring: Introduction to Statistics, Psychology of Diversity, and Social Psychology—the latter being with graduate students. I already had an asynchronous implementation of Introduction to Statistics ready, so that was fairly easy to copy and paste (with minor adjustments) for the Spring. The other two courses were very discussion-focused, and it felt most appropriate to make them synchronous. I was happy with these choices, and I believe I was able to accomplish my course objectives despite the pivot. This was also a great time to support my colleagues who haven’t yet taught online, and I enjoyed helping them learn how to record videos, use Zoom’s functions, and so on. In the Fall quarter, the University of Denver plans to offer a mix of face-to-face, hybrid/hyflex, and online/distance classes. I will be teaching two classes online (Introduction to Statistics, again) and one class face-to-face (Data Analysis Using R, for the first time). Times are certainly uncertain, but overall, I’m enjoying the extra challenge and opportunities for innovation in our teaching. I hope you feel the same!
Albee: I remember telling my students on a Friday in March 2020 that classes would be migrating to an online format and that class was the last one in which we would be together in-person. They had multiple questions during that class along with strong requests to make the class asynchronous, and I remember being honest with them and saying, “I don’t know” many times. The Monday after, my institution offered workshops to learn Microsoft Teams. I had to understand that platform well enough to use it for my own teaching as well as to help my students navigate it. After modifying several assignments and making new deadlines for the 4 classes I was teaching, I communicated all changes to students using email and the learning management system. I was worried about students being able to access content (some of them did not have working laptops or computers at home) so I provided instructions to download apps (e.g., Microsoft Power Point, Microsoft Teams, YouTube, Turnitin Feedback Studio) on their smartphones. To enhance my content, since I honored my students’ requests for asynchronous delivery, I directed them to more online resources (e.g., TED Talks). Since I planned on having guest speakers in the classroom, I demonstrated how to record on Teams to my guest speakers (e.g., professionals who majored in psychology) and they were kind enough to do a lecture virtually so that students were able to hear their stories. In terms of academic honesty, I utilized Turnitin.com more heavily, having most assignments submitted in that platform. In addition, I changed my exams, so students have a choice on what questions to answer. This helped students get a sense of ownership in their choice of questions and it was relatively easy to detect cheating if two or more students answered the exact same questions in the exact same order. Overall, there were more extensions of deadlines and more incomplete grading. In terms of advising, I did more work on the front-end as I prepared their degree audits prior to each meeting then we met virtually on Teams. In terms of scholarship, I actually attended more conferences this year since I could attend them virtually and costs are relatively lower. In terms of service, committees have met through various means including Teams, Google Hangouts, and Zoom. There were actually more meetings since we did not have to travel and since we stuck at home. This fall, my institution is planning to conduct classes face-to-face. Thus, I am going to be more mindful about what to do in an in-person setting. I will plan on more games, videos, discussions, and activities so that class time is spent wisely. The changes due to the pandemic informed my teaching practices (i.e., backward design) and the decisions I made during the spring may actually help me in the fall as I work on my tenure portfolio. Like Karenna, my portfolio is due in October. Wish me luck!
Your STP Early Career Psychologists Committee
Karenna Malavanti, Ph.D.
Albee Mendoza, Ph.D.
Molly Metz, Ph.D.
Janet Peters, Ph.D.
Daniel Storage, Ph.D.