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

Herbert Coleman: I'm a Member of STP, and This is How I Teach.

21 Nov 2014 2:11 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

School name: Austin Community College

Type of college/university: community college

School locale: Mid-sized city (Austin, TX)

Classes I teach: Introduction to Psychology, Human Growth and Development, Human Sexuality


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

Teach to your strength. You can refer the things you don't feel comfortable with or assign it as a reading and then discuss but no one is an expert in every area.


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

M. Scott Peck's The Road Less Traveled and Leo Buscaglia's Living, Loving, Learning. 


Tell us about your favorite lecture topic or course to teach. 

My favorite course is Human Sexuality. It was always my favorite topic to cover in the intro class. Then I found out from a colleague how uncomfortable she was in handling that topic. That's when I decided to get trained and teach the course. I feel like it has more practical information for students and no topic is dull. Students have strong opinions on every construct covered. I also love teaching Human Growth and development. Since most of my students in that course are nursing or allied health majors, I treat each discussion topic as how should we, as a health care institution, approach it. This gets them out of their own head and forces them to think in a larger context.


Describe a favorite in-class activity or assignment.

I teach using the Michaelsen, Knight and Fink model of Team Based Learning. I love this process because I get to watch as students struggle and discuss the topics. Their explanations simply blow me away. I break each class into 5 units so they have 5 controversial topics that they have to make a decision about as a team. This is where the bulk of the great discussions take place.


What teaching and learning techniques work best for you?

Team Based Learning and clickers (student response system). I have combined these two techniques to provide students with quick feedback and to guide my instruction. I haven't graded a scantron in 10 years.


What’s your workspace like?

I work from behind the multimedia station for presentation but wander around the room as they work in teams. I truly have become the "guide on the side."


Three words that best describe your teaching style.

Clicker Team-based Learning


What is your teaching philosophy in 8 words or fewer?

Everyone can learn, if they want to.


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

In team-based learning I had one student who did the ultimate betrayal to his team. They enter their agreed upon answer using the electronic response pad. The team had agreed upon an answer but he entered what he was "sure" was the correct answer, twice. He was wrong on both occasions. It was very difficult to get them to rebuild their trust and he had gotten very depressed. I literally had to force them to work together as a team. They survived and made it through.


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

I'm pretty much an open book in class. My students know I'm a grandfather and that I work in the transgender community but my biggest hobby, origami, never comes up in class. Everyone else who has been to my office knows I do an inordinate amount of origami (no piece of paper is safe). However, this never comes up in class. 


What are you currently reading for pleasure?

The Internet. ;o) I read a lot of articles (never was big on fiction or novels). I’m halfway through Sex at Dawn, and about a dozen books I have on my Amazon Kindle account.


What tech tool could you not live without?

My iPhone. I can do so much with it and my iPad that I forget sometimes that I've only had it for 7 years and the iPad for 4.


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

The changing state of education. As my colleagues eschew flipped classrooms, MOOCs and blended learning, I tell them they are reacting very much like the music industry did when Napster came along. When one colleague quipped back, "So yeah, how's that Napster thing working out," I responded, "It's not but iTunes is (number one music seller), as is iTunes U."

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