School name: American International College, Springfield, MA
Type of College/University: small liberal arts school
School locale: urban
Average class size: 30
Classes you teach: Statistics, Advanced Statistics, Intro to the Major, History & Systems, Cognitive Psychology, and General Psychology
What’s the best advice about teaching you’ve ever received?
You have to make each class your own. You can borrow notes and ideas from others, but you have to be comfortable with the activities and lectures.
What book or article has shaped your work as a psychology teacher?
There are so many! The Psychteacher discussion list, where I am a lurker, has inspired lots of ideas. I gotten ideas from so many articles, books, and conferences that I can’t begin to list them all.
Briefly tell us about your favorite lecture topic or course to teach.
My favorite course to teach is statistics. Students are always nervous and frequently warn me on the first day of class that they are bad at math. I know they can be successful if they pay attention in class and do the homework. It is very satisfying to see students begin to like statistics and develop some confidence about doing math.
Briefly describe a favorite assignment or in-class activity.
My favorite assignment is in my Advanced Statistics class. Students have to make a music video about statistics. The students take a song and change the lyrics to be about statistics. I don’t give any further instructions or guidance on this assignment, but every semester they do an amazing job and have fun with the videos. And they develop a variety of skills not typically used in statistics – project management skills, interpersonal skills, communication skills, and they learn to do a multimedia presentation. It may not make them better at statistics, but it is fun and memorable.
What teaching or learning techniques work best for you?
I favor a frequent, low-stakes approach to grades. I give a variety of homework assignments, each of which is worth only a few points. But it requires students to continually work on material related to class, which helps them learn the content.
What’s your workspace like?
Disorganized. There are random sheets of paper scattered over the desk and I can’t get rid of them because each one has something important on it.
Three words that best describe your teaching style.
Homework intensive, student-centered, and supportive.
What is your teaching philosophy in 8 words or fewer?
Use the principles of psychology as a guide.
What is something your students would be surprised to learn about you?
It’s a secret.
What are you currently reading for pleasure?
I typically read a couple of books at once, fiction and nonfiction. I like to read mysteries, nonfiction, and I read for my book club.
What tech tool could you not live without?
Paper and pencil. I remember things better when I write, I can sketch out ideas, doodle… the best inventions are the classics.
What’s your hallway chatter like? What do you talk to colleagues about most (whether or not it is related to teaching/school)?
We talk about the events of the day, how our classes went and what is going on within the college.