Society for the Teaching of Psychology

Division 2 of the American Psychological Association

This is How I Teach

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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: Maggie Thomas, Editor (Earlham College), Rob McEntarffer, Associate Editor (Lincoln Public Schools), and Liz Sheehan, Associate Editor (University of Kentucky)

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  • 30 Nov 2016 1:48 PM | Anonymous

    School name: Swinburne University of Technology

    Type of school: University (post-secondary, tertiary education institution)

    School locale: Hawthorn, which is an inner suburb of Melbourne, Australia (about 10km from the CBD)

    Classes you teach: Introductory Psychology, Abnormal Psychology, Psychology of Personality

    Average class size: 200-400 students

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

    An ex-colleague told me to always use evidence-based teaching methods. As a starting lecturer this was a new idea for me. It sounds strange for me to say now that I didn’t know there was research being done on teaching in higher education, but at the time… We teach our students to base their assignments and arguments on evidence so we should practice what we preach, as a starting academic it was a new idea to me that there was an evidence base to teaching, when I was doing casual tutoring during my PhD teaching was based on gut feel/instinct, there is a place for this but....

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

     “Improving students’ learning with effective learning techniques: Promising directions from cognitive and educational psychology” by Dunlosky, Rawson, Marsh, Nathan, and Willingham and published in Psychological Science in the Public Interest. While many of the ideas are not new (and that is kind of the point of the article) it was good to see a comprehensive evaluation of the effectiveness of learning strategies in different contexts. I try to structure the learning activities in my units around the strategies shown in this review article to be most effective for students in higher education.

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

    I would have to say Abnormal Psychology is my favourite course to teach. It is the course that every student looks forward to throughout their undergraduate degree. The students are often very engaged with the content – it is a good opportunity to bust some of the common myths surrounding public perceptions of mental health and how ‘abnormality’ is defined.

    Briefly describe a favorite assignment or in-class activity.  

    In-class activities on sensation and perception always get a good response from students. Explaining how illusions like the ‘stopped clock’ and motion and colour after-effects work in the brain and visual system demonstrates how the ideas we are learning can be applied to real-life situations. Many students have experienced these illusions but don’t yet know how to explain them, so I kind of feel like a magician giving away his secrets!

    What teaching and learning techniques work best for you?

    In terms of achieving learning outcomes for students, a brain jigsaw activity I have adapted from a worksheet developed by Valeri Werpetinski at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champagne works really well. Students work together in small ‘expert’ groups to apply biological aspects of psychology (brain structure and function, neurotransmitters) to a real-life scenario. They then return to their ‘home’ groups to teach their colleagues what they have learned from their ‘expert’ groups. The activity serves many purposes, including group interaction and learning how to teach, as well as engaging them in a topic (biological aspects of psychology) that many of them wouldn’t ordinarily be interested in.

    What’s your workspace like? I would describe it as organised chaos.

    Three words that best describe your teaching style.  

    Relaxed, receptive, inclusive.

    Tell us about a teaching disaster (or embarrassment) you’ve had and how you dealt with the situation. I'm sure there were many early on in my career but I seem to have repressed them! Forgetting during a live lecture why I have put a particular PowerPoint slide in or losing my train of thought are probably the most common embarrassments. I have learnt that the best response is to own up to a memory lapse and try to inject some humour into the situation.

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

    Even after all these years of teaching I still get nervous before each and every lecture. I like to think that I come across as relaxed in the classroom (see above), so students would be surprised to know that I still have an edge of nervousness, particularly early on in the semester.

    What are you currently reading for pleasure?

    Zero K by Don DeLillo. I also like to read the newspaper every day so I can keep up with what’s happening in the world outside the academic bubble.

    What tech tool could you not live without?

    My iPad – I take it with me everywhere (except when I go on holidays)

  • 17 Nov 2016 3:34 PM | Anonymous

    School name: Ball State University

    Type of school: Public research university

    School locale: Ball State is in Muncie, Indiana, which is a relatively small town. I currently live in Indianapolis and commute to campus.

    Classes you teach: I am the Director of the Social Psychology Master’s Program at Ball State and, right now, I primarily teach graduate courses related to social psychology. These include Advanced Social Psychology, Social Cognition, Attitudes & Persuasion, Intergroup Relations, and Counseling Applications of Social Psychology.

    Average class size: Currently, the average class I teach has about 8-10 graduate students. However, when I used to teach at the undergraduate level, I routinely had classes of several hundred.

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

    The biggest influence on my teaching hasn’t come from readings—it has come from experience. And I’ve been very fortunate to have had a very diverse teaching background. It started while I was a graduate student at Purdue University, where I funded myself partially by teaching small evening courses for continuing education students, many of whom came from non-traditional backgrounds. Upon graduating, I taught at an R1 institution (Colorado State) and in the Ivy League (Harvard), I taught at the graduate and undergraduate levels, my classes ranged in size from 5 to 250 students, I taught both online and face-to-face courses, and I worked with students who varied dramatically in their academic abilities and majors. To make a long story short, I’ve taught in quite a range of learning environments and have worked with students of vastly different backgrounds. The culmination of those experiences has helped me to develop a very flexible teaching style that focuses on adapting to the needs of the students in a given class. The most valuable thing I’ve learned is that there’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all teaching strategy—the best teachers will adapt their approach to meet the needs of their students in each and every class.

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

    My favorite course to teach is Human Sexuality. I’ve taught it regularly over the last 10 years and I like it so much that I even wrote my own textbook on this topic entitled The Psychology of Human Sexuality (I’m currently at work on the second edition, which should be out next year!). I’m passionate about sex education because it’s a topic that far too many of us know far too little about. One of the things I like most about this course is that it provides students with a lot of practical information that they can use in their everyday lives; however, I also really like the fact that this course exposes students to a lot of new ideas and perspectives that many of them have never really thought critically about before. I’m humbled by the fact that so many students have told me that this class is their favorite course they’ve ever taken—and not just because it’s fun, but because they feel that it has truly had an impact on their lives.

    Briefly describe a favorite assignment or in-class activity.  

    One of my favorite assignments is from my Human Sexuality course and it involves giving students the opportunity to immerse themselves in a sexually diverse environment. The goal is to expose them to some form of sexual diversity they do not have much familiarity with and write a paper detailing how it changed their worldview or perspective. This can take a lot of different forms. For example, a student who is unfamiliar with asexuality might spend an hour or two on the Asexual Visibility and Education Network website combing through the discussion forums. Alternatively, a student who has little familiarity with trans or sexual minority issues might attend an event that our local LGBTQ student organization is putting on. This is consistently my students’ favorite assignment of the entire class because immersive learning experiences like this help them learn things in a way that a book chapter or lecture can’t quite convey.

    What’s your workspace like? 

    I have a lot of workspaces. I alternate between working from home (either at the kitchen table or in my office), working in a coffee shop (you don’t want to know how many Starbucks rewards I’ve earned to date!), and working in my office on campus. I need the change of scenery—otherwise, I tend to get a little stir-crazy.

    Three words that best describe your teaching style.  

    Enthusiastic, inclusive, conversational.

    What is your teaching philosophy in 8 words or fewer?

    Adapt to students’ learning style. Encourage critical thought.

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

    My worst teaching experience was my very first one. I was assigned to teach a Health Psychology course during the second year of my doctoral program and, not only had I never taught a college course before, but I had never even taken a Health Psychology class myself! Needless to say, I didn’t quite know what I was doing. Attendance dropped off a lot during the first couple of weeks and I became very concerned (and embarrassed). So, I took it upon myself to administer a survey of the students to see what I was doing wrong and how I could better meet their learning needs. I used that information to adjust my approach to teaching and found that attendance perked back up. In the end, I was able to salvage the course, but only because I took the time to gather careful feedback and really listen to what the students were telling me.

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

    One thing that always seems to surprise my students (and my colleagues) is that I don’t have my work email on my phone. I try really hard to have some degree of work-life balance and I find it’s impossible when you’re essentially carrying your work around with you at all times and allow it to interrupt you when you are out having fun or are on vacation. It’s important to be able to shut work off entirely sometimes to just relax and enjoy life. Some of the ways I like to enjoy life include travel (I visited four countries this past summer: the Netherlands, Italy, Spain, and Canada), learning how to cook multicultural dishes (my specialty is chicken tikka masala. I won’t lie—mine is pretty delicious), and Netflixing with my spouse (we’ve been together 17 years!) and our pup (an Australian Cattle Dog mix we rescued in 2005).

    What are you currently reading for pleasure?

    I don’t have a lot of time to read for pleasure, so when I do, I select my books very carefully. The most recent book I finished was Galileo’s Middle Finger by Alice Dreger, which was absolutely fantastic. It’s all about cases where science and politics collide and the potentially disastrous consequences that can occur. I ended up writing a review of the book on my blog and have been encouraging my colleagues and students to check it out ever since.

    What tech tool could you not live without?

    I need two: My MacBook Air and an internet connection. Not only do I do almost exclusively online research these days, but in my spare time, I run a blog, Sex and Psychology, which aims to educate the general public about the latest research on the science of sex, love, and relationships.

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

    Donuts. Us Hoosiers love our fried food.

  • 31 Oct 2016 3:11 PM | Anonymous

    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.


  • 14 Oct 2016 4:37 PM | Anonymous

    School name: Formerly Adlai E. Stevenson H.S. in Lincolnshire, IL. Moving to College Du Leman, Geneva Switzerland


    Type of school/School locale: Stevenson is large (4,000) student high school district in the northern suburbs of Chicago

    College Du Leman is an international preK-12th grade school with about 400 students in the international section of the high school, on the outskirts of Geneva.

     

    Classes you teach/ Average class size:: Stevenson:  Constitutional Law and AP Psychology with an average class size of 28

    College Du Leman:  AP Psychology, IB Psychology with an average class size of about 12

     

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

    Assume positive intent and work as a team. This has been of great help when in potentially frustrating situations, it has helped to proactively avoid misunderstandings and helps to create relationships that are more collaborative and understanding.

     

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

    I just finished reading Whistling Vivaldi by Claude Steele about Stereotype threat, and in addition to being an interesting read regarding Social Psychology, there are many elements that can be incorporated quite easily into any classroom to reduce the impact that particular groups may feel regarding a deficit in their academic performance.  This seems to useful for instructors to be aware of as all students should be able to learn in an environment in which they perform to the best of their ability without the expectations of others limiting them.

     

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

    I enjoy Social Psychology, because students can clearly see the connections to their everyday lives.  If they can carry this throughout the AP Psychology curriculum they will understand the information at a much deeper level and enjoy the course more than if they are simply trying to memorize facts and vocabulary.  For this reason, I begin the course with the Social Psychology unit.  I particularly enjoy discussing attribution, because one again we all make internal or external attributions everyday but even after one day of class students can better understand what mechanisms make us more or less likely to use dispositional or situational dispositions about our own or others behaviors. This is great example of a microcosm of the goals of psychology

     

    Briefly describe a favorite assignment or in-class activity.  

    I love using the stroop effect and animal stroop effect to teach proactive interference.  The room is loud and students are laughing and engaged and will remember the challenges they had with the task because of their prior learning.

     

    What teaching and learning techniques work best for you?

    I love the inquiry based learning technique, it relies on students coming to class prepared to discuss the material and building on their outside readings, but I also love learning as a story, if the story is engaging enough, students remember the stories and the concepts easily fit into this framework.

     

    What’s your workspace like? 

    I work best at home in a quiet space and generally choose to work in a room with as many windows as possible.  At the moment this is my kitchen table overlooking Lake Geneva and the French Alps, it is tranquil and quiet and helps me to concentrate.



    Three words that best describe your teaching style.  

    Interactive, clarifying and personable

     

    What is your teaching philosophy in 8 words or fewer?

    To help each student find their particular talents

     

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

    I was trying to do a quick demonstration with Weber’s law in the Sensation/Perception unit, I had taped some pennies into cups and students had to arrange them in order from the lowest to highest weights. I had to mix the cups up so that they were not already in the correct order and while mixing the cups I mentioned that I felt like I was at the circus (the guessing game of finding the peanut under the cup) and I began singing circus music and I asked the class if “anybody wanted some peanuts?” at least that what I intended to ask, what came out was not peanuts but something that sounds sort of like that, after the laughter subsided we discussed Freudian slips and perceptual sets.

     

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

    I love American History

     

    What are you currently reading for pleasure?

    David Bowie’s Biography by Paula Trynka

     

    What tech tool could you not live without?

    Haiku, a great learning management system that is easy to load information, easy for students to access and aesthetically pleasing.

     

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

    At the moment, the upcoming presidential election and some recent SCOTUS decisions

     

     

  • 30 Sep 2016 12:00 PM | Anonymous

    School Name: Monmouth University

    Type of School: Private Liberal Arts University

    School locale: Suburban New Jersey (The Jersey Shore; 1 mile from the Atlantic Ocean and about 1 hour from both NYC and Philadelphia) 

    Classes you teach: Research I: Research Methods and Lab, Research III: Experimental Methods and Lab, Research IV: Psychology Thesis and Lab, Social Psychology, Social Cognition, Personality Theories

    Average class size: My classes range from 12-35 students, but on average my class size is 20 students.

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

    Like most graduate students, I received my training at an R01 institution with a heavy research focus. When I discovered that I really enjoyed the classroom, it felt like a dirty little secret I had to keep. I didn’t receive much advice on teaching, so I had to draw from my better experiences as a student to figure out how to best teach in my early days. What I have learned is that just like research endeavors that benefit from collaboration, so does my teaching. Finding others that teach similar classes to yours, both inside and outside your institution, to share ideas, struggles, assignments and activities with will keep you fresh and excited about your teaching. Others can give you new ideas and perspectives. You can build off of what others are doing, and along the way, find that you have good things to share too.

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

    Early on I would say McKeachie's Teaching Tips: Strategies, Research, and Theory for College and University Teachers. I think Teaching of Psychology and Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in Psychology are both really great resources as well. For me what book or article is influential depends on my current teaching goals. I go through phases in my teaching and I rely on the scholarship of teaching and learning to help me through that phase. For example, in the past I was very focused on making research methods more relatable and enjoyable for students. Now that I think I do a much better job with that, my mission is to help students recognize and market the skills they receive in my classes. 

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

    My favorite course to teach is research methods because the class provides so much opportunity for students to develop marketable skills. I have worked hard to design the class with a learn-by-doing approach and give students ample opportunity to interact with the material in a meaningful way. I see research methods as a tool box for them to use to answer research questions. While you can read and listen to instructions on how to use a hammer, you don’t really understand it until you get to build something with it. It is fun to give students as many opportunities as possible to play around with their tools in their toolbox.

    Briefly describe a favorite assignment or in-class activity.

    My favorite activity to do with students is the lab I do with my experimental methods class as they are learning about two-group experimental designs early in the semester. Based on a general research topic (e.g., influences on attraction), students develop, conduct, analyze, and report the findings of a research study in small groups. It is a big and daunting assignment. At first it is disorienting to them because they have never been asked to develop and test their own research questions before. They don’t believe they have the knowledge and skills to do so. By the end of the lab, they are able to see that they can use the very same tools that “experts” in the field use to conduct research. It is my favorite because during three hours of class instruction I get to see them become research psychologists. The transformation is rewarding to see. We do similar labs using different experimental designs throughout the semester. By the end of the class, developing, conducting, analyzing, and reporting on a study is a set of skills they have mastered.

    What teaching or learning techniques work best for you?

    I think what works best for me depends on the goals and content of the course. I generally use a variety of techniques in each of my classes. In the research methods classes that I teach most often, I use a student-centered learning as well as inquiry-based learning frequently.

    What’s your workspace like? 

    I work like a nomad traveling from place to place. I use my office mostly to meet with students and answer emails. I also meet students in my research lab to work on our research projects. I do most of my writing and class preparation at home and during times of intense grading I head to Panera to keep myself from procrastination and interruption.

    Three words that best describe your teaching style.

    Stimulating, Challenging, Supportive

    What is your teaching philosophy in 8 words or fewer?

    building knowledge and skills through inquiry-based learning

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

    Like everyone, I have had technology problems in class or left a vital activity in the copier and had to improvise my way through it. I am naturally hard to embarrass but for several years I taught a student that was deaf and had an interpreter with her for every class meeting. One of the classes I taught at the time was Evolutionary Psychology, which involved talking about all sorts of potentially embarrassing topics. It is one thing to have to say potentially embarrassing things yourself, but to know that someone else has translate your words adds another level self-consciousness to the situation. When I would get to the more interesting concepts in the lecture, I would see all the students eyes dart over to the interpreter so they could attempt to learn the sign language for the particular term. I tried my best to lecture like I would in any other class and not show any hesitation in talking about the concepts. I also ignored their wandering eyes. I thought if I showed any signs of being embarrassed by the topics, it would trickle down to everyone else involved. 

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

    That I can do a lot of home repair work. I can tile, drywall, replace electrical outlets and fixtures, and some basic plumbing. I bought an old house that I have been fixing up for the past 8 years.

    What are you currently reading for pleasure?

    All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

    What tech tool could you not live without?

    I guess it would be Google. Personally and professionally, I often start with a Google search when I am looking for information on a new topic and then sort through the results to find information I need or other resources where I can find it. I recently started sending my research assistants YouTube clips on how to conduct SPSS analyses. Yep, I find them through Google.

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

    I am lucky to have great colleagues that are also my close friends. Our faculty offices are all together in one large suite. We talk about the good and bad things that are happening in our classes and with our students. We often share about our personal lives as well. I benefit a great deal from the different stages of life my colleagues are in both personally and professionally. My colleagues promise that one day my toddler will be able to pour a bowl of cereal herself and let me sleep in on a Saturday morning. You might also hear some chatter about what happened on Game of Thrones this week!

  • 13 Sep 2016 4:43 PM | Anonymous

    School name: American International College

    Type of school: Small Liberal Arts School; but we do have Master’s programs in business, education, and the health sciences; also Doctoral programs in education (Ed.D.) and health sciences (DPT, DOT).

    School locale: Urban – small city (150,000 in city; 700,000 in entire metropolitan area)

    Classes you teach: Human Sexuality; Topics in Psychology – Group Processes; Experimental Psychology; Statistics; Social Psychology; Social Influence; Introductory Psychology.

    Average class size: This ranges depending on the course. Due to the workload, Experimental Psychology is limited to 15 students. Statistics courses usually have around 30 students. Human Sexuality, Social Psychology, and Introductory Psychology usually have around 35 students. Social Influence and the Topics in Psychology course vary from semester to semester; I’ve had as many as 28 and as few as five.

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

    Be firm, but be flexible. I can’t say I was ever given this advice directly, but it’s what I saw in many of the excellent professors I had as a student. It’s like being an authoritative parent. I see so many of my colleagues struggle with their classes because they are either too rigid, or too permissive with their students.

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

    I have horrible source memory. I’m forever saying “I read somewhere…” I explain to my Experimental Psych students that this is why I am obsessive about documenting sources when taking notes for research.
    But I do remember, early in my career, reading Zimbardo’s chapter in Teaching Introductory Psychology: Survival Tips From the Experts. In particular, I recall him telling about teaching his course for the type of student he was, and it failing miserably. This helped me broaden my ideas and ways of reaching students. How I was as a college student (and how it was for many of us who have become professors) is very different from most students. It has also helped me seek out and reinforce the individual strengths, talents, and experiences of my students.

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

    It’s a tough call to choose between my Human Sexuality course and my Statistics course. No surprise, I’ve been teaching both of these the longest. I really enjoy Statistics because I can see so many of my students succeed in an area they thought would be difficult. Nearly every semester, I see a student develop a sense of accomplishment and pride when they see their hard work and effort pay off – not only with grades, but with an understanding of the material.

    Human Sexuality is my opportunity to be a bit rebellious. I start every semester telling my students that I went into teaching human sexuality (I started as an undergraduate peer educator) to horrify my parents. I still enjoy the fact that some of the topics I cover ruffle the feathers of my more conservative colleagues. I am also extremely glad that I have the academic freedom to teach my course.

    Briefly describe a favorite assignment or in-class activity.  

    My favorite assignment is the Experimental Psychology Posters. Each student develops an idea, creates study materials, collects and analyzes the data, writes up a paper, and creates a poster which is presented at a campus-wide poster session at the end of the semester. This is by no means an easy project for them. It is also a challenge for me to keep up to 15 projects mostly on course. However, when the students present for the campus community, they shine. All the students step up and surprise themselves. It’s always amazing to see the confidence they build as they present their work.

    What teaching and learning techniques work best for you?

    What works best for me is to use a variety of methods and to be flexible to the students’ needs and the culture of a particular class. Over the years, I have shifted to using more in-class assignments and activities that allow for on-the-spot feedback. In Statistics, I use a lot of in-class assignments where students work on problems while they have me there as a resource in the room. This helps because there are often students who won’t seek me out for assistance outside of class. In Social Influence and Human Sexuality, I use in-class assignments where students work in groups to connect the course material to information they find on the internet.

    What’s your workspace like? 

    I split getting work done between my campus office and my home office. Occasionally, I can be found holed up at Barnes & Noble doing some work. My home office is smaller, warmer, and cozier than my campus office. My home office also has windows! I would describe both offices as organized chaos. Although, I probably see more of the chaos and observers see more of the organization.

    Three words that best describe your teaching style.  

    Organized, eclectic, committed

    What is your teaching philosophy in 8 words or fewer?

    Help students think about the world around them.

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

    My most memorable embarrassment happened while still in graduate school during my first semester teaching Human Sexuality. I was so proud to be “cutting edge” and using PowerPoint for my lectures (this was 2001). Things were going great until I got to the chapter on sexually transmitted diseases. Taking advantage of the technology, I included images of the symptoms of the diseases on my slides. What didn’t seem so bad in the textbook or on my computer screen, were HORRIFIC when projected onto a 12-foot screen in a lecture hall of 150 students. During that particular class, I skipped through the images to a plain text slide. Ever since, I don’t include images of STD symptoms with my slides. I do tell my students this story each semester when we get to this chapter.

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

    I think my students would be surprised to learn how proud I am of them. Related to that, I think they’d be surprised to learn how fiercely I think of them as “My Students”. I might grump about them to colleagues, but I will defend them against outsiders who want to criticize who my students are and where they come from. Additionally, I think my students are surprised when they learn that I have run two half marathons and am training for my third.

    What are you currently reading for pleasure?

    I am currently reading a wide variety of children’s books with my 2.5 year-old son. My current favorite is Wookiee the Chew: The House at Chew Corner written and illustrated by James Hance. Inspired by the work of A.A. Milne and George Lucas, it is a reworking of Winnie the Pooh but using Wookiee the Chew, Droidlet, Owlbi Wan, and Chrisolo Robin.

    What tech tool could you not live without?

    My phone’s timer, particularly with the iOS “Hey Siri” function. Over the summer, I have mostly been using it to set timers for my son to indicate a transition to another activity and how long I’ll stay in his room with him after he gets in bed. It is so much simpler to say: “Hey Siri, set timer for 5 minutes” than to unlock the phone, open the clock, and set a new timer. I use it so much that my son tells me to say “Hey Siri” when I mention setting a timer. I also use timers to stay focused when doing work. If I feel that I’m in a highly distractible mood, I’ll set a timer for 15 minutes. I’ll focus and work for that time. When the timer goes off, I reevaluate my focus and either reset the timer to work another 15 minutes or go do something else.

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

    There’s the occasional Pinky & the Brain reference about plotting to take over the world. We’ll often chat about what didn’t work in a particular class, and brainstorm ideas of things to do differently.

  • 31 Jul 2016 11:23 AM | Anonymous

    School name: Xavier University of Louisiana

    Type of school: Xavier is the only Catholic, historically Black university (HBCU) in the country. 

    School locale: We’re located in the heart of New Orleans and are a big part of the Gert Town neighborhood.

    Classes you teach: I’m a social psychologist by training, but my main courses are Introduction to Psychology, Research Methods, Psychological Statistics, Advanced Research, Social Psychology, Cognitive Psychology, and The Psychology of Stereotyping & Prejudice.

    Average class size: Average is around 22 or so, but the range is about 12-40.

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

    Teach less, better.”

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

    Wow, that’s a tough one.  It’s hard for me to point to one specific teaching reference, but a lot of things have had an indirect influence on me.  Because I’m White and most of my students are Black, I pay attention to research on interracial interaction, such as Jennifer Richeson’s collaborations with Nicole Shelton, as well as topics that individuate minority students, such as Robert Sellers’ "Multidimensional Model of Racial Identity".  It’s nice for me to appeal to evidence of differential experiences and to have them in mind as I teach and advise my students.

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

    I love teaching statistics because I struggled with it and therefore see why analyses—the basics anyway—seem harder than they are.  And because the material builds (rather than being lateral, like in most classes), there’s a clear plan for each day.  It also lends itself to interaction as students collaborate on analyses and interpretations, so I think I’m at my best with it.

    Briefly describe a favorite assignment or in-class activity.  

    I’m always a sucker for the Deese-Roediger-McDermott “sleep words” demo that I’m sure a lot of teachers use.  I’ve added a lot of embellishments with it to match my style, but I like encouraging students to question their assumptions.  I also have had success with a “bad APA style paper” where students collaborate to find APA style errors I’ve inserted in a short manuscript.  It’s a bit of a scavenger hunt, and everyone picks up on different style rules, so it gives us a chance to talk about the writing and style without a straight lecture.

    What teaching and learning techniques work best for you?

    I generally have a casual approach to a class session, and there’s a good bit of give and take.  Still, I’m most satisfied when I have regular chances to break things up for students to collaborate and report.  I know a lot of teachers ask colleagues for examples of concepts, but I much prefer to have students generate examples, and then the class can examine them and see what about them work and what doesn’t.  I get more chances to get to know my students that way and to break up their day.  I’m also trying as of late to drop the word “study" from my vocabulary in favor of "practice." It’s difficult to get students to be more active in their approach, and I want them to get beyond simply trying to read and call that studying.  I don’t have data showing that the switch is working, but it feels more genuine.

    What’s your workspace like? 

    It’s an absolute mess.  I never seem to finish anything, so I have a ton of papers and things piled up until I decide that I don’t need them anymore.  I don’t like it this way and always vow to keep things tidier, but I continue to fail at that.  I do have a nice office at home and at work though, so I have nice opportunities to stare out the window when I get stuck.

    Three words that best describe your teaching style.  

    Enthusiastic, challenging, inclusive

    What is your teaching philosophy in 8 words or fewer?

    Students learn best by producing, not consuming, information.

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

    As I was handing out an exam in an Intro class a number of years ago, a student who’d received it raised her hand as if to ask a question about one of the items.  I thought this was very rude so I ignored her until I had handed them all out.  When I finally went over to her, she showed me that I had printed the keyed version of the exam.  I was mortified and didn’t know what to do, so at first I just said, “Ok, everybody turn your test over, and let me think about this.”  I tried working through my options and decided that about all I could do was take them back up and put the test off to the next class period.  Fortunately, my students know I’m easily distracted, and we could laugh about it together.

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

    I think they’d be surprised to know how hypocritical I am when I discuss proper study and preparation strategies with them.  My habits in school were terrible—I got through because I was conscientious enough to put in the time, but I certainly didn’t do it the right way most of the time.  I sometimes admit this to students I know well, but I don’t want students thinking that they’ll still get to have a great job if they procrastinate and cram.

    What are you currently reading for pleasure?

    Mostly, I’m trying to catch up on my New Yorker articles and taking a break with the Onion about every day.  For more long-term, I’m half-way done (remember, I never finish anything) with a biography of Johnny Cash and the Book of Barely Imagined Beings.

    What tech tool could you not live without?

    Dropbox!  I remember the days of emailing stuff to myself or trying to keep up with various storage devices, but Dropbox has changed everything for me.  Aside from that, I’d say my Mac touchpad so that I don’t have to clear enough desk space to move a mouse around.

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

    I’m usually running late, so it’s often just a pleasantry, but this is New Orleans, so it’s usually about plans for an upcoming festival or storm, or a recent scandal or Saints game.  My colleagues are generally a very harmonious bunch, so I love getting the chance to chat.  But even at our happy hours, we talk about teaching and students about as much as anything.


  • 30 Jun 2016 5:43 PM | Anonymous

    School name: Bellevue College, WA

    Type of school: Bellevue College is an open-access, community-based public institution of higher education located in Bellevue, a city on the Eastside of Lake Washington, near Seattle

    School locale: Bellevue is the largest suburb of Seattle, WA

    Classes you teach: General Psychology, Lifespan Psychology, Cross Cultural Psychology

    Average class size: 38

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

    To be genuine and honest in the classroom, not to be afraid of sharing life stories and personal experiences (when appropriate), and to be caring and friendly towards students so they can see me as approachable and helpful – all together, those things help make a classroom a welcoming space for students and supports their learning. For me, a welcoming space is where we hear diverse opinions and ideas with an open mind, while critically evaluating ethnocentric thoughts.

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

    Bain’s What the Best College Teachers Do, Ambrose et al.’s How Learning Works: Seven Research-Based Principles for Smart Teaching, Peck's The Road Less Traveled, Seligman’s Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-being – to name a few – have influenced the way I approach teaching and my relationships with students. I also regularly read the Teaching of Psychology journal by STP and attend teaching conferences to help inform and advance my pedagogy. Based on readings and conversations with colleagues, I’ve come to understand the importance of creating an organic, learner-centered environment that encourages students to critically rethink assumptions, and provide them opportunities to cooperate and collaborate with peers.

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

    Emerging Adulthood is by far one of my favorite topics to teach as it is so relevant to 80-85% of the students in the classroom. They are in that age range and understand how this crucial life stage can shape their future. We watch the TED talk by Meg Jay titled “Why 30 is not the new 20” and I have my students reflect on the goals Jay mentions in her talk.

    Briefly describe a favorite assignment or in-class activity.  

    Favorite in-class activity: At the start of class on the topic of Emerging Adulthood (EA), I post the question – “Do you think you have reached adulthood?” on the whiteboard and have my students think about that question for a few minutes. I ask them to write down Yes / No / Yes & No and the reasons for their answer. Then I have them stand up and walk to the right side of the room if they said “Yes,” left side if they said “No” and middle of the room if they said “Yes & No.” They discuss among themselves in small groups what their reasons were, then they share them with the whole class and I write the reasons out for each group on the whiteboard. This activity helps demonstrate the five characteristics of EA as given by Arnett, and it also reveals cultural differences that exist vis-à-vis EA.

    Favorite assignment: In Lifespan Psychology, I have my students do a group project at the end of the quarter, wherein they choose a life stage (e.g., adolescence) and test relevant theories by applying their knowledge of research methods and statistics. [Editor's note: this is pictured in the two pictures below.]

    What teaching and learning techniques work best for you?

    While trying new things in the classroom, I am not afraid to show my vulnerabilities and talk about my mistakes, as it makes me be human and relatable. Owning up to one’s mistakes while being kind and understanding towards oneself helps demonstrate self-compassion (Neff, 2008), a trait that is much needed to succeed in today’s day and age. Additionally, being open and willing to share life experiences with students, as storytelling can be a vehicle to establishing validation, identity, and emotional regulation among college students. Finally, TED talks are “essentials” to my teaching.

    What’s your workspace like? 

    My office space is organized; it has books and journals, a picture of my family, my diploma in a wooden frame, and comfortable chairs for my visitors. I believe that my office is inviting to others – I have chocolates, tissue box and inspirational posters on the wall. I’m a true believer in the power of relationships, and I use my office space to have meaningful and open conversations with my students and colleagues.

    Three words that best describe your teaching style.  

    Encouraging, Helpful, Passionate.

    What is your teaching philosophy in 8 words or fewer?

    Positive relationships and genuine interest promotes active learning.

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

    My students are often in disbelief when I tell them that I experienced high levels of test anxiety during school years and was an average student. I became an “A” grade student in grade 11 when I chose to study courses that were of interest to me. I often tell my students the vital role of curiosity and personal relevance in learning and academic success.

    What are you currently reading for pleasure?

    I recently completed Lahiri’s Unaccustomed Earth, and I’m currently reading Rankine’s Citizen: An American Lyric.

    What tech tool could you not live without?

    My laptop and Logitech wireless presentation pointer

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

    At our college, we are very student-focused so we talk about effective classroom management strategies, how to report and handle concerning student behaviors and lately, we’ve been talking about how to get the administration to understand the need to lowering class caps to have a better student-teacher ratio, the one that promotes individual attention and high-quality classroom interactions.

  • 31 May 2016 11:43 PM | Anonymous

    School name: University of Massachusetts – Lowell

    Type of school: Public University

    School locale: urban

    Classes you teach: Cognitive Psychology (200-level); Research Lab (300-level); Applying Cognitive Psychology to Education Seminar (400-level)

    Average class size: 15-20 (300 or 400-level); 30-40 (200-level)

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

    “Be better organized”…from student feedback. No-one likes a disorganized teacher.

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

    When I started my faculty position, I read the first few chapters of James Lang’s On Course: A Week-by-Week Guide to Your First Semester of College Teaching, and this greatly calmed my nerves. Then I got too busy and never got a chance to finish it.

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

    I love teaching about memory. False memory used to be my favorite, but after 100 times of demonstrating bed-rest-awake-sleep?, I had to find a new favorite. So now, I really enjoy teaching about superior autobiographical memory. This is the phenomenon where a person remembers everything from their past – you give them a date, and they can recall exactly what they did that day! It is really fun teaching this, because students are so amazed (it’s such a rare phenomenon), and at the same time there are many teachable moments, too: no, it’s not photographic memory, which doesn't actually exist; and no, it’s not domain-general (working memory is no better in these individuals).

    Briefly describe a favorite assignment or in-class activity.  

    My favorite thing to do is to describe the methods of a study, and get students to draw a graph predicting the results. It’s great because there are no right or wrong answers – the students just need to demonstrate that they understand the manipulation, and how to graph data. I then go around the room and ask each student to briefly justify why they predicted that pattern of data; this helps me make sure that they didn’t just plot random data points (I’m happy to say that this has actually never happened). The first time I have students do this activity, half the class totally freaks out. By the end of the semester, they are comfortable drawing predictions for two-way interactions. It is very satisfying!

    What teaching and learning techniques work best for you?

    My research is in applying cognitive psychology to education, so techniques that draw on that research are on the forefront of my mind when I plan teaching and learning activities for my students. For example, all my lectures include a quiz component – usually low-stakes questions distributed randomly throughout the lecture. I also make a lot of use of self and peer review so that students can learn how to critique writing. This also drastically reduces the amount of grading I do, which one might think is a good thing…but I’m actually a weirdo who loves grading!

    What’s your workspace like? 

    I work everywhere: in my office (very rarely), at home in bed (much too often), and in cafes (my favorite!). But this semester, I’ve discovered a really amazing teaching space. It is a “maker space” that was entirely created by a colleague in my department, Dr. Sarah Kuhn. This space has all sorts of arts and crafts materials, Legos, and a coffee maker. I found that the atmosphere the room created was unlike any teaching experience I’ve ever had! Students come early and make themselves coffee, and seem much more open to discussing the material than my last semester class that met in a regular classroom (though of course, I fully recognize that this is a terribly confounded observation). I also found myself moving away from PowerPoint to more spontaneous drawings on the whiteboard, which has been really fun.

    Three words that best describe your teaching style.  

    Animated, awkward, and engaging? I don’t know! This was hard.

    What is your teaching philosophy in 8 words or fewer?

    Engage students so they learn instead of sleeping.

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

    I recently made a really awkward joke that made it seem like I was making fun of a student when I wasn’t intending that AT ALL (obviously). I was trying to scaffold the student to help them remember something, but the hint I gave them inadvertently made it seem like I thought they didn’t care about the class. The student – clearly not getting the hint at all – glared at me like I had just killed their puppy. And the worst part? My Chair was observing the class. I dealt with it by protesting too much – “oh, no, of course, I KNOW you care A GREAT DEAL about this class!!!” which in the case of this particular student, luckily (ironically?), was quite true.

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

    In my spare time, I perform in a ladies Latin dance team!

    Here's a photo – I’m the first lady from the right in the front row!

    What are you currently reading for pleasure?

    Elena Ferrante – I felt like I read about her novels every day in 2015, so it’s finally time to actually read her.

    What tech tool could you not live without?

    As of recently, I can’t live without Twitter. In January 2016, I started a community called the Learning Scientists (@AceThatTest on Twitter) where we discuss evidence-based practices in education. Although it started out as a small spontaneous idea (click here for the story) and mushroomed into a huge project with an extremely productive blog (learningscientists.org) and lively community! These days, I spend most of my spare moments on Twitter arguing about the role of cognitive psychology in education with teachers and other academics.

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

    Feminism. I didn’t give being a woman a second thought until I got pregnant in my late 20s. Then – BAM! – suddenly life was all about being a woman, and it’s like a whole world of sexism and barriers opened up in front of me.

  • 30 Apr 2016 2:13 PM | Anonymous

    School name: Westminster College (PA)

    Type of school: small liberal arts school

    School locale: rural area

    Classes you teach: I have taught introductory, social, organizational, personality, human sexuality, psychology of the internet, research methods, and senior research/capstone

    Average class size: 17

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

    I have to select only one?  The great thing about an organization like the Society for the Teaching of Psychology is that you are able to network with some of the most successful teachers of psychology, and they are always eager to share their knowledge with you.  Teaching me to be better in my field and profession is how they advise me best.  Every conversation with a Dana Dunn, Ken Keith, or Janie Wilson is a moment when I can learn something that will help my students to achieve learning outcomes.  I guess the best advice about teaching (warning:  shameless plug!) was to join STP!

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

    One of the best illustrations of my teaching philosophy comes from Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist.  Early in the novel, Coelho’s old king tells the story of a young boy who is sent to meet the wisest man in the world, with the hopes of discovering the secret of happiness. After a 40-day journey to find the man in a castle atop a mountain, the boy is told that the man is too busy to meet with him and that he should wander about the castle until the man is available.  The wise man first gives the boy a spoon filled with oil and tells him to carry the spoon with him as he wanders, being sure not so spill any oil.  When the boy returns a few hours later, the man asks him to describe all the palace wonders that he saw.  The boy, embarrassed, responds that he was so focused on the oil in the spoon, that he didn’t pay attention to the treasures in the palace.  The man sends the boy to wander through the palace again.  This time, he returns having viewed many of the palace’s treasures, only to realize that he has spilled all the oil from the spoon.  The wise man counsels the boy:  “The secret of happiness is to see all the marvels of the world, and never to forget the drops of oil on the spoon.”


    A good teacher knows that the academy is filled with treasures that have been collected across millennia, and we believe that those treasures bring happiness (and also tremendous responsibility).  But a great teacher recognizes that students come with a spoon that holds the drops of oil they have collected in their short lives.  Those drops of oil are important—they are motives, dreams, abilities, traditions—and we will help students find happiness to the extent that we and they appreciate the spoon and what it holds.


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

    Social psychology is my favorite course to teach because it is about the lives of my students.  Everything students do has a self or social component, and so it is really easy to engage students with course material.  Also, they can “see” social psychology all around them.  For many of them, neurotransmitters are abstractions that are not visible to the naked eye, but they can more easily notice conformity, attraction, persuasion, groupthink, and so on.  These are phenomena that matter to them on a daily basis as they negotiate with bosses; resolve conflicts with significant others; attempt to change other students’ opinions about campus issues.

    Briefly describe a favorite assignment or in-class activity.  

    One of my favorite activities to conduct in the laboratory component of my social psychology course draws on an experiment conducted by Tim Wilson and Jonathan Schooler (Study 1, 1991).  These researchers suggest that people do not have much insight into their own cognitive processes; that is, we often do not know why we have certain cognitions, like attitudes that can be vague and unspecified. Moreover, Wilson and Schooler believe that reflecting on our attitudes and decisions can actually be unhelpful.  They suggest that when we think about why we hold certain attitudes, we attend to explanations that easily come to mind.  But those accessible explanations may not be accurate or complete, thus having little effect on their attitude.  Ultimately, thinking about reasons can lead people to make choices that are not ideal.  To help students understand this, I bring in their favorite condiment—different varieties of salsa that have been rated by Consumer Reports.  I ask students to taste each salsa on a chip and to evaluate it, with half being prompted to think about reasons for their evaluation.  After we analyze patterns in the data, we talk about the original research and ways that we would have improved on my taste-test methodology were we to implement it in a well-controlled study.  (I intentionally create a weakly controlled taste-test “experiment” so that students have plenty to critique—and they do!)  So in the context of doing something they enjoy (eating salsa), we can talk about research and good experimental design.  It’s like when Mom got us to eat our vegetables by covering them with cheese.

    What teaching and learning techniques work best for you?

    Students’ learning is vital to what I do.  I do not believe that learning frequently occurs by happenstance.  It is my responsibility as a faculty member to think about what students need to learn and then to shape a course curriculum that helps them to achieve that learning.  It is also my responsibility to monitor progress so that I can provide assistance when students are not learning what they need to know or do.  This has led to more careful planning when writing assignments and student learning outcomes, creating assessment strategies, and providing feedback on student performance.  Learning that informs assessment that informs teaching is critically important to me.

    We know that students learn best when material is connected to them and their interests.  Students also learn best from High-Impact Practices that engage them with material, versus being passive recipients of information passed through lecture.  My class sections certainly have the lecture component so that students have the knowledge they need, but more than likely students will be found doing.  They will be engaged in critical analysis of video clips (Big Bang Theory offers many examples that are helpful in psychology courses); discussions with their peers; Plicker-based activities (thanks to Sue Frantz for turning me onto Plicker!); experiential learning in the laboratory or field.  Involving students in and making them responsible for their own learning is vital to my teaching.

    What’s your workspace like? 

    Unfortunately, my work space is not as tidy as I would hope.  I live my life in neat piles that do not necessarily have an organizational scheme.  Fewer piles are a bucket-list item, but I won’t be disappointed if it is never crossed off my list.

    Other than that, my workspace is comfortable because I spend a lot of time in my office.  I use lamps instead of horribly institutional halogen lights, and my teapot is always ready with jasmine or English Breakfast tea.  I have a collection of Dunkin Donuts mugs from different cities I have visited, and those line my shelf with a collection of Big Bang Theory bobble-head figures.  Near my desk, I keep a string of thank-you cards from students who have written me over the years.  These cards remind me of my passion:  students and their learning.

    Three words that best describe your teaching style.  

    Example-rich, student-orientated, accessible

    What is your teaching philosophy in 8 words or fewer?

    Every day, increase your excellence.

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

    The disasters I have faced usually result from a demonstration or activity that did not work as I had planned.  Perhaps the data from an in-class experiment did not replicate patterns found in the literature.  Or perhaps I just didn’t communicate my passion to students in a way that contributed to their own excitement for a topic.  I have learned to have a Plan A and a Plan B.  I also have learned that students benefit from watching us fail and later succeed by trying something different.  That is, they are struggling to learn concepts and skills.  When they see we can struggle, too, as we develop mastery, it actually enhances their own efficacy.  By failing or coming upon an embarrassing situation, we can move into a space where learning from failure is okay.  Quite honestly, I am no longer embarrassed by teaching mistakes or mishaps:  A moment is a moment for learning.

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

    My students often are surprised to learn that I am southern.  I lost my accent when I went to college, and it usually returns only when I am really tired or when I am talking to a family member in North Carolina.  They also are surprised that I have a life outside of the college that includes a wonderful spouse, a regular lifting routine, a love for good food, and a fondness for international travel.  They would not be surprised that I have an unhealthy obsession with Dunkin Donuts coffee (with unsweetened hazelnut and cream), any movie with Jennifer Lopez (she’s good for in-class examples on Sternberg’s different types of love), and a bizarre attachment to the APA Manual (6th edition, 2nd printing, please).

    What are you currently reading for pleasure?

    The Atlantis Gene…unfortunately, my pace is very slow because of work.

    What tech tool could you not live without?

    Right now, Plicker is my new teaching technology must-have.  It is an online classroom response system that requires minimal setup and resources.  I can create questions that allow me to assess my students’ learning in real-time, which then allows me to know where I need to begin, how quickly I can set the pace, and where problem areas may be.  Students think it is cool…at least for the moment.

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

    Now that I am serving in an administrator role, my hallway chatter is much different from what it was when I was strictly teaching.  The administrator lens is 50,000-feet across the institution, and you realize there are many issues and events that you cannot talk about with colleagues.  That is a big change from the old hallway chatter where we talked about everything.  More likely than not, however, my colleagues and I talk about the latest best restaurant, a great bottle of wine, a must-visit vacation destination, or something that is not tied to the college.

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