An International Dialog: ESPLAT, AusPLAT, and ACT

07 Sep 2021 12:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

It’s teaching conference season! The European Society for Psychology Learning and Teaching (ESPLAT ) conference took place virtually on September 2-3. Under conference director Birgit Spinath, who is also the recipient of one of two 2021 STP presidential citations, the conference was shifted online from its original Heidelberg University venue in Germany. The ESPLAT conference included a live, synchronous discussion among leaders of several regional professional psychology learning and teaching organizations.

·     Dawn Albertson of Bath Spa University in the United Kingdom and I represented STP;

·     Susanne Narciss of Technische Universität in Germany represented ESPLAT;

·     Tony Machin of the University of Southern Queensland, Australia, represented Australian Psychology Learning and Teaching (AusPLAT); and

·     Lenka Sokolová of the Univerzita Komenského v Bratislave in Slovakia represented the European Federation of Psychology Teachers’ Associations.

The members of our panel discussed changes in psychological science and psychology learning and teaching; trends in international cooperation; and ways to expand the conversation beyond our own regions – especially to regions with fewer resources. We recorded our one-hour Zoom conversation and it will be available both at the upcoming virtual AusPLAT conference on September 16-17, as well as asynchronously at our own Annual Conference on Teaching on October 16-17. Whether or not you get a chance to watch our discussion, please reach out to me with at susan.nolan@shu.edu with any feedback on ways that STP can be more inclusive from an international perspective (or in other ways)!

In related conference news, and as you likely will have heard by now, we have made the difficult decision to shift ACT from in person to virtual. (You can read more about the shift on the STP website and in the September edition of STP News.) It was an incredibly sad decision, as so many of us were eager to gather in person with our friends and colleagues who value teaching as much as we do. I want to give a shout out to Executive Director Tom Pusateri, Past President Amy Fineburg, and ACT Director Lindsay Masland, all of whom were part of discussions about the shift. In particular, Lindsay has done an enormous amount of work to gather and communicate data, thoughtfully lay out our various options, and facilitate the move to a virtual conference at this late date. I am certain that in Lindsay’s hands, the virtual version of ACT will be both fun and professionally rewarding – enabling us to learn from, share ideas with, and connect with each other. I’ll “see” you there!

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The latest introductions in my ongoing series of “meet the EC” include two of the hardest working and most important people in the organization, the secretary and treasurer of our Executive Committee (EC). Our secretary, Stephanie Afful, keeps us on track during and outside of meetings, including managing and recording our endless email threads, mostly about business but occasionally about zoom-bombing pets or bizarre dreams! Her patience, professionalism, and sense of humor make the engine that is STP run. Our treasurer, Jeff Holmes, juggles our complicated budget, myriad reimbursements, dealings with various APA personnel and protocols, and more – the apparent ease with which he does his job belying the complexity of his position. And both the secretary and treasurer are full voting members of the EC. As always, check out STP’s Get Involved page to see where you might fit within our organization!

Stephanie Afful, STP Secretary

What would you like STP members to know about your position?

Can I get a witness? (Raising my hand) I think I might have the best role in the EC! As secretary, my job is to witness all the hard work that happens within our organization. From organizing and recording our committee meetings and on-line discussions, calling all votes, and communicating that hard work with the EC and STP members. The secretary also keeps us organized and on task – which is actually not that hard to do when we all value each other's service and perspective. This is the hardest working and most generous group of faculty I have ever served with. In addition to the current tasks of the Executive Committee, the secretary also updates our Bylaws and Policies & Procedures which requires some organizational memory. I absolutely could not perform this role as secretary without our fearless Executive Director, Tom Pusateri.

What do you most value about STP?

As many of my colleagues have mentioned, I found my professional home in STP. I started attending STP programming in graduate school, knowing pretty early on that I was more comfortable as a teacher than a researcher. STP helped me solidify my professional identity, that I could be both! I started my service in STP as the chair of our newly formed Early Career Psychologists Committee, made some amazing friends/colleagues along the way, and am now starting my second term as secretary to the Executive Committee. I think if you read our newsletter, participated in the Facebook page, or attended ACT, you know how generous and welcoming this group of faculty are – and I am a better teacher and human because of it!

Jeff Holmes, STP Treasurer

What would you like STP members to know about your position?

When I took over as STP Treasurer in 2018, I knew very little about what to expect. I am not an accountant, so my primary concerns were that funds would pass through my hands or that I might be responsible for spending or investment decisions. I was relieved to learn that these concerns were unfounded. What few people may realize is that the treasurer of STP does not make spending decisions or directly manage accounts. Instead, the treasurer is a critical conduit between the executive committee (which makes decisions based on votes by committee members) and the APA (where the organization’s accounts are held). Although there are many aspects to the position, the treasurer does not decide where money goes—the treasurer carries out the directives of the executive committee.

What do you most value about STP?

I became involved with STP at the beginning of my career due to the sheer luck of landing a job where, as it turned out, the famous Barney Beins also worked. Based on his mentorship, I began presenting at STP conferences and participating in associated events. My connections with members of STP have been exceptionally impactful and enjoyable. A shared love of teaching and dedication to teaching well—often coupled with a shared sense of good humor—has rewarded me with many professional associations that have evolved into true friendships. I prefer not to imagine what my professional and personal life would be like without STP.

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