PRESIDENT LETTER BLOG
This blog contains an archive of "Greetings from the President" that appeared since January 2020 on the STP home page and in STP News. To view letters from STP Presidents from 2016 through 2019, click here.
by Susan Nolan, STP President
Stealing Back Joy: A Renewed Focus on Student Mental Health
“How COVID-19 Stole ‘Children’s Joy,’ a recent headline offered. And we’ve all heard stories of stolen joy. The student who gave up their waning-summer weekend at the shore in an overcrowded shared rental because a sibling is immunocompromised. The ones who struggle to maintain fitness and social networks now that the indoor volleyball habit seems, well, treacherous. Or the ones who are saddened that limited tickets to indoor commencement exercises means they can’t include the family cheering squad they always imagined.
But for some students, “stolen joy” may represent more than just a sad moment. Rising rates of mental illness among our secondary and higher education students have long been a concern. But these trends are even more concerning during the pandemic. This is true broadly; about half of university students in the U.S. report moderate-to-severe stress and about 25% report that they have considered suicide. Similar patterns have been reported around the world. These trends are even more pronounced for historically marginalized groups. In the U.S., for example, university students who are American Indian or Black, are particularly at risk for psychological disorders, and although Asian American students do not seem to be at higher risk for mental illness, they do seem to be less likely than their peers to seek treatment. In other examples, university students from lower castes in India are at higher risk, as are indigenous students in Canada.
There may be a silver lining, though. I suspect – and I’m not alone in my suspicion – that the pandemic has made many more people aware of the acute need for accessible psychological interventions and perhaps even reduced the stigma associated with seeking mental healthcare. Whether because rates of mental illness are higher or because students are more open to treatment, rates of help-seeking at university counseling centers are higher than ever.
With that preamble, I want to showcase one important resource, published recently by the U.S. Department of Education and the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services. Titled Supporting Child and Student Social, Emotional, Behavioral, and Mental Health Needs, this comprehensive report outlines seven challenges related to offering mental health support – as well as seven recommendations – across all levels of education, including secondary and higher education. Admittedly, this is a U.S.-centric report; however, existing research suggests that the conclusions may be relevant at least in some international contexts.
The challenges include: 1) disparities, including based on race, in both vulnerabilities and access to treatment; 2) the enduring obstacle that is stigma; 3) a lack of (or lack of awareness of) evidence-based interventions; 4) the unfortunate “silo-ing” of mental healthcare; 5) a lack of funding and relevant policies; 6) limited mental-health resources in school settings; and 7) limited data to drive decision-making. The report’s recommendations directly address these challenges and offer a blueprint to identifying and addressing mental health in our students, as well as to increasing resources, developing policy, and (hopefully!) reducing stigma.
As psychology educators, we are uniquely positioned to forward these goals. Many of us are trained as clinicians. Many of us are not. Regardless, our training situates us to understand human emotions, behavior, and/or cognitions. And, as STP members, we all love to teach and support students! We can all forward an agenda, similar to the one in this report, in our own classrooms, programs, and institutions. Or even with a single student. My own institution’s slogan is Hazard Zet Forward, which loosely translates to “whatever the obstacles, keep on fighting.” In the context of stealing back our student’s joy, it’s a fitting slogan. Hazard Zet Forward.
The latest introduction in my ongoing series of “meet the EC” features Kristin Whitlock, our new Vice President for Programming. Kristin has been active within STP and other psychology professional organizations for quite some time, and we’re excited for her to bring her talents and experiences within the secondary school psychology teaching world to the STP Executive Committee. Among (many, many) other contributions, Kristin has served as a committee chair for the development of APA’s National Standards for High School Psychology Curricula and as a steering committee member for the APA National Summit for High School Psychology. In recognition of her work on behalf of psychology instructors, Kristin was awarded one of just two STP presidential citations in 2020. Below, Kristin writes about her position and what she most values about STP. As always, check out STP’s Get Involved page to see where you might fit within our organization!
What would you like STP members to know about your position?
STP programming is among the most visible of STP initiatives. For many instructors it is the place where many first realize the existence of our organization. Currently there are nine directors and programming chairs working year-round planning for the many conferences, preconferences, and teaching institutes available to STP members. Along with STP’s own Annual Conference on Teaching (ACT) we also team up to provide teaching programming with other organizations, such as the Society for Research on Child Development and the Society for Personality and Social Psychology. STP’s presence is also felt at regional and international conferences, as well as at the American Psychological Association and the Association for Psychological Sciences annual conferences. I’m excited to be a part of this effort and look forward to supporting STP and the Programming Division. Recent years have brought new challenges to conference planning, and I look forward to the future as we continue to find ways to make what we offer more accessible to more psychology instructors.
What do you most value about STP?
It’s hard for me to pick just one thing I value about STP. I am amazed at the incredible resources available for teachers of psychology across all levels of instruction. STP is like a safety net for those instructors new to the classroom, as well as seasoned veterans. I always come away from STP events energized by what I learn and inspired by the incredible members of our community.
by Linda M. Woolf, STP President-Elect
I’m excited to announce the 2022 Presidential Initiatives and Task Forces! Please email me at email@example.com if you are interested in serving on any of these task forces or if you have any questions.
Teaching to Make a Difference: A Social Justice Approach
Task Force for “Teaching to Make a Difference”
As teachers, we recognize that psychology has value to people’s lives individually and collectively within a multi-cultural global community. Human rights, social justice, and global citizenship are not just buzzwords but are grounded in psychological principles and essential to the wellbeing of persons, peoples, organizations, and communities. This task force will solicit, gather, and highlight resources related to a) activities/projects used by teachers to teach and promote human rights, social justice, and global citizenship (e.g., unique service learning projects; global psychology activities); b) integration of theories and research concerning these constructs into existing psychology courses; and c) identification of unique courses/programs aimed at promoting human rights, social justice, and global citizenship within a psychology framework.
Task Force on Teaching Ethics: Literacy, Thinking, and Reasoning
Both the APA Guidelines for the Undergraduate Psychology Major and the recent APA Introductory Psychology Initiative identify ethics as a core learning theme. Yet, very little guidance is provided to high school and undergraduate psychology teachers concerning the teaching of ethics or ethical principles beyond ethical standards related to research methods. At the graduate level, U.S. psychology students are taught the breadth of the APA Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct. However, many of our students continue in social work, counseling, nursing, other graduate programs, or international programs with their own unique ethics codes. Additionally, a rule-based approach may enhance ethical literacy but be of little use in teaching students ethical reasoning and thinking. This task force will solicit, develop, gather, and promote resources related to the teaching of ethics on the high school and undergraduate level, including guidelines related to best practices in teaching ethics.
Task Force on “Decolonizing Psychology” in Introductory Psychology
STP has many resources aimed at incorporating diversity issues into the classroom and making classrooms more inclusive. However, these materials are not focused on the teaching of introductory psychology from a perspective grounded in research/materials related to decolonization, liberation psychology, or critical psychology. This task force will solicit, gather, and promote articles, activities, lecture materials, and projects aimed at both typical chapters within an introductory psychology course as well as materials aimed at more general decolonizing approaches to teaching the class.
Task Force on Teaching Psychology and Climate Change
For many of our students, climate change is an abstract concept with seemingly little significance to their daily lives. Yet, it represents an existential threat to the lives of many around the globe, with immediate ramifications in terms of economics, displacement of persons and peoples, increased risk for global violence, and future pandemics. Psychology plays a vital role related to climate on many fronts from beliefs and attitudes about climate change to behavior change regarding conservation to psychosocial and mental health consequences of the climate crisis. This task force with solicit, gather, and promote resources related to integrating issues of climate into psychology courses; promotion of psychological research related to climate/sustainability; and teaching about human rights, social justice aspects (e.g., structural and institutional aspects of climate policy), and the mitigation and human adaptation of individuals and communities to climate change. The task force also will make sustainability recommendations to STP.
Continuation of the work of the Task Force on Integration of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) and International Initiatives Across STP
In 2020, the DEI task force began work under the initiative of Amy Fineburg and continued under the guidance of Susan Nolan. Much work has been completed but it is an ongoing endeavor. The task force is exploring a variety of recommendations based on assessment of structural issues within STP, such as integration of DEI and internationalization across the organizational structure as opposed to the current siloed approach, as well as the creation of affinity groups. A Color Paper will be issued soon, which will articulate current task force findings and recommendations. As such, much of the work of the task force in the next year will relate to implementation of proposed actions.
I hope many of you will get involved!
I know I’m not alone. Beth McMurtrie (2020) wrote the aptly titled article, “The pandemic is dragging on. Professors are burning out” for the Chronicle of Higher Education. As she describes it, “the problem [for some] has been a crushing workload combined with child-care challenges. For others, it’s a feeling that their institution expects them to be counselors and ed-tech experts on top of their regular responsibilities, even if it means working seven days a week.” She also highlights the additional challenges faced by Black and Latino professors who are often expected to support students of color, join committees on diversity, equity, and inclusion, and take on other similar roles. And she notes the added stress faced by contingent faculty members whose already precarious positions might be even more threatened by pandemic cost-cutting measures.
And there are distinct stressors for those teaching online, particularly if we had not done so before the pandemic. We have had to learn new technology at record speed, continually adapt to changes in technology, and then teach our students what we just learned (e.g., Mheidly et al., 2020). One professor colorfully described these challenges: “I needed a motor scooter, and they gave me a 747 without an instruction manual” (McMurtry, 2020). In line with the WHO definition of burnout, these challenges can be exhausting, cynicism-inducing, and productivity-sapping.
Research on preventing burnout, which is easier than recovering once you have slammed against the proverbial burnout wall, suggests that awareness of the risk of burnout is a first step (Mheidly et al., 2020). A number of suggestions relate to actions that an institution can take to increase awareness and implement interventions. But there also are steps we can take on our own. Notice when exhaustion and cynicism are setting in, and work to break the cycle. Take breaks, especially if you’re working online. Engage in exercise, meditation, and other healthful practices. McMurtrie (2020) and Mheidly and colleagues (2020) both strongly recommend actively seeking social support. Create virtual networks of supportive colleagues, even if it means one more Zoom meeting; elicit support on social media by sharing your struggles; and check in on each other even if it’s just a quick email to see if a colleague is doing OK. (May I also suggest writing a blog post on burnout? It’s been surprisingly therapeutic!)
Or maybe fight your burnout by joining me and our supportive network of STP colleagues at the virtual Annual Conference on Teaching (ACT), coming up on October 14 and 15! It will be the largest ACT yet, with several hundred attendees, live programming on both days, and dozens of asynchronous offerings available starting on October 14. And just $25 USD for members. (The $50 cost for nonmembers includes membership.) See you there?
The latest introduction in my ongoing series of “meet the EC” features Gabrielle Smith, our Interim Vice President for Diversity and International Relations. When our previous VP, Kelley Haynes-Mendez, took a full-time position at APA this past spring, Gabrielle applied to take on the role, and we have been lucky to have someone with her talents and experience shepherding STP’s work in diversity, equity, inclusion, and internationalization. Gabrielle had been serving on (and continues to serve on) the 2021 presidential task force on diversity, equity, inclusion, and internationalization, so was already involved in this important work for STP. We look forward to her continued contributions in the years to come! As always, check out STP’s Get Involved page to see where you might fit within our organization!
I serve as The Interim Vice President for Diversity and International Relations. The Vice President for Diversity and International Relations is responsible for collaborating and consulting with the other four VPs, the Chairs of the Diversity Committee and the International Relations Committee, the Task Force on the Integration of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion and International Initiatives across STP, and other Executive Committee members to ensure that diversity, equity, inclusion, and international relations are considered in all Society’s activities. The Vice President oversees and works closely with the chairs of the Diversity Committee, International Relations Committee, the Task Force on the Integration of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion and International Initiatives across STP, and International Twitter Poster Conference Committee to advance diversity and international issues within STP. Additionally, I consult with Presidential task forces and our journal editor to address diversity, equity, and inclusion issues. As an interim VP, I am also charged with maintaining the position, continuing the work of the previous VP, and ensuring that the incoming VP has a solid base to start her term. Presently, I am continuing the work of Kelley Haynes-Mendez in coordinating an organizational self-assessment for diversity, equity, and inclusion. I am also consulting with the current Presidential task force on diversity, equity, and inclusion alongside chairs and members of the Diversity and International Relations committees. I hope to spend the remainder of my time in the VP role engaging communities that have traditionally not been as visible at STP, set the foundation for the next VP to conduct a DEI related needs assessment, and enhance access to DEI related resources.
As someone who is still reasonably new to STP, I value the community feel of STP. I appreciate how quickly I was welcomed into the fold and put to work! The sense of community that exists in STP is present because when you enter the space you are not a spectator for long! STP is a community, and your mere presence will ensure that you will get integrated into the fabric of the community at some level. My process of becoming involved with the organization has been an interesting whirlwind, and I can attest to the meaningfulness of the extra layer of engagement with STP. I fell into STP during the virtual ACT conference of 2020. Many of my graduate school colleagues from the University of Alabama (ROLL TIDE!) always raved about STP and told me to join. I finally decided to listen, and in 2020 I decided to submit a presentation on faculty identity and teaching. I titled the presentation Teaching While Black, and it was well-received, and I thought, “Great. That was fun!”, not expecting anything beyond that talk. Afterward, so many people contacted me about the presentation. Many presentation attendees directed me to seek a position with the Task Force on the Integration of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, and International Initiatives across STP to address the issues explored in my talk. I was also contacted to write an essay related to my STP talk for the STP E-xcellence in Teaching blog (it should be live sometime in October). I was enjoying my taskforce position and working diligently with the committee on several meaningful initiatives when Kelley Hayes-Mendez announced that she was transitioning to a role at APA. I was then contacted as a possible candidate to serve as interim VP of Diversity and International Relations, and the rest, as they say, is history. STP has many opportunities for leadership and meaningful engagement, and it is easy to connect and get involved with the organization in a meaningful way. Once my interim term ends, I am sure that I will stay involved with the STP community for years to come.
Fernández-Suárez, I., García-González, M. A., Torrano, F., & García-González, G. (2021). Study of the prevalence of burnout in university professors in the period 2005–2020. Education Research International, 2021, Article ID 7810659. https://doi.org/10.1155/2021/7810659
Mheidly, N., Fares, M. Y., & Fares, J. (2020). Coping with stress and burnout associated with telecommunication and online learning. Frontiers in Public Health, 8, 672. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpubh.2020.574969
Molero Jurado, M. D. M., Pérez-Fuentes, M. D. C., Atria, L., Oropesa Ruiz, N. F., & Gázquez Linares, J. J. (2019). Burnout, perceived efficacy, and job satisfaction: Perception of the educational context in high school teachers. BioMed Research International, 2019, Article ID 1021408. https://doi.org/10.1155/2019/1021408
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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
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.
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
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.
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.
STP’s Executive Committee continues to explore ways to make our organization more inclusive and access to our resources more equitable. Some changes to our processes are opening up new ways to expand our reach. Thanks to Executive Director, Tom Pusateri, psychology educators can now join or renew their memberships in STP directly on our website. Members may continue to join or renew through the American Psychological Association or the Association for Psychological Science, but now you will have a third way to join us!
As we use the STP website as a membership portal, we gain more control over the process. For example, we will be able to gather more data about our members. And, as an added benefit to the organization and for the planet, those who join directly via STP’s website will be able to opt in to receive a hardcopy of our journal, Teaching of Psychology, by mail, but the default will now be electronic only. Of course, if you prefer the print journal, please do make that choice. But we fully admit to taking advantage of a behavioral nudge (Carlsson et al., 2021) to make the environmentally friendlier decision the easier one!
Perhaps most importantly is a new policy aimed at expanding access to STP and its resources. Beginning soon, STP will use the World Bank classification of countries by income to determine dues. For those living or working in high-income countries, including the U.S., Canada, many European countries, and Australia, annual dues will remain at $25; however, annual dues will now be $5 for those living or working in all other countries. For those who are eligible and who choose the lower dues, access to our journal will be electronic only. While acknowledging that $5 is still prohibitive for some and that lower dues doesn’t solve inequities related to lack of access to the internet, we hope that this new initiative will expand access to STP and to our resources, including grants and awards.
These new developments in access to resources lead to the latest in my ongoing series of introductions of the Vice Presidents of STP. Meet Bill Altman, our VP for Resources! As you’ll see from his description of his position, Bill oversees a wide-ranging portfolio of STP resources. Bill and his team make it look easy, but there’s a ton of behind-the-scenes work in the development of the STP resources on which many of you rely. Here, Bill discusses his role within STP, the opportunities within his area, and why he so values her involvement in STP. As always, check out STP’s Get Involved page to see where you might fit within our organization!
This is going to sound a bit circular, but I guess that’s the nature of the beast. As STP’s Vice President for Resources, I’m responsible for overseeing the development, maintenance, and functioning of our resources and some of our support services. But it’s important to note that I have the honor and pleasure of working with dedicated and wonderful colleagues who are in charge of each of these areas. Without them, very little would actually get done. So, my real function is to serve them in whatever ways they require. Sometimes that means advocating for resources; occasionally it’s helping to solve technical problems; and in other circumstances it may mean brainstorming about new programs, resources, or ways to serve our members.
Perhaps the most obvious area in my portfolio, though totally in the background, is STP’s online presence. That includes pretty much everything with which our membership can interact (except each other, of course–so I hope I’ll see you all at ACT in October). One very large area is publications, which includes the journal Teaching of Psychology, STP E-Books, STP Book Notes, and the E-xcellence in Teaching essays. Another big area deals with teaching resources, including our Best Practices in Teaching and Learning resources, Project Syllabus, and three very different wikis: Today in the History of Psychology, Psychology in Communities, and the Teaching of Psychology Idea eXchange (ToPIX). I also oversee the Professional Development Mentoring Program and SoTL Workshop, which are both very popular with our members (incidentally, I’ve served as a mentor for several years, and encourage you all to join either as mentors or mentees). And not to be forgotten is our extremely valuable Department Consulting Service, which can provide help for any psychology department looking at overall evaluation, curriculum planning, faculty development, or any of a host of other things.
And of course, if you have ideas for new resources, or for helping to make our resources better, I’d love to hear from you!
The people and our sense of community. I am, and have long been a member of several other professional organizations, all of which provide great resources and terrific colleagues. But when I first joined STP, it was like finding my way home. It’s one of the few places where I can find a group of people who share my passion for teaching, as well as for doing and appreciating research on teaching and learning. More than that, it’s a group of colleagues that are as welcoming and kind to new members as to those who’ve been involved for years.
Carlsson, F., Gravert, C., Johansson-Stenman, O., & Kurz, V. (2021). The use of green nudges as an environmental policy instrument. Review of Environmental Economics and Policy, 15(2). https://doi.org/10.1086/715524
Celebrating Excellence in Psychology Learning and Teaching: Kelley Haynes-Mendez and Birgit Spinath
In my years as a psychology educator, I have been inspired by so many talented and imaginative colleagues. Organizations like STP, as well as our sister organizations like the European Society for Psychology Learning and Teaching (ESPLAT), attract members who exhibit dedication to their students and their craft, a willingness to follow the evidence, a penchant for creativity and innovation, and a deep generosity in sharing their work with their colleagues and the discipline. It is my privilege, as STP President, to honor two such inspirational colleagues with Presidential Citations. These prestigious awards are intended to recognize “individuals who have made extraordinary life-time contributions to the Society and/or to the teaching of psychology.” I am pleased to announce that Drs. Kelley Haynes-Mendez and Birgit Spinath will join an illustrious list of Presidential Citation honorees dating back to the award’s 2004 inception.
Kelley D. Haynes-Mendez, Psy.D., is the Director of the Ethnicity, Race, and Cultural Affairs Portfolio at the American Psychological Association. Kelley earned her Psy.D. in clinical psychology from the California School of Professional Psychology (USA). She is a licensed psychologist in Texas and was previously an associate professor at the Chicago School of Professional Psychology. Kelley also earned a Diploma in Social Innovation with the United Nations-mandated University for Peace (UPEACE) in Costa Rica. Kelley’s scholarship focuses on multiculturalism, as well as the teaching of global citizenship in higher education.
Within STP, Kelley has been an innovative and forward-thinking leader, serving most recently as the Vice President for Diversity and International Relations. Prior to holding that position, Kelley served as Chair of the International Relations Committee. She also previously served on STP’s Diversity Committee. Kelley’s leadership within STP has been consequential for the organization, and her work has led to lasting and ongoing change, particularly with respect to diversity, equity, inclusion, and internationalization. Among her many contributions, Kelley was central to the development of STP’s Statement on Addressing Systemic Racism and Inequity; she initiated an organizational DEI assessment process; she championed partnerships with UPEACE, ESPLAT, and other international organizations; and she has published and presented related to DEI and internationalization within psychology learning and teaching organizations, including STP. Her contributions to STP will reverberate beyond her leadership within the organization, and I have no doubt she will continue to contribute to psychology learning and teaching in her new role at APA.
Prof. Dr. Birgit Spinath is a professor of Educational Psychology at Heidelberg University (Germany). She earned her Dr. phil. at the University of Bielefeld, and studies learning and teaching at multiple levels, including in higher education; motivation as a prerequisite for and an outcome of education; and teacher education and self-regulation. Birgit has published widely in top international journals and has served as an Associate Editor at several international journals as well. She is a past president of the German Psychological Society and the current Editor-in-Chief of the international journal, Psychology Learning and Teaching (PLAT).
Birgit is a true international leader in psychology learning and teaching, forging connections among people and organizations across borders. For example, as editor of PLAT, Birgit has recruited an international roster of associate editors and editorial board members representing eight countries and three continents. As a member of the Executive Committee of the European Society for Psychology Learning and Teaching (ESPLAT), Birgit has been influential in fostering connections with other psychology learning and teaching organizations, including STP. Beyond developing connections, Birgit has published in our journal (Teaching of Psychology) and presented at our conference (the Annual Conference on Teaching) in 2014 as STP’s first international keynote speaker. Birgit readily extends and accepts invitations for collaborations with psychology educators around the world. STP in particular, and psychology learning and teaching more generally, have benefited from her expansive and generous leadership. The impact of her work will endure through the alliances that she has created and the networks that she will continue to develop.
Annual Conference on Teaching
Typically, Presidential Citations are bestowed on the honorees at the Annual Conference on Teaching (ACT) or another psychology teaching conference. I am honored to present Kelley with her citation in person during the upcoming ACT in Louisville, KY, from October 14-16, and I look forward to presenting Birgit with her citation in person when international travel has returned to some semblance of normality. Congratulations to these inspiring leaders in our field!
As many of us enter a break from teaching, conferences beckon – with new and old friends, cutting-edge research, and exciting pedagogical ideas. Since widespread lockdowns in March of 2020, some conferences were canceled but many others were held virtually for the first time ever. Some live conferences are returning, such as STP’s Annual Conference on Teaching (ACT) in October which will have virtual components, but also live ones in Louisville, KY! But many conferences in upcoming months remain fully virtual. And many of us will experience the perhaps-unexpected benefits of remotely learning from and connecting with each other!
First, it’s exciting that geography need not constrain our conference-going. Depending on where you live, you may have to log on at odd hours to attend the fully virtual European Society for Psychology Learning and Teaching conference (ESPLAT) in early September, the fully virtual Australian Psychology Learning and Teaching conference (AusPLAT) conference in mid-September, or the virtual parts of the ACT in October. I plan to attend all three (and there will be panel discussions among leaders from all three organizations at all three conferences), but I could not possibly travel to Australia, Germany, and then Louisville over the course of a month and a half – unless someone wants to loan me their private jet. I’ll be at ACT in Louisville for sure, but am grateful for the virtual option for the others!
Or consider the STP-sponsored Global Citizenship Education professional development workshop series for educators this July, conducted by the Center for Executive Education at the University for Peace (UPEACE), established by the General Assembly of the United Nations. I participated in last year’s virtual workshop series, and found it exhilarating to engage with educators from around the world as I workshopped one of my courses to integrate the lessons from the session leaders and my colleagues. The series is typically held in Costa Rica, so jump at this opportunity to join in from your home! [I should add that the reduction in conference travel is more environmentally friendly, too (Price, 2020).]
Conference organizers and the folks who design online conference platforms have learned so many lessons from their experiences over the past year, and virtual conferences are increasingly engaging. [For more info, read the helpful review of best practices for online conferences by a Canadian and UK team headed by Luc Rubinger (2020).] Perhaps because of these innovations, there’s evidence that attendees can forge new social connections virtually (Dunn et al., 2021). In recent months, I’ve enjoyed connections with new colleagues in various online social settings, the opportunity to watch talks after the conference on my own time, and even the fun of bantering in the chat with audience members during my own prerecorded talk.
I’ve also witnessed increasing accessibility with subtitles and transcripts of talks or live sign language translation. And I’ve heard about folks with hearing impairments using their own specialized headphones. In line with this, a review of best practices for online conferences recommended designating an Accessibility Chair and emphasized the importance of “auditory, visual, economic and technological accessibility” (Rubinger et al., 2020). I’ve also witnessed increasing diversity at some conferences because speakers can present regardless of geographical location, childcare or other duties, or travel funds. Indeed, one article noted that virtual meetings can offer “[a] high-quality conference experience that is often more egalitarian, equitable, and diverse than inperson [sic] conferences” (Price, 2020).
I’m hopeful that these innovations will lead to similar changes when in-person conferences resume. Can we have more creative social events that foster new collaborations? Can we increase accessibility in inventive ways? Can we keep some virtual elements to allow people more flexibility in presenting and attending talks? Can we increase diversity, equity, inclusion, and a sense of belonging through these measures?
These questions lead to the latest in my ongoing series of introductions of the Vice Presidents of STP. Meet Angela Legg, our VP for Programming! The resourceful work of Angela and her dedicated team is addressing many of these questions as we look to make ACT and our other programming more inclusive and engaging in a range of ways. Here, Angela discusses her role within STP, the opportunities within her area, and why she so values her involvement in STP. As always, check out STP’s Get Involved page to see where you might fit within our organization!
There’s a common narrative when you start asking people why they became involved with STP – many will tell you it was because they had a positive experience at one of the many conferences, preconferences, or teaching institutes organized by STP! I’m one of those people who “found my community” of like-minded teacher-scholars at an STP conference and now I am honored to be the VP of Programming, a position that facilitates continued excellence in teaching programming. The Programming division in STP currently houses nine conference directors and programming chairs who work tirelessly year-round to plan numerous conferences and programming events. Programming is unique in that we have our flagship, standalone conference – the Annual Conference on Teaching (ACT) – but we also collaborate with other organizations such as the Society for Personality and Social Psychology and the Society for Research on Child Development to offer top notch teaching programming at discipline-specific conferences. Our programming directors also plan STP content for our largest psychology conferences such as the American Psychological Association and the Association for Psychological Sciences and also support regional conferences across the US and internationally to promote the very best in teaching of psychology programming.
The VP of Programming supports the existing teaching programming outlets while also working to develop new programming partnerships across other psychology organizations. The position also assists with the needs of the directors within the ever-changing landscape of conference planning. During the pandemic, our directors went above and beyond to quickly pivot into the world of virtual conferencing. Many of them have been programming in-person conferences for years but in 2020 they were suddenly challenged with the task of reimagining teaching programming in a virtual format. For anyone who attended the 2020 Virtual ACT, APA, and other conferences, you may have seen the incredible work of STP’s programming division. If 2020 taught us anything, STP’s programming can extend far beyond just traditional, in-person mediums and I look forward to seeing the future programming innovations yet to come in our amazing society.
The members! My first exposure to STP was during grad school in 2008 when I first attended the Best Practices conference (now the Annual Conference for Teaching) in Atlanta, GA. Even as a newcomer to the conference, I immediately felt included in the community and loved the genuine passion so many attendees had for honing their teaching craft. What I learned about STP is that there are always opportunities for people to get involved, become connected, meet new people, and learn new teaching tricks.
Dunn, E., Lok, I., & Zhao, J. (2021). Can virtual conferences promote social connection? https://psyarxiv.com/37n6u/
Price, M. (2020). Scientists discover upsides of virtual meetings. Science, 368(6490), 457-458. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.368.6490.457
Rubinger, L., Gazendam, A., Ekhtiari, S., Nucci, N., Payne, A., Johal, H., Khanduja, V., & Bhandari, M. (2020). Maximizing virtual meetings and conferences: A review of best practices. International Orthopaedics, 44, 1461-1466. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00264-020-04615-9
Endings, Beginnings, Misinformation, and Membership
As we near final exams and the arrival of vaccines in many countries (although not nearly enough!), we might imagine an end – to teaching via Zoom, to social isolation, and hopefully to the terrible suffering and loss experienced by so many. We might imagine new beginnings – from in-person classes to reunions with loved ones.
But multiple challenges remain, including one that we, as psychology instructors, can help overcome. Rampant misinformation has been responsible, in part, for the spread of the virus and for vaccine hesitancy (e.g., Hotez et al., 2021; Su, 2021). The resurgence of the virus in so many places in the world – most notably India and Brazil – has resulted in part from misinformation (e.g., Al-Zaman, 2021). We can work with our students at all levels – from secondary through graduate – to emphasize critical thinking and scientific literacy. And we can give students experience explicitly challenging misinformation (i.e., unintentional) and disinformation (i.e., purposeful). Here’s a great lesson plan related to that.
One study, for example, found that people who were able to detect disinformation and were higher in health literacy were more likely to get vaccinated against COVID-19 (Montagni et al. 2021). The authors define health literacy as “the extent to which people can access, understand, appraise and apply health-related information through all communication channels.” Replace “health-related” with “psychology-related” and this is what we do! In my own writing and teaching, I have increasingly focused on scientific literacy broadly. I find that students are engaged by the relevance of current examples, and, of course, many of these examples directly relate to psychology – for example, there is no evidence that crystals heal depression, that brain games reduce dementia, or that people learn better if lessons fit their “learning style.”
I have been steered toward great misinformation-related pedagogy and research by my STP colleagues, often on the STP Facebook page. (I particularly like checkology.org and firstdraftnews.org for classroom ideas and resources.) Hopefully, we’ll soon have these types of conversations in person at STP’s Annual Conference on Teaching (ACT), which will be both virtual and in person in Louisville, KY, in October – thanks to the great work of Lindsay Masland, our new Conference Director. And that is not fake news!
Finally, in my ongoing series of introductions of the Vice Presidents of STP, meet Meera Komarraju, our VP for Membership! The work of Meera and her team is essential to recruiting and supporting the members of STP who make us what we are as an organization – the members I turn to when I want to address misinformation in my classes, and much more. Below, Meera discusses her role within STP, the opportunities within her area, and why she so values her involvement in STP. As always, check out STP’s Get Involved page if you decide you would like to, well, get involved!
As Vice President of Membership, I interact with the following committees situated within this portfolio: STP Fellows, Early Career Psychologists, Graduate Student Teaching Association, Membership, Membership Communication and the This is how I teach Blog. Each of these committees works fairly independently and helps STP welcome new members, stay connected with continuing members, share important resources and provide opportunities for professional development. In particular, membership in STP offers a direct mechanism for getting networked with others who have an interest in the teaching of psychology. You can find mentors, peers, and gain knowledge that is passed along through informal conversations that is rarely taught in a classroom. This position gives you a chance to open doors for others seeking access to these resources.
My connection with STP goes back over a period of about twelve years. During this time, I have enjoyed a sense of belonging within a warm and welcoming community of colleagues. We share a passion for the Teaching of Psychology and this common interest as well as the friendship that has surrounded me represent my fondest professional experiences. STP is a society that welcomes teachers of psychology from a variety of backgrounds. These are psychology teachers in high schools, community colleges, or universities and could be tenure-track, adjunct, or graduate student instructors. Irrespective of backgrounds, the connecting link is our love of teaching. My interactions with my colleagues have been energizing and uplifting. So what I value the most is this bonding over the teaching of psychology!
Al-Zaman, M. S. (2021). COVID-19-related social media fake news in India. Journalism and Media, 2, 100–114. https://doi.org/10.3390/journalmedia2010007
Hotez, P., Batista, C., Ergonul, O., Figueroa, J. P., Gilbert, S., Gursel, M., ... & Bottazzi, M. E. (2021). Correcting COVID-19 vaccine misinformation: Lancet Commission on COVID-19 Vaccines and Therapeutics Task Force Members. EClinicalMedicine, 33. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.eclinm.2021.100780
Montagni, I., Ouazzani-Touhami, K., Mebarki, A., Texier, N., Schück, S., Tzourio, C., & CONFINS group (2021). Acceptance of a Covid-19 vaccine is associated with ability to detect fake news and health literacy. Journal of Public Health, fdab028. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1093/pubmed/fdab028
Su, Y. (2021). It doesn’t take a village to fall for misinformation: Social media use, discussion heterogeneity preference, worry of the virus, faith in scientists, and COVID-19-related misinformation beliefs. Telematics and Informatics, 58, 101547. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tele.2020.101547
During the pandemic, many of us have turned to our mentors for advice and support or sought out new mentors who could guide us through unexpected circumstances – such as a switch to remote teaching or a change in employment status. Other times mentors and mentees swapped roles, with the mentee sharing skills their mentor suddenly needs – whether creating video lectures for classes or practicing mindfulness medication for self care.
As I thought about this post over the past month, the theme of mentoring has been inescapable. First, as I continue to highlight members of the STP Executive Committee with the goal of increasing awareness of the many arenas in which STP operates, I learned that Keli Braitman, STP’s Vice President for Grants and Awards, credits a mentor for her involvement in STP. (You’ll read more about Keli and her VP role later in this post!) Then, on March 13, I was invited to attend a Zoom social hour of STP’s Early Career Psychology Committee and mentoring network. It was wonderful to hear about the relationships formed between mentors and mentees paired through STP’s Professional Development Mentoring Network, directed by Diane Finely. I also worked this month on a soon-to-be-launched podcast project with colleagues Yinka Akinsulure-Smith, Eric Landrum, and Asani Seawell. Our podcast, Beyond Teaching, is part of the STP-sponsored PsychSessions series, and will focus on non-classroom issues that psychology instructors face. It’s perhaps not surprising that the first topic we tackled was finding a mentor!
(Want to join STP’s Mentoring Network as a mentor or mentee next academic year? Apply through May 31 here. Director Diane Finley personally makes matches based on shared interests and experiences, and she encourages folks to apply. Diane hopes to increase diversity in the program, particularly among mentors! She asks you to be sure to check that your STP membership is up to date before applying.)
Finally, our featured VP, Keli Braitman, who holds all the answers for how you can get STP money! We are eager to recognize and support the amazing work of our members, and Keli works both tirelessly and enthusiastically to oversee the many committees that carefully review applications. I am so often amazed at the breadth and value of the work that our members do, and I’m grateful to Keli and the awards chairs and committees for highlighting these accomplishments.
What would you like STP members to know about your position? VP for Grants and Awards is arguably one of the best roles in STP – who doesn’t love giving grants and awards? Kidding aside, supporting the work of our members through awards recognizing excellence in teaching, mentorship of teachers, civic engagement, and promotion of work to expand diversity, equity and inclusion; through travel grants for early career psychologists, high school teachers, and for international travel; and grants for scholarship of teaching and learning, instructional resources, and partnerships across organizations, is incredibly gratifying.
The person in this role collaborates with chairs of 11 different grant and award committees, which is an enriching way to get to know others in STP. Another benefit is in learning more about the important work that our members are doing to support the mission of the Society. It is both humbling and gratifying to see the breadth and depth of these endeavors. In addition to overseeing the development, maintenance, and functioning of STP’s grants and awards programs, the VP for Grants and Awards considers new areas for recognition and support. Most recently I worked with the VP for Diversity and International Relations and the chair of the Diversity Committee to develop our latest award to recognize instructors who promote and prioritize the values of diversity, equity, and inclusion in their teaching and mentoring. Lastly, serving with other members of the Executive Committee is an excellent way to learn more about the various areas of STP, including programming, resources, membership, and international relations.
Just a year ago, most of us had no idea that in about a week, our lives would change in ways enormous and tiny. (I’m writing this on March 7.) My personal shut-down day was March 15, the first day that Seton Hall University, where I teach, went fully remote. My last non-take-out restaurant meal was a few days before that. I wish I had known! I had a veggie sausage at a local beer hall, which was delicious, but my mediocre cooking skills mean that I can grill the heck out of a Beyond Sausage at home. In retrospect, I would have opted for the spectacle of a sushi bar or a sizzling skillet of fajitas!
I won’t lie. It’s been hard, and I hit (and pushed through) my own personal pandemic wall in December. But I also recognize the enormous disparities in the ways in which the pandemic has affected us, with people like me – white, childfree, employed, working remotely – faring far better than others. Women, especially those with children, have disproportionately lost their jobs and disproportionately taken on increased childcare obligations, including monitoring online learning from home (Thibaut & van Wijngaarden, 2020). Young people who identify as LGBTQ have faced the difficulty of isolation from supportive communities and, in some cases, the challenges of moving back to intolerant family homes (Gonzales et al., 2020). People living in certain counties (e.g., rural vs. urban), states, and countries have suffered more than others, often because of socioeconomic status or governmental policies (e.g., Moreno et al., 2020). And our BIPOC friends, neighbors, and colleagues have faced particular difficulties, due in large part to the structural inequities, including overrepresentation in essential jobs and decreased access to healthcare, that have only been exacerbated during the pandemic (Loeb et al., 2020).
Many parts of the world are also experiencing rising rates of xenophobia and anti-Asian racism (Misra et al., 2020). As an instructor, I start each class by sharing articles that I, or the students in the class, have found that relate to topics in the course. I recently flagged a New York Times article titled “What This Anti-Asian Violence Reveals About America” to share with my students. Not long after, I heard from Molly Metz, a member of STP’s Early Career Committee and until recently the head moderator of STP’s Facebook page. She shared a powerful Twitter thread by psychology professor Jin X. Goh who asked “has your university/ department/ organization said anything about the wave of violence against Asians and Asian Americans?” And anti-Asian racism isn’t limited to the United States; it affects many of our STP members around the globe.
Molly’s message and Goh’s tweets are important reminders of the work that STP needs to keep doing. I want to again call attention to STP’s Statement on Addressing Systemic Racism and Inequity in STP and encourage all of us to keep talking about racism and antiracism – with each other and with our students. And to keep finding ways to incorporate these topics into our classes both to support our Asian, Black, and other BIPOC students and to educate all students. I also want to encourage us to support and speak out on behalf of our Asian colleagues and students. (There are many helpful resources related to anti-Asian racism, including this compilation from Northwestern University and more general resources related to racial trauma from STP.)
As I indicated in my last post, one of my goals for this platform is to introduce STP members to the sprawling organizational structure of the organization in the hopes of helping anyone who is interested to find your niche within our organization. STP has five Vice Presidents, so starting with this post, I’ll introduce you to each of them. Appropriately, given the topic of this post, I’m starting with the Vice President for Diversity and International Relations, Kelley Haynes-Mendez. Kelley was an essential part of the development of the statement and resources on racial trauma I describe above, and has also spearheaded an organizational initiative to assess STP’s current status on diversity, equity, and inclusion. Below, she discusses her role within STP, the opportunities within her area, and why she so values her involvement in STP.
Kelley particularly wants to highlight STP’s Get Involved page, and she encourages STP members who are BIPOC or who represent marginalized and underrepresented communities to join us! Please do!
The Vice President for Diversity and International Relations is responsible for collaborating and consulting with the other four VPs, the Chairs of the Diversity Committee and the International Relations Committee, and other Executive Committee members to ensure that diversity and international issues are infused in all Society’s activities. The Vice President oversees and works closely with the chairs of the Diversity Committee, International Relations Committee, and International Twitter Poster Conference Committee in order to advance diversity and international issues within STP. Additionally, I consult with Presidential task forces and our journal editor in order to address diversity, equity, and inclusion issues. Presently, I am helping to coordinate an organizational self-assessment for diversity, equity, and inclusion. I am also consulting with the current Presidential task force on diversity, equity, and inclusion alongside chairs and members of both the Diversity and International Relations committees.
I found a home in STP after presenting at its Best Practices conference for teaching diversity. After that conference I was invited to be member of the Diversity Committee. After serving there for several years I became a liaison between the Diversity and International Relations Committees and later chair of the International Relations Committee. While serving as chair of the International Relations Committee I was also invited to be a part of a Presidential Task Force on internationalization. There are a number of opportunities to plug in and get involved within STP. Having so many opportunities available usually means that anyone who is interested can find a good fit. This is what I value most about STP – the opportunity to get involved with various committees, task forces, and other projects and initiatives.
Gonzales, G., de Mola, E. L., Gavulic, K. A., McKay, T., & Purcell, C. (2020). Mental health needs among lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender college students during the COVID-19 pandemic, Journal of Adolescent Health, 67(5), 645-648. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jadohealth.2020.08.006
Loeb, T. B., Ebor, M. T., Smith, A. M., Chin, D., Novacek, D. M., Hampton-Anderson, J. N., Norwood-Scott, E., Hamilton, A. B., Brown, A. F., & Wyatt, G. E. (2020). How mental health professionals can address disparities in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. Traumatology. https://doi-org.jpllnet.sfsu.edu/10.1037/trm0000292
Misra, S., Le, P. D., Goldmann, E., & Yang, L. H. (2020). Psychological impact of anti-Asian stigma due to the COVID-19 pandemic: A call for research, practice, and policy responses. Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy, 12(5), 461-464. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/tra0000821
Moreno, C., Wyles, T., Galderisi, S., Nordentoft, M., Crossley, N., Jones, N. Cannon, M., Correll, C. U., Byrne, L., Carr, S. Chen, E. Y. H., Gorwood, P., Johnson, S., Kärkkäinen, H., Krystal, J. H., Lee, J., Lieberman, J., López-Jaramillo, C., Männikkö, M., … Arango, C. (2020). How mental health care should change as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Lancet, 7(9), 813-824. https://doi.org/10.1016/S2215-0366(20)30307-2
Thibaut, F., & van WIjngaarden-Cremers, P. J. M. (2020). Women’s mental health in the time of COVID-19 pandemic. Frontiers in Global Women’s Health, 1. https://doi.org/10.3389/fgwh.2020.588372