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

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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.

  • 08 Nov 2022 12:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Transformational or Transactional: Different Views of the World

    “Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.” – Arthur Ashe

    Early in my career, I bumped into one of my former graduate school professors and we did the “What are you doing now?” dance. Now to be quite honest, I remember very little of the conversation. However, I clearly recall that he asked if I was a member of APA or a Division.  As I recall I somewhat smirked and remarked, “APA is for clinicians—I’m not a clinician. What is the point of joining? What would APA ever do for me?”  I will admit—not my best moment.  Fortunately, my former professor was quite kind and endeavored to teach me again. I do not recall all that he said but he mentioned the Education Directorate, the importance of APA in lobbying efforts, resource development within Divisions, and APA’s role in advocacy on legal issues, including influence of the Federal Government and Supreme Court. 

    What I have come to realize over the years is that my cultural upbringing clearly shaped my view of the world as transactional.  Essentially, with this view, we determine the worth of our relationships with others, organizations, and communities based on elements of exchange.  With this view, I value my job in large measure because I am paid. I evaluate organizations I join based on what services/resources that they provide to me. I appreciate friends based on what emotional, financial, or other support that they may offer. With this worldview, life is about transactions with the underlying idea of “What is in it for me or my family?”

    Today, I see the world as more interconnected and inclusive of persons and peoples around the globe, animal life, and the planet. I value human rights and social justice as fundamental elements of diversity, equity, and inclusion.  We are all valuable and interdependent. Within this context, I think I take a much more transformational view of the world—how can I make a difference in the world and how can I inspire others? Essentially, it is the same contrast provided by President John F. Kennedy in his inaugural address, when he asked, “Ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country.”

    So how does all of this relate to the Society for the Teaching of Psychology (STP)?  

    I think all too often, many of us think about our connections with our professional organizations as a transaction.  I pay my dues and here is what I get in return.  And “yes,” with STP you do get a lot, such as access to our excellent journal, Teaching of Psychology.  However, STP also offers all sorts of resources and opportunities for “free.” Anyone—regardless of membership status—can access almost all of the STP resources (e.g., eBooks, syllabi, teaching resources) and all are welcome to join our listserv and social media pages.  We want to be a welcoming and open community of psychology teachers, at all levels.

    Additionally, the STP Executive Committee is committed to its Mission Statement and, as such, we are intentional in our decisions. The Mission Statement reads:

    The Society for the Teaching of Psychology promotes excellence in the teaching and learning of psychology. The Society provides resources and services, access to a global collaborative community, and opportunities for professional development. It endeavors to promote equity and social justice for teachers and students of psychology with marginalized, racially minoritized, and intersecting identities. The Society also strives to advance the scholarship of teaching and learning; advocate for the needs of teachers of psychology; promote diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives within the teaching and learning of psychology; foster partnerships across academic settings; and increase recognition of the value of the teaching profession.

    The Mission Statement is transformational in its goals and ideals.  We can see evidence of that vision, as well as our intentionality in recent decisions grounded in the ideals of diversity, equity, and inclusion (e.g., creation of the new affinity groups; reduced dues for teachers living in low income countries as defined by the World Bank; leadership diversity training).  STP endeavors not just to have a Mission Statement but to also to live that mission.

    Throughout this past year, I have often referenced, what STP can do for you in terms of programming or resources.  Now I want to open the door for you to become involved.  We need your voices and efforts as part of STP in our endeavors aimed at “excellence in the teaching and learning of psychology.”  And there are so many opportunities for involvement.  For example:

    The gift of your knowledge: If you look back at recent issues of STPNews, you will find a range of Calls for Chapters, Papers, Submissions, Grants, and more.  You can submit your research and articles to Teaching of Psychologyor share your ideas through the E-xellence in Teachingblog. Explore the STP webpage for other opportunities to contribute to the teaching of psychology.

    Involvement: You do not need to wait for someone to reach out to you to become involved in STP’s range of leadership positions, committees, task forces, and work groups. Check out Get Involved in STP! and explore all of the different opportunities where you can share your expertise and enthusiasm. STP is an amazing community of educators and you are welcome to become involved.  Make sure you check out STP’s President-Elect Diane Finley’s 2023 Task Forces: Community College Involvement with STP Taskforce and HBCU/MSI/TCU Involvement with STP Taskforce. These are important opportunities where you can make a difference.

    Membership: Many of us are juggling teaching, family, community engagement, and a host of other responsibilities.  You may not be at a point in your life to add one more commitment to your professional life.  Regardless, your membership in STP is contributes significantly to the work of the Society. Your dues open doors for other teachers and expand the ability of STP to offer grants, awards, expanded programming. In addition to membership, your votes within STP as well as APA, if you are also an APA member, are essential.  For example, the APA apportionment and bylaws ballot would have arrived in your email inbox, if you are an APA member.  This ballot is really important!  We encourage APA members to cast all or some of their 10 allotted apportionment votes for Division 2 and to vote “yes” on all three bylaws amendments.  Indeed, always remember that seemingly small actions are a key contribution. 

    There are so many ways that you can give back, make a difference, or engage in transformational efforts within STP.   If you have new ideas, reach out.  We are always looking for ways to inform and transform the profession.  If nothing else, please remember that all are welcome in STP! We value and need your voice! 

    “To make a difference is not a matter of accident, a matter of casual occurrence of the tides. People choose to make a difference.” ― Maya Angelou
  • 06 Oct 2022 12:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Time to ACT

    There cannot be a stressful crisis next week. My schedule is already full.” Henry Kissinger

    For a while, there was a meme circulating that had a heading, such as “Teacher,” and then some picture boxes labeled, “What society thinks I do,” “What my friends think I do,” “What I think I do,” and other questions until the last box highlighted “What I really do.” Of course, that last box has little resemblance to the previous characterizations. Now I am sure we could have a long discussion relating this meme to psychological concepts such as attribution, stereotypes, self-serving bias, and more. However, I am not going to engage in such an analysis. Rather, I want to talk about this meme in the context of the STP Annual Conference on Teaching.  

    Now if you do a quick search for the meme with “Teacher” as the heading, you will find a great deal of similarity between options to share on your Facebook page. Apparently, what society thinks that we do is largely hang out on the beach relaxing in a hammock or on lounge chairs—umbrella adorned adult beverage is optional. Yes, you may find many psychology teachers doing exactly that bliss while attending the National Institute on the Teaching of Psychology (NITOP) in January. Generally, however, the closest most of us get to the beach is our screensaver. In response to the prompt, “What I think I do,” you will find an array of images from movies with teachers inspiring minds and transforming the world. And yes, that is what I like to think that I do. Regardless, the last box entitled, “What I really do” contains a host of disturbing images: teachers passed out from overwork, desks lost in a sea of paper, and images of weary human beings exhibiting stress and crying.  

    One specific take on the teacher meme takes a more humorous approach to the “What I really do” characterization. In that box, you will find the “balancing act” from the Cat in the Hat. The famous cat dances precariously atop a ball while balancing a rake, umbrella, books, tea cup, cake, tray with milk jug and cup, fishbowl, fan, model ship, and a tiny toy figurine. Nonetheless, that famous Cat adorned in a red and white Hat is still quite joyous. Indeed, I think this image is a fairly good representation of all that we do as we juggle our responsibilities. So, what are those responsibilities and how can STP and the Annual Conference on Teachinghelp? Let’s start with a look at all that we juggle while dancing atop a moving ball, in no particular order.  

    Service: We engage in professional service to our schools, the profession, and our communities. This service can take many forms such as assessment, faculty committees, student event coordination, or coaching the volleyball team. The number of opportunities for service is seemingly endless. Without teachers engaged in service, many of our schools would cease to effectively function. Such work is largely unpaid but a key component of our daily work lives.  

    Professional development: Professional development is an umbrella term that ranges from research, publication, and presentations to improving our own skills related to teaching and the discipline. The value placed on professional development may vary by institution but without involvement in the discipline of psychology and the practice of teaching, we would stagnate as educators.  

    Advising: Advising often falls under the radar but our ability to mentor our students is essential. Most of us engage in academic advising, career planning, letter of recommendation writing, answering student emails, and a host of other tasks on a daily basis to meet the needs of our students. We may also engage in crisis referral and support for our students as they struggle with the challenges of life.  

    Teaching: Teaching also takes many forms from being in the classroom to grading to developing curricular materials. As we all know, teaching is most visible in the classroom but we build that brief time in the classroom on a foundation of continuing education and study:

    • Across the range of psychological science;
    • Related to best practices in all aspects of teaching such as assessment or methods of teaching specific courses;
    • Regarding the latest research related to the scholarship of teaching and learning (SOTL);
    • Concerning new course development based on programmatic needs and the evolution of the field;
    • To facilitate integration of the latest materials and practices related to equity, diversity, inclusion, and liberation into our courses, curriculum, and programs.  

    Is it any wonder that the meme portrays “What I really do” as an overwhelming juggling of tasks and responsibilities? Of course, as you look at the list above, you probably thought to yourself, “But she forgot to include . . .” Teachers are some of the hardest working people that I know.  

    So how can STP help lighten the load? Certainly, STP is here to assist with a host of resources and I have mentioned these on several occasions. So, go explore the STP webpage and all that it has to offer. If you teach high school or Intro Psych, check out the TOPSS webpage. Certainly, STP resources, our journal, Teaching of Psychology, and our vibrant social media are all available at a moments notice. Lots of good stuff!  

    Regardless, the point of my comments today is to give a shout-out to the STP Annual Conference on Teaching or ACT. It truly is a one-stop-shop for the best in learning about all aspects of our work experience. This month, you can attend ACT either in person or virtually. STP has designed the programming to address the broad areas described above such as professional development, SOTL, best practices, and equity, diversity, and liberation. Explore the schedule to see what fits your interests. In addition to the concurrent sessions (which are not available virtually), there are several keynote addresses, award sessions, participant idea exchanges, poster sessions, and more! And should you be tired of juggling while tap dancing on a ball? There is a session on academic burnout as well as a “game night” for a bit of fun.  

    Of course, I would be remiss if I did not mention that there is a special Early Career Psychologists Committee Speed Mentoring! As described in the schedule:

    Join the Early Career Psychologist (ECP) Committee as we host an event to bring together seasoned and new teachers of psychology. This session will allow you to meet with several mentors for a few minutes each to pick their brains and receive candid answers to your most pressing career questions. This event is geared towards both ECPs and graduate students, but all are welcome to step into the mentee role for this informal but structured mentoring event. Note that pre-registration required. Sign up today!  

    One of the advantages of a conference as opposed to resources is that you have the opportunity to socialize, network, commiserate, and we can learn from each other.  

    So please check out STP’s Annual Conference on Teaching. It is an excellent place not only to advance your work as a teacher but also to reinvigorate your spirit. Let us make that box labeled “What I really do” look a bit more like that “What I think I do.” STP can help you juggle less and teach/inspire more.  

    Thanks to Dr. Lindsay Masland, Director of the Annual Conference on Teaching, for coordinating all of the events and programming! She has put together an amazing program!! Of course, as with any conference this size, many individuals contributed to what will be an exciting program both in-person and virtually. Thanks to all involved in making ACT a success!

  • 08 Sep 2022 12:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    When you see something that is not right, not fair, not just, you have to speak up. You have to say something; you have to do something. -John Lewis

    Early in my career, I remember being told that as teachers, we should never use the classroom for advocacy. Rather, as an educator, my responsibility is to teach my students the fundamentals of our science but not to stray from “the research.” I often felt as if I was in an episode of Dragnet, hearing Sgt. Joe Friday utter, “Just the facts, Ma’am” (For those of you unfamiliar with that 1950s drama, it is still in reruns). Similarly, I heard that advocacy is antithetical to the basic assumptions underlying research and professional scholarship. Science should be about a search for truth as opposed to confirming our particular advocacy beliefs—too political. Today, we hear a lot in the press or on social media about the dangers of teachers pushing “agendas” on students, whether it is in the form of “critical race theory” or LGBTQ+ rights.  Essentially, we are being told to “stay in our lane.”

    Well, today I want to say that education is at its core about advocacy in many forms and we should embrace that role.  Note that I am not arguing against our science—we should teach the fundamentals of psychology and we should engage in quality research and professional scholarship. In addition, within that context, we can use our science and our skills as educators to advocate for our students, advocate for our science, and advocate for social justice based on psychological knowledge.  Moreover, we can teach our students to be advocates for themselves, their friends and families, and their communities.

    Part of the challenge of advocacy is that the word has many different definitions. Just a quick Google search garnered a host of definitions:

    • Advocacy is defined as any action that speaks in favor of, recommends, argues for a cause, supports or defends, or pleads on behalf of others (Alliance for Justice).
    • Advocacy is the act or process of supporting a cause or proposal (Merriam-Webster).
    • Advocacy means getting support from another person to help you express your views and wishes, and help you stand up for your rights (Mind.Org.UK).
    • Advocacy is an activity by an individual or group that aims to influence decisions within political, economic, and social institutions (
    • Advocacy means taking action to create change (

    And here are two definitions, which speak particularly to me:

    What I like about these two definitions is the focus on partnership and learning. First, advocacy occurs in relationship, dialogue, and actions of individuals working together towards change. Second, advocacy cannot exist without a process of educating others—individuals, groups, and communities. We teach and learn to improve not only our lives and the lives of our students but also to facilitate the development of more effective global citizenship grounded in psychological science.

    To engage in advocacy, one must be knowledgeable, know their goals, have a plan, be committed to action, and then exhibit a high degree of persistence.  Certainly, that sounds a lot like teaching! So in what arenas, do we as teachers engage in advocacy?

    Advocacy for our students.  All of us have advocated for our students at one time or another.  We often step in to advocate as they struggle to maneuver the labyrinth of high school, college, or university policies and procedures related to financial aid, registration, or other stumbling blocks.  When we have students with disabilities, we may advocate for services to insure that the student has equal and equitable access to needed services, as well as learning. We advocate for students when we write letters of recommendation, opening doors to future opportunities. And many schools operate food banks, host professional clothing drives, maintain emergency housing funds, offer scholarships, and a host of other products/services—all of which were most likely driven by individuals engaged in advocacy.

    Advocacy in the classroom.  As we teach psychological science, I would urge us all to understand the necessity of advocating for science.  Sadly, as I wrote in my March column, there is a strong anti-science movement often driven by conspiracy theories occurring in many countries around the globe. All opinions are being treated equally, as if any random idea is equivalent to empirically grounded knowledge: The world is round or potentially quite flat; the Holocaust happened or it is a myth; racism exits or we live in a post-racist society.  We should not only teach critical thinking skills but also advocate for why these skills are essential to learning, quality of life, and citizenship. Additionally, the various topics that we teach all have relevance to the lives if individuals, peoples, communities, and global concerns. There are social justice implications embedded in almost everything we teach from neurobiology to learning to developmental to mental health/wellness to social psychology.  Our science is not a dry subject to be solely discussed in the context of research but rather we can advocate for students to explore its use to tackle real world issues. We can also teach advocacy skills!   

    Advocacy within our institutions. Regardless of where one teaches, we can advocate for change within those schools to create even better learning environments. Certainly, we know a lot about the scholarship of teaching and learning and we can bring that knowledge to our institutions.  The STP Annual Conference on Teachingwill soon be upon us and I urge everyone to attend either in person or virtually (not all programming will be virtual).  I have yet to attend an STP event where I didn’t bring back information to share with my colleagues on all sorts of topics such as building more inclusive classrooms, mentoring, teaching metacognitive skills, diversity initiatives, ethical reasoning, and more.  Alas and perhaps, our persistence at some point will yield results, and all schools will stop teaching the myth of fixed learning styles.

    Advocacy in the community. We can all use what we know from psychological science to engage in advocacy beyond the academy. Social justice and work on local to global issues extends well beyond the classroom. However, it is important that one clearly communicate that they are advocating as individuals and not as representatives of their institution, unless it is part of one’s position. Regardless, with a bit of advocacy training—offered by many groups including APA—you too can become an effective change-maker.  Explore APA’s Advocacy Office website to learn about APA’s advocacy priorities and how you can become involved.  You can also visit, Be an Advocate for Psychology, which includes a brief advocacy training. 

    STP and Advocacy.  There are many opportunities for advocacy and advancing the teaching of psychology within STP.  Explore the “Current Service Opportunities in STP” listed in each month’s STP News and check out the STP Get Involvedpage.  Additionally, last year’s STP President Susan Nolan wrote, Presidential Task Force Round-Up and a Focus on Advocacyand announced a new Advocacy Committee.  She wrote, “The Advocacy Committee will vet requests for STP to sign various statements; bring public policy and position statements to the Executive Committee; monitor our previous statements and suggest further action; communicate with our members to identify areas where our advocacy might be needed; and publicize our advocacy work.”  Let me know if you are interested in working or consulting with this committee.   

    Don’t forget to explore all that STP has to offer in the way of resources (e.g., syllabi, eBooks, and so much more!) addressing a host of topics related to advocacy concerns. Explore these resources! Moreover, you can contribute to these resources. Make sure you receive our email announcements via our listserv (e.g., PsychTeacher) or follow us on Facebook/Twitter.  Periodically, you will see a “Call for e-Book chapters” or “STP grant proposals.”  For example, Jessica Cerniak, Editor for STP e-books, recently announced a call for chapter proposals for a new e-book project headed by members of STP’s “Teaching to Make a Difference” Presidential task force, tentatively titled “Applying Psychology Beyond the Classroom: Social Justice Activities for Intro and Upper-Level Courses.” Let me know if you want more information about this exciting project. Want to keep up-to-date on new opportunities? All of the info concerning how to subscribe to the Listservs or social media can be found under the News tab on the STP page.

    So, let’s remove “advocacy” from the list of things we are to avoid when we teach. Indeed, let us begin to think of advocacy as a tool of education—a tool that must be used responsibly. We can use this tool for the benefit of our students, our classes, our science, and the betterment of our communities.    If as teachers we don’t engage in advocacy for our students, our science, or the application of psychology to real-world issues, who will?

  • 29 Jul 2022 12:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Convention & Conferences!

    “Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.” – Vincent Van Gogh

    Alas, the summer months—at least the summer months as defined by teachers—are soon coming to end.  For some of us, the APA Convention marks the beginning of that transition, as classes start just a week or two following the closing presentation, the fond farewell to friends seen too infrequently, and that last flight home. And of course, all sorts of great ideas often come together at Convention and other conferences! So all sorts of possibilities for new beginnings! Despite my fond feelings today, I remember my first APA Convention many years ago.  After I got home, I vowed to never attend another convention or conference again!   

    Let me describe that first trip.  The Convention was being held in Atlanta and I drove by myself in an old VW bus that I had purchased for $200.  Fortunately, it made it there and back but I needed that old van, as it was also my lodging!  I didn’t know anyone at the Convention and as I registered I was handed a schedule the size of a phone book (i.e., the size of a textbook for those of you who are younger).  The schedule was overwhelming but I found some “big names” I wanted to see, sat in the back, and was in awe but also overwhelmed.  I never spoke to anyone and I think I only stayed for a day or two. Home was a welcome sight!

    Over the years, I have learned a lot about how to maximize the benefit of a good conference but also how to have a fun and enjoyable experience. Note that my second conference was NITOP—National Institute on the Teaching of Psychology.  What was not to like? Small, totally focused on teaching, lots of good food, and did I mention, it was totally focused on teaching psychology!  So, here is what I have learned over the years. 

    First, different conferences have different goals and benefits.  APA Convention is amazing for the vast array of topics.  You are a kid in a psychology candy store including just about any topic you want to explore, a diverse impressive array of presenters, a gift shop, and tons of venders with books and bling. Of course, if APA Convention is too overwhelming, you can just focus on Division 2 (STP) programming – a conference within the Convention! Check out STP’s  full program!   Many of us will just focus on STP programming and events. 

    In September, I’ll write more about STP’s Annual Conference on Teaching.  It is an excellent forum to become connected with psychology teachers across the country and internationally.  Of course, STP also pairs up with other international/national/regional/local conferences. To see the full list of STP-involved programming from regional to international, go to the STP webpage and explore the Programming tab.

    Second, to really benefit from the APA Convention, you need to do a bit of planning, which includes strategizing on how to meet people for conversation, mentoring, networking, and friendships.  Jumping into an old van and winging it is not a good strategy.  Note that APA has a nice Convention app, which includes all the programming, a list of attendees, a scheduling feature, and so much more. Want to hear something from APA President Frank Worrell or learn about pivot teaching – just search the app! Want to see an interview with Noam Chomsky or Steven Pinker—search the app. Want to find all the social hours or roundtable discussions, “yes,” search the app.

    Now here are some of my additional tips to maximize your APA Convention experience! Talk with others for their suggestions.

    Socialize!  I’m an introvert so I often struggle with meeting people. However, the friendships that I have developed over the years couldn’t have happened without meeting a lot of these folks at conferences and convention. Don’t know anyone who is attending convention? Not to worry—send a note out via social media and plan to meet some folks who share interests.  On the first day of Convention, following my Presidential Address—Psychology and Eugenics: Why this History Matters to Teaching Today—there is an event titled, “Old and New Faces of STP" in the same room.  Melissa Maffeo, Director of STP at the APA Convention describes this session: “The goals of this session are to bring some new faces to STP (teaching of psychology should be relevant to most APA attendees, right?), sharing resources that STP has to offer, advertising ways to get involved in STP, and finally, starting conversations about what the future directions of STP might look like. This will be an inclusive and interactive, and fun! session.”  This session will be followed by the social hour. This is a good place to meet people, plan some lunches, dinners, or sightseeing together. Note that almost every division or group will have a social hour, which translates into free food and beverages!

    Poster sessions – Don’t miss out on the poster sessions.  Have a few conversation starters tucked away in your back pocket.  So many great ideas related to teaching or almost any other psychology topic (again, take a look at a few other Divisions). Posters sessions tend to be informal so a good place to start a conversation and begin some networking.

    Listen – Some of the best mentoring advice I’ve gotten through the years has been in informal conversations with colleagues I just met at a conference. One of the things I value most about STP is everyone’s willingness to share what they know, how they teach, what questions they have . . . So be open to listening as well as sharing what you know!

    Pick a few sessions on topics about which you know nothing!  What a gift to be able to bring your new learning back to the classroom and, if you are anything like me, you never get bored when learning something new!

    Thanks to Dr. Melissa Maffeo for coordinating all of the STP Convention events and programming!  She has put together an amazing program!! Check out the full program!

    Note that it is not too late to register!  Airfares are still remarkably cheap. Go to the APA Convention website for more information.  There is a virtual option available for Continuing Education and also main event programming. However, most divisional programming is not being recorded for virtual access. If you are attending in-person, you will receive information about vaccine verification and masking during the Convention.  Important to have fun and learn in a safe environment!  I hope to see you there!

  • 08 Jul 2022 5:42 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    “How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”  Anne Frank

    I am a firm believer that teachers hold in their hands the ability to improve the world. We inform, inspire, model, motivate, challenge—we teach. Of course, when I arrive in the classroom, I never arrive alone. Behind me are all of my colleagues, former teachers, and former students who have taught, supported, and inspired me through the years. I am grateful. Additionally, I arrive in the classroom carrying a backpack full of scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL) research, resources provided by organizations such as STP, and a wealth of knowledge learned over the years. That backpack is pretty hefty but I could not effectively teach without it. Often, I think I take that backpack for granted, as it is always there when I need it.

    Every year, the STP President has the honor of selecting up to two individuals for special recognition—the STP Presidential Citation.  This citation recognizes “individuals who have made extraordinary life-time contributions to the Society and/or to the teaching of psychology.” This citation recognizes those who have spent their lives helping to stitch and fill the backpack so that we all can continue to excel as teachers.  If there is a common thread between this year’s recipients, it is that they are kind, respectful, humble, and unwavering in their commitment to the teaching of psychology. With all of that in mind, I am honored to announce the 2022 recipients of the STP Presidential Citation: Emily Leary Chesnes and David Kreiner.

    Emily Leary Chesnes, MBA, is the Assistant Director of Precollege and Undergraduate Education at the American Psychological Association (APA). She has also served as Precollege Psychology Program Officer and State Advocacy Assistant at APA and Membership Coordinator with the Council on Undergraduate Research. Most importantly, during her years at APA, she has served as staff support for the APA Teachers of Psychology in Secondary Schools (TOPSS) committee and their various projects and initiatives.

    Psychology has become a common course offered by many high schools around the globe, and high school psychology teachers have no better friend than Emily Leary Chesnes. As noted by former TOPSS Chair Alison Shaver, “Everything she does is because of the passion she has for high school teachers and her/their love of psychology.”  TOPSS is one of the most active and productive committees within APA producing extensive and invaluable resources for teachers of psychology and Emily’s efforts have made all of that work possible. For example, in 2017, Emily provided support and helped organize the APA Summit on High School Psychology Educationat Weber State University.  She worked tirelessly with the steering committee and seven summit working groups (e.g., science, technology, credentialing, diversity), and assisted with the publication of all summit deliverables such as an introductory psychology video, an assessment guide and exemplars, a diversity self-reflection tool, lab templates, sample lesson plans, and a starter course.  These materials are all available on the Summit website.

    Emily also helps to plan and organize the annual APA/Clark University Workshop for High School, an essential program particularly for new teachers of high school psychology.  Former TOPSS Chair Maria Vita wrote: “I first met Emily at the Clark Conference in 2010. The APA has provided this conference to high school teachers and it was one of the first times I felt truly respected and honored as a teacher. And yes, part of that was the amazing staff at Clark, but I know another part of that was Emily. She made sure that each person felt cared for. I remember eating lunch with her one day and she mentioned grants for the classroom. She was always trying to communicate opportunities for teachers to improve the classroom.” In additional to the APA/Clark Workshop, Emily helped organize and plan the 2019 and 2022 three-day workshop at Oregon State University as well as other numerous pre-convention workshops and one-day workshops for high school teachers as well as online webinars for teachers.  It should be noted that Emily has worked with Dr. Lee Gurel and Dr. David and Mrs. Carol Myers on their remarkable gifts to the American Psychological Foundation to support high school psychology teachers and assist with the management of the grant funding.

    Former TOPSS Chair Maria Vita writes of Emily: “While her conscientiousness is something to admire, her kindness is even more impressive. She is thoughtful of the needs of others and she will wait patiently before giving her concerns. She listens to people. Which is a rarity today.”  Today, we honor Emily’s conscientiousness, kindness, and indefatigable commitment to the teaching of high school psychology with this 2022 STP Presidential Citation.  

    David Kreiner, PhD, is a Professor of Psychological Science at the University of Central Missouri.  David earned his PhD in Human Experimental Psychology at the University of Texas-Austin. He teaches a range of courses such as General Psychology, Cognitive Psychology, History of Psychology, and Advanced Statistics for the Behavioral Sciences.  In addition to being an exemplary teacher, David has been actively engaged in research and contributions to the SoTL literature and unflagging support for STP. He is part of the foundation upon which STP stands.

    STP could not survive without all of the individuals who freely give of their time, expertise, energy, and commitment to the organization. Dave’s contributions extend across the breadth of the organization and highlight his commitment to service and teaching.  Dave has served a number of leadership capacities such as STP Treasurer, Coordinator of the Departmental Consulting Service, Chair of the STP Fellows Committee, and Chair of the Midcareer Mentoring Work Group.  Of course, his service extends beyond these leadership positions as Dave has served on the STP Fund for Excellence Board and as a consulting editor for STP’s journal Teaching of Psychology. He has also regularly served as an ad hoc reviewer for Teaching of Psychology, the Office of Teaching Resources in Psychology and for STP/APA convention programming.  Regardless of role, David has made a lasting contribution to the growth and success of STP.  He has done it quietly, humbly, and with great care to the benefit of all of STP.  

    Although David’s STP work alone would be enough to honor him with this citation, his SoTL work is also exemplary and noteworthy.  His extensive publications and presentations focus on a breadth of topics ranging from reading comprehension to statistics online education to problem-based teaching approaches to computer-based activities. David is definitely a teacher’s teacher and I know we have all learned much from his scholarship over the years.  He has published in flagship journals such as Journal of General Psychology, Psi Chi Journal of Psychological Research, and STP’s own Teaching of Psychology. Moreover, if you have ever attended the APA Annual Convention, the Midwest Psychological Association Annual Meeting, or the STP Annual Conference on Teaching, you may have been privileged to see one of David’s presentations. It is a joy to see, experience, and learn from David.  

    STP Past-President Susan Nolan writes of David: “He is the epitome of the quiet, behind-the-scenes force who gets so much done. While getting stuff done, he has also touched so many teachers’ lives with his kindness, humor, and support. He does it all on the grand scale – policies—and on the small scale – friendships.” Today, we honor David’s unwavering dedication to STP, commitment to the teaching of psychology, and impressive SoTL contributions with this 2022 STP Presidential Citation. 

  • 31 May 2022 6:24 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    In the aftermath of World War II, Eleanor Roosevelt traveled to Paris and in a Voice of America radio address (November 11, 1951) stated, “I think that what you want to know—especially you, the women of past-war Europe—is whether you shall be able, tomorrow, to tell your children that peace is at long last, a reality. For it isn’t enough to talk about peace. One must believe in it. And it isn’t enough to believe in it. One must work at it.”   I’ve thought a lot about this quote over the past few weeks, as the United States (US) has once again experienced a wave of mass shootings including the Tops grocery store in Buffalo and the Uvalde elementary school massacres.  Certainly, there is very little that I can say here that hasn’t already been said in other forums (I’ve added some links below to my writings on this topic, a column by Dr. Dave Myers, and APA resources).  These deaths are horrific, are difficult to predict, and should never happen.  Our hearts bleed for the victims, their families, and communities. All of us want to be able to tell our students, our families, that maybe tomorrow, “peace is at long last, a reality.”

    All of us want an end to this war of violence, the pandemic of hate, and domestic terror. I think all of us would agree that there is much work to be done culturally and politically. 

    Now please realize that I in no way want to diminish the atrocities of mass killings. Regardless, when it comes to my teaching and my classroom, I know that the odds of a lone gunman coming into my classroom or even my campus are small—not impossible but low in probability.  Most schools and colleges provide training for faculty, staff, and students to spot issues and have increased security measures. Yet every day, I most likely have untold numbers of students entering my classroom who have experienced violence and trauma.  Whether victims of sexual assault, domestic violence, muggings, a friend’s suicide, or gun violence within their neighborhoods, violence is not new to their lives but rarely makes a headline.  The focus largely on school shootings is an all too sad example of the availability heuristic.  Although, we may be relatively helpless to address mass shootings, we can be there for our students who experience violence as part of their everyday lives. We can know the resources at our institutions and communities so as to provide support for these students.

    Promoting Peaceful Classrooms

    In 1999, following the school shootings at Columbine, STP President Jane Halonen put together a task force entitled, “Promoting Peaceful Classrooms.” The task force members included Christopher M. Hakala, PhD, Gail Matthews, PhD, Virginia Ryan, MS, Michael Van Slyk, PhD, Janie Wilson, PhD, and me (Chair).  I went back and reviewed the materials we put together for a presentation at the APA Convention in 2000, which included: a discussion of the research concerning building cooperative and positive classroom environments; specific strategies that professors can use to facilitate a positive learning environment; and an introduction to programs and methods of conflict management and violence prevention. We just began to scratch the surface of how we can make our classrooms safe and inclusive.  So, let’s explore a little further how promoting peaceful classrooms relates to the topic of school violence. 

    Peace scholar John Galtung (1969, 1996) differentiated between positive peace and negative peace. Too often, individuals conceptualize peace as an absence of direct violence or conflict. For example, a teacher may assume that they have a peaceful classroom simply if the classroom is orderly and no one is bullying or hitting another student. However, this characterization only defines the concept of negative peace and does not encompass the equally important concept of positive peace (Shields, 2017).  Negative peace addresses interventions during times of violence—interventions designed to prevent destructive actions such as bullying, harassment, physical fighting, or school shootings. Such interventions are important and necessary components in an effort to build safe schools.

    In contrast, the aims of positive peace focus on reducing structural and cultural forms of violence and enhancing social equality and opportunity. Positive peace focuses on building schools and classrooms characterized by conditions of enablement, social equality, justice, and respect for human rights. Positive peace in schools cannot be attained unless we address issues of racism, sexism, ageism, anti-LGBTQ+ bias, ableism, classism, Euro-ethnocentrism, and other forms of bias and discrimination within what we teach, how we teach, and the classroom environment. Additionally, positive peace involves addressing social, political, economic, and ecological injustices within our educational systems. The ramifications of educational disparities and differential availability of services in the US are not insignificant. For example, a clear connection exists between crime—and most likely violence—and literacy.  According to the Literacy Project (2022), “85% of juvenile offenders have problems reading; 3 out of 5 people in American prisons can’t read.”

    Eleanor Roosevelt speaking at a luncheon in Stuttgart stated, “More than ending war, we must put an end to the conditions that cause war,” to which I would add that we must also put an end to conditions that inherently cause destructive harm. All of us want our students to be in classrooms and schools where they feel safe. A key component of that sense of safety is that they feel valued, respected, and included.  There is a lot in the world for which we have little control. However, we can work to create classrooms characterized as peaceful.  Although not a definitive list, here are some important elements that I think are important.

    ·        Build an inclusive classroom and curriculum

    ·        Recognize the importance of teacher immediacy

    ·        Model respect, empathy, and kindness

    ·        Engage in difficult dialogues

    ·        Teach conflict resolution skills

    ·        Teach and model restorative justice

    ·        Service learning

    ·        Teach collaborative work skills

    It is important to recognize that how we interact with the students in the classroom is just as important as what we teach in the classroom. As you can see from the above, the list focuses on promoting peaceful classrooms through the development of positive peace. If our focus solely is on addressing negative peace, we may only sow fear, helplessness, and a sense of despair.

    Now you may look at this list and think, “what now?” Good ideas, but how do I go about taking these ideas and transforming them into practice within the classroom? Fortunately, there are many within STP who have been researching and writing on these topics for many years.   Simply, log into your STP membership and begin your search through our STP journal, Teaching of Psychology, which is available on our website.  But wait—there’s more! Look under the Resources tab and you will find a range of eBooks and other teaching resources related to the topic or included as chapters (e.g., in the Compendium of Conference Presentations). Also, come to Minneapolis and learn at the APA Convention this August, as STP has a full schedule of relevant programming.  Also, at Convention there are programs from other Divisions related to topics such as peace and school shootings. And don’t forget to check out STP’s Annual Conference on Teaching—more information will be coming soon!

    In the meantime, remember that although we cannot control all that is happening in the US related to increases in mass shootings, we can have a daily positive impact in the lives of our students. We can engage in promoting peaceful classrooms that are havens of learning, discovery, relationship, and excitement—all in an inclusive and safe space for everyone.  And let’s remember, “For it isn’t enough to talk about peace. One must believe in it. And it isn’t enough to believe in it. One must work at it.”   Let’s all get to work for peace.


    American Psychological Association. (2022).  APA resources for coping with mass shootings, understanding gun violence.

    Galtung, J. (1969). Violence, peace and peace research. Journal of Peace Research, 3, 176–191. doi:10.1177/002234336900600301

    Galtung, J. (1996). Peace by peaceful means: Peace and conflict, development and civilization. Sage.

    Literacy Project. (2022). Illiteracy by the numbers.

    Myers, D. (2019). Do something! Stop mass shootings and prevent suicides! But what can psychology contribute? Macmillan Learning.

    Shields, P. M. (2017). Limits of negative peace, face of positive peace. Parameters, 47(3), 5-12.

    Woolf, L. M. (2018, February 15). Mass shootings: What role do guns play. Psychology Today.

    Woolf, L. M. (2018, March 4). Arming teachers: Good or bad idea? Psychology Today.

    Woolf, L. M. (2019, August 4). Mass shooting: Shifting blame and shifting focus. Psychology Today.

  • 10 May 2022 12:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    May: A Time for Reflection and Appreciating Yourself as a Teacher

    Linda Woolf, STP President

    May 8, 2022

    The duties of a teacher are neither few nor small, but they elevate the mind and give energy to the character." –Dorothea Dix

    For teachers, the months of May and June always bring forth a mix of emotions—joy, hope, dread, anxiety, regret . . . The academic year is grinding to a halt, with firm deadlines—the administration is not going to accommodate a request for “just two more weeks.” Graduation, students moving out of dorms, advanced placement (AP) tests, summer jobs, and a host of other events mark the transition from one school year to a break before the beginning of a new year months away. You may have even gotten a small token of “teacher appreciation” (i.e., a plant) with the operative word being “small.” Some of us may still teach during the summer but it always feels a bit different than during the “regular” academic year. Nonetheless, the end of the year is a time for reflection and even a bit of future planning.  And, yes, for teachers, the end of the year is often not marked on December 31—that is just a time to party during “winter break” or pack for NITOP

    Looking Back: A Time for Reflection

    Each semester, many of us assign self-reflection papers or student journals as part of our courses.  We want our students to think deeply and critically about the concepts learned in class and the application of ideas to their everyday lives. As we finish another academic year, I hope that all of us will similarly look back over the past year and critically reflect on our teaching. However, I also hope that we can connect that reflection to our values as teachers.

    As some of you know, I am on Facebook and periodically post on the STP Facebook page but I also follow other teaching and psychology related groups on Facebook.  It is this time of year when we see so many posts about the AP exam, inclusive of teachers questioning whether they taught the right things, whether they gave bad advice about how to take the test, and concerns about not compromising the test. Every AP teacher wants to do everything right, so that their students have the best chance at success. For all teachers, we see questions/posts about handling instances of academic dishonesty, running out of time to meet all the teaching goals we set for ourselves, stories of challenged grades, questions about rubrics, as well as stories of success.  These are all reflections but often reactive rather than proactive, situational rather than sustainable.

    For many teachers, these past two years have been the most challenging of their entire careers.  So I hope as your first reflection, you will pause and give yourself credit for all of your accomplishments. You have made a difference in the very stress-filled lives of your students and their families, as well as your colleagues and communities.  The pandemic forced many of us to try all sorts of new pedagogical and learning strategies and modalities. Take a moment to sit down and congratulate yourself, for handling all of the new challenges and for being adaptive and innovative. You not only survived but also grew as a teacher.

    Second, I hope you will examine all that you did right and where you fell short in your teaching. Sit down and focus on all that you did right. Think about what you did that was successful and how you can carry those practices into the future. If you had some failures along the way, reflect on what you can learn from those experiences but do not define the past two years by those missteps.  Yes, take a look at your course evaluations but look for the constructive comments.  If you are like me, you make a beeline to the most negative comment and dwell on that feedback. Well, sometimes these comments are the most instructive and can help you grow as a teacher. So, pause and critically examine the content of that comment. Of course, there are times, when a student may state that they don’t like your shoes (yes, I got that comment) and you can ignore such feedback. Also, look at the positive comments separating out the unhelpful (“Best professor ever!” Feels good doesn’t it!) from the instructive (“I really liked this assignment because . . .”) comments. Such information will help you plan for the future. Of course, I am a big fan of mid-semester course evaluations or conversations as a tool for reflection and possible course change during each semester (e.g., Keutzer, 1993). I’ve done it both formally and informally depending on the class size and level of the course. Each class is unique and such evaluations are helpful to learn if you are meeting these students’ particular needs and interests, as well as demonstrates respect for your students. It highlights that they are partners in the learning process.

    Third, you can evaluate all sorts of other markers of whether you feel you were successful in the past year or not. For example, I like to look at whether I successfully met the learning outcomes for the course using the results of various assessments as a measure for each of these goals. Or you can examine overall grades for each of your courses, comparing these grades to previous semesters.  Or you can evaluate your time management if you finished the material early or, more likely, ran out of time at the end of the term. There are lots of ways you can assess your own endeavors as a teacher.

    Further Reflection on Values

    Further, I really want you to reflect on your values as a teacher. Obviously, we want our students to learn and apply psychology to their everyday lives. But, what else do you value? You might reflect first on those teachers who stood out both positively and negatively in your life and what they did that was important. For me, it was whether the teacher exhibited respect for me and value for me as a human being. Hopefully, the days are gone when it was considered acceptable for a teacher to be disrespectful based on power and status or worse, based on differences in gender, race, ethnicity, socio-economic status, national origin, LGBTQ+ identity, disability, and other elements of personal/cultural identity. I want students to see that I care about them as human beings and know that I will treat them with respect and dignity. I want students to see me as accessible if they are experiencing difficulties. I may not be able to fix their problems but I can listen and point them to appropriate resources for help. So, throughout the year, but particularly at the year’s end, I reflect on whether I treated students with fairness, kindness, support, and respect.

    Some other values for me are communication, alternate views of success for students, and cultural humility. I am grateful to students for their openness in discussions and all the feedback they provide me through the year. I’ve reframed “success” being tied to stellar academic achievement—it comes easy to some students—but rather tied to individual growth. I recall the 60+-year old student who never took a math class during her time in an inner-city high school. She worked like crazy, was incredibly stressed, had to learn new skills but ultimately she passed statistics with a C grade. I also remember the parent at graduation who came up profusely thanking the psychology faculty, as her son struggled throughout college. Mom never thought he would ever finish but he walked across the stage and got his diploma. These are the sorts of accomplishments that do not make it on any marketing posters but make a tangible difference in the lives of individual students, their families, and communities. I’ve also come to know that my cultural values and traditions, many of which are grounded in mainstream psychology, are not universal and there is so much that I do not know about other peoples and cultures. Hence, I have a commitment to work aimed at anti-bias education and decolonizing my courses, recognizing that I too have much to learn.

    So, take a moment. Grab a cup of coffee, tea, or perhaps an adult beverage. Find a quiet place and reflect on your values as a teacher.  How do these values shape your courses and teaching? I’m sure that some of your values and goals may be different than mine. And such differences make for great diverse educational environments and opportunities for students. Regardless, think about what is important to you and then examine how you translated those values into your courses this past year. Chances are—despite COVID, despite the stresses of the world—you will have much to celebrate as you reflect on how your values informed your accomplishments during the past year.

    And as a final thought: Know that I am grateful for all of you amazing teachers and your work is truly


    Keutzer, C. S. (1993). Midterm evaluation of teaching provides helpful feedback to instructors. Teaching of Psychology, 20(4), 238-240.
  • 08 Apr 2022 9:34 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The Power of Teaching

    Linda Woolf, STP President

    April 8, 2022

    Knowledge is power. Information is liberating. Education is the premise of progress, in every society, in every family.

    Kofi Annan, Former United Nations (UN) Secretary-General, 1997

    Kofi Annan (1997) was not only the 7th Secretary-General to lead the UN but also a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, who’s worked tirelessly for human rights, sustainable economic development, and international peace and freedom. Originally from Ghana, Annan worked his way up through the ranks of the UN to become a powerful voice—a voice aimed at lifting up those living in fear, conflict, and deep poverty. When given the opportunity to speak before the World Bank Conference on “Global Knowledge,” held in Toronto in 1997, he spoke about the power of information and education, as key to addressing local and global problems. He stated:

    We at the United Nations are convinced that information has a great democratizing power waiting to be harnessed to our global struggle for peace and development. We believe this because we are convinced that it is ignorance, not knowledge, that makes enemies of men. It is ignorance, not knowledge, that makes fighters of children. It is ignorance, not knowledge, that leads some to advocate tyranny over democracy. It is ignorance, not knowledge, that makes some think that human misery is inevitable. It is ignorance, not knowledge, that make others say that there are many worlds, when we know that there is one. Ours.

    With these words in mind, I celebrate that I am a teacher. I love teaching and I am passionate about what I teach. I love psychology and appreciate all of its underlying theoretical and philosophical ambiguities, its methodologies, and its concern for individuals, organizations, communities, and the planet. Psychology is a complex, challenging, and important discipline—a discipline interconnected with numerous other fields of study and practice. Fundamental to my passion for teaching is the belief that what I teach is important—it has value to people’s lives individually and collectively within a multi-cultural global community. What we teach and what our students learn make a tangible difference in their lives and the lives of others.

    Sadly, teaching is often undervalued. We see this marginalization of teachers in many forums within the United States (US). Indeed, we too often see a perceived hierarchy of value within psychology related to who teaches what kind of students and in what type of setting. In meetings, I have seen celebrations and congratulations when a colleague’s university has moved “up” the rankings of the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education. The intention of these rankings is purely classification and based on number and types of degrees awarded (e.g., Doctorates) and amount of research. It is not designed to imply that one school necessarily is better than another but rather just documents differences in institutional focus. Yet, movement from an R2 to an R1 is often celebrated because it is perceived as an increase in status, prestige, and overall worth of an institution and the individuals who study/teach at such institutions. The rankings imply a hierarchy of worth.

    Occasionally, I will meet someone, and they will ask the proverbial, “What do you do?” question. I answer that I am a teacher. Occasionally, the person will get excited and comment that they are also a teacher. The conversation is off to a good start! Then they ask, “Where do you teach?” and I name my university. It saddens my heart, when on occasion they reply, “Oh, I only teach . . .” adding high school, junior high or at some other level. Why the modifier of “only”? Of course, I experience the flip side when I meet a person and I hear the disappointed “Oh” and loss of eye contact when they learn I do not teach at an R1/2 university.

    Now I personally think that high school teachers of psychology are absolute heroes! They represent the front line of bringing psychology to hundreds of thousands of students each year across the US. These students may never attend a college of any sort, but they will bring what they have learned in their psychology classes into their future careers and lives. And it is not just content (i.e., psychological literacy), but these students also have learned the fundamentals of scientific thinking and reasoning—skills aimed at making them better consumers of information and better citizens. They learn about the diversity of the human experience and ethical reasoning. High school teachers are the front line in the fight against ignorance, as described by Kofi Annan (1997). High school teachers of psychology are some of the best-prepared and most knowledgeable teachers of introductory psychology that I have ever met. And while I am at it—I can say the same thing about community college teachers. Our community college colleagues are excellent teachers, who are focused on providing high quality educational experiences to students across a range of psychology courses. Remember that First Lady Jill Biden is a proud community college teacher!

    Although, within some circles, a hierarchy of worth exists based on where one teaches, I think it is important to know that this belief is NOT supported within the Society for the Teaching of Psychology (STP). We are all teachers, and all of our voices are valued. Regardless of who you are and where you teach, your voice is welcome and heard. Everyone can join in discussions, ask questions, engage in professional scholarship (e.g., conference presentations; eBook chapters), apply for grants/awards, participate in committees and task forces, and run for office! There are many opportunities and resources, some of which are focused specifically for high school and community college teachers (e.g., High School Teacher Travel Grants; Wayne Weiten Teaching Excellence Award—2-year colleges; Mary Margaret Moffett Memorial Teaching Excellence Award—high school). Regardless, we are all teachers, and we share that common bond.

    I should add that I had the privilege of working with APA Teachers of Psychology in Secondary Schools (TOPSS) a few years back. What an amazing group of individuals and indeed, many within STP have been involved in TOPSS over the years, such as Kristin Whitlock, current STP Vice President for Programming, who teaches at Davis High School in Kaysville, Utah. If you haven’t checked out the TOPSS webpage, run and take a look at all the resources, which you too can use in your courses!

    Kofi Annan (1997) spoke of “What can we do, what can you do” in relation to education on a global, as a key element of international peace, sustainable development, and human security. Some of his key points involved global access/reduced censorship, with a focus on shared information between countries across a range of technologies with improved infrastructure supports. Certainly, STP’s international initiatives and partnerships fit within this vision. But Annan also included the following:

    • Initiate innovative approaches to education and learning at all levels, understanding the cultural contexts in order to ensure the greatest achievement of knowledge.
    • Ensure that the young will be the first to gain this knowledge and to make it their partner in the pursuit of a better, richer life for themselves and for their peoples.

    Recognizing the value of K-12 teachers, community college teachers, teachers on tribal lands, teachers at HBCUs, online teachers, programs aimed at first generation college students, teachers in prisons, and others reaching out to make education inclusive and accessible for all students fulfills the vision of Kofi Annan. Eliminating our beliefs, both implicit and explicit, about not just a hierarchy of what students are worthy but also the value of different educational contexts is essential. We need to change the hierarchical narrative to a vision that values diversity, equity, and inclusion for students, for teachers, and across educational contexts and opportunities.

    Certainly, these ideas are mirrored in the STP Mission Statement (just in case you haven’t seen it!):

    The Society for the Teaching of Psychology promotes excellence in the teaching and learning of psychology. The Society provides resources and services, access to a global collaborative community, and opportunities for professional development. It endeavors to promote equity and social justice for teachers and students of psychology with marginalized, racially minoritized, and intersecting identities. The Society also strives to advance the scholarship of teaching and learning; advocate for the needs of teachers of psychology; promote diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives within the teaching and learning of psychology; foster partnerships across academic settings; and increase recognition of the value of the teaching profession.


    Annan, K. (1997, June 23). Press release: 'If information and knowledge are central to democracy, they are conditions for development', says Secretary-General.

  • 09 Mar 2022 12:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    by Linda Woolf, 2022 STP President

    Early in my career, I began attending teaching conferences. As a confirmed introvert, I was really nervous—these conferences tend to be small and include some big names in the teaching of psychology (STP’s Annual Conference on Teaching is an excellent example and opportunity).  Nonetheless, I knew I needed to learn more about the fundamentals of teaching and I wanted an opportunity to share my own professional scholarship. One year, I put together a poster about teaching the Holocaust to psychology students and a year later, another poster entitled, “Genocide, mass violence, and human rights.” These posters sparked a lot of interest and conversation. However, I also got the occasional comment: “What does this have to do with psychology?” and “This is too political!”

    Such comments are still present today and pop up in many forums.  Someone will raise an issue concerning a current event on Facebook and someone else will chime in with comments that this page is about teaching and not politics. At conferences when policies are being debated or presentations involve current world events, someone will invariably state that the pendulum has moved too far towards the political spectrum and we need to move back to the science. Those statements, generally very well-meaning, are grounded in assumptions about our discipline and science.   

    When I was first faced with such comments, I responded with a nervous, “We study all kinds of human behavior. Why not study people killing other people in large numbers?” Today my responses are more nuanced and specific.  For example, I have a passion for human rights, particularly for those persons and peoples who have been routinely denied such rights in the United States and around the globe. A political topic? Absolutely. Unrelated to science? Absolutely not.  Science and human rights do not exist as opposite ends of the spectrum but rather respect for human rights is a fundamental ethical principle underlying science. Indeed, when human rights have been ignored, we have examples of bad science (e.g., Tuskegee, Tearoom Trade, Fernald School radiation studies). We can make the same case about the interrelatedness of issues such as social justice and diversity to science and discuss the historic use of science as a tool for political oppression when justice/diversity concerns and populations are ignored.

    Sadly, today the reality of science itself has become designated as a political topic Science is being uniformly dismissed, denied, and devalued—essentially equated with political opinion. I doubt that many of us would challenge the importance of critical thinking and skepticism when reviewing scientific findings. Indeed, those are fundamental components of the scientific process. However, the current trend of anti-science or scientific denial is a completely different creature. Lewandowsky and colleagues (2016) document that those who deny scientific research often rely on conspiracy theories and engage in personal attacks on researchers. Of course, it is important to note that such scientific denialism can come from all ends of the political spectrum (Lobato & Zimmerman, 2018).  Regardless, if used ethically, science, inclusive of both qualitative and quantitative research, can help to provide answers to issues, which impact us personally, locally, and globally.

    So can we as teachers ignore events in the world around us today because the issue may be deemed “political”? Over the past two years, our students have been exposed to and are concerned about a host of world events, which are increasingly being defined as largely political: COVID, the attack on Ukraine, Supreme Court cases related to the rights of LGBTQ+ individuals and Indigenous rights, #Me Too movement, challenged elections, and the death of George Floyd and countless others translating into the Black Lives Matter movement, the impact climate change, and the list goes on. Psychology has a lot to say and offer about all of these topics and more.  For some of these topics (e.g., diversity), you can find teaching resources on the STP webpage –just explore!

    Regardless, in some states within the US, laws are being passed prohibiting the teaching of topics deemed too political.  For example, laws against teaching critical race theory could severally impact the ability of psychology teachers to address not only topics of prejudice and discrimination but most importantly, systemic and structural foundations of oppression based on race and ethnicity, as defined in the US. Or how can teachers, particularly our amazing colleagues who teach high school psychology address topics of human sexuality and gender diversity if such topics are prohibited in the classroom? Indeed, the College Board has issued a set of principles, which includes the following:

    AP opposes censorship. AP is animated by a deep respect for the intellectual freedom of teachers and students alike. If a school bans required topics from their AP courses, the AP Program removes the AP designation from that course and its inclusion in the AP Course Ledger provided to colleges and universities. For example, the concepts of evolution are at the heart of college biology, and a course that neglects such concepts does not pass muster as AP Biology.

    At first glance, it might seem “easier” to just avoid topics, which might be deemed “too political” or lead to difficult dialogues in the classroom. And, I should note that the risks are real for teachers in some educational contexts.  Regardless, I would encourage you not to avoid these topics, if you can. Such avoidance may lead students to see psychology as irrelevant or out of touch with the world they face every day. Moreover, we want our students to come to understand our science, the contributions it can make to the world, and for them to learn the skills and knowledge needed to be effective citizens in a rapidly changing global environment. Additionally, these topics affect many of our students in a personal way. For example, to ignore current issues related to the rights of LGBTQ+ students, the rights of Black, Indigenous, Latinx, Asian-Pacific Islander, and other students of color, the reproductive rights of women, etc. sends a message that somehow our students may be unworthy because of who they are—they should be ignored. Of course, that is not true and we need to recognize that our science is not only political but it is also personal.

    I would be remiss if I didn’t provide a few suggestions so you can keep yourself out of trouble.

    Stay grounded in research and scholarship. Use the resources provided by United Nations, APA, the research literature, etc., and when in class, always come back to a critical evaluation of these sources. There are a significant number of materials on the APA website, particularly the Public Interest website. There you will find a host of policies, resources, and publications, all extensively referenced. You will also find information to help students who may themselves be struggling to survive due to the stresses of marginalization, war, COVID, poverty, and more. For example, just this week, APA published, “How to handle the trauma of war from afar” (Abrams, 2022).

    Draw on history for examples. Current topics may spark great discussions but may also lead to emotional thinking and arguments. Have students search for and draw connections to the past and review the research on those topics.

    Model respectful dialogue. Establish and model what you expect of your students and the critical thinking skills necessary for evaluating psychological research on “political” topics. It is both what you say and how you say it that can either promote or inhibit respectful dialogue. Note that there are numerous resources online about effectively navigating controversial conversations (e.g., 

    Reach out for support. When in doubt, reach out to your colleagues, your administration, and your STP friends.  STP is active on social media, so drop by and have a conversation.

    Throughout my career, I have often reflected on the words of Dr. Carolyn Payton, a psychologist who was also the first woman and first African-American to serve as Director of the United States Peace Corps.  In her address to the APA Convention, upon receiving a life-time achievement award, she asked,  “Who must do the hard things?” She then gave the answer, “Those who can.” She further referenced a colleague who expanded the query with, “Who must do the impossible things? Those who care” (Payton, 1984, p. 397).  As teachers of psychology, we not only can do the hard things because we care, we can teach our students to follow a similar path. We can highlight that what they learn matters and they too can go out, exhibit care, and make a difference in the world.



    Abrams, Z. (2022, February 28). How to handle the trauma of war from afar. American Psychological Association.

    Lewandowsky, S., Mann, M. E., Brown, N. J. L., & Friedman H. (2016). Science and the public: Debate, denial, and skepticism. Journal of Social and Political Psychology, 4, 537–553. doi:10.5964/jspp.v4i2.604

    Lobato, E. J. C., & Zimmerman, C. (2018). The Psychology of (pseudo)science: Cognitive, social, and cultural factors. In A. B. Kaufman & J. C. Kaufman (Eds.) Pseudoscience: The conspiracy against science (pp. 21-44). MIT Press.

    Payton, C. R. (1984).  Who must do the hard things? American Psychologist, 39, 391-397.

  • 05 Feb 2022 12:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    February: Let’s Celebrate Black History Month!

    Linda Woolf, STP President

    "Won't it be wonderful when Black history and Native American history and Jewish history and all of US history is taught from one book. Just US history. I am trying to work myself out of a job by being so active extolling the virtues of African Americans." Maya Angelou (cited in Muir, 2012)

    Often discussions of the history of Blacks in the United States (US) have focused on the destructive harms committed by privileged Whites against Africans forcibly brought to this country and enslaved. It is an essential history to learn, as is learning about the far-reaching legacies left behind from the eras of enslavement and racist eugenic ideas of human hierarchies to today with the ongoing fight for social justice. Certainly, the American Psychological Association (APA) has been grappling with this history and has begun the processes of apology, reconciliation, and reparative justice.  STP also has been wrestling with its own history and legacies, issuing the Statement on Addressing Systemic Racism and Inequity in STP and looking at structural processes affecting diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts.  Moreover, STP is working actively to increase diversity related resources, blog posts, publications, conference offerings, and more.  Important work but is there anything else we should be reflecting on during Black History Month? The answer is “Yes!”

    What is often omitted from Black history discussions are the legacies of resilience, accomplishments/triumphs, inspired communities, rich cultural tapestries, and soaring spirits of African-Americans, who not only survived but also thrived under systems of exclusion. I think it is this history that forms the basis for celebrating Black History Month, which sets the stage for greater inclusion throughout the year.

    I’m sure that many of you are like me, and when psychology was first introduced to you, you were taught about the “fathers of psychology”—a bunch of White men.  Gradually, over the years, I was introduced to women pioneers in the field, who previously had been written out of history. However, I still was not exposed to the breadth of Black pioneering psychologists, who have shaped our discipline. There is an amazing history for us to explore, learn, and celebrate.  So for this Black History Month, I want to recognize the work of a few of these Black pioneer psychologists and call on everyone to learn more.

    Many psychology textbooks today include the story of Kenneth Clark and Mamie Phipps Clark. Kenneth Clark became the first African-American President of APA and both are remembered for their pivotal work before and during the Civil Rights Movement. Most notably, they are recognized for their groundbreaking Doll Study research, which paved the way for their expert testimony before the Supreme Court in 1954 with Brown vs. Board of Education, ending mandated segregation of schools. 

    However, how many of us have learned about Inez Beverly Prosser, PhD, “the first Black women to earn a doctorate in psychology”? Her dissertation, “The Non-Academic Development of Negro Children in Mixed and Segregated Schools,” helped form the basis for early arguments against school segregation and was also cited in that 1954 Supreme Court case. Of course, I should also mention Ruth Winifred Howard, PhD, “the first African-American women to earn a doctorate in psychology,” who worked with troubled girls as well as students with special needs. As to who really was “the first,” it appears to depend on whom you read and your definition of what should count as a psychology doctoral degree at the time.

    Of course, we know that desegregation did not simply end segregation. Beverly Daniel Tatum, PhD. in her book, Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria And Other Conversations About Race, wrote, “Our public schools are more segregated today than they were in 1980, as measured by the percentage of all Black students who are attending schools that are ’90-100% non-White” (2017; Prologue).  Dr. Tatum’s examination of the effects of racism on Black children’s identities in school and problems with the educational system earned her the 2014 APA Award for Outstanding Lifetime Contribution to Psychology.  

    Some other early educational leaders:

    Francis Cecil Sumner, PhD, is often referred to as the “Father of Black Psychology.”  He was the first African-American to earn a doctorate in psychology. He helped found the Psychology Department at Howard University and served as a teacher and mentor to individuals such as the Clarks.

    Albert Sidney Beckham, PhD, is often cited as the first Black school psychologist. He also worked to found the first psychology laboratory at Howard University. His research examined a range of topics such as artistic and musical abilities in Black children, IQ testing, the role of the environment in juvenile delinquency, and racial attitudes of Black adolescents. 

    George Canady, PhD. was the first psychologist to study bias in IQ tests by examining the role and effect of the test administrator on the IQ results for non-White children.

    Robert Lee Williams, II, PhD, challenged the idea that IQ test results were equitable and is remembered as the creator of the Black Intelligence Test of Cultural Homogeneity. He demonstrated that differences in IQ often cited by eugenicists to falsely claim White superiority failed to address differences in the environment and culture.

    Joseph White, PhD, wrote and advocated for the creation of Black Psychology. He argued that the application of White psychology defined as normal created the illusion of an inferior Black Psychology. In his writing he focused on a strength-based approach and description of Black psychology and culture. He is one of the founders of the Association of Black Psychologists. As such, he also has been described as the “Father of Black Psychology.”

    Of course, there are too many individuals to celebrate in this short column!  I do want to mention two others as their work and legacies are remarkable beyond the university and are just personal favorites of mine.

    Carolyn Robertson Payton, EdD, was the first psychologist, first female, and first African-American Director of the US Peace Corps.  A pioneer in the field of multi-cultural psychology, Payton (1984) asked, “Who must do the hard things?” (p. 391).  She stressed that psychology has an important role to play in understanding and addressing social issues.  As an educator, leader, mentor, scholar, and policy-maker, Payton confronted issues of social inequality and justice exemplifying her belief that psychology is not just about research but also direct action to improve the lives of others.

    Olivia Hooker, PhD was originally rejected by the Navy but challenged the Navy’s decision and won. Nevertheless, she decided not to join the Navy and went on to become the first African-American woman to enter the U.S. Coast Guard and served towards the end of and after WWII. Later, Dr. Hooker became a school psychologist. It also is important to highlight that she was a survivor of the 1921 Tulsa race massacre.

    Of course, I could write about so many other Black psychologists who have shaped our discipline and our understanding of psychology. But more importantly, how can we help our students learn this history and include Black psychology into our work today?

    One of the projects that I do with my History of Psychology class is something I call the “Lost in History” project.  I give them a basic instruction: “You will be responsible for creating a one-page infographic highlighting the works of an early psychologist who has been lost in history due to their status within a marginalized group.” I also tell them that they cannot select a person who is already presented in their textbook. I provide them some basic resources such as APA’s I Am Psyched and Ethnicity, Race, and Cultural Affairs Portfolio (ERCA) Featured Psychologists.  I have these students provide each other feedback about their work with opportunities for revision. Then (during non-COVID times), we place these infographics around the department as a way to celebrate these psychologists’ accomplishments through the entire year.

    In my Introduction to Psychology class, I open the class by highlighting the work of a range of psychologists with various intersectional identities. I want my students to see individuals who look and identify similar to themselves—individuals who have gone on to amazing careers in psychology and related fields.  A quick look at recent Black APA Presidents includes: Jessica Henderson Daniel, PhD., first Black woman President of the Association, Rosie Phillips Davis, PhD, Jennifer F. Kelly, PhD, and current APA President Frank Worrell, PhD.  You can read about Dr. Worrell and then explore links to previous Presidents on the governance webpage. You will find brief biographies but also links to videos and publications. In addition, I like to have my students look online for research and publications by Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) psychologists, neuroscientists, etc. related to the various topics we cover in class. I want them to not only learn about the research and accomplishments but also to see their own possible futures.

    As we progress through Black History Month, let us work with our students to highlight the work of Black Psychologists and other leaders, celebrating their lives and accomplishments. If you learn about a BIPOC scholar that got “lost in history” or someone who everyone should know about today, share what you have learned on the STP Facebook page, via Twitter, or other social media. Let us all learn and celebrate together.

    For more information about Black History Month, see:


    Muir, H. (2012, February 15).  Maya Angelou: 'Barack Obama has done a remarkable job.’ The Guardian.

    Payton, C. R. (1984).  Who must do the hard things? American Psychologist, 39, 391-397.

    Tatum, B. D. (2017). Why are all the Black kids sitting together in the cafeteria and other conversations about race (Kindle edition). Basic Books.

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