"This is How I Teach" Blog

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Teaching shouldn't be a private activity, but often it turns out that way. We don't get to see inside each others' classrooms, even though we'd probably benefit if only we could! In order to help Make Teaching Visible, we've introduced this blog, called "This is How I Teach." We will be featuring the voices of STP members twice a month. Psychology teachers will tell us about how they teach and what kinds of people they are -- both inside and outside the classroom. 

Are you interested in sharing your secret teaching life with STP?

We’d love to hear from you!  To get started, send your name, institution, and answers to the questions below to the following email: howiteach@teachpsych.org.  

  1. Tell us about your favorite lecture topic or course to teach.
  2. What are three words that best describe your teaching style?
  3. What is something your students would be surprised to learn about you?

"This is How I Teach" edited by: Rob McEntarffer, Editor (Lincoln Public Schools), and Virginia Wickline, Associate Editor (Georgia Southen University)"
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  • 18 May 2022 10:47 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    School name:  Missouri State University

    Type of school: public four-year with approximately 20,000 students

    School locale (including state and country): Springfield, Missouri, USA

    How many years have you taught psychology? It’s been 20 years since I finished my PhD and got my first teaching position, but I feel like I just started.  Time flies!

    Classes you teach: I’ve taught a wide variety of classes in the past, including Social, Personality, Statistics, Research Methods, Women and Gender, and Cultural Psychology, but for the past nine years, my focus has been exclusively on Introductory Psychology.  I’m also an instructor of our Teaching of Psychology course, which is designed to train the undergraduate psychology majors who assist with the Intro course.

    Specialization (if applicable): e.g. clinical, cognitive, teaching, etc.  Social

    Average class size: 330 in Introductory Psychology

    What’s the best advice about teaching you’ve ever received? “Allow your classroom to double as your research lab.”  I can’t point to one single person who told me this bit of advice, but it’s something I’ve heard over and over from STPeeps over the years.  My SoTL work has definitely made my teaching more effective, and it’s helped a ton with my research productivity, so I’m really grateful for that advice!

    What book or article has shaped your work as a psychology teacher? Twenty years ago, my friend from grad school, Angela Walker, (now at Quinnepiac University) gave me a copy of The Teaching of Psychology: Essays in Honor of Wibert J. McKeachie and Charles L. Brewer edited by Steve Davis and Bill Buskist. I loved that book, and it was the first I ever read that was written by people in the STP world.  It made me want to strive to be a master teacher and it gave me a sense of how to do that.

    Briefly tell us about your favorite lecture topic or course to teach.  These days, I love teaching students about research from the field of positive psychology.  We have such a strong belief in our culture that our happiness and well-being are dependent on our life situation (what sort of job we have, how much money we make, who our partner is, what our health is like, etc.), so I love presenting  research that shows that those sorts of external situations account for just a small bit of our overall level of happiness and that there are loads of simple, intentional behaviors we can engage in that can make a big difference in how happy we feel.  I think students need this stuff now more than ever.

    Briefly describe a favorite assignment or in-class activity. I developed a class demonstration on top-down versus bottom-up processing that uses backmasking.  It’s so much fun and it helps students really understand this difficult concept.  I first play a backward clip of a song for the class and ask them if they hear the hidden message.  They don’t (that’s their experience with bottom-up processing).  I then play the same clip, but I show them the purported hidden message as they listen. Now they hear the message, and they understand that that’s top-down processing. I did this demo at NITOP several years ago and shared a handout that describes how to do the demo and that has a link to my slides. If you’re interested in trying it out, it’s here.  

    What teaching and learning techniques work best for you? I teach massive sections of Introductory Psychology (330 students), so I find using clickers really useful for checking in to see how well students are understanding the concepts we’re covering in class.  When a lot of students miss a particular question, I ask them to talk to the person next to them about the question, and then I re-poll.  The percentage of correct responses almost always goes way up.  Peer instruction is fantastic stuff!

    What’s your workspace like?  I have a tiny office with no windows, but I love it.  I’m now 99% paperless, so my workspace is wonderfully uncluttered as a result.  I cherish good lighting, so I keep the terrible fluorescent lights turned off and use lots of lamps.  My walls are covered with posters I found while traveling, funny pictures of my kids, and my kindergarten diploma (my mother kept everything).

    Three words that best describe your teaching style. Enthusiastic, down-to-earth, and caring

    What is your teaching philosophy in 8 words or fewer?  “I believe the children are our future.”  I’m kidding!  Whitney Houston always sings in my head when I’m tasked with writing a teaching philosophy.  Here’s the real one: “Show students you care about them as individuals.”

    Tell us about a teaching disaster (or embarrassment) you’ve had and how you dealt with the situation.  The first class I taught independently was in my third year of grad school.  It was a 50-minute, M/W/F Social Psychology course.  I fully prepped my first three lectures before the semester started and I felt like I was really on top of things.   I showed up that first Monday and made it through my first set of lecture notes in 20 minutes.  By the end of class, I’d gone through all three class preps and still had time to spare.  It took a long time for me to learn how to slow down and pace myself.  I’m now really good at knowing exactly how much material to prep for a given amount of time, but that didn’t happen overnight.

    What about teaching do you find most enjoyable? I love doing research with undergraduate students more than anything.  When I was an undergraduate myself, learning about research and getting to conduct my own studies was by far the very best part of being a psychology major, so I really enjoy sharing that experience with students.  My undergraduate research lab members are amazing students, and our lab meetings are the most fun, creative time of my work week!

    What is something your students would be surprised to learn about you? I get grumpy.  Students always assume that the behaviors they see from us in class are reflective of what we’re like all the time - textbook fundamental attribution error. I have a carefully curated, very bubbly, very enthusiastic persona in the classroom. Students frequently comment about my constant positive mood, and my daughters laugh and laugh when I tell them this. I can grump like the best of ‘em, but I’ll never let my students see that side of me!

    What are you currently reading for pleasure? I just finished Maus by Art Speigleman.  I ordered it months ago when it was in the news for being banned by a Tennessee school board and I finally started reading it last week.  It’s a truly great, Pulitzer Prize winning graphic novel and sadly, it’s an incredibly timely read right now.  

    What tech tool could you not live without? I can’t imagine life without YouCanBookMe.  Students use it to sign up for meetings during my office hours. It’s been a real game-changer and saves so much time and back-and-forth emailing. I’m indebted to the great Sue Franz for introducing me to this tool in one of her conference tech talks many years ago.

    What is your hallway chatter like? What do you talk to colleagues about most (whether or not it is related to teaching/school)? Offspring! Many of my colleagues have children around the same age as mine (my daughters are 13 and 16), so a lot of our hallway chatter involves sharing stories from the frontlines of parenting teenagers. I also have a number of colleagues with toddlers and preschoolers, and though I always tell them it gets easier, I don’t really believe that’s true. I consider that to be an acceptable (and humane) deception, though

    Has your teaching changed because of the Covid19 pandemic? Our Introductory Psychology instructional team had to make a lot of Covid19-related adjustments to the course.  For example, we moved exams online and we dropped class participation from our grading scheme.  We plan to go back to our pre-pandemic class structure in the fall of 2022, and I can’t wait.  That said, I’m not sure things will be exactly as they were before just because our syllabi go back to normal.  I suspect most college instructors will continue to see effects of the pandemic on students’ mental health and academic performance for a long time.  Fortunately, I think those of us who teach psychology are in a unique position to incorporate best practices from our field to help students overcome these setbacks.  Collectively, we’ve all been through a lot, so it’s going to take time and a lot of thoughtful effort to help everyone get back on their feet. 

    PSYCHSESSIONS: listen to Cathy discuss introductory psychology with Garth! E138: Christie Cathey: Introductory Psychology Expert, Teacher of Teachers, Understanding Self Through Multicultural Lens



  • 18 Apr 2022 11:38 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    School name: University of Toronto – St. George Campus 

    Type of school: R1 University

    School locale (including state and country): Toronto, Ontario, Canada (there are 3 U of T campuses, but I am smack in the middle of downtown Toronto)

    How many years have you taught psychology? 10 years as instructor of record, 7 post-PhD

    Classes you teach: large enrollment lower-level Statistics 1 and 2 and Intro to Research Methods; smaller upper-level social psych courses like Social Psychology of Emotion and Social Psychology of Close Relationships

    Specialization: I am a social psychologist by training, but my position is as an Assistant Professor, Teaching Stream, which means I focus on undergraduate curriculum and teaching in a major research-focused psychology department

    Average class size: 200 for Stats, 50 for upper-level social psych courses

    What’s the best advice about teaching you’ve ever received? I’m not sure this is the best advice, per se, but perhaps the advice that I consistently carry with me, is that I can’t do everything. There is always more we could do, things we could change, and I struggle with feeling like I’m not succeeding as a teacher because I haven’t implemented some best practice. But, we also need to care for ourselves, and the parts of ourselves that exist outside of work (or, we need to make sure there ARE parts of ourselves that exist outside of work), and being here for my students, imperfect but nourished, is more important than burning myself out while striving for perfection. I’m working on it.

    What book or article has shaped your work as a psychology teacher? This is SERIOUSLY hard to answer, because I am a voracious reader, and have been reading and following psychology and higher education blogs since 2012. I am also an aspirational book buyer – the books (or ebooks) I have on my shelf are my to-do list, a reminder of my values, beautiful office art…what they are not, however, is fully read.

    As just a couple of examples of things that have spoken to me, though:

    • This blog post came across my RSS reader early in grad school, when I was struggling with impostor feelings and feeling like a weirdo for being in a top research program but loving teaching. I was feeling like I wasn’t ‘enough’ somehow, and this post gave me vocabulary to start to explain to myself and others that I wasn’t choosing a ‘lesser’ path.
    • This blog post (which is now a full book) was hugely influential in shifting how I think about students who are not like the student I was. I always fancied myself supportive and empathic, but this article really made me think about who my policies were disproportionately harming. It was an important first step down the road of need-supportive teaching, accessibility, equity, and living my values, which I still work on everyday.

    Briefly tell us about your favorite lecture topic or course to teach  I really love teaching intro stats. I love seeing students go from anxiety and/or disengagement to begrudging appreciation (or even all-out liking).

    Briefly describe a favorite assignment or in-class activity. One of my favourite assignments is the blogging assignment I developed for a Close Relationships course and have also used in a Sex & Gender course. It is a semester-long project that helps students think critically about readings, paraphrase technical information, communicate with a non-expert audience, and learn from each other. Also, way more fun to read than research proposals.

    Read more about it on the blog itself here and in an STP eBook here!

    What teaching and learning techniques work best for you? In stats and methods, I make use of active lecturing techniques, since these classes are 200-400 people. I intersperse periods of lecture with learning check questions, think-pair-share discussions, and activities to practice what we are learning. When I moved to online asynchronous in 2020, I recorded my lectures in small chunks (6-18 min each) and programmed LMS quizzes or discussion boards to mimic the in-class activities I had come to love.

    In my upper-level courses, I love taking good time for small group discussion about journal articles multiple times a term. They are in the same small group all semester, so they can get to actually know classmates and not have to do the awkward getting-to-know-you stuff every week, and I provide a discussion guide to keep them on track and make sure they discuss the stuff I want them to talk about. Then, afterward, we take a few minutes as a whole class to highlight key parts of their discussions. It is a great balance of the intimacy of small group work with structure.

    What’s your workspace like? After waiting three years with my itty bitty windowless office, I was finally moved into a bigger, sunlit space… in June of 2020. So I moved all my stuff, but still haven’t really had a chance to nest and make it mine! For now, my workspace is still our tiny home office (with afternoon sunlight and tons of gorgeous plants, courtesy of my green-thumbed spouse) and my Zoom room.

    Three words that best describe your teaching style. Conversational, need-supportive, evolving

    Tell us about a teaching disaster (or embarrassment) you’ve had and how you dealt with the situation. Scene: Psych 100 TA-led discussion section in my very first quarter of my very first year of graduate school. I am barely older than my students, just 22, and I am trying desperately to be taken seriously. In one session, I am to be introducing students to Alfred Kinsey and the scientific study of sex. One slide has links to different sections of his classic 1948 report, and instead of choosing a topic myself, I want my students to indicate what they most want to learn about. I could say, “tell me what you want to learn about!” but noooooo, instead, I say brightly for all to hear, “okay, who wants anal sex?”

    So. That happened. We all laughed and I was slightly less uptight for the rest of the term. No other choice, really!

    What is something your students would be surprised to learn about you? Probably something that doesn’t fit the schema of “nerdy professor,” like that I was in a cover band in college, or have been skydiving twice. Those experiences make me sound cooler than I actually am (evidenced by the fact that I used the word ‘cool’).

    What are you currently reading for pleasure? Right now I am reading School for Good Mothers by Jessamine Chan. I’m only about 1/3 of the way through and it is hard and sad and haunting and scary, so of course I need to see it through. I have a huge queue of books of all kinds for pleasure (see above re: aspirational book buying) and I do my best to set aside at least a few minutes for reading each day.

    What tech tool could you not live without? I don’t know if this counts as a ‘tool’, but I highly value the connection and professional and personal networks that social media supports. Of course there are toxic things in all places inhabited by humans, but overall, my life is better and I am better at my job and a better person because of these virtual social spaces. As many folks know, the STP Facebook group holds a very dear place in my heart (I was mod/admin of the group for 4.5 years) and was especially valuable to me as a grad student/ECP trying to find my way. I also avoided Twitter until June of 2020 when I joined to judge a poster conference, and have since found another amazing community. It connected me with professional spaces I didn’t otherwise have easy access to (e.g., the world of faculty developers) and with voices I didn’t otherwise hear often (e.g., disability scholars and advocates, LGBT scholars and advocates, Black scholars and advocates, Indigenous scholars and advocates), all of which have informed my personal and professional development.

    PSYCHSESSIONS: Listen to Molly talk about self-determination theory and other connections between psychology research and her life! "E118: Molly Metz: Multi-Talented, Multiple Interests, Deep Commitment to Teaching, Deep Thinking Overachiever"

     

  • 14 Feb 2022 10:43 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    School name: Georgia State University

    Type of school: Large urban research university (50,000+ students)

    School locale (including state and country): Atlanta, Georgia, USA

    How many years have you taught psychology? 16 years at GSU and two years as a graduate student and teaching fellow

    Classes you teach: Clinical Foundations: Psychotherapy (graduate course); Caste and Mental Health (undergraduate honors course); Abnormal Psychology (study abroad course)

    Specialization (if applicable): Clinical

    Average class size: 10-48 students

    What’s the best advice about teaching you’ve ever received?  Teaching boils down to relationships—we absorb ideas and take intellectual risks much more readily when we feel seen and cared about. Make a point of finding a way to connect—even briefly—with all students in ways that allow them to experience themselves as important, valuable, and capable contributors to the world.

    What book or article has shaped your work as a psychology teacher? There are so many! I reread William Zinsser’s On Writing Well annually. I also hate seeing ideas presented as “new” when they are actually being recycled without credit to those who had developed them earlier, so I make a point of tracing ideas and concepts to their origins in the literature. This means that I have been deeply influenced by any number of dusty gems buried in our library stacks.

    Briefly describe a favorite assignment or in-class activity.  I like my students to connect with the world around them in ways that pique their curiosity and build their confidence. In my current class on “Caste and Mental Health”, after reading and discussing Isabel Wilkerson’s book Caste, students conducted video interviews with people from around the world (ranging from a journalist in India from the Dalit caste who has written eloquently about how caste has affected her mental health to psychologists working in different marginalized communities across the U.S.). They will present their findings in class, with a clinical-community psychologist whose work revolves around social justice serving as a virtual discussant.

    What’s your workspace like?  Intermittently pristine and chaotic—I find cleaning and organizing my space to be oddly soothing, so I let it get messy sometimes just for the pleasure of restoring it to order.

    Three words that best describe your teaching style.  Warm, animated, precise.

    What is your teaching philosophy in 8 words or fewer? “Only connect!” (E.M. Forster, Howards End)

    Tell us about a teaching disaster (or embarrassment) you’ve had and how you dealt with the situation.  I have been lucky in that most of my embarrassing moments as a teacher have gone undetected. I think my worst moment was during a guest lecture at my daughter’s high school AP psychology class—I was excitedly talking about psychopathology and whipped out my Expo markers and started scribbling on the board. The entire room gasped, and 3 students ran up to rescue their brand-new smart board from me. Fortunately, they arrived in time and one student sacrificed his sleeve to save the day. Even more fortunately, the incident (and their amazement that I didn’t know what a smart board was) loosened up the group and we ended up having a much livelier and more engaged discussion than we might have otherwise.

    What about teaching do you find most enjoyable? I love the opportunity it provides to connect with students who see the world through lenses that differ dramatically from my own. My university is large and richly diverse, which makes it a wonderful place to build relationships with people whose lived experiences differ dramatically from my own. This context makes teaching and learning much more reciprocal than they might otherwise be, enabling me, in some ways, to live out my ostensibly incompatible dreams of being both a professor and a professional college student.

    What is something your students would be surprised to learn about you? The two things that most often catch them off guard are that I have backyard chickens and that my path into clinical psychology was winding and indirect (I went from a major in English/German Literature to a year in Teach for America, which in turn led me to pursue a master’s degree in school psychology. An unexpected job at a children’s psychiatric hospital/research institute then sent me back to school in clinical psychology.).

    What are you currently reading for pleasure? I keep multiple books going at once—I always have 1-2 mysteries at my bedside (currently Louise Penny and Hillary Clinton’s State of Terror and Stacey Abrams’s While Justice Sleeps). I just got Richard Powers’s The Overstory from my neighborhood little book library and am looking forward to starting it too. When I need something funny, I turn to Allie Brosh, whose Hyperbole and a Half makes me laugh until I hurt.

    What tech tool could you not live without? My Fitbit. Although it doesn’t relate directly to my teaching, the indirect effects of exercising infinitely more than I might without a constant stream of data to digest have been notable. It has also been a surprising source of connection to my colleagues throughout the pandemic—since we were unable for so long to meet in person, we started setting up “walk n’ talk” meetings where we chatted on the phone, upped our step counts, and competed in challenges. These have continued and have been a lovely addition to my working life.

  • 28 Jan 2022 11:40 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    School name: Texas A&M University

    Type of school: super large public R1 PhD granting

    School locale (including state and country): Texas, USA

    How many years have you taught psychology? 23

    Classes you teach: Undergraduate: Psychological Aspects of Human Sexuality, Organizational Psychology, Introductory Psychology; Graduate: Foundational graduate course in Organizational Psychology; Seminar on Occupational Health and Work Stress; and Seminar on Commitment

    Specialization (if applicable): industrial-organizational

    Average class size: undergraduate: 100 (human sex, organizational) – 200 (intro); graduate: 8

    What’s the best advice about teaching you’ve ever received?  When I was going through teacher orientation in graduate school, Sandy Goss Lucas showed several videos of instructors who were VERY different and all were considered excellent. She said to be yourself, care about your students, and know the material--there’s no one right way to be a good teacher. 

    What book or article has shaped your work as a psychology teacher? Mr. Rogers Neighborhood—the old TV show. 

    Briefly tell us about your favorite lecture topic or course to teach. Psychological Aspects of Human Sexuality is my favorite course. Its super interesting and also feels very important in our society.

    Briefly describe a favorite assignment or in-class activity.  I learned this one from my colleagues in Women’s and Gender Studies and began implementing it in my human sex course: let the students set the class ground rules. On the second day of class, I set the first two ground rules, which is that all adult consensual sexual behavior is acceptable and that we respect all people. From there, I ask the students to either get into small groups to discuss other rules (pre-pandemic) or to write some ideas in paper (during pandemic). Then they nominate rules to the class (one at a time), followed by discussion and modification, and then we agree as a group to adopt the rule. I’m not surprised at the consistency across courses—like some form of “people are going to tell some stories here, don’t retell them to others outside of class for your entertainment and definitely do not share identities.” But I am surprised by the nuances that different classes bring each semester. Then I include the class rules on the syllabus quiz (open syllabus/open notes).

    What teaching and learning techniques work best for you? Lots of discussion, often based on an interesting video. I do both small group (2-4 people) discussions as well as whole class discussions, and both seem useful.  

    What’s your workspace like? Big desk top, very cluttered; usually have a running list of things that need to get done on a paper to my right.

    Three words that best describe your teaching style.  Positive, organized, humorous

    What is your teaching philosophy in 8 words or fewer? It has evolved since I started teaching Human Sexuality about 8 years ago. Now it is: model acceptance, laugh lots, trust students’ mutual care

    Tell us about a teaching disaster (or embarrassment) you’ve had and how you dealt with the situation. The most embarrassing thing I’ve said—although it’s 100% a reasonable description—is the time I described the internal vaginal structure and how it is normally “deflated” or “collapsed” when it is not engorged, but when it is engorged the fluids provide more structure and so it is more “inflated” or “stands up like a cylinder or a canister.” Then I said—here it is—the vagina is like a bounce house. How did I deal with it?  I hid behind the white board, then posted to social media where everyone got a good laugh.

    What about teaching do you find most enjoyable? Student learning and self-discovery. Sometimes it is about their career paths and lifelong goals, sometimes its about their identities, sometimes something else entirely. Knowing that I am a small part of their personal progress toward becoming who they are going to be, or their better understanding of themselves, is worth the effort.

    What is something your students would be surprised to learn about you? I went to poetry camp as a high school student, as part of a summer arts institute in Oklahoma.

    What are you currently reading for pleasure? With my family: The Nevermoor Series by Jessica Townsend; for myself: The Murderbot Diaries by Martha Wells, Wayfarer series by Becky Chambers, Veronica Speedwell series by Deanna Raybourn

    What tech tool could you not live without? My phone—gotta DUO authenticate into everything!

    What is your hallway chatter like? What do you talk to colleagues about most (whether or not it is related to teaching/school)? Hallway chatter is usually about (a) research, (b) graduate student questions/concerns/progress, (c) our kids, (d) big picture university politics/programs/questions, and (e) from 2012-2018, the TV show Scandal.

    Has your teaching changed because of the Covid19 pandemic? If so, how? (positive and/or negative changes) Yes, and I think for the better! I lectured less. I standardized deadlines (e.g., a deadline every week at exactly the same time every week). I switched to online, weekly, open book/notes quizzes instead of in-class, closed books/notes, every few weeks tests. The shorter format was because I worried that there would be a change to COVID protocols at the time of a test and it would make everything complicated. (And in Texas, we had the deadly freeze in February 2021, so it did happen—classes cancelled, people didn’t have power, etc.) The online was convenience, although setting it up was not! And it turned out that open book/notes didn’t result in radically different distribution of scores than closed books/notes. I’m keeping all of these changes.

  • 28 Oct 2021 10:51 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    School name: Oregon State University

    Type of school: Public Research

    School locale (including state and country): Corvallis, Oregon, USA.

    How many years have you taught psychology? 24

    Classes you teach:  Intro Psych, Research Methods, Health Psychology, Science of Teaching and Learning, Teaching Seminar.

    Specialization (if applicable): Social/Personality

    Average class size: 350 (Intro Psych); 30 (Teaching Seminar); 50 (Research Methods)

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

    “Don’t sweat the small stuff, and its mostly all small stuff.”

    “Evaluations will often feature outliers on both ends of the spectrum. Savor the highs. Note the lows. Be watchful for what is consistent across students either way.”

    “Have a clear idea about why you are having students do something. It must have a purpose and the potential to help them learn (evidence based or research promise). It you cannot share why (tie it to your philosophy) then perhaps you should not have them do it.

    Not everything you are told to do, should be done. Be critical of suggestions and educational buzzwords.

    Take time for YOU. If you are not strong and rested, you cannot serve students well.

    Practice what you teach- For any comment, email, otherwise (from student, colleague, or friend) may sure you do not react when you are tired, and without considering situational attributions – what is going on in that person’s life or day, next to the potential knee-jerk person attribution (that person is X).

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

    Working on recent and current book projects, especially Thriving in Academic (with Pam Ansburg and Mark Basham), Study Like a Champion (with John Dunlosky), Model Teaching Criteria (with Aaron Richmond & Guy Boysen), and Transforming Introductory Psychology (with Garth Neufeld, co-editor and some of the most hard-working teachers I know, members of the APA Intro Psych Initiative).

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

    Absolutely love teaching about stress and coping and how to best study in the class topic category.

    Because of the significance to life, I really enjoy teaching health psych and methods though have to admit one of the biggest thrills was to develop and teach a course called Gods, Ghosts, and Goblins: Why we believe.

    Briefly describe a favorite assignment or in-class activity.  

    One of the most difficult things to do is students to tease apart the mechanics of science, and see how what to them seems like jargon, actually translates to life. One of my favorite activities is to first have students complete a survey with numerous scales from psych such as measures of personality, self esteem, health beliefs model, etc.  The survey has no labels and this is early in the course (done it in both research methods and health psych). Once we cover material on the related topics I have them see if they can identify which scales were used based on the material taught/read. They develop hypotheses about how the different concepts are related, then I give them data from their own class and THEY analyze the data to practice their stats skills. Then they interpret the findings writing both an APA style abstract to practice technical writing and as a blog and twitter post to practice sharing science and ensuring they can talk about the concepts and findings confidently and in a way they can easily apply to life.

    What teaching and learning techniques work best for you?

    I am a big fan of sharing cognitive science with my students and really helping them to use it. I used to just talk about best practices, then I realized I should the time to PUT it INTO practice. Now each class period I have a practice retrieval exercise. I design assignments to explicitly foster spaced practice. I script classes to interleave materials from different chapters.

    I am also comfortable with not being serious all the time and believe that I can be firm as long as I am fair and flexible. I try to be as genuine as possible and take pains to acknowledge that students have other classes than mine, and a life as well, often with multiple hardships and stressors.

    What’s your workspace like? 

    I like color and memory cues. My offices (I have two appointments so a Center for Teaching and Learning Office and a Psych one) have mementos from places I have been and numerous fun things students have given me. I also have some of my favorite family pictures around – even a glimpse at them on a hard day can make me automatically smile and feel stronger. Yes, there are a fair amount of little items but all of them have a story. There is always something to catch a students’ eye and it is a great ice-breaker.

    Perhaps most often commented on are my collection of Barbie dolls. I taught a class on Culture, Development, and Health, and one component on gender development discussed the role of toys in shaping identity. I bought a “Barbie in India” in India (I was born and raised in Bombay) as an example of how toys shape minds around the world. On a whim I bought the same figure here in the US. Shockingly, the doll from India was fairer than the same doll made in the US. This makes for really thought provoking conversations on the whiteness.

    Three words that best describe your teaching style.  

    Energetic, Engaging, Entertaining.

    What is your teaching philosophy in 8 words or fewer?

    Care

    [If you really care about student learning you will take pains to learn how to do it well, invest the energy that it involves, and see every single student holistically and as one with potential.] 

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

    Thankfully there was nothing big enough that it came to mind easily when I read this question. There have been the hiccups. One day the tech in room failed and I had to use the overhead projector and conduct the entire class writing on the plastic sheet from the material in my head (I did not print out a hardcopy of the day’s material). Another day, a student made a negative comment about “fast-food workers” and another student took offense as her mother raised her by working fast food. That was uncomfortable and I am not sure I did the best job alleviating the situation (I am more prepared now). And yes, once a student asked if I could say “Thank you come again” in a strong Indian accent aka Apu on the Simpsons. That was a great teachable moment that while very difficult was in the end I believe enlightening for all.

    What about teaching do you find most enjoyable?

    I love the energy of a classroom as student “get it” or revel in the new knowledge. It is a thrill when I run into them years later and they share what they remember or more so, when they get in touch and say how they use what they learning in their lives and in their jobs. I love trying to find a new way to do something and having it work, or the challenge of not having it work and trying again.  I love the repeated opportunities for redemption—a day not go well, revise, go back and do it better!!

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

    I am a pretty open book so after a term with me they probably know I love to cook, am fascinated by identity, immigration, and history, do not have a wide range of musical genres I listen to. They may be surprised to know I broke my nose in a street fight in Bombay that had ties to nefarious mafia activity (not my ties).

    What are you currently reading for pleasure?

    To get my mind to stop whirling, I try to end every day and start every weekend morning, with something not connected to research or class planning and development. I try to only read if it is pleasurable and actually enjoy the stuff I have to read for ‘work’. Right now I am reading “Exterminate the Brutes” by Sven Lindquist, in which he traces European imperialism and exposes the diverse roots of racism, ideas expanded on by Caste (Wilkerson). I am also midway through John Burnett’s “Bangkok Haunts” a very different type of crime story (lots of cultural commentary in it).

    What tech tool could you not live without?

    Thankfully none.

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

    A lot of conversations are around the great outdoors and fun activities planned for the weekend J. Oregon is a wonderful place to live.

    Has your teaching changed because of the Covid19 pandemic? If so, how? (positive and/or negative changes)  

    It is all positive in that the pandemic gave me a chance to explore better ways to make all students feel inclusive, additional techniques to allow flexibility in types of assessments and assignments, and just to try to new things. This fall I am experimenting with ways to have students in my large gen psych course have backchannel conversations. I also am trying new ways to share syllabus information.

    In the complete opposite of "Syllabus Day" (give syllabus and leave, and a tradition that should go extinct) I been dedicating the first full class to sharing how material applies to life, engaging activities, modeling participation, creating comfort, and explicitly talking about how to study. Students are often overwhelmed on day one and this may hamper attempts to process a full syllabus. So this term I tried something new.  I rolled out the syllabus in two phases. On Day 1 of class they got a Syllabus Snapshot - One sheet. Visual. Key elements. Gentle entry. Easier read. We talk about it.  The full syllabus with more details is available online. I am also think about ungrading and how that fits in.

    PSYCHSESSIONS UPDATE: Listen to Regan talk with his buddy Eric Landrum in 2017 about his childhood in Bombay, Carleton College, and other topics! https://psychsessionspodcast.libsyn.com/e012-an-interview-with-regan-gurung 

    Regan would like STP folks to know about these upcoming books!

    Thriving in Academia:
    Building a Career at a Teaching-Focused Institution https://www.apa.org/pubs/books/thriving-academia

    Transforming Introductory Psychology:
    Expert Advice on Teacher Training, Course Design, and Student Success https://www.apa.org/pubs/books/transforming-introductory-psycholog
    y

    An Evidence-based Guide to College and University Teaching
    Developing the Model Teacher https://www.routledge.com/An-Evidence-based-Guide-to-College-and-University-Teaching-Developing-the/Richmond-Boysen-Gurung/p/book/9780367629847

     

  • 28 Sep 2021 11:17 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    School name: Bard College

    Type of school: Residential liberal arts college

    School locale (including state and country): Annandale-on-Hudson, NY, USA

    How many years have you taught psychology? 6-7 years

    Classes you teach: Introduction to Psychological Science, Statistics for Psychology, Social Neuroscience, The Science of Goal Pursuit

    Specialization (if applicable): e.g. clinical, cognitive, teaching, etc. Social/cognitive neuroscience


    Average class size: ~15-20

    What’s the best advice about teaching you’ve ever received?  Something to the effect of “Learn to recognize the point at which any additional effort you put into course prep leads to diminishing returns.” Put another way: be content with “good enough.” You can always revisit and tweak later!

    What book or article has shaped your work as a psychology teacher? The Spark of Learning by Sarah Rose Cavanagh

    Briefly tell us about your favorite lecture topic or course to teach.   Recently, I have enjoyed teaching on the topic of ego depletion and several replications that have found weak depletion effects (at best). The idea of limited and depletable willpower not only resonates with students personally, but it

    Briefly describe a favorite assignment or in-class activity.  In my science of goal pursuit seminar, students complete a group assignment comprised of a public service announcement (in audio or video form) in which they present an effective, evidence-based self-regulatory strategy (or strategies) to change their habits and behaviors to promote goal pursuit. They also create a mock social media post or story to adapt the PSA so it’s conducive to sharing with a broader audience.

    What teaching and learning techniques work best for you? Encouraging peer-to-peer learning via structured group work has worked well for me. With a little bit of nudging and guidance on my part, students often will come to enjoy and own a group project, especially for topics that are more open-ended (e.g., describe the evidence (or lack thereof) of this psychological phenomenon or behavior, or, how does the brain represent the self?). 

    What’s your workspace like? On my desk I have my laptop hooked up to a widescreen secondary monitor. Both sit on a table-top standing desk converter, which I often forget to use to minimize my sitting time! I have a single-cup drip coffee maker within arm’s reach of where I sit. A few feet away is a small and inviting round table with two chairs where I have meetings (in safer times) with colleagues and students. There’s usually ample light that streams in from windows behind me, and I often hear the chatter of squirrels as they scurry up and down a large oak outside my office.     

    Three words that best describe your teaching style.  On my better days, I hope that my teaching style can be described as: inviting, compassionate, and empowering.   

    What is your teaching philosophy in 8 words or fewer? Awaken and empower the learner within every student.

    Tell us about a teaching disaster (or embarrassment) you’ve had and how you dealt with the situation. It wasn’t quite a disaster, but for one activity students had to install a free statistical software package on their laptops and each student had a different error during installation, so a lot of class time was eaten by troubleshooting. 

    What about teaching do you find most enjoyable? What I find most rewarding is the privilege of witnessing students’ first exposure and reactions to fundamental psychological and statistical concepts.  

    What is something your students would be surprised to learn about you? Some students may be surprised to learn that spirituality (namely, the Christian faith) is a major lens by which I view and interpret the world, and that I do not see science and religion as incompatible.

    What are you currently reading for pleasure? I do not have much time for leisure reading at the moment, but earlier this summer I was fascinated by the historical context and key players in the United States’ pandemic preparedness plans described in The Premonition by Michael Lewis.

    What tech tool could you not live without? My trustworthy Logitech wireless presenter/remote! 

    What is your hallway chatter like? What do you talk to colleagues about most (whether or not it is related to teaching/school)? Hallway chatter is varied and ranges from “where can I find the best X type of food?” to “what explanations of a p-value have you used that make it less mystifying to students?” 

    Has your teaching changed because of the Covid19 pandemic? If so, how? (positive and/or negative changes)  And as far as how my teaching has changed because of the pandemic, I would like my pedagogy to embody the phrase: “do less, well.” I would much rather my students have a deeper, more nuanced understanding of fewer concepts and ideas than a cursory, fleeting grasp of more concepts. This would simultaneously free them from the stress of trying to collect, remember, and reproduce the presented material and enable them to repeatedly engage their scientific reasoning and critical thinking skills.

  • 27 Aug 2021 11:28 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    School name: Western Carolina University      

    Type of school: Regional Comprehensive with Masters and Doctorate in Psychology programs

    School locale (including state and country): North Carolina, USA

    How many years have you taught psychology? 7

    Classes you teach: Neuropsychology, developmental psychology, research methods and statistics

    Specialization (if applicable): Neuroscience and development

    Average class size: 40/undergraduates; 10/graduates

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

    Students need to know you’re on their side in order to challenge themselves and grow over the duration of the semester or degree. Convincing students that you are as committed to their success as they are gives them courage to succeed.

    What book or article has shaped your work as a psychology teacher? “Make it Stick” By Brown, Roediger, and McDaniel which gives a structure based on cognitive psychology for classroom principles to promote retention. Additionally, I have been heavily influenced by Paulo Freire’s work in problem posing and contextualization of education.

    Briefly tell us about your favorite lecture topic or course to teach.  I love teaching neuroscience and research methods courses. These courses are often perceived as “hard” by students and I find satisfaction in showing students that they can overcome difficult content and even if they don’t plan to continue to graduate school, they can benefit from and apply the concepts we talk about to various parts of their life. For example, I teach basic spreadsheet management as part of my research methods courses. Most students arrive to the class with no understanding of spreadsheet logic or basic principles of data management, which are integral to any business endeavor or even managing a household budget.

    Briefly describe a favorite assignment or in-class activity. One of my favorites is “neurotransmitter BINGO” during which students use their notes to match definitions to neurotransmitter abbreviations on a BINGO board. They get really into the competitive aspect while reviewing the material and it reinforces the need to take good notes!

    What teaching and learning techniques work best for you? I don’t practice a fully flipped classroom, because many of my students expect and benefit from the structure of a traditional lecture. However, I do incorporate active learning strategies in pretty much every class. The combination of lecture and experiential learning seems to strike a good balance for my undergraduate students who vary in their experiences and academic preparation. By scaffolding them in this way, they are able to become active participants in their education without feeling abandoned to their own devices.

    What’s your workspace like?  A clutter. I am working on the piles of papers and creating a filing system but keep finding other more pressing things to do. I will say that the first week of the transition to teaching from home I recognized the need for a second monitor in my home office. I switch back and forth between tasks often and having more virtual space is important. In the classroom I rely on google slides and a white board as well as a lot of papers and worksheets I print out. I’m getting better and creating virtual ways to complete in class activities (thanks, COVID), but sometimes there is no substitute for having a case study on your desk to work through with a neighbor.

    Three words that best describe your teaching style. Enthusiastic, experiential, committed to students.

    What is your teaching philosophy in 8 words or fewer? You can do difficult work. I will help.

    Tell us about a teaching disaster (or embarrassment) you’ve had and how you dealt with the situation. I’ve had a few technical glitches such as sharing the wrong file and once I accidently broadcast my ultrasound photo from a not yet announced pregnancy. The biggest issue was a misconstrued sarcastic comment about the difficulty of a test which convinced a few students that I was “out to fail them.” That was one of the most pivotal moments in my teaching career in realizing that students didn’t necessarily know that I want them to succeed. I think we have to gain student’s trust before we can ask them to challenge themselves and let them know that we are teammates, coming in with an assist, not goalies trying to prevent them from scoring.

    What about teaching do you find most enjoyable? I love building relationships with students and seeing them bring their own expertise and experience into the classroom. Now that I’ve been at this a few years, it’s been really cool to see what students go on to do and which students keep in touch. When I was very young, I loved acting and being in plays. I think I bring a lot of that same energy into my classroom and enjoy improvising and riffing on comments and questions as they come up.

    What is something your students would be surprised to learn about you? I hated science and math in elementary and middle school. I thought that they were pointless and wouldn’t serve me later on. Boy, was I wrong... But that experience was valuable and I now build my courses around ideas and skills that my students can directly apply, even if they don’t go on to graduate school or think that they aren’t “science people”.

    What are you currently reading for pleasure? I just finished “Maybe You Should Talk to Someone” by Lori Goittlieb. I wanted more experience and knowledge about the counseling profession and clinical psychology route, as I have so many students who are interested in pursuing it as a career and I know little about it as an experimental psychologist. I also love a good novel and recently have enjoyed “Ask Again, Yes,” “The Flight Attendant,” and “Such a Fun Age”

    What tech tool could you not live without? Zoom, because we’re still living through a pandemic. I also love Calendly to schedule office hours and advising meetings and am slowly converting my graduate students and colleagues to using R.

    What is your hallway chatter like? What do you talk to colleagues about most (whether or not it is related to teaching/school)? Different colleagues have different types of conversations. These days it’s a lot of, “How have you been, I haven’t seen you in forever!” In general, we talk about research, shared students, and general day-to-day life stuff. We live in a small town and everybody knows everybody, which is a great dynamic. 

    Has your teaching changed because of the Covid19 pandemic? If so, how? (positive and/or negative changes) There are a number of technologies and changes to promote accessibility that I think have been really useful and will continue post-COVID. A large number of our students commute fairly long distances to campus, so I will continue offering virtual office hours and meetings to students who are unable to come to campus. I think that my comfort with online classes and openness to recording lectures and creating virtual assignments has been helpful and will make my courses more accessible to students going forwards.

     

  • 28 Jul 2021 9:24 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    School name: University of Wisconsin-Superior

    Type of school: Four-year public liberal arts college

    School locale (including state and country): Superior, WI, USA

    How many years have you taught psychology? 12 years full time  

    Classes you teach: Reading and Writing for Psychology; Senior Research; Learning and Behavior; Psychopharmacology; Psycholinguistics; General Psychology

    Specialization (if applicable): Cognitive

    Average class size: 25

    What’s the best advice about teaching you’ve ever received? Remember that you are always the adult in the room.

    What book or article has shaped your work as a psychology teacher? Schwartz, M. A. (2008). The importance of stupidity in scientific research. Journal of Cell Science, 121, 1771.

    Briefly tell us about your favorite lecture topic or course to teach.   I honestly love all of classes (there are no clunkers)--but the one that has become a passion is Reading and Writing for Psychology. There is so much embedded in that course that is foundational to academic (and professional success): information literacy, critical reading, explaining complex concepts, and at its core is the message of continuous improvement and the need for constant revision. It is also a great chance to invite students into your own areas of growth as a scholar and normalize them; my students are often shocked that even professors need multiple drafts and feel frustrated and procrastinate-y. That course is both a skill builder and an invitation to the constant struggle of reading for comprehension, writing, and revising.

    Briefly describe a favorite assignment or in-class activity.  I really enjoy teaching my students to concept map and how to annotate figures (Hoskins, 2008). Concept mapping helps my students see two things: 1.) How much they actually know about at topic and 2.) How all of their knowledge fits together. It’s constructivist learning at its finest!

    What teaching and learning techniques work best for you? I really enjoy using the C.R.E.A.T.E (Consider, Read, Elucidate the hypothesis, Analyze and interpret the data, Think of the next Experiment) method in my content classes (Hoskins, 2008). Because it is an active learning approach that focuses on teaching how to think like scientists, it’s successful in a wide range of classes (from Psyc 101 to 400-level classes like Psycholinguistics). I also use this approach in my Reading and Writing Course because it helps my students learn active reading and analysis that’s critical for close reading of scholarly articles. C.R.E.A.T.E is also great because it remedies one thing that was missing from my undergrad psychology degree: how to read scholarly articles effectively.

    Hoskins, S. (2008). Using a paradigm shift to teach neurobiology and the nature of science—A C.R.E.A.T.E-based approach. Journal of Undergraduate     Neuroscience Education, 6(2), A40-A52.

    What’s your workspace like?  Like a filing cabinet exploded.

    Three words that best describe your teaching style.  Adaptive, informal, rigorous

    What is your teaching philosophy in 8 words or fewer? Foster growth through curiosity, skepticism, literacy, and confidence.

    Tell us about a teaching disaster (or embarrassment) you’ve had and how you dealt with the situation. In my first semester of full-time teaching, I realized that my tights didn’t fit as well as I thought and were falling off. I stepped behind the desk at the front of the classroom, kicked them off, and kept lecturing. If my students noticed they took mercy and didn’t say anything!

    What about teaching do you find most enjoyable? Everything but the grading! Mostly I enjoy the relationships with students and watching them see how much they are learning and gaining skills.

    What is something your students would be surprised to learn about you? I think my students would be surprised that one of my summer jobs in college was being a camp counselor at a sleep away camp or maybe that I have never had a cup of coffee.

    What are you currently reading for pleasure? Kimmerer, R.W. (2013). Braiding sweetgrass. Milkweed Editions.

    What tech tool could you not live without? I tend towards the low-tech side of things—but I love speed grader on Canvas! My bad handwriting doesn’t cause an issue and I can’t spill tea on that homework.

    What is your hallway chatter like? What do you talk to colleagues about most (whether or not it is related to teaching/school)? It’s been a bit since we all had a hallway to chatter in—but a lot is about classes and university politics/drama. We also get in a fair amount of talk about pets, food, and life in general.

    Has your teaching changed because of the Covid19 pandemic? If so, how? (positive and/or negative changes)  On the positive side, I’ve gotten a lot better at organizing my materials within our learning management system. On the negative side, I feel more disconnected from my students, and I’ve found it hard to foster mentoring relationships at a distance. I hope to continue developing my virtual mentoring skills as more students choose online learning options.

     

  • 03 May 2021 10:53 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    School name: Benemérita Universidad Autónoma de Puebla, Department of Psychology

     

    Type of school: Public University

     

    School locale (including state and country): Puebla, Pue., Mexico

     

    How many years have you taught psychology?

    In December 2020, I turned five and a half years as a professor-researcher at the department of psychology. I got my permanent position (as tenure) in November 2020.

     

    Classes you teach:

    I have essentially taught research methodology courses (we have four compulsory courses). I mainly focus on the class of quantitative methods in psychology. In 2016, we had an update of the psychology degree program. I participated in developing an elective course on the modeling of cognitive processes. I have taught this subject ever since. This is an advanced course of cognitive psychology.

    I have also taught Statistics I and II and thesis seminars at the graduate level. Typically, I teach between 7-8 courses per semester.

     

    Average class size:

    It varies a bit; In the undergraduate degree courses, the number range from 45 to 60 students per class. In graduate courses, I have in my groups 10 to 13 students.

     

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

    It was not direct teaching advice, but it was something that helped me get through difficult times; a very dear friend from neuroscience told me during my Ph.D. "be practical." This advice has also helped me a lot in my teaching work. From my undergraduate studies and later in graduate studies, I tried to remember and record in my memory the practices that I liked the most about my professors. I have always loved teaching and wanted at some point to apply all the good things that I learned from my professors.

     

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

    Several books have helped me a lot. Specifically, I could do the following: Dr. Rex Kline, "Becoming a behavioral science researcher"; Dr. Wendy A. Schweigert, "Research Methods in Psychology: A Handbook"; Dr. Hugh Coolican, "Research Methods and Statistics in Psychology"; and Dr. James Goodwin, "Research in Psychology." Two books that have helped me a lot in my classes recently are Dr. Farrell and Dr. Lewandowsky's "Computational Modeling of Cognition and Behavior" and Dr. Smith and Dr. Kosslyn's "Cognitive Psychology: Mind and Brain."

    I must confess something; the thing that has helped me the most lately, especially during the pandemic, are the recommendations and papers that the members of the STP post and comment, both on Facebook and in the STP journal.

     

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

    This is a tough question. There are many things that I love. Two topics that I could say would be above the others would be ANOVA (during quantitative analysis course) and the subject of connectionist models of categorical learning (in the class of modeling cognitive processes). In the first topic, I love being able to carry out an exercise from scratch (i.e., statement of the problem) and carry out the whole process until finishing with the interpretation and adequate presentation of the results. It allows me to explore different data sources and use free and open software like JASP and jamovi, besides introducing a Bayesian approach. About connectionist models, I love to review the aspects of memory and some neurological disorders that could lead to certain conditions. It is also where we strongly introduce Python as our programming tool to evaluate prototype and sample models.

     

    Briefly describe a favorite assignment or in-class activity.  

    As I mentioned in the previous question, I love the theme of ANOVA and connectionist models. In ANOVA, I like to show students the research process from scratch; we establish a research question and "live" we do the whole process. To acquire the data, I show them how we simulate some data (particularly during the pandemic) or download some data from legal and official pages. We carry out the respective analysis, and they report their results and their interpretations to me. We take great care in the aspect of effect sizes and other methodological considerations. As for the connectionist models, I like hands-on activities in the code and modifying it to find the parameter space.

    It motivates me a lot when I see their code manipulation results and their work in Python.

     

    What teaching and learning techniques work best for you?

    With the pandemic, I have had to adapt some things that usually worked for me in person, but something that has been very efficient for me is working the problems directly in the session with situations applied to reality and using real and free databases. The students get motivated knowing that they can apply their knowledge to the real world. Another crucial thing that I incorporated this semester was having an international online seminar. I am in charge of a research group of undergraduate students called Neuro-COGNiMATH LAB. These seminars serve as a perfect complement to the topics of different courses.

    The seminars are given mainly by female researchers from all around the world. The students become more closely involved in the research process and interact with the researchers.

    I have been using various platforms to record asynchronous sessions. I upload these recordings for the students that cannot connect to the synchronous session.

    I want to share the links to the places where we publish these talks; hopefully, these could be useful for you.

    Facebook page (@CogniMath) (https://www.facebook.com/CogniMath/)  

    YouTube channel (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC-i2MNSTK8nOO5ye69oInpA)

     

    What’s your workspace like? 

    Before the pandemic, my office only had a blackboard and my desk. Of course, I had my bicycle parked there; that before some health problems, it served as my transportation. Usually have some things from my daughters; on several occasions, they accompany me to my classes.

    With the pandemic, my desk has my computer and a second monitor to teach my classes; one side my drawing tablet to draw and annotate on the slides or screen.

    Three words that best describe your teaching style.  

    Motivated, engaging, honest, empathetic (sorry for writing four)

     

    What is your teaching philosophy in 8 words or fewer?

    Love learn, enjoy, share knowledge and help others

     

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

    This question reminds me of some hard memories. But I will focus on two difficult moments. On one occasion, I was in my 7 AM thesis seminar class, and I had my daughter with me when suddenly, I started to have severe pain in my right side and was on the point of fainting. As I could, I suspended the class and arrived at the clinic. I couldn't have my daughter with me, and one of my students supported me at that time to take care of her. Later, in the next class, we continue with the presentations that were pending. The other occasion was the year we had an overwhelming earthquake. Unfortunately, we lost the building that housed us for so many years, so we had to move to another campus in the university to continue with the activities about three weeks later; We had to restructure many aspects of the courses, but we were able to get ahead.

     

    What about teaching do you find most enjoyable?

    I think; no, that's not the word; I am sure it is when my students tell me that they are grateful and happy for everything they learned. It satisfies me a lot to see them happy and abundant with what they have done in the course. Even greater, when the years or courses have passed, and they write to me to tell me that what I taught them has served them a lot on their path, or they turn to me for guidance or advice for their dissertations. It makes me extremely happy to see them filled with success.

     

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

    At the end of each session, I take a moment to reflect on the errors or omissions that I may have made during class; also, every day, I spend time looking for new and better tools and resources to share in my courses.

    And while I enjoy online classes because of the opportunities it presents, I miss my students so much and being able to be with them in the classroom.

     

    What are you currently reading for pleasure?

    With the pandemic, it is complicated to have time to read something independently, but I like to read some stories with my daughter; however, most of the "free" time, we draw together and work on her literacy process. I am reading about EEG aspects and Dr. Richard A. Chechile's latest book on Bayesian statistics for experimental scientists. But I would love to read a novel. But above all, to continue writing a book about my life, which I left pending before the pandemic.

     

    What tech tool could you not live without?

    I could say that I wouldn't miss any technology, but I would be lying. I think it would be my cell phone. Not only for communication but a lot of the work I do, I do it from there (presentations, Python code, data analysis, announcements, etc.)

     

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

    The pandemic has reduced the talks a bit, but usually, with my colleagues, I like talking about projects, improvements, proposals, and I like that we share experiences of our trajectories. Once a dear friend, who is now in her postdoc in Poland (I think), told me that "I always had something to talk about and share," so I really enjoy talking.

     

    Has your teaching changed because of the Covid19 pandemic? If so, how? (positive and/or negative changes)  

    The negative side is not being able to be in the classroom with my students. It is one of my favorite places because I love teaching. On the other hand, for me, it has brought many positive things. I have been able to organize myself better, I have learned many tools and the handling of many platforms and databases. One of the most important things was to establish the seminar I was commenting on; it has allowed us to get closer to the world; at a time when we are separated. It has been fundamental to establish ties for the formation of my students. And the pandemic has allowed me to explore different course goals that are better achieved with online classes.

  • 01 Apr 2021 9:54 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    School name: Middlesex College (formerly known as Middlesex County College)

    Type of school: Community College

    School locale (including state and country): Edison, NJ (USA)

    How many years have you taught psychology? I’ve been teaching Psychology courses since 2009 when I was in graduate school, so over 10 years.

    Classes you teach: Introductory Psychology, Research Methods, Social Psychology, and Lifespan Development.

    Specialization (if applicable): e.g. clinical, cognitive, teaching, etc. Research Methods and Health Psychology

    Average class size: 30 students

    What’s the best advice about teaching you’ve ever received? Every class and every semester of teaching is different. If something doesn’t go right one time, don’t change it immediately.   

    What book or article has shaped your work as a psychology teacher? “What the Best College Teachers Do” by Ken Bain. I read it in graduate school and it totally changed my way of thinking about teaching.

    Briefly tell us about your favorite lecture topic or course to teach. My favorite lecture topic is when I teach my Research Methods students about experimental designs and the difference between an IV and DV. I give them this example about stress and memory and lecture about the terms. Then we do a demonstration where I give them a list of words with some instructions on what to do with those words. Turns out, it’s a memory test! The students are shocked that I ask them to recall the list even though I talked about memory not 5 minutes before. It’s a lot of fun and they learn a lot about the terms that way.

    Briefly describe a favorite assignment or in-class activity.  My service-learning Lifespan Development students had the opportunity to spend some time at a Veteran’s Home and interact with the residents living there. We developed a project revolving around age and gratitude (this just happened to coincide with Thanksgiving). We interviewed the residents and asked what they were most thankful for and recorded their responses on fake tree leaves. Then, we had the idea to do the same thing with the College community. We set up a Thankfulness Tree and asked students, faculty, and staff to write on the leaves. Then we analyzed the results comparing the differences in responses. It was a great combination of searching the literature, collecting data, and analyzing the results. Students had so much fun doing it, they didn’t even realize they were doing research!

    What teaching and learning techniques work best for you? I have a very interactive classroom and I like to move around a lot. I definitely believe in rotating the types of activities we’ll do in class. Sometimes we’ll watch a video and discuss it, or sometimes we’ll divide up a larger group assignment, sometimes it’s think-pair-share, and sometimes it’s a recall activity where they share what they learned with someone else. I try to change things up to keep students guessing.

    What’s your workspace like? Depends on what point it is in the semester, but my workspace reflects me. I’m fun and funky. I love the Beatles and Yoda, and that is immediately apparent. I also strive to create a more approachable workspace where my students and I will meet at a table in my office instead of a desk. It also gives us more room to stretch out in the space. 

    Three words that best describe your teaching style.  Relaxed, inquisitive, and relevant.

    What is your teaching philosophy in 8 words or fewer? Enthusiastic commitment to teaching and learning.

    Tell us about a teaching disaster (or embarrassment) you’ve had and how you dealt with the situation. In my Research Methods class, I did a factorial design demonstration using different flavored jellybeans. They were both red, but one was cherry flavored, and one was hot sauce flavored. Apparently, the hot sauce flavor was REALLY HOT, and students started spitting it out! The students who received cherry were so confused. Needless to say, I’ve changed flavors since then.

    What about teaching do you find most enjoyable? When students understand the point of why they are learning a particular topic. I never create an assignment or teach on a topic “just because”. I’m always trying to get them to see the bigger picture. When they figure it out on their own, it makes me incredibly proud.  

    What is something your students would be surprised to learn about you? I used to do musical theater in high school and have a pretty decent singing voice. At home, I’m normally always singing with my kids. 

    What are you currently reading for pleasure? I have a book club with my best friends from high school! We are currently reading The Midnight Library by Matt Haig.

    What tech tool could you not live without? My clicker. I’m never near my computer because I’m always walking around the classroom.

    What is your hallway chatter like? What do you talk to colleagues about most (whether or not it is related to teaching/school)? My favorite colleagues and I are always hanging out in each other’s’ classrooms before classes start. It allows students to know other professors and to see that we all like each other. Our hallway chatter is sometimes productive. One time we had this wild idea of holding a panel about the Salem Witch Trials from a biological, psychological, and historical perspective. We wound up actually presenting it to students and had them VOTE on what may have caused the trials (all in fun, of course)! Psychology won! That’s why you’ll see one of my photos with me and my witch hat.

    Has your teaching changed because of the Covid19 pandemic? If so, how? (positive and/or negative changes) I don’t think my teaching has changed much, just how it’s delivered has varied. What I do value is that I am still able to maintain close relationships with my students, and I feel like I still get to know them like I would face-to-face. I do, however, miss my colleagues. We often do virtual game nights, but it isn’t the same as randomly running into them in the hall and having a quick chat.

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