Greetings from the President

01 Jan 2021 12:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

2020 is over! At last!

A year ago, I celebrated New Year’s Eve at home in Jersey City, NJ, cooking dinner with my husband (and falling asleep well before midnight). We had flown back that day from a week’s vacation in Colombia, where we had joined dear friends for a holiday visit with their family, whom we were meeting for the first time. With the benefit of hindsight, it all sounds so daring. There was hugging, dancing, and crowding on public transportation. We even shared food!

I was a bit anxious upon my return about getting all my prep done for my spring courses. At that point, it hadn’t even crossed my mind to describe my spring courses as “face-to-face.” Based on my usual teaching load, that would have been like describing mail as “snail mail.” Fast forward to March…

Who could have guessed that travel would soon grind to a halt? That hugging or meeting strangers – your friends’ parents even – would be forbidden? That we would be socially isolating for months and months (and months)? Reading preprints from disciplines far from our own, trying to understand how to thwart a dangerous virus? Developing strategies to combat misinformation? Teaching remotely, while scrambling to develop creative ways to engage and assess? Supporting our students not just in their studies but in their lives (even more than usual) as they faced illness, family difficulties, financial strains, and emotional distress? And all of this compounded by growing awareness of a second longstanding pandemic of racism? Not me.

A year later, we have all learned so much. I have learned from friends, family, colleagues, and students, but also from STP. STP’s resources, new and old, have served as encyclopedic reservoirs of helpful information, including about how to be better at teaching online, increasing student engagement, and practicing anti-racism. And our members have reached out to share resources and insights through STP’s social media. Our Facebook page, in particular, which has more than 16,000 members, has been a source of information, solace, and more than one meme that made me laugh out loud!

It was against this backdrop that I planned my presidential task forces, in the hopes that their work would better situate us for future challenges. I put out a call for task force members months ago, and I am thrilled that so many experienced instructors and scholars volunteered to participate. The members of the task forces are diverse demographically, institutionally, and in terms of their roles; we are lucky to have graduate students and early career psychologists among their numbers, as well as very experienced instructors. And so many task force members are new to service to STP, or in several cases, new even to STP!

We also are fortunate to have experts in each of these areas agree to serve as chairs. I am excited to follow the work of these task forces as these strong and experienced leaders guide their talented colleagues. I hope that many of you will reach out to these task forces if you have ideas or suggestions. You can see rosters of the task forces here .

Task Force on Integration of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) and International Initiatives Across STP: The DEI/International task force, chaired by Arlen Garcia, will continue the work on DEI that 2020 President Amy Fineburg initiated. The task force will explore how to more fully integrate STP’s DEI and international initiatives in all we do, including membership, programming, awards, and resources. The task force will examine the structure of the organization, including whether there might be more explicit connections across the five Vice-Presidential areas or whether a new structure would help STP move away from the siloed nature of our current structure. The task force also will offer suggestions to increase inclusion and equity, including with respect to internationalization, in all areas, including with respect to our membership, leadership, award/grant applicants, and invited speakers. To provide input related to this Task Force, please email: TF2021Diversity@teachpsych.org.

Task Force for Resources for “Pivot Teaching”: The task force, chaired by Jenel Cavazos, will gather, solicit, and publicize resources for “pivot teaching” – e.g., changing modalities mid-semester, accommodating individual students whose situation has changed, integrating more flexibility into courses generally. The resources might include information on shifting to online, hybrid, or HyFlex modalities, for providing online resources for students in a face-to-face course, and for communicating with students in flexible, creative, and inclusive ways. The task force will prioritize top-notch, evidence-based, student-centered teaching and learning as modalities and other conditions shift. For questions related to this Task Force, please email: tf2021pivotteaching@teachpsych.org.

Task Force on Statistical Literacy, Reasoning, and Thinking: Guidelines 2.0: This task force is particularly close to my heart because I chaired the first iteration of this task force in 2012. The outcomes of our peer-reviewed statistical literacy guidelines were published on the STP website in 2014. Since then, there have been far-reaching changes in the ways in which statistics is taught, and the ways in which changes in best practices for research methodology have driven how statistical analyses are approached. The task force will create updated STP guidelines for statistical literacy, reasoning, and thinking to incorporate what we have learned from the open science movement, data ethics initiatives, and new analytical approaches. The task force will be chaired by Jess Hartnett, with Garth Neufeld chairing the subcommittee targeting the introductory psychology course and Erin Freeman chairing the subcommittee targeting the psychology major. For any questions related to this Task Force, please email: TF2021Statistics@teachpsych.org.

I look forward to serving as STP President this year, as we (hopefully) emerge from pandemic restrictions. STP is made up of a remarkable group of people who care deeply about teaching and about the scholarship of teaching and learning. I have two new year’s resolutions. Most importantly, to emerge from this pandemic, with support from the STP community, as a better instructor and scholar and ally to members of marginalized groups. And secondly, to travel again, ideally with locals, and hopefully back to Colombia where I will dance and hug and crowd onto public transportation with abandon!

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