"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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  • 16 Nov 2022 9:20 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    School name: West Liberty University 

     

    Type of school: Public 4-year university with about 2,000 students

     

    School locale (including state and country): West Liberty, West Virginia, United States

     

    How many years have you taught psychology? I began teaching one credit hour statistics labs as a graduate student in 2018, I’ve been teaching full time since Fall 2021.  

     

    Classes you teach: I mostly teach research methods, statistics, intro psychology, and various developmental psychology courses.

     

    Specialization (if applicable): e.g. clinical, cognitive, teaching, etc. My educational background is in translational experimental psychology with a focus on developmental psychology. Within the past few years my focus has expanded to include the scholarship of teaching and learning. 

     

    Average class size: About 15-20 students.

     

    What’s the best advice about teaching you’ve ever received? There will always be things that need to get done. You cannot do everything all at once all the time. You need to be a human, too! 

     

    What book or article has shaped your work as a psychology teacher? I read “Radical Hope: A Teaching Manifesto” by Kevin Gannon a few years ago and one quote has stuck with me since: “Teaching is a radical act of hope. It is an assertion of faith in a better future in an increasingly uncertain and fraught present.” In this profession I think it is easy to get hung up on the hundreds of tasks we have to balance every day. On more challenging days I sometimes have to remind myself why I’m doing this and what is truly important. I teach because I have hope for a better future and I know my students will go on to do great things. 

     

    Briefly tell us about your favorite lecture topic or course to teach.  This question is always a challenge! I think I have a tie. I recently got to create and teach a special topics course titled Early Adversity and Resilience, which is one of my primary research interests. Both semesters I taught it, students engaged in such thoughtful discussion. They were able to make connections to many other courses they have taken and how they can use the course information in their post-graduation lives. I also love teaching statistics. Students usually have a lot of anxiety about taking the course and I enjoy seeing students’ confidence grow once they realize that they can become “math people” too. 

     

    Briefly describe a favorite assignment or in-class activity.  This semester I’m working with my statistics students on semester-long research projects where they will design a study, obtain IRB approval, analyze data, and present it to the faculty and students in the psychology department. This is the first time I’ve done this assignment, but I think it will become a favorite!  

     

    What teaching and learning techniques work best for you? I try to build in a lot of scaffolding into my classes and that seems to fit my teaching style well. I like to ask my students lots of questions to guide their thinking. In skill-focused classes, like statistics, I use a lot of the gradual release of responsibility framework (“I do, we do, you do”) in my lectures. 

     

    What’s your workspace like? My office is small, but I love it. Fluorescent lights aren’t my favorite, so I usually rely on natural sunlight and a lamp for lighting. I’m a pretty organized person, but I usually have a lot of notes, to-do lists, books, and a dozen other things on my desk by the end of the day. 

     

    Three words that best describe your teaching style. Reflective, empathetic, and authentic.

     

    What is your teaching philosophy in 8 words or fewer? Your students have to know you care.

     

    Tell us about a teaching disaster (or embarrassment) you’ve had and how you dealt with the situation. About one week into my first semester being a “real professor”, I was giving my first lecture in an intro psychology course. We were discussing how psychology has a lot of myths, including that we only use 10% of our brains and how very intelligent people, like Albert Einstein, are thought to use more of theirs. I explained that one theory regarding Einstein’s intelligence was that he had structural differences in his brain, like having more melanin. I meant myelin, of course, but didn’t realize my mistake until I had said it a couple of times and my students had very confused looks on their faces. I laughed it off and said something to the effect of, “Well, that’s definitely not what I meant. Let’s try that again!” It wasn’t the most embarrassing thing that could have happened, and think I recovered well, but I felt like hiding under a rock the rest of the day!

     

    What about teaching do you find most enjoyable? I love being able to get to know my students and see them grow over the course of a semester, both academically and personally. I am lucky in my current position to have many of our students over multiple semesters, so I get to know them pretty well by the time they graduate. 

     

    What is something your students would be surprised to learn about you? I think my students would be most surprised to learn I dreaded taking intro psychology as an early undergraduate student. I was an English major and didn’t see how that course would benefit me. Two months into the class I changed my major to psychology!

     

    What are you currently reading for pleasure? I just started reading Lunatic: The Rise and Fall of an American Asylum by Edward S. Gleason. 

     

    What tech tool could you not live without? I love using the program JASP in my statistics courses. It’s open source and so user friendly. 

     

    What is your hallway chatter like? What do you talk to colleagues about most (whether or not it is related to teaching/school)? Our department is small and our offices are close together, so we’re always talking to each other! We go to each other for advice and encouragement or just to talk about how our classes are going, how our families are doing, or our weekend plans.

     

    Has your teaching changed because of the Covid19 pandemic? If so, how? (positive and/or negative changes) I admittedly did not have much teaching experience prior to the height of the pandemic, but I have noticed some changes in my teaching. I find myself thinking more about my students’ wellbeing and what things they face outside of the classroom, both good and bad. I also intentionally build in more opportunities for my students to interact with each other. I missed being a part of those interactions as a teacher, but I think, in general, my students crave the social aspect of learning. I am also more aware of how important it is to be flexible! 

  • 21 Oct 2022 1:55 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    School name: James Madison University

    Type of school: Public university with 20,0070 undergraduate and 2,096 graduate students.

    School locale (including state and country): Harrisonburg, VA USA

    How many years have you taught psychology? 26 years

    Classes you teach:   Currently, I am teaching two courses:  1) Psychological Statistics and Measurement and 2) Learning Strategies. The Learning Strategies class is designed for students facing academic suspension. Other courses I have taught in the past include General Psychology, Psychological Research Methods, Social Psychology, Senior Seminar on the Psychology of the Holocaust, and a few graduate level classes.

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

    Average class size: 25

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

    I am going to share two pieces of advice. First, the best piece of advice is to have fun while teaching. If I enjoy sharing information about a topic; hopefully the students can also enjoy thinking about it.

    Second, a faculty mentor once advised me to trust my students. When I started teaching, I was suspicious of my students assuming they would try to take advantage of me. According to my mentor, consistently being suspicious of my students harms the classroom environment. Although I trust my students, I still take steps to reinforce academic integrity.

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

    Just in Time Teaching:  Blending Active Learning with Web Technology by Novack, Patterson, Gavrin, and Christian. 

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

    This is a hard question!  Typically, my favorite course is whatever class I am currently teaching. I enjoy making psychology relevant for my students. As a social psychologist, some of my favorite classes focus on how the power of the situation can cause people to behave in unexpected ways.

    Briefly describe a favorite assignment or in-class activity.

    For my statistics students, I enjoy exploring a data set from a published study. I hope the practice of using data from actual studies help students understand the relevance of statistics for the field of psychology.

    What teaching and learning techniques work best for you?

    I use different techniques for different classes. Overall, my main technique is lecture and discussion. My students can contribute to the lecture via in-class discussions, demonstrations, or pre-class questions.

    What’s your workspace like? 

    My desk is a bit messy!  I have a standing desk, but I rarely use it.   

    Three words that best describe your teaching style.

    Energetic, Informative, and Empathetic.

    What is your teaching philosophy in 8 words or fewer?

    Motivate my students to engage with course material.

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

    I was teaching a General Psychology class to approximately 300 students. As I walked past the podium, my pants brushed across a sharp edge and my pants ripped exposing most of my leg. Thankfully, there was tape in the classroom. I quickly taped up my pants, made a joke, and then continued on with the class.

    What about teaching do you find most enjoyable?

    This is an easy question!  I like learning from my students. As I get older, it gets harder for me to relate to my students. By hearing about their opinions and experiences, I gain insights into life as a student in today’s society.

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

    As a teenager, I was a magician. I used to do magic at children’s birthday parties. I also conducted a few magic workshops at a local library.

    What are you currently reading for pleasure?

    I just finished Upgrade by Blake Crouch.

    What tech tool could you not live without?

    My smart phone is probably my most critical tool. It allows me to keep up on emails and helps me stay on track for my various meetings.

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

    Since the pandemic begun, much of our conversations have been focused on how the students are changing. After taking so many online classes, some students appear to have difficulty adjusting to the social and academic aspects of in-person classes.

    PSYCHSESSIONS LINK: In this episode Eric interviews Kevin Apple from James Madison University in Harrisonburg, VA. Kevin serves as department chair, and he clearly sees how important the chair is to providing vital services to constituents. The institutional innovation of Assessment Day allows Kevin and the department to leverage assessment in a meaningful way to 'close the loop' and inform changes which lead to measured student outcomes.

     

  • 16 Sep 2022 4:07 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Louise Chim (she/her/hers)

    School name: University of Victoria

    Type of school: Public university (22,000 students) with undergraduate and graduate programs.

    School locale (including state and country): Located on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada on the traditional territories of the lək̓ʷəŋən, Songhees, Esquimalt, and W̱SÁNEĆ peoples. 

    How many years have you taught psychology? 11 years (2 years co-teaching as a graduate student and 9 years post-PhD)

    Classes you teach: Introductory Psychology (I and II), Statistical Methods (I and II), Cultural Psychology, Psychology of Diversity

    Specialization (if applicable): e.g. clinical, cognitive, teaching, etc. I’m a teaching focused faculty member and I teach primarily undergraduate courses. My training is in cultural psychology and affective science.

    Average class size: I teach both range of class sizes (50 to 300) depending on the course and term. I also coordinate the introductory psychology program with about 900+ students per term.

    What’s the best advice about teaching you’ve ever received? When I was starting out and had many new course preps on topics I wasn’t an “expert” in, my mentor told me to aim for “good enough” rather than trying to create the perfect course/class/assessment. I continue to strive to make iterative improvements in my courses rather than trying to do everything all at the same time. 

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

    What has shaped my work as a psychology teacher the most is the learning and reflecting that happens from interactions with the teaching community. That has been the most pleasantly surprising thing that has come from becoming a psychology teacher. The community that has shaped my work as a psychology teacher include workshops and groups organized locally at my university (e.g., psychology teaching seminars, working groups to support instructors teaching first-year classes, workshops and symposia about decolonizing teaching and learning) to regional and international conferences (e.g., TIP Northwest [https://www.tipnorthwest.org/], PsychOne [http://www.psychoneconference.org/])

    Briefly tell us about your favorite lecture topic or course to teach.  My two favorite courses to teach are cultural psychology and statistics.

    With cultural psychology, my favorite part is when students

    • realize how much their assumptions and biases about what makes a “good person” is fundamentally shaped by their cultural context;
    • recognize how much of what we know about psychology is not a diverse representation of the world;
    • and see themselves represented in some of the research we talk about in class.

    With statistics, I find it rewarding when the course exceeds their expectations (and it ends up being even one of their favorite courses in the term) and when students who come in anxious with a fixed mindset about statistics realize that they can grow and learn and ultimately are able to succeed in the course.

    Briefly describe a favorite assignment or in-class activity.

    I enjoy using community engaged learning projects in my statistics class. Students apply what they are learning in class to a larger project and also interact and learn from community members.

    In my cultural psychology class, I like to do activities that show them the individual variation in psychological concepts. For example, I ask students write down all the choices they’ve made today (including some possible choices they may have made in class) to show that there is variation in what people consider a choice or not (e.g., Savani, Markus, Naidu, Kumar, & Berlia, 2010).

    What teaching and learning techniques work best for you?

    I find that I am my most authentic teaching self when I have students engage in active learning in class. I try my best even in more “lecture-style” large classes to intersperse discussion, activities, multiple choice questions, low stakes writing or assignments in class. I also try to have a balance of activities where they are engaging in self-reflection and when they have to work in pairs or smaller or larger groups.

    What’s your workspace like? In terms of set-up, I have dual monitors and a standing desk but decorating my office space is still a work in progress after 9 years of being in the same office. 

    Three words that best describe your teaching style.  Approachable, relatable and relevant

    What is your teaching philosophy in 8 words or fewer?

    I don’t think this quite sums up my teaching philosophy but the best I’ve come up is: “Create flexible and transparent structure and guidelines.

    What about teaching do you find most enjoyable?

    See previous question about which courses are my favorite ones to teach.

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

    That I played collegiate ice hockey.

    What are you currently reading for pleasure?

    I just finished The Skin We’re In by Desmond Cole.

    What tech tool could you not live without?

    A learning management system, particularly for coordinating and structuring large intro psych classes.

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

    You’ll find me talking to colleagues most about teaching-related questions and good / new places to eat in Victoria.

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

    One change that happened because of the Covid-19 pandemic is that my university provided us with easy access to online tools such as zoom and Microsoft teams. With a lot of students commuting to campus, this provides students with easier (virtual) access to office hours.

    PSYCHSESSIONS Podcast: In this episode Garth interviews Louise Chim from the University of Victoria in Victoria, Canada. She played on the hockey team for 2 years as a Harvard undergraduate before pursuing graduate work in psychology / affective science at Stanford. Her resilience and patience are impressive, and she now serves as an associate teaching professor at UVic, and is actively involved in TIP Northwest & Psi Chi.

    https://psychsessionspodcast.libsyn.com/2021/10 


  • 15 Aug 2022 12:27 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    School name: Tarrant County College Southeast Campus (TCC) and University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center (UTSW)

    Type of school: TCC is a two-year college and UTSW is a medical center with no undergraduate students.

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

    How many years have you taught psychology? 1.5

    Classes you teach: TCC: General Psychology, Lifespan Growth and Development, Biological Psychology, Research Methods; UTSW: Research Design and Multivariate Statistics

    Specialization (if applicable): cognitive, behavioral neuroscience

    Average class size: 15-20 students

    What’s the best advice about teaching you’ve ever received?  The best advice about teaching I have ever received is probably: (a) to never reinvent the wheel since thinking simply is often more powerful than trying to think extravagantly and (b) always take a deep breath since that’s all it often takes to soak in the fun part of the job, solve a problem, or have a great idea.

    What book or article has shaped your work as a psychology teacher? Transforming Introductory Psychology edited by Regan Gurung and Garth Neufeld, Powerful Teaching: Unleash the Science of Learning by Pooja Agarwal and Patrice Bain

    Briefly tell us about your favorite lecture topic or course to teach. I really enjoy teaching case studies in the neuropsychology world since they offer a lot of depth and insight into behavior and how the brain functions. I also love teaching about research methods, design, and statistics. No matter what subfield people pursue, this topic is fundamental and follows us everywhere! I think it also helps us understand the world around us and formulate opinions in a world that relies on data and statistics.

    Briefly describe a favorite assignment or in-class activity. One of my favorite activities that I did as a student was a year-long research project that turned into a poster to present at a departmental end-of-year event. It taught me a lot about IRB submissions, the research process, working in teams, and putting data into perspective. As an instructor, I really enjoyed having my students complete an assignment where they could create a 10-minute mini podcast episode on a psychological topic of their choice or write a letter to someone in government about how the topic can apply to policy advocacy and change. Students did a great job with this, and I saw how much they learned and applied to the real world!

    What teaching and learning techniques work best for you? I really enjoy structuring most classes by doing a few minutes of review at the beginning, outlining the objectives of the current day, going through lecture and activities for that content, and then ending class with anonymous (e.g., Poll Everywhere) review questions that help prepare for assessments.


    What’s your workspace like? I need a clear workspace! I really only keep what I am actively working on in front of me, and that includes only having computer programs or internet tabs open if I am using them. This helps me stay focused on the task instead of bouncing back and forth and losing trains of thought. I will often have a cup of coffee, a water bottle, and music or a podcast in the background.

    Three words that best describe your teaching style. interactive, real-world, and enthusiastic

    What is your teaching philosophy in 8 words or fewer? Equip students with skills to evaluate and understand the world.

    Tell us about a teaching disaster (or embarrassment) you’ve had and how you dealt with the situation. My first semester at TCC, I was teaching introduction to psychology. When building the syllabus, I never marked Labor Day, Thanksgiving, and other holidays, so a student genuinely thought I expected them to attend class during the holidays.

    What about teaching do you find most enjoyable? I always believe that everyone has their own story. Teaching gives me an opportunity to get to know people from all sorts of backgrounds and walks of life. It makes teaching psychology a more meaningful experience since everyone can share their views or personal experiences in class, helping everyone understand these concepts in the real world.

    What is something your students would be surprised to learn about you? My students are sometimes surprised to learn that I am a vegetarian, have officiated a wedding, and was in the hospital for 30 days in fifth grade (something tied to cerebellum first, then malaria the second time).

    What are you currently reading for pleasure? Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom and Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

    What tech tool could you not live without? Laptop! I do a lot of writing and journaling for fun, and the laptop holds all of it.

    What is your hallway chatter like? What do you talk to colleagues about most (whether or not it is related to teaching/school)? Coffee, recent sports games, funny stories from class, board games, and TV shows (huge fan of shows like Brooklyn 99, Schitt’s Creek, Friends)

     

     

  • 15 Jul 2022 11:13 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    School name: University of Oklahoma

    Type of school: 4-year flagship state school; R-1 classification

    School locale (including state and country): Oklahoma, U.S.

    How many years have you taught psychology? 13 years as a professor, 4 more as a graduate student.

    Classes you teach: introductory psychology, occasionally lifespan growth and development. I will be teaching a graduate course on psychology teaching for the first time next spring and I can’t wait!

    Specialization (if applicable): technically my Ph.D. is in social psychology, but my job description is master teacher and program coordinator for introductory psychology. I’ve never actually taught a social psychology class!  


    Average class size: 450-500

    What’s the best advice about teaching you’ve ever received? My major professor in graduate school, Dr. Nicole Judice-Campbell, used to tell me, “I’m no different than you are; I’m just a few more years down this path.” She is still the best teacher I know, and I used to think that I’d never be able to be anything like her. Her advice gave me the space to just grow into my own teaching skills and understand that teaching is a journey rather than a destination. For a perfectionist like me, it is so important to receive the message that we are all still learning!

    What book or article has shaped your work as a psychology teacher? Doug Bernstein’s article “Bye Bye Intro: A Proposal for Transforming Introductory Psychology” (2017) really impacted me. I’m cheating a little bit because I saw him give the talk at NITOP so it was really a double-hit sort of thing. But his idea that we need to teach in a way that is impactful to society rather than catering to potential majors (who are unlikely to remember the content anyway) made a lot of sense to me. I created several new assignments based on his ideas in the semester following his NITOP talk, including one where students create an infographic debunking one of psychology’s greatest myths. When I decide what course content to include in class now, I think about whether it will broadly impact the students’ lives rather than whether a psych major would need it for a later class.

    Briefly tell us about your favorite lecture topic or course to teach.  I have a lot of students, so I use a small army of undergraduate teaching assistants to help me run the course (usually 10 or so per class). They are enrolled in an upper-division Instructor’s Aide course, and although it’s not a traditional “class” that I get credit for teaching, it has become one of my favorite parts of my job. I get to know the TAs well, and I spend a fair amount of time mentoring them on psychology-related and life-related things. It also keeps me at least somewhat knowledgeable about the lives of 18- to 20-year-olds, and I use them to bounce off ideas and get suggestions on all sorts of things. Some move on and I never hear from them again, but many others end up returning as TAs for multiple semesters or becoming research assistants. One long-time TA will be joining me as a graduate student this coming fall! 

    Briefly describe a favorite assignment or in-class activity. I give three different surveys throughout the semester to get a sense of how the class is feeling. The last survey includes an open-ended question about the performance of their undergraduate teaching assistants, and I go through and share the best ones with the TAs themselves. They love hearing that they’ve made a difference in their students’ lives, and I love getting to show them how important they really are. Everyone is so supportive of each other, and it’s just such a great, positive way to end the semester.

    What teaching and learning techniques work best for you? I use a lot of repeated testing and elaboration during my classes. Since they are so large, I rely on student response systems to help keep the class engaged and get a sense of how well they are understanding the content. Every few minutes, they will get some sort of question – it might be matching, true/false, multiple choice – but it will be practice from the content we’ve been learning. They can consult their notes and talk to friends, but they typically won’t find an easy answer in their book because I like using application-based questions that make them think. The TAs and I all walk around during the questions, listening to the conversations and discussing where we can. Once the answers have been submitted, I like to dig deeper and ask students to share how they knew which answer was correct, how they could change the question to make one of the other answer choices correct, and so on. I’m trying to train their cognitive flexibility while strengthening recall and boosting class interaction at the same time.

    What’s your workspace like? Very neat and tidy. I’ve been 100% digital in my work since about 2015, so I don’t have papers or journals lying around. Everything lives in the cloud, which is helpful since I move between my campus office and home office a lot. I like to think that my office is friendly and welcoming to students; I have a lot of family pictures, owl décor (my favorite!) and modular furniture that can be moved around to accommodate different groups.

    Three words that best describe your teaching style.  Energetic, authentic, application-based.

    What is your teaching philosophy in 8 words or fewer? Communicate excitement and connect psychology to everyday life.

    What about teaching do you find most enjoyable? Mentorship. I value the relationships I’ve built with students because we both contribute to each other’s knowledge about the world. I pride myself on being approachable, so it is important to me that students feel comfortable seeking out my advice or perspective on whatever challenges they’re facing.

    What is something your students would be surprised to learn about you? I am very involved in singing (I started college as a music major). I sing with a group called Canterbury Voices, which is an auditioned group that performs major concerts several times throughout the year. I have gotten to be a part of many unique experiences as a member of this group, including singing in the Titanic musical with Lyric Theater in Oklahoma City and performing several times with the Oklahoma City Philharmonic. We will be singing onstage with Andrea Bocelli in his “Believe” tour when it comes to Oklahoma City in two weeks!

    What are you currently reading for pleasure? Ok, I can’t believe that I’m admitting this, but I absolutely love vampire romance novels. I’ve read the entire Anita Blake series, the Black Dagger Brotherhood, and several others. They probably appeal to my just-world beliefs because they are predictable and the good characters always win, but honestly they’re just fun.

    What tech tool could you not live without? Top Hat, 100%. I’ve been using their student response system since 2016, but I’ve also added a custom textbook, exams, and several other assignments to their platform. At this point, I’d say 75% of my class is run out of Top Hat (with the other 25% in Canvas).

    Has your teaching changed because of the Covid19 pandemic? If so, how? (positive and/or negative changes). Because of the size of my classes, I was online for an entire year during the worst of the pandemic. When I returned to the classroom this last school year, I kept in-person attendance completely optional and reworked my participation assignments to be completed in person or online. I also kept the online exams that I had implemented during the Covid year, since they worked really well. My class is now optimized for in-person learning but is adaptable to moving completely online for any student(s) who require it. I’m glad I’m able to provide this level of flexibility at the individual student level, and I know I’ll be well prepared if we are ever forced to pivot online again in the future.  

    PSYCHSESSIONS CONNECTION: Listen to Garth and Jenel talk about her introductory psychology courses!

    E140: Jenel Cavazos: Introductory Psychology Master Teacher, Systems Oriented, Thoughtful Mentor


  • 17 Jun 2022 10:06 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    School name: Seton Hall University

    Type of school: Private, Catholic, primarily undergraduate but there are Master’s and Doctoral programs.

    School locale (including state and country): South Orange, New Jersey, United States

    How many years have you taught psychology? Since 2006 at Seton Hall but I taught my first class as a graduate student in the summer of 2002.

    Classes you teach: I have taught a variety bur lately it is mostly Research Methods, Cognitive Psychology Lab, and Orientation to the Psychology Major.

    Specialization (if applicable): Cognitive

    Average class size: 18-25

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

    What book or article has shaped your work as a psychology teacher? Specifications Grading by Linda Neilson

    Briefly tell us about your favorite lecture topic or course to teach.Unsurprisingly, as an experimentalist, I love talking about a 2x2 design and all the potential combinations that can occur and how great it is that we can answer so many questions using this approach.

    Briefly describe a favorite assignment or in-class activity.  Around 1/3 of the way through Research Methods we watch the Ted Talk “How Racism Makes Us Sick” and then go through all the ways it demonstrates what we have learned so far. In addition to the content being brought up the rest of the semester as meaningful, they get a chance to see how much they now can apply from the class.

    What teaching and learning techniques work best for you? I put cognitive psychology into action and focus on spaced learning with plenty of retrieval practice.  

    What’s your workspace like?  Piles of books, papers, and notebooks. Plus lots of things about who I am outside of work so there’s race bibs/medals, pictures of my family, nods to my concerns about EDI, and a framed picture of the Cleveland skyline, which is the city closest to where I grew up. We have generously sized offices so I also have a small sofa, which has come in handy on many occasions.

    Three words that best describe your teaching style.  Compassionate, Transparent, Deliberate.

    What is your teaching philosophy in 8 words or fewer? We are in this together, thankfully.

    Tell us about a teaching disaster (or embarrassment) you’ve had and how you dealt with the situation. This one is stumping me, suggesting I should take more risks! Other than the occasional turn of phrase that I don’t realize has taken on a new meaning, I can’t think of anything that rises to the embarrassment or disaster level.

    What about teaching do you find most enjoyable? Watching how much students can grow and change in the short term of a semester or the longer term of their full college experience.

    What is something your students would be surprised to learn about you? I was a pack a day smoker in college.

    What are you currently reading for pleasure? The School for Good Mothers by Jessamine Chan.

    What tech tool could you not live without? Blackboard grading in browser.

    What is your hallway chatter like? What do you talk to colleagues about most (whether or not it is related to teaching/school)? A bit of everything from classes, to committees, to concerns. I consider many of my colleagues to also be friends and this makes going to work rewarding in many domains of my wellness.

    Has your teaching changed because of the Covid19 pandemic? If so, how? (positive and/or negative changes)I have doubled down on thinking about what is most important and how I can create an equitable classroom that doesn’t also mean I spend my whole life grading.

    BONUS PSYCHSESSIONS CONNECTION: Listen to Marianne talk with Garth about teaching research methods, specifications grading, and more!
    E142: Marianne Lloyd Part 2: Education Innovator, Reflects Meaningfully, Genuine Commitment to Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion

  • 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.

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