GSTA Corner

This blog contains submissions from STP's Graduate Student Teaching Association (GSTA) to the GSTA Corner column in STP News from January 2020 to the present.  The GSTA Corner first appeared in the April 2016 issue of the newsletter, which was then called ToPNEWS-Online.  You can read GSTA Corner columns from April 2016 through December 2019 in past issues of ToPNEWS-Online here.

For regular updates on GSTA activities, follow us on Twitter (@gradsteachpsych) and Facebook (groups/theGSTA), check out our Blog, or write to us at gsta@teachpsych.org. You can find out more about us at teachpsych.org/gsta/index.php or at the GSTA resource website, where we periodically post ideas and materials.

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  • 10 May 2021 12:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Submitted by Laura T. Simon, William Ridgway, & Adam Greene

    Presentation experience at virtual conferences

    Laura: I presented two posters at two different conferences this Spring. While each conference had their own system for submitting and “presenting” posters, the experience at both conferences was very similar. The posters were available for viewing during the entire conference and each conference had a “live” poster session where the author(s) could be on a chat or in a video room to talk with people who “stopped by” the poster. In general, most people who presented posters have noted they did not get many (if any) people who attended their poster session.

    William: Throughout this past academic year, I have presented at a variety of virtual conferences, with the most recent being comprised of a paper talk. Like in-person conferences, virtual conferences have advantages and disadvantages. Prior to being changed to a virtual environment, the first conference I was scheduled to attend during the pandemic involved international travel. While always appreciative for the opportunity to enjoy a new city and/or country, I was pleased to know that I would not have to endure the economic cost typically associated with conference travel, specifically the funds the university does not cover through the typical reimbursement process. In fact, this was my general outlook on virtual conferences until a truly post-pandemic world was seen again; a lens through which economic cost could be alleviated. It did not take long for me to realize that virtual conferences, while reducing economic costs, also come at a social cost.

    Adam: I presented as the first speaker in a symposium at the Midwest Psychological Association conference. Unfortunately, my talk began at 6:30am, due to my current location on the west coast. Given that caveat, the presentation went quite smoothly in my opinion. However, the speakers were in a zoom call, while the viewers watched via live stream on the MPA site. Due to this, I had no way of knowing if anyone was watching, which meant that the best strategy was to imagine that I was simply presenting to the others in the zoom call. While this led to some good questions and interactions between the presenters, the audience was not able to interact with us. This was my first symposium experience, and I have to imagine that in-person ones would be both more challenging and interactive with a visible audience.

    Benefits of presenting at virtual conferences

    Laura: I was grateful for the opportunity to disseminate my research to others during the pandemic. While posters generally had very little traffic, I hope people were still able to view them outside the “poster sessions”.  Worst case scenario, it was still something to put on the CV.

    William: While virtual conferences provide benefits such as a reduction in economic cost and more ideal access to those with disabilities, physical or otherwise, they come at a social cost. One of the reasons conferences are looked forward to in part, is due to the social engagement one experiences when presenting their research. While various organizations have done a noteworthy job of attempting to recreate an in-person experience to the best of their abilities, virtual conferences are simply not the same.

    Benefits of attending virtual conferences as a graduate student

    Laura: As a graduate student, one of the most beneficial parts of conferences (besides presenting) is networking. The virtual conferences I attended attempted to have chat rooms or “networking lounges” for people to stop by to network, but I found very few people used them. Without those important networking opportunities, the best part of conferences was attending symposiums and learning new information.

    Challenges of attending virtual conferences for graduate students

    Laura: For me, the most challenging aspect of attending virtual conferences was the additional workload. Due to the virtual nature of the conference, it didn’t have the pre-pandemic expectations of taking the time off of a regular schedule to travel to a different location. Without the idea of being in a different location for the conference, it was difficult to separate a “normal” work week from the conference week, leading to the conference adding onto a normal weeks’ worth of meetings and work. A major recommendation I have is for those who attend virtual conferences to block off conference time in their schedules like they would if the conferences were in person.

    William: Despite the social cost that comes with virtual conferences, I very much feel as though they should have a place in a post-pandemic world, however, it is equally important to highlight the value of in-person conferences and the level of engagement that they afford to students and faculty alike.

    Other comments on virtual conferences

    Laura: I did not anticipate the zoom fatigue I experienced from attending virtual conferences. It surprised me how draining it was to sit in front of the computer all day (despite virtually working for over a year) and did not give myself time in between conference sessions to recharge like we would during in person conferences. Because virtual conferences don’t seem very different than working from home, don’t forget to take time to rest and recharge like you would for conferences in person!

  • 10 Apr 2021 12:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Submitted by Kelly Cuccolo and William Ridgway

    This month’s Corner will be the final installment of our Q&A series with Steering Committee members. Below, we are featuring this year’s social media outreach committee members.

    1. Type of doctoral program, year, & expected graduation:

    Kelly: I am a fifth-year doctoral candidate in Experimental Psychology at the University of North Dakota. I will be graduating in May of 2021.

    William: I am a third-year doctoral student in Psychological and Brain Sciences at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. I will be graduating in Summer 2023.

    2. Classes you have taught and/or been a GTA for (undergraduate or graduate):

    Kelly: In my first two years of my program, I was a GTA for Psychophysiology, Biological Basis of Behavior, Developmental Psychology, Introduction to Psychology, Diversity Psychology, and History and Systems. Since 2017, I have been the instructor of record for Introduction to Psychology, Introduction to Personality, Social Psychology, and Abnormal Psychology. I have also been an adjunct instructor for Lake Region State College and University of Minnesota Duluth.

    William: In my second year of the program, I was a GTA for Statistics for Psychologists. Since the 2020 academic year, I have been the instructor of record for Introduction to Psychology and in Fall 2021, will be the instructor of record for Forensic Psychology.

    3. Experiences you have been able to participate in because of being a part of GSTA:

    Kelly: I have been able to disseminate information on teaching pedagogy, and diversity and inclusion to other graduate students to help them improve their teaching.

    William: I have been able to take an active role in providing graduate students with important resources and best practices for teaching. Additionally, being a part of GSTA has allowed me to forge incredible relationships with other graduate students and faculty members outside of my own academic institution.

    4. Benefits of GSTA on your professional development and future as an academic:

    Kelly: I have really appreciated being able to connect with other students who are committed to equitable teaching and using empirically supported practices in the classroom.

    William: I have been exposed to new information and perspectives pertaining to the teaching of psychology that have allowed for me to more effectively connect with students and structure courses that result in students having the ability to play gracefully with ideas. Ultimately, the continuous adoption of new perspectives and styles of teaching allow me to grow into an ideal instructor.

    5. Impact of GSTA on you personally:

    Kelly: I really feel supported in my teaching by being part of the GSTA – it is very personally fulfilling to build these connections and also to know you have people to turn to for advice on teaching.

    William: It provides one with a supportive community that results in you feeling safe enough to take risks. There are so many ways in which a subject can be approached, so having individuals you can discuss various ideas with is important. The process and feedback allow for an additional level of confidence in how you choose to lecture on a particular topic.

    6. Advice (teaching and/or research tips) for other graduate students:

    Kelly: Do what works for you, find what works for you. Everyone is going to have a different style of teaching that is most effective for them so don’t try to force yourself to teach in a way that doesn’t fit your personality, values, and goals. Also, don’t be afraid to ask for help, or to admit that you’re wrong or don’t know an answer – students appreciate the honesty and humility.

    William: The many pieces of advice when it comes to teaching is extensive, so I will discuss a couple of them. First, when it comes to that first day in the classroom, make sure to walk through your course in detail and express the expectations for your students. It is true that you never get a second chance to make a first impression. Thus, a professional introduction and thorough review of what to expect, is extremely important. Second, do not try to lecture on all the material presented in the textbook. It is important to identify what needs attention in class. Accomplishing this will allow you to take time to teach important or complex topics, instead of speeding through a lecture trying to cover each piece of information presented in the textbook.

  • 10 Mar 2021 12:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Submitted by Laura T. Simon (Treasurer) and Adam Green (List-serv Monitor)

    During these first few months of this new year, the GSTA Corner will be featuring brief interviews with all six members of our committee. This month, we are featuring this year’s Treasurer and Listserv Manager.

    Type of doctoral program, year, & expected graduation:

    Laura: I am a fifth-year doctoral candidate in Developmental Psychology at the Ohio State University. I am on track to graduate in August 2021, but I may extend until May 2022.

    Adam: I am a third-year doctoral candidate in Applied Experimental Psychology at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. I hope to graduate either Summer of 2022 or Spring 2023

    Classes you have taught and/or been a GTA for (undergraduate or graduate):

    Laura: I have taught 8 sections of Introduction to Psychology at the Ohio State University. I was a graduate teaching assistant (GTA) for undergraduate Behavioral Neuroscience, as well as Social Psychology: The Self. I am hoping to teach undergraduate Psychology of Childhood or Lifespan Development for the 2021-2022 academic year.

    Adam: As a graduate student, I have TAed for Introductory Psychology, Graduate Research Methods, Graduate Statistics, and Introductory Statistics/Research Methods. I hope to teach my own course (Social Psychology or Stats/Research Methods) in the coming semesters.

    Experiences you have been able to participate in because of being a part of GSTA:

    Laura: As a member of the GSTA, I have been able to disseminate information on teaching pedagogy, advocate for equity in the classroom, and share my love of teaching with fellow graduate student instructors.

    Adam: I have been involved in contributing to and disseminating the GSTA Corner, writing blog posts on equity in schools, and working with the other committee members to best support graduate student teachers.

    Benefits of GSTA on your professional development and future as an academic:

    Laura: The GSTA provided additional leadership and service opportunities to support my future goals as an academic. I am grateful for the opportunities to collaborate with fellow GSTA steering committee members and graduate student instructors who are as passionate about teaching as I am.

    Adam: I have gained experience in leadership, collaboration, and pedagogical practice from my activities with the committee. Simply having access to the other GSTA members has given me new perspectives, techniques, and priorities when it comes to my teaching style and goals.

    Impact of GSTA on you personally:

    Laura: Besides the relationships cultivated between the GSTA steering committee, I have felt personally and professionally supported by participating in the GSTA. My teaching has been invigorated and I have gained a great deal of satisfaction leading, assisting, and challenging other graduate student instructors to continue to grow in the classroom.

    Adam: The GSTA committee is a group of people who truly love teaching. As I come from a program which is research/consulting based, having people like myself who take joy in teaching has been crucial for me in feeling supported and valued as a teacher. While we have not been able to attend conferences as a committee, I am hopeful that we will be able to in the future and can meet graduate student teachers that way.

    Advice (teaching and/or research tips) for other graduate students:

    Laura: Be yourself. I think it is easy for graduate student instructors to get weighed down by imposter syndrome or trying to be someone they are not. If you’re funny, use it to make students laugh and connect with the material! If you are serious, make the gravity of what you teach enhance your students’ empathy or the importance of the material. There is no “one right way” to teach, so teach your way!

    Adam: I agree with everything Laura said. I would also add to be compassionate towards your students and anyone who works with you or under your supervision. We are teaching, and students are learning, in trying times. Do your best to work with your students to give them the best learning experience that they can have!

  • 10 Feb 2021 12:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Submitted by Amy K. Maslowski (Chair) & Maaly Younis (Deputy Chair)

    During these first few months of this new year, the GSTA Corner will be featuring brief interviews with all six members of our committee. This month, we are featuring this year’s Chair and Deputy Chair.

    1.   Type of doctoral program, year, & expected graduation:

    Amy: I am a third year Counseling Psychology doctoral candidate at the University of North Dakota (UND). My anticipated graduation is August 2021, after I complete a one-year internship in 2021-22.

    Maaly: I am a fifth year, doctoral Candidate in the Educational Psychology program at the University of Northern Colorado and on track to graduate Spring of 2021.

    2.   Classes you have taught and/or been a GTA for (undergraduate or graduate):

    Amy: I have been teaching and/or a graduate teaching assistant (GTA) since I started in my master’s program at the University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD). At the undergraduate-level, I have been involved in Dialogues in U.S. Diversity (a Multicultural Psychology course) and Developmental Psychology). At the graduate level, I have been a GTA for Cognitive Assessment, Personality Assessment, Child & Adolescent Counseling, and Career Counseling.

    Maaly: I have taught several classes for the undergraduate level such as educational psychology, intro psychology, statistical methods, and lifespan and development. I also assisted in teaching theories of learning and psychology of prejudice.

    3.   Experiences you have been able to participate in because of being a part of GSTA:

    Amy: I think one of the most significant experiences I have been able to participate in with the GSTA is connecting with fellow graduate students who share my passion for teaching and SoTL research. This mutuality has been especially beneficial during the COVID-19 pivot and renewed calls for equality.

    Maaly: Being a GSTA member allowed me to connect to wonderful fellow graduate students and professors. I also was able to share my thoughts through blog posts.

    4.   Benefits of GSTA on your professional development and future as an academic:

    Amy: My time with GSTA has solidified my drive to become an academic. It is inspiring to be able to collaborate with many Div 2 leaders and be able to share in the development of the Division from a graduate student perspective.

    Maaly: Being part of the GSTA leadership is a great opportunity to navigate leadership and service for the academic community that goes beyond my institution.

    5.   Impact of GSTA on you personally:

    Amy: Personally, I have found our monthly meetings (as well as my weekly meetings with outgoing Deputy, Jessica Brodsky) to be an important time to check-in with others, share our experiences, and have a space to both share and receive support. We are a tight-knit group who care for each other on both a personal and professional level.

    Maaly: Being a GSTA member made me grow.

    6.   Advice (teaching and/or research tips) for other graduate students:

    Amy: In terms of teaching tips, my students have appreciated that I strive to create a safe and supportive classroom experience for all. Furthermore, I am constantly aiming to improve my courses by allowing students continuous opportunities to provide me with feedback on class.

    For research, I encourage other graduate students to consider how research can be embedded into your classes. Moreover, as graduate students, we have innovative ideas and opportunities to test those out in the classroom.

    Maaly: Vulnerability is courage, and compassion is a strength. Humanizing yourself in the classroom goes a long way in connecting and bonding with your students.

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

    We are excited to announce that two new at-large members will join the GSTA for 2021, in addition to two 2020 members moving into their new roles as Chair and Deputy Chair! We are grateful to our outgoing members and those who are able to continue their role on the Steering Committee.

    The GSTA will be meeting later in January to discuss the budget, ways to increase engagement with graduate students, and how to maintain the visibility of Div 2 and the GSTA. We look forward to another engaging year!

    Over the next few months, we will feature each of the GSTA members in more depth by asking them to share about their teaching and research experiences. Be on the lookout for these mini-interviews to come!

    Meet the 2021 GSTA Steering Committee!

    Amy Maslowski, GSTA Chair

    Amy Maslowski is a Counseling Psychology doctoral candidate at the University of North Dakota. She received her master’s degree in Clinical-Counseling Psychology from the University of Minnesota Duluth. Amy has undergraduate instructor and graduate and undergraduate GTA experiences. She is involved in SoTL research and published and presented in ToP outlets.

    Maaly Younis, GSTA Deputy Chair

    Maaly Younis is an Educational Psychology doctoral student at the University of Northern Colorado. Her major areas of research are studies of transformative learning and academic engagement in teacher education, Photovoice, culturally responsive pedagogy. She teaches several undergraduate courses such as Introductory Psychology, Educational Psychology & Psychological Statistics.

    Adam Green, Steering Committee Member

    Adam Green is a doctoral student in Applied Psychology at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. His research interests involve moral and political beliefs. He has assisted in several courses including Research Methods, Applied Behavior Analysis, and Advanced Statistics. He hopes to support and improve GTA experiences through the GTSA.

    Laura Simon, Steering Committee Member

    Laura T. Simon is a Developmental Psychology Ph.D. student at the Ohio State University where she completed her M.A. in Intellectual and Developmental Disability Psychology. Laura has proudly taught Introduction to Psychology at Ohio State for over 3 years. Her primary research interest is anxiety in autism spectrum disorder.

    Kelly Cuccolo, Steering Committee Member

    Kelly Cuccolo, M.A. is a doctoral candidate in Psychology at the University of North Dakota. After serving as Chair for Psi Chi’s Network for International Collaborative Exchange from 2017-2019, she began conducting research on the scholarship of teaching and learning. Her favorite class to teach is Introduction to Personality.

    William Ridgeway, Steering Committee Member

    William Blake Ridgway has master’s degrees in Experimental and Forensic Psychology and is a Psychological and Brain Sciences Ph.D. student at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. His academic research examines internal cognitive processes involved in lineup decisions and the application of psychological theories to criminal justice issues.

  • 10 Dec 2020 12:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Submitted by:

    Jessica Brodsky (Outgoing Chair)

    Elizabeth Che (Immediate Past Chair)

    Amy K. Maslowski (Chair-Elect)

    As this year ends, we reflect on the outstanding leadership of Liz and Jessica, and the legacy they leave the GSTA. We are truly grateful for their commitment to advancing the GSTA and wish them all the best! We asked them to reflect on their time with GSTA, and their thoughts are below.

    Type of doctoral program and expected graduation:

    Liz: I am in my fifth year of the Learning, Development, and Instruction specialization in the Educational Psychology PhD Program at The Graduate Center, City University of New York. I am expecting to graduate in 2022.

    Jessica: I am in my fourth year of the Learning, Development, and Instruction specialization in the Program in Educational Psychology at The Graduate Center, City University of New York. I’m hoping to graduate in 2022.

    Roles you have had in GSTA:

    Liz: I joined the GSTA when I first started the doctoral program in 2016 while the GSTA was operating under the host institution model at The Graduate Center. I served as the Deputy Chair from June 2017 through December 2018, and as the Chair from January 2019 through June 2020.

    Jessica: I joined the GSTA when I first started my doctoral program in 2017. I served as the Deputy Chair from January 2019 through May 2020 and as the Chair from June 2020 through December 2020.

    Experiences you have been able to participate in because of being a part of GSTA:

    Liz & Jessica: The GSTA supported us in attending and presenting at psychology teaching conferences. We presented research related to the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) in psychology at the STP’s National Institute on the Teaching of Psychology and attended the SoTL Workshop at the STP’s Annual Conference on Teaching. We are grateful to the STP for its programming at regional psychology conferences, as these conferences are great venues for graduate students to share their work and meet colleagues at nearby institutions.

    Additionally, the GSTA provided us with several opportunities to help share evidence-based teaching practices with other graduate students. We co-edited and contributed to The GSTA Guide to Transformative Teaching, the second volume of the GSTA’s How We Teach Now e-book series. We also helped implement the annual day-long pedagogy conference at The Graduate Center and co-authored posts for the GSTA Blog.

    Liz: While serving on the GSTA leadership, I collaborated with other GSTA members to develop surveys to better understand the pedagogical needs and supports for graduate students who are teaching. The findings of the survey inspired my colleagues and I to create a new training-based survey that includes content acquisition podcasts and downloadable teaching materials to incorporate employable skills in their undergraduate courses. The current survey, funded by the STP SoTL Grant and The Graduate Center, is recruiting graduate student instructors until Spring 2021. The first 300 participants to complete the survey will receive a $10 Amazon e-gift card.

    Jessica: I worked with the GSTA leadership team to develop a position statement and call to action for graduate student teaching assistants and instructors of psychology. We identified six actions that we, as graduate students, can take to make our instruction more inclusive, equitable, and anti-racist, and expanded on these action items in a series of blog posts on the GSTA Blog.

    Benefits of GSTA on your professional development and future as an academic:

    Liz & Jessica: Through our participation in the GSTA, we have had the chance to practice a variety of communication skills, including presenting, editing, and writing for different audiences. Serving as the Deputy Chair and Chair developed both of our leadership and collaboration skills. At STP conferences and workshops, we heard from and met many scholars and instructors whose commitment to the teaching of psychology is inspiring.

    Impact of GSTA on you personally:

    Liz & Jessica: A highlight of being part of the GSTA has been meeting and working with wonderful colleagues who are as excited as we are about SoTL and teaching psychology!

    Advice (teaching and/or research tips) for other graduate students:

    Liz & Jessica: When we wrote the introductory chapter for the second volume of How We Teach Now: The GSTA Guide to Transformative Teaching, we described eight steps for becoming a more transformative teacher. These steps pretty much capture the advice we would give other graduate student instructors.

    Jessica: Of the eight steps, the one that I am constantly reminded of is “consider yourself as a learner.” I am always learning from my colleagues, my mentors, my students, and the teaching of psychology community. Remembering to consider myself a learner has made me a better teacher.

    Liz: Likewise, I am also constantly reminded of being a learner. I find teaching and learning as a cyclical growth process that requires an active and open mind to seek, evaluate, and apply the resources and experiences that we gained through practice.

    Anything else?

    Liz & Jessica: It has been an honor to serve in a GSTA leadership position! We wish the new leadership much success as they continue the critical work of supporting graduate student instructors of psychology.

  • 10 Nov 2020 12:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    In early June, the GSTA released a position statement and call to action in response to heightened racial injustices. Since then, GSTA Steering Committee members have written a series of blog posts for the GSTA Blog elaborating on the six action points described in the statement. Each of these blog posts focuses on two different action points and includes additional resources and ways to translate the action points in our classes and work on campus. We are pleased to announce that the final post in our blog series is now available on the GSTA Blog. We are grateful to the GSTA Blog editorial team for their support and feedback on these blog posts. Please check out the complete blog series via the links below.

    The first blog post addressed the following action items:

         Decolonize your syllabi by including the work of scholars and psychologists from diverse identities and backgrounds.

         Discuss with students and colleagues how discrimination and inequity have shaped the field of psychology and the world around us.

    The second blog post, addressed the following action items:

         Engage with students and colleagues across disciplines in activism to create change in your classrooms, institutions, and communities.

         Above all, be compassionate and supportive to your students, your colleagues, and yourself during these times.

    The third blog post addressed the following action items:

         Create inclusive learning environments that celebrate diversity, do not tolerate discrimination, and embrace all voices and opinions.

    Adopt anti-racist and culturally responsive teaching and assessment practices.
  • 10 Oct 2020 12:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Submitted by the Members of the GSTA Steering Committee

    As we reflect on the unprecedented start to this academic year, we have observed strategies that are working well, as well as experiences that are more challenging. We wanted to share our thoughts with you in this month’s Corner as a reminder that we are all figuring this out together! Each member of the Steering Committee was asked to identify one teaching strategy or practice that is working well in their course, and one they are still working on.

    It is working well to...

         Accommodate testing formats from in-person, closed-book tests to an online format using timed exams that are open-book/open-note. (For considerations on timed exams, please see Gernsbacher et al., 2020.)

         Combine Zoom breakout rooms with Google Docs so that students can work collaboratively in small groups. I break my students into groups of 4 and create a Google Doc with one page per group. Each page has the same prompt. Students work on their group’s response to the prompt on their page which allows me to monitor their progress. They then review each other’s responses and leave feedback using comments.

         Condense lectures, as needed. Both students and instructors experience Zoom fatigue. Shortening class time while also ensuring students learning needs are being met has allowed for great collaboration with students.

         Be explicit with expectations for assignments. Students have been doing well online when given instructions which could be considered restrictive in face-to-face classes (e.g., following templates, specific page length requirements).

         Provide active learning activities in online classes. Students find it more engaging than typical discussion questions.

    I am still working on...

         Increasing classroom engagement. Engaging in creative activities and small group assignments can be more challenging online as compared to being in person. Finding new ways to teach course material has been interesting.

         Creating meaningful discussions during live/synchronous class sessions or monitoring discussions while students are in breakout rooms.

         Time management, both for myself and my students. It can be challenging to estimate how much time asynchronous coursework will take. I need to work on getting more feedback from students on how long asynchronous coursework is taking them to complete.

         Finding the right balance of flexibility and accountability. Things go wrong for students, and instructors need to be understanding. At the same time, this understanding has led to students assuming they can get by with doing less work. Finding the correct balance is important this semester.

         Creating more opportunities for processing emotions and fostering self-care for my students and myself.

    Considerations When Asking Students to Turn On Their Camera in Online Courses

    When teaching an online course, one question that has come up frequently is whether instructors should require students to have their cameras on during synchronous class meetings. We certainly understand the reasons some instructors may want cameras on (e.g., student engagement, to simulate more realistically being in-person). However, making this a requirement involves many more issues; namely, issues with equity and access. We cannot be certain where students are coming to class from and what is in their surroundings. Furthermore, students may be more likely to engage in social comparison with others’ backgrounds. For additional considerations, please see Moses (2020) and/or Nicandro et al. (2020).

  • 10 Sep 2020 12:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    This has been an incredibly difficult year to say the least. Now that many of us are teaching online for the first time and campuses are largely closed, some may feel overwhelmed and/or isolated from the teaching community. The Graduate Student Teaching Association (GSTA) Blog has long been a great resource for graduate student instructors and seasoned faculty to share their pedagogical techniques, research, and advice. This summer’s blog posts have continued to focus on evidence-based teaching in general, as well as various ways to make online courses student-centered and engaging. Additionally, the GSTA Blog Editorial Team stands proudly with #BlackLivesMatter and is motivated to use the platform to feature voices for change. To this end, there is now a greater emphasis on posting pieces advocating for and promoting inclusion, equity, and anti-racism in pedagogy.

    Some of the most recent blog posts include:

    Online Teaching

    Using Technology to Teach in the COVID-19 Era: Some Considerations

    by Richard J. Harnish, Ph.D.

    This post focuses on the three main challenges instructors may face with online course instruction. Dr. Harnish invites you to consider how a student’s physical/learning disabilities, access to resources, or psychological motivation may impact their engagement with your online course.

    Bringing Classroom Activities to Life Online

    by Alison Jane Martingano, M.Phil

    In this timely post, the author shares some of her favorite classroom activities and how they can be translated into an online format, aiming to ensure that the dynamic classroom experience is not lost in transition.

    Evidence-Based Pedagogy

    Using Project Syllabus to Create a Learner-Centered Syllabus

    by Amy S. Hunter, Ph.D.

    This piece by Dr. Hunter, editor of STP’s Project Syllabus, presents three practical ways to create student-centered syllabi and better prepare students for the upcoming semester.

    Small Teaching Changes that Make a Universal Impact

    by Stephanie Baumann, MS

    In this post, the author presents a teaching framework that is evidenced to help improve and optimize teaching for all people based on scientific insights into how humans learn, focusing on three primary components of engagement, representation, and action and expression.

    Promoting Diversity and Anti-Racism in the Classroom

    Ways to Make Our Classrooms More Inclusive, Equitable, and Anti-Racist: A Three Part Series by GSTA Steering Committee:

    Part 1, Part 2, (Part 3 to be published soon)

    In this three-part series, the GSTA Steering Committee explores six actions graduate student instructors and assistants can take to make instruction more equitable and anti-racist. Each post presents practical strategies and resources to guide the creation of a psychology course promoting inclusion and celebrating diversity.

    Teaching with Empathy

    by Brian C. Smith, Ph.D., and Sal Meyers, Ph.D.

    In this piece, the authors shift the reader’s focus to the social aspect of education, arguing that teacher empathy improves the quality of student-teacher interaction and leads to better learning.

    If you would like to contribute to the GSTA Blog, we would love to hear from you! Please email us.


    GSTA Invited Speaker at APA 2020

    Dr. Amy Silvestri Hunter gave the GSTA invited address at the virtual 2020 APA Convention. Dr. Hunter is an Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Psychology at Seton Hall University and the Associate Director of Project Syllabus, a compendium of model psychological syllabi sponsored by the Society for the Teaching of Psychology (APA Division 2). Dr. Hunter provided a brief background on the empirical basis for the current rubric used to evaluate syllabi and then provided suggestions for easy-to-implement changes to ones’ syllabus consistent with the Project Syllabus rubric that are likely to enhance student satisfaction.



    GSTA Blog Editorial Team

    Sarah Frantz, The Graduate Center, CUNY

    Maya Rose, The Graduate Center, CUNY

    Hallie Jordan, University of Southern Mississippi

    Tashiya Hunter, The Graduate Center, CUNY

    Raoul Roberts, The Graduate Center, CUNY

    Megan Nadzan, University of Delaware

    Laura Mason, Ohio State University

  • 10 Aug 2020 12:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The Fall 2020 semester will look different for many of us as compared to previous semesters. Many of us will be teaching or assisting with courses in either an online or hybrid format (see Lang’s Small Teaching and Darby and Lang’s Small Teaching Online as a starting point). For some instructors, this will be informed by experiences in Spring 2020 (see some students’ reactions here). For others, this will be a completely new experience. To help you prepare, we want to offer some resources and strategies on ways to navigate teaching and supporting your students in these uncertain and unprecedented times, especially amidst the persisting pandemic and movements for equality. Additional resources can also be found on Every Learner Everywhere and Pedagogies of Care.

    Asynchronous online courses (i.e., students and the instructor do not meet during a specific time) necessitate unique considerations due to the lack of direct contact, as well as increased self-motivation required from students. Furthermore, consider the following when preparing to teach this format:

         The importance of first impressions through a welcome video: https://youtu.be/Lrh7hxh9r70

         Openly discuss your identities. For instance, your first course announcement/email could outline your background and ask students to do the same (Riggs & Linder, 2016).

         Be mindful of the diverse identities of students in your course. Think about how accessible your materials are for a student who is hearing and/or visually impaired (Pang, 2020).

         When determining how students will be assessed, be cognizant that recent research (Gernsbacher et al., 2020) posits that timed exams are not equitable or inclusive. See other assessment suggestions in the researchers’ paper.

         Prepare for potentially political discussions that might happen without the advantages of face-to-face interactions. Have a plan for addressing microaggressions and microinvalidations (Torres, 2018).

         To help you better determine how you will approach this method of teaching, see this resource, which compares and contrasts completely asynchronous courses (see here for a discussion of the benefits and drawbacks of including pre-recorded videos) to asynchronous course content but live class.

    Synchronous online courses (i.e., students and the instructor meet online regularly during a specific time) may maintain a similar structure as compared to traditional face-to-face classes, except the physical space of being in person. Here are some helpful strategies to keep in mind when preparing for synchronous online learning:

         Ice breakers may be helpful for the first day, as they have been shown to reduce stress and build connection between students and the instructor, especially in an online format where it is more difficult to have all students “go around the room” and share.

         Consider ways to maintain flexibility for students who need accommodations, such as closed captions, note taking, or whose attendance may be impacted by health-related factors or technology issues. Will class sessions be recorded for students to access at a later date? Will attendance be taken?

         Expect technical difficulties and have a back-up plan communicated to students on what to do should technology fail.

         Utilize live-stream discussion tools, like the “chat” and “reaction” features of Zoom or Top Hat to stimulate discussion and facilitate connection between students.

    Hybrid courses (i.e., students and the instructor may meet in person for some period of time, whereas online during other times) may be new to some, and more familiar for others. If new to hybrid teaching and learning, consider the following suggestions:

         When reviewing or designing a hybrid learning course, ask how the online and face-to-face components work together to address the learning outcomes, accommodate various learning modalities, allow students to engage with the course content in meaningful ways, and lead to deeper learning.

         Explain the rationale for using a hybrid learning approach and list the learning benefits (expect some resistance as students are pushed out of their learning comfort zones; Sands, 2002).

         Consider how much time you spend online versus in-person. Some things may be easier to implement online (such as classroom lectures), whereas other things may be more important to share face-to-face (e.g., activities, discussions, interactive learning).

         Consider using a flipped-class approach. This consists of preparing pre-recorded material for students to engage with ahead of the class meeting so that your time in-person (or online) can be used to connect more deeply with the material. More information about a flipped class approach can be found here.

         Communicate with your program faculty and university administrator about your concerns should face-to-face meetings become a problem. Keep in mind your role and identity as a student first and foremost to ensure you are well and stay protected.

         Expect the unexpected and be forgiving of not doing everything perfectly. There will be many new challenges with teaching partially in-person and partially online. One instructor described the experience of their in-person teaching COVID learning curve here.

    On another note, we also want to recognize that many of our colleagues have lost their teaching or assistantship positions because of the pandemic. While each college or university’s situation might be different, our desires and commitments to teach within these educational institutions remain the same. The ever-changing dynamics of the current pandemic are unprecedented, and we stand in solidarity with those who are unable to retain their teaching or other assistantships. Please know that we see you, we hear you, and we are with you. We hope to be of support for you in any way we can. If there is anything we can do, as a Steering Committee, to support our fellow colleagues experiencing such losses, please feel free to reach out to us and let us know of your situation and/or needs.


    GSTA Invited Speaker at APA 2020

    Dr. Amy Silvestri Hunter gave the GSTA invited address at the virtual 2020 APA Convention. Dr. Hunter is an Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Psychology at Seton Hall University and the Associate Director of Project Syllabus, a compendium of model psychological syllabi sponsored by the Society for the Teaching of Psychology (APA Division 2). Dr. Hunter provided a brief background on the empirical basis for the current rubric used to evaluate syllabi and then provided suggestions for easy-to-implement changes to ones’ syllabus consistent with the Project Syllabus rubric that are likely to enhance student satisfaction.


    GSTA Steering Committee

    Jessica Brodsky (Chair), The Graduate Center, CUNY

    Adam Green, Southern Illinois University

    Amy Maslowski (Deputy Chair), U. of North Dakota

    Laura Simon, Ohio State University

    Terrill Taylor, University of North Dakota

    Maaly Younis, University of Northern Colorado

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