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

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This blog contains an archive of "Greetings from the President" that appeared since January 2020 on the STP home page and in STP News.  To view letters from STP Presidents from 2016 through 2019, click here.

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  • 12 Apr 2024 12:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    I am a planner! And as a dedicated planner, I've already begun preparing for the next semester, even though the current one is still in full swing. Nevertheless, recent events reminded me of the need for flexibility in the classroom and in life.

    Each spring, the STP Executive Committee members conduct an in-person business meeting. These meetings typically involve three days of intensive planning for the future of the Society. This year’s meeting occurred in Memphis, TN, April 4-7. After selecting the date and scheduling the venue, I discovered the meeting would coincide with the 56th commemoration of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s life, sponsored by the National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Hotel. Several of us arrived early on the first meeting day and were able to attend the commemorative event. The ceremony featured exquisite music by a local university gospel choir, poetic readings by high school students, and presentations by local dignitaries and members of Dr. King’s immediate family. Touring the museum and reflecting on Dr. King’s life of service and sacrifice for others set a positive tone for the balance of our meeting. I am pleased that some committee members were flexible in travel, allowing us to participate in and witness this historical event together.

    As a self-proclaimed planner, I have often followed the advice of Marilla Svinicki and Bill McKeachie (2011), who wisely wrote, “…spend a little time on your [course] plans each day…let them percolate in your mind, [and] ideas will come to you while driving, jogging, or walking into your office,” (p. 18). But I have been teaching long enough to realize that some of the best class lectures or activities were the ones I did not plan. Ideas or activities have organically arisen mid-semester and I have followed some of them to fruition. These diversions in my teaching plans have often paid big dividends. I have learned that allowing flexibility in my schedule can enrich my teaching experience and greatly benefit my students.

    My recommendation to you is to embrace both approaches to teaching. Plan your lectures and activities for the entire semester but reserve the right to change directions if you can or feel the need to do so. Planning and spontaneity in teaching are not the antithesis of each other. They can co-exist and often result in an enriching experience for students and the instructor alike.


    Svinicki, M. & McKeachie, W. J. (2011). McKeachie’s teaching tips: strategies, research, and theory for collect and university teachers (13th Ed.). Wadsworth, Belmont, CA.

    I am a planner! And as a dedicated planner, I've already begun preparing for the next semester, even though the current one is still in full swing. Nevertheless, recent events reminded me of the need for flexibility in the classroom and in life.

    Each spring, the STP Executive Committee members conduct an in-person business meeting. These meetings typically involve three days of intensive planning for the future of the Society. This year’s meeting occurred in Memphis, TN, April 4-7. After selecting the date and scheduling the venue, I discovered the meeting would coincide with the 56th commemoration of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s life, sponsored by the National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Hotel. Several of us arrived early on the first meeting day and were able to attend the commemorative event. The ceremony featured exquisite music by a local university gospel choir, poetic readings by high school students, and presentations by local dignitaries and members of Dr. King’s immediate family. Touring the museum and reflecting on Dr. King’s life of service and sacrifice for others set a positive tone for the balance of our meeting. I am pleased that some committee members were flexible in travel, allowing us to participate in and witness this historical event together.

    As a self-proclaimed planner, I have often followed the advice of Marilla Svinicki and Bill McKeachie (2011), who wisely wrote, “…spend a little time on your [course] plans each day…let them percolate in your mind, [and] ideas will come to you while driving, jogging, or walking into your office,” (p. 18). But I have been teaching long enough to realize that some of the best class lectures or activities were the ones I did not plan. Ideas or activities have organically arisen mid-semester and I have followed some of them to fruition. These diversions in my teaching plans have often paid big dividends. I have learned that allowing flexibility in my schedule can enrich my teaching experience and greatly benefit my students.

    My recommendation to you is to embrace both approaches to teaching. Plan your lectures and activities for the entire semester but reserve the right to change directions if you can or feel the need to do so. Planning and spontaneity in teaching are not the antithesis of each other. They can co-exist and often result in an enriching experience for students and the instructor alike.


    Svinicki, M. & McKeachie, W. J. (2011). McKeachie’s teaching tips: strategies, research, and theory for collect and university teachers (13th Ed.). Wadsworth, Belmont, CA.

  • 09 Mar 2024 12:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Guest Column

    Loretta McGregor,
    STP President

    For this month’s update, I have invited our Vice President for Grants and Awards, Morton Ann Gernsbacher, to submit a guest column.  Morton is seeking participants for a survey on renaming the Abnormal Psychology course to reduce stigma. Please complete the survey and encourage your colleagues to do as well.

    Brief Survey on Changing the Name of Abnormal Psychology

    by Morton Ann Gernsbacher

    Academic course titles preview our courses’ content, connect with our departments’ curricula, and entice our potential students. We also hope that our course titles don’t offend or stigmatize any students in our courses or members of the general public.

    Recently, many psychology departments have chosen to change the title of their “Abnormal Psychology” courses, due to concern that the term “Abnormal” might be offensive and stigmatizing. In 2022, the previously named APA Journal of Abnormal Psychology also changed its name to The Journal of Psychopathology and Clinical Science due to concerns about stigma.

    Last year, then STP President Diane Finley commissioned a Working Group to investigate the curricular implications of changing the name of “Abnormal Psychology” courses. I heartily encourage everyone interested in this topic to read this Working Group’s masterpiece report.

    The report answered the important question of how changing the name of “Abnormal Psychology” courses would affect high school advanced placement credits and applications to graduate programs. The working group concluded there would be “minimal problems” and any “problems can be minimized with communication among interested parties (alerting transfer institutions, providing course description and/or course syllabus).”

    The report also recommended possible replacement names for “Abnormal Psychology” based on important metrics of stigma. Last summer, my lab conducted a study to evaluate the Working Group’s most highly recommended replacement name, along with the previous name “Abnormal Psychology” and an often-chosen replacement name “Psychopathology.”

    In our study, we used assays for assessing both implicit and explicit bias. This past fall, we replicated the results of our previous one-site study on four additional campuses, plus a larger sample on our home campus.

    I’ll be reporting the results of these studies in a future STP newsletter column. One preview I can share now is that the STP Working Group’s most highly recommended replacement name did indeed fare the best!

    For now, I’d like your input. Has your department considered changing the name of its “Abnormal Psychology” course? If so, I would be incredibly grateful if you could complete this short survey.

    Thank you in advance!

  • 09 Feb 2024 6:00 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    What do you love most about teaching? Take a moment to reflect on your answer. I’m confident your answer did not include “the pay.” I have taught for more than three decades, and on most days, I love my job.  I still cannot believe I get paid to do what I do.

    I put this question to a couple of my colleagues. Both are early career psychology professors. Each mentioned the thing they love the most about teaching is the ability to impart knowledge about psychology to others. One colleague added that it allows them to talk about psychology to a captive audience. I think these comments reflect how many of us feel, or have felt, about the teaching of psychology.

    After many years of teaching, I’ve come to love my job because I now know I make a difference in the lives of my students. This may sound a bit self-aggrandizing, but I have evidentiary proof. Social media has given me the gift of remaining in contact with former students like never before. This continued contact gives me a glimpse into their lives after college. Occasionally, these individuals contact me and cite a specific previous interaction that has impacted their and their families' lives. I am grateful when someone recalls a particular event from class, a comment from an earlier conversation, or explains how they turned a psychological concept into something actionable. These interactions help me realize that what I do does make a difference in the world.

    While teaching my students about psychology, they often teach me about pop culture, current events, and constantly challenge me to re-examine some of my beliefs. In other words, my current students keep me young at heart and encourage my continued cognitive growth through their questions and conversations. As I stated above, I love my job!

    It is easy for us sometimes to lose sight of the joy we receive through teaching. Strained institutional budgets, governmental oversight, and politicization of the educational system can make even the most stalwart educator question their career choice. But take a moment to breathe and realize you are doing great work! You are changing lives! I appreciate your dedication to the teaching of psychology.

  • 01 Jan 2024 12:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Greetings and Happy New Year,

    With great honor and humility, I assume the responsibilities of STP president for 2024. Please allow me to introduce myself. My name is Loretta Neal McGregor. I hold a Ph.D. in Human Factors and a Master of Science degree in General Experimental Psychology. I have been active within The Society for the Teaching of Psychology (STP) for 30+ years. As an STP member, I have served in numerous areas and positions; for example, I served as Associate Director of Society Programming for the APA Convention and as a member of the G. Stanley Hall Lecture selection committee. I have volunteered to work on numerous task forces like The Advisory Task Force for the Center for Teaching Resources in Psychology and the Task Force on Minority Issues.

    As an active member of APA, I have worked on various task forces and committees. For example, I was a member of The Board of Directors for Educational Affairs (BEA). I was a member of the BEA's Advisory Task Force on Undergraduate Major Competencies and a participant in the National Conference on Undergraduate Education. This experience resulted in my contributing to the book, Undergraduate education in psychology: A blueprint for the future of the discipline. I currently serve as a member of the advisory panel for APA's Leadership Institute for Women in Psychology.

    However, my most meaningful contribution to the discipline and society has been my research and scholarship on the life and contributions of Dr. Mamie Phipps Clark. Dr. Clark, a black woman and psychologist from Arkansas, played a crucial role in the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka Supreme Court decision. I, too, am a black woman and psychologist from Arkansas. I view Dr. Clark as a giant in the discipline, role model, and my "homegirl." I have given presentations throughout the US and abroad about Dr. Clark's life and contributions to the discipline; it has been an honor and pleasure to share her story with the world.

    I am a professor of psychology at Arkansas State University. One of my favorite things about being a professor is mentoring students and newly degreed psychology faculty members. I thoroughly enjoy meeting and mentoring new faculty members. These individuals often bring fresh ideas and an infectious enthusiasm to the discipline and the classroom. That is why I have chosen the theme of Cultivating the next generation of psychology educators as my platform for this year. If you have worthwhile ideas about how STP can encourage current and former students to become teachers within the discipline, please feel free to share your thoughts with me. Thank you to those who have already sent their ideas. I will be in touch.

    I believe teachers and professors of psychology make a meaningful difference in each student's life and the lives of their student's current and future families. Yet, we do not do this by brainwashing students! We make a difference by teaching them about human thoughts, emotions, behavior, and development. The mission of the American Psychological Association is " promote the advancement, communication, and application of psychological science and knowledge to benefit society and improve lives." As educators of psychology and STP members, this is what we do best! The need to understand human behavior and display empathy toward others is something we currently need in our world. This is why we need more passionate teachers and professors to join our ranks.

  • 07 Dec 2023 12:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    As I write my last Presidential column, I am delighted to include a column from long-time STP leader, Susan Nolan. I also want to say thank you to everyone who has helped me through the Presidency in so many ways. There are far too many to name and far too many ways in which I realized that I am simply the facilitator for STP to happen. It has been an honor and I wish everyone a restful holiday season.

    Our guest columnist is Susan Nolan who has served STP in so many ways – it would take a whole column to mention them all. I asked her to write this in her capacity as Director of International Programming. Susan has raised the visibility of STP internationally in only a few months and I see great growth coming. We have always said that STP was an international organization and Susan is making that claim true.

    International Programming
    Susan Nolan

    I am grateful to Diane Finley for the opportunity to contribute to her Presidential Letter. As a former STP president and the current Director of STP Programming at International Conferences, I have long valued the opportunity to work with STP to explore international aspects of psychology pedagogy, curricula, assessment, and policy. Just this calendar year, STP has co-sponsored international conferences in Aotearoa/New Zealand, Australia, Mexico, and Sweden. Already, we have plans to co-sponsor in-person conferences in 2024 in India and France, as well as a series of webinars in English and Spanish, co-sponsored with several other organizations, including the International Council of Psychology Educators (ICOPE). Of our 16,000 Facebook members, more than 7,000 are from outside of the United States.

    Through STP and other teaching organizations, such as ICOPE, I have had the privilege of meeting psychology educators from around the world. One result of those connections is the International Collaboration on Undergraduate Psychology Outcomes (ICUPO) which I co-founded with STP member and former STP Presidential Citation awardee Jacky Cranney of the University of New South Wales (Australia). Jacky and I began this project with the goal of developing international foundational competences for the undergraduate psychology major, a goal we outlined in a 2022 paper with several colleagues.  

    A little over a year ago, Jacky and I recruited a team which comprised a central ICUPO committee of 13 psychology educators from 17 countries and a broader advisory committee, the International Reference Group on Undergraduate Psychology Outcomes (IRGUPO). More than 100 IRGUPO members come from more than 40 countries. Both the ICUPO and IRGUPO include many (approximately 30) STP members. (And we have been recruiting more and more of those involved with ICUPO and IRGUPO to become STP members; we are grateful that STP now facilitates expanded membership by recognizing that there are economic disparities among nations. Those from any countries not designated as high income by the World Bank may now join STP for US $5 rather than the US $25 for those from high-income countries.)

    The aim of the ICUPO and IRGUPO is to develop a consensus document that provides learning outcomes (which we call competences) that might supplement or inform national or regional psychology learning outcomes or other regulatory guidelines at the undergraduate level. We strived to develop competences that were relatively content-agnostic, but rather, were focused on skills and values relevant to psychology undergraduate programs across cultures and countries. We hope that this document will facilitate communication across countries and cultures, and might contribute to mobility of psychology students, faculty members, and degrees.

    After more than a year of work (see this paper, starting on p. 22, for an early overview of our theoretical background and process), we recently publicly unveiled the beta draft of the International Undergraduate Foundational Psychology Competences (IUFPC). Members of the ICUPO and IRGUPO have now presented drafts of the IUFPC at conferences in Aotearoa/New Zealand, Australia, Mexico, and Sweden, as well as at the 2023 STP Annual Conference on Teaching (ACT). At all these venues, including at ACT, attendees provided thoughtful and concrete feedback that has already led to additional changes in the document. We recently launched the latest phase of the project, which is to explicitly seek broad input from psychology educators and psychology associations around the world.

    STP members from many different countries have formed the backbone of the ICUPO and IRGUPO. We hope that many more STP members will contribute to the ongoing revisions of the IUFPC. Our goal is to have a completed document by July 2024, and we encourage you to be a part of the project! We invite you to read the beta draft and email us with any feedback, whether laudatory or constructive. You may email me directly at

  • 03 Nov 2023 12:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    I hope everyone is finding something to keep you going as we draw near the end of the term. I know this time of year can be difficult as daylight gets shorter and it gets colder in some places. I just hate getting up and eating meals in the dark!

    I would like to remind everyone of some STP information:

    • Dues statements will be coming out. Please be sure to pay attention to email or snail mail and renew. Better yet, click here to join or renew online so you don’t forget!

    • Please check the Get Involved page frequently. STP can only work if everyone contributes. There are always opportunities to get involved. We do value all members and want everyone to be involved. Don’t worry if you are new to teaching or new to STP.

    • We now have affinity groups (some call them special interest groups or SIGS).  Click on the link to check which groups are already in place. If you do not find one for you, consider creating it! If you are looking for kindred souls, it is likely others are as well.

    • STP offers a LOT of grants and awards. Check them out and nominate yourself or a colleague. Please do not feel embarrassed to nominate yourself – many of our award winners have self-nominated. We need to sing our own praises and share our strengths and what we do!

    • Our social media sites and Listservs can give you a lot of information. We post current announcements from APA such as the updated guide on use of language as well as job announcements and information from related organizations.

    I wanted to share some research related to my talk at the recent ACT. My talk centered on sharing our stories and using story to teach (albeit being judicious about what we share in the classroom). I stumbled across a meta-analysis that supported the positive effects of narratives on comprehension and memory. How exciting to see some of my theories supported by research!

    Since it is that time of year when we begin to think about those things for which we are grateful, I wanted to use this column to say some thank yous. I am not able to individually thank each person who has supported me this year, but I do want share a few.

    Thanks to the Executive Committee (Linda, Loretta, Danae, Teceta, Morton, Bill, Kristin) who has worked far beyond what I even imagined. It is really their hard work (and that of all their committees) that keeps STP running. They have terrific ideas for new initiatives and their grace during our discussions can serve as a model for how to disagree without distressing everyone.

    Thanks especially to Secretary Stephanie who keeps meticulous (and speedy) minutes. She can always find the motion or answer other questions (that I should probably know the answer to!).

    Thanks to our Executive Director, Tom, for his patience with all my endless questions and for keeping me on track with what I need to be doing.

    Thanks to our Treasurer, Jeff, who helps me understand all our budget issues and can always answer my questions about the money. His has a difficult job, and he does it without complaining.

    Thanks to Lindsay, our Director of ACT, and Melissa, our APA Program Director. They also answered my questions patiently and they produced two wonderful programs.

    Thanks to the many, many other STP committee members who have responded to my queries or helped answer a question. Your work is noticed and appreciated.

    I hope you plan some downtime for the upcoming holiday. Try to unplug, don’t check an LMS, don’t answer email!

  • 10 Oct 2023 12:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Happy October! I am coming off the excitement of a VERY successful Annual Conference on Teaching but also coping with jet lag from the West to East coast flight! A HUGE thanks to ACT Director Lindsay Masland and her conference committee: Brittany Avila, Jacqueline Goldman, Kate Jansen, Alison Melley and Blake Nielsen. Their hard work before and during helped to make the conference an inspiring three days.

    I hope everyone who attended ACT left with the same sense of excitement and purpose without jet lag. If you were not able to join us in Portland, remember that there will be an online conference in February. Be sure to check out the details on the ACT web page.

    STP has a lot going on. There are a few positions available at our Get Involved page. Please do think about applying to serve in one of these positions. There is always a name you can email if you have more questions.

    We also will be seeking applications for three members of our Executive Committee:  STP President Elect, VP for Membership, and VP for Diversity and International Relations. The deadline for these positions is November 15, 2023.

    I want to share some of the announcements, recognitions and awards from the conference so everyone in STP knows about the great work so many people are doing. There are far too many people for me to name individually, but know that your service to STP is valued.

    Keli Braitman, past Vice President for Grants and Awards presented STP’s annual awards. I am always impressed by the accomplishments of our award recipients. This year’s recipients are:

    ·         Wayne Weiten Teaching Excellence Award (2-year college) – Heather Schoenherr

    ·         Mary Margaret Moffett Memorial Teaching Excellence Award (high school) – Maria Vita

    ·         Wilbert J. McKeachie Teaching Excellence Award (graduate student) – Skyler Mendes

    ·         Jane S. Halonen Teaching Excellence Award (early career) – Leslie Berntsen

    ·         Robert S. Daniel Award (4-year college) – Colleen Seifert

    ·         Civic Engagement Award – Michael Figuccio

    ·         Mentorship of Teachers Award – Jessica Hartnett

    ·         Promoting Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Award - Milton Fuentes

    Membership has been busy. The winner of the first annual Design Contest was Jenny Kunz. Her design appears on stickers that were distributed at ACT and will be distributed at other STP-sponsored conferences in 2024. These stickers are sure to become collectibles! This will be an annual contest so look for the announcement and consider submitting a design. The MidCareer Psychology Committee is now officially a committee and is preparing to offer webinars next year. STP’s mentoring services have moved to the Membership area.

    Resources has also been busy. There have been special editions of Teaching of Psychology and two new e-books. There are twelve new peer-reviewed syllabi and four new peer-reviewed resources. The Tagging Project has made it easy to find what you need across all our sites quickly.

    Diversity and International Relations is continuing to discuss ways to incorporate Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging across all endeavors. They also facilitated the DEIB training for the Executive Committee. Our international presence is growing rapidly and STP will be represented at international conferences in India, Mexico, France and Sweden. Our Director of STP Programming at International Conferences, Susan Nolan, has been making even more connections internationally, so STP has become visible across the world.

    Programming has had a successful year. In addition to ACT, STP was present at many conferences. Conference directors include Melissa Maffeo (APA), Molly Metz (APS), David Berg (NITOP), Drew Christopher (SPSP), and Judith Bryant (SRCD).  Garth Neufeld oversees the outstanding work of the regional conference coordinators. Brooke Whisenhunt coordinated the speaker selections for our co-sponsored lectures (with APA’s Board of Education Affairs) at APA 2023.

    The Executive Committee (EC) has been working for you as well. We have been discussing fiscal responsibility and what that means for our budget. We are exploring ways to honor our members who have passed. We are creating a way to collect demographic information from our members, so we have some data for maintaining and creating programs. Please know that the EC is here to work for you. Let us know if there are concerns or suggestions.

    A final note (and a terrific opportunity for college faculty): If you are in higher education and have ever wondered about the Advanced Placement Psychology exam, they are looking for readers (i.e., graders) from higher education. It is a great chance to see how the AP scores are calculated as well as to meet fabulous teachers from all over the world. Plus, you get paid. Next summer’s reading will be in Kansas City.  If you are interested, contact Kristin Whitlock.

  • 01 Sep 2023 12:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Welcome back to a new school year! I hope everyone’s year is off to a rousing start. I know we have already had to deal with a lot of natural disasters, and I hope anyone in those zones has stayed safe. Do let us know if there is anything STP can do to help.

    Thanks to Melissa Maffeo for a great and successful program at the APA convention. We had some interesting sessions. You can learn more about STP’s programming at APA 2023 by viewing the August 2023 Special Issue of STP News.

    The Executive Committee is gearing up for our meetings at the conference in October prior to and during the Annual Conference on Teaching. If you have anything of concern, please let me know so that we can discuss it.

    Speaking of the Annual Conference on Teaching, Lindsay Masland and her committee are hard at work to put on another fabulous time in Portland. I hope you will be able to join us in person. Information about the schedule is available here. There will be an online conference in February 2024 as well.

    As always, Lindsay has come up with a great opportunity for networking and connecting. She has announced that she is able to support Affinity Group meetings at ACT: On Location in Portland this year!  From Lindsay: “So, if you've ever wanted to meet up with other psych teachers who are like you—whether "like you" means a shared sociodemographic identity, a specific teaching context, or some other area of interest—this could be the perfect venue for you!  But, for these meetings to happen, we need folks to propose groups. So, if you'd like to make new friends and are willing to take on the very light lift of filling out an application for a potential group meet-up, please fill out this application by September 15th!”

    The mention of affinity groups is a great lead-in to my guest columnist this month, Dr. Teceta Tormala from Palo Alto University. Teceta is also the Vice-President for Diversity and International Relations. At the 2022 ACT she talked about how she uses affinity groups in her teaching. She has brought many new ideas to STP, and I am excited for everyone to read about identity and teaching.

    = = = = =

    Socioculturally-Embedded Intersectional Teaching in a Polarized World

    Dr. Teceta Tormala, STP Vice President for Diversity and International Relations

    I am cycling into my 19th year of teaching (wow!), and I think often about how my teaching- and the scholarship of teaching and learning- has evolved over the past two decades. When I was in graduate school and in my early years in academia, the teaching model of “the sage on the stage” predominated, and the prototypical sage was White, male, and in middle age. In my early years, as a Black woman in her late 20s and early 30s, the mold didn’t fit. As my time as an educator progressed, I came to more fully understand where I fit in the model of teaching and learning, and what was missing from my course content and teaching practice. I had to find another path distinct from the way in which much of psychology had been taught, often decontextualized from the multiplicity of individuals and the complexities of the lived experiences of groups in the sociocultural context of a complicated world. Our field wasn’t always inclusive of the psychological processes and experiences of all.

    The term that I have been using to capture this approach to teaching is socioculturally-embedded intersectional teaching, which I conceptualize as facilitating and educating from one’s intersectional self with awareness of the nested contexts of the classroom, institution, and society, and in service of deepening and broadening knowledge of the collective. The lens that our corner of the field- the teaching of psychology, and the scholarship of teaching and learning of psychology- must continue to embrace in our approach to educating is a systemic one, which foregrounds the importance of sociocultural identity, structural factors, and sociohistorical forces in shaping individuals. The work of Urie Bronfenbrenner offers a path, through ecological systems theory, that is attentive to the nested contexts in which each of us exists, and the impact that interactions, relationships, places, policies, laws, social representations, and ideologies have on our thoughts, feelings, and emotions.

    We are not operating within a vacuum- we are living and teaching in the reality of 2023, riven with conflict and hatred, in which politics, culture, and identity are clashing at their intersections to deleterious effect on nations, on groups, and on individuals. As educators, we need to grapple with this reality as it impacts our teaching and as it impacts our students’ learning. Who we are and who our students are matters; what we teach matters; how we teach matters. How do we engage across lines of difference in meaningful ways? How do we create open and vulnerable classroom spaces where diverse experiences and opinions can be stated and be heard? What are the ways through which students who are liberal and conservative, disabled and abled, people of color and multiracial and white, religious and areligious can truly engage in our classrooms? Why does cultural responsiveness matter when teaching AP psychology or introductory biological psychology or high-level seminars? How do we stay engaged in the work of teaching the content that we love within the noise and conflict of a dispiriting, troubling world?

    Models that we see today within our field orient towards belonging and inclusion. Dr. Thema Bryant’s theme from the 2023 APA convention was, “You belong here”. From her role as president of APA, she invited attendees to wear something that reflected an important aspect of their identity, be it religion, race, nationality, sexuality, or another lived experience. The organizers included an interfaith program, with hourlong practices from Native Hawaiian, Buddhist, Muslim, Lakota, Christian, Sufi, and Jewish spiritual and religious traditions, open to people from all backgrounds. Within STP, I have been thrilled to be a part of the creation of affinity groups organized around identity and lived experience. STP members are excited about spaces for connection, support, and community. At present, there are affinity groups aligned around a multitude of educator identities and experiences: Race and ethnic identity (Asian, Pacific Islander, and Desi (APID); Arab, Middle Eastern, and North African (AMENA); Latinx; Black); queer identity; in/visible dis/ability identity; educators at community colleges; late career and retired educators; educators who are parents and caregivers. At the ACT conference in October, Lindsay Masland and the ACT programming committee graciously created space in the schedule for these groups to meet and connect.

    Each of us is a whole, complicated, multicultural self with group-based beliefs and experiences- and the only singular us who will ever exist. We share a core humanity and a deep need for connection, and this is the bridge that we traverse as educators- between the collective and the individual, between your way and my way and our way, all in service of deepening our understanding of the human condition.

  • 24 Jul 2023 12:38 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    As I write this column, I keep looking at the calendar in disbelief. August, and the start of a new school year, are right around the corner. While I love the start of a new school year and all the possibilities it brings, I cannot believe the summer has gone by so quickly! I hope you have been able to take some time to recharge and relax. I recently found out how important that actually is. Do not let work consume you!

    The Presidential Trio (President Elect, Past President and President) along with the executive Director will represent STP at the American Psychological Association annual convention in Washington DC during the first week of August. Our Program Chair, Melissa Maffeo, has put together a program rich in updated content and it looks to be an invigorating experience.

    I do have some sad news to share.  I always hate to share such news in a public forum, but it is the only way to reach everyone who might want to know. We recently lost two of our long-time supporters and members. Dr. Rick Miller, former President, passed away this June in Mallorca Spain. Dr. Robin Hailstorks, recipient of the 2023 Presidential Citation, passed away in Washington DC in July. Our thoughts are with their families, and we are grateful for all they gave to STP.

    = = = = =

    My guest columnist this month is Dr. Judith Pena-Shaff, the Chair of our Diversity Committee. Her thoughts are really apt given the imminent start of the school term.

    Building Resilience in Students: Understanding Factors and Implementing Strategies

    Dr. Judith Pena-Shaff, Ithaca College,

    The other day, I came across a thought-provoking Facebook message that read: "We are confronting a generation of emotionally weak people, where everything must be softened for them." While it would be unfair to label an entire generation as weak, it is true that some college students may struggle with resilience. In this column, I will explore some of the factors contributing to this challenge and propose strategies I have been researching to incorporate in the psychology courses I teach to help build resilience in students. I hope you find some of these strategies useful as well.

    Factors Influencing Students' Struggles with Resilience:

    • Changing societal dynamics: Advancements in technology, evolving family structures, and shifts in cultural values impact how students perceive and respond to challenges. These changes create different pressures and stressors in students' lives.
    •  Increased academic pressure and lack of preparation: College students today face high academic expectations, intense competition, and a focus on achievement. Many are unprepared for the demands of college, leading to stress, anxiety, and feelings of being overwhelmed.
    • Mental health concerns: Research indicates a rise in mental health issues like anxiety and depression among college students. These conditions can hinder their ability to cope with adversity and affect resilience levels.
    • Lack of experience: College is a transitional period where young adults navigate newfound independence and face new challenges. Some may not have had prior opportunities to develop resilience fully.
    • Limited coping skills: Some students may lack effective coping mechanisms and problem-solving strategies, leaving them ill-equipped to deal with the challenges of young adulthood and college life.

    Strategies to Foster Resilience in College Classes:

    Building resilience in students is crucial to help them navigate the challenges of academic life and beyond. As psychology instructors, we can play a vital role in developing their coping skills and problem-solving abilities. Here are some effective strategies to consider. Many of these can be implemented both in small and large enrollment classes.

    • Provide theoretical knowledge: Introduce students to various coping mechanisms and problem-solving strategies through theoretical foundations. Explain concepts like cognitive-behavioral approaches and problem-solving models.
    • Demonstrate practical examples: Use real-life scenarios and case studies to illustrate the application of coping and problem-solving techniques. Show how individuals have effectively managed stress and adversity using specific strategies.
    • Engage students in experiential learning: Incorporate experiential activities, such as relaxation exercises, mindfulness practices, and stress management techniques, to help students practice coping skills. Use hypothetical scenarios for problem-solving exercises.
    • Foster group discussions and collaboration: Encourage group discussions and collaborative problem-solving exercises to enhance communication and teamwork skills. Students can learn from each other's perspectives.
    • Assign Reflective exercises: Ask students to maintain reflective journals to analyze their coping strategies and problem-solving approaches. Encourage self-awareness and metacognitive thinking.
    • Integrate technology and resources: Utilize digital tools and online resources that offer coping mechanisms and problem-solving guidance. Recommend stress reduction apps and decision-making aids.
    • Invite guest speakers: Guest speakers, such as mental health professionals or individuals with resilience experiences, can provide valuable insights and real-world examples.
    • Provide constructive feedback: Assess students' coping skills and problem-solving abilities through assignments or quizzes. Offer constructive feedback to help them improve.
    • Promote self-reflection and self-care: Emphasize the importance of self-care and self-reflection in building resilience. Encourage students to evaluate their strategies and make adjustments when needed.
    • Foster a growth mindset: Encourage students to adopt a growth mindset, viewing challenges as opportunities for growth and learning. Teach them to develop resilience through perseverance and effort.
    • Stay updated and adaptable: Keep abreast of the latest research on coping mechanisms and problem-solving strategies. Be adaptable in your teaching methods to meet students' evolving needs.

    Building resilience in college students is an ongoing process that requires empathy, understanding, and support. By implementing these strategies, psychology instructors can equip their students with the tools and knowledge to navigate the ups and downs of college life and beyond. Creating a compassionate and supportive environment will foster their growth, allowing them to thrive personally and academically.

    Resources Consulted

    DeRosier, M. E., Frank, E., Schwartz, V., & Leary, K. A. (2013). The potential role of resilience education for preventing mental health problems for college students. Psychiatric Annals43(12), 538-544.

    Rogers, H. B. (2013). Mindfulness meditation for increasing resilience in college students. Psychiatric Annals43(12), 545-548.

    Shatkin, J. P., Diamond, U., Zhao, Y., DiMeglio, J., Chodaczek, M., & Bruzzese, J. M. (2016). Effects of a risk and resilience course on stress, coping skills, and cognitive strategies in college students. Teaching of Psychology43(3), 204-210.

    Walsh, P., Owen, P. A., Mustafa, N., & Beech, R. (2020). Learning and teaching approaches promoting resilience in student nurses: An integrated review of the literature. Nurse education in practice45, 102748.

  • 28 Jun 2023 12:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Happy summer! I hope everyone is getting some recharging time, even if you are teaching summer school (as I am). I do try to take time to watch baseball most days. Those who know me know that is really my happy place and since my favorite college team just won the College World Series, I am really happy. Plus, my favorite pro team – the Orioles – is playing lights out.

    I want to remind everyone of a few opportunities:

    • Melissa Maffeo (Program Chair for APA) has put together a wonderful program for APA in DC in August. Please join us if you can. Be sure to come to the Marriott on Thursday August 4 for the Presidential Address (3pm) and Social Hour (4pm) where I will honor this year’s recipients of Presidential Citations (see below).

    • There are several opportunities to serve STP. Some do not require a great deal of time. Please consider contributing your talents to STP.

    Presidential Citations

    One of the privileges of the STP Presidency is the ability to give two very deserving individuals a Presidential Citation, which acknowledges “extraordinary lifetime contributions to the Society and/or to the teaching of psychology.” My recipients are extraordinary teachers and people who have contributed to our profession and their students. I have been fortunate to know both of them for decades and I am thrilled to have a chance to recognize them since they are folks who tend to stay in the background.

    Alan Feldman

    My first recipient is Mr. Alan Feldman of Glen Rock High School in NJ. I know of no other psychology teacher (at any level) who is as accomplished as Alan. He has been a participant in everything related to psychology teaching over the last decades including the National High School Summit, the Clark University TOPSS sponsored workshop, the Advanced Placement reading and test development committee and the executive committee for Teachers of Psychology in Secondary Schools (TOPSS).

    One of the AP administrators says of Alan: ‘Alan has served as a Table Leader on my team numerous times. I rely on his depth of knowledge of the content. A small pre-team of Table Leaders creates the grading rubric that will score one of the free response questions (FRQ's). I often turn to Alan to ask about research that has been done on a particular concept. I know of no other person at the reading who has such an in-depth understanding of the content. His contributions have helped our team build rubrics that are concise and effective tools.”

    Alan has received several teaching awards including the Charles T. Blair Broeker Excellence in Teaching Award from TOPSS, the Moffett Teaching Excellence Award from STP and the Perth-Amboy School District Teacher of the Year.

    He has presented at too many workshops to count and has served as a keynote speaker multiple times, including as the Professional Night Speaker at the Advanced Placement Psychology Reading.

    Alan has taught at a local community college and has served as an instructor in graduate teaching of AP Psychology courses at Goucher College, Drew University and Fordham University.

    Most importantly are his achievements with his students. Six of his students from Glen Rock HS have been published in Psychology Teacher Network. Many have gone onto major in psychology and their comments make it clear he is a caring and dedicated teacher. One student wrote: “You made me feel smart in your class. You encouraged me to raise my hand by acknowledging what I had to say as valuable. I loved the way that you taught. You spoke with passion about what you were teaching. Thank you for everything that you did for me, Mr. Feldman. I would not have the confidence I have now if I did not have you as a teacher. When I come back to visit Glen Rock High School, your classroom will be the first I go to.” Another says of Alan: “At the time I had him as a teacher, all I wanted was for Mr. Feldman to see how positively he had impacted those he taught or simply greeted in the halls. He was so modest that when anybody said that he was the best teacher they had ever had, he would simply shake his head and tell them to stop. Well now, I am not letting him shake his head. I want Mr. Feldman to know that he is the best teacher and person I have ever known. He has not only taught me an incredible amount of information, but he has also shown me, by example, how to be an understanding, patient person.” I concur and it is my great honor to present this Presidential Citation to Alan Feldman.

    Robin Hailstorks

    My second recipient is Dr. Robin Hailstorks of Prince George’s Community College in Maryland. Dr. Hailstorks has been a professor of psychology and Department Chair at Prince George’s for over thirty years during which time she has mentored countless part-time and full-time faculty (including me!).

    Robin earned her bachelors at Morgan State University and has helped to make it easier for many community college students to continue their education at the baccalaureate level at Morgan. She earned her doctorate at The Ohio State University.

    In 1997, she received the Wayne Weiten Teaching Excellence Award (Division 2) which recognizes excellence in teaching at a two-year college.

    She has been involved in making community college psychology a national concern. While advising a Psi Beta chapter at Prince George’s Community College, Robin served as Psi Beta’s Eastern Regional Vice-President (1994 to 1996). Robin was Psi Beta’s National President from 1997-1998.

    Robin was involved with APA’s Diversity Project 2000 and Beyond (DP2K), which was a leadership and mentoring program designed for ethnic minority honor students attending community colleges. DP2kB occurred two days prior to and two days during the Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association and offered full grants for out-of-state students and partial grants for local students admitted into the program.

    She also served as Associate Director of Precollege and Undergraduate Education in the American Psychological Association’s Education Directorate for many years. Jerry Rudmann says of Robin: “she has played a key role in dozens of APA-sponsored events, task forces, and working groups all of which supported, encouraged, and provided valuable resources for America’s psychology teachers and thousands of their students.” She was instrumental in contributing to two working groups appointed by APA’s Board of Educational Affairs.

    Robin has always worked quietly “behind the scenes” and many do not really know all the contributions she has made to the advancement of community college psychology and to the teaching of psychology. I am honored to give her this Presidential Citation.

    = = = = =

    This month my guest columnist (and a pertinent one when we are talking about recharging) is Dr. Keli Braitman. Keli is a Professor and the Chair of Psychological Science, William Jewell College. She recently rotated off the Executive Committee where she served as Vice-President of Grants and Awards. In that position, she worked to make sure grants and awards are equitably distributed as well as to make application and review more coherent and clearer.

    Guest Column

    Teaching as a Wellbeing Practice

    by Keli A. Braitman, Ph.D.

    Several years ago – before the pandemic – I developed an interest in learning more about mindfulness and wellbeing. The older I get, the more I prioritize my own wellbeing and focusing on what brings contentment and happiness to my life. I already knew some of the basics about wellbeing (as a psychology teacher), but I wanted to learn more, including what the research has shown and how to better prioritize these practices.

    Despite my interest, it never came together. I’m sure we’re all familiar with buying books and then not finding the time to read them! To force my hand, I proposed a new course at our college that would focus on the science and practice of wellbeing, modeled after Laurie Santos’ wellbeing course at Yale University (also available for free on Coursera - I figured that if I taught the course, it would force me to learn the material. It was mutually beneficial, because I wanted to learn how to enhance my own wellbeing, while offering the opportunity to students as well.

    I started by exploring resources available through STP. I found Jess Hartnett’s syllabus for her Positive Psychology course through ‘Project Syllabus’ (, and after contacting her with a few questions, she generously shared additional material with me. Through my networking connections in STP, I learned of others who were teaching similar courses, and they shared material with me as well – thank you especially to Jane Halonen and Jennifer Oliver!

    I’ll start by saying that this was one of the most fulfilling courses I’ve ever taught. Not only did I learn a lot about the science and practice of wellbeing, but overwhelmingly the students reported feeling grateful to learn about this topic as well, especially within our core curriculum. This course satisfied the science requirement for our core curriculum, which I believe helps expand students’ understanding of what science is and how our discipline is informed by scientific inquiry and process.

    Topics we read about and discussed included fostering social connection, finding meaning and purpose in our choices and our lives, creating time affluence for ourselves (time to rest or do things we enjoy), fostering gratitude and kindness, practicing mindfulness, including meditation, engaging our signature strengths, finding flow, moving our bodies, and getting enough sleep.

    I related these topics to students’ lives and encouraged them to think of ways to incorporate these practices. For example, after completing a survey on signature strengths, students shared examples of how they use their strengths and how they might develop them further.

    Once the semester finished, I reflected upon how so many of these wellbeing practices are encompassed in the work that we do as teachers of psychology. Teaching provides us with inherent opportunities for experiencing meaning and purpose in our lives. So many of us have related anecdotes of a student or alumnus sharing a story about the impact we had on their lives – talk about meaning and purpose! Doing work that serves others can lead to incredible fulfillment and meaning.

    We’re certainly each utilizing signature strengths within our roles as teachers (e.g., creativity, curiosity, fairness, honesty, humor, judgment, leadership, love of learning – just to name a few). Harzer and Ruch (2012) found that people who incorporate signature strengths into their work are more likely to report job satisfaction and to think of their job as their “calling.” Similarly, LeFevre (1988) sampled workers throughout their day, asking how they were feeling, what was their level of concentration, and what would they rather be doing. Not surprisingly, most who were working reported they would rather be at leisure. However, while at work they also reported feeling a sense of efficacy and self-confidence, whereas when sampled during leisure they reported feeling apathy and boredom. So, although self-care is often represented by taking time to binge Netflix, for example, research suggests that engaging in meaningful work often leads to more fulfillment. Don’t get me wrong – having time to rest and play is important, too, but so is engagement in meaningful activities.

    Many teachers experience gratitude for the opportunity to do this work we love, including the flexibility that comes with many teaching positions, and the opportunities to foster intergenerational connections with colleagues and students. We can extend kindness, even when we’re maintaining our policies and expectations. We have the intellectual challenge of staying current on the topics we teach, and the creative challenge of conveying difficult topics in accessible ways. This process can be incredibly meaningful and keep us sharp in ways we may not otherwise experience. And I know I have certainly experienced flow when I’ve been in the classroom. Time has often passed very quickly, and class is over before I’ve realized it. I even experienced flow in writing this column – so much so that I forgot to feed my dogs dinner! (Don’t worry, they reminded me).

    Not every aspect of teaching lends itself to practices of wellbeing, and we do have to be intentional about setting healthy boundaries, protecting time for other things, and creating opportunity for exercise and sleep. But it was incredibly gratifying (applying one of these wellbeing practices!) to consider the myriad ways that our chosen profession can align with healthy practices of taking care of ourselves.

    I started the course by highlighting for students several news sources stating that “Americans are the unhappiest they have been in decades” (CBS News, 2022) and that “Americans are the most unhappy people in the world” (ABC News, 2013). To highlight the importance of this course, and why I was inspired to teach it. I followed those news stories with a piece by Marcia Morris in Psychology Today (2022) entitled, “Dear College Student, You Deserve to be Happy.” Well, colleagues, so do we. I’m heartened to think about how teaching fulfills many of the practices that can promote our wellbeing, and I’m hopeful you are able to as well. And in the spirit of practicing gratitude – I am thankful to STP President Diane Finley for giving me the opportunity to share my thoughts, and to our STP community of teachers, who inspire me on a regular basis and are generous with one another.


    Americans most unhappy people in the world. ABC13. (2013, February 20).

    Americans are the unhappiest they’ve been in 50 years, poll finds. NBC News. (2020, June 16).

    Harzer & Ruch (2012). When the job is a calling: The role of applying one’s signature strengths at work. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 7, 362-371.

    LeFevre, J. (1988). Flow and the quality of experience during work and leisure. In M. Csikszentmihalyi & I. S. Csikszentmihalyi (Eds.), Optimal experience: Psychological studies of flow in consciousness (pp. 307–318). Cambridge University Press.

    Morris, M. (2022, November 6). Dear college student, you deserve to be happy: Enhancing academic, social, and mental health experiences in college. Psychology Today.

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