Join us for the Macmillan's Psychology Speaker Series!
At Macmillan Learning, our psychology community includes committed teachers, researchers, and authors. Among them are some exceptionally compelling advocates for how psychological science can help us understand our contemporary lives. Join us for this timely, idea-rich series of talks from some of the most effective voices in psychology education today, as they share their thoughts on teaching, learning, and living in these unsettling times.
You can register for one or all of the following webinars:
October 8 - Human Behavior Amidst the COVID Crisis: Helping and Hurting? with David Myers - 1:00 PM EST
October 21 - The APA Introductory Psychology Initiative Outcomes: What You Need to Know with Jane Halonen- 1:00 PM EST
November 5 - Abnormal Psychology in the Era of COVID-19 with Ron & Jon Comer- 1:00 PM EST
November 12 - Making a Smooth Transition to Online Assessment with Scott Cohn - 1:00 PM EST
November 19 - A Hidden Strength in the Psychology Classroom with Debra Roberts - 2:00 PM EST
Register today to save your seat!
*NOTE: You must follow this link to register.
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I recently read Michele Harper’s memoir, The Beauty in Breaking, about her experience as an emergency room physician. In one chapter, she writes about people coming to the ER who have so much more broken in their lives than, say, their arm. With some gentle probing, Harper may learn that the cause of the broken arm is the boyfriend sitting in the waiting area. She writes: [W]hat's even worse is when I ask the question, and the patient declines assistance. Their doing so shouldn't feel like a personal affront, but for an instant, it can. Of course, if a patient declines help, that has nothing to do with me personally. Clearly, I'll go home to my life and not be beaten just the same. Perhaps what bothers me most is the raw realization that I care more deeply for the welfare of another human being than he cares for himself, and that that human being will leave my care to suffer more needless violence. While Harper is speaking of physical danger, this section resonated with me as an educator. A student may come to me because of a poor grade on an assignment. With some gentle probing, I may learn that the student has an abusive boyfriend, has three part-time jobs, is a single parent to an infant and a toddler, is battling addiction/anxiety/depression—or some combination of all of these. When these are the cause, and my offers of help—such as a referral to our college counseling center—are declined, I feel sadness, certainly, but it doesn’t affect me as deeply as it seems to affect Harper, most likely because our roles are different. These are students who I believe value their education—they care about their education—but there are significant barriers in them achieving their educational goals. And my ability to help them navigate life’s choppy waters is limited. Major life circumstance barriers aside, there are times that I do find myself with a similar raw realization—that I care more deeply for a student’s education than they care for it themselves. I feel this most acutely with students who seem to have none of those life circumstance barriers, but who see education as something to be slogged through with minimal effort, not as something worthwhile in its own right—they seem to want the degree without the learning that it represents. In some cases, they don’t even seem to particular want the degree; they’re in college because of someone else’s expectations. It’s difficult to write supportive and constructive comments on the assignments of such students when I know that the comments will likely go unread—or if read, unheeded. I was probably in the first year of my first full-time teaching job in the mid-1990s when one of our counselors spoke at a faculty meeting. She said, to paraphrase, “I know all of you mean well when you give students 3rd, 4th, and 5th chances, but you are not doing your students any favors. Students need to at least meet you halfway.” And then she said, “Students have a right to fail.” As a young faculty member, that was mind-blowing. I could deliver material that was important and relevant. I could present it in the most compelling way. I could construct meaningful assessments of their learning. I could not, however, do the learning. My students were the only ones who could do that. Twenty-five years later, that is still true. I’ve been teaching at the same college long enough to have students come back for a round two. They’ll say, “I took your class 7 years ago, and I didn’t do very well.” They mean that they failed. “I wasn’t ready to go to college then, but I am now.” And they are. Invariably, they do much better than they did the first time. I see students with those significant life barriers again—they got away from the abusive boyfriend, they have a better-paying job, their children are older and more independent, their mental health is better. When a student doesn’t do as well in my course as I believe they can, I cannot let myself think that I care more deeply about their education than they do. Instead, I have to think, “I look forward to seeing you again.”
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In 2017, I wrote a blog post about the federal law that mandates that at every institution of higher education in the United States that receives federal funding that students spend a minimum of two hours outside of class working on the course for every hour in class—or equivalent for online/hybrid courses. For example, if at your institution a fully face-to-face course meets 3 hours a week, students should be spending an average of 6 hours each week working on that course for a total of 9 hours. If that same course is offered online, all 9 hours of work would happen outside the classroom. The challenge for faculty is calculating how much work is in their course. In that same blog post, I wrote about the Course Workload Estimator created by the Center for Teaching Excellence at Rice University. The Center for the Advancement of Teaching at Wake Forest University adapted the code and created a new and improved estimator: Workload Estimator 2.0/Enhanced Course Workload Estimator. Below is an assignment designed to get students to review the syllabus and think about the course from a broader perspective through the use of this Estimator. I encourage you to use the Estimator yourself to estimate the workload in your course before asking students to do it. Assignment instructions Purpose When taking a road trip, it is a good idea to zoom out on the map to see where you are going and how you are going to get there. Having the big picture makes it less likely that you will encounter unexpected turns along the way. Zooming out allows you to better plan your trip. Where are you going to spend the night? What attractions are you going to stop at? The purpose of this assignment is to help you zoom out on our course, see what you’ll be doing this term, and create a road map for how you’re going to get to the end. Task Visit the Course Workload Estimator 2.0. Use your syllabus and textbook to determine what values to enter into the Estimator. [Note to instructor: Include any information that cannot be found in your syllabus here. For example, “For each discussion post, you are expected to write a minimum of 350 words.”] Take a screenshot of your completed Estimator, and paste it into a document. Directly above your screenshot, please write a paragraph describing when during the week you plan on working on this course. For example, if the estimate for how much time you will need to work on this course outside of class—independently—is 6 hours, you may decide that you will work on the class one hour a day Monday through Saturday. Criteria This assignment is worth 10 points. Eight points will be assigned for accurate completion of the Estimator—one point for each section. Two points will be assigned for a weekly work plan that matches the independent hours calculated by the Estimator.
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Because of the pandemic the Association for Psychological Science (APS) canceled their 2020 convention. In its place, they invited all of their poster presenters to upload their posters to the “APS Virtual Poster Showcase” which runs June 1, 2020 through September 1, 2020. If you’re teaching Intro Psych this summer, ask your students to register. Registration is free. This is an amazing opportunity for students to see current psychological research (hundreds of posters!) and, if they’d like, ask the researchers about their studies. While I have framed this activity as an online discussion forum, this can be adapted for discussion in a synchronous class or as a stand-alone assignment. Here are some discussion forum questions that would be appropriate for the Intro Psych development chapter. Amend the topic for other chapters. ***** There are several ways psychological scientists share their research. They will, for example, publish their research in peer-reviewed journals—journals where others who are doing similar research will review articles that have been submitted for publication, and offer critiques that will make the article better. Psychological scientists also present their research at conferences. In some cases, they’ll stand in front of an audience (just like your I do when I teach face-to-face) and talk about their research. In other cases, they’ll print a summary of their research on a big poster (something like 3 feet x 4 feet) and then post that on a bulletin board in a big hall with 50 to 100 other researchers and their posters. A poster session will typically last an hour. Conference attendees can visit the hall, read the posters, and ask each researcher questions about their studies. While we won’t be able to go to a psychology conference during this class, one conference’s research posters are coming to us. The Association for Psychological Science (APS) has asked the psychological scientists who had their posters accepted for presentation at this year’s APS conference to make their posters available online. Visit this webpage, and register for free for the Association for Psychological Science’s Virtual Poster Showcase. Once you’re registered, visit the posters. In the left navigation menu, click on “Virtual Posters,” and select “Cross-Cutting Theme Posters—Risk and Resilience During Emerging Adulthood.” Choose a poster title, and read the abstract—a short summary of the research. In your initial post, please address the following: What is the title of the poster you’ve chosen? Who are the researchers? What college or university are they from? In 50+ words, why did you choose this particular poster? After viewing or downloading the poster, quote a sentence or two from the poster that stands out to you. In 50+ words, explain why you chose this quote. Lastly, after having read this research poster, in 50+ words, please share what else you would like to know about this topic. Please respond to the initial posts of two classmates. In each of your responses, use at least one of these types of comments to reply to the initial post’s answer to #3 and to #4. For example, in response to their quote, you may choose a compliment, and in response to what else they’d like to know about the topic with a question of your own. A compliment, e.g., "I like how... because...," I like that... because..." A comment, e.g., "I agree that... because...," "I disagree that... because..." A connection, e.g., "I have also thought that...," "That reminds me of..." A question, e.g., "I wonder why...," "I wonder how..."
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