Professional development opportunities for psychology educators

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There are lots of opportunities for professional development in the teaching of psychology no matter your budget.

If you haven’t already, join the Society for the Teaching of Psychology (STP). Annual membership is $25 for psychology teachers, $15 for students and postdocs. If you live in a country that is not classified by the World Bank as a high income economy, it’s $5.

As a member of STP, you get online access to our quarterly journal Teaching of Psychology, the ability to join one or more of our affinity groups and participate in their online discussions, the opportunity to join us at STP’s Annual Conference on Teaching (Louisville in 2024 and Minneapolis is 2025), the opportunity to apply for numerous grants and awards, the opportunity to participate in our mentoring program, and the ability to post to and view our list of job postings. Between September 1, 2023 and October 4, 2023, a total of 34 job postings have gone up. And by joining STP, you will have the opportunity to give back to the teaching of psychology community (and adding professional service to your CV) by getting involved in STP.

If you’re on Facebook, join the Society for the Teaching of Psychology Facebook group. With over 22,000 members as of October 2023, the members can help you with any teaching of psychology related question you may have. Need new ideas for the Sensation and Perception chapter in Intro? Have a challenging student, colleague, department chair, or administration? Looking for a new kind of assignment? We’re here for you.

If you’re not on Facebook, STP operates the PsychTeacher listserv. A listserv is an email subscription service. When you have a teaching of psychology related question, send an email to the listserv email address. Other subscribers will reply to your question.

If you’re a fan of webinars, check out the American Psychological Association (APA) Education Directorate’s Learn 2 Learn Series.  

For the podcast listeners, there are a number of excellent options. For example, there is Psych Sessions (conversations with psych instructors), Hidden Brain, Speaking of Psychology (from APA), Under the Cortex (from APS), and All in the Mind (from the BBC).

The best (and only?) Intro Psych conferences are TIP Northwest (Seattle in the spring) and Psych One (Duke University in June). The two conferences have joined forces to host an online conference in January called Intro Psych: Coast-to-Coast.

Psi Beta will be holding their Second Annual Psi Beta Teaching of Psychology Conference (PBTOP) online on December 1, 2023.

All seven of the regional psychological associations (i.e. EPA, SEPA, MPA, NEPA, RMPA, SWPA, and WPA) have teaching of psychology programming either as a one-day preconference or embedded throughout the program.

There are also local teaching of psychology conferences, such as the Southeastern Teaching of Psychology conference (SETOP) the Mid-Atlantic Teaching Psychology conference (MATOP) and the Midwest Institute for Students and Teachers of Psychology (MISTOP). If you’d like to start your own conference, this document—even though it’s a little dated now—provides some excellent advice.

STP also has programming at the APA convention. When I attended my first APA convention, I was feeling a little overwhelmed at the number of presentations. A trusted colleague said, “Just attend the STP sessions. Treat it like a teaching conference.” It was fantastic advice.

You can also find STP programming at the Association for Psychological Science conference, at the Society for Personality and Social Psychology (SPSP) conference, and at the Society for Research in Child Development conference.

The National Institute on the Teaching of Psychology (NITOP) is held every January. It is one of the best teaching of psychology conferences.

If you’re interested in international collaboration on scholarship of teaching and learning activities, check out the Biennial International Seminar on the Teaching of Psychological Science (BISTOPS) held in July on even years in Paris.

If you want to flip the script and be paid for professional development rather than paying for professional development, I recommend participating in the AP Psych reading. It was the best move I ever made in my career. I learned a lot about writing essay questions and about rubric development. You'll get that if you do the reading online. However, if you're able, attend in person, at least for the first few years. The best part was making friends who love teaching psychology as much as I do. I have learned--and continue to learn--so much from them. ETS (the owner of the Advanced Placement testing program) pays you, and they cover all travel expenses including hotel for the week. In 2024, the reading will be in Kansas City. Read more about the requirements and apply.

I am certain I have missed some fantastic professional development options. Please share your favorites in the comments!


About the Author
Sue Frantz has taught psychology since 1992. She has served on several APA boards and committees, and was proud to serve the members of the Society for the Teaching of Psychology as their 2018 president. In 2013, she was the inaugural recipient of the APA award for Excellence in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning at a Two-Year College or Campus. She received in 2016 the highest award for the teaching of psychology--the Charles L. Brewer Distinguished Teaching of Psychology Award. She presents nationally and internationally on the topics of educational technology and the pedagogy of psychology. She is co-author with Doug Bernstein and Steve Chew of Teaching Psychology: A Step-by-Step Guide, 3rd ed. and is co-author with Charles Stangor on Introduction to Psychology, 4.0.