Personal Learning Environment

Hi all,

With a bittersweet feeling (we’ve accomplished so much this semester), here is my final blog post for our class, my personal learning environment. A lot of it is specific to psychology, but there are some more general resources that I hope will be helpful to you all. And, if not, because psychology is present in other fields, like education, maybe even the psychology resources will be helpful anyway.

http://popplet.com/app/#/3989828

And, this is just a starting point. I’m hoping to add things to the web as I develop as an instructor – I already have a word document started with all the resources included. Before I get all reflective, I bid you all ado (at least on this blog – I’ll be popping onto your blogs before the semester ends).

Thank you all for such a wonderful semester. The class was great to begin, but it was made that much better with you all!

Tess

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Angelo & Cross’s (1993) Classroom Assessment Techniques

It is a big book. A big book, to be sure, but all the information seems important enough to warrant inclusion. Filled to the spine with techniques that were not only applicable to all university instructors (with or without adaptation), but also explained in a way that is easy to read. Having only a few pages to read on each technique made everything a lot less overwhelming and, in my opinion, encourages adaption of techniques to individual needs instead of immediate adoption without additional thought. But, not only did the book include a lot of useful information for present and future me in designing classes, it also helped on a more personal level, although such is probably not the intention of the authors per se, but a serendipitous result of my training so far.

Because, reflecting what I stated yesterday, this book boosted my confidence. For a while now, I’ve been feeling like I don’t know enough to be a good instructor. Of course, such is to be expected at this point, as teaching is a skill that must be built over time, due to both personal experience in a classroom and reading through a large literature. Both of which take quite a while.

For instance, showing off my lack of knowledge, for a while now, I’ve always thought that student feedback is the only option to present information on learning, beyond providing copies of the instructions for class requirements. I do want to give the book a better read (which seems to be a repeating theme in my book reviews), but there were a few new ideas that stuck with me quite well. For example, because I try my best to make each course applicable to students’ lives (e.g., including advice from psychology in lectures/readings, designing activities that promote introspection), having the application cards would be a good idea. Therefore, not only would they have the applications I discuss, but their own as well, which are probably more personal than I could ever hope to design myself. And, with permission, of course, I could use the ideas of past students when redoing the class with future students.

However, contradicting my lack of knowledge, because I read things in this book I was already vaguely familiar with (e.g., minute paper, muddiest point), maybe I’m at a better place than I thought. But, if not, I’ve got this book (and the others) to help. I’ve just got to take some more time to give it a thorough look. And, as soon as the semester ends, I will have much more time (or, at least expect to have much more time). So, these books are going to be one of my summer projects. I’ve learned a bunch just through skimming, so I’m excited for what I will learn with a solid read!

 

Final Project Update #2

Hello all,

It happened again: I was looking at the wrong copy of the syllabus. I thought we had a work week, without any blog posts. So, I’m late to the party. My apologies!

For my progress on my final project (an online teaching portfolio), see this page: https://tmgemberling.wixsite.com/website

So far, since last time, I’ve completed the following:

  1. About page
    1. a professional picture – incomplete
    2. a professional biography – complete
    3. my educational background – complete
    4. a personal biography – complete
  2. Teaching page
    1. my teaching statement – complete
    2. a teaching example (video) – complete
    3. my teaching experience – complete
    4. my specialty presentations – complete
    5. my teaching workshops – complete
    6. Subpages
      1. introductory psychology – complete
      2. research methods – incomplete (this page will stay incomplete, as I will not teach this class until summer II)
      3. social statistics – complete
      4. additional courses – complete
  3. Service page (this page will stay incomplete, as I don’t have the time to complete it this semester)
    1. my service philosophy – incomplete
    2. my service experience – incomplete
  4. Research page (this page will stay incomplete, as I don’t have the time to complete it this semester)
    1. my research statement – incomplete
    2. my research interests – complete
    3. my available datasets – complete
    4. my existing publications – complete
    5. my working manuscripts – complete
    6. my grant applications – complete
    7. my conference presentations – complete
  5. Contact page
    1. my contact information – complete
    2. a message portal – complete

Final Project Update

Hello all,

For my progress on my final project (an online teaching portfolio), see this page: https://tmgemberling.wixsite.com/website

So far, I’ve completed the following:

  1. About page
    1. a professional picture – incomplete
    2. a professional biography – complete
    3. my educational background – complete
    4. a personal biography – complete
  2. Teaching page
    1. my teaching statement – complete
    2. a teaching example (video) – complete
    3. my teaching experience – complete
    4. my specialty presentations – complete
    5. my teaching workshops – complete
    6. Subpages
      1. introductory psychology – incomplete
      2. research methods – incomplete (this page will stay incomplete, as I will not teach this class until summer II)
      3. social statistics – incomplete
      4. additional courses – incomplete
  3. Service page (this page may stay incomplete, as I’m uncertain if I have the time to complete it this semester)
    1. my service philosophy – incomplete
    2. my service experience – incomplete
  4. Research page (this page may stay incomplete, as I’m uncertain if I have the time to complete it this semester)
    1. my research statement – incomplete
    2. my research interests – complete
    3. my available datasets – complete
    4. my existing publications – complete
    5. my working manuscripts – complete
    6. my grant applications – complete
    7. my conference presentations – complete
  5. Contact page
    1. my contact information – complete
    2. a message portal – complete

Nilson’s Teaching at its Best

I like to read before I fall asleep. It started as a method of treating my insomnia, really as a way to “wind down” my overactive mind (anyone else have a inner voice that will not stop rambling – ever?). And, although I’m having less and less problems with insomnia as I age, I still continue to try to get a bit of reading done before drifting off to sleep.

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I wish I could sleep like this fox. Maybe I should try sleeping on a tree stump.

But, trying to read this book before going to bed was not the best idea I have ever had. Because, it is one of the densest readings I have ever attempted. And, this is coming from someone who is attempting to do some theory work for my dissertation (oh, theory literature, so so so dense).

I’ll admit, it depended on the chapter, or, more specifically, the sections of the chapter. Take the second chapter for example, the one on outcome-centered course design. It oscillated between practical advice (e.g., how to write a learning outcome) and existing theories (e.g., several different types of learning taxonomies). The practical advice was simple to read, but the existing theories – not so much. That may be because I don’t easily understand theories or because I was not expecting so many theories, but, from my perspective, it got quite dense at times. I would have to re-read sections, or, in the even more extreme, abandon the reading for sleep because my mind could not handle it during the transition to a lower level of mental functioning with increasing tiredness.

However, this density was not necessarily a bad thing. Having more than just a citation for why something is supported by research is the opposite, a good thing. Knowing why I’m doing something as opposed to just doing it on “faith” raises my confidence in my teaching.  But, it is going to take me a while to get through this one (I decided to read the book, instead of skim). Yet, I’m happy with that decision. Because, even though I may not remember all of it due to the density and state of mind during my reading, I do think I’ll take a way a good amount of information that is useful. It may be more restricted to the practical advice, as that’s my focus at this time, but maybe its a book that requires a couple of reads to really understand all of it. To that end, I’m flagging areas to return to along the way so I’m setting myself up for a quick reference guide in the future.

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I do fear that my book will look like this when I’m done with it. Hopefully, I can tone it down.

Anyway, although I’m not done with it yet, I have enjoyed my educational, but slow, journey so far. I look forward to getting through more of it as I move along!

Teaching Methods Checklist

Our society is placing more and more emphasis on using research to inform the day-to-day functioning of real life. As a self-identified researcher, I’m biased; yet, nevertheless, I applaud this movement. There are other reasons for my appreciation, but one of the most important is that it makes us more effective in all areas, including our teaching. And, one of the simplest (life is complicated enough!) and diverse (got to keep it interesting!) ways to make sure teaching is effective is to organize research-supported techniques into a simple checklist, a teaching methods checklist.

Although there are teaching methods checklists floating around the Internet (such as Checklist #1 and Checklist #2), I wasn’t able to find too many of them, especially those with citations from research to support the inclusion of each item onto the list. So, it may be best, at this time, to create your teaching methods checklist yourself, either as a teacher or a researcher. That way, you’ll know the research that supports each item and have the opportunity to tailor it to your own style. And, there are two broad ways to go about completing this task, targeting methods that are specific to your discipline or general to all teaching.

To locate materials that are specific to your discipline, try looking for information published in course textbooks, academic journals, conference presentations, etc within your field. For example, in psychology, the American Psychological Association has a specific division that is focused on teaching psychology (Society for the Teaching of Psychology, Division 2). Their website and annual conference are great resources for locating materials to include in a teaching methods checklist. They even have a journal dedicated to publishing applicable information (i.e., Teaching of Psychology). As another example, I’ve recently become a fan of open access textbooks. In my favorite so far, an instructor’s manual is also provided. It’s massive, with several guidelines and activities provided for each chapter. And, out of the ones I have read, they are based in work published in academic journals, meaning (hopefully) they have research supporting their practice. But, other textbooks, open access or not, frequently provide ideas for techniques to implement in the classroom if you can get the instructor’s copy. Additional effort may have to be undertaken to ensure the technique is supported by research, if such is available, but at least the idea can be sparked!

However, if discipline-specific techniques are difficult to locate, general teaching resources may be of assistance. Like before, try academic journals (e.g., Higher Education), available books, or even your university’s faculty resource center. Or, the easiest place to start is probably within the material from this class. For example, just look at the other methods listed on the sheet passed around our class for this blog post. They are limited to assessment techniques per the assignment, but those are an important part of teaching techniques. Or, for a broader teaching methods checklist, adapt the books we have read/are reading. Bain (2004) can provide recommendations on how to interact with students. Obviously, Barkley (2009) can provide recommendations on how to engage students. Nilson (2010) can provide recommendations on how to set up a course. And, Angelo and Cross (1993) can provide recommendation on how to use assessment techniques. Of course, much more information is provided in these texts, but I hope the gist is clear. Use general resources, inside or outside of this class, to create a teaching methods checklist.

As soon as the hard work is done and the checklist is created, it’s easy. Simply observe and check which of the list has been accomplished, whether it be in your own course or another course you are evaluating. Or, maybe even better, jot down a few things about the implementation (e.g., reactions of students, ease of use) to give yourself a little field research to update your list as you go along.

In all, teaching checklists are easy ways to keep teaching methods up-to-date in effectiveness. And, for a bonus, if used correctly, they can be included as evidence for a tenure review or other promotion!

Hope you enjoyed the quick overview of this method! Until next time – bye!

P.S. If anyone is interested, as this class has shown me that psychology is quite prevalent in other fields, the open access textbook and its associated instructor’s manual I referenced is found at: nobaproject.com (if you want the instructor’s manual, you must register on the website as an instructor – it’s not difficult, no pro of required).

P.S.S. My apologies for the lateness of this assignment. I was reading the old version of the syllabus, thinking that our final project proposal was due this past weekend, not this one.

Final Project Proposal

I have chosen to complete Option 1 for the final project, the teaching portfolio. To make the teaching portfolio more interactive, I will be creating a website for it using Wix. This way, when I start applying to jobs next year, I can merely direct potential employers to the website. It will include the following components, each separated onto different pages:

  1. About page
    1. This page will detail the basic information about me, both professional and personal. It will incorporate: 1) a professional picture, 2) a professional biography, which will describe my development as a psychologist and my ultimate career goals in academia, 3) my educational background, which will list my undergraduate, masters, and doctoral programs as well as my milestone achievements (e.g., thesis, dissertation, graduate certificate in college teaching), and 4) a personal biography, which will describe what I enjoy doing in my spare time (e.g., spending time with my dogs, working on art projects) and provide pictures to give a more tangible depiction of my personality.
  2. Teaching page
    1. This page will detail my orientation and experience in teaching. It will incorporate: 1) my teaching statement, 2) a teaching example, which will take the form of the teaching video module from this class, 3) my teaching experience, which will list the classes I have taught, 4) my specialty presentations, which will list the presentations I have given for various institutions, outside of conferences, and 5) my teaching workshops, which will list the teaching workshops I have attended.
    2. This page will also include subpages for each of the two classes I have taught (e.g., introduction to psychology, statistics) and one page for the classes I hope to teach. Each of these pages will incorporate 1) a background description, which will detail my experience with the course, 2) my example activities, which will include links to the full activity guidelines, 3) my future plans, which will explain what I hope to do with the course in the future, and 4) my student reviews (for the classes I have taught), which will provide example reviews along with links to the full list of student reviews.
  3. Service page
    1. This page will detail my style in service. It will incorporate: 1) my service philosophy, which will be a brief description of how I approach service, and 2) my service experience, which will list my experience with service, no matter the form it takes.
  4. Research page
    1. This page will detail my direction and progress in research. It will incorporate: 1) my research statement, which will describe my orientation to research, 2) my research interests, 3) my available datasets, which I will bring to my future position to use with undergraduates in their research endeavors, 4) my existing publications, which will include both the citation and the link to the article itself, 5) my working manuscripts, which are those that are in preparation or under review, 6) my grant applications, which were either funded or not funded, and 7) my conference presentations.
  5. Contact page
    1. This page will detail how to get into touch with me. It will incorporate 1) my contact information, which will include my university email, telephone number, and office location, and 2) a message portal, which individuals can use to send me a message through the website.

I do hope that I can get this done, but I am a bit “computer-stupid”, so fingers crossed! Please wish me luck. I will need it!

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I’ve never found a four-leaf clover before, but maybe it is time to start looking.

Until next time, bye!

Teaching Statement

Most academics are familiar with an unfortunate stereotype – the professor of monotone voice and stiff movement (possibly wearing a tweed jacket with elbow patches). Higher education is often assumed to be a dull environment for students. Eyes are glazed over; shoes are restlessly tapping; and fingers are reaching towards phones as the lecture has droned on like the perpetual buzzing of a fly trapped in the classroom, which has more student attention than the tedious professor. My students and I strive to break this cliché. Because, together, we create a classroom where learning is stimulating, personal, and exciting.

Learning as a Stimulating Endeavor

In those unfamiliar with its methods, psychology is classified as intuition, art, or, in the worst conceptualization, fiction. But, as psychologists know, the field has much to offer, both in building general knowledge and boosting critical thinking. Indeed, with so many psychological myths floating in the public atmosphere, these abilities beg to be included. In class, my students and I attempt to foster as much stimulation of critical thinking as possible. Not only is it of great importance to the science of psychology, but such abilities assist students outside of any classroom, whether it be in pioneering their career, investing in a romantic relationship, or purchasing a house. But, students are not alone in this venture. Because we can all learn from one another, we often utilize small groups, combining students into groups of different backgrounds to encourage and challenge each other.

During class, my students and I make learning stimulating by identifying the everyday applications of psychological research, analyzing the differences between media portrayals and real life, detailing the human experience, etc: We break down emotions into its affective, cognitive, behavioral, and physiological features to analyze the multifaceted experience of emotion. We discuss how we have been impacted by stereotypes to realize inequalities in social treatment. We use childhood board games to examine how intelligence is reflected in daily tasks. We identify the healthy and unhealthy conflict management strategies presented in clips from television shows (e.g., How I Met Your Mother, Big Bang Theory, Modern Family). We diagnose a fictional character with a DSM-5 disorder to examine how the media often does poorly with depicting mental illness in a realistic manner. And, in the future, it is planned for students to complete projects they have designed themselves, encouraging students to learn independent of an instructor, outside of a classroom.

Learning as a Personal Endeavor

We are experts in our own experience. Therefore, my students and I utilize this preexisting knowledge by grounding material in our daily lives. Not only does this personal information assist in understanding and retaining information, but it is worth more to students. Students can see how the material is so much more than words on a page. When students learn about the research and results of psychology in a personal manner, they know beyond the facts and the theories. Students function better in their cognitive, emotional, and social lives, becoming happier, healthier people. And, such learning is not limited to gaining psychological knowledge, each activity is designed to improve upon life skills in some manner, whether it is as concrete as reading comprehensively or as abstract as communicating clearly.

To make learning personal, in class, we analyze ourselves, discuss student problems, tell stories, etc: We take established measures of personality or implicit-association tests to get to know ourselves better. We find journal articles on topics of interest to share and discuss with the class. We describe interesting events from our lives then analyze how different brain areas were involved. We outline, step-by-step, our plan of action if we ever believe one of our friends is suicidal, after reviewing appropriate guidelines. We uni-task, and multi-task to test our true ability in doing one vs. two tasks at the same time. And, in the future, I have planned for students to have even more control of their learning by having them select course topics and recommend syllabus edits, ensuring students are learning what they want and how they want.

Learning as an Exciting Endeavor

My students and I design class to be a place where information and skills are not just gained, but sought. We attempt to imbue as much fun as possible into each day of class. When doing so, we learn more. But, more importantly, students learn to love learning, inspired to be learners for life beyond the four walls (or one screen) of the classroom. I attempt to wake a desire to learn in my students that does not stop when the class ends after a few months, but lasts for years. Just as Bill Nye the Science Guy spiked interest in general science through nifty experiments and catchy expressions in 80s and 90s children, with my students, I strive to be similar in a balanced combination of education and enjoyment to encourage learning, aspiring to be Professor G the Psychology Marquis (despite being female).

In class, my students and I make learning exciting with crafts, videos, articles, etc: We make neurons out of pipe cleaners or found material. We try recommended coping mechanisms, such as mindful breathing, art projects, and cognitive reframing. We identify defense mechanisms in clips from recent and not-so-recent movies and television shows (e.g., Footloose, Finding Nemo, Friends). We use an article titled “Emotion regulation, procrastination, and watching cat videos online: Who watches Internet cats, why, and to what effect?” (Myrick, 2015) to examine correlational research. We analyze posts on facebook for their emotional content. And, in future classes, plans include playing charades to demonstrate the efficiency of scripts and watching clips of animals to discuss non-human personality traits.

Conclusion

Stereotypes are perpetuating. Stuffy professors may continue to be the immediate thought for someone prompted to think of higher education. But, acknowledging I am still learning, I am not of monotone voice or stiff movement (although, I hope to eventually own a tweed jacket with elbow patches). And, barring a few of my failures not to be repeated, my students’ eyes are not glazed over, shoes are not restlessly tapping, and fingers are not reaching towards phones. Together, my students and I do well in avoiding clichés in our stimulating, personal, and exciting classes.

Barkley’s (2010) Student Engagement Techniques

Barkley (2010) got my attention in the first page of the preview.

Bain (2004) was an informative book, but the professors he studied appeared to have no problems, beyond what was recognized in one or two sentences in about 175 pages. They didn’t appear to face plagiarism or miscommunication. But, Barkley (2010) readily admitted her difficulties as a teacher. I connect with that honest because I’ve experienced the same problems.

I taught statistics for two sections last year. I tried my hardest to get students involved, but it was challenging to get criminal justice and sociology majors to value a topic of which they can appreciate the importance to the general world, but not their specific lives. No student wanted to do research, so learning about statistics was deemed irrelevant. The truth of that evaluation can be debated, as students may never have to do statistics directly themselves at any time but they’ll be indirectly reading about statistics that other people conducted for their entire lives. And, although the class rated the course well (as it wasn’t as bad as they thought it would be), I know that I have to do better in engaging my students, despite the difficulty of that venture, in any additional statistics class I teach.

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I’m certainly familiar with this facial expression in my statistics class. (Who knew they made gargoyle statues that look like this?)

And, this book is how I do so. Sure, to be honest, I’ve heard about some of these techniques before. But, the seemingly-simple act betrays the sincerely-sophisticated method used to scour websites, attend conferences, and interview colleagues to collect almost all the techniques known to man and describe them in a manner that is succinct but understandable. Because, even though I’m familiar with many of these techniques, I often forget about them when trying to organize for class. Such is expected, as human memory is quite terrible and mine is especially bad. So, having this resource, sitting on a shelf waiting for me until I need it, will be a great help and, in doing so, is a great confidence boost.

Of course, these techniques aren’t really ones to just implement immediately, as they must be adapted to the specific class at hand. But, I do consider this to be a good quality. It broadens the book to all disciplines while forcing professors to think about what is needed for their class. Because, to be strong teachers, I believe plugging and chugging in our classes is not the best. It will take more time, especially when trying to applying the techniques to statistics classes, but I am happy to face that challenge.

So, I look forward to reading through the rest of the text. Despite the advice provided by Barkley (2010), I think I’m going to start to read it like a book – page by page. That way, I can really think over how to apply each technique to my individual classes. And, hopefully, after the time and effort, my students will appreciate it by being engaged learners, even in my statistics classes.

Until next time: Bye!

Metacognition Module Reflection

In sum, I would say that I’m 75% happy with my video.

The Pros: Lecture, Timing, Humor.

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These parts of the video made me as happy as this dog.

It could be better, but I’m pleased with what I had to say over the audio. I think I was effective in explaining metacognition and applying it to study strategies, which I considered to be an appropriate application, given the intention of the video. Doing so, I believe I was able to compact a lot of information into less than 6 minutes. And, getting it under 6 minutes was quite a feat in itself. All in all, my script translated into over 10 minutes spoken aloud, but I was able to make the necessary cuts to make it shorter, which I believed improved the video greatly. I had to talk a little faster than I would usually, but I think the faster pace worked out well. I also liked that I was able to put in a few humorous items. I know it’s not the most important thing when it comes to teaching, but I like to spice up my lectures a bit to keep students engaged. However, I do try to keep the humor light, to keep it appropriate for the classroom. I think I did well with that in this video.

The Cons: Visuals.

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These parts of the video made me as sad as this dog.

However, I’m not so happy with the visuals. I had hoped to video myself talking to the camera to show my face-to-face lecture style. Although I gave it a try, I soon gave up on that venture. I felt so awkward, which was reflected in the resulting product. That, coupled with thinking that I look young for a professor, pushed me to make the entire video a voice-over. I’m happy with that choice in the end, but I do wish I was able to figure out a way in which I was comfortable lecturing to the camera. I was also hoping to use advanced software for the visuals. Sadly, it turned out the software I was looking at (i.e., Camtasia) is only editing software. So, I ended up using PowerPoint and Tegrity. After the assignment was submitted, I was inspired by a fellow student to check out a different software that would allow for the advanced features for which I was looking, but it’s $300. I certainly cannot afford that. Not now and probably not later. I think I’ve resigned myself to using the basics, but I believe I’m okay with that. I’m learning more about PowerPoint and think it will serve my purposes well for upcoming plans – I’m going to try to make interactive book chapters for readings by editing an open access textbook in PowerPoint – even though I’m trying to lecture almost never in future classes.

P.S. I’m currently redoing this assignment, trying to improve it, as I want to post the video on my teaching portfolio website. So, constructive criticism is very welcome – please share your thoughts!