Tag Archives: summer

Olympics are over!

Time to get to serious work!

I have spent the last two weeks thoroughly distracted by the Games — almost as badly as when they were here in Vancouver! While I realize that there are economic and social problems with the Olympics, I find myself inspired by the accomplishments and even the disappointments our athletes face. (And I say “our” to reflect my fierce Canadian pride that especially swells at times like this.) From Rosie MacLennan’s first (and Canada’s only!) gold medal performance, our women’s soccer team pulling themselves up from last place in the world last year to win bronze, *so* many top 10 but out-of-medal performances, the heartbreaking DQ in the men’s 4×100 relay after a shocking rise from off-radar to bronze position… and many many other inspiring moments. Our athletes showed their pride of achievement, and sadness while striving for dignity in defeat. Watching people strive for amazing and challenging achievements inspires me. Such performances highlight the risk involved in devoting your life to a goal, especially a competitive goal defined by social comparisons. It’s possible you’ll never achieve it — and it might be because of simple bad luck, or the fact that someone else just outperforms you (imagine competing in a cohort that just happens to include Michael Phelps or Usain Bolt!). It must take tremendous strength of character to say, “I did my very best, and I’m proud of my accomplishment” after off-podium, far off-podium, or defeat finishes in a domain in which you stake your identity.

Of course, it wasn’t just the Canadian’s who inspired me. There were some incredible “firsts” of these Games that will have an important legacy: Oscar Pistorius, who blurred the boundaries between Olympics and Paralympics; every country competing sent at least one woman; every sport was open to women and men — even boxing; and best all-round female gymnast went to a woman of colour, Gabby Douglas, for the first time ever. Some of these firsts seem bizarrely delayed, it being 2012 and all, but I suspect that feeling is more a product of my sheltered Canadian vantage point than reality.

Thanks, London 2012, our Canadian Olympic Team, and all Olympians, for giving me an excuse to pause and reflect on achievement, failure, competition, national pride, women’s rights, the meaning of physical ability and disability.

Now really, it’s time for me to get back to work!

Networking, Celebrating, and New Ideas

This week has been a busy one, in a good way! Here are some highlights:

Accomplished a Goal: the Instructor’s Manual

On Monday I was relieved to finish the instructor’s manual to accompany my research methods textbook. Not every textbook has one, and from my own experiences I’ve noticed they vary in usefulness. The point of an instructor’s manual is to give instructors ideas for ways to engage their learners in the material. The prompts most often include demonstrations, in-class and out-of-class activities, discussion starters, and sometimes include assignments and references to other resources. It was fun to go back through my own lessons and add my teaching techniques, along with ideas for assignments and grading keys, course sequencing, and other tips. I hope instructors find it useful for engaging students in learning research methods!

Networking and Socializing Events

Members of our Instructor Network gathered on Tuesday afternoon for an informal meet-and-greet. In addition to reconnecting with colleagues I know well, it was fun to get to know some new (to me) teaching-focused people from across campus, including fellow long-distance runner and chair of Critical Studies in Sexuality Janice Stewart, and Computer Engineer Paul Davies. Also, I learned more about the Coordinated Arts Program from newly tenure-tracked Instructors Laurie McNeil and Kathryn Grafton. I had known about the program before, but hadn’t heard about the instructor’s perspective. It sounds like a creative opportunity to engage in collaborative teaching while thinking about the different perspectives one’s own and others’ disciplines offer on a particular topic. Sounds wonderful!

Friday morning was one of my favourite events of the entire year: Graduation! In addition to cheering on all of the psychology bachelor’s degree graduates, I had the pleasure of welcoming two friends to PhD status. It was wonderful catching up with each of them; I was honoured to be able to share in their achievements. Lara Aknin is heading across the city to Simon Fraser University to start an Assistant Professorship this fall, and Jen St. Onge has moved back to her hometown of Regina to work in making industry-research partnerships, including training industry folks in research methods. After the graduate ceremonies and coffee, the faculty who attended all went out for lunch with our Department Head, Alan Kingstone. I had a lovely informal afternoon catching up with colleagues/friends.

Saturday morning I had the pleasure of participating in the Alumni Weekend 15 Minute Degree. Along with some friendly colleagues from across campus, I met with alumni, their precocious children and friends, as well as some current UBC students, to chat informally about what’s new in psychology and teaching it. I enjoyed some delightful conversations including how I use clickers to engage my learners in the classrooms of 100-500 students, how memory works, theories of self-control, what makes modern psychology a science, and how to evaluate therapists when seeking help. And I have to add the weather was amazing!

Professional Development Activities

One of the many things I love about my career is the opportunity to collaborate with other people. This week, I met with the amazing Negin Mirriahi, the Manager of the Arts Learning Centre at Arts ISIT. We met to start analyzing our data from a scholarship of teaching and learning project we started last year. We’re exploring the relationships among students’ attitudes and beliefs about Team Based Learning (specifically the Readiness Assurance Process) and their team project and course grades. We still have a long way to go on that project, but we’re having fun getting there!

On Thursday I led a workshop for the Teaching Assistant Training Community of Practice (through CTLT). Our CoP is a group of people from way across campus (think physics, biology, psych, land and food, french/hispanic/italian studies, english, geography, math, statistics…) who meet monthly with the goal of improving the TA training we offer within our departments (funded by the Provost). Over the past two years we’ve really grown into a supportive community; it’s really a pleasure to make time for this group in my schedule. Anyway, it was my turn to lead a session, this time on cross-discipline/department Standards for TA training. This sounds like an impossible task, but over the course of an hour and a half we discovered that Eison and Vanderford (1993) is a really useful tool for reflecting (and helping each other reflect) on whether we are offering comprehensive programs. Of course, not every item is relevant for every department/discipline. Moreover, the way I address an item can look very different from the way someone else does. We considered the idea that perhaps rather than a common set of standard elements, what might be the best standard would be asking a common set of questions, and having thoughtful answers to them (whatever those may be). Rich discussions throughout!

Last but not least, I had the pleasure of meeting with one of the many graduate students on this campus who inspire me, Natasha Holmes from physics. I met her through the TA Training CoP (above), and she sat in on my Psyc 218 class last term to brush up on her small sample statistics for behavioural sciences (she’s conducting scholarship of teaching and learning for her PhD). Two exciting opportunities came from our meeting: (1) it looks like I’ll be offering a couple of workshops for the STLFs who are doing similar work, and (2) we may be collaborating in her new capacity, as co-director of the Let’s Talk Science program. In LTS, Graduate students go into elementary school classes to lead demonstrations of scientific phenomena. Psychology is science. Let’s get psychology (e.g., understanding of the brain, memory, social influence) into elementary schools! Just an idea at this point, but exciting!

Wow, that was a way longer entry than I expected it to be! Hope you’ve gathered some insights into what I’ve been up to, as an example of what some professors do in their off-season (i.e., often it’s lots!).

Recovering, Reconnecting, Resting

The first few weeks of summer term have been glorious. The weather has cooperated for the most part, and I have been able to take some time to breathe. March and April were more hectic than I anticipated they would be, including a surprise “proofread the entire textbook in the next four weeks” while teaching 8 different classes a week, including a new prep (stats), on top of the two full-textbook reads I expected to complete. [If you don’t know what I’m talking about, I’ve been working for about a hear and a half on adapting the Cozby research methods textbook into a Cozby and Rawn Canadian Edition.] I’ll write more about my reflections on the year later, but for now I wanted to simply express how thankful I am that I’m in such a peaceful place right now.

After running the Vancouver Marathon two weeks ago, I’ve taken some time off of running. Instead, I’ve been doing a bit of swimming (our condo has a pool) and I signed up for an intro pass at Open Door Yoga. I’ve practiced yoga sporadically since moving to Vancouver 9 years ago (!), but never regularly. It seems like a wonderful way to develop strength, balance, and peace – both inside and out – so I’m giving it a whirl this summer. I’ve also been reconnecting with my friends and husband. It’s challenging for me during the school year to fully, truly relax. There’s always another lesson to prepare, another email to deal with. It’s been lovely just enjoying unscheduled time and laughter and wine with these lovely people once again.

Wherever you are in the world, I hope your summer is starting off at least as enjoyably as mine has.

Gearing up for September!

This summer has flown by! Guess that’s what happens when you update an entire textbook, read another one to prep for a new course, revise multiple syllabi, attend two conferences, write a program evaluation report… and a few bits of R&R every now and again including a lovely, wine-filled weekend in Osoyoos, BC. So that’s what I’ve been up to this summer. How about you?

To students and faculty: Welcome (back!) to UBC! If you’re in my intro psych class (Psyc 100 Section 002, MWF 1-2 in CIRS 1250), you may be interested in checking out the syllabus. You’ll get a hard copy when we meet on Wednesday, but you can get the sneek peek here: Intro Syllabus. I had a ton of fun in this course last year and I’m looking forward to it again!

If you’re in either of my research methods classes (Psyc 217 Sections 1 or 2), you can find the syllabus here: Research Methods Syllabus.  I’m looking forward to this course — yes it’s a lot of work for all of us but it can be extremely rewarding and will prepare you well for all  your future studies (and for generally being an informed citizen). We start at 9am (Section 1) or 10am (Section 2) — and you *must* come to the section for which you are officially registered. Yes, it’s early, but let’s have fun anyway! I’m looking for a DJ for the first 5-10 mins before class starts to get us all energized… if you’re up for it let me know!

Looking forward to a fabulous year ahead, full of challenges, learning, new people, new experiences, and fun times 🙂  See you next Wednesday if not before — I’ll be co-facilitating Psychology TA Development Day on Friday, anda couple of Student Success Workshops on Imagine Day on Tuesday — come say hi if you see me around!

Ah the summer to-do list…

This morning I opted out of my to-do list to decorate my office! I went back through all my photos from the past year (an a few from earlier) and created a collage to hang on my office wall. So many memories surfaced as I perused files from TA Development Day 2009 and 2010, our Psyc 217 poster session and in-class demos, Psyc 208 team-based learning and final projects, Psyc 100 field trip to Science World and last day festivities. What a great year! I selected a few photos to represent each of these activities and I’m having it printed out as a giant poster to stick on my wall, that I can add to as years pass. Yay! It makes me smile 🙂

As for my to-do list… well, I have managed to check off 7 chapters of the research methods textbook I’m adapting. That’s half the book! Before I get to the other half (which I need to finish by the end of July), I need to spend some time on a few other projects. Let me share with you some of the other projects, besides the textbook, I’ll be working on these coming days…

UPDATE June 10: I have crossed out what I’ve accomplished in the past week. Not quite everything, but pretty close. Paperwork is complete for the poster session venue. Gotta pause the report for now while I get another couple of chapters under my belt!

  • Analyze data and write up the Program Evaluation Report for 2010/2011 TA Development activities. Such a report is a condition of funding from the Provost’s office, and it’s been really helpful to make informed changes to the program based on participants’ feedback over the years.
  • Do some early prep for the 2011 TA Development Day, including set the date, book the venue, set the broad agenda, send a “save-the-date” email to incoming grad students, and submit the ethics application for next year’s program evaluation.
  • Book the venue for the Psyc 217 poster session upcoming in November 2011.
  • Contact applicants for next year’s Psyc 100 Peer Tutors (I was *so* excited reading applications yesterday!! This is going to be a phenomenal team!)
  • Help with the website and first meeting of the UBC Instructor Network, which will be a way for teaching-stream faculty to connect with each other. Previously we’ve been sprinkled around campus unaware of each other.
  • Deal with the email backlog. Always the email backlog!
  • Read a couple of chapters in the stats book I’m using for Psyc 218 in January.

Now that I’ve scared myself by listing all that, I better get to it! Well, after I make a cup of coffee…