Category Archives: Uncategorized

Are you wondering about my 2014/2015 courses?

Update: yes, I meant 2015/2016 courses here! Apparently I was really not ready to let go of last year yet when I wrote this!


Thanks for your interest in my courses! Here is some information that might be helpful for you.

My past syllabi are available here I have not yet prepared the fresh ones for fall, but the most recent ones should give you a good sense.

If a course is full, please keep an eye out for a spot to open up later this summer or at the start of the term. Note that Psychology does not have waitlists. For Psyc 217 and 218, note that we *cannot* go above the course enrollment limits because of the way these courses are organized. Please find another section that still has space.

Psyc 101 and 102: If you’re taking one of these with me, I highly recommend you take both with me! J Not only do I want to get to know you better (which is easier over the full year), but you’ll also use the same textbook and other resources both semesters.

Psyc 325: (soon to be called “Social media psychology”). It’s a brand new course for me, and I’m working on a big development! I do not have any past syllabi, but I have posted my ideas so far in a Googledoc, which you are free to check out via the link posted here: Note: nothing is considered final on that website, but you can get an idea of what I’m thinking.

Instead of using ratemyprofessors, check out this website for official student evaluation of teaching data (see also here for graphs of mine.).

Hope to see you in the fall!

I got tenure!

One week ago today I saw a small, white envelope in my mailbox in the department. I saw it was from the Office of the President at UBC and I tore it open — careful not to destroy the sacred contents inside. I knew what it was. It was a letter signed by President Stephen Toope telling me he approved my tenure file and I will be promoted to Senior Instructor with Tenure effective July 1, 2014. Tears welled up in my eyes and I blinked them back to actually read the words. I wandered around for a few moments, aimless, slack-jawed, alone. I vaguely remember telling grad student/ former TA and student of mine/ turned sessional instructor Ben Cheung and he congratulated me. He left. I stayed in the mailroom in shock. Larry Walker came by — wise Larry, who knew me as a terrified grad student applying to the PhD program almost a decade ago, and who sat on my hiring committee evaluating my potential five years ago. I looked up at him and said I got tenure, still holding the letter and staring at it. He congratulated me with the gentle sincerity he brings to every encounter, paused, and said “this is something to celebrate, you know.” I did. I knew. He then asked if I was ready to be called “Senior” — ha! Then he called me a “young kid” and we laughed. I was shaken back to reality and ran to my office to phone my husband, then my gran, my mom, my aunt, my mother-in-law, and my friend Lesley who wrote her dissertation back-to-back with me. I posted on Facebook and Twitter and was overwhelmed by more “likes” and comments and retweets of congratulations than I ever could have imagined! My friend Lara called me squealing with excitement — Lara, who I knew as a nervous but extremely competent undergrad deciding on grad schools, now on the tenure-track herself at SFU. It was all a celebration of love and support of my achievement and it was **amazing.** Later that night, and the next, I indeed celebrated. Then I went back to work creating exams.

A week later, I’m starting to open my eyes and face forward. Far forward. So much of my life has had the next step pre-planned. What will you do after high school? University (though that was at one time much more obvious to my teachers than my family). What will you do after University? Grad school (though that was for a long time much more obvious to my undergrad advisors than to me or my family… what’s grad school?). What will you do after grad school? Apply for this amazing teaching faculty position and if I don’t get it then figure out something else (I had no back-up plan, really). I got the job. Amazing!! Now what? Get tenure. You have four years (+8 months of waiting for our committees to evaluate you) to show us we want to keep you. So get to work.

I did. I worked harder than I ever thought I could. And to anyone who has known me a long time, that’s saying a lot.

Now I’m in. I have a permanent job and have started my career with gusto. How do I want to steer it now? What comes next? It’s five years until I’m eligible for another promotion, but that one doesn’t have the threat of getting fired if it’s negative, so it feels different. What teaching techniques or topics do I want to learn about? explore? try? With whom might I want to collaborate? On what? What does a tenured faculty member do to steer the career ship off the coast and into mid-career waters? (Ok, that just got weird.)

So much feels open. So many possibilities. I think first I’ll take a little time to breathe.

Creative Advertisement Showcase 2014

A couple of weeks ago in my section of Psyc 208 we held the Creative Advertisement Showcase, which was a fantastic celebration of what my students had discovered throughout the term! Previously, each team of students identified a learning challenge they face, investigated primary sources for insight into understanding and addressing the challenge, and summarized those sources in annotated bibliographies and team abstracts. (See the Team Project Guide for a full description of this multi-part assignment.) The purpose of the Creative Advertisement was to get the word out to fellow students about research-based techniques and strategies for addressing the learning challenges they face. They truly were creative! Projects ranged from video and live games to posters to live skits and demonstrations to videos and pamphlets… an impressive variety! Check out some of their videos and websites (ordered by team #)…

Team 4’s Sleep Fairy: 

Team 5’s Culture Shock:

Team 22’s Motivation Makeover:

Team 11’s Loneliness:

Team 18’s Sleep:

Here’s a shot of Team 19’s Effects of Internet Use on Learning station…

… and one of Team 3’s Social Loafing game based on Apples to Apples

Thanks to everyone for a solid effort on these projects and throughout the term! Study smartly for your finals… and remember that no matter how you do on them, that’s not a reflection of your worth as a person.

My Syllabi are Ready!

I didn’t quite realize it’s been a full term since I last wrote a blog post. It was a hectic one for sure, for reasons both academic and personal. And here we are, about to start on the next journey. It’s an interesting life, being tied to an academic year. We really get two “new year” seasons: September and January. Then May is the start of a bit of rest interspersed with conference season, and a chance to write and contemplate big-picture questions about my courses and research interests. Ahh enough about May… back to January!

Syllabus for Psyc 102 Section 004

  • MWF 12-1 in Buch A101
  • 270 students
  • Teaching Assistants: Stef Bourrier and Alex DiGiacomo

Syllabus for Psyc 208 Section 002

  • TTh 11-12:30 in Buch A201
  • ~150 students
  • Teaching Assistants: Michael Barrus and David Williamson

Syllabus for Psyc 218 Section 001

  • MWF 9-10 in AERL 150
  • 100 students
  • Teaching Assistants: Jennifer Lay, Meighen Roes, Mason Silveira, and Wanying Zhao

I’m looking forward to meeting you this week, and to an exciting term!

Responding to Student Evals 2011/2012 Part 4: Psyc 218 Statistics and Conclusion

Welcome to part four–the final installment!–of my reflections on student evaluations of teaching from 2011/2012. Please see my earlier posts for a general introduction and reflection on feedback from my Psyc 217 research methods, Psyc 100 intro course, and Psyc 208 Section 002 Special Topics course. I have also posted graphs that facilitate comparison across all my courses and years I have taught them.

First, as always, I would like to thank each of my students who took the time to complete a student evaluation of teaching this year. I value hearing from each of you, and every year your feedback helps me to become a better teacher. Please note that with respect to the open-ended responses, I appreciate and consider every thoughtful comment. The ones I write about are typically those that reflect common themes echoed by numerous students.

Psyc 218: Analysis of Behavioural Data

Because I have only taught this course once, I am interpreting the numerical data in reference to my other courses that I have taught multiple times. As you’ll see from the graph below (click on it to enlarge), students rated this course right on par with my others. In fact, ratings were almost exactly what I received from students in my research methods courses. Given that the third midterm was much more challenging than I had anticipated, it surprised me somewhat that students rated evaluations as fair as my students in research methods did. At 3.9 there is definitely room for improvement there (in both courses). Interestingly, clarity of expectations was also high, which lends support for my hypothesis that these two are related (see further discussion in my research methods reflection). Overall, these numbers signal to me that students are feeling positively toward this course.

After reading the comments, I must say an extra thank you to each of you for the polite and thoughtful tone used in delivering this feedback. There most common point of discussion was acknowledgments that the first two midterms were too easy, and the last too difficult and too lengthy. I absolutely agree — it was clear during the semester and is clear in the evaluations. I will make every attempt to even out the difficulty of these exams next time. What I appreciated most was the way these comments were delivered. Here’s an example:

The course was a lot of fun, and easy to understand. However, for the future, I would prefer if we can have midterms with a consistent level. It was a huge shock for me on the last midterm. 🙁

In case you’re writing these kinds of comments in the future, here’s why I found this comment particularly effective: it starts with a positive that was at least a bit specific (could be moreso), and conveys a respectful tone set by phrases like “I would prefer”. There’s no personal attack toward me here, but a fair acknowledgment of an area in this course that needs improvement.

The midterms were by far the most discussed aspect of the course. However, many people also noted how much they valued my enthusiasm and interactive style. Here’s a couple of specific comments that capture the sentiments echoed by many students in the class:

Not one minute is wasted in class. She is always teaching in innovating and varied ways.

Although still challenging, I found this course to be enjoyable. Dr. Rawn was approachable and tried hard to interest and even engage us in the material and provided encouragement to students. I liked how the iclickers were used so that u could test yourself to see if you understood the material without having to worry about losing marks. As already discussed in class, the midterms although sometimes too long or short, I thought the questions were fair (they tested for understanding rather than memorization). I thought the spss assignments were a good way of understanding theory and application of the tests we learned although I found some questions unclear.

For a few people, it seems I was able to calm some of their hesitation toward math/numbers. This is fabulous to hear, because it’s something I really tried to do throughout the course. Here’s an example of one of these comments:

I thought Dr. Rawn did an amazing job teaching this course. I have struggled with math and was not enthusiastic to take this course however, she inspired motivation and made this course interesting and easy to learn. I ended up with a higher grade in this course than I anticipated and I owe it all to Dr. Rawn.

While I’m not convinced this student “owes it all” to me, it seems that I was able to offer some support beyond the technicalities of course content, reflecting one of my personal goals for this course this year. Again, I’d like to thank everyone who completed the student evaluations for doing so in such a thoughtful and respectful way. Your feedback will influence the way I teach this course in the future.


What a helpful exercise that was! Writing about my student evaluations of teaching helped me to really think about what you (my students) were saying about my teaching and my courses. If I had to pick one overall goal for me to keep in mind next year, it would be having clear expectations and communicating those effectively. I think I’m doing this well in some courses, making progress in others, and have more room for improvement in others.

Reading student evaluations can be a very emotional experience for those of us who dedicate our lives to helping others learn. Overall, I’m thankful for the respectful tone that most of my students used when identifying strengths and areas for growth. When feedback isn’t conveyed respectfully it makes it difficult to hear what is being said. Thank you for taking the time to provide feedback, and for the way you did it.

For educators who might be reading this, I also gained insight into a process that helped me be optimally receptive to feedback: (1) I started with the numbers — comparing within year and within course (using graphs) really helped me set up an analytic frame of mind; (2) once I was in that analytic (rather than emotional) frame of mind, I read the comments and used them to help me understand what I was seeing in the numbers; (3) I wrote about it–you might share it or not, but this was really helpful for me to make sure I processed the messages and decided on action plans.

Onward and upward!