Tag Archives: clickers

Psyc 100 Section 002: What textbooks do you need?

Hello to all my new, eager students! I’m receiving emails daily from people wondering about book options and/or classroom location. Normally these are the kinds of questions that would receive an answer along the lines of  “please check your syllabus” — however, considering I haven’t quite finished it yet, I can’t exactly expect you to consult it.

If you’re in my Psyc 100 class, section 002, that meets MWF 12-1, we’re meeting in Scarfe 100 Term 1, and switch to Buchanan A101 in Term 2.

You absolutely need three things:

  1. “Psychology: From inquiry to understanding” Canadian edition by Lilienfeld and other authors. It *must* be the Canadian edition that looks like this. You can find this at the UBC bookstore, or on amazon.ca, or, if you’re into electronic books, at Coursesmart.
  2. An i>clicker personal response system, available at the bookstore. If you’re wondering what it is, here’s a website that has a photo and some person’s review. It must be the i>clicker brand in order to work with our system at UBC. At the end of the year, if you’re never going to use it again, you can return it to the bookstore just like a used book.
  3. Access to PeerScholar. This is a website that we will use in both terms to facilitate peer feedback on your papers. If you buy the textbook bundle at the bookstore, access costs $5 (included in the price of the bundle. If you buy access online, access costs $12.95 (probably plus tax). If you prefer the online-buy option, go to the website link and follow the instructions there.

You don’t have to have access to MyPsychLab. It comes with the textbook bundle at the bookstore, or you can buy online access later. It’s a study guide that many students find helpful. It has quizzes and flashcards and videos and all kinds of things like that for each chapter. Note that representatives for the publishing company for your textbook have made this website, not me. I had nothing to do with it. Many students have found it helpful for studying, but it’s up to you if you want to use it.

There are a few more resources we’ll be using over the year, but I’ll explain those later. These are the resources I’ve been asked about. Note that if you are experiencing serious financial need, please come to me and I’ll work with you to find access to the resources you need. (And don’t feel embarrassed — I’ve been there myself.) For example, I have some i>clickers for loan.

I’ll post the syllabus when it’s ready, later this week. Looking forward to meeting you next week!

STLHE 2012 Conference Reflections

I recently went to the annual conference for the Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education. This year it was held in Montreal (last year in Saskatoon Saskatchewan, next year in Cape Breton Nova Scotia). It’s my favourite conference of the year because it’s relatively small (about 400 delegates), and everyone there is committed to improving teaching and learning in higher education. Some delegates are faculty like me, but many others are educational developers who work at places like UBC’s CTLT, others are graduate students, administrators, and so on. I always leave with a ton of great ideas ranging from the big picture to day-to-day implementation. If you follow me on twitter, you may have noticed my live tweeting. Like my earlier list, with this post I’m trying to collect and remind myself of the major ideas from this conference:

  • A deliberate method for implementing successful iclicker questions is called “Peer Instruction” out of the physics literature. Includes students reading ahead, then giving a mini-lecture, providing a tough clicker Q, students explaining reasoning to someone else, class discussion going through all options, mini-lecture, tough clicker Q (younger level to converge on answer, upper level to diverge). From Rob Cassidy. Seems similar to what I do normally, but reading about it could give me ideas for implementation.
  • Look up research on peer instruction by Weiman, Eric Mazur (Harvard), Derek Bruff (Vanderbilt), and contact Rob Cassidy (Concordia).
  • Graduate courses on university teaching exist at Guelph, McMaster, Dalhousie, SFU, etc. Fantastic contacts, including Erin Aspenlieder at SFU, Suzanne Sheffield at Dalhousie (for evaluation materials), Cynthia Korpan at UVic (made updated critical incident films, new head of TAGSA), Natasha Kenny at Guelph.
  • Idea gems about grad courses on university teaching (from Natasha Kenny): every moment is a teaching moment, the goal is that students leave the course knowing teaching is about *students* first and foremost, syllabus contained “how this course was changed based on last year’s feedback”
  • Based on Erin Aspenlieder’s lit review on how to train grad students to teach, what works is mentorship, practice with feedback, and portfolio development to promote reflective practice. What doesn’t work is single-event workshops — which is what grad students & faculty say they want!! To improve single-event workshops, need to follow up with participants to find out how they implemented the information. *This gives me impetus for Psych Dept TA Training follow-up.
  • Film the teaching in my Teaching of Psych grad class to facilitate reflection.
  • Make a Western Canada TA training conference! There are loads of us doing this work, and it could be a fantastic opportunity to network and improve.
  • Ways to evaluate impact of my Teaching of Psych class: Approaches to Teaching inventory (pre/post), midterm and end of term feedback, focus groups, course outlines, teaching philosophy statements with coding scheme (see Concordia crew including Rob Cassidy for their draft rubric that considers line-by-line).
  • I’d like to co-design a session for next year’s STLHE on integrating qualitative and quantitative perspectives. A meeting point that’s relevant to many educators is interpreting student evaluations of teaching (including one’s own, guiding others, and the research literature). To do this, I need to find an expert in qualitative research to co-facilitate this!
  • When guiding others to improve their teaching, start with two questions: What is your content? (to get them excited and to define parameters of the course), and What do you want students to know about it? (to guide creation of learning objectives, switch their thinking to learner-centred). — From Cynthia Weston’s lifetime achievement award address
  • Consider “luck-free” written portions of my exams: here are 10 questions, three will be on it, prepare as you wish (teams or individuals)
  • Build regular writing time into my professional life.

That is a rather odd collection, but they’re the ideas I want to make sure I keep. Many are related to teaching graduate students to teach, which I think is going to be a big part of my upcoming year.


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!).


Food for thought: In my research methods course last year (Psyc 217 Section 8, January 2010), participation points were highly correlated with final grades (excluding participation points or HSP credits, r = .48). In other words, almost a quarter of the variance in my students’ performance on exams and papers was predictable by their participation scores (r squared = .23). Participation was primarily determined by i>clicker scores, as well as verbal classroom participation. One way to interpret this finding is that my learning assessments (writing assignments, exams) rely on much of the same sort of active engagement for success as class participation does. We must be careful not to infer causation, but an interesting finding nonetheless.

Goals for Term 2

My goals for this coming term are to:

1) explicitly state, use, and communicate learning objectives to guide each lesson;

2) collect and use comprehension checks at the end of each lesson;

3) collect and use mid-course feedback;

4) develop more thoughtful clicker questions.

They all reflect things I wanted to do last term, but for various reasons. Goals 1-3 are actions I typically do, but for the most part they fell off my radar while I was managing to maintain day-to-day necessities. Last term was my first time using clickers, so I think I now have a better grasp of how they can be used to enhance learning. I did my best last term, but there’s certainly room for improvement.