Searching for the Topless Classroom

Many professors teach in a bottomless way. The class I observed was topless.

What Would Your Professors Say About You?

Dear students: Here are some questions you can ask yourselves about your behavior, along with possible thoughts instructors may have about them.

My Favorite Gift This Year

This semester I develop what I considered a great metaphor to help students use the skills they are learning. But was the metaphor an effective teaching device? Was there a lasting impact?

Please Don't Reach Out to Me

It’s comforting to know that some things never change. Here’s one constant I've noticed: extra words. Even in our digital age, when we measure communications in bytes and characters rather than pages and paragraphs, students use extra words in their writing, just like we do.

The 5-Sided Flashcard

The first flashcards were probably etched on small stone tablets by anxious cave-students. Innovations since then have included printing, new fonts, color, and the ability to design flashcards on-line. But I’m here to tell you about what I (humbly) consider the best innovation ever...

Don’t Describe the Flashlight—Just Draw the Giraffe

My students have submitted seven “Proof-of-Thinking” (POT) papers so far this semester. And we've all been struggling—in really good ways. My students have been struggling with how to prove they are thinking—showing rather than just telling. I’m struggling to teach students how to use what they’ve learned rather than just repeat it. Here's a couple ideas.

This Year I'm Having My Freshmen Do POT

I want my students to learn how to think....

10 Things I Should've Known When I Began My Teaching Career

I don’t believe in time travel, but if I could go back 33 years and visit with myself during my first year of teaching, here’s what I might tell myself.

The “If Only Rule” in Advising College Students

One of the things I like best when I advise psychology majors is when we get to broader discussions about college, careers, and life: how to be a college student, how to get into graduate school, how to find out about opportunities—stuff like that. In my experience, some questions students ask, and some goals they have, are not as important as they think!

The Case of the Consecutive Course Questionnaires

If you follow my blog regularly (You know who you are—both of you....), you know that I like to present readers with cases to ponder. You did so well on a previous case about course evaluations, here’s another one that you might find interesting:

Seven Major Ways to Choose a College Minor

How do, or should, students go about selecting a minor? Let’s look at seven principles that I discuss with students as I help them explore not only minors, but other elective courses as well. See what you think:

The "Academic Seduction" of Professors

Do I mean seduction like sexual seduction? Of course not. Do I mean seduction like gaining unfair advantages over other students via ingratiation? Guess again. Do I mean seduction like creating a human connection with shared interests in academic pursuits? Bingo. Let’s talk about some practicalities of interacting with professors.

Failure and Ignorance: 2 Neglected Keys to College Success

Ain’t this a kick in the pants for professors? After years and years of accumulating knowledge and demonstrating their knowledge through tests, oral examinations, publications, presentations, boring our friends at parties ... we’re now being asked to demonstrate our ignorance, and the processes we use to overcome it.

First-Class Ethics: The Golden Means are the Ends

I met with my graduate ethics class for the first time yesterday. I LOVE the first day of a course, because we get to create the atmosphere for the work ahead. The theme for yesterday turned out to be striving for the Golden Mean, Aristotle’s term for avoiding extremes in behavior and attitudes. I found myself shooting for the Golden Mean in four ways.

The Case of Promiscuous Participation in Class

I buttonhole the loquacious student for a private conversation outside the classroom. I don’t want to squelch him or her, or suggest talking less. I want to respect their motivations and enthusiasm. So instead of just trying to get the student to participate less, I am ready with a series of challenges, beginning with this:

The Case of Classroom Cold Calling: What Do You Think?

The question appears simple: Should, or when should, professors engage in “cold calling,” meaning calling on students in (an undergraduate) class when the students have not volunteered? Like most discussions of pedagogy and ethics, the question involves some issues and complexities. What would be (is) your policy about cold calling on students?

Is It Possible that Some Psychology Majors Are Unhappy?

This was too coincidental to be ignored: On the same day last week, two students recommended the same blog entry, published over a year ago! Susan Krauss Whitbourne developed an eloquent and persuasive case for the psychology major. I want to look just a little more closely at this wonderful entry.

The Case of the Suspect Sale to Students

Chester Drawes is a professor of psychology. He has some old bedroom, kitchen, and living room furniture to sell. He’s told his colleagues on the faculty about it. But now he wonders, “Is it OK to advertise to students? Would there be a conflict of interest, a boundary violation, or a multiple relationship?”

Twas the Night Before Courses

I’m composing this blog entry on the night before the new academic year. What a great time! Everything to look forward to. All is potential. I get another chance to atone for, and improve upon, my previous performance.

Grading Fairly Can Be Fairly Grating

College teaching would be the perfect job if only I didn't have to give grades. But assessing student learning is part of the gig.

“Let’s Have Sex!” and Other Forbidden Phrases

As a way to help make ethics come alive a little, we developed some “dangerous” 3-word phrases that can lead psychologists—professors and therapists—down slippery slopes. These phrases evoke lively discussion in class. And, of course, we started where lots of ethical discussions start:

Resuscitating Ethics: A Unique Course Assignment

These days I come to class with a jam-packed ethical toolbox. But if I were to be stranded on an Ethical Teaching Island and only bring one teaching tool, it would be this: The Ethics Project. I will explain ...

Five Big “W” Questions About Ethics Training

Educators may want to ask themselves these questions as they consider ethics courses and before they tackle the “how” of ethics training.

Ethical Judgments: Lessons from Uncle George & Gay Marriage

More and more people report being in favor of gay marriage, and the major reason for the shift is personal experience: having a child, friend, or co-worker who is gay. The idea that personal experience can influence our political or personal opinions got me thinking about how the same thing might work when we make professinonal and ethical decisions.

Balancing Speed and Substance in a College Career

Ambition and optimism are not always virtues, especially among college students. Many students overload themselves, perhaps believing that if they can only get to class (in person or on line) they will do well in spite of not meeting requirements.

Students Should Not Be Victims

To the extent that students say that their performance is (totally or predominantly) dependent on their professor, I really disagree!

Extension Entreaties Exemplify Expanding Entitlements

When the University’s computer system when down for a few hours the night before final papers were due I felt OK, because the paper assignment had been posted online since the semester began three months ago. Then the emails started coming. I received several desperate entreaties requesting an "extension."

When to Fold ‘Em: Dropping Classes to Dropping Out

Quitting has been in the news and on my mind recently. Among the more difficult judgments I have to make as a professor is if and when to bring up the subject of dropping a course. Is it quitting to drop a course?

Self-Reflection in Ethical Choice Making

Self-reflection may be the most critical ingredient to making good ethical choices. We can highlight the importance of self-reflection by engaging in it on a regular basis and modeling this practice to our students.

Please Don't Answer Your Students' Questions

I've learned a lot while teaching my “How to Think Like a Psychologist” seminar. For example, the best way to help students develop job skills—including responsibility, anticipation, and initiative—is by NOT answering their questions.