APS Teaching Fund Projects

In Fall 2006, APS awarded the first round of grants from the APS Fund for Teaching and Public Understanding of Psychological Science. Established with the support of an endowed fund of $1 million from the David and Carol Myers Foundation, the Fund’s inaugural grants supported six diverse projects ranging from regional conferences in the United States, to teaching in Cambodia and Iran, to the development of websites which are supporting teachers around the globe.

We are pleased to feature first-hand reports of what these dedicated educators were able to achieve with their APS Fund support. Two are presented here. For information on a third, Cindy Lahar’s efforts in Cambodia, see this month’s Psychology Around the World column on page 23. Three other grantee’s programs are detailed in the March 2008 Observer.

The grant program is operating on a twice-yearly cycle, with deadlines of February 1 and August 1 for proposals. For further information, please see the call for applications on the opposite page or visit the APS web site:www.psychologicalscience.org/teaching.

Personality Pedagogy

A Wiki for the Teaching of Psychology

Marianne Miserandino

Arcadia University

With a grant from the Association for Psychological Science’s Fund for Teaching and Public Understanding of Psychological Science, I created a wiki website called Personality Pedagogy (http://personalitypedagogy.arcadia.edu).

This website is a collection of annotated links and original material on over 60 topics generally covered within a personality psychology class. These topics range from traditional theorists (Sigmund Freud, B.F. Skinner, Abraham Maslow), theories (self-efficacy theory, attachment theory), and perspectives (humanistic, existential, cognitive) to newer concepts (positive psychology, self-determination theory, genetics, narrative psychology). Assignments, case studies, electronic texts, examples and illustrations, exercises and activities, lecture notes, slide presentations (most of which are in PowerPoint format), tests and scales, audio and video are all available on the site. The site contains what is perhaps the most extensive virtual test library available on the web with links to over 60 legitimate personality tests.

Since starting in July 2006, the site has been visited over 65,000 times by scholars from over 170 countries, including Iran, Ghana, Guam, Kazakhstan, Oman, and Namibia. The majority of users (79 percent) are first time visitors. The hit rate has been steadily and consistently rising, and has increased 43 percent over last year. For comparison, a year ago the site got 100-200 hits per day, and now the site averages 600-700 hits per day. Most visitors (75 percent) find the site by utilizing an online search engine (like Google.com).

The response to Personality Pedagogy has been positive. Users’ comments include, “I love Personality Pedagogy! It has become vital for my class preparation, and great for leisure activity,” “You’ve really started something great,” “Your site has some wonderful material on it,” “Clear and helpful,” “By adding a wiki you are doing a great service to the field,” and “Exciting stuff!”

When I started Personality Pedagogy, I believe that was the first wiki for instructors of psychology. Today, there is only one other wiki for psychology instructors (Amy Sweetman’s Introductory Psychology Wiki), and only two other psychology wikis (The Psychology Wiki at psychology.wikia.com and www.psychwiki.com). I presented an overview of using wikis in teaching, and Personality Pedagogy in particular, as a poster at the National Institute on the Teaching of Psychology conference this past January and as a talk at the Midwest Institute for Students and Teachers of Psychology in March.

Great Plains Conference on the Teaching of Psychology

Amy Schweinle and Doug Peterson

University of South Dakota

The first Great Plains Conference on the Teaching of Psychology (GPCTOP )was held April 27–28, 2007 at The University of South Dakota. Participants included college and high school psychology teachers from across the region, including South Dakota, North Dakota, Minnesota, Nebraska and Iowa. In all, 55 people registered for the conference from five different states. The conference was developed with three goals: 1) introduce novel approaches to teaching, 2) create a network of cooperation and collaboration, and 3) disseminate ideas about pedagogy, diversity, assessment and evaluation.

The opening reception (held the evening before the conference) was well attended as many registrants chose to check in early, meet fellow instructors and enjoy some snacks catered by a local restaurant. The conference itself was held the following day with three sections of presentations, a guest speaker, and lunch roundtable discussions. Presentation topics centered on service learning, innovative pedagogy, diversity, technology and online learning, evaluation methods, and motivation and engagement. The conference program and papers from these talks can be viewed at www.usd.edu/gpctop/. During lunch, registrants engaged in roundtable discussions centered on diversity, technology, program assessment, and learning theories, or choose from two ad hoc discussion rooms. Richard Gerrig, a professor of psychology at Stony Brook University, delivered the keynote address. He considered both the basic cognitive psychological processes that enable readers to understand discourse and the broader consequences of readers’ experiences of being transported to narrative worlds.

On a scale of 1 (poor) to 5 (high), participants rated the Friday night reception an average of 4.31, the quality of presentations were rated 4.26, the lunch discussions 4.31, the keynote speaker, 4.62, and the overall conference at 4.39. Comments on the conference were positive, and included:

Thank you, USD was very welcoming.

Great job!  I’m really glad I got to go. I enjoyed all the sessions and learned a lot.

Camaraderie was excellent!

Good organization.

Good first effort!

One goal of the conference was to spark collaboration and cooperation among attendees. We hoped to create a network of educators who could share ideas and support. To encourage continued interaction, we created a listserv so we could all keep in touch and also developed a list of online resources. Information on both can be found on the GPCTOP web site, http://www.usd.edu/gpctop/. The 2008 GPCTOP is planned for April 11-12 with presentations on classroom pedagogy, diversity, and technology. Dr. Loreto Prieto, Professor of Psychology and Director of U.S. Latino/a Studies at Iowa State University will deliver the keynote talk. Dr. Prieto will focus on classroom discussions on diversity. Early registration will be accepted by mail and late registration is available at the conference.

We would like to thank the Association for Psychological Science’s Fund for Teaching and Public Understanding of Psychological Science for funding the first Great Plains Conference. Additional thanks are extended to Allyn & Bacon for their support of our guest speaker, and, of course, to our speaker, Richard Gerrig. ♦

Observer Vol.21, No.4 April, 2008

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