Teaching of Psychology (ToP) Website
This course and website pulls largely from the work of a former ToP instructor, Dr. Steven Prentice-Dunn. Current ToP instructors (Drs. Ansley Gilpin, Matthew Jarrett, and Alexa Tullett) plan to continue to add to the resources available on this website in the coming years, but we would like to credit Steve for his commitment to this course and his work to develop an invaluable set of teaching resources.
Dr. Matthew Jarrett
Office: 364B Gordon Palmer
Office hours: By appointment
Course Description and Objectives:
In this class, you will gain experience in all aspects of being a college instructor. You will also be able to consolidate much of the information about psychology that you have learned in graduate school.
The course has two components. First, you will teach a section of Introduction to Psychology (PY 101). In this class of 25 students, you will be responsible for every component of the course. Second, you will learn instructional techniques and receive feedback aimed at making you an effective college teacher.
You will have substantial freedom to shape your introductory psychology course. There is no single method for teaching a subject effectively. However, a substantial body of evidence suggests that undergraduates learn best when taught with a variety of techniques. In PY 695, you will be exposed to methods ranging from traditional lectures to more active techniques such as small-group discussions and in-class writing. I hope that you will find several techniques that suit your interpersonal and presentational styles.
Good teaching is related to many variables. The research literature distills the list to two factors, intellectual excitement and interpersonal rapport. Intellectual excitement is related to what one presents and how one presents it. The goal is a clear presentation that has a stimulating emotional impact. Instructors who score high on this dimension are described as knowledgeable, organized, enthusiastic, and engaging. Interpersonal rapport is an awareness of interpersonal phenomena that facilitate learning. Instructors adept at this dimension are described as concerned, accessible, encouraging, fair, and challenging. Exemplary teachers excel at one or both of these factors and competent instructors have at least moderate skill in each.
Research has shown that you will be highly regarded as a teacher if you are a knowledgeable, well-organized, enthusiastic communicator who actively engages students in the learning process and creates a positive, supportive classroom environment. Developing these attributes is the major aim of this course.
PY 695 is limited to doctoral students in psychology who have my prior approval to register. Students must have completed a master's thesis before enrolling.
Texts and Readings:
Davis, B. G. (2009). Tools for teaching (2nd ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. This text can be checked out in the main office. Please see Robin to check out a copy overnight. In addition, the readings are available in PDF format in a UA Box folder entitled "Teaching of Psychology." Please contact me if you do not have access.
A collection of required readings is available online. Additional readings may be assigned during the semester. Please consult the schedule for titles and dates.
Gazzaniga, M. S. (2018). Psychological Science (6th ed.). New York: W. W. Norton.
For students, this text may be purchased in hard copy from local bookstores and is also available for rental through the UA Supply Store. It may also be purchased from W. W. Norton as an eBook, paperback, or hardcover. The various textbook options are priced differently. I would recommend the eBook given the pricing differential for students.
Several digital resources are available with the text. There is a resource for self-testing known as Inquizitive. In addition, there is a resource known as Zaps that allows students to conduct online experiments and apply their knowledge. Also available is the new online Interactive Instructor’s Guide, a compilation of activities, lecture ideas, and media. The guide is continuously updated by the authors of the textbook. You will need to register with your UA e-mail address to obtain access to these resources. If you need assistance with registering, please contact our Norton book representative, Scott Cook, at email@example.com.
Classes and Attendance:
Our weekly seminar serves three functions. First, it is a forum for sharing information about upcoming topics and demonstrations for the PY 101 course. Second, it is a resource group for solving problems that may arise in teaching your course. Finally, it provides a format for the discussion of the assigned readings. Regular class attendance is expected. If you are unable to attend a class, please let me know in advance.
Early in the semester, you will video record your class. This will allow you to see your teaching from the students’ perspective. The recordings will be accompanied by ratings and comments from your students. We will meet to review the video and written feedback.You will do this again at the end of the semester (video optional) to self-evaluate your progress in teaching over the course of the semester.
Twice during the term, you will attend a class taught by one of your colleagues to become familiar with alternative teaching styles. You will write a one-page summary of your observations to share with the instructor and me.
Consult the schedule for relevant dates.
Your letter grade (A, B, C, D, F) in PY 695 will be determined by the following criteria:
A. Performance as a PY 101 instructor (65% of course grade). This involves: (a) providing your students with high-quality content, (b) using a variety of teaching techniques early in the semester and evaluating which work best for you and your students, (c) keeping careful records of student performance and promptly scoring tests and assignments, (d) treating students respectfully, and (e) collecting and considering feedback from students, peers, and myself.
B. Participation in the seminar (25% of course grade). This entails (a) completing all readings and other assignments competently and on time and (b) consistently contributing to our seminar discussions. For the course grade, this component is broken down as follows:
(1) Peer observations of colleagues (N=2): 4%
(2) Submitted discussion questions (N=3): 3%
(3) Statement of teaching philosophy: 5%
(4) Participation in seminar: 13% (Consistent, substantive contributions that make it clear that you have mastered the assigned readings.)
(5) Instructor/course evaluations: Timely submission of the online evaluation and the anonymous, written evaluation is required to receive a course grade.
C. Professional behavior: (10% of course grade--Note that this category is full credit or zero credit.). As your instructor, I am responsible for creating an optimal course environment for learning. I also want to facilitate your professional development by encouraging the demeanor and behaviors of successful early-career psychologists. I take my obligation seriously by coming to class prepared, treating you with respect, establishing a positive atmosphere in the classroom, and promptly responding to your emails and requests for assistance. The following rules are intended to reduce distractions and to promote the kinds of behaviors that are expected in virtually all professional settings.
Please adhere to the following rules consistently:
Laptops and tablets: There is accumulating evidence that the use of laptops and tablets in class hinders the performance of users and students sitting within viewing distance. Therefore, laptops and tablets are not allowed in class unless first cleared with me. Such devices will be approved only for note-taking and no other sites or functions may be open. You are expected to make eye contact with whomever is speaking except when you are typing.
Phones: Please turn phones to either the off or silent position. Answering a phone call or text is prohibited, unless you are expecting an important message and you let me know beforehand.
Active participant: Please stay engaged in class by fully participating in discussions and completing in-class assignments. Make eye contact with the speaker in classroom interactions in the same way you would in a one-on-one conversation held in an office or hallway. Please don't hold side conversations--they are distracting to me and to other students and are therefore detrimental to an effective classroom environment.
Email: A substantial amount of our course business will take place via email. Although many of us are avid texters, contemporary professional correspondence is still by email. Thus, it is important to check your email daily, even if you are not otherwise a regular user. Please respond to my requests within 24 hours (unless you have already informed me that you are ill or otherwise occupied.) In addition to requests for information, I will send course updates and links to interesting articles and videos that I have found. If you find a resource useful, please send a quick acknowledgement or thank you.
As mentioned above, the credit for professional behavior is all-or-nothing. In addition, I have the right to lower your course grade beyond the ten percent. Should you have any concerns about your evaluation during the semester, please do not hesitate to discuss them with me.
Statement on Disability Accommodations:
If you are registered with the Office of Disability Services, please make an appointment with me as soon as possible to discuss any course accommodations that may be necessary.
If you have a disability, but have not contacted the Office of Disability Services, please call (205) 348-4285 (Voice) or (205) 348-3081 (TTY) or visit Houser Hall to register for services. Students who may need course adaptations because of a disability are welcome to make an appointment to see me. Students with disabilities must be registered with the Office of Disability Services, Houser Hall, before receiving academic adjustments.
Statement on Academic Misconduct:
All students in attendance at The University of Alabama are expected to be honorable and to observe standards of conduct appropriate to a community of scholars. The University of Alabama expects from its students a higher standard of conduct than the minimum required to avoid discipline. At the beginning of each semester and on examinations and projects, the professor, department, or division may require that each student sign the following Academic Honor Pledge: “I promise or affirm that I will not at any time be involved with cheating, plagiarism, fabrication, or misrepresentation while enrolled as a student at The University of Alabama. I have read the Academic Honor Code, which explains disciplinary procedure resulting from the aforementioned. I understand that violation of this code will result in penalties as severe as indefinite suspension from the University.”
See the Code of Student Conduct for more information.
Statement on Diversity and Nondiscrimination:
As an academic community, our educational mission is enhanced by the robust exchange of ideas that occurs between a diverse student body, faculty, and staff within a respectful and inclusive learning environment. As a campus community we are dedicated to the pursuit of personal and academic excellence, to advancing the ideals of individual worth and human dignity, and to maintaining a nurturing and respectful learning environment. All members of the UA community are expected to contribute positively to the environment and to refrain from behaviors that threaten the freedom or respect that every member of our community deserves.
The University of Alabama is committed to providing an inclusive environment that is free from harassment or discrimination based on race, genetic information, color, religion, ethnicity, national origin, socioeconomic status, political beliefs, sex, sexual orientation, gender expression, gender identity, age, ability, size, or veteran status. The University of Alabama prohibits any verbal or physical conduct that threatens or endangers the health or safety of any individual or group, including physical abuse, verbal abuse, threats, stalking, intimidation, harassment, sexual misconduct, coercion, and/or other communication or conduct that creates a hostile living or learning environment. Harassment or other illegal discrimination against individuals or groups not only is a violation of University Policy and subject to disciplinary action, but also is inconsistent with the values and ideals of the University. http://eop.ua.edu/law.html
The University of Alabama is committed to an ethical, inclusive community defined by respect and civility. The UAct website (www.ua.edu/uact) provides extensive information on how to report or obtain assistance with a variety of issues, including issues related to dating violence, domestic violence, stalking , sexual assault, sexual violence or other Title IX violations, illegal discrimination, harassment, child abuse or neglect, hazing, threat assessment, retaliation, and ethical violations or fraud.
Severe Weather Guidelines:
The guiding principle at The University of Alabama is to promote the personal safety of our students, faculty and staff during severe weather events. It is impossible to develop policies which anticipate every weather-related emergency. These guidelines are intended to provide additional assistance for responding to severe weather on campus.
UA is a residential campus with many students living on or near campus. In general classes will remain in session until the National Weather Service issues safety warnings for the city of Tuscaloosa. Clearly, some students and faculty commute from adjacent counties. These counties may experience weather related problems not encountered in Tuscaloosa. Individuals should follow the advice of the National Weather Service for that area taking the necessary precautions to ensure personal safety. Whenever the National Weather Service and the Emergency Management Agency issue a warning, people in the path of the storm (tornado or severe thunderstorm) should take immediate life saving actions.
When West Alabama is under a severe weather advisory, conditions can change rapidly. It is imperative to get to where you can receive information from the National Weather Service and to follow the instructions provided. Personal safety should dictate the actions that faculty, staff and students take.
The Office of University Relations will disseminate the latest information regarding conditions on campus in the following ways:
Emergency Contact Information.
UA's primary communication tool for sending out information is through its web site at www.ua.edu. In the event of an emergency, students should consult this site for further directions. Additional course information will be posted using Blackboard Learn.
Teaching your first college course will be a rewarding and exciting experience that nonetheless will have its share of frustrations. Please consider me a resource who can share what has worked as a teacher and someone who can help you weigh the advantages and disadvantages of possible choices. Feel free to contact me informally about any problem that you are facing, no matter how small. And don’t forget to also share your positive experiences!