I am a firm believer in challenging my students in interactive and engaging ways that will help to kindle a thirst for knowledge within the field of psychology. I understand that not every student who walks into my classroom will pursue a career in psychology, but I feel that aspects of my discipline can be applied to almost any field of study. Education majors will rely heavily on the principles of learning, memory, and the stages of development, while marketing majors will be able to make use of the skills that underlie one’s ability to persuade and attract others.
I practice a teaching method that incorporates many real-world examples directed towards the demographics of the class. I feel that this helps to engage and invest my students by showing the personal applications that my discipline can have on their chosen paths. I feel that this method works well when combined with a collaborative classroom environment. This enables my students to share their differing backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives with the rest of the class and allows them to see the wide-ranging impact that psychology can have.
I also believe in incorporating innovate teaching modalities. This is most evident in the final project that I employ when teaching Introduction to Psychology. I prefer to have my students make a website that includes overviews for each chapter, relevant videos, and interactive games. This enables my students to learn new skills that are useful in the modern professional landscape while helping them to prepare for the cumulative final exam.
As a research-motivated psychologist, I place a great deal of emphasis on the importance inquiry. I believe that this is a fundamental skill for all psychology majors as they will undoubtedly be involved in the research process if they continue beyond the undergraduate level. I have developed sound research fundamentals throughout my academic career, culminating in my thesis research. I like to encourage my students to engage in research and to ask questions of any material that we cover. Curiosity is the first step along the research path, and fostering an environment that promotes it creates a more informed student who is more adept to take in, analyze, and respond to information in more meaningful ways.
In summary, I feel it is important to be less of “sage on the stage” and more of a facilitator of learning. I base my teaching around giving my students the information and an environment in which they can question and apply it in personally meaningful ways. I believe that this combination promotes the field of psychology to a broader spectrum of students, increases the potential pool of psychology majors, and encourages holistic student growth that is in line with the goals of a liberal arts institution.