Early in graduate school, I was introduced to the idea of the scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL). At that time, I was learning that my interest in academia was centered on teaching, but I was still invested in research. I saw SoTL research as an opportunity to use the classroom as a tool for research. It allows me to assess my classes, with the potential for improving learning outcomes for my students. As a doctoral student that will soon be on the job market, I like the idea of being able to evaluate my classroom or a new technique and publish my findings in a peer-reviewed journal. It helps me improve my teaching, and adds an extra line on my CV. It’s a win-win. However, as I gain more experience as an educator, I have learned to think of SoTL as a tool to improve teaching, rather than thinking of the classroom as a tool for research.
I first heard about “Flipping” as a graduate student [if you aren’t sure what flipping is, click here for more info]. One of my former lab mates was in town and talking about the work she was doing to transition one of her classes to a flipped class. She had just finished her first year at a teaching-oriented four-year college and was my #lifegoals because I had recently determined that teaching (rather than research) was where my passion in psychology was. While I was interested in the idea at this time, I didn’t know enough about it—or teaching pedagogy in general for that matter—to do anything with it. It wasn’t until much later that I circled back to the flipped class model.
I started very small. I first added multiple choice, multiple attempt online reading quizzes to my courses that were due before students came to class. This might not be considered flipping, but it was a way to make sure students were engaging with the material before coming to class, and a way to assess what areas students needed more work with. This also let me simplify my lectures quite a bit and start incorporating more activities.
This year at NITOP, we (Karly and Jen) hosted a Participant Idea Exchange (PIE) about challenges educators face at open enrollment institutions.
If you are unfamiliar with NITOP, PIEs are round-table discussions where conference attendees discuss topics selected by the presenters for that table. There are multiple PIE sessions each year at NITOP, and in any given session, there are 20-30 tables, with each table discussing their own topic related to the teaching of psychology. Depending on the topic, a table can have an intimate discussion between 2-3 attendees, or a larger discussion among 8+ attendees. At some tables, you may “pick the brain” of the presenter(s), if they are talking about a subject you are interested in but have limited experience in. At other tables, attendees may have an open conversation about a familiar yet relevant topic.
At our table, there was an excellent turnout of academics from a range of different institutions, including community college instructors, liberal arts colleges, and bigger, research intensive universities (thank you to everyone who contributed to the discussion!). The diverse group that attended lead to a fruitful discussion of the various difficulties students and faculty face at open enrollment institutions, and ideas for how to solve some of those problems. Below is a list reviewing the top 5 challenges we discussed, and possible solutions.
Over the last couple of years, I have become increasingly aware of and concerned with the cost of textbooks. At the same time I have also begun teaching online. These two things have led me to use, and in some cases, rely on, YouTube videos for relaying course content.
It first started with Introductory Psychology. One of my colleagues told me about the Crash Course videos for psychology. If you aren’t familiar with these, they are approximately 10 minute videos that covers the very basics of all of the topics (chapters) covered in a typical Introductory Psychology text book. I started off posting them online as a supplement to reading the assigned text. Later though, my teaching of Intro began to change; I started significantly scaling back the material that I covered, focusing instead on making sure that students actually learned the basics. For example, when I teach classical conditioning, I focus on breaking down the components and what classical conditioning is like in real life, but simplify other topics like generalization, discrimination, and extinction. I actually merely mention them in passing. With this more simplified approach to the course, it didn’t make sense to require students to read 40 pages on the intricacies of each of the topics.