Re: Philosophy (???)

1999-05-26 Thread Michael Sylvester

On Wed, 26 May 1999, Rick Adams wrote:

 If You Love:
 If you love something, set it free.
 If it comes back, it was, and always will be yours.
 If it never returns, it was never yours to begin with.
 If, however, it just sits in your living room, messes up your stuff, eats
 your food, uses your telephone, takes your money, and never appears to
 have noticed that you actually set it free in the first place You
 either married it or gave birth to it!
 Rick Adams
 Department of Social Sciences
 Jackson Community College, Jackson, MI
 "... and the only measure of your worth and your deeds
 will be the love you leave behind when you're gone." 
 Michael Callen, the Flirtations, "Everything Possible"

Since when we became a Philosophy list?

Michael Sylvester
Daytona Beach,Florida

Re: Philosophy of teaching intro psych

1999-03-23 Thread Janice Swartz


The art of teaching is something that continually evolves with experience. 
What matters more than a  "right" or "wrong" approach  is to know your
own teaching strengths and weaknesses so that you can maximize your
strengths.  Second is to know your students if that is feasible.  With
technology becoming an integral part of students' lives both in and out of
the classroom, it would seem that infusion of technology into the curriculum
would serve to enhance and enrich the curriculum.  This does not mean that
traditional methods should be overlooked. The unit you are teaching and the
learning styles of your students should be reflected in your teaching
methods.   In an attempt to  facilitate ALL of the students styles at some
point during the semester, I vary my approach from lecture, computer
simulations, debates, guest speakers, group work, field work , etc.   One
can incorporate basic principles, theories and experiments in any modality. 
 It takes a bit  creativity and it may be more time consuming at first, but
it is worth it.   

In my classes students are required to complete a term project.  Last
semester I had such diversity of learning styles in my classes that I gave
them the option of a traditional research paper, a naturalistic observation,
case study or survey  with accompanying research, a  computer slide  show 
with accompanying research, a musical song with lyrics based on research or
an "illustrated book" based on research.I was amazed at the creativity
which we so often do not give our students the opportunity to express.  Some
of my students who struggled with traditional methods showed such talent in
their projects.  Only ONE student chose to do the traditional research
report!  It was an eye opener for me.  

Hope this is helpful and good luck!

Janice Swartz

Re: philosophy of teaching intro psych

1999-03-18 Thread Patrick O. Dolan

Matt- you bring up a good point.  I made sure I TA'd Intro
before I left graduate school to at least get a chance to read
Gleitman and get a feel for how one teaches such a broad topic
course.  Imagine my surprise! This respected full professor
of this large research university was doing a one-man
show- psycho-dramas (his terms), AV demos, stand-up comedy
-- he even brought in his dog to perform tricks during the analysis 
of behavior sections.  This was quite different from my experience
as an undergraduate.  It sounds very similar in philosophy
to what you experienced.  A lot was left for the students to
learn and read on their own (there were ~6 TA's and lots of smaller
recitations sections too).  The bottom line was that he was very 
effective, well respected, and really challanging (he covered every 
chapter of the full Gleitman text in ~15 weeks).  

Maybe this philosophy or style is well suited for a large (several
hundred in my case) class where  more traditional interactive/discussion
lecture styles are not as possible.  McKeachie (Teaching Tips)
discusses different approaches to teaching when the class is large
- my experience (and it sounds like yours) is that this approach may
be a good one.  Will you be teaching a large class or more reasonably
sized one?  I wonder if it would be so effective with a class of 25.

Good luck, and congratulations on the new position!


At 12:04 PM 3/17/99 -0800, Matthew Prull wrote:

I have been an off-and-on subscriber of TIPS for many years, primarily
during my graduate years, and have read hundreds upon hundreds of posts
with great interest.  However, I feel that only now am I about to begin my
teaching career -- in the fall I'll start my career as a professor and
I've been asked to teach intro psych.  Although I previously taught
courses in cognitive psych throughout grad school, I haven't taught in
quite some time (I've been in a postdoc position for the past 3 years),
and I have never taught intro psych.  I've already begun to think about
various ways in which intro psych might be taught and thought I'd solicit
inputs from the members of TIPS.

To get some ideas, I decided last week to attend Phil Zimbardo's intro
lecture on social psych, in which he described the stanford prison
experiment, Milgram's infamous study on obedience to authority, etc.  It
was an impressive multi-media tour de force -- about 20 overheads, 40
slides, and a half-dozen video clips were displayed during a two-hour
lecture.  I started taking notes but found myself eventually just watching
the presentation -- at the end I had less than one page of notes, more
than anyone else around me.  No questions were asked by students during
the two hour period -- I assume that these are saved for the smaller
seminar-like sections that are led by the TAs (attendance at these
sections is optional).  I thought the lecture was wonderful -- students
applauded at the end.

I learned later that many of those who teach intro psych here approach it
almost like a "talk show" -- lectures contain lots of visuals, video, and
sound, with the primary goal of getting students excited about psychology
and motivated to read the text.  There are lots of guest lecturers.  The
text seems to be the primary source of learning, not the lecture. 

This "talk-show" format appeared to me to contrast sharply with the more
"traditional" format of the intro course that I remember taking as an
undergraduate way back when.  From what I can remember, those lectures
were far less A/V-heavy, and focused on basic principles, theories, and
experiments that were described in the course text.  Questions from
students were very frequent (but then, we didn't have separate sections),
and there were class discussions occasionally.  The central goal of the
course did not seem to be to get students "excited" about the field of
psychology with lots of overheads and videos, etc., but was to facilitate
students' learning of basic psychological principles and elaborate on the
information contained in the text.  I felt that I learned as much, if not
more, from lecture than from the text.  I don't remember any guest
lecturers.  I thought it was a great course. 

What do the members of TIPS think about the talk-show vs. traditional
approaches?  What are the pros and cons of these two philosophies of
teaching?  How to best teach psych 1?


Matthew Prull

Matthew Prull, Ph.D.Phone: (650) 725-0797  
Department of Psychology  Fax: (650) 725-5699
Jordan Hall, Bldg. 420
Stanford University  Email: [EMAIL PROTECTED]
Stanford, CA 94305-2130   Web:

Patrick O. Dolan