A welcome to Alissa Beath who has recently joined the Faculty’s Learning & Teaching Committee (FLTC) as one of the two Psychology representatives.
1. What are your main teaching commitments?
This semester, I’m co-convening and lecturing on PSY349: Design and Statistics 3. Next semester, I’ll be convening PSYC105: Intro to Psychology 2 (for the first time!). It’s a great contrast between advanced applied statistics and intro-level psychology!
2. What’s the biggest challenge you face as a university teacher?
I have done a fair bit of statistics teaching, which as any psychology student or quantitative researcher knows can be particularly challenging – most students really don’t like statistics! It can be a struggle to convince students (especially first years) why they need to learn stats as part of a psychology or human sciences degree. We try to put it in the context of developing their critical thinking abilities, which is such an integral part of university education. It’s amazing how often numbers or trends are misrepresented in the media or popular culture, and when you become aware of it, you see it everywhere! Getting students to realise the value in what they’re being taught, beyond just passing a unit to get a degree, can be a challenge.
3. What has helped you improve your teaching most and why?
Finding statistics memes online (and including them in lecture slides) certainly helps! (Everyone should take a moment to google Ryan Gosling or Mark Wahlberg stats memes.) But also, I think remembering how it feels to be a psychology student and feel totally lost (particularly when learning stats) helps me to communicate material on the students’ level – to be able to get into their mindset and see the problems they’re having, and so talk to them about the content in a way that (hopefully) makes sense to them. I hope that is something that I can always remember to do.
4. What’s been your most memorable moment in teaching?
One of my first guest lectures – some students in the unit I lectured on had me as a tutor for a different unit, and made and held up ‘Go Alissa!’ signs in the lecture! That was pretty amazing! On a smaller scale, any time a student has a lightbulb moment, or I can see a student being a better researcher and critical thinker as a result of something I’d taught them; I think every teacher can relate to that feeling of accomplishment.
5. Who is your favourite music band? Why?
At the moment, the Decemberists. I’ve been a huge fan of theirs for years, but a month ago saw them in concert for the first time – it was indescribably amazing, and I’ve been even more obsessed with them since then!