Teacher of the Week – Dr Eugene Chekaluk, Senior Lecturer, Psychology

What are your main teaching commitments?

My major responsibility is to teach the core Design and Statistics 200 level unit in Psychology, but I also contribute to units that match my research interests, namely perception and the psychology of driving.

Staff Portraits, Psychology

What’s the biggest challenge you face as a university teacher?

Given that a large proportion of psychology students have an aversion to statistics, the biggest challenge is to try to show that the statistics component of the course is learning to use a mere tool, and that the key to success in such courses is to develop critical thinking skills and not reduce things to numbers. Trying to teach the development of such critical thinking skills with engagement, interaction and humour is equally challenging.

What has helped you improve your teaching most and why?

Realising a few things: just as in life, some students will like you and warm to you, and some won’t, so it is probably a waste of time putting effort into being popular; despite the widespread availability of all sorts of teaching aids, there is nothing as satisfying as interacting with a class and observing the learning process “live”; and having a background in amateur dramatics and primary teaching is invaluable for a university educator.

What’s been your most memorable moment in teaching?

Being a finalist a few years ago in the University Lecturer of the year was very gratifying, as was discovering the group Facebook page “The Eugene Chekaluk Appreciation Society”.

 Who is your favourite music band? Why?

I’m a fan of Phil Lee, Robbie Fulks, the late Warren Zevon and the list goes on. The music should not be discordant and lyrically I like a story, or at the very least some indication that some thought beyond consulting a rhyming dictionary went into them. I also have a big collection of death songs and unlike most who would select either Twinkle’s “Terry” or The Shangri-Las “Leader of the Pack” as the best death song ever, I’d pump for Pat Campbell’s “The Deal” – heart aching hilarity!

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