PRESIDENT LETTER BLOG
This blog contains an archive of "Greetings from the President" that appeared since January 2020 on the STP home page and in STP News. To view letters from STP Presidents from 2016 through 2019, click here.
Celebrating Excellence in Psychology Learning and Teaching: Kelley Haynes-Mendez and Birgit Spinath
In my years as a psychology educator, I have been inspired by so many talented and imaginative colleagues. Organizations like STP, as well as our sister organizations like the European Society for Psychology Learning and Teaching (ESPLAT), attract members who exhibit dedication to their students and their craft, a willingness to follow the evidence, a penchant for creativity and innovation, and a deep generosity in sharing their work with their colleagues and the discipline. It is my privilege, as STP President, to honor two such inspirational colleagues with Presidential Citations. These prestigious awards are intended to recognize “individuals who have made extraordinary life-time contributions to the Society and/or to the teaching of psychology.” I am pleased to announce that Drs. Kelley Haynes-Mendez and Birgit Spinath will join an illustrious list of Presidential Citation honorees dating back to the award’s 2004 inception.
Kelley D. Haynes-Mendez, Psy.D., is the Director of the Ethnicity, Race, and Cultural Affairs Portfolio at the American Psychological Association. Kelley earned her Psy.D. in clinical psychology from the California School of Professional Psychology (USA). She is a licensed psychologist in Texas and was previously an associate professor at the Chicago School of Professional Psychology. Kelley also earned a Diploma in Social Innovation with the United Nations-mandated University for Peace (UPEACE) in Costa Rica. Kelley’s scholarship focuses on multiculturalism, as well as the teaching of global citizenship in higher education.
Within STP, Kelley has been an innovative and forward-thinking leader, serving most recently as the Vice President for Diversity and International Relations. Prior to holding that position, Kelley served as Chair of the International Relations Committee. She also previously served on STP’s Diversity Committee. Kelley’s leadership within STP has been consequential for the organization, and her work has led to lasting and ongoing change, particularly with respect to diversity, equity, inclusion, and internationalization. Among her many contributions, Kelley was central to the development of STP’s Statement on Addressing Systemic Racism and Inequity; she initiated an organizational DEI assessment process; she championed partnerships with UPEACE, ESPLAT, and other international organizations; and she has published and presented related to DEI and internationalization within psychology learning and teaching organizations, including STP. Her contributions to STP will reverberate beyond her leadership within the organization, and I have no doubt she will continue to contribute to psychology learning and teaching in her new role at APA.
Prof. Dr. Birgit Spinath is a professor of Educational Psychology at Heidelberg University (Germany). She earned her Dr. phil. at the University of Bielefeld, and studies learning and teaching at multiple levels, including in higher education; motivation as a prerequisite for and an outcome of education; and teacher education and self-regulation. Birgit has published widely in top international journals and has served as an Associate Editor at several international journals as well. She is a past president of the German Psychological Society and the current Editor-in-Chief of the international journal, Psychology Learning and Teaching (PLAT).
Birgit is a true international leader in psychology learning and teaching, forging connections among people and organizations across borders. For example, as editor of PLAT, Birgit has recruited an international roster of associate editors and editorial board members representing eight countries and three continents. As a member of the Executive Committee of the European Society for Psychology Learning and Teaching (ESPLAT), Birgit has been influential in fostering connections with other psychology learning and teaching organizations, including STP. Beyond developing connections, Birgit has published in our journal (Teaching of Psychology) and presented at our conference (the Annual Conference on Teaching) in 2014 as STP’s first international keynote speaker. Birgit readily extends and accepts invitations for collaborations with psychology educators around the world. STP in particular, and psychology learning and teaching more generally, have benefited from her expansive and generous leadership. The impact of her work will endure through the alliances that she has created and the networks that she will continue to develop.
Annual Conference on Teaching
Typically, Presidential Citations are bestowed on the honorees at the Annual Conference on Teaching (ACT) or another psychology teaching conference. I am honored to present Kelley with her citation in person during the upcoming ACT in Louisville, KY, from October 14-16, and I look forward to presenting Birgit with her citation in person when international travel has returned to some semblance of normality. Congratulations to these inspiring leaders in our field!
As many of us enter a break from teaching, conferences beckon – with new and old friends, cutting-edge research, and exciting pedagogical ideas. Since widespread lockdowns in March of 2020, some conferences were canceled but many others were held virtually for the first time ever. Some live conferences are returning, such as STP’s Annual Conference on Teaching (ACT) in October which will have virtual components, but also live ones in Louisville, KY! But many conferences in upcoming months remain fully virtual. And many of us will experience the perhaps-unexpected benefits of remotely learning from and connecting with each other!
First, it’s exciting that geography need not constrain our conference-going. Depending on where you live, you may have to log on at odd hours to attend the fully virtual European Society for Psychology Learning and Teaching conference (ESPLAT) in early September, the fully virtual Australian Psychology Learning and Teaching conference (AusPLAT) conference in mid-September, or the virtual parts of the ACT in October. I plan to attend all three (and there will be panel discussions among leaders from all three organizations at all three conferences), but I could not possibly travel to Australia, Germany, and then Louisville over the course of a month and a half – unless someone wants to loan me their private jet. I’ll be at ACT in Louisville for sure, but am grateful for the virtual option for the others!
Or consider the STP-sponsored Global Citizenship Education professional development workshop series for educators this July, conducted by the Center for Executive Education at the University for Peace (UPEACE), established by the General Assembly of the United Nations. I participated in last year’s virtual workshop series, and found it exhilarating to engage with educators from around the world as I workshopped one of my courses to integrate the lessons from the session leaders and my colleagues. The series is typically held in Costa Rica, so jump at this opportunity to join in from your home! [I should add that the reduction in conference travel is more environmentally friendly, too (Price, 2020).]
Conference organizers and the folks who design online conference platforms have learned so many lessons from their experiences over the past year, and virtual conferences are increasingly engaging. [For more info, read the helpful review of best practices for online conferences by a Canadian and UK team headed by Luc Rubinger (2020).] Perhaps because of these innovations, there’s evidence that attendees can forge new social connections virtually (Dunn et al., 2021). In recent months, I’ve enjoyed connections with new colleagues in various online social settings, the opportunity to watch talks after the conference on my own time, and even the fun of bantering in the chat with audience members during my own prerecorded talk.
I’ve also witnessed increasing accessibility with subtitles and transcripts of talks or live sign language translation. And I’ve heard about folks with hearing impairments using their own specialized headphones. In line with this, a review of best practices for online conferences recommended designating an Accessibility Chair and emphasized the importance of “auditory, visual, economic and technological accessibility” (Rubinger et al., 2020). I’ve also witnessed increasing diversity at some conferences because speakers can present regardless of geographical location, childcare or other duties, or travel funds. Indeed, one article noted that virtual meetings can offer “[a] high-quality conference experience that is often more egalitarian, equitable, and diverse than inperson [sic] conferences” (Price, 2020).
I’m hopeful that these innovations will lead to similar changes when in-person conferences resume. Can we have more creative social events that foster new collaborations? Can we increase accessibility in inventive ways? Can we keep some virtual elements to allow people more flexibility in presenting and attending talks? Can we increase diversity, equity, inclusion, and a sense of belonging through these measures?
These questions lead to the latest in my ongoing series of introductions of the Vice Presidents of STP. Meet Angela Legg, our VP for Programming! The resourceful work of Angela and her dedicated team is addressing many of these questions as we look to make ACT and our other programming more inclusive and engaging in a range of ways. Here, Angela discusses her role within STP, the opportunities within her area, and why she so values her involvement in STP. As always, check out STP’s Get Involved page to see where you might fit within our organization!
What would you like STP members to know about your position?
There’s a common narrative when you start asking people why they became involved with STP – many will tell you it was because they had a positive experience at one of the many conferences, preconferences, or teaching institutes organized by STP! I’m one of those people who “found my community” of like-minded teacher-scholars at an STP conference and now I am honored to be the VP of Programming, a position that facilitates continued excellence in teaching programming. The Programming division in STP currently houses nine conference directors and programming chairs who work tirelessly year-round to plan numerous conferences and programming events. Programming is unique in that we have our flagship, standalone conference – the Annual Conference on Teaching (ACT) – but we also collaborate with other organizations such as the Society for Personality and Social Psychology and the Society for Research on Child Development to offer top notch teaching programming at discipline-specific conferences. Our programming directors also plan STP content for our largest psychology conferences such as the American Psychological Association and the Association for Psychological Sciences and also support regional conferences across the US and internationally to promote the very best in teaching of psychology programming.
The VP of Programming supports the existing teaching programming outlets while also working to develop new programming partnerships across other psychology organizations. The position also assists with the needs of the directors within the ever-changing landscape of conference planning. During the pandemic, our directors went above and beyond to quickly pivot into the world of virtual conferencing. Many of them have been programming in-person conferences for years but in 2020 they were suddenly challenged with the task of reimagining teaching programming in a virtual format. For anyone who attended the 2020 Virtual ACT, APA, and other conferences, you may have seen the incredible work of STP’s programming division. If 2020 taught us anything, STP’s programming can extend far beyond just traditional, in-person mediums and I look forward to seeing the future programming innovations yet to come in our amazing society.
What do you most value about STP?
The members! My first exposure to STP was during grad school in 2008 when I first attended the Best Practices conference (now the Annual Conference for Teaching) in Atlanta, GA. Even as a newcomer to the conference, I immediately felt included in the community and loved the genuine passion so many attendees had for honing their teaching craft. What I learned about STP is that there are always opportunities for people to get involved, become connected, meet new people, and learn new teaching tricks.
Dunn, E., Lok, I., & Zhao, J. (2021). Can virtual conferences promote social connection? https://psyarxiv.com/37n6u/
Price, M. (2020). Scientists discover upsides of virtual meetings. Science, 368(6490), 457-458. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.368.6490.457
Rubinger, L., Gazendam, A., Ekhtiari, S., Nucci, N., Payne, A., Johal, H., Khanduja, V., & Bhandari, M. (2020). Maximizing virtual meetings and conferences: A review of best practices. International Orthopaedics, 44, 1461-1466. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00264-020-04615-9
Endings, Beginnings, Misinformation, and Membership
As we near final exams and the arrival of vaccines in many countries (although not nearly enough!), we might imagine an end – to teaching via Zoom, to social isolation, and hopefully to the terrible suffering and loss experienced by so many. We might imagine new beginnings – from in-person classes to reunions with loved ones.
But multiple challenges remain, including one that we, as psychology instructors, can help overcome. Rampant misinformation has been responsible, in part, for the spread of the virus and for vaccine hesitancy (e.g., Hotez et al., 2021; Su, 2021). The resurgence of the virus in so many places in the world – most notably India and Brazil – has resulted in part from misinformation (e.g., Al-Zaman, 2021). We can work with our students at all levels – from secondary through graduate – to emphasize critical thinking and scientific literacy. And we can give students experience explicitly challenging misinformation (i.e., unintentional) and disinformation (i.e., purposeful). Here’s a great lesson plan related to that.
One study, for example, found that people who were able to detect disinformation and were higher in health literacy were more likely to get vaccinated against COVID-19 (Montagni et al. 2021). The authors define health literacy as “the extent to which people can access, understand, appraise and apply health-related information through all communication channels.” Replace “health-related” with “psychology-related” and this is what we do! In my own writing and teaching, I have increasingly focused on scientific literacy broadly. I find that students are engaged by the relevance of current examples, and, of course, many of these examples directly relate to psychology – for example, there is no evidence that crystals heal depression, that brain games reduce dementia, or that people learn better if lessons fit their “learning style.”
I have been steered toward great misinformation-related pedagogy and research by my STP colleagues, often on the STP Facebook page. (I particularly like checkology.org and firstdraftnews.org for classroom ideas and resources.) Hopefully, we’ll soon have these types of conversations in person at STP’s Annual Conference on Teaching (ACT), which will be both virtual and in person in Louisville, KY, in October – thanks to the great work of Lindsay Masland, our new Conference Director. And that is not fake news!
Finally, in my ongoing series of introductions of the Vice Presidents of STP, meet Meera Komarraju, our VP for Membership! The work of Meera and her team is essential to recruiting and supporting the members of STP who make us what we are as an organization – the members I turn to when I want to address misinformation in my classes, and much more. Below, Meera discusses her role within STP, the opportunities within her area, and why she so values her involvement in STP. As always, check out STP’s Get Involved page if you decide you would like to, well, get involved!
As Vice President of Membership, I interact with the following committees situated within this portfolio: STP Fellows, Early Career Psychologists, Graduate Student Teaching Association, Membership, Membership Communication and the This is how I teach Blog. Each of these committees works fairly independently and helps STP welcome new members, stay connected with continuing members, share important resources and provide opportunities for professional development. In particular, membership in STP offers a direct mechanism for getting networked with others who have an interest in the teaching of psychology. You can find mentors, peers, and gain knowledge that is passed along through informal conversations that is rarely taught in a classroom. This position gives you a chance to open doors for others seeking access to these resources.
My connection with STP goes back over a period of about twelve years. During this time, I have enjoyed a sense of belonging within a warm and welcoming community of colleagues. We share a passion for the Teaching of Psychology and this common interest as well as the friendship that has surrounded me represent my fondest professional experiences. STP is a society that welcomes teachers of psychology from a variety of backgrounds. These are psychology teachers in high schools, community colleges, or universities and could be tenure-track, adjunct, or graduate student instructors. Irrespective of backgrounds, the connecting link is our love of teaching. My interactions with my colleagues have been energizing and uplifting. So what I value the most is this bonding over the teaching of psychology!
Al-Zaman, M. S. (2021). COVID-19-related social media fake news in India. Journalism and Media, 2, 100–114. https://doi.org/10.3390/journalmedia2010007
Hotez, P., Batista, C., Ergonul, O., Figueroa, J. P., Gilbert, S., Gursel, M., ... & Bottazzi, M. E. (2021). Correcting COVID-19 vaccine misinformation: Lancet Commission on COVID-19 Vaccines and Therapeutics Task Force Members. EClinicalMedicine, 33. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.eclinm.2021.100780
Montagni, I., Ouazzani-Touhami, K., Mebarki, A., Texier, N., Schück, S., Tzourio, C., & CONFINS group (2021). Acceptance of a Covid-19 vaccine is associated with ability to detect fake news and health literacy. Journal of Public Health, fdab028. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1093/pubmed/fdab028
Su, Y. (2021). It doesn’t take a village to fall for misinformation: Social media use, discussion heterogeneity preference, worry of the virus, faith in scientists, and COVID-19-related misinformation beliefs. Telematics and Informatics, 58, 101547. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tele.2020.101547
During the pandemic, many of us have turned to our mentors for advice and support or sought out new mentors who could guide us through unexpected circumstances – such as a switch to remote teaching or a change in employment status. Other times mentors and mentees swapped roles, with the mentee sharing skills their mentor suddenly needs – whether creating video lectures for classes or practicing mindfulness medication for self care.
As I thought about this post over the past month, the theme of mentoring has been inescapable. First, as I continue to highlight members of the STP Executive Committee with the goal of increasing awareness of the many arenas in which STP operates, I learned that Keli Braitman, STP’s Vice President for Grants and Awards, credits a mentor for her involvement in STP. (You’ll read more about Keli and her VP role later in this post!) Then, on March 13, I was invited to attend a Zoom social hour of STP’s Early Career Psychology Committee and mentoring network. It was wonderful to hear about the relationships formed between mentors and mentees paired through STP’s Professional Development Mentoring Network, directed by Diane Finely. I also worked this month on a soon-to-be-launched podcast project with colleagues Yinka Akinsulure-Smith, Eric Landrum, and Asani Seawell. Our podcast, Beyond Teaching, is part of the STP-sponsored PsychSessions series, and will focus on non-classroom issues that psychology instructors face. It’s perhaps not surprising that the first topic we tackled was finding a mentor!
(Want to join STP’s Mentoring Network as a mentor or mentee next academic year? Apply through May 31 here. Director Diane Finley personally makes matches based on shared interests and experiences, and she encourages folks to apply. Diane hopes to increase diversity in the program, particularly among mentors! She asks you to be sure to check that your STP membership is up to date before applying.)
Finally, our featured VP, Keli Braitman, who holds all the answers for how you can get STP money! We are eager to recognize and support the amazing work of our members, and Keli works both tirelessly and enthusiastically to oversee the many committees that carefully review applications. I am so often amazed at the breadth and value of the work that our members do, and I’m grateful to Keli and the awards chairs and committees for highlighting these accomplishments.
What would you like STP members to know about your position? VP for Grants and Awards is arguably one of the best roles in STP – who doesn’t love giving grants and awards? Kidding aside, supporting the work of our members through awards recognizing excellence in teaching, mentorship of teachers, civic engagement, and promotion of work to expand diversity, equity and inclusion; through travel grants for early career psychologists, high school teachers, and for international travel; and grants for scholarship of teaching and learning, instructional resources, and partnerships across organizations, is incredibly gratifying.
The person in this role collaborates with chairs of 11 different grant and award committees, which is an enriching way to get to know others in STP. Another benefit is in learning more about the important work that our members are doing to support the mission of the Society. It is both humbling and gratifying to see the breadth and depth of these endeavors. In addition to overseeing the development, maintenance, and functioning of STP’s grants and awards programs, the VP for Grants and Awards considers new areas for recognition and support. Most recently I worked with the VP for Diversity and International Relations and the chair of the Diversity Committee to develop our latest award to recognize instructors who promote and prioritize the values of diversity, equity, and inclusion in their teaching and mentoring. Lastly, serving with other members of the Executive Committee is an excellent way to learn more about the various areas of STP, including programming, resources, membership, and international relations.
Just a year ago, most of us had no idea that in about a week, our lives would change in ways enormous and tiny. (I’m writing this on March 7.) My personal shut-down day was March 15, the first day that Seton Hall University, where I teach, went fully remote. My last non-take-out restaurant meal was a few days before that. I wish I had known! I had a veggie sausage at a local beer hall, which was delicious, but my mediocre cooking skills mean that I can grill the heck out of a Beyond Sausage at home. In retrospect, I would have opted for the spectacle of a sushi bar or a sizzling skillet of fajitas!
I won’t lie. It’s been hard, and I hit (and pushed through) my own personal pandemic wall in December. But I also recognize the enormous disparities in the ways in which the pandemic has affected us, with people like me – white, childfree, employed, working remotely – faring far better than others. Women, especially those with children, have disproportionately lost their jobs and disproportionately taken on increased childcare obligations, including monitoring online learning from home (Thibaut & van Wijngaarden, 2020). Young people who identify as LGBTQ have faced the difficulty of isolation from supportive communities and, in some cases, the challenges of moving back to intolerant family homes (Gonzales et al., 2020). People living in certain counties (e.g., rural vs. urban), states, and countries have suffered more than others, often because of socioeconomic status or governmental policies (e.g., Moreno et al., 2020). And our BIPOC friends, neighbors, and colleagues have faced particular difficulties, due in large part to the structural inequities, including overrepresentation in essential jobs and decreased access to healthcare, that have only been exacerbated during the pandemic (Loeb et al., 2020).
Many parts of the world are also experiencing rising rates of xenophobia and anti-Asian racism (Misra et al., 2020). As an instructor, I start each class by sharing articles that I, or the students in the class, have found that relate to topics in the course. I recently flagged a New York Times article titled “What This Anti-Asian Violence Reveals About America” to share with my students. Not long after, I heard from Molly Metz, a member of STP’s Early Career Committee and until recently the head moderator of STP’s Facebook page. She shared a powerful Twitter thread by psychology professor Jin X. Goh who asked “has your university/ department/ organization said anything about the wave of violence against Asians and Asian Americans?” And anti-Asian racism isn’t limited to the United States; it affects many of our STP members around the globe.
Molly’s message and Goh’s tweets are important reminders of the work that STP needs to keep doing. I want to again call attention to STP’s Statement on Addressing Systemic Racism and Inequity in STP and encourage all of us to keep talking about racism and antiracism – with each other and with our students. And to keep finding ways to incorporate these topics into our classes both to support our Asian, Black, and other BIPOC students and to educate all students. I also want to encourage us to support and speak out on behalf of our Asian colleagues and students. (There are many helpful resources related to anti-Asian racism, including this compilation from Northwestern University and more general resources related to racial trauma from STP.)
As I indicated in my last post, one of my goals for this platform is to introduce STP members to the sprawling organizational structure of the organization in the hopes of helping anyone who is interested to find your niche within our organization. STP has five Vice Presidents, so starting with this post, I’ll introduce you to each of them. Appropriately, given the topic of this post, I’m starting with the Vice President for Diversity and International Relations, Kelley Haynes-Mendez. Kelley was an essential part of the development of the statement and resources on racial trauma I describe above, and has also spearheaded an organizational initiative to assess STP’s current status on diversity, equity, and inclusion. Below, she discusses her role within STP, the opportunities within her area, and why she so values her involvement in STP.
Kelley particularly wants to highlight STP’s Get Involved page, and she encourages STP members who are BIPOC or who represent marginalized and underrepresented communities to join us! Please do!
The Vice President for Diversity and International Relations is responsible for collaborating and consulting with the other four VPs, the Chairs of the Diversity Committee and the International Relations Committee, and other Executive Committee members to ensure that diversity and international issues are infused in all Society’s activities. The Vice President oversees and works closely with the chairs of the Diversity Committee, International Relations Committee, and International Twitter Poster Conference Committee in order to advance diversity and international issues within STP. Additionally, I consult with Presidential task forces and our journal editor in order to address diversity, equity, and inclusion issues. Presently, I am helping to coordinate an organizational self-assessment for diversity, equity, and inclusion. I am also consulting with the current Presidential task force on diversity, equity, and inclusion alongside chairs and members of both the Diversity and International Relations committees.
I found a home in STP after presenting at its Best Practices conference for teaching diversity. After that conference I was invited to be member of the Diversity Committee. After serving there for several years I became a liaison between the Diversity and International Relations Committees and later chair of the International Relations Committee. While serving as chair of the International Relations Committee I was also invited to be a part of a Presidential Task Force on internationalization. There are a number of opportunities to plug in and get involved within STP. Having so many opportunities available usually means that anyone who is interested can find a good fit. This is what I value most about STP – the opportunity to get involved with various committees, task forces, and other projects and initiatives.
Gonzales, G., de Mola, E. L., Gavulic, K. A., McKay, T., & Purcell, C. (2020). Mental health needs among lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender college students during the COVID-19 pandemic, Journal of Adolescent Health, 67(5), 645-648. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jadohealth.2020.08.006
Loeb, T. B., Ebor, M. T., Smith, A. M., Chin, D., Novacek, D. M., Hampton-Anderson, J. N., Norwood-Scott, E., Hamilton, A. B., Brown, A. F., & Wyatt, G. E. (2020). How mental health professionals can address disparities in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. Traumatology. https://doi-org.jpllnet.sfsu.edu/10.1037/trm0000292
Misra, S., Le, P. D., Goldmann, E., & Yang, L. H. (2020). Psychological impact of anti-Asian stigma due to the COVID-19 pandemic: A call for research, practice, and policy responses. Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy, 12(5), 461-464. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/tra0000821
Moreno, C., Wyles, T., Galderisi, S., Nordentoft, M., Crossley, N., Jones, N. Cannon, M., Correll, C. U., Byrne, L., Carr, S. Chen, E. Y. H., Gorwood, P., Johnson, S., Kärkkäinen, H., Krystal, J. H., Lee, J., Lieberman, J., López-Jaramillo, C., Männikkö, M., … Arango, C. (2020). How mental health care should change as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Lancet, 7(9), 813-824. https://doi.org/10.1016/S2215-0366(20)30307-2
Thibaut, F., & van WIjngaarden-Cremers, P. J. M. (2020). Women’s mental health in the time of COVID-19 pandemic. Frontiers in Global Women’s Health, 1. https://doi.org/10.3389/fgwh.2020.588372
For many of us, a new academic term has begun, just in time for Groundhog Day, when those of us in the U.S. and Canada anxiously wait for a rodent to emerge from the ground. We hope it won’t see its shadow, which would mean an early spring. (Of course, it saw its shadow this year.) The holiday was featured in the 1993 film, Groundhog Day, in which the protagonist had to live the same day over and over and over until he got it right. I’m beginning to feel like we’re all in a film called Groundhog Semester. Fortunately, engagement with STP colleagues is a reminder that while we have mastered a lot of the art of pandemic teaching, we continue to learn and to teach each other. Maybe we’ll get this term “right” and return to a semblance of pre-pandemic normal.
I plan to use this opportunity to address STP members monthly by highlighting the leaders of the organization, the work that they do, and ways for you to get involved within various STP units. The STP Executive Committee has actively developed policies, such as term limits and open calls for opportunities, in an effort to draw new people into STP service and leadership and to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion within STP. I hope that a deeper understanding of the range of what STP does will help you to target areas in which you might contribute. Or you can simply regularly check our Get Involved page on the STP website where current opportunities are posted until a position seems right for you!
This month, I’m going to feature our Executive Director, Tom Pusateri, and Internet Editor, Jon Westfall. You’ll hear a little from each of them later in this post, including their roles at STP, how they support all of us within STP, and why they value their STP involvement. As you’ll see, they each are responsible for a number of essential roles without which our organization would fall apart. But first, I will highlight the tagging project that Tom and Jon are heading up and for which they’re looking for volunteers. (In coming months, I’ll highlight each of the five Vice Presidential areas – Diversity and International Relations, Grants and Awards, Membership, Programming, and Resources – as well as the important roles of Secretary and Treasurer. I hope it will help you understand STP better as an organization as well as help you find your place within STP.
The STP website tagging project:
No, this is not a call for graffiti artists! As Jon explains in the call for tagging volunteers, “Ever wish that you could find all of STP’s resources on a given topic in one easy, unified way? So do we! That’s why we’ve been working on a project to tag our resources (teaching materials, eBooks, syllabi, blog posts, you name it) with common words such as “statistics”, “development”, “social”, and of course, “engagement”!” If you want to learn more, email Jon at firstname.lastname@example.org. To apply, send your CV by March 31. If you’re new to STP, the tagging project is a great way to get involved and learn more about what we offer!
Executive Director Tom Pusateri, in his own words:
What would you like STP members to know about your position? The Executive Director serves as support staff for members of STP’s Executive Committee (presidential trio, secretary, treasurer, and five vice presidents), for those in STP leadership positions (e.g., editors, programming directors, chairs), for STP members seeking information or assistance, and for nonmembers and representatives from other organizations seeking to join or collaborate with STP. Some of the main responsibilities of the position include managing the STP membership database; sharing timely announcements via STP’s website, newsletter, social media platforms; developing and sharing resources that support STP leaders (e.g., Gmail accounts; shared Dropbox accounts, maintaining updated bylaws, policies, and procedures); responding to requests for assistance via STP’s primary Gmail account (email@example.com); and consulting with APA’s staff on issues pertaining to STP’s identity as Division 2 of APA.
What do you most value about STP? I have been fortunate to work with an incredible group of talented people who have been elected or appointed to leadership positions in STP and the many others who contribute to STP’s committee work, task forces, programming, web-based resources, social media, etc. Most of these individuals are volunteers who receive no or little compensation for their work, but who serve because they are genuinely committed to supporting fellow teachers of psychology and their students. This is truly a collaborative group who share a vision, who treat each other with respect, and who feel comfortable sharing differences of opinion with the goal of finding common ground to further STP’s mission.
Internet Editor Jon Westfall, in his own words:
What would you like STP members to know about your position? The Internet Editor is responsible for overseeing STP’s internet properties, from the website to having advisory or oversight roles on the Wikis and the mailing lists while others handle day to day operations. Each time a new resource is posted, a new eBook is published, or pages are modified or created, the Internet Editor or one of my associate editors is involved. Serving as Executive Director, Tom and I also have shared access and oversight on all properties, setting up a redundancy so that if either of us is unavailable, the other has access to take care of pressing matters such as password resets or looking up discrepancies in membership dues or other member information. Finally, the IE also serves as the resident tech advisor anytime someone in STP wants to take on a new project and needs some tech support or investigation. For example, when the tagging project first launched, I scouted options before we eventually settled on the Diigo platform to allow for flexible bookmarking that also would integrate into our web infrastructure. It’s not uncommon for me to get random questions about the best way to create something online, or requests for help in troubleshooting a particularly annoying computer glitch.
What do you most value about STP? As a graduate student who had taught continuing education courses prior to entering grad school, I was shocked to find so many of my colleagues disliked teaching. When I worked in the Ivy League space as a postdoc, I was further shocked at how many treated teaching as a “time suck” that prevented them from doing what they “really wanted” to do. I value STP because everyone in STP values good, innovative, and immersive teaching. We are psychology educators that do not value ourselves solely on the research we do, but on the impact factor only measurable on one student at a time.
2021 STP Presidential Task Forces
Susan A. Nolan, STP President (Seton Hall University)
Task Force on Integration of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) and International Initiatives Across STP: The task force will continue the work on DEI that 2020 President Amy Fineburg initiated. The task force will explore how to more fully integrate STP’s DEI and international initiatives in all we do, including membership, programming, awards, and resources. The task force will examine the structure of the organization, including whether there might be more explicit connections across the five Vice-Presidential areas or whether a new structure would help STP move away from the siloed nature of our current structure. The task force will use information from the newly implemented DEI assessments as well as any assessments that they implement. The task force also will offer suggestions to increase inclusion and equity, including with respect to internationalization, in all areas, including with respect to our membership, leadership, award/grant applicants, and invited speakers. For questions about this Task Force, please email: TF2021Diversity@teachpsych.org
Arlen Garcia (Task Force Chair)
Miami Dade College
Fort Lewis College
Virginia Commonwealth University
Texas State University
Appalachian State University
University of Toronto
George Mason University
University of Mary
University of Western Ontario
Texas Woman’s University
University of Northern Colorado
University of Alaska Southeast
Liaisons from Diversity Committee
University of Michigan
California State University Monterey Bay
Teceta Tormala (Chair, STP Diversity Committee)
Palo Alto University
Task Force for Resources for “Pivot Teaching”: The task force will gather, solicit, and publicize resources for “pivot teaching” – e.g., changing modalities mid-semester, accommodating individual students whose situation has changed, integrating more flexibility into courses generally. The resources might include information on shifting to online, hybrid, or HyFlex modalities, for providing online resources for students in a face-to-face course, and for communicating with students in flexible, creative, and inclusive ways. The task force will prioritize top-notch, evidence-based, student-centered teaching and learning as modalities and other conditions shift. For questions about this Task Force, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Jenel Cavazos (Task Force Chair)
University of Oklahoma
University of Tennessee
The Chicago School of Professional Psychology
Morton Ann Gernsbacher
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Larry (Lawrence) Rudiger
University of Vermont
Pacific University – Oregon
Task Force on Statistical Literacy, Reasoning, and Thinking: Guidelines 2.0: STP’s initial peer-reviewed statistical literacy guidelines were published on the STP website in 2014 (see below for links). Since then, there have been far-reaching changes in the ways in which statistics are taught, and the ways in which changes in best practices for research methodology have driven how statistical analyses are approached. The task force will create updated STP guidelines for statistical literacy, reasoning, and thinking to incorporate what we have learned from the open science movement, data ethics initiatives, and new analytical approaches. For questions about this task force, please email: TF2021Statistics@teachpsych.org
· Statistical Literacy in the Introductory Psychology Course
· Statistical Literacy in the Undergraduate Psychology Curriculum
· Statistical Literacy in Psychology: Resources, Activities, and Assessment Methods
Jess Hartnett (Task Force Chair)
Erin Freeman (Chair, Psych Majors Subcommittee)
Garth Neufeld (Chair, Intro to Psych Subcommittee)
Samantha Estrada Aguilera
University of Texas at Tyler
Seton Hall University
The College of Wooster
Georgia Southern University
Washington State University
University of Minnesota
Alison Young Reusser
University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill
Oregon State University
Gwynedd Mercy University
California State University-San Bernardino
University of California, Riverside
2020 is over! At last!
A year ago, I celebrated New Year’s Eve at home in Jersey City, NJ, cooking dinner with my husband (and falling asleep well before midnight). We had flown back that day from a week’s vacation in Colombia, where we had joined dear friends for a holiday visit with their family, whom we were meeting for the first time. With the benefit of hindsight, it all sounds so daring. There was hugging, dancing, and crowding on public transportation. We even shared food!
I was a bit anxious upon my return about getting all my prep done for my spring courses. At that point, it hadn’t even crossed my mind to describe my spring courses as “face-to-face.” Based on my usual teaching load, that would have been like describing mail as “snail mail.” Fast forward to March…
Who could have guessed that travel would soon grind to a halt? That hugging or meeting strangers – your friends’ parents even – would be forbidden? That we would be socially isolating for months and months (and months)? Reading preprints from disciplines far from our own, trying to understand how to thwart a dangerous virus? Developing strategies to combat misinformation? Teaching remotely, while scrambling to develop creative ways to engage and assess? Supporting our students not just in their studies but in their lives (even more than usual) as they faced illness, family difficulties, financial strains, and emotional distress? And all of this compounded by growing awareness of a second longstanding pandemic of racism? Not me.
A year later, we have all learned so much. I have learned from friends, family, colleagues, and students, but also from STP. STP’s resources, new and old, have served as encyclopedic reservoirs of helpful information, including about how to be better at teaching online, increasing student engagement, and practicing anti-racism. And our members have reached out to share resources and insights through STP’s social media. Our Facebook page, in particular, which has more than 16,000 members, has been a source of information, solace, and more than one meme that made me laugh out loud!
It was against this backdrop that I planned my presidential task forces, in the hopes that their work would better situate us for future challenges. I put out a call for task force members months ago, and I am thrilled that so many experienced instructors and scholars volunteered to participate. The members of the task forces are diverse demographically, institutionally, and in terms of their roles; we are lucky to have graduate students and early career psychologists among their numbers, as well as very experienced instructors. And so many task force members are new to service to STP, or in several cases, new even to STP!
We also are fortunate to have experts in each of these areas agree to serve as chairs. I am excited to follow the work of these task forces as these strong and experienced leaders guide their talented colleagues. I hope that many of you will reach out to these task forces if you have ideas or suggestions. You can see rosters of the task forces here .
Task Force on Integration of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) and International Initiatives Across STP: The DEI/International task force, chaired by Arlen Garcia, will continue the work on DEI that 2020 President Amy Fineburg initiated. The task force will explore how to more fully integrate STP’s DEI and international initiatives in all we do, including membership, programming, awards, and resources. The task force will examine the structure of the organization, including whether there might be more explicit connections across the five Vice-Presidential areas or whether a new structure would help STP move away from the siloed nature of our current structure. The task force also will offer suggestions to increase inclusion and equity, including with respect to internationalization, in all areas, including with respect to our membership, leadership, award/grant applicants, and invited speakers. To provide input related to this Task Force, please email: TF2021Diversity@teachpsych.org.
Task Force for Resources for “Pivot Teaching”: The task force, chaired by Jenel Cavazos, will gather, solicit, and publicize resources for “pivot teaching” – e.g., changing modalities mid-semester, accommodating individual students whose situation has changed, integrating more flexibility into courses generally. The resources might include information on shifting to online, hybrid, or HyFlex modalities, for providing online resources for students in a face-to-face course, and for communicating with students in flexible, creative, and inclusive ways. The task force will prioritize top-notch, evidence-based, student-centered teaching and learning as modalities and other conditions shift. For questions related to this Task Force, please email: email@example.com.
Task Force on Statistical Literacy, Reasoning, and Thinking: Guidelines 2.0: This task force is particularly close to my heart because I chaired the first iteration of this task force in 2012. The outcomes of our peer-reviewed statistical literacy guidelines were published on the STP website in 2014. Since then, there have been far-reaching changes in the ways in which statistics is taught, and the ways in which changes in best practices for research methodology have driven how statistical analyses are approached. The task force will create updated STP guidelines for statistical literacy, reasoning, and thinking to incorporate what we have learned from the open science movement, data ethics initiatives, and new analytical approaches. The task force will be chaired by Jess Hartnett, with Garth Neufeld chairing the subcommittee targeting the introductory psychology course and Erin Freeman chairing the subcommittee targeting the psychology major. For any questions related to this Task Force, please email: TF2021Statistics@teachpsych.org.
I look forward to serving as STP President this year, as we (hopefully) emerge from pandemic restrictions. STP is made up of a remarkable group of people who care deeply about teaching and about the scholarship of teaching and learning. I have two new year’s resolutions. Most importantly, to emerge from this pandemic, with support from the STP community, as a better instructor and scholar and ally to members of marginalized groups. And secondly, to travel again, ideally with locals, and hopefully back to Colombia where I will dance and hug and crowd onto public transportation with abandon!
When I taught high school, I noticed students often seemed to be wishing their lives away. They wished time would pass quickly because only in the future would they be able to do what they wanted to do. They would wish for homecoming festivities to get here. They would wish it were winter holidays or spring break. They would wish it were graduation or even just Friday. As an adult in their lives, it seemed to be my job to quash these wishes and remind them that they only have the time they have now. I would admonish them not to wish their lives away and live in the moment, seizing the day and counting the rosebuds while they may. I wasn’t trying to be a party pooper. Seizing the day can be a lot of fun, and rosebuds do smell nice.
But, honestly, these days, I’m finding myself wishing this year away. I am wishing for a day when any or all of the various vaccines are widely available and effective. I’m wishing for the day I can travel again – anywhere, please. I wish for a time when my children can be back in school full-time with their amazing teachers and friends. I wish the future to be here now because I am tired of all this. I know you are as well. 2020 has been a year for the history books, and it will get the asterisk designation every single time it is mentioned going forward. We will qualify what we did this year with prepositional phrases like “for a pandemic,” “amidst racial violence and trauma,” and “during a stressful election year.” Whatever we did or did not accomplish, it was the best that could happen for a pandemic amidst racial violence and trauma during a stressful election year. Whew.
Even as I wish for this time to pass, I am grateful for my time as president of STP in 2020.
· The Executive Committee is one of the best groups of people I’ve worked with. I’ve been a member of the EC as a VP and as President for five years now, and no matter who has been elected to serve, they were dedicated, professional, interesting, and sharp people. I am honored to be among the people you members of STP have chosen for leadership. I am the first president of STP to have taught high school psychology as my primary teaching experience, and our community is the only one I am aware of that welcomes high school teachers as peers. I will always be grateful to the members and leaders of STP who have set that standard for our community.
· I am honored to be a part of diversity, equity, and inclusion work for STP this year. I chose to make diversification of our membership my top presidential priority this year, and the work became even more urgent as the year progressed. I am honored that leaders in STP shared their expertise and experience to craft our diversity statement, to participate in my APA Presidential Hour panel, to edit and contribute to diversity initiatives with our journal, and to develop recommendations for diversifying our membership. This work has inspired and challenged me, and I hope that STP can be an example for how an organization can make real systemic change for the better.
· I am so sad we could not gather in person for our annual conference, but I am grateful that we were able to offer a virtual conference – and we’re continuing to offer it! All members can still access presentations from virtual ACT, so I encourage you to login or to join and login as soon as you can. If you need a little uplift as this year winds down, experiencing the quality presentations and conversations from virtual ACT 2020 may be just what you need.
· These blog posts have been surprisingly fulfilling to write. As I shared from the beginning, I haven’t really found success being a blogger on my own. I overthink and overedit myself, making it hard to be timely and, well, concise. I am grateful to Tom Pusateri, Kelley Haynes-Mendez, and Susan Nolan for giving their input off and on this year to make these posts readable. And thank you for reading them.
I am leaving this presidency grateful for my time even though it wasn’t at all what I was hoping for.
I am grateful that STP is financially sound and was poised to weather this challenging year.
I am grateful that you all have shared your experiences throughout this year with each other in the effort to make even a moment of this uncomfortable time a little less uncomfortable.
I am grateful that I get to be a little part of the history of this organization, standing on the shoulders of the giants who have come before me and hopefully being a solid perch for future leaders to stand on.
May you find something to be grateful for in this pandemic amidst racial violence and trauma during a stressful election year. If you can find gratitude, may it carry you through the rest of this year and into that future we wish was already here.
Thanks for letting me lead you this year.
Take good care, all.
STP President 2020
It’s November, and like everyone in the US, I’m reflecting on the presidency – MY presidency of STP, of course (that’s what y’all are reflecting on, too, right?!?). My presidential year is winding down, and what a year it’s been. I’m trying to focus on the positives, like our successful virtually delivered conference; the amazing collaborations about remote emergency instruction and online teaching; and the open, honest, and reflective discussions about diversity, equity, and inclusion within STP. I’m so glad you got to hear from Susan Nolan last month in the Presidential blog! Susan is going to be a great leader for STP in 2021, and I will be so excited to see her presidential initiatives come to fruition! And congratulations to Linda Woolf, our incoming president-elect! I’m looking forward to more strong leadership from both of these excellent colleagues and friends in the years to come.
I want to give a huge shout out to Jordan Triosi, our ACT Director, for leading the work to convert our in-person gathering into a virtual one. He and his committee along with Lindsay Masland (incoming ACT Director) made a huge jug of sweet lemonade out of the COVID lemons we were dealt and gave us all a fabulous experience. The speakers were spot on. The tech worked well. The good times were had. And you can enjoy all the talks on our YouTube channel for the near future (or until the internet changes, which could be next week)!
Good has come from this extraordinary year, but I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge the pain and sadness this year has brought as well. Teaching has never been as hard as it has been this year. I’ve always believed teachers to be superstars, but this year’s efforts have convinced me that teachers are superheroes. Typically, teachers have it hard trying to convince people that what they have to teach is both interesting and important. Being successful at that is harder than it looks! But this year has shown us that interesting and important are often the least of our concerns. People are sick. People are exhausted. People are overwhelmed. People are afraid. People are traumatized. But every day, many of those people – you teachers – are waking up, breathing deeply, digging in, and teaching. You’re learning new modalities of delivery and presentation. You are figuring out how to ease concerns and soothe anxiety. And the job is getting done. It may not be the job you were hoping to accomplish. It may not be the best work you’ve ever done. But it’s the best work you’ve ever done in a pandemic year full of racial trauma and re-reckoning, societal uncertainty, and toilet paper shortages. So, please, slap your favorite superhero brand on your chest and call yourself proud of what you’ve been able to do.
In the last few weeks of this tumultuous year, I’ll be reflecting on what I’ve been through, what I’ve overcome, what I’ve wished I’d done better, what I hope for the future. I’ve seen people lose loved ones. I’ve worried for myself and those I care about. I’ve been outraged by injustice, incompetence, and cruelty. I’ve tried to adapt to challenge and change. I wish I had more time to learn and plan. I hope we will find a way to cure or at least live successfully with this virus. I hope we can see and smile with our students again someday very, very soon.
Take care, all. You’re not alone.