What does teaching in the Psychology Department mean to you?
I grew up in a working class town on the outskirts of St. Paul, Minnesota. For many in this town, the primary source of income came from the meat packing plants that bordered the Mississippi River. Most didn’t go to college, and those that did were “first generation.” My first teacher was my father—a plumber by trade—who taught mechanical drawing and math at the local technical college for over 30 years. My dad was all about the process not the product when it came to “teachable moments” for his 6 daughters. In large part because of this formative upbringing, my goal as a teacher is to inspire and ultimately, to instill a sense of passion about psychology as a worthy field of inquiry.
I continue to be somewhat amazed that I’m a part of the University of Michigan and in particular, the Department of Psychology. Over the years, I’ve had the privilege to teach talented students and collaborate with gifted scientists. I have LOVED every minute of it! I couldn’t ask for a better community of teachers and scholars in the field.
What other ways are you involved in the Department and beyond and what inspired you to get involved in these ways (Ex: Michigan Transfer Pathways Initiative and your leadership in organizing lecturer meetings and lunches to share best practices)?
Beyond teaching in the department, I am the faculty representative for UM’s Psychology Department for the Michigan Transfer Pathways initiative—a state-wide initiative of over 50 participating institutions in the fields of biology, business, criminal justice, and psychology. The goal is to create a common set of curriculum “pathways” for transfer students to increase the likelihood that they will complete a bachelor’s degree. We not only want to recruit and admit more transfer students to the University—we want them to be successful once they arrive at UM. Transfer student success is one of LSA’s strategic goals for undergraduate education that falls under the domain of Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion (DEI).
I also organize a Lecturer Lunch each semester as a way for us to connect on issues related to the teaching of psychology. One notable outcome of this luncheon was the in-house teaching workshop—Engaging Students in Large Courses—that we hosted in collaboration with CRLT this spring. More than 20 (tenured and non-tenured faculty) showed up for this half-day workshop. We hope to make this an annual event.
What advice would you give to aspiring Psychology students?
I always tell students to think “big” in terms of what they want to do and where they want to go in the field of psychology. The career options for a psychology major are many, but students need to set themselves up for success. One great way to do this is to get involved in research with a faculty mentor early in their academic career. What better place to do so than at a premier research institution like the University of Michigan!