Awards

Awards January 2014

At the January 2014 NITOP, four participant posters were presented with awards. All awards were decided by Institute faculty and announced at the closing session on January 6, 2014. The Frank Costin Memorial Award for Excellence (including a certificate, a check for $250, and a complimentary registration at a future NITOP conference), for the poster judged by Institute faculty as best promoting quality teaching methods, was presented to Bridgette Martin Hard, Shannon T. Brady, and James J. Gross, for their poster entitled “Does Coaching Students to Reappraise Arousal Enhance Performance on Midterms?” The Doug Bernstein Award (a certificate, a check for $250, and a complimentary registration at a future NITOP conference), for the poster judged by the NITOP conference committee as the most humorous, creative, or original poster, was presented to W.L. Isaac et al. for their poster entitled “Teaching Neuroanatomy Using Student-Generated Comic Books as Class Projects.” The Society for the Teaching of Psychology Award (a certificate, a check for $250, and a year's membership in STP), for the poster judged by Institute faculty as best incorporating new or innovative content into psychology courses, was presented to Andrew Gallup and Stuart Levine, for their poster entitled “Integrating First-Person Narratives of Eminent Psychologists in an Introductory Course.” The Society for the Teaching of Psychology also supported the STP Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) Award, which included a certificate, a check for $250, and a complimentary one-year membership in STP. This award was given to the poster judged by the NITOP conference committee to be outstanding in terms of (a) the importance of the research question addressed, (b) the soundness of the research methodology employed, (c) the use of appropriate qualitative and/or statistical analyses, and (d) the clarity with which the implications of the research findings for teaching and learning are expressed: “Assessing the Impact of Service Learning in a Research Methods Course,” by Bethany K.B. Flect. The abstracts of these posters follow.

FRANK COSTIN MEMORIAL AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE

Does Coaching Students to Reappraise Arousal Enhance Performance on Midterms?

Bridgette Martin Hard, Shannon T. Brady, and James J. Gross
Stanford University
email: bridgette.hard@stanford.edu 

Recent evidence has shown that a simple message designed to help students reappraise the stress of exams can boost performance on a standardized, high-stakes test (the GRE) (Jamieson, Mendes, Blackstock, and Schmader, 2010). Can students enrolled in a college course benefit from a similar message? Students enrolled in the Introductory Psychology course at Stanford University (N=287) were randomly assigned to receive an email the night before their first midterm that contained a neutral (control) or targeted message about the exam. The control message simply contained standard exam details. The targeted message contained these same details but also a short paragraph intended to change how students appraise the feelings of arousal associated with the exam (based on Jamieson et al., 2010). After taking the exam, students completed a brief survey asking how they felt about the specific exam and how they feel about exams in general. This poster reported findings from the study. We predicted that the targeted message would boost student performance on the exam and also lead to lower levels of reported anxiety from the exam experience. We expected that these effects would be most pronounced for freshman and for minority students. From this research, we hoped to learn how instructors can use brief email messages to improve student experience and performance.

DOUG BERNSTEIN AWARD

Teaching Neuroanatomy Using Student-Generated Comic Books as Class Projects

Walter L. Isaac et al.
Georgia College and State University
email: walter.isaac@gcsu.edu;

The topic for the Advanced Behavioral Neuroscience course was Neural Systems. Students began by giving traditional presentations with weekly lab sessions examining human brains. Mid-semester the class transitioned into working on less traditional projects. Students worked to create neuroanatomy comic book chapters delineating selected neural systems aimed at producing an e-Book for a final course product. This was intended to be more engaging and motivating for the students. Students downloaded Comic Life 2 software and collaborated designing the general outline for all chapters ensuring cohesiveness and commonality in the finished book. Class time provided opportunities to share creative ideas and receive feedback. Students self-rated their learning experiences on seven questions comparing their comic book experiences to their term paper experiences in relation to amount of effort, enjoyment, perceived learning, anticipated retention of learning, inspiration/inventiveness, freedom generated, and constraints. Two questions addressed likelihood of using their new skills in the future and how challenging it was to incorporate APA format in their chapters. Comparing ratings with dependent t-tests, the original seven questions all revealed that the comic books were rated significantly higher on all questions except the amount of constraints where term papers were rated as posing significantly more constraints. There was a high likelihood of future use indicated (mean=5.92 out of 7) and incorporating APA format was not too challenging (mean=3.77 out of 7). Overall, the experience for both students and professor was very reinforcing, encouraging similar future endeavors.

SOCIETY FOR THE TEACHING OF PSYCHOLOGY AWARD

Integrating First-Person Narratives of Eminent Psychologists in an Introductory Course

Andrew C. Gallup and Stuart Levine
SUNY College at Oneonta
email: andrew.gallup@oneonta.edu and levine@bard.edu
 

It can be argued that an introductory course in psychology might present, in addition to its topical content, the progression of the study in the field. To this end, many texts present elaborate timelines of the history of psychology and a prominent feature of such depictions are the special contributions of persons within the unfolding field of study. In the fourth edition (2012) of “Pioneers of Psychology,” Raymond Fancher and Alexandra Rutherford describe in detail their approach to the historiographic study of psychology. They argue that the eminent persons of the discipline were individuals who proclaimed a massive body of theory and research, grappling with many problems and uncertainties along the path toward understanding complicated issues in the science of psychology. Fancher and Rutherford state that the “back stories” of these individuals provide great illumination about the published work of the discipline. We therefore decided to implement “first person” narratives in one of four introductory psychology sections offered in the 2012–2013 year. These amounted to 15–20 minute presentations of the historical background and significant contributions of the following prominent scholars: Wilhelm Wundt, Sir Francis Galton, Charles Darwin, Rene Descartes, Max Wertheimer, B.F. Skinner, Brenda Milner, and Jean Piaget. Course evaluations indicated that these presentations, when compared to courses without such implementation, improved student confidence in their abilities to accurately describe the major fields of psychology, describe the major historical transitions in the field of psychology, and apply the principles of psychology in their everyday lives.

STP SCHOLARSHIP OF TEACHING AND LEARNING (SoTL) AWARD

Assessing the Impact of Service Learning in a Research Methods Course

Bethany K.B. Fleck
Metropolitan State University of Denver
email: bfleck2@msudenver.edu

This poster first described a service-learning (SL) paradigm introduced to a research methods course. Second, it offered empirical data assessing the impact of the SL approach on students. The SL courses worked on a semester-long research project with a community partner, The Boys and Girls Club, to understand youth attendance patterns at the club. Students’ opinions on the SL paradigm, level of civic engagement, class motivation, and learning were measured in two sections participating in the SL and three sections that did not participate. Preliminary data from the spring semester indicated high student regard for the project and similar learning outcomes between the courses. Additional data were gathered and contributed to the findings presented in the poster. Conclusions, implications, and best practices for SL were discussed.