Awards January 2011

At the January 2011 NITOP, four participant posters were presented with awards. All awards were decided by Institute faculty and announced at the closing session on January 6, 2011. 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 David B. Miller for his poster entitled "Screencasts: A Hybrid Course That Increases Student Engagement and Learning." The NITOP faculty also recognized two runner-ups for the Frank Costin Memorial Award: "With Clickers It's the Questions and Not the Technology That Lead to Learning" by Jeffrey B. Henriques and Amanda F. Boris, and "Innovating by Inverting: Rethinking the Psychology Statistics/Methods Course" by Joseph G. Johnson. 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 (not including Doug Bernstein) as the most humorous, creative, or original poster, was presented to Phil D. Wann for his poster entitled "Student Views of the Zeitgeist in the 21st Century: An Exercise for the History of Psychology Course." 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 Mary Harmon-Vukic for her poster entitled "Psychological Perspectives of Native Americans: The Lakota." 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: "Evaluating an Active Learning Approach to Teaching Introductory Statistics," by Jennifer Winquist and Kieth A. Carlson. The abstracts of these posters follow.


Screencasts: A Hybrid Course That Increases Student Engagement and Learning

David B. Miller
University of Connecticut

For the past two decades, I have invested thousands of hours in multimedia course development for my large-enrollment General Psychology and Animal Behavior courses. Motivated by increasing student engagement in course material, I created a hybrid (part online, part in-class) Animal Behavior course using a combination of Apple Keynote and Telestream ScreenFlow software. My intent was to transcend the already extensive multimedia nature of my in-class lectures by adding additional components that could not be duplicated in a classroom setting by employing the unique editing features of ScreenFlow. After 400 hours of production and editing that rendered 90 screencasts of primary course content, the outcome in terms of student engagement and learning far exceeded my expectations.

Most of the content is available 24/7 on a protected website. Every Tuesday, I meet with my 140 students in a lecture hall for additional content, questions and answers, and discussion. Every Thursday, I meet with up to 15 Honors students for an additional hour of a podcast discussion, for which they earn Honors credit.

In Fall 2008, almost half the students earned A's, and none of the students failed—an outcome that I have not observed in my 30 years of teaching this course in its usual lecture format. Student comments indicated extreme engagement in the course material that was documented by the learning outcomes.


With Clickers It's the Questions and Not the Technology That Lead to Learning

Jeffrey B. Henriques and Amanda F. Boris
University of Wisconsin - Madison

Although student feedback on the use of clickers in the classroom has been positive, evidence in the literature of their impact on test performance has been mixed. The utilization of clickers and more specifically how often they are used and their impact on test performance was examined from 5796 students across 19 sections of introductory psychology over an 8-year period of time. Examination of class performance within ten classes using (n=3171) or nine classes not using clickers (n=2625) failed to show any difference in students' grades across groups, F(1/5794)=.01, ns. However, test performance in sections where clicker concept questions were used frequently (n=1701) revealed a significant improvement in grades, mean=73.48 (sd=11.20) compared to sections which used these types of questions less regularly (n=1421), mean=70.78 (sd=11.16), F(1/3120)=45.13, p<.001. Results support the hypothesis that although clickers are useful tools for student learning, it is the quizzing effect reflected in the number of questions asked, and not the device itself, that has a positive impact on test scores.


Innovating by Inverting: Rethinking the Psychology Statistics/Methods Course

Joseph G. Johnson
Miami University of Ohio

There has been increasing concern about the statistical and quantitative literacy of college students in general, and psychology students in particular (e.g., Clay, 2005; Townsend, Golden, & Wallsten, 2005). To address this, I incorporated three key elements in a redesign of a required departmental statistics course (PSY 293). Specifically, American Statistical Association recommendations (2005), in conjunction with my own experiences and semesters of student feedback, became guidelines for introducing: (1) a new inverted structure where recorded lectures were viewed prior to class, which allowed for (2) class meetings devoted solely to hands-on activities to promote deeper learning, and (3) a "menu" of new homework assignments tailored to different learning styles from which students could choose. I conducted a natural experiment comparing two sections that I taught this semester, where one section implemented these changes for a single learning unit (correlation/regression). This poster reports results comparing learning outcomes and student perceptions across these two sections.


Student Views of the Zeitgeist in the 21st Century:
An Exercise for the History of Psychology Course

Phil D. Wann
Missouri Western State University

History of Psychology courses have traditionally emphasized the Zeitgeist, or spirit of the times, as a key to understanding developments in the field. Broad societal and cultural factors, as well as trends within the discipline, have shaped the evolution of psychological science. Students (n=22) in the history of psychology course were given an assignment that required that they reflect on the Zeitgeist in modern day America and then identify the social, economic, and political forces affecting psychology as we enter the second decade of the 21st century. After the students had read and discussed one another's papers, the trends mentioned most frequently by the students were compared with those identified by psychology majors in the 1980's and 90's (Evans & Constable, 1994) and at the turn of the century (Wann, 2001). A summary of these trends is presented in the poster, together with student ratings of the assignment. Moreover, the impact of the Zeitgeist assignment on the quality of the historical research papers written by students at the end of the semester is examined by comparing paper grades with those from previous semesters in which the Zeitgeist assignment was not done.


Psychological Perspectives of Native Americans: The Lakota

Mary Harmon-Vukic
Providence College

Diversity is an important topic in psychology. In fact, the task force for Undergraduate Psychology Major Learning Goals and Outcomes identifies diversity education as an important objective for all psychology curricula. However, few psychology courses completely focus upon diversity issues. In this poster I describe a service-learning course called "Psychological Perspectives of Native Americans: The Lakota." This course is unique in that students first read historical and cultural literature. This is followed by a one-week trip to Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, where students serve as volunteers while continuing to learn about the history and culture of the Lakota through readings, Lakota speakers, and interacting with the residents of the reservation. After this trip students read psychological articles and/or book chapters relevant to current issues on the reservation. Although the course is specific to the Lakota, the general concepts and themes discussed can be applied to other populations. Sample readings, assignments, projects, and student feedback on the course are presented.


Evaluating an Active Learning Approach to Teaching Introductory Statistics

Jennifer Winquist and Kieth A. Carlson
Valparaiso University
email: and

This poster evaluates a workbook approach to teaching a college level introductory statistics course. We developed a workbook by converting statistics lectures into activities that students completed during class sessions. The workbook activities (1) presented the same content (or more content) than was presented in the original statistics lectures and (2) included both computational and conceptual questions pertaining to that content. Students completed the workbook activities in groups of 2 to 4 students. Instead of lecturing during class sessions, instructors provided (1) feedback on the quality of students' workbook answers and (2) examples of how the statistical content being learned could be applied to situations of interest to individual students. The 59 students who completed the workbook curriculum showed significant increases in their confidence in performing and understanding statistics and how much they liked statistics: interestingly, these same students' ratings of statistics difficulty increased significantly. Additionally, the 59 students' post course ratings for their cognitive competence toward statistics, affect toward statistics, and statistics difficulty ratings were positively correlated with their GPA's and their performance on a comprehensive final exam. We discuss the various methodological problems faced by classroom researchers and suggest that, in some cases, assessing students' attitudes can be an effective solution to these methodological problems. We suggest that the workbook approach holds promise for teaching introductory statistics courses.