Awards January 2013

At the January 2013 NITOP, four participant posters were presented with awards. All awards were decided by Institute faculty and announced at the closing session on January 6, 2013. 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 Jack W. Berry for his poster entitled “A Classroom Activity Illustrating Big Five Personality Judgments from Facebook Cues.” 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 Daniel R. VanHorn and Jon Mueller for their poster entitled "Fantasy Researcher League: Engaging Students in Psychological Research.” 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 George Freeman, Jr. for his poster entitled "Psychology Is for the Birds: Interdisciplinary Teaching of Psychology, Ecology, and Ornithology.” 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: "What Constructs Matter for Motivating College Students? A Mixed Method Investigation,” by Kenneth E. Barron, Chris Hulleman, and Rory Lazowski. The abstracts of these posters follow.


A Classroom Activity Illustrating Big Five Personality Judgments from Facebook Cues

Jack W. Berry
Samford University

[view poster]

I describe an activity for use when teaching the Big Five personality traits. After describing research on personality judgments based on cues from living spaces (bedroom, offices), my class (32 students) rated the personality of a subject (unknown by them) based solely on his Facebook page, using the Ten Item Personality Inventory. The subject provided me with his self-ratings, and five people who know the subject well (relatives and fiancée) provided “close other” ratings. In class, I projected my computer screen so students could view the subject’s Facebook page. One student navigated the page, following student requests. After 15 minutes, students made their ratings. Results were presented the next class meeting. I first presented data on rater consistency on the subject’s standing on the Big Five factors. For “close other” ratings, the intraclass correlation was .94; for student ratings, .96. Next I presented bar charts for each Big Five factor showing the subject’s self-ratings, the mean “close other” ratings, and the mean class ratings. On all factors, “close other” ratings were closer to the self-report than were class ratings. Class ratings were fairly accurate for extraversion, conscientiousness, and openness, but less so for neuroticism and agreeableness (consistent with published research).

Students rated the activity on a 7-point scale (“not at all” to “very much”) according to whether it was enjoyable, helpful in understanding personality research, and promising for future classes. Mean ratings for enjoyment, understanding, and future use for 5.7, 5.6, and 5.9; median ratings were 6 on all items.


Fantasy Researcher League: Engaging Students in Psychological Research

Daniel R. VanHorn and Jon Mueller
North Central College

We describe an innovative course that was developed to get students excited about finding, reading, and discussing current research in the field of psychology. More specifically, we took the hugely popular fantasy sports model and modified it to create a course that would engage students in psychological research. The course met approximately every three weeks throughout the academic year. Each student drafted a team of five active psychology researchers at the beginning of the course. These teams made up our Fantasy Researcher League. Students kept track of all their researchers’ scholarly activities and accomplishments (for example, books, articles, presentations, and number of times cited) during the academic year. Students documented their researchers’ activities by designing and maintaining a team webpage. A student earned points for their team by correctly documenting their team’s scholarly activities. During class meetings students discussed the recent research activity of their teams. Students were also asked to connect their researchers’ current work to their researchers’ past work. At the end of each class, team scores were updated and high scoring teams were recognized. Follow-up student surveys suggest that the course did help students engage in psychological research. For example, students reported that they could better search for research I psychology databases, were more familiar with current psychological research, felt more competent presenting and discussing research, could describe the research program of several prominent psychology researchers, had a better understanding of how research evolves over time, and had a better sense of which areas of psychology interest them.


Psychology Is for the Birds: Interdisciplinary Teaching of Psychology, Ecology, and Ornithology

George Freeman, Jr.
The Evergreen State College

Imagine teaching a yearlong class integrating psychology, ecology, and ornithology. The pedagogy of The Evergreen State College was founded on such an exchange of disciplines and ideas. Teaching in teams, the faculty are encouraged to construct creative two or three quarter long programs spanning the Environmental sciences, Natural sciences, Arts, Humanities, and the Social sciences. These team-taught programs at this Liberal Arts college allow faculty to stretch beyond the box of our discipline while finding new and enthralling ways of teaching the foundation of our discipline.

This poster presents an interdisciplinary yearlong program integrating psychology, ecology, and ornithology. This team-taught program targeted first-year, freshman-level students and included human development, ecological and environmental psychology, an introduction to personality theory, ecology, environmental studies, and ornithology. Field trips included an examination of the built and natural environment and how human and non-human animals share these environments. The poster will present the catalog copy, a range of activities, a sample of the syllabi used each quarter, the content areas and the readings for this yearlong program, and an example of our schedule. It will include narrative statements by the students regarding their experience and significant learning. Ever thought about spreading your wings and souring like an eagle? This program is for you!


What Constructs Matter for Motivating College Students? A Mixed Method Investigation

Kenneth E. Barron1, Chris Hulleman2, and Rory Lazowski1
1James Madison University, 2University of Virginia

As psychologists, we would hope that knowledge of motivation theory could be used to help improve classroom learning and instruction. However, over the last few decades, motivation constructs and terminology have proliferated, leaving many confused about what constructs matter in student motivation (Murphy & Alexander, 2000). Even an author of a popular educational psychology textbook once remarked: “I hate writing the motivation chapter of my textbook. Motivation researchers have 48±8 theories of motivation, and I don’t know what should and shouldn’t be stressed to aspiring teachers.” Thus to evaluate different theoretical perspectives and identify core constructs that make a difference in college student motivation, we conducted a mixed method investigation of 13 motivational constructs from contemporary research. First, we engaged in a quantitative study by surveying 531 college students to determine which constructs were present in their most and least motivating college classes, and which constructs explained the most variance in predicting key educational outcomes. Second, we engaged in a qualitative study by interviewing 123 college students about the characteristics of their most and least motivating college classes and coding their responses for their connection to a particular motivation theory and construct. Although support was found for constructs from Expectancy-Value, Flow, and Self-Deteminaton Theories, Expectancy-Value constructs had the most consistent support (and largest effect sizes) across both methodological approaches in promoting college student motivation. One obvious implication for educators is that rather than learning “48±8 theories” of motivation, educators could be trained on one parsimonious model of motivation to apply in their classrooms.