TeachingI teach undergraduate and graduate courses in abnormal and clinical psychology at several universities in San Diego. Occasionally, I teach experimental psychology and statistics courses, too.
Links to Various Institutions
Teaching PhilosophyMy philosophy of teaching is not so much a collection of "shoulds" that applies to all teachers and teaching as it is a set of guidelines that seem to work for me and that I strive for in my own teaching:
(1) I try to make clear to students my enthusiasm for most topics in psychology. For me, this means working to be a good scholar, writer, producer, comedian, showman, advisor, and teacher.
(2) I strive to make education as democratic and flexible as possible. I prefer a cooperative enterprise in which the student makes contributions, and the teacher listens and responds. A certain amount of flexibility and openness allows me to tailor advice, explanations and demonstrations to students' interests and levels of understanding, and allows them to control the direction their studies take. I work hard to find the line between too much structure and too much flexibility. For instance, it seems that frequent, sudden changes in a course syllabus make students restless, but it helps to have the syllabus be modifiable and negotiable to some degree.
(3) I strive to treat college students like adults. It seems clear to me that students need, deserve and usually expect to accept adult responsibilities.
(4) I strive to appreciate and accommodate individual differences. I recognize that each person has a unique style of learning and of making contributions. This entails being open to surprises--students often accomplish things that I never thought possible.
(5) I strive to give and to have peer support. It seems that the most effective cure for occasional discouragement is to have established relationships with one or more colleagues in which one can talk about teaching--providing mutual support and advice if things go badly, and exulting together over new insights and happy outcomes.
(6) I strive to learn from other teachers, through discussions, training, or reading books. For instance, I often refer to the APS's book, Lessons Learned: Practical Advice for the Teaching of Psychology (Perlman et al, eds.).