The Reading Week Reading List (Fall, 2015)

Welcome to the (new) Fall Term reading week! If you've got all your work done (ha!) and are looking for some good reads, I've got ya covered.

BTW, these are not the books I'm reading this week. These are leftovers from my summer reading list. Wait, that sounds bad--like I'm not reading all the time. I read constantly, either book-books or ebooks or audiobooks. Listening to an audiobook is a great way to make the commute go a lot faster. Time travel? Nope. Psychology!

So, in no particular order...

Thinking, Fast and Slow
This book has been on my to-read list since it came out in 2011. Daniel Kahneman is one of the few psychologists to have won the Nobel prize (in Economic Sciences). He gave a talk at UAlberta a few years ago. Totally worth cancelling my class for. In this book, Kahneman describes his research, which includes behavioural economics, judgment and decision-making, and subjective well-being. Along the way, he generously gives props to his colleague Amos Tversky, who died in 1996. Kahneman's work (and this book) is broadly applicable to everyone--it's not esoteric, inaccessible academic blatherings. Read this if you have a mind and want to know how it works.

The Marshmallow Test: Mastering Self-Control
Mischel is best known for his research study that has come to be known as "the marshmallow experiment." You know, put a kid in a room with a marshmallow--if they can resist eating it, they get two marshmallows. Waiting is taken as an index of self-control. Years later, Mischel started to wonder about these kids, and what their lives were like. The follow-up research showed that high self-control is predictive of a staggering array of life outcomes, including increased educational attainment, longer-term marriages, higher incomes, greater career satisfaction, better health, lower incidence of drug use, and more fulfilling lives. Mischel even consulted with Sesame Workshop on the application of his research in episodes of Sesame Street. Mischel describes some good self-control strategies in later chapters.
Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives
Gretchen Rubin is not a scientist...and it shows. I was eagerly waiting for this book, stoked by Rubin's frequent blog posts about the book's progress. Teaching behaviour modification (which includes habits), this book seemed to be right up my alley. Unfortunately, I ended up disappointed by this hot mess of anecdotes and personal stories, with supporting research only tossed in briefly if and when it supports the anecdotes. Looking for a better book on changing your bad habits? Try Charles Duhigg's The Power of Habit. Or Jeremy Dean's Making Habits, Breaking Habits. Or even Kelly McGonigal's The Willpower Instinct. Or Roy Baumeister & John Tierney's excellent Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength.
We Don't Need Roads: The Making of the Back to the Future Trilogy
In my first ever post on this blog, I admitted my fondness for behind-the-scenes director's commentaries. As if there's not enough goodies in the new Blu-ray BTTF set (for the record, that's a triple-dip more me: the third time I've bought Back to the Future discs), this book has loads of interviews with and stories from Bob Gale, Robert Zemeckis, Neil Canton, Dean Cundey, and actor people like Christopher Lloyd, Michael J. Fox, Lea Thompson... It's a love letter to the movies and fans; don't expect a lot of trash talk. Well, maybe a little about Crispin Glover.
Finally, we come to my guilty pleasure read of the summer. (No, the previous book was not a guilty pleasure. What's guilty about it?) Ernest Cline wrote one of my favourite fiction novels of the past few years, so I was hoping for, well, more of the same. I got it--sort of. Once again, it's a book bursting with 1980s pop-culture references to movies, music, and computer games. Just the thing for a middle-aged guy like me. But it's a bit harder to justify some of the more implausible twists when the characters are not in a "game-world," but are in the "real world." Not as much a page-turner as Ready Player One, but it was an okay summer read. Even I have to turn my brain function down to "low" sometimes.

What have you been reading lately?

Why aren't you studying?

The Cheeps

I've got a bunch of items, but none of them deserve an entire blog post because they're too short. If only there were some way of sharing these. Maybe I can create a new kind of social network for these--call it "Chrpr," and people can sent out "cheeps". I'll work on it. In the meantime...

  • A big WELCOME to the Department of Psychology's new Faculty Lecturer, Karon Dragon! She will be teaching courses like intro psych (PSYCO 105), personality, and clinical psychology. We've been trying to hire someone for this position for years, and we're very glad Karon is joining us. (Interesting personal connection: I went to high school and university with her husband, and we still keep in touch!)
  • I had to get a new ONECard, because I just noticed that mine expired. In 2012. (My account hadn't expired, just the card. I could still use it to check out library books, but I would have been in trouble if I had tried to use it to take the LRT.) If the card expired in 2012, that means I got it in 2007. That explains why, in the photo, I had a lot less gray hair.
  • Speaking of 2007, it's been a long, long time since a provincial budget came out that didn't make me worry about my job. Cuts to the Campus Alberta grant reversed? Check. Tuition freeze? Check. I'm just waiting to see what the "trickle-down" to Faculties and Departments will be.
  • Earlier this year, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that the Right to Strike is fundamental to the collective bargaining process and is constitutionally protected under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Why is this relevant? Under the Alberta government's Post-Secondary Learning Act (PSLA), staff associations (like the UofA's AASUA and NASA) do NOT have the right to strike. Our new government is going to have to make legislative changes by March 31, 2016. (Not that I ever want to go on strike. Or be locked out.)
  • Speaking of acrimony about contracts... There was a letter to the Gateway in September that claimed, "It’s...the first year in our history that the Fall academic term has begun without a contract between professors and administration." What the--? Shocking, right? (There was, as usual, a bunch of crap in the comments section like, "These professors who have no motivation to excel without raises and bonuses should look into changing professions." Sure. Try to hire top-notch people in a field and promise them no raises. Go ahead. Try.) Don't worry everypony, your instructors still have a contract in place with the University. According to the AASUA, the old contract doesn't "expire," it just continues to be applied--but there are no cost-of-living increases or changes to anything like benefits. A bigger problem is that many AASUA members were due raises in July, which are being withheld by the University until all the disputes surrounding negotiations are resolved. This may take a while, as there are grievances and lawsuits flying back and forth. President Turpin has yet to comment on this situation, which is disappointing.
  • The Department of Psychology, as you may know, is in both the Faculty of Arts and the Faculty of Science. This is awfully confusing for students, and it necessitates a lot of work on several fronts. For example, the Department Chair has to sit though two rounds of FEC (Faculty Evaluation Committee) meetings, which take up a huge amount of time. This is particularly relevant this year, as our current Chair, Prof. Jeff Bisanz, is ending his term and we will be searching for a new Chair. The position is much less appealing with such a high workload. That's why there's a discussion underway about "consolidation": moving the Department to a single Faculty (either Arts or Science). This is the third time that this issue has been examined in the past decade or so. Don't freak out: if it does happen, it would be years away, and you'll still be able to get a BA or BSc in Psychology. However, not all professors are keen to change Faculties.
  • Did you know there's a reading week this term, for the first time ever? Here's a tip: don't put off all your studying and paper-writing until then. You won't get it all done. Your SU proposed this week as a breather to help ease the stress and improve mental health. If you pull all-nighters and wear yourself down, you'll only make things worse.
Why aren't you studying?

The Edmonton Comic and Entertainment Expo (2015 edition)

This past weekend was an important event for my people: The Edmonton Comic & Entertainment Expo. As usual, I had my weekend "Celebrity Fast Pass" and was ready to get my geek on!

Stan Lee was there. I mean, Stan Lee. He's very funny. No, I'm not going to qualify that with "for his age." He's just a funny guy. To create so many alliterative character names (including Fin Fang Foom), he must have a pretty good sense of humour.
A very small Stan Lee.
Autographed, NIP.

But, it's just...the con (sorry, I can't help but call it that) was a bit disappointing this year. To ensure you get a Fast Pass, you have to buy it months before most of the guests are announced, so you have to hope there will be a lot who you want to see. And this year? Yeah, not so much.

I mean, look at the guests at the Salt Lake Comic Con, also held this past weekend: Chris Evans! Anthony Daniels! Walter Koenig! Marina Sirtis! Richard Hatch! James & Oliver Phelps! Felicia Day! Maurice LaMarche! Tress MacNeille! (Shame on you if you don't know the last two. Gasp! Call yerself a nerd?) And more!

It was nice that the Edmonton Expo took over the whole, er, Edmonton Expo Centre this year for the first time. That must've cost. And the weak Canadian dollar isn't helping. But when you see amazing things happening down the road at the Calgary Comic & Entertainment Expo (Aliens reunion! ST: TNG reunion!), you gotta wonder. After getting past the "big names" of Stan Lee, and Michael Dorn (trivia: has played his Star Trek character more times that anyone else in the Trek universe), I wasn't too excited. I don't have a lot of time to watch TV, so I didn't really know most of the media guests. Yeah, I went to interesting panels by Natalia Tena and Jenna Coleman--but I don't even watch Game of Thrones or Doctor Who. (Gasp! Call yerself a nerd?) No, I don't watch those shows. Hey, having two demanding kids, a demanding job, and a demanding wife takes a lot of my time. Like, a lot a lot.

Did you know it was also Alumni Weekend this past weekend? When the University of Alberta puts on an insane number of "homecoming" (the American term) activities? Like, say, special 25-year reunions of the graduating class of 1990? Which is when I got my B.Sc. But, more importantly, it was also when my wife graduated med school. Dilemma: Comic con weekend is the same weekend as my wife's reunion. Unless I want the locks on my house changed, it's no contest: I will leave the comic expo (um, right after Stan Lee's panel), swap my con lanyard for a reunion lanyard, and be arm candy for my demanding wife at her reunion dinner held at the Royal Mayfair Golf Club. I know: tough life. (BTW: No, I didn't go to my reunion events. I literally don't know anyone else who graduated in 1990.)
My wife with a couple of other doctors.
(My wife is the one in the middle.)

Did I mention a demanding job? So while waiting in line at the comic expo, during lulls in panels, and during the hors d'oeuvres at my wife's reunion, I madly checked and answered emails. See, there was an assignment due Monday, and a few students had questions. A few. Like, 52. Not that I was counting. My phone did that for me.

Did I mention two demanding kids? I nabbed a couple of sweet MLP scarves for my daughters (Derpy and Rainbow Dash). (No, I did not name my daughters after ponies. I bought my daughters scarves with the cutie marks of Derpy and Rainbow Dash on them. Clear?) There was much of the squealing and the hugging and celebrating of the Daddy when I got home. As for myself, well...there was this comic that caught my eye. (I know, right? An actual comic at a comic con!) Sandman #1, signed by Neil Gaiman himself. (Don't tell my wife. Srsly.) Sadly, Neil wasn't at the con. Now that would have been swoon-inducing. Maybe next year?
The Sandman #1. Signed by Neil Gaiman.
Quest complete.

Although there was "free" Celebrity Fast Pass swag to be had, I'm going to be keeping it this year. There was a nifty T-shirt (that actually fit me for once), a bag (as always, but nicer this year), and a pair of...socks. That, right. Socks. Is that some kind of message to nerd-dom? You. Need. Fresh. Socks. I'm keeping them. I may even wear them, you know, ironically.

Selfie time!

Did you go to the Comic Expo? Did you wear a costume? Did you email me questions about your self-management project from the Comic Expo? (I did bump into one student who recognized the bathroom. This is what it is like being a very, very, very, very minor celebrity.) Excelsior!

Why aren't you studying?

The Bookstore (Again)

When last I wrote about the Bookstore, I complained about some problems caused by their seeming lack of organization. As a result, coursepacks for one of my classes were misplaced. (They were found in a box outside the manager's door.) That was in February of 2012. How are things going now? I think this picture of an empty shelf where my PSYCO 282 textbook should be tells the story.

This term, I'm teaching three courses. In total, the required readings are: one textbook and three coursepacks. The Bookstore was short: one textbook and two coursepacks. Well, one out of four, hey? At least it's not zero, amirite?

I took this photo yesterday, in the third week of classes. Yesterday, when my PSYCO 282 class had their first assignment due. Empty shelf. At least there are now copies of the coursepack for my other two classes, but some students in one of my other classes did not have the readings last week, when there was a quiz based on the coursepack readings.

I know I'm certainly frustrated, and I'm sure my students aren't thrilled either.

When I order textbooks, there is a form that asks how many copies the Bookstore should stock. I leave that blank. I used to fill it out, until I realized I was wasting my time. It was taken as a suggestion. And, really, I don't know how many copies they should have. Some students don't buy the textbook. Some buy the ebook. Some buy the book used. If there's an oversupply, that costs money. I get all that. So it's up to the expertise of those in the Bookstore to do their calculations and make sure there are enough books. Let me just repeat the last bit for emphasis: make sure there are enough books.

After much complaining, here's the response I got today from the Bookstore:
"We take very seriously our role in serving the campus community, both students and faculty.  Never would we purposely do anything to interfere with your teaching schedule or your students ability to complete their scheduled assignments.  Unfortunately in this case we received a late request from the other section, and had to order more books in August to compensate for this.  In addition there was an enrolment spike so we had to re-order yet again.  For such circumstances we always request that the publisher rush the orders, and we pay for air shipping to cause the least amount of disruption.  For our latest order Nelson was not able to get the book as quickly as we would have liked and did not get them shipped out until last Friday.  We should see them in the next couple of days.

"I apologize for the frustration that this has caused you and your class and hope that our performance will have no such impact going forward."
So there's the explanation for what happened in my PSYCO 282 class. The textbook is in a new edition, so there are no used copies available. But what about my other classes? And the classes that my colleagues are teaching? I sent out an email request asking what problems others have encountered, and it looks like I'm definitely not alone.

In my post of February 2012, I was told:
"Under our new director, the Bookstore is working on several course material improvements including an enhanced web-based ordering service."
Did they "enhance" anything? Nope, not yet. Well, they did just put up a whizzy new website--with the message "Some areas of our new website are still under construction; our apologies for any inconvenience." Er, what? When do you put up a new (incomplete) website? During your busiest time of year? Have there been "improvements"? No--things are worse than ever. (The new website currently lacks any way for me to order textbooks. Apologies in advance what whatever happens to my textbooks next term.)

Have any horror stories about not being able to get textbooks or coursepacks from the Bookstore? Tell me your story below.

Why aren't you studying?

The Textbook Question

Are you in a course that has a newly updated textbook? I know there’s a question you want to ask. Go ahead, ask. Here’s the short answer to your question: Yes.

This is the question you’re asking:
“Do I need the new edition of the textbook? Because my friend/brother/grandmother has the old edition and they gave it to me for free/for a discount/for a bottle of moonshine.”
So the answer is: Yes. Yes, you need the new edition.

Put it this way: Do you want to get the best possible grade in the course? Or do you want to save money?

I know that’s a facile dichotomy. Textbooks are expensive. When a new edition comes out, there are no (much-cheaper) used copies available yet. Saving some money on a textbook is not trivial--and if you can get one free from a friend, that’s great. Some students literally do not have the money to buy new copies of the textbook for every course they’re taking. I am sensitive to the high cost of textbooks, and it’s an important factor when I’m choosing the textbook for a course.

On the other hand, textbooks (especially in science) are continually being updated with new research findings and theories. And there are exam questions drawn on newly updated material. If you don’t have the current edition of the textbook, you’ll just be guessing on those questions. They make up only a small portion of the exam (in my courses, anyway), but every mark counts.

All publishers have a “What’s New” section for every newly updated textbook they publish. This is for instructors mostly, but I encourage you to take a look at what has been changed before you make your purchase decision. Here’s what’s new in the updated textbook I’m using in my PSYCO 282: Behaviour Modification course starting in fall, 2015. It’s a fairly substantial list of changes, compared to other textbooks I use in other courses.

If you are short on funds, the good news is that the University of Alberta Libraries have started a new purchase program for reserve materials. If there are at least 100 students in a course, an instructor may ask the library to purchase the textbook for the course and make it available from their reserve room(s). (For my PSYCO 282 course, the UAlberta Libraries actually bought four copies of the new textbook, and placed them on reserve in Cameron Library.) If you can’t afford to buy a textbook, you can check the textbook out for 2 hours at a time. So you can potentially read the old edition, and check out the new one to read the updates.

Why aren’t you studying?

What I Did on my Summer Vacation (2015 edition)

Last year, the theme for my Summer Vacation post was: Soccer. This year, the theme will definitely not be: Soccer. Things started out soccer-ish. I had tickets to go to some FIFA Women’s World Cup games with my dad and eldest daughter. Unfortunately, we discovered just how difficult it is to get around Commonwealth Stadium when you’re on crutches.

See, in an early-season soccer game, my daughter was brutally tripped by an opposing player. It was either a malicious act, or one of sheer clumsiness; either way, the referee should have taken some action, but he didn’t. You know what they say about mama bears and their cubs? Well, don’t get between a papa bear and his cubs, either. Grr! (No, I didn’t commit any physical violence--but I did get this year’s soccer fees refunded. And EMSA sent her a box of chocolate-covered strawberries. ) My eldest daughter was on crutches for a month. Not only was she out for the season, she doesn’t want to play soccer again. Ever.

And then the Canadian and German women's soccer teams crashed and burned, so yeah. Not the summer of soccer.

What we needed was a nice vacation. Like, going to Jasper National Park maybe? That sounds relaxing. But no camping; I don’t do camping. The first day, things started off promising--we went to Pyramid Lake and rented a paddleboat, then the kids took a dip in the lake. That’s when things started to go downhill. My youngest daughter stepped on...something. Poison plant? Black fly? Radioactive spider? She got a severe allergic reaction on the bottom of her foot. This prevented her from walking. It’s pretty challenging to be on vacation in the mountains if you can’t walk.

On subsequent days, I had to stay with her in the vehicle as the rest of the family went to Mount Edith Cavell to see the Angel Glacier. I had to carry her to the Columbia Icefield (where we waited 4 hours to get on an Ice Explorer. You suck, Brewster Travel Canada. You suck.). And then I got a gash in my arm from an overenthusiastic spring-loaded outhouse door at Patricia Lake. Great. No more carrying anybody.

Blurry, dark blob.

Four days into our trip, at Lake Louise, the clouds opened up and it poured rain. We did manage to go up the Lake Louise Gondola without getting soaked, and we did see an actual grizzly bear (see blurry, dark blob in photo). But we decided that we had had enough vacation; we would cut our trip short and go directly home. And then, on a stretch of highway 11, 50 km west of Rocky Mountain house, where there is no cell phone reception, we hit a deer.
Front-end damage.

Fortunately, aside from the deer and my wife’s van (which I was driving) there were no injuries. A good Samaritan named Kelly Black took my family into town while I waited beside the crippled van, its radiator leaking fluid. Somehow, we got the van and ourselves to, um The Town That Shall Not Be Named In Front Of My Children, extending our vacation by another miserable day. Red De--, er...this city had just suffered a major hailstorm which damaged most of the vehicles at the rental car place, so our only options were: a Lilliputian Kia Rio, or a gargantuan Dodge Ram 1500. The Rio could have fit in the bed of the Ram. We opted for the truck, which made us feel nearly invincible. However, our luggage had to go in the bed of the truck, which got rained on as we drove home.
Guts. Glory. RAM.

The summer wasn’t all bad. My cousin Martin and his family from Germany visited us, which was nice. (They also gave us gummy bears and chocolate which was really nice.) My youngest daughter had a dance recital. My eldest daughter built and flew her first model rocket. And we went to the Leduc #1 Energy Discovery Centre. (Fun trivia: the Atlantic #3 well that burned spectacularly in 1948 was drilled on my wife’s grandfather’s property!)

Atlantic #3--on fire!

It wasn’t all fun and vacations: most of my time was spent working and on improving my courses. And I also spent weeks working on a major project, an Instructor’s Resource Manual for new (and “old”!) instructors in the Department of Psychology. I took this project on a year ago, and dedicated myself to finishing it on time and on budget. (Budget: $0. It was a “service,” or volunteer project.) Sorry I can’t show you the manual; it’s locked inside the department’s intranet. So instead, here are pictures of deep-fried Twinkies from K-Days, and a blueberry pie I baked!

How was your summer?

Why aren’t you studying?

The Awards: 13

You know, I completely neglected to mention that I was placed on the Department of Psychology's Teaching Honour Roll with Distinction for my Fall, 2014 courses. Thanks to everyone for your comments and feedback!

In other news, I also was placed on the Teaching Honour Roll with Distinction for my Spring, 2015 courses. Thanks!

Er, but, what about the Teaching Honour Roll for Winter, 2015? I dunno. It hasn't been released yet. Ooh, I'm on pins and needles! (Actually, I have full access to my eUSRI results online. And it looks like I'll qualify for, yep, Teaching Honour Roll with Distinction for those courses, too. Yay!)

Here are some select comments from students over the past year. Sorry it's a bit long--it covers the whole year. I was a bit surprised by the volume of comments, as when evaluations go online, the rule is that you get fewer responses. The tone of the feedback was constructive, respectful, and helpful. Thanks to all.

As always, proceed with caution. There be sarcasm ahoy!

PSYCO 104 (Winter):
“I had to rely on reading the textbook in order to pass the exams.”
“Textbook is interesting, it's the only one I've read in it's entirety in the last term.”
(Yep, the textbook is important.)

“Instructor's jokes were okay at best (sorry Karsten)”
(I’ve fired my comedy writer (sorry Mom).)

“I wish there would be some practice questions before the exams”
(That’s what McGraw-Hill’s LearnSmart is for. There are literally hundreds of practice questions for you.)

“I thoroughly enjoyed this course (enough to make me reconsider my minor)! Dr. Loepelmann is amaaaaaaazing”
(But not amaaaaaaazing enough to make you reconsider your major. Tsk!)

“He used portions of the course and made them applicable to our studying and our general life, which was very useful and actually helped me remember the concepts more clearly. His notes are very thorough and well laid out, and having the mad libs format meant that I could actually pay attention to what was being said instead of scrambling to write everything down. Overall a very nice guy who taught us with respect and made the course a very enjoyable way to start my day.”
(Wow, that’s really nice of you to--wait, what? Mad Libs format? For the record, I did not rip off my fill-in-the-blanks approach from Mad Libs. I ripped it off from a testing procedure developed by W.L. Taylor.)

“Hands down the best prof I have ever had. Really enjoyed learning from him I would recommend him to anyone and I want to take another class from him. What a great guy, I LOVE HIM”
(Thanks, but I’m already married.)

“In the course description I think it would be beneficial to first year students (or other years of students) to say that the course content has similar topics to Biology 30.”
(Thanks for your feedback.)

“the only thing I can say that I found negative about him is he tells us that reading all the textbook is important for exams but I end up learning a lot of unimportant information I wish he could single out key parts of text so I can spend my study time more efficiently and focus on the information I need to learn.”
(You mean, you just want to read for what’s on the test, right?)

“Stop giving out the whole class email list.”
(That’s not me, that’s Google Groups, and it's IST policy to give everyone access. I've asked them to change it, but they said no.)

“I did not really like the course website. The content was good, I just wish it was all on eClass like my other courses.”
(What? eClass preferred over my hand-coded HTML goodness? Do you prefer McDonald’s over home cooking, too?)

“The only issue that I had with him was that he did not take in-class questions. I understand that a lot of the times the instructor needs to be kept on track in order to get through the lecture for that day, however, it would have been nice to be able to ask the question as it was pertaining to what was being taught in class at the time. It would have cleared up confusion at that moment, and perhaps it would have let him know where he was unclear and maybe needed to slow down and go over.”
(I DO take questions. You just gotta really wave your hand around a lot, or I won’t see you in such a big class.)

(Math fail.)

“LOVE the prof and class, but disliked the fill in the blanks because if you miss one lecture and try to ask others for the notes they get too upset and protective over it.”
(What’s up with that? People, be nice to each other, the class is not curved, OK?)

“Throughout the course, there were no practice questions except clicker questions posted on eClass to help the students understand the concepts. There were no practice midterms posted online to help prepare for the exams. Since the whole grade component was just based off of tests, this would be helpful. There should be quizzes or practice questions posted throughout the term to help students make sure they understand the concepts throughout the course.
(Say it with me now: LearnSmart. Learn. Smart. Learnsmart.)

“I can't comment on the textbook readings because I haven't made it past chapter one. However, Dr.Loepelmann was an awesome instructor and had a weird amount of energy. I'm running on four cups of coffee and my left eye is still twitching but somehow he had the energy of a six year old, like, every day. He was always available for help outside of class and promptly responded to emails. A+”
(Thanks, that A+ will really help my GPA. Also, see a doctor about your twitching eye.)

“Dr. Loepelmann should be a more assertive professor, but other than that this course was great”
(I should? Ok, I’ll do what you tell me to do and be more assertive.)

“Coming to your class was kinda like watching a PG-13 movie. Just when i thought we were getting to the good stuff, you'd let me off with a tease.”
(Gosh darn it! What the heck are you talking about? Shut the front door!)

“The instructor wasted class time with too many jokes. I would have liked to get completely through the lectures before we start to mess around and have fun. Clicker question should have been more real like the actual exams rather than being so jokey.”
(Sorry. I try to integrate humour into the lectures periodically to change things up and aid in focusing attention and learning.)

“He was extremely enthusiastic and made for a great 10am class! Although it can be hard to get out of bed on a Monday morning, Karsten Lopelman was always happy and optimistic making Monday mornings a lot more bearable!”
(Thanks. But, er, you spelled my name wrong.)

“I wish if we could have more exam sample questions.”
(Learn. Smart. Learnsmart learnsmart LEARNSMART!)

“The fill-in-the-blank notes were terrible. Going back through my notes trying to study for the exam, I did not understand anything. The textbook clarified everything for me, but I still feel unsure about the material that was covered in class but not in the textbook. The notes are just so broken up and make no sense. The sentences are broken up into fragments which just make no sense. I would have even preferred to take down my own notes from slides instead of filling in the blanks.”
(I’m glad the textbook helped you understand things better. There’s nothing stopping you from ignoring my fill-in-the-blank notes and taking your own notes however you want.)

“I also felt as though the instructor did not want us to do good on the exams, since when our first midterm marks averaged out higher than normal, he made the second exam harder.”
(Er, no. You’re giving me way too much credit. I do not manipulate exam difficulty in any way. In fact, I cannot predict how a given class will do on a given exam. There are historical norms, but since this was the first time I used the Passer textbook, I did not know how well the class would do on the textbook-based questions.)

“I don't agree with having reading the whole textbook as a requirement; I have other classes that I also need to do readings for, I would suggest assigning sections rather than just saying to read the whole thing, this would make it more manageable.”
(Actually, you’re just assigned half of the textbook to read in PSYCO 104; there are another eight chapters that are left to PSYCO 105 to cover. Some intro psych courses in Canada actually do assign the entire textbook in a one-term course. So, you know, you’re welcome.)

“put missing words on eclass”
(Tried that. Didn’t work. Class misbehaved terribly.)

“Some profs give page numbers from the textbook that need to be focused on for the midterm so that students aren't focusing a lot on the material that isn't going to be on the exam.”
(“Some profs”? Really? I’d like to have the names of those profs before I try doing anything like that.)

“I have a hard time finding time to read the textbook and see them as a supplement for ideas that are unclear, not a necessity for exams. Karsten’s note materials are full of life and I think emphasis is taken away from the notes when it is necessary to study directly out of the textbook.”
(No, no, no. The textbook is NOT a supplement--it’s a required reading. It shouldn’t take away from the lecture notes, it’s there partly because I can’t (and don’t want to) cover every topic in the textbook in class. Embrace the textbook.)

“I appreciated the modern approach to the dynamic nature of literature, and was pleasantly surprised to be out of my comfort zone from more "traditional" texts. I also greatly appreciate that our primary texts were pulled from free online sources, rather than expensive hard copy books.”
(Um, I think you filled out the survey for a different course.)

“The only negative thing would be what I found to be an unnecessary inclusion of comment on Intelligent Design. It was actually stated that we would not be tested on it and it felt irrelevant to the course material. Only thing I would change!”
(Well, at least I told you that you wouldn’t be tested on it. I included that as part of a broader social context of understanding. My goal is not to stuff your head with facts, but to foster an understanding that goes beyond the course itself. Until ID is dead, buried, and gone, I’m going to talk about it. And help bury it.)

“Absolutely fantastic professor, he made me love psychology above all my other course. I'm even thinking about switching into specialization in psychology now.”
(Aw, shucks. Good luck!)

PSYCO 282 (Fall):
“I found that the professor moved a bit slow through the slides - hard for me to keep focused”
“The pace of the course was great, not too slow or too fast.”
“He spoke too fast”
(Right. Okay. Sure. Fine.)

“Karsten Loepelmann is one of the best professors I have ever had. He is constantly asking for our feed back and developing this course to make it better. I cannot believe he is not permanent staff.”
(I know, right?)

“Loepelmann is awesome!”
(That’s what I keep telling people.)

“Karsten Loepelmann is by far one of the best profs I've ever had. I had taken psych 104 with him, and I wanted to take another course of his so I decided on 282. When I was making my schedule, I had put it in the winter session, but soon saw that another prof would be teaching it. And so I destroyed my perfect schedule to put 282 in my fall term with Dr. Loepelmann, and it was sooooo worth it. Keep it up!”
(I hope you didn’t have to take some gawdawful 8:00 a.m. class! Thanks for spelling my name right,)

“Assignments were interesting but the instructions were vague. Clearer instructions would be beneficial.”
“I didn't think that the self management project was marked very fairly and that the objectives or marking rubric was always clear. it seemed like things were marked very harshly and it wasn't always super clear the expectations of the marker.”
“I felt that the instructions for the self management assignment were not as clear as they could. There were multiple places to lose marks, but it wasn't clear when completing the assignment what you were going to lose marks for.”
(I’ve been working on improving that for the past 7 months. I believe that things are a lot clearer now. Thanks for your feedback.)

“Clicker questions helped highlight the main concepts of each chapter and how well you understand them. The self-management project was really interesting because it let us apply what we were learning to our own lives in real-time. Dr. Loepelmann's enthusiasm is infectious and makes this already fun class more enjoyable.”
(You’re infected? Eww. You should see a doctor about that.)

“the choice of textbook was fantastic. I have taken many PSYC O classes with convoluted accompanying textbooks, but this one was very accessible and enjoyable to read. I also appreciated all of the links and resources he included on his website for assistance with the Self-Management Project or to further our knowledge on Behavioural Analysis and Modification. Thank-you, Dr. Loepelmann, your passion is very inspiring!”
(You’re welcome. Glad you’re inspired and not infected.)

“The majority of the classes involved searching for the word missing from the blank and filling it in without paying attention to anything else, and this still resulted in getting good grades. The fill-in-the-blank method is not efficient at providing information, because many students just look for the word without thinking of anything else, and just study the material at home. A different method should be used instead of this fill-in-the-blank method to make students pay attention, and I would even recommend not posting any notes at all because all the information is in the textbook anyways. Either post no notes and force students to copy them in class or pay attention, or use test questions that emphasis material that is taught in class but is not in the textbook.”
(I think the experience of (many) other students differs from yours. It’s lucky for you that you were able to get good grades without trying. I think that other students have to put in a lot of time and effort for the grades they get. I have taught without online notes; it did not force students to pay attention--in fact, they were so busy copying everything down, they didn’t really pay attention at all! I will continue to develop exam questions based on my lecture notes.)

“A appreciate that the instructor posted notes online, but the blanks on the notes really didn't help me learn. When I sit in class and fill in the blanks, I do not absorb the information nearly as well as I do when I can take my own notes. The instructor goes so quickly that taking your own notes is not an option. So I find myself sitting in class, filling in blanks and not focusing on the material being discussed. I would have benefited from a different teaching style, or a diverse teaching style (perhaps general slides where we can add additional comments).”
(A suggestion is to get together with someone else in the class, so that, between the two of you, you get all the fill-in words. Or one person can fill in the words and the other can take side notes; and, you can switch roles every class, or every topic.)

“Could you please do not let people to leave 15mins before the end of exam?? very distracting.”
“...writing the midterms was extremely distracting after half the class was up and kids were allowed to leave because the doors to the room are so noisy. After half the exam time was up, I could not focus whatsoever on the midterm which showed in my second midterm mark. It would be great if the doors could just remain open so that we don't have to hear them being closed every 5 seconds.”
(Sorry, I’m not allowed to prevent anyone from leaving during an exam. I have talked to the maintenance people about the slamming doors. Over and over and over. I hope things are fixed when classes start up again in September.)

“As much as I sometimes wanted to take a nap in that class (not because it was boring but because I was a tired student), I appreciated the formatting of the notes with spaces to be filled in as it forced me to stay awake. Overall interesting class that will help me better train my crazy dog.”
(Hmm, you know, you could apply behaviour modification to help get more sleep... Is "crazy dog" a euphemism for your roommate?)

“Out of the many courses I have taken, Loepelmann is the one prof I would recommend to everyone to take a class with. Time was superbly budgeted, the use of iclickers aided in consolidation of class material and the self-management project was a fun addition. The use of his own website was also great as it was well organized and had many links which aided in studying. Hope to be able to find if Loepelmann is teaching other senior courses so that I can enroll!”
(Although I am scheduled to teach next year, my contract has not--as yet--been renewed. Hopefully soon! When it’s renewed, I take my family out to dinner.)

“The only part of the course that was difficult for me was the assignment component that required computer knowledge. I lost 6% because I'm terrified of computers and couldn't for the life of me figure out how to make a graph. I understood everything that related to the course, but couldn't manage the technology. I understand this is pretty lame, and something I'll have to deal with in real life, but I'm not entirely certain I think it's fair for grades to be dependent on knowledge that has not been taught in class.”
(So, first of all, I could have helped you. (I did help one student who came to my office; showed her how to make a graph in 10 minutes.) You didn’t have to do it on a computer; you could have drawn it, and then submitted a scan of it!)

“The only thing that could make it even better is giving reminders to students when a part of the self-management project is due. I understand it's important for students to be have a certain degree of responsilibity, but with us having to pay attention to 4 other courses and labs, it would indeed be very helpful if there was a reminder”
(That’s why I go to the time and effort of setting up an online calendar for the course. Not only can you see the deadlines, but it emails you a reminder before each assignment is due. *sigh*)

“one of my part-time jobs require me to work with children with disabilities. I find great value in the concepts I learned in this class - very applicable to real life.”
(Wow, that’s great to hear!)

“The only aspect I would encourage to be changed would be the fill-in-the-blank style notes. It was very irritating for this class. A different way to encourage attendance, other than keeping the class interesting, would be to make the iClicker questions part of a participation mark, that's always fun.”
(Well, some students can barely afford the textbook, let alone another $40 for a clicker.)

“Spoon man!”
(Yes, my name, translated literally from German, does mean Spoon Man. One of my ancestors must have been a cook. I myself am (modestly) a pretty good cook, too!)

“Best Chem 101 class!”
(Ah, that explains your F.)

PSYCO 494 (Fall & Winter):
“Dr. Loepelmann is an exceptional prof. I have not encountered many profs who are as dedicated as he is to this class and his students. He makes the material very interesting and engaging. I had signed up for this class to fill a requirement but it turned out to be one of my favourite classes this semester. I always believe that the prof can either "make or break" a course. Dr. Loepelmann definitely "made" this course. Furthermore, I really, really appreciated how Dr. Loepelmann offered to give students feedback on their final papers before handing them in for grading. There are not many profs that offer to do this because it is very time consuming. This was wonderful, thank you!”
(Well, thank you! And, you’re welcome. I like to be well-mannered.)

 “I would like it if one change can be made: move the classroom...BS G114 isn't my favourite.”
(I don’t really get much say in that. There is one other classroom that’s a possibility: BS G110. Argh.)

“Karsten does a good job updating material, but some of the statistics are 10+ years old. All I can suggest is to continue being diligent and updating slides when possible.”
(Do you mean “studies”? Or readings in the coursepack? I try not to update things, just for the sake of updating. Some older studies are still relevant, and not overly complex. And I don’t update readings in the coursepack often so that you can try to buy used ones and save a few dollars. Some of the oldest readings--from 1994--are scheduled to be updated, but the publisher keeps moving the deadline back every year.)

“Way too much details and you are never tested on them. Waste of time. There should be 2 midterms because the lectures cover so much and bring down the percentage for the term paper.”
(The nature of this course is not so much about memorizing details--and essay exams are not structured for that. If you can remember the details and give them on the exams, your work will be rewarded.)

“I really enjoyed the material in this course and found the instructor a very engaging speaker whom you could tell was passionate about the subject. I've learned how concepts in this course can apply to so many different aspects of my daily life, such as explaining my errors in interacting with technology, and how organizations and groups of people deal with and evaluate problems. Overall very valuable class”
“As a student, this knowledge and enthusiasm has been passed onto me. I am interested in ways to apply human factors and design into a career, and will be pursing graduate school in a field that uses human design concepts.”
“I really enjoyed this course. I find myself now looking at the design of things and critiquing them about how they aren't human-centric, as well as appreciating good designs.”
(If you can apply anything you’ve learned in class to daily life, that’s incredible! I hope it’ll help you in your future career(s), too!)

“Professor Loepelmann created a custom course pack that brought down the cost for the mandatory text material to a mere ~$27 (with alternative resources for the rest of the readings). I greatly appreciate this and heartily wish that other instructors who use a bulk of journal articles as mandatory reading use this same method. It saves students a lot of aggravation due to printing for hours on end (although it makes for good entertainment fodder for my cat)”
(I hope your cat enjoyed the readings, too. Meow!)

“The pragmatism of some concepts were a touch weak, but overall the course was interesting. I'd be cautious of recommending the course to other students if they share a similar nihilistic view about psychology, but I truly do commend the instructor for being one of the main reasons for attending class.”
(I have to balance the theoretical and the applied--too much of one or the other and it’ll be boring, or entertaining but useless.)

“I found Dr. Loepelmann to be quite arrogant in this small classroom setting. Demanding a 12 page paper takes focus away from content and makes it all about the word count.”
(Arrogant? Sorry you felt that way. Yes, I “demanded” a 12-page paper, which is appropriate for a 400-level course. It used to be 15 pages, which is what I had to write back in the day, but it took too long for me to mark. It is the length it is not for the word count, but so that you can do your topic justice.)

“The prof was very enthusiastic throughout the term, and made sure that students were being fairly graded. I appreciated greatly that he took back the assignments not once but a second time to ensure that the students received the best grade they possibly could.”
(Unfortunately, getting a TA with HF/E experience is almost impossible. They do the best they can when marking the short paper.)

PSYCO 258 (Spring):
“The notes system was particularly distracting. The blanks for the notes were in irregular patterns and were often for unimportant pieces of information. I think the system is good because it forces you to pay attention in class, I don't like the words that were specifically chosen for the blanks. I would have preferred more technical and important terms to be underlined, otherwise I spent too much time in class focusing less on the material and more on what I need to write down. The space for writing was also heavily constricted, and could have used some additional room to write.”
(In my Blanks FAQ, there’s information on how to make the space bigger. That’s why I use HTML for my notes, and not PDFs.)

“In-class examples/experiments were very effective at helping explain the material. The instructor did a fantastic job at explaining concepts in a way that did not feel like he was simply reading off of his powerpoint slides. At no point did I feel like I could simply read the posted notes, skip class, and still get the gist of the course content. Excellent use of class time, and a very thorough and interesting course. I will definitely take another course with this instructor in the future.”
(Thanks for the kind words!)

“Steve Holt!”

“Some questions on the midterms were very confusing; there were 2,3 questions that were not mentioned in the book nor in the lectures”
(If you ask me, I can tell you where the exam questions are from. Some, however, are integrative, that require you to put together information from a number of sources.)

“With the course being a survey course, I can understand that there is a lot of material to cover but it would be nice if you prompted for questions at least once during lecture. It would give students' brains a break from constant absorbing of information and allow some time to consolidate information give opportunity for curiosity driven questions.”
(If you notice, I do that early in the term, and see how the class responds. If there are no takers to “Any questions?” I stop doing that. Generally, I’ve found that very few students want to ask questions during class. As soon as class is over, though, there’s a line of people wanting to ask me questions.)

“overall, this course is good. but when we have to print out the notes wast more money. if we take notes as PDF it is less useful than PPT. As well as there are many acronym in the notes, if makes the notes hard to review for students use English as second language.”
(Sorry, but I do not give out my PowerPoint slides. If there are acronyms and abbreviations that I use in class, please raise your hand and ask me. Please! I do not want to leave anyone behind, whether they are native English speakers or ESL.)

“Hopefully you get your promotion soon Dr Loepalmann!”
(Yeah, well, that didn’t work out. But thanks. Also, you spelled my name wrong.)

PSYCO 367 (Spring):
“K.Lo is one of my favourite faculty lecturers at the university. Even without all of his top notch jokes and references, he makes class very engaging. The material is interesting (I keep on telling everyone about cheap sunglasses) and I really enjoy having lots of research presented in class to help solidify concepts. He is always ready to answer any questions you may have, even if you stay after class to ask heaps of questions so frequently that the class in the room 20 minutes after knows exactly who you are (where does that patience come from?). I really appreciate how fast he gets our grades back to us and I'm glad to know that he didn't want the exams to be purely multiple choice either. Although I am often interested in what we are learning in class, I found it difficult to manage learning everything in the lecture notes and textbook over a six week period, given that there isn't as much overlap between the two as in most other classes. Nevertheless, I would highly recommend both this course and that salad person from Arby's to others.”
(There used to be greater convergence between my lectures and the textbook, but with each new edition, the textbook drifts further and further from what I consider to be core concepts. It may be time for a different textbook. ("K.Lo:?))

“The course material was a bit dry but I love that Dr.Loepelmann was enthusiastic to teach us and made jokes. I realize the class was probably a bit too unresponsive to the jokes but I found the funny.”
(The first rule of lectures is you do not laugh in lectures.)

“Don't ever change the way you instruct, the simple fill in the blank notes combined with the comfort as ease you seem to have while lecturing makes for a very engaging class and I retain information very well because of that.”
(I’m too old to change, so no chance of that happening.)

“Love all the jokes made in class. Instructor presents information clearly and effectively. Keep up all the awesome dad jokes!”
(But I didn’t tell any jokes about my dad. Oh, you mean jokes about me being a dad, and my two daughters? Just wait until they’re teenagers. Then I’m sure I’ll have a lot of “jokes.”)

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