The Edmonton Comic and Entertainment Expo (2017 edition)

A few weeks ago, I went to the Edmonton Comic & Entertainment Expo. I notice that I didn't write about it last year (even though I went). And my post from two years ago was less than glowing. Could it be that my enthusiasm for pop culture and various forms of geekery is waning? Er, no. Rogue One and Twin Peaks: The Return were fantastic. (I even bought the extra-super-special Rogue One Blu-ray set--only offered by Target in the US--off eBay. And, of course, this past summer was the summer of Twin Peaks.) Nothing against this year's "media guests." I don't really watch Daredevil, but I'm a fan of Charlie Cox because Stardust. It was inspiring to hear Alberta's own Eugene Brave Rock. And Shatner, of course.

But the guest list does not have the depth of other cons, like the Salt Lake Comic Con (sadly, held the same weekend as Edmonton Expo). Don't follow the link to see who was in Salt Lake, I implore you--you will weep. Maybe I'll skip the next Expo, and saving my money to go to Salt Lake, or Toronto, or (cough) Calgary. Eep!

In the meantime, I once again have some swag to give away. But not just give away. This time, I will give my loot to the person who pledges to give the greatest number of items to the Campus Food Bank. That's right, to get something, you have to give something. Submissions will be accepted (in the form of comments below), up until 12:00 MDT on Monday, October 16, 2017. At that time, the selection will be made. To receive your swag, you have to bring the items you pledged to donate to my office, so that I may confirm your generous donation, and bestow upon you the merchandise:
  • Edmonton Expo messenger bag ($25 value)
  • Edmonton Expo T-shirt (size M, never worn! $25 value)
  • Edmonton Expo Bluetooth earphones ($40 value. A warning: I was not able to get these to work with my Windows 10 computer.)
  • Edmonton Expo lanyard/badge ($5 value)
  • Edmonton Expo souvenir program
  • and more!
That's a total (claimed) value of over $100. Even if you do not win, I would kindly ask you to donate to the Campus Food Bank. This contest is now open!

Why aren't you studying?

Edit: Added closing date. Oops!

What I Did on my Summer Vacation (2017 Edition)

Every year when I write these summer vacation posts, I try to come up with a theme. Last year was easy; I even had two themes. It’s usually a struggle, though. Part of it is that my summers are pretty routine. I teach a Spring term course. Then I spend the summer working on my courses and take a few vacation days with my family. Am I getting boring and predictable? Probably. Anyway, on to my summer vacation!

After teaching PSYCO 367: Perception in Spring term (which was a lot of fun, as I hadn’t taught it in two years), we planned a moderately sized vacation this year: Penticton, BC. Not a huge, elaborate thing (just eight days) but nonetheless a big trip for us, with two kids. Penticton is over 1,000 km away. Our neighbours own a condo in Penticton and go every year; they drive there in one day. Yikes. Knowing my family, that would be a recipe for disaster. Instead, we took a much more leisurely approach, stopping overnight in Banff, Vernon, and Kelowna.

Did you know that, in celebration of Canada’s 150th birthday, you could get a Parks Canada pass for free? That’s what we did--along with several million other people, apparently. I’ve never seen it so busy in Banff. Traffic was very heavy on all the highways through Banff National Park. Naturally, we had to go through six construction zones. Yes, there are only two seasons in Canada: winter and construction.

Stopping in Vernon was a good idea, because we had time to visit the Planet Bee Honey Farm. It’s worth a stop. If you’re a science nerd (we all are), pay a bit extra for the PowerPoint presentation (squee!) about bees. Informative! Plus, you get some free honey. Not only do they sell dozens of kinds of honey in the gift shop, they also make their own mead (honey wine) and give out free samples. Don’t mind if I do! (We bought two bottles.)

Now for an interlude. When we started out on our trip, I had no idea that it would end up being the worst trip I’ve ever taken. A few days before we were due to leave, I started feeling…not so good. Not wanting this illness to affect our long-awaited vacation, I went to see my doctor. He prescribed me a round of (very) strong antibiotics, and warned me that I would experience “some stomach upset.” Well, that was right on the money. Initially, I had no problems, giving me the impression that I have superhuman powers to deal with strong medicines. However, over time my stomach felt worse and worse. Five days into our vacation, I could only tolerate one tiny meal per day, and couldn’t be away from a bathroom for more than an hour or so. (I have to point out that through all of this, my original illness did not improve. At all. It took another round of antibiotics after coming home to finally fix that situation. Thankfully, this antibiotic did not upset my stomach at all. What was my original ailment? I’m not going to tell you. I hardly know you. Maybe after we’ve gone on a few more dates. Suffice it to say, it had something to do with not being able to sit without a great deal of pain. And this started right before the longest car trip I’ve made in over 20 years.) But hey, I didn’t want to disappoint my family, so what to do but grit my teeth and man up.

In Kelowna, we met up with my wife’s old friend/colleague, and visited one of the area’s many (many!) wineries: CedarCreek Estate Winery. We got a (brief) tour of the vineyard and aging barrels--cut short because of the all the loud, dusty onsite construction. We were in the warehouse for literally seconds. Included in the tour at the end is, of course, a wine tasting. My wife sure enjoyed it--she got to drink my samples, as all I could tolerate was the same sparkling apple juice that my kids got (in fancy wine glasses, though; they felt really fancy!). Sigh.

Sadly, Lake Okanagan experienced flooding earlier this year, which was evident in the erosion of the beach at Okanagan Lake Beach in Penticton. (There were sandbags still scattered around many lakefront properties.) And, as you know, this year has been the worst ever for wildfires in BC. The smoke was thick almost every day, and got worse the farther south we traveled. Check out our lovely (?) day at Skaha Lake Beach: the picture looks like it was taken at sundown, but that was the middle of the afternoon. You could hardly see across the lake to the mountains on the other side. At times, the smoke was choking; my heart goes out to all those people affected by the wildfires this year.

My wife had fond memories of going to the beach in Penticton as a kid, but between the erosion and the smoke, it was a big letdown. At least we could still go cherry picking, as she had also done with her family. Why pick cherries yourself? It’s cheaper, my wife explained, and they taste better. The price at the U-pick in Penticton: $2.99. The price for Okanagan cherries at Walmart after we returned home to Edmonton: $1.97. Sigh. Did I mention that, the day after we returned home, the winds blew BC smoke into Edmonton? Yeah, that happened.

I’ve spent a lot of time describing one brief trip (Worst. Trip. Ever.), and still haven’t come up with a theme for this post. Was there one thread that ran through my whole summer? Come to think of it, there was. All summer, I waited in eager anticipation for Sunday night, when a new episode of Twin Peaks: The Return would air. I don’t watch much TV, but this was a show I couldn’t miss. Back in the day, I was a huge fan of the original Twin Peaks. (How huge? I joined the official fan club, and rewatched seasons 1 and 2 with friends complete with coffee and cherry pie). I watched The Return as suggested by co-creator and director David Lynch: in the dark, with headphones. Then I’d spend the rest of the week listening to hours of podcasts that would recap, theorize, and try to explain what happened--and I’d wait impatiently for Sunday.

Now the show’s over, and summer is over, too--and I’ve got mixed emotions about both. I won’t give out any spoilers, but I will strongly recommend Twin Peaks: The Return; it’s a rare piece of entertainment that can also be considered art. It made me feel all of the feels: happy, angry, sad, disgusted, surprised, and frightened. I guess summer did, too.

Why aren’t you studying?

The Contract

I spend every summer on pins and needles, waiting for the Faculty of Science to renew my contract. I’ve been on a two-year rolling contract ever since I became a Faculty Lecturer in 2000. Two-year rolling works like this: the contract is for two years (originally from 2000 to 2002), but after the first year, it rolls over for another year (that is, in 2001 it was extended to 2003). This rollover happens in the summer after I submit my Annual Report, which is a summary of everything I’ve done over the past academic year. This report is reviewed by the Chair of the Department, who sends it to the Vice Dean of Science, who decides whether or not to renew my contract.

So typically by the end of the summer, I get a letter from the Faculty of Science, letting me know that, yes, I will actually be teaching this year, and the year after. When the letter comes in, I take my family out for a nice dinner to celebrate. (There is also a clause in the Contract Academic Staff: Teaching (CAS:T) contract that allows the university to terminate my contract with two weeks’ notice. But I try not to think about that.) This year, though, things were different. A lot different.

Starting July 1, 2017, there is no more “Contract Academic Staff: Teaching.” This contract has been replaced by a completely new one; even the name is different: Academic Teaching Staff. (I kinda liked the old name. We referred to ourselves as “CAS:T members,” which made it sound like we were either part of a theatrical troupe or worked for Disney.) Among the many changes in the contract is the creation of a new kind of appointment: Career. There’s no increase in pay or benefits (the ATS contract is not about that), but instead of having a rolling contract that’s extended every year (as in Science) or that is renewed every five years (as in Arts), the contract assumes that you will be rehired the next year.

The Career appointment in the ATS contract meets Objective 2 in UAlberta’s Institutional Strategic Plan For the Public Good (“Stabilize long-term investments in contract academic staff by offering career paths that include the possibility of continuing appointments based on demonstrated excellence in teaching.”). However, although President Turpin has talked about having tenured teaching positions, the Career appointment is not a tenured teaching position--it’s a continuing position.

What’s the difference? Wikipedia says that a tenured appointment is defined as, “an indefinite appointment that can be terminated only for cause or under extraordinary circumstances such as financial exigency or program discontinuation.” It’s a common misconception that tenure means, “a job for life.” You can have tenure and still be fired. Becoming a Professor and achieving tenure means that you have consistently made substantial contributions to teaching, research (or other creative works), and service (the academic term for volunteer work). In my case, my job will continue from year to year--as long as I do a good enough job. That’s a pretty low bar; all through my career I’ve tried to do way more than “a good enough job.”

The second issue is that, although this new appointment category has been created, no Faculty is obligated to actually put anyone in these categories. They could continue to appoint “sessional” teaching staff as Term, which could mean that they are hired in September and let go at the end of April--a reality for many contract academics on campus. So far, it appears that the Faculties of Arts and Science are moving Faculty Lecturers to the Career appointment. Many other ATS members will see no improvement to their working lives, unfortunately.

Although I am happy with this new appointment, UAlberta still has a ways to go to catch up with other institutions in Canada that actually have a tenured teaching track, like UBC and UToronto. I don’t need to have the title “Professor.” I don’t need a yuge increase in salary (I will never be on the “Sunshine List”, but I do okay). It would be nice, though, to have the kind of job stability my tenured colleagues have.

Anyway, upon getting the news from the Vice Dean of Science that I will no longer have to wait for my contract letter to come every summer, I took my family out for a really nice dinner to celebrate. I guess now I won’t have to take them out every year!

(I would like to acknowledge and thank the incredibly persistent and dedicated members of the CAS:T (now ATS) committee that put literally years of effort into this landmark accomplishment. There was talk about renegotiating our contract way back when I was a member of the CAS:T committee--before my youngest daughter was born. That’s a long time ago. Thanks for all your hard work and time!)

Why aren’t you studying?

The Awards: 17

I am once again honoured to have been awarded Teaching Honour Roll with Distinction for all three of my Winter, 2017 term courses, alongside 16 of my colleagues. Thank you to the students in my classes who took the time to offer their feedback--good, bad, or ugly. Aside from clicking in answer to the questions, what does the feedback I get look like? Below are some actual statements, concerns, and critiques from actual students. Warning! If you are allergic to sarcastic responses from instructors, turn back now, or you’ll puff up like a balloon and have to take large doses of antihistamines.

PSYCO 104: Basic Psychological Proceses

Note: As a pilot project in this course, I assigned an Open Educational Resource (i.e., free) textbook. I asked explicitly for detailed feedback on this OER.

the online text book is not fair. it's so contradicting to lecture notes which is very annoying
(Hmm, do I go with “life is not fair”? I tried to point out the contradictions as much as I could, and I asked you to let me know if you found more, so that I could explain them to you. If you are annoyed by the fact that psychologists don’t agree on everything, well, are YOU going to be disappointed with every PSYCO course you take in the future.)

The textbook was very useful and provided alternate research to what was taught in class which helped solidify concepts.
The textbook explains concepts in a way that is extremely similar to the class notes... this isn't a bad thing, but I think that it would be helpful if we had a textbook that explained concepts from a different approach/perspective than the class notes.
The textbook was good and correlated with the lectures well.
The textbook was really good. The free version available online was not an inconvenience at all, no discrepancies between the course material learned during the lectures and the readings in the book.
(Okay, now you’re just messing with me, right? Do you see what I have to deal with? The textbook is simultaneously very dissimilar/dissimilar enough/not dissimilar enough. Were you all reading the same textbook?)

Vis a vis the textbook, although I prefer printed text to online resources, I think it was very appropriate and a huge relief to my budget. It was helpful for studying for exams, even though it was not the best written textbook.
(I agree with you about the quality of the textbook; I will not be using it again unless it improves substantially.)

The textbook was great! Free things are always good things
(I dunno. I can think of some free things I wouldn’t like. Chlamydia. Hailstones. All-you-can-eat free lobster. I don’t like lobster.)

Very enthusiastic which I appreciated. Almost a little too animated for a university course at times.
(Too animated? I’ll have you know I was designed and animated by the creative geniuses at Pixar!)

This instructor was absolutely fantastic. I meant every bubble I filled in, he has done a tremendous job.
This instructor is great, no lie. Made me be excited about coming to his classes to listen to him. He clearly is enthusiastic and wants us to succeed.
(Thanks, and thanks.)

The prof was at times annoying
(What did I do that was annoying? Was it making this sound?)

The free online textbook was a huge bonus. Made taking notes, which were also online, easy. Really accessible. The Professor made the class interesting and fun. His jokes made the class enjoyable and he related it to the course material.
The course was a bit boring. I enjoyed learning about all the previous research that was conducted to learn more about psychology. Loepelmann is sweet
(Again, I’m a bit confused: the course is boring, but I’m sweet?)

Text book was mediocre, the fact that the professor doesn't provide any practice midterms or finals or makes his notes available makes one question if he is the right individual to teach a first year course.
(Hee! Let me try now: The fact that you need practice midterms or finals makes one question if you are the right individual to be taking a university course. (Side note: no practice exams are available for any introductory psychology courses.) And what do you mean, I don’t make my notes available? They were on my website, like they always are.)

If anyone is overqualified for teaching an intro undergrad psych course, it's Dr. Loepelmann. One of the most organised, prepared, and enthusiastic profs I've ever had.
I wont need to take any more courses with this professor but i will be going out of my way to take more classes with him. He's the best Prof ive ever had the pleasure of having
 (Thanks, and thanks!)

Testing half out of the textbook is unfair as there was a lot of information in the text that was not covered in class and it made it confusing as to what was going to be on the test. The readings in the textbook should accompany and further what was learned in class rather than force the student to learn completely new material on their own. I know for other classes there was a lot more practice questions available and could be accessed through a code from the textbook. This would be a great aid in learning the material, while there were clicker questions for the class just having like 30 questions for the entire material was not enough.
I enjoyed the way he structured the course. It was fair to split the tests 50/50 amongst lecture and textbook. Looking at the textbook and being able to draw connections from what we learned connection better my understanding.
(You two should get together--you have a lot to discuss vis a vis “fairness.” I will be using a commercial textbook again that has several hundred practice questions available. No one better complain about that.)

Taking this course with Dr. Loepelmann was delightful. He is one of the best professors that I have been taught by in my university career so far. He showed up to class everyday on time and well prepared, he went out of his way to joke with us and show us funny videos to help lighten the mood of the dry course content and keep us engaged and he is overall a very well put together professor that knows what he is doing. This is very hard to find so it I can appreciate it. I would also like to say that so far I am not doing as well in this course as I would like but he is still very much deserving of this review. Great professor, I hope to see him here for a long time.
(Thanks for the kind words. I hope I was able to help you succeed in the course.)

Psychology was interesting but Loepelman seems to be regarded as a great professor but honestly I didn't see the draw, I had friends telling me that he had content in his class that wasn't covered in other classes until the 200 level. He didn't have a lot of things to engage the students, videos or examples, instead he had fill in the blank notes, which isn't a very engaging method. It seemed he liked to hear himself talk during the lectures.

The testing material was unnecessarily hard for the midterms, it covered all content from the notes as well as the entire textbook and included questions I believe were unfair. All in all he made the course load more than I thought was appropriate and wasn't helpful in discerning important information from irrelevant information. When I emailed him about what info from the textbook that would be a complimentary to the note he pretty much responded to know it all, the entire textbook. I believe that is unfair.

I enjoyed the content and hope to take more psych courses in the future however I will avoid Loepelman if given the chances, I sleep enough away from school don't need more in his class as well.
(Ouch--and you spelled my name wrong twice. So, asking students to know material from the textbook is “unfair”? Honestly, what do they do in other courses? Tell you to skip every other chapter?)

Very informative, and a good overview of the subject. I'm actually going to pursue a degree in Psych now as a result of it! (I was originally only taking it for personal interest with no plans to study psych further).
Karsten, you are a beauty. I ended up switching from specialized science into general science with a Psych minor partly because of this class.
(This is what happened to me: Took an intro psych course as an option, and fell in love with it.)

I like to use hard copies of textbooks and would have preferred if the instructor used a textbook that could be found used rather than the new one we had to buy which was quite expensive for what it included.
I found the textbook was great. I bought the physical copy and I found it was a very reasonable price when compared to other textbooks.
(The hardcover was $55.45 at the Bookstore. Or you could have printed it out from the free PDFs. Either way, it was not “quite expensive,” it was “very reasonable.”)

In some instances, the notes simply posed a question related to the concept. For example the notes would say something like: Cognitive neuroscience: What is the brain's role in cognition? Or something like that. Not only does it fail to explain what cognitive neuroscience is, but it can also confuse students between cognitive neuroscience and similar concepts such as biopsychology. Some concepts in this course are similar, so the notes should specifically outline the differences and define each concept clearly. The notes were also boring to look at (they were just black and white with the occasional picture), I don't know what can be done about that. One thing that really annoyed myself and other students was the fact that the exams were 50% from the textbook and 50% from the lecture notes. This form of testing sounds good in theory, but it really just ends up wasting the time of the students. For example, I spent 3 days for each midterm just looking through the textbook and taking notes. There was tons of overlap and it felt like the only reason the textbook was a component of the course was to make it more difficult to study. The few concepts in the textbook that were not from the notes could have easily been added with an additional page of lecture notes. But instead, why not force students to read through a textbook to make the course seem harder.
(1. I will strive to do a better job explaining concepts. Although definitions for things like cognitive neuroscience are not in the lecture notes, I do say a little bit about them in the lecture. Remember: the online notes are not a substitute for the actual lecture, they are a supplement to it.
2. I do not add needless decoration to my notes. Do you want clip art in the online notes? I view that as an unnecessary distraction, and likely a waste of ink.
3. Do you want to know why the exam questions are split 50/50 between textbook and lecture? Because students demanded it. Go back and read some of the student feedback I’ve posted on this blog and you’ll see. Asking you to read a textbook is wasting your time? I think you’re a bit too old to be spoon-fed.)

- Super strange comment, but it always threw me off when the professor didn't acknowledge that it was a new class (i.e take a moment to say where we left off)
(If I’m returning to a something where I left off in the middle last class, I do try to say, “Last time...” as a bit of a bridge. Sorry if not doing that confused you.)

(To be fair, I’ve heard that Einstein was pretty good, too.)

PSYCO 282: Behaviour Modification

Well-structured lectures, with a variety of videos and clicker questions to break up the powerpoints. Overall, it was a real pleasure to attend this class.
The course itself is quite barren and simple, it could use some changes.
(Our next Jeopardy category, “You Can’t Please Everyone.”)

This course proved to be very practical in real life and I'll continue to use the principals I learned in the future. Additionally, you have earned my seal of approval (which is no easy achievement).
(I know, right?)

The self management project was fun, the iclicker questions helped involve us in the class material plus review it in a reinforcing way.  Finally the teacher was enthusiastic, inviting, lnowledgeable and very approachable.
(I see what you did there.)

The instructor was really good with explaining the course material. Since the material was pretty dry the instructor made it very informational by providing extra videos in class and also by making the class entertaining by telling jokes.

The instructor was honestly one of the most boring people ever. There was no need to ever attend class and he never said anything important that was not in the notes, however you needed to to fill in the blanks.

The note-taking arrangement in this class as well as the instructor's well-organized and understandable powerpoints made this course one of the most enjoyable and understood courses in my 4 years at the U of A. Questions on exams were fair and pulled from the pertinent information in the course; these questions tested whether you understood the material rather than if you memorized the textbook. It was a no-nonsense kind of course that I have recommended and will continue to recommend to my peers.
(If you recommend this course, be sure to tell them how boring I am--one of the most boring people ever! Sad!)

Loepelmann is one of the reasons why my major is Psychology. It's unreal the UofA has a prof like him, he is without a doubt one of the best teachers I have had, let alone professors. He makes my scary student loan worth it, well at least almost worth it. Oh and his fill in the blanks notes are the best, it may not work for everyone, but **** for me they seem to really click.
* Inappropriate words were found and removed from this response.
(Well, that’s ******* great!)

Loepelmann you da bes
(Points deducted for spelling errors.)

Instructor specifically seemed inaccessible. To add however I did not attempt to contact because they seemed inaccessible.
(Er, what? I answer over 95% of email within 24 hours. I have a regularly scheduled office hour every week (which is NOT well attended). I will make an appointment with you if you cannot make it to my office hour. But I “seemed” inaccessible. WTF?)

I'm not the greatest student in the world, but this class captivated me and I'm so glad I took it! He is the most amazing professor and taught me so much that I absorbed. I struggle in school and his style of teaching was so helpful for me. I wish there were more classes that were tailored like this after 282 in the curriculum with him teaching. I will take any class he teaches. Also, love the way he does lecture material. It actually makes you focus more on what he is saying rather than getting every word down. Thank you so much for an amazing semester!
(Thanks for taking the course! Otherwise, I’d be a lonely man in an empty room.)

I would want to take all the rest of my Psych courses with Dr. Loepelmann if I could. All of the examples from research, products, and videos he presented in class helped me understand the concepts 10 000 times better. Amazing prof.
(I would want to teach all the other Psych courses. No, scratch that. There’s only one of me...)

I would have liked a more definitive rubric for the Self-Management assignment, as the marking scale was a bit unclear. IE, what constitute -1 mar, -2 marks, etc.
(I am spending my summer rewriting the rubric. However, keep in mind that it’s not a checklist.)

I was torn between loving and hating that we end early on so many days. Love it because, well, who doesn't want to go early sometimes?! Hate it because when it happens so often I start to think we lose a lot of classtime over the course of a semester. I was embarrassed to ask Dr. Loepelmann after class for the missing word(s) because I don't want him to think I'm not paying attention.
(Not every course fits exactly into the standard template of a 3* 1-term course. In fact, one of the reasons I stop a bit early is because some students miss fill-in words here or there. I am happy to provide them at the end of class. Often, it’s the same students at the end asking for missed fill-in words. It does not upset me if you ask for them. I’d rather you get them from me that not have them. No judgment!)

The way he teaches feels more like watching an engaging theatre show than sitting in a classroom being lectured at. He can hold your attention, and everything he says seems very calculated, carefully worded and rehearsed (maybe because he's done it so much?).

At first I though, oh god, he PLANNED that joke, how lame... but soon it didn't matter and I started enjoying it even more because it was planned.

Also, I dig the batman tie :)

For the TAs: It would be EXTREMELY helpful if you had a copy of the answer key at exam viewings so that the correct answer could be determined
(My apologies about the lack of answer keys. Here’s what happened. The TA who was scheduled to run the exam viewing was away at a conference and due to inclement weather was stranded out of town. She contacted me and, instead of cancelling the exam viewing at the last minute, we arranged for another TA to cover. Unfortunately, she neglected to ask for the answer keys. I assumed they were with the exam booklets, but they were not. My apologies for the inconvenience. We’ll try to do better.)

Whilst the 'fill in the blank' notes system is not popular among students, I found that it worked well to keep attendance high. This did turn into a problem later on in the course though, where a lot of the students around me would be off topic and not paying attention, only waiting for the blanks to appear on screen. These individuals can be very distracting to the learning process.
(I’d like to get feedback on how you think I could deal with the problem. Anyone?)

I liked the project, and how it made us tie concepts to a real life behavioural change.

I found the class very interesting and I even tried some of the behavior modification techniques on my Grandma's cat!
(Ethically, make sure you get the cat’s consent first.)

Having the notes on a separate website from eclass was frustrating because I could not download the PDF's onto my iPad from there.
(The note’s aren’t in PDF format, they’re in HTML. Putting them on eClass would make no difference. If you go to my blanks FAQ <>, there are instructions on how to load my notes into a text editor. iPads are, unfortunately, more difficult to work with.)

Great prof and definitely deserves all his teaching awards. He is always very prepared and loves what he teaches. I am not personally interested in this material but I am happy this prof makes it more manageable.

Great prof, great hair, great ties, great attitude, great smile.
(Wait, what? You like my hair? Seriously?)

Fantastic instructor and an engaging course overall that is applicable to life. However, sometimes that instructor did not speak loud enough and seems mumbled.
(Telling me that you can’t hear me after the class is over makes it really hard to help you. Please tell me while the course is actually underway!)

Extremely awesome professor with highly interesting course content. First day of classes when he opened with a Star Wars introduction, I knew he was already awesome. The iclickers and textbook were useful for the course. The additional videos showed in class were helpful in consolidating material. I really enjoyed this class and would recommend this Prof to all students.
Excellent professor and course. The course content was very interesting, insightful and applicable to real life. It is a bit provoking to think that human behaviour can be so malleable and so liable to so many different circumstances, this is the takeaway I got from this class. It kind of makes you want to create your own theories on other factors human behaviour may be susceptible to. The professor was extremely organized, enthusiastic, funny and open to discussion. I literally have nothing negative to say about the course, you even get your own chance to modify your behaviour for the better. I'd recommend it to anyone, even if just to take it for the awesome professor alone :)
Dr. Loepellman is a gem in your department NEVER LET HIM GO

I just want to get on the W.A.Y.S. blog

PSYCO 494: Human Factors & Ergonomics

You can tell his jokes are planned and he likes to talk about himself a lot.
(Yeah, yeah. Blah blah blah. Enough about you, people come here to read about ME!)

This course has given me insight into what I may want to do as a career.

The instructor was the only reason I took this god-forsaken course. He makes anything more interesting, even ergonomics which is pretty boring by itself but Loepelmann is the best
(It would help if you could tell me exactly what you didn’t like about the course. No need for future students to suffer.)

Karsten is a nice guy, very enthusiastic, well organized and spoken. He always answers questions and was polite. But as for his class I have so many regrets. I found the exams to brutal and it's frustrating having a term paper AND a final. I don't think the class is structured well to do well on tests because you have to literally memorize everything. I'm used to working hard in classes and don't mind hard work, but I really dislike unfair classes and I feel this entire class was unfair. I would not recommend this to anyone unless you want To be miserable and question your existence
(Well, you know what they say. I have compared my course to other 400-level PSYCO courses, and it’s not out of line. In fact, many of them have a much longer and more difficult list of required readings. A 12-page term paper and final exam is appropriate for a course of this level.)

I really like Dr. Lopelmann's teaching style! The only thing I think needs improvement are the slides. They're text heavy in the format accessible to the students and the sections/bullet points aren't clearly separated so studying different sections can get confusing. Sometimes I am unsure which point belongs under which heading or subheading.
(That can happen if you cut-and-paste from the notes webpage, which loses all of the formatting. And you spelling my name wrong.)

I love your classes. They're easy to understand, easy to follow, and it is always clear exactly what you want from us. I love the hands-on project. It really helped understand the material we were learning in class. One point of criticism would be to update your research. A lot of the studies you're drawing from are from the 90s and that's almost twenty years ago. It would be nice to see how much human factors has changed since then.
(I am constantly reading the literature for potential updates to the course. I don’t like change for the sake of change. But I will see what I can do to give you a better picture of contemporary HFE.

Dr. L. was a fantastic lecturer who really has a good grip on the classic "dad jokes" and masterful presentation and delivery of both course material and humour. It has been a pleasure to be in this class and the cherry on top were all the accents he did.
(You may not realize it, but all of these comments were made in a funny accent!)

Why aren’t you studying?

The TV Shows

I don’t really watch TV. Okay, aside from The Big Bang Theory--but that’s just inertia. I’ve been watching Big Bang since it started, even though its quality has dropped steadily (Graph TV shows evidence). It quickly devolved into a sex comedy. Some of the characters behave in ways that are almost unrecognizable from their first appearance. Compare Amy Farrah Fowler’s first appearance (in the season 3 finale, "The Lunar Excitation") to what she’s like now. You may argue that her character has grown and developed. Nah, they’ve just changed her to better suit the tone of the show. When I happen to catch an episode from the first season, I realize why I started watching it in the first place: the characters were nerd archetypes; I know people like them. I’ll keep watching it--it’s not a big time commitment.

See, time is the problem. 24 hours - full-time job + 2 kids + marriage = 0. These days, you have to make a commitment to a TV show. You can’t just pop in on Game of Thrones to watch an episode here and there, and have any hope of understanding what’s going on. Sorry, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Daredevil, Arrow, The Flash, Supergirl, Legends of Tomorrow, etc. I don’t have time to commit to a single TV series, much less a shared cinematic TV universe.

This spring, however, I’ve managed to find some time, and for good reason. Two must-see series debuted within a month of each other, and I’m deeply engrossed in both. First, American Gods, based on Neil Gaiman’s 2001 novel. I’ve loved Gaiman’s writing since I picked up an issue of the comic The Sandman in the 80s. (Yup, I’m a #Sandfan. One of my most prized comics is The Sandman #1 signed by Gaiman.) Awesomely, Gaiman is serving as an executive producer on the series, ensuring that his artistic vision is intact.

What’s it about? The main character is Shadow Moon, who is released from prison a few days early due to his wife’s death in a car crash. He is hired as a bodyguard by the mysterious Mr. Wednesday, who is on a quest to gather his old colleagues together to combat a growing threat. That’s all I’m going to tell you. Watch it. It’s great. Although I’m crushed that season 1 is almost over, it’s been renewed for season 2. You can watch it on Amazon Prime Video in Canada.

The other series that I’m watching is Twin Peaks: The Return. I loved the original back in the day--I even joined the fan club. Here are pictures of my official Twin Peaks Sheriff’s Department coffee mug and the letter of welcome from mayor Dwayne Milford addressed to me.

 Yup, I'm an official resident.

As part of the fan club, they also sent out issues of the Twin Peaks Gazette newspaper, which TP fans know was owned by the mayor’s brother, Dougie Milford. It was hard to believe that, after 25 years, this show would be returning to TV. While waiting for the episodes to be released, I read the excellent The Secret History of Twin Peaks, written by TP co-creator Mark Frost. (More evidence of obsessive fandom: I still have my copies of the tie-in books The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer; The Autobiography of F.B.I. Special Agent Dale Cooper: My Life, My Tapes; and even “Diane...” The Twin Peaks Tapes of Agent Cooper audio tapes.)

Am I obsessive? You don’t know the half of it. I start to get twitchy on Sunday evening in eager anticipation of the next episode. What’s it about? The original was “about” solving the mystery of the death of Laura Palmer, and it was staggeringly popular--until the mystery was solved in season 2. Then it got cancelled. (And then there was a widely despised prequel movie that raised more questions than it answered.) The vision of its original creators, David Lynch and Mark Frost, was so influential that it has reverberated throughout television ever since. From The X-Files, to Lost, to The Killing, to True Detective, the influence of Twin Peaks continues to be felt. The current series is about, well, about a lot of things. I don’t know where to begin. The possession of Dale Cooper by an evil spirit named BOB? A bizarre murder of two people in Buckhorn, South Dakota? The re-emergence of “good” Dale Cooper from the Black Lodge? David Lynch has described it as an 18-hour movie. Many things I don’t even understand, so I turn for help to Twin Peaks podcasts. Here are my favourites so far:
I haven’t started listening to any of the others, like The Sparkwood and 21 Podcast, The Red Room Podcast, Diane, Twin Peaks Peeks, Who Killed Laura Podcast, Fire Talk With Me, Twin Peaks Revival, and Log Ladies.

You can watch Twin Peaks: The Return on The Movie Network or CraveTV in Canada. Although you should probably watch seasons 1 and 2 first, as well as the movie Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some podcasts to listen to, and not a lot of time.

Why aren’t you studying?

The Term Papers

This is a photo of the stack of term papers I’ve basically been living with for the past two weeks. I take them with me almost everywhere I go: waiting in the emergency department at the hospital with one daughter, taking another daughter to music lessons, while another of my classes is writing their final exam. (Note: I do not take them with me to the bathroom. Because ick.) I have to take the papers with me so that I can finish marking them by the date of the final exam--my self-imposed deadline. Once, I wasn’t able to finish marking term papers by the final exam. I asked students to come and pick up their marked term papers--the ones I had spent hours and hours carefully marking, covering the pages with important feedback. Almost no one came to pick up their term paper. So now the deal is: Hand in your final exam, get your term paper.

This year, I had the luxury of having two whole weeks to mark 27 term papers. Some years, I’ve had as little as a week. That was a nightmare. I marked, ate, and slept. In that order. It’s much better when I have more time to read and enjoy the term papers. Yes, enjoy. I often learn some new things. For example, this term, I read term papers on toxic behaviour in online games, improving patient safety, error in aviation, design for left-handers, product design, design for the elderly, elderly drivers, issues in laparoscopic surgery, ergonomics of back injuries, technostress, driving safety, physical ergonomics of dentistry, ergonomics and aesthetics, designing for crime prevention, effective traffic signs, usability of the web, emotion and design, and human factors and automation. (There were multiple papers on some of these topics.)

I hope the feedback I’ve given on the papers is useful; I provide constructive feedback as much as possible. It does no good to write “This is dumb!” or “This makes no sense.” Some students struggled a lot with grammar--so much so that it gets in the way of what you’re trying to communicate. If that’s the case, I strongly recommend that you see the Centre for Writers for help in the future. Getting help should not be seen as a shortcoming; instead, view it as working on improving yourself. Everyone could stand some improvement--even the person whose term paper earned a mark of 100% (the first time ever). Because even that paper had a couple of APA style errors. Tsk.

Why aren’t you studying?

The Awards: 16

I am happy, honoured, and humbled all at the same time, because I have been named to the Department of Psychology’s Teaching Honour Roll with Distinction for all three of my Fall term courses. In 17 other PSYCO courses, the instructors were also awarded this honour (and another 10 courses were placed on the Honour Roll). Congratulations to my fellow instructors! Over the past semester, I have organized the Teaching of Psychology Brown Bags, a monthly seminar in which instructors share their teaching strategies, successes, and failures with each other. It’s amazing to see the innovation and devotion to teaching shown by my colleagues. It has inspired me to continue to try some new things in my own teaching.

A great big thank you to students who take a few minutes out of their busy lives at the end of the semester to complete the online USRIs (Universal Student Ratings of Instruction). This is just about the only way that the Department and Faculty evaluate me, and make decisions about whether to extend my contract. This makes USRIs especially important to me; I’d like to continue with this teaching thing.

As usual, I’d like to share with you some selected comments from Fall term (warning: my replies may contain sarcasm, and may cause itching and redness).

PSYCO 282: Behaviour Modification

prof reminded me of jim carrey!
(Aaaalllllrighty then!)

overall, reinforcing ;P
(I see what you did there.)

This course was one of my favourite psychology courses ever. The material was incredibly interesting and was covered well. Not only did we learn the basics but we were provided with many opportunities to learn from examples and gain a better understanding of how to apply the material. Dr. Loepelmann's notes were so well organized and I loved the website that he provided as a convenient location to find everything we really need for this course. I did not participate in the iClicker questions, however I always tried to get the correct answer before it was revealed to us. I loved this course, it was incredible and I've raved about it and Dr. Loepelmann all semester. The self-management project was a cool assignment. This course made me so interested in the content and application that I have looked into becoming a certified Behaviour Analyst in the future.
(Wow. Okay, you may be the first person to be so inspired. Good luck!)

This course was so boring, it just reiterated the same dull points on operant conditioning thousands of times during the semester. Maybe add more course content
(So, your criticism is that the course it too boring, and there wasn't enough of it...)

This class was very interesting and informative. The professor was very enthusiastic about the class content which made the class more engaging. I enjoyed the project and will continue to use the techniques I've learned this semester.
(I hope you do. No one ever tells me how that works out, though...)

The textbook shouldn't be required if some parts differ with the lecture notes. That makes it confusing to study for the exams.

There was A LOT of discrepancies between the textbook and the lecture and oftentimes the instructor would tell us not to listen to the textbook, if the textbook is always wrong, why did he make us buy this edition? We spend a lot of money on the textbook and he stated it was mandatory, but the instructor mostly tests on the lecture anyways.
(We have to be able to tolerate ambiguity and uncertainty. In science--as in life--there is rarely one single answer that everyone unanimously agrees on. I know this makes it more difficult to answer questions on an exam, but it will help prepare you for life after university. It wouldn’t be fair to you if I presented course material in an overly simplified way. Also, only about half of the exam questions were based on lectures, exactly as I told you in class.)

The instructor's notes were extremely redundant and it was extremely hard to pay attention in class because all his notes were strictly words without ANY pictures to help aid in our understanding of the course material. The instructor was not very engaging and just went through his notes accordingly every single class. The instructor also made it EXTREMELY difficult to pay attention due to his notes only being fill in the blanks.
(So I’m sticking too close to the textbook? EXTREMELY closely? Yes, I could add pictures. What pictures would you like? Pictures of behaviour? Funny kittens? Research has found that extraneous pictures in PowerPoint slides actually impede learning of the material. Would having more blanks help you to pay attention? Or you could just forget about my notes and write your own.)

The instructor is highly knowledgeable in behaviour modification and is very enthusiastic when he teaches the course. He treats his students in a respectful manner and continually engages his class with a variety of activities. He is an excellent instructor, and I would highly recommend him to students looking to take this course.

Overall great course and great instructor! I enjoyed coming to class and it would not have been the same without Dr. Loepelmann's enthusiasum and sense of humor. Lecture time was used effectively and the videos which were showed in class were interesting and also helped to explain important concepts. Textbook was a great resource and the readings were managable. One suggestion I would make - make the iClicker count for participation marks. We're using it so often, it seems silly to not have it count for marks.
(The issue is that some students literally cannot afford a clicker, which would then impact their marks. I am thinking about this, and I think I have an acceptable way around this issue that I will try in my smaller Spring class.)

A rebuttal to your argument for iclickers. Iclickers are $80 at the bookstore. That's a ridiculous amount of money for tool that does one thing, and will likely only be used in a few classes. Also, the answers to your questions are biased: not everyone has an iclicker.
($80? According to the Bookstore website, a new iclicker 2 is $57.30 and a used one is $43.00--and you get half of that back when you return it. REEF Polling, which you run as an app on your phone, is even less, at USD$20.99. I know that answers to questions are biased; remember, in the first class I asked a question that demonstrated that to the class? I did that to encourage those--who could afford it--to get a clicker.)
Really liked the fill-in-the-blank notes style - it forces people to come to class and pay attention, which is a really good motivation for students who don't always show up. Made things very clear in class and I LOVED the text book used for this course. Very straight forward and an easy read - cleared up concepts and the fact that the notes were a really good reflection of the text books is an extremely great help for students. While I can say that some of the material is bland, this professor made the class fun and I truly enjoyed learning about it and I feel semiconfident applying it in real life.
(I hope you try applying some of the principles to real life!)
I would prefer to upload a PDF instead of writing into the text box, because I'm worried that my computer will crash and all of my work will be gone. Keep up the good work, and keep cracking the Dad jokes, it makes class more bearable.
(Because you will have to resubmit older parts of your project, you should keep a word processing document with all parts. That is, you should write your answers to part I in a Word file. Then copy and paste those into the text box. Then, do the same for part II. Again, just copy and paste your answers to parts I and II into the text box. If your eClass goes down or your browser crashes, you still have your answers safe in the Word file. Do you want more Dad jokes? Try Nice One Dad. )
Sometimes, videos shown in class were too long and boring.. some really didn't help me understand the material any better.
The only thing I think should be added is in the notes links to videos that were presented in class should be present. I enjoyed some videos shown in class but couldn't find it anywhere.
The instructor would show supplementary videos in class but would never link them on his notes for us to go back and watch them.
(Hey, just ask me if there’s a video you want to see again. Many are available on YouTube.)
Hopefully the notes can be made downloadable easier in word or pdf version.
I enjoy the types of notes he provides, I don't like how it's on a separate site from eclass.
(There’s always hope. Like, for example, in Rogue One, you can hope that everyone survives at the end of the movie. Er, well. Don’t expect my notes in Word or PDF ever. On this page I explain how you can get the HTML page into whatever text editor you wish. I use HTML because it is much more flexible than any other format, and is also accessible to those with disabilities. If I put my notes on eClass, there are a lot of cool CSS and Javascript things that I can’t do. And updating my notes on eClass is a slow, painful process.)
I hope he teaches other psychology classes so I can take them!
(Well, sure I do. I keep an updated list, if you like to take more of my courses--or avoid them.)
Everything about this course was well constructed, and your instruction faultless, with the exception of your voice, which sounds exactly like the character Dave on the youtube series Gayle, which I personally find rage-inducing, but others may not. An adult education theatre class or vocal coach could help you with that, should you so desire, but it's of course a relatively minor issue.
(It could be worse. I could sound exactly like Gayle Waters-Waters herself.)
Dr. Loepelmann is so enthusiastic about teaching its contagious. It is clear he has put in a lot of work on the course content and he really has made a conscious effort to put forth the best psychology course he can. I wish he taught all my classes because he is one of those teachers who you can just tell care. Some profs are just in it to do their research, so it is refreshing to take a class with someone who actually wants to be here, wants to teach, and clearly loves what he does. Best prof ever

PSYCO 403: Advanced Perception

This class can be big or small, very great lecturer and very responsive! Great job
I love how enthusiastic you were when teaching, it made the class more interesting and enjoyable! Thank you.
I liked having the weekly quizzes but the format for the exams was tough; I felt that I never really knew what exactly to put for full marks, even by following the suggested format.
I enjoyed the class and the prof's sense of humour.
Dr. Loepelmann is very enthusiastic about the course subject matter and did his best to make the course interesting.
Dr. Karsten's way of teaching is really good, enjoyable, and makes you just want to be in the class! I have learned so much from this class and workload wise is very doable. Overall quality of the course is excellent!
(Wow, thanks everyone. This was one of the smallest classes I’ve ever taught, so I was concerned about how things would work out. Weirdly, I’m more worried about small classes than big ones.)
Also, not sure if it was just me but a few of the lectures came out weirdly when printing them out. It might be on my end or some formatting issue. Probably on my end but the lectures in question were some of the beginning ones after the midterm
(I’ve had a look at all of my lectures--across all of my courses--and have extensively modified the HTML code, so everything should look ok now. Sorry for any problems! Please let me know if you encounter problems.)

PSYCO 494: Human Factors & Ergonomics

overall the course was really good. The prof took a potentially dry subject and livened it up with case studies and videos. The class would have been much better if during times of class participation, people weren't afraid to talk. It was like pulling teeth. The prof tried to change that but just the group sucked.
Interesting course! Definitely would recommend more in class discussion to help with student engagement
(This term, I tried adding some more discussion/small group discussion activities in class. It needs some refinement, but I’m hoping this will engage everyone more. You’re right, sometimes it just depends on the makeup of the class as a whole--but I would never say that an entire class sucked.)
Terrified of airplanes... but in general really enjoyed the course and material that was covered! I find myself paying attention to design details that I had previously never really noticed, and analyzing design in systems that I encounter in my everyday life. This course was recommended to me and I had no idea what human factors and ergonomics meant beforehand, and now I enjoy explaining it to people who are baffled by the course name and how the two concepts are related.
(Oh noes! I don’t want anyone to be terrified of airplanes after taking this course. Remember the graph I showed in class about how deaths in western commercial aviation are at historic lows? You’re safer flying in an airplane than driving to the airport! Er, um, you should probably pay careful attention when driving, though.)
I have nothing negative to say, maybe this is due to recency bias but I think you're the best instructor I've had over the course of my undergrad. One comment I'd like to make is; even though you didn't get any audible laughs from your jokes, I found them very endearing so keep making them.
(Good application of cognitive principles there. So, my jokes are good at eliciting, er, silent laughs?)
I think the format of the midterm was presented to us a little too late - I had been studying all the material, but then the class before the midterm we found out that the exam would ask us about a bank of main terms and ideas, so I did not feel like I had sufficiently studied the main terms - I would've spent my time differently if I had known this a week ahead of the exam. Otherwise, I thought this would be a boring class but Dr Loepelmann made it really entertaining. He did a really good job with a really quiet, unresponsive class, and always made ideas and terms memorable with his examples.
(The format of the midterm exam is described in the syllabus. And in the first class, when I presented the learning objectives, I noted that they were important because essay exam questions would potentially be based on them directly. I’ll try to explain the format of the midterms more clearly in the future.)
Dr. Loepelmann is a great professor, and he tries to make the course interesting by bringing in interesting examples or case studies. Overall, really enjoyed this class.

Why aren’t you studying?

Find It