The Red Pens

Happy marking season! It’s so festive these days, what with all the red ink splashed everywhere. No? Well, it is for me: term papers and exams mean red ink. But is there a problem with using the colour red for marking? Let’s go to the evidence (what there is, anyway).

Using a red pen seems to make people pick out more writing errors, and cause them to grade more harshly resulting in lower scores, compared with using a blue pen (Rutchick, Slepian, & Ferris, 2008).

Another study found that corrections in red ink are interpreted by students as being harsher than those made in “aqua” (what, water?), because red is an emotive (“arousing or able to arouse intense feeling”) colour (Dukes & Albenesi, 2013). The corrections are also more likely to be interpreted by students as “shouting,” which leads to emotional loading and anxiety, and a potential rejection of the feedback on the paper.

Even before this evidence appeared, there have been suggestions that teaching mark using purple or pink pens. (That’s the ink colour, not the colour of the barrel. No research on that yet.)

I remember getting term papers back, and seeing the red ink. It didn’t make me feel good. If I had known that there was a typo or a lapse in logic, I would have corrected it before handing it in. See the red made me want to be a better writer. I was getting valuable feedback from professors, and I would be dumb not to learn from it. I can still remember some of the corrections, advice, and feedback I received decades later. Did it hurt my feelings? Sure. Did I let it stop me from improving? No way.

So I use red ink. Yes, it can trigger emotions. But maybe it’s supposed to. In (literal and figurative) contrast with blue (or even black) marks on the paper, red draws your attention. It says, “Hey, this is important.” Maybe it elicits an emotional reaction; maybe it acts as punishment (in the operant conditioning sense of the word). If I have emptied a red pen marking your term paper, it clearly needs improvement. Learn from all the scribbles I make on your paper. I’ve spent time reading, thinking about, and analyzing your writing. It’s customized, one-to-one communication, and it’s what you’re paying for when you take a course. I wouldn’t spend all the time I do if I didn’t think it would help.

I’ve used a lot of red pens over the years. Here are some I’ve tried recently.




Staples 1.0
It’s a pen. A red pen. Nothing special. But they’re cheap: You can get 864 of them for $252.69 at Staples.

Zebra Sarasa 0.7
This used to be my go-to pen, but even with gel ink the 0.7 mm tip is a bit too sharp. Often dies with ink left in it. (And what’s with the name? Is it made from zebra blood?)

BIC Velocity Gel 0.7
The name grabbed me right away: I need a fast pen. But it has a too-sharp tip, and also dies with ink left. Grr!

PaperMate Profile 1.4B
Now we’re talking. A nice big fat 1.4 mm ballpoint gel ink pen. It’s smooth and doesn’t require a lot of pressure to write with, which helps prevent tendonitis. Makes an inconsistent line though, so I only use it to mark exams.



PaperMate InkJoy 300RT 1.0M
My new favourite pen, the InkJoy series features amazingly quick-drying ink. Super smooth and fast, it’s what I use to mark term papers.

So, how do you feel about red ink?

Why aren’t you studying?

References
Rutchick, A. M., Slepian, M. L., & Ferris, B. D. (2008). The pen is mightier than the word: Object priming of evaluative standards. European Journal of Social Psychology, 40, 704-708. doi: 10.1002/ejsp.753

Dukes, R., & Albanesi, H. (2012). Seeing red: Quality of an essay, color of the grading pen and student reactions to the grading process. Social Science Journal, 50, 96-100. doi:10.1016/j.soscij.2012.07.005

The Comic Reading List (Fall, 2017)

What to do during Reading Week, but read. (OK, get a bunch of work done, too. But everyone needs a break.) Every so often, I like to share my reading list. It's been a while since my last one. Not only has it been a while, but I noticed that I haven't included any comics on the lists. I'm not a snob who looks down on comics; I love comics. And not just in the I-love-the-comics-that-I-read-as-a-kid way, but in the I-still-love-reading-comics way. I just forget to include them in my reading lists. Since I profess to being a geek, here's the evidence--some of my favourite comics from recent years.


I have to start with Saga. I can't bear the time between individual issues, so I wait to get the trade paperbacks (oh, fine: "graphic novels") every six months. It's the story of a couple from two warring worlds (the science-based planet Landfall and its only moon, the magic-infused Wreath), written by Brian K. Vaughan. It's moving, and thrilling, and heartbreaking. The art, by Calgary's Fiona Staples, is amazing: she can make you empathize with anthropomorphic meerkats. Or aristocratic humanoids with TVs for heads. Yes, it is deliciously weird and different. And good: It's won a dozen Eisner awards, and will win many more.

Matt Fraction (writer) and David Aja's (artist) widely acclaimed run on Hawkeye ended a couple of years ago, but I still come back to it. Yes, it's that Hawkeye from the Avengers (and also another Hawkeye from another Avengers). But if you think it's just some dumb, loud punch-up comic book, you are oh-so-wrong. It's a smart superhero book. Care for a wordless story about a dog who loves pizza? Yes, please. It defies expectation in every issue. Aja's spare lines meld perfectly with Fraction's show-don't-tell scripts. It won five Eisners, but deserved more. Be warned: you will have to read and re-read these stories, or you will miss much of the nuance.

If you've seen the movie, you might be interested in the original manga of The Ghost in the Shell. I recommend the deluxe edition, which is read right-to-left as it was originally published. It will bend your mind, but only just a little bit. And author Shirow Masamune's behind-the-scenes notes are totally worth it. Yes, it's (mostly) in English. Influenced by (and influencing) cyberpunk, this work has had an effect on movies (notably The Matrix, Avatar, and Ex Machina), and video games (Deus Ex, among many others). It was ahead of its time in the late 1980s, and--amazingly--much of it still is.

I'm way, way too young to have seen the original run of Batman in the 1960s, but I caught reruns after school. A goofy, silly Batman is better than no Batman at all. Right? Jeff Parker and Jonathan Case perfectly capture the zany and ridiculous aspects of the smash hit TV show--right down to Cesar Romero's Joker wearing makeup over his mustache. A grim, brooding Dark Knight this ain't. Anyway, nostalgia! Highlights include crossovers with The Man From U.N.C.L.E., Green Hornet, and even the 1970s Wonder Woman. (My favourite? When they encountered the Legion of Super-Heroes. Woot!)
Why aren't you studying?

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.)

Best.Prof.Ever.
(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.
(Great!)

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 < https://sites.ualberta.ca/%7Ekloepelm/blanks.html>, 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.
(Thanks!)

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
(Thanks!)

I just want to get on the W.A.Y.S. blog
(FTW!)


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.
(Cool!)

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?

Find It