The Awards: 9

The results are in, and once again based on student evaluations I’ve been placed on the Department of Psychology’s Honour Roll with Distinction for all eight courses I taught from Fall, 2012 to Spring, 2013. Thanks!

Here’s a great article on course evaluations, from University Affairs: Course evaluations: the good, the bad and the ugly.

Now, here are selected comments from students. As always, sarcasm filters are off. Beware!

From PSYCO 104:
- focus on textbook is unhelpful, your [sic] the teacher to teach the students we shouldn’t have to teach the majority of the class to ourselves
Heavy reliance on both textbook/notes is hard to cope with, please pick one
(So in a university-level course, you don’t want a textbook. Seriously? Is that how all your other courses are run?)

It would be a lot easier if we got our tests back or if they were posted online.
(Because some of the exam questions are copyright, I am not allowed to release them. You do know that you can have a look at your exam during the exam viewings, or during the TA’s office hours, right? You do have to make the extra effort of schlepping all the way to the BioSci Building, however.)

(Thanks. But STOP SHOUTING.)

Loepelmann, you got some mod swag brah
(Thanks...I think.)

I took this course because my friend told me Dr. Loepelmann was a great prof and I am so glad I did. I thoroughly enjoyed this class and found it way more interesting than I expected! Really enjoyed the teaching style. Great class!
He is a really nice prof and treat his students with respect. He cares for our welling (When I e-mailed his about my sickness he was very understandable and asked me how I was doing)
I believe that he is one of the most engaging and helpful professors at this University and we (students) are very lucky to have him.
(Thanks. Thanks. Thanks--but don’t call me professor).

- felt as though class was absolutely unnecessary to attend, felt like a waste of time. Class time was not efficiently used at all...exams were essentially straight from the textbook and did not include class notes...
(That is not true. The exams include a substantial number of questions from lectures.)

- I don’t appreciate your explanations and teaching method
- notes are vague
- I hate psychology, changing my program
- textbook is crazy [sic], I don’t get how much we need to know
(Sorry about the negative experience you had.)

I enjoyed the use of iClickers to help engage students in an interactive, group oriented manner.
Taking part in the research participation studies is an enjoyable part of the course.
(Glad to hear about the positive experience you had.)

- Fantastic course!
One of the best courses/instructors at the U of A
However, please curve it.
(No, I won’t curve it.)

I feel as if you [sic] questions are too wordy, like you are trying to trick students not test their knowledge. I also do not like fill in the blanks because if you miss day there is no way to fill them in.
(What do you do in your other classes if you miss a day? Can’t you ask someone else in class if you can borrow their notes? You do know that I will send you the fill-in words if no one else will help you, right?)

The Instructor was good and tried to explain concepts clearly. He made the course fun and I enjoyed his sense of humour. I thought the fill-in-the-blank notes were very good and provided an incentive to come to class.
(Hey, you should have shared your notes with the other person above.)

For a first year course that isn’t curved...too much mindrape
(OK, I’ll cut down on some of the mindrape. Thanks for the feedback.)

From PSYCO 365: Advanced Perception:
Of my 5 years of post secondary, & both 267 & 365 w/ Loepelmann, he was by far my favorite professor. With a desire & passion for what he does, he is on another level from any other UofA prof I have had.
(Gee, thanks!)

It would be nice to get better lectures [sic] slides.
(I keep telling my Mom to update them, but she wants way too much money.)

There is a lot of info in the notes so studying was a bit overwhelming but it was nice having readings & quizzes, though it made me stressed out every Thursday morning! Great instructor, makes learning very interesting, & the course was probably the most interesting one I’ve taken so far!
(Glad you liked it. Thanks for the feedback on the quizzes.)

Karsten is awesome and probably the best prof I have ever had in my 4 years at this university. However this was the hardest class I’ve ever taken and it destroyed my GPA and any chance of getting into grad school.
(Gulp--sorry about that. If you’re struggling with the material, please come and see me for help. I’m not trying to destroy anyone’s GPA, or their future.)

- If the midterm is “historically difficult,” why not make it less difficult, or even break it up into 2 midterm?
- The weekly quizzes, despite the extra workload, were a huge help.
(With 130 students, 2 midterms would kill me--and the TA. The nature of the material is challenging; oversimplifying it or the midterm would not do it justice. Thanks for the feedback on the quizzes.)

- 2nd half of course was much more interesting than 1st half.
- Dr. Loepelmann is one of the most prepared + organized instructors I had ever had. He is enthusiastic, cheerful and his sense of humor is always welcome.
(Thanks. I’ll try to work on making the first half of the course more interesting.)

Loepelmann is an absolutely fantastic professor who is enthusiastic and knowledgable [sic] about the course material which is appreciated. Thank you for making this an enjoyable class.
Dr. Loepelmann is a very enthusiastic, intelligent, passionate and creative professor. I have had him for several psychology classes now, and his teaching style is very consistent and effective.
(Thanks, but don’t call me professor.)

From PSYCO 494: Human Factors & Ergonomics:
Loved this class! :) I’m actually thinking of incorporating human factors into my future career!
Dr Loepelmann is an amazing professor. I thoroughly enjoyed this course--the subject matter was fascinating and I know that what I’ve gained in the class can be used in my future endeavours. I would refer both this class and the instructor anyday. Thank you Dr Loepelmann.
Professor Loepelmann was such a wonderful professor! He was always excited about topics and watned for us to understand fully the course content. He was very accessible and helpful outside of class. I really hope I can take another course with him. I enjoyed this class very much, would highly recommend this professor to everyone!
(Aw, gee, thanks a lot! But don’t call me professor.)
I was disappointed with this class. I wish we didn’t have to know some of the discrete information like association names & numbers. It didn’t contribute to my learning in this course. Why couldn’t the Grant Mac assignment be at a different location? I expected better from this course especially since Dr. Loepelmann’s psych 104 class is why I majored in psychology (science) and this will be my last undergraduate psychology course.
Dr. Loepelmann on the other hand, thank you! You are a prof I will remember. I will continue to visit your blog--please update it more often, why aren’t you studying? :)
Why aren’t you studying?

The New Prep 4: The Writing

In the previous post in this series, I described more behind-the-scenes of my new PSYCO 282: Behavior Modification course, and the self-management project I designed for it. This time, I’ll describe my writing process, and how I applied b-mod to it.

So, what’s the point of teaching a course in behaviour modification if I don’t use b-mod principles myself? I’m the first to admit I’m not pefrect (see? ha!); there are a lot of behaviours I’d like to change. But instead of developing perfect pitch, improving my posture, or becoming even more good looking (note: only one of these is an actual behaviour), what if I modified my creating-the-course behaviour itself? I know: Mind = blown.

Here’s what I decided to do. Whenever I finished writing one of the 21 lectures that comprised the course, I would allow myself to watch one James Bond movie. This is something that I’ve wanted to do for a long time (watch the movies, not write a whole bunch of lectures). Watching a movie would serve as a reinforcer for the behaviour of writing a lecture. If you’re thinking that a reinforcer has to be like a pellet of rat chow or something, let me introduce you to the Premack principle: “more probable behaviors will reinforce less probable behaviors.” In other words, a person will perform a less desirable activity in order to receive the chance to perform a more desirable activity.

There are some flaws with my method, I have to admit.
1) I did not explicitly define my behaviour. “Writing a lecture” includes finding content to address all learning objectives on that topic, and explaining the principles and procedures clearly. Whatever that means. Still, this is a better definition than, say, “writing 50 pages of lecture notes in a Word document” which was a guideline that I also actually used. (Hey, a world-changing lecture that only lasts for one class does not an entire course make.)

2) I did not collect baseline data. (Why not? I wasn’t looking to make a permanent behaviour change. I don’t expect to have another new prep in the foreseeable future. So, really, my baseline was: amount of prepping for my new course = 0.)

3) The reinforcement of watching a movie did not follow immediately after my behaviour. To maximize the effects of any consequences of behaviour, they should follow the behaviour almost immediately--half a second, to be precise. Sometimes I watched the movie days after completing a lecture. (Why? I would order the DVD from the library when I was close to finishing a lecture. Sometimes, the DVD would be in the next day and a few times it took over a week. Even if it came in right away, I only go to the library once a week, so I’d usually have to wait a several days. And when I finally picked up the DVD, I waited until my kids were in bed before I started watching the movie.)

4) I did not formally collect data from my behavioural treatment program--although I did self-monitor my behaviour. I kept a close eye on how many lectures I completed and how many days left until classes started. And because I progressed through the Bond movies chronologically, I had a good sense of how much work I had completed and how much more was left to do. (Lots of men walking around wearing hats? Just getting started. Feathered hair and shoulder pads? Hmm, about half way done. Grim, gritty, dark, borderline psychopathic Bond? Almost done!)

So, did my behavioural treatment work? I can’t say for sure. Feeling the looming deadline of The First Day of Classes is a big motivator all by itself. (Standing in front of 300 people with no lectures prepared is a recurring nightmare of mine. For reals.) I put my head down and worked all summer--even during family trips. (Check out the photo me a in a tent with my nose in my iPad in the What I Did on my Summer Vacation (2013 edition) post.) Actually, all that sitting at the computer/at the beach made me, er, gain a few pounds. If only there were some way to change my behaviours so that I could be more active and eat more healthy foods. Oh, right: behaviour modification. *sigh*

(Here’s an easy way to tell if my treatment program failed, and I didn’t get my lectures done: Instead of lecturing, am I showing lots of movies in class? James Bond movies?)

Coming up next: The New Prep 5: The Lectures.

Why aren’t you studying?

A Humble Request

Loyal Readers!

Vast numbers of my colleagues are thronging to bestow upon me the laurels of honour! There is to be a great feast of...of...

OK, so no one's thronging. I mean, I wouldn't know thronging if I saw it. And there are no "vast numbers." Well, there is Dr Nicoladis, and she's not vast or anything. (She is taller than me, but hey--who isn't?)

Anyway, she wants to nominate me for an award: The Katherine Klawe Prize for Excellence in Teaching. This award goes to instructors in Arts or Science in alternating years. I was nominated two years ago, but didn't win (sob!). So far chemistry has won every time a Science department has been eligible. The thing is...

The thing is that it would help if students who have been (or currently are) in my large classes wrote a letter in support of this nomination. About what? I don't know. The kinds of things I do in large classes? To make it more interesting? Or whatever?

I feel weird about asking for this in my classes, so I'm not going to. I feel weird about asking for this in this blog, but I'm going to ask anyway. So if you have had (or are having) a positive experience in one of my large classes, would you please write a letter on my behalf? I won't even get to see it. (If you're currently in one of my classes, I probably shouldn't see it.)

All you have to do is contact Dr Nicoladis, and she'll give you the details. Her email is Deadline is November 15. Thank you, my loyal minions!

Why aren't you studying?

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