The New Prep 6: Wrap Up

It’s been a long haul for me these last 2.5 years, developing, prepping, and delivering my new PSYCO 282: Behavior  Modification course. (Officially, it’s not spelled “Behaviour” with a U--hey, don’t blame me!) Agreeing to teach a new course in 2010 was easy enough to do. But as the real deadline of Fall term hit, I started to wonder what I had gotten myself into. Nervouscited!

Starting in the summer, my workload increased exponentially. Not only did a have a new prep, I had also plunged into another time-intensive project--a research project on mobile learning and student engagement conducted as part of teaching intro psych. (Data analysis from that is ongoing, by the way.) It feels like I didn’t even have a summer--madly working away, even while on family vacations. (Sample experience: someone asked me if I had a good summer, and I replied, “Huh? What summer?”)

Now, after having taught the “b-mod” course once, I’ve got a list of hits and misses. First, I know that I have to develop more content. Cancelling three classes in a row is way too many. (No, that wasn’t by design.) Over the holiday break, I madly rejiggered the carefully planned structure of the course, changing what material is covered on what exam, and adding another lecture on token economies. I had also planned to add another one on behavioural contracts, but it looks like there won’t be time for that.

Second, I’ve rekindled my love/hate relationship with eClass/Moodle. Ultimately, online assignments are the way to go (thanks to Cheryl, my TA, for dragging me in that direction), but Moodle is Confusingstupid. And slowkillingme.

It was really eye-opening to read all the behaviours that students worked on changing as part of the self-management project. Many were expected (decreasing smoking, improving studying, increasing exercise), but there were also a lot of unique ones (stopping spitting, reducing swearing, and eating more nuts). If you were in my class and are reading this, drop a line in the comments below about how things are going.

Reading the research on behaviour modification and applied behaviour analysis was a pleasant surprise. I was concerned that I’d have to get up to speed on an elephant-ass amount of jargon. Most scientific papers are nearly impenetrable, even for someone with a Ph.D. But the papers I read were brief, understandable, and (largely) jargon-free.

Although I’ve written before about doing self-management on myself, in seeing all the hard work that students were putting into changing their behaviours, I decided to change another set of behaviours. I’m a notorious snacker (pretzels, chocolate, and sometimes pretzels+chocolate), so for two weeks I changed my environment to reduce my snacking after dinner. It seemed to work: I lost 2 pounds.

There’s one final thing. After I finished writing the last lecture for the course, I decided to, er, reinforce all of my good behaviours, so I went out and bought myself an iPad Air. Yeah, it’s a pretty substantial reinforcer, but I did some pretty substantial work. (Plus, the Arts Resource Centre wanted their loaner iPad back.)

Now, I’m going to put that iPad to use: I’ve got a lecture on token economies to write.

Coming up next: The New Prep 7: The Evaluation.

Why aren’t you studying?


Robiney Lea said...

Hey Dr. Loepelmann!

I didn't know where else to put this note, so I'm leaving it as a comment. I wrote a blog post of my favourite classes at the university and you made the list twice! :)

- R

Karsten A. Loepelmann said...

Well, thanks for including me on your list (um, an embarrassing number of times). I hope that, after you graduate, you go around spreading psychology everywhere!

(My favourite courses were intro psych, perception,. and any SOC course taught by the late great Bill Meloff.)

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