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?

The Compliments

I was surprised on Monday to receive a “bouquet” of compliments, courtesy of UofA Compliments--thanks!

Thanks to all three anonymous students who took the time to say a few kind words, as part of UofA Compliments’ Dear Prof Campaign. (Shout out to fellow psychology instructor Dr Michele Moscicki who also received some compliments.)

(You must've seen my last post.)

(Science, FTW!)

 (Thanks, I love my job!)

UofA Compliments, along with the UAlberta Alumni Association, is organizing PositiviDay on April 12 (the last day of classes, yay!) from 11:00-2:30 in Quad.

You can follow UofA Compliments on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, or visit their site.

Why aren’t you studying?

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