Even after 40 years of teaching at Carroll, the first day of class is anxiety-arousing, pressured, critical, and rewarding. As a youth, I was so anxious about giving oral presentations that I fainted when I participated in my first school debate. I had a similar melt-down during the oral component of my graduate school general qualifying examinations in Social Psychology at Ohio State. With experience and a few set backs I’ve learned to over learn and to reframe (attribute) the performance anxiety I inevitably am experiencing into excitement for the task at hand. Sometimes I whistle a happy tune!

These academic first days of the semester pressures I feel are primarily situational nuisances : making sure that my syllabi and handouts are up-to-date, proof-read, and sufficient in number; visiting the classrooms ahead of time to better guarantee that there are enough seats and that the computer equipment works; thinking through how to handle disruptive classroom situations in particular classroom environments; and of course trying to respond in timely fashion to the myriad course-related emails.

For me the first class meetings are vital for relationship and credibility building—for getting to know my students, creating shared and appropriate expectations, and establishing standards for both students and for me. Here is a link to the survey I administer to students before the first day of class. Feel free to respond if you once took the course from me:)

This semester I am teaching two sections of PSY 205 “Statistics and Experimental Design” (and its two labs). I believe that I am close to having taught the course 100 times. Perhaps it is fitting that it will be retired from our curriculum after this semester, my last at Carroll.

Below are my notes from May, 1979 describing some of my early course development and proudly displaying our Psychology Department microcomputer!

psycho

may 1979 (1)

Based on 1) student evaluations, 2) what my students demonstrate that they can do at semester’s end, 3) how I feel every time I teach it, and 4) feedback I get from alumni  “Statistics and Experimental Design ” is without doubt my best taught course. How ironic  that when I set foot into the classroom to teach the course for the first time in 1978 I was terrified of my inability to teach it.

Among the challenges in teaching such a class successfully are the attitudes that some students bring (“I hate math”; “I don’t do well in math”; “I’m afraid”), weaknesses in students’ fundamental computational skills, and their inexperience with my strongly believed outlook that statistics (and data analysis) is a tool, a language and a way of thinking. Here are some reflections I shared a few years ago about teaching the course.

If you have taken this course from me, but perhaps forgotten a thing or two, here are some memory retrieval cues!:

What data analysis should I use?: Test your knowledge by clicking on the link. Eventually I shall incorporate a flow chart / decision tree here.

  1. Teaching Tools: SPSS, inStat, starQuiz, Camtasia and Research Randomizer.
  2. Augmenting My Teaching Capabilities: Top Technology Learning Tools Revisited.
  3. On Engaging Students (Part 2): Adventures with StarQuiz and SPSS
  4. Changes: How much tinkering should one do with a course that seems to work well?
  5. Learning by Teaching: Alison and Lizzy’s Guide to Using SPSS Data Analysis for Simple Linear Regression
  6. Retrospective Thinking: How much tinkering should one do with a course that seems to work well?
  7. Two-way Between Subjects ANOVA Using SPSS (Part 1)
  8. What Questions can you Answer with your Data? Using SPSS to guide you.
  9. Review of One-way Between Subjects ANOVA using SPSS
  10. t-Time: Three Short SPSS Screencasts for PSY205
  11. Still Looking for ways to Improve Courses After 36 Years of Teaching (Part 1 of 2)
  12. Retooling and Sharpening the Saw
  13. Something Old and Something New: A brief Introduction to Effect Size Statistics