PY 695-001, PY 695-002: Teaching of Psychology Practicum
Spring 2015


Dr. Steven Prentice-Dunn

Office: 352 Gordon Palmer
Office hours: Wednesday, 1:30 - 3:00; other hours by appointment
Phone: 348-1940
Teaching and research interests

Dr. Matthew Jarrett

Office: 407A Gordon Palmer
Office hours: By appointment
Phone: 348-0629


In this class you will gain experience in all aspects of being a college instructor. You will also be able to consolidate much of the information about psychology that you have learned graduate school.

The course has two components. First, you will teach a section of Introduction to Psychology (PY 101). In this class of 35 students, you will be responsible for every component of the course. Second, you will learn instructional techniques and receive feedback aimed at making you an effective college teacher.

You will have substantial freedom to shape your introductory psychology course. There is no single method for teaching a subject effectively. However, a substantial body of evidence suggests that undergraduates learn best when taught with a variety of techniques. In PY 695 you will be exposed to methods ranging from traditional lectures to more active techniques such as small-group discussions and in-class writing. We hope that you will find several techniques that suit your interpersonal and presentational styles.

Good teaching is related to many variables. The research literature distills the list to two factors, intellectual excitement and interpersonal rapport. Intellectual excitement is related to what one presents and how one presents it. The goal is a clear presentation that has a stimulating emotional impact. Instructors who score high on this dimension are described as knowledgeable, organized, enthusiastic, and engaging. Interpersonal rapport is an awareness of interpersonal phenomena that facilitate learning. Instructors adept at this dimension are described as concerned, accessible, encouraging, fair, and challenging. Exemplary teachers excel at one or both of these factors and competent instructors have at least moderate skill in each.

Research has shown that you will be highly regarded as a teacher if you are a knowledgeable, well-organized, enthusiastic communicator who actively engages students in the learning process and creates a positive, supportive classroom environment. Developing these attributes is the major aim of this course.


PY 695 is limited to doctoral students in psychology who have our prior approval to register. Students must have completed a master's thesis before enrolling.

Texts and Readings:

Davis, B. G. (2009). Tools for teaching (2nd ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

A collection of required readings is available online. Additional readings may be assigned during the semester. Please consult the schedule for titles and dates.

Gazzaniga, M. S., Heatherton, T. F., & Halpern, D. F. (2012). Psychological science (4th ed.). New York: W. W. Norton. The text may be purchased in hard copy from local bookstores and is also available for rental through the UA Supply Store. It may also be purchased from W. W. Norton as an eBook (in either online or downloadable form), paperback, hardcover, or in 3-hole punch loose leaf. The various textbook options are priced differently.

Several digital resources (e.g., instructor's manual, test bank DVD, video clip DVD) are available with the text. There is a free textbook-companion website, StudySpace, which contains a variety of diagnostic and enrichment materials for students. Also available is the new online Interactive Instructor’s Guide,
a compilation of activities, lecture ideas, and media. The guide is continuously updated by the authors of the textbook. For access, please contact our Norton book representative, Scott Cook, at


Our weekly seminar serves three functions. First, it is a forum for sharing information about upcoming topics and demonstrations for the PY 101 course. Second, it is a resource group for solving problems that may arise in teaching your course. Finally, it provides a format for the discussion of the assigned readings.


Twice during the semester, you will video record your class. This will allow you to see your teaching from the students’ perspective. The recordings will be accompanied by ratings and comments from your students. You and we will meet to review the video and written feedback. (You have the option for additional recordings and meetings, should you choose.)

Twice during the term, you will attend a class taught by one of your colleagues to become familiar with alternative teaching styles. You will write a one-page summary of your observations to share with the instructor and me.

Periodically, we ask that you "check in" through e-mail or dropping by our offices. Briefly let us know how your course is going and if you need our assistance with anything.

Consult the schedule for relevant dates.

Learning Outcomes:


Learning Outcome



Develop an effective, personal teaching style.

(a) readings before and during the semester

(b) group discussions in ToP weekly seminar

(c) weekly practice in creating and conducting PY 101 class sessions

(d) weekly practice of instructional techniques learned through the ToP readings

(a) peer observation feedback (2 observations)

(b) numerical and narrative feedback from PY 101 students (2 rounds)

(c) video recordings of one's teaching (2 classes)

(d) self-reflection essay (2), consultation with ToP instructor in which new teaching goals are set (2)

(e) writing a statement of teaching philosophy

(f) writing an evaluation of the course

Create all components of a PY 101 course.

(a) readings before and during the semester

(b) ToP orientation session

(c) PY101 topic discussions in ToP weekly seminar

(d) weekly practice in creating PY 101 class sessions

(e) exam creation and scoring

(f) written assignment creation and scoring

(a) syllabus feedback from ToP instructor

(b) peer observation feedback (2 observations)

(c) numerical and narrative feedback from PY 101 students (2 rounds)

(d) video recordings of one's teaching (2 classes)

(e) self-reflection essay (2)


Consolidate your knowledge of psychology.

(a) weekly practice in creating and conducting PY 101 class sessions

(b) PY101 topic discussions in ToP weekly seminar

(a) self-reflection essay (2)

(b) consultation with ToP instructor (2)

Reinforce appropriate behaviors for professional settings.

(a) appropriate use of technology in seminar meetings.

(b) respectful verbal and nonverbal actions during discussions.

(c) active and prepared participation in discussions and other activities

(d) prompt replies to emails and other requests for information.

Evaluation by instructor


Your letter grade (A, B, C, D, F) grade in PY 695 will be determined by the following criteria:
A. Performance as a PY 101 instructor (65% of course grade). This involves: (a) providing your students with high-quality content, (b) using a variety of teaching techniques early in the semester and evaluating which work best for you and your students, (c) keeping careful records of student performance and promptly scoring tests and assignments, (d) treating students respectfully, and (e) collecting and considering feedback from students, peers, and us.

B. Participation in the seminar (25% of course grade). This entails (a) completing all readings and other assignments competently and on time and (b) consistently contributing to our seminar discussions. For the course grade, this component is broken down as follows:

(1) Peer observations of colleagues (N=2): 4%
(2) Submitted discussion questions (N=3): 3%
(3) Statement of teaching philosophy: 5%
(4) Participation in seminar: 13% (Consistent, substantive contributions that make it clear that you have mastered the assigned readings.)
(5) Instructor/course evaluations: Timely submission of the online evaluation and the anonymous, written evaluation is required to receive a course grade.

C. Professional behavior: (10% of course grade--Note that this category is full credit or zero credit.). As your instructors, we are responsible for creating an optimal course environment for learning. We also want to facilitate your professional development by encouraging the demeanor and behaviors of successful early-career psychologists. We take our obligation seriously by coming to class prepared, treating you with respect, establishing a positive atmosphere in the classroom, and promptly responding to your emails and requests for assistance. The following rules are
tended to reduce distractions and to promote the kinds of behaviors that are expected in virtually all professional settings.

Please adhere to the following rules consistently:

Laptops and tablets: There is accumulating evidence that the use of laptops and tablets in class hinders the performance of users and students sitting within viewing distance. Therefore, laptops and tablets are not allowed in class unless first cleared with us. Such devices will be approved only for note-taking and no other sites or functions may be open. You are expected to make eye contact with whomever is speaking except when you are typing.

Phones: Please turn phones to either the off or silent position. Answering a phone call or text is prohibited, unless you are expecting an important message and you let us know beforehand.

Active participant: Please stay engaged in class by fully participating in discussions and completing in-class assignments. Make eye contact with the speaker in classroom interactions in the same way you would in a one-on-one conversation held in an office or hallway. Please don't hold side conversations--they are distracting to us and to other students and are therefore detrimental to an effective classroom environment.

Email: A substantial amount of our course business will take place via email. Although many of us are avid texters, contemporary professional correspondence is still by email. Thus, it is important to check your email daily, even if you are not otherwise a regular user. Respond to our requests within 24 hours (unless you have already informed us that you are ill or otherwise occupied.) In addition to requests for information, we will send course updates and links to interesting articles and videos that we have found. If you find a resource useful, please send a quick acknowledgement or thank you.

As mentioned above, the credit for professional behavior is all-or-nothing. In addition, we have the right to lower your course grade beyond the ten percent. Should you have any concerns about your evaluation during the semester, please do not hesitate to discuss them with us.

Special Needs:

If you need special assistance in the classroom due to a disability, please contact the Office of Disability Services at 348-4285 or visit 133-B Martha Parham Hall East to register for services. After initial arrangements are made with that office, please contact us.

Code of Academic Conduct:

All students in attendance at the University of Alabama are expected to be honorable and to observe standards of conduct appropriate to a community of scholars.  The University expects from its students a higher standard of conduct than the minimum required to avoid discipline.  Academic misconduct includes all acts of dishonesty in any academically related matter and any knowing or intentional help or attempt to help, or conspiracy to help, another student. The Academic Misconduct Disciplinary Policy will be followed in the event of academic misconduct.

Statement on Diversity and Nondiscrimination:

As an academic community, our educational mission is enhanced by the robust exchange of ideas that occurs between a diverse student body, faculty, and staff within a respectful and inclusive learning environment. As a campus community we are dedicated to the pursuit of personal and academic excellence, to advancing the ideals of individual worth and human dignity, and to maintaining a nurturing and respectful learning environment. All members of the UA community are expected to contribute positively to the environment and to refrain from behaviors that threaten the freedom or respect that every member of our community deserves.

The University of Alabama is committed to the concept and practice of equal opportunity and affirmative action. The University of Alabama complies with applicable laws prohibiting discrimination, including Titles VI and VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, Executive Order 11246, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, Sections 503 and 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974, as amended by the Jobs for Veterans Act of 2002 (VEVRAA), the Age Discrimination Act of 1975, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, the ADA Amendments Act of 2008, and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 and does not discriminate on the basis of genetic information, race, color, religion, national origin, sex (which includes sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression), age, disability or veteran status in admission or access to, or treatment of employment in, its programs and services. Inquiries and concerns may be directed to Dr. Gwendolyn Hood, University Compliance Officer, 171 Rose Administration Building, Box 870300, Tuscaloosa, AL 35487-0300, (205) 348-5855 (Voice); (205) 348-5573 (TDD). Inquiries or concerns regarding The University’s Title IX Compliance may be directed to the University’s Title IX Coordinator, Ms. Beth Howard, 152A Rose Administration Building, Box 870114, Tuscaloosa, AL 35487-0114, (205) 348-5496,

Course Evaluation:

At the end of the semester, you will submit two evaluations of the PY 695 course and our supervision. The first UA's Student Opinion of Instruction (SOI) survey that will be completed online. The second is an anonymous written evaluation: Click here for guidelines.

Emergency information. In the event of an emergency, the primary University communication tool for sending out information is the web site Students should consult this site as soon as they can in an emergency. I will give information on the course during the emergency through the E-Learning.


Final Note:

Teaching your first college course will be a rewarding and exciting experience that nonetheless will have its share of frustrations. Please consider us resource people who can share what has worked for us and can help you weigh the advantages and disadvantages of possible choices. Feel free to contact us informally about any problem that you are facing, no matter how small. And don’t forget to share your positive experiences also. We especially like hearing about those.