An Open Letter to Students

          Every year since receiving my doctorate, I have maintained an active research laboratory and taught a variety of courses in order to advance my knowledge of my discipline as well as develop and refine my effectiveness as a teacher of graduate and undergraduate university students. My number one goal is to provide you with excellent instruction and guidance so that you may better understand human behavior and apply that understanding to yourselves and others .On the CSULB campus, I am primarily responsible for teaching classes in History of Psychology (PSY401/501), Psychology of Learning (PSY333), and Seminar in Learning (PSY632). Although the content can differ greatly between these courses, I attempt to maintain a similar style with each. My philosophy is that you tend to learn and retain information better when you enjoy the topic area or at the very least enjoy the way it is presented, feel comfortable in class, and feel in charge of your own “fate” (that is, given the freedom to decide what grade you would like to receive and opportunities to obtain it). In that vein, I like to promote a relaxed, informal atmosphere that encourages open discussion (with plenty of humor thrown in as well). I also actively encourage you to take charge of your grade by offering you an opportunity to accept the grade you initially earn on your midterms or voluntarily re-take one equivalent (not identical) test of your choice in order to raise that grade.
          I attempt to teach rigorous courses and set high standards for both undergraduate and graduate students. I use a variety of assignments designed to develop your skills as well as assess acquisition of knowledge; the precise nature of these assignments varies dependent upon the nature of each course and include tests, term papers, literature reviews, oral presentations, and/or student-led lectures. I often use multiple choice tests in combination with essay-style tests. However, questions on these tests are not the type designed to merely assess rote knowledge of facts but rather your ability to engage in critical thinking, and to understand and analyze behavior using newly learned concepts.
          I also believe that all students should be exposed to intellectual breadth through engagement in a variety of experiences and environments that go well beyond the traditional lecture/classroom dynamic. In additional to classes, another way in which I attempt to provide this breadth is to bring in a small number of students and introduce them to my research and laboratory here at CSULB. Upon becoming a member of the lab, you will be exposed to (1) practical laboratory techniques; (2) the realities of working in a professional research environment; (3) intellectual interaction through collaboration; and (4) the realities of conducting research on a day-to-day, year-to-year basis. As a student, I found this type of relationship with my professors to be among the most important and valuable experiences of my education. Now, as a professor, I find that the relationships fostered through this type of interaction with you continue to be among the most important and valuable experiences of my professional career.