ECP Corner

This blog contains submissions from STP's Early Career Psychologists (ECP) Committee to the ECP Corner column in STP News from January 2020 to the present.  The ECP Corner first appeared in the November 2016 issue of the newsletter, which was then called ToPNEWS-Online.  You can read ECP Corner columns from November 2016 through December 2019 in past issues of ToPNEWS-Online here.

Submit questions to ‘Ask an ECP’

For their monthly column, the ECP Committee wants to research and answer questions that mean the most to you. If you have a question, fill out this simple form and your question may be featured in an upcoming column.

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  • 10 Mar 2020 12:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Dear ECPs,

    At my institution, faculty are required to serve as academic advisors within the major. It is an area that is evaluated during promotion/tenure review. How do I best report my faculty advising practices in my portfolio?

    Sincerely,

    Tracking Tasks for Tenure

    Dear Tracking Tasks for Tenure,

    Thank you for your question! Several members of the ECP Committee have completed their portfolios successfully. In fact, our own Janet Peters (pictured at right) recently obtained promotion to Associate Professor! Completing the promotion/tenure portfolio may arduous, but the result is a product that demonstrates months of hard work.

    Depending on the institution, there are several ways to define faculty advisors. It seems from your question that a faculty advisor is someone who is assigned Psychology majors and helps them plan their undergraduate schedule and progress to graduation. Some institutions have staff advisors, others utilize one to two faculty members as advisors as a service commitment, and others expect all faculty to serve as academic advisors for all undergraduate majors in their department.

    Albee Mendoza (pictured at right), currently the only ECP in the team serving as an academic advisor, shares advice and best practices.

    Provide evidence of meetings with your advisees during the semester.

    During the Add/Drop period early in the semester, I meet with advisees to make changes on their current schedule as students realize the requirements of their selected courses. After these meetings, I complete a summary of our time in order to remind them of tasks, to document what changes were made to their schedule, and to describe what courses need to be considered come registration time. Advisees also come to me during the graduation petition period, midterm reporting period, and withdrawal period. After these meetings, however brief they may be (i.e., required signature), I send an email to the advisee about the interaction for documentation purposes. [Demonstrates completion of required tasks for advising]

    During registration period, I strive to meet with 100% of advisees (I usually have 15 to 25 advisees). I utilize an online scheduling system (i.e., SignUpGenius) to keep track of who is coming when. I make myself available outside of office hours and provide meeting times the week before registration opens until the week after it closes. I email my advisees to indicate available times and how to prepare for their appointment. [Demonstrates additional availability to accommodate advisees]

    If the numbers are available and they are in your favor, then you may consider contacting the Information Technology department or Academic Affairs office to report your individual retention and/or graduation rates compared to the institution’s retention and/or graduation rates. [Demonstrates excellence in the area of faculty advising and contribution to the institution’s mission]

    Provide evidence of resources that you find most useful.

    Like at many institutions, there was no formal training by my institution to serve as a faculty academic advisor. There were voluntary sessions with the department of Information Technology to learn about the technological aspects to register students. I learned about the advising process from asking colleagues in the department as well as consulting the college catalogs. On my own, I utilized STP’s e-books such as Academic Advising: Models, Students, Topics, and Issues and Academic Advising: A Guide to the Sub-Discipline. [Demonstrates the advisor’s willingness to learn more about these practices and understand the needs of individual advisees]

    My college catalog is a bit unwieldy, which makes it difficult to ascertain exactly what classes are needed for the major. To overcome this challenge, you may consider creating a user-friendly checklist, mirroring the information on the catalog and containing the general education requirements, major requirements, major electives, and general education electives. This checklist may include when courses are typically offered (every fall, once a year, etc.) and the prerequisites for specific courses. Similarly, you may think about creating a checklist for the minors that your advisees typically select, which may be more time-efficient than looking up the requirements every semester at registration time (e.g., how many credits are needed to complete the minor?, what specific classes are required?, what prerequisites are needed for those required classes?, when are classes usually offered?). For my institution, popular minors include Criminal Justice, Human Biology, History, and English. [Demonstrates the advisor’s production of resources to maximize efficiency during meetings]

    Provide evidence of specific activities you do to serve your advisees

    Send an email of office hours at the start of the semester to advisees. [Demonstrates that the advisor is available and thinking about their advisees, especially to accommodate them for the Add/Drop period, and is available to them for the entire semester]

    Send emails throughout the semester to advisees about important college-wide deadlines (e.g., when to withdraw from classes, when to sign graduation petitions, when late fees are incurred, etc.) [Demonstrates the advisor’s own knowledge of these deadlines and their willingness to be available to students to discuss these issues]

    Send emails about department-specific meetings and activities (e.g., Psychology Club Movie Night), community-wide internships and events (e.g., Out of Darkness Suicide Prevention Walk), and nationwide programs and awards (e.g., Psi Chi Regional Travel Grants) [Demonstrates the advisor being engaged with the department’s student organizations, the larger community, and the field as a whole]

    Rely on the expertise of different departments throughout campus to support students’ success and professional development (e.g., using the early alert/academic progress report system, referring advisees to on-campus tutoring services, providing contact information for disability support services, encouraging participation at events hosted by the career counselor) [Demonstrates the spirit of interdepartmental collaboration and the encouragement of students’ professional development]

    Provide evidence of professional development activities focused on faculty advising

    Get involved in academic advising committees.

    Attend local, regional, or national talks about faculty advising like NACADA Drive-Ins.

    Learn about best practices in serving a variety of student populations (e.g., attending trainings on working with first generation students).

    Collaborate with other departments and discuss faculty advising practices.

    Complete research and present about faculty advising.

    = = = = =

    Because institutions differ in the weight of faculty advising in promotion/tenure review, please make sure to check with colleagues. Please feel free to reach out if you have questions or comments about this topic.

    = = = = =

    Sincerely,

    Your STP Early Career Psychologists Committee

    Karenna Malavanti, Ph.D.

    Albee Mendoza, Ph.D.

    Molly Metz, Ph.D.

    Janet Peters, Ph.D.

    Daniel Storage, Ph.D.


  • 10 Feb 2020 12:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Dear ECPs,

    I read your column every month and while it’s great to hear from you so consistently, I also wish I knew each of you a bit better! What are each of your roles on the ECP Committee? If I have an ECP-related question or want to get involved in ECP-related activities, which one of you should I talk to?

    Sincerely,

    Hoping to Get Involved

    Dear Hoping to Get Involved,

    We’re thrilled to hear that you’re interested in getting to know each of us and our roles on the ECP Committee better! Below, we have each included a quick little blurb to give you an idea of what we do on the ECP Committee and what our vision is for 2020 (that is, our 2020 vision).

    All committee members: We attend virtual meetings monthly, write for the ECP column (switching off who will be the lead writer each month), attend the Annual Conference on Teaching, communicate via email regularly, and contribute to ECP programming at ACT. We enjoy hearing from ECPs, so please do not hesitate to reach out to us on social media accounts or email us.

    Daniel: In 2020, I have three main roles as part of the ECP Committee. First and foremost, I will serve with Karenna as co-chair of the committee. This means a good portion of my time will be spent organizing monthly meetings of the ECP Committee, drafting newsletters such as this, managing the committee’s budget (used for awards for ECPs, swag for the Annual Conference on Teaching, and so on), and answering emails sent to stp-ecp@teachpsych.org. Beyond these responsibilities, I will also team with Albee, the committee’s newest member, to redesign the ECP website. The website is up and running now but is currently a bit bare. Our vision is for the website to be filled with many resources for ECPs to use in their daily lives by the end of 2020. This is an excellent transition into my third role on the ECP Committee, which is to design and share resources for ECPs. As one example of what this will look like, I am currently compiling a list of teaching and learning centers that each contain a wealth of resources related to the teaching of psychology. I plan to post this list, along with links to relevant resources designed by each teaching and learning center, to the ECP website as part of the redesign. I am always open to more ideas about what other ECPs would find useful, so please do not hesitate to reach out. I look forward to serving you this year!

    Albee: The STP ECP Committee is an active group! In addition to the responsibilities everyone shares, I am teaming up with Karenna and Daniel to complete several tasks. With Karenna, I plan to develop visual materials and have them available on social media and listservs to encourage attendance and participation at ACT’s social hour as well social hours at other conferences that may be an avenue for ECPs to meet (e.g., APA). With Daniel, I am updating the ECP website to include more resources that can support the marketability of ECPs by providing information on opportunities in the areas of teaching, advising, scholarship, and service. For example, in the area of teaching, ECPs who teach introductory psychology have an opportunity to be a reader for Advanced Placement Psychology exams in the summer months. In the area of advising, the National Academic Advising Association (NACADA) provides information on various programs, events, resources, and communities for faculty advising. In the area of scholarship, ECPs with a doctorate degree can serve as reviewers for the Psi Chi Journal of Psychological Research and provide editorial service for a scholarly journal. In the area of service, ECPs can serve on STP committees centered on the teaching of psychology. My vision for 2020 is to recruit more ECPs from underrepresented groups and support them in their career path by providing resources with opportunities for advancement and enrichment.

    Janet: We’re a collaborative bunch, so we all do a bit of everything. It’s part of what makes this team so fun! But we also have areas of specialization. Similar to last year, I will be the professional development coordinator for 2020. In this role, I am the lead on what we present at ACT; I solicit ideas from the group, write up the abstracts, and submit to ACT. Last year, our group presented a two-hour workshop on ways for ECPs to strategically document their teaching for awards, hiring, promotion, and tenure. Currently, we are brainstorming what we might submit for presentation at ACT 2020. We’re always open to what ECPs might be interested in discussing at ACT, so please feel free to email us.

    Molly: In my second year on the ECP committee, I will serve a few key roles in addition to our shared tasks (like preparing our newsletter columns). First, with Karenna I help manage the ECP social media presence, with a focus on Facebook. We use our social media accounts mainly to share information and opportunities relevant to ECPs, but if there is something else you would love to see on Facebook or Twitter, please let us know! Second, I am the appointed GSTA liaison, and as such serve as the point person for any potential collaborations between ECPs and graduate student instructors. Finally, last year I spearheaded our ACT Speed Mentoring event, and plan on improving that session and proposing it again this year! That said, although we all have our specific roles, one thing I love about this committee is just how collaborative we are, and so we all pitch in when needed!

    Karenna: I am a co-chair this year with Daniel, which means we serve as the ECP points-of-contact for STP leadership and perform a lot of administrative (i.e., behind the scenes) tasks for the committee. Last year I took the lead on scheduling STP ECP social hour events at regional and teaching conferences and planned the first-ever ECP Reception to celebrate the amazing ECP and STP programming at ACT. I will continue to serve in the Social Events Coordinator role this year as well as work with Molly on our social media channels. Specifically, I spearhead our STP Early Career Twitter account (@STP_ECP); many thanks to all of you who follow us! We are excited to have Albee on board to assist with getting more great ECP opportunities to our followers. My vision for this year is to plan another great ECP Reception (Hope to see you all in Pittsburgh this October!), continue to provide ECP-related information on social media, and have another great year of working with this inimitable team!

    Sincerely,

    Your STP Early Career Psychologists Committee

    Karenna Malavanti, Ph.D.

    Albee Mendoza, Ph.D.

    Molly Metz, Ph.D.

    Janet Peters, Ph.D.

    Daniel Storage, Ph.D.


  • 10 Jan 2020 12:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Dear ECPs,

    Prepping for a new semester over winter break can be daunting. Do you have any tried-and-true productivity hacks or time management skills to share with us as we prepare for a new semester?

    Sincerely,

    Getting Started on the Right Foot

    Dear Getting Started on the Right Foot,

    Daniel’s productivity hacks: By far, my biggest recommendation for enhancing your productivity is to adopt a to-do application, if you haven’t already. I used to be one of those people writing down all my to-dos in a virtual note on my desktop, simply deleting tasks in the note when completed. I began my to-do app journey with Wunderlist, a fantastic app which was recently bought out by Microsoft and is in the process of being replaced by Microsoft To-Do. The power of to-do apps cannot be understated. You can plan which tasks you would like to accomplish on any given day, set deadlines for each task, group a variety of tasks into a single project, and break down an overwhelming task into multiple smaller steps. It is very satisfying to check off to-dos and reflect at the end of the day–or the end of the month–at the record of how many tasks you accomplished. After trying many different to-do apps, I personally settled on Things 3. Note that Things 3 is exclusive to Apple devices (Mac, iPhone, iPad) and involves a one-time purchase. There are other fantastic apps that are cross platform (e.g., Todoist), but often ask for a modest subscription (e.g., $30/year) to access the full suite of features. My best recommendation for a free alternative is Microsoft To-Do (which works on all platforms, including Apple devices). It takes a bit of work to set everything up in the beginning, but it is absolutely worth the effort! I am far more productive than I was before, and I have less to remember!

    Albee’s hacks: Like Daniel, I have several apps that help me to accomplish the task of making a to-do list and organizing my thoughts/ideas for the upcoming semester. For example, I like Color Note on Android, which organizes lists via color and has a text or checklist feature. Along with these technological time-savers, one of the main tasks that increases my productivity in planning for the semester is doing an office hours schedule. I have colleagues who log into the class management system or utilize the school's course search multiple times to search for class information while preparing for their classes (e.g., drafting syllabi, creating the course calendar, responding to student emails, etc.). This takes up time that could be spent on other tasks (e.g., making lecture slides, planning for first-day activities, writing for the STP newsletter , etc.). While some may only include office hours in their office hours schedule, I found including the following information in my office hours schedule to be extremely helpful: I include the name and section of each class for the semester, the days and times of each class, the location of each class, the number of students in the class with a corresponding date (24 students as of 1/2/20), and the days and times of my office hours. I also add one to three recent pictures of me and/or my family and/or my colleagues. This helps me reflect back on last semester, helps students get to know me, and helps me get in the mindset of the next semester. Once that is complete, I print out a copy for outside my office and one for myself. This makes the aforementioned tasks and other organizing activities (e.g., making separate folders for each class) a little less cumbersome because the class information is easily accessible

    Janet's hacks: If you haven't made your syllabus yet, then I recommend using the automatic syllabus date generator; it always saves me a ton of time figuring out the dates for my classes and entering them into my syllabus (link). As I plan my course and create the schedule, I try to build in at least one "catch-up" day per unit - this gives me the freedom to expand a class discussion or do an extra in-class activity without stressing about excluding other content. It also gives me a buffer in the event that school is closed due to weather or if I get sick. Once you've made your syllabus and designed your course, you might start thinking about the grading and feedback you will be giving over the course of the semester. To help use my time more efficiently, I create my rubrics in our learning management system (we use Blackboard). This means I can quickly select the appropriate mastery level of the student for each criteria and leave a few developmental comments. The LMS then automatically calculates their grade based off the rubric I have designed. This system means that students get clear feedback and grades are posted automatically. I hope these tips help!

    Karenna’s hacks: One of the best time-savers I have is to use backwards course design when developing my courses/syllabi. I’ve found that by thinking about what I really want students to know about psychological science, my assessments and class activities are better aligned to my student learning objectives. This helps with student buy-in and actually makes selecting assessments, course material, assignments, etc, much easier, which saves me a ton of time! Like Janet, I also use the Rubrics function and additionally use the weighted grading option on Canvas, which has saved me so much time at the end of the semester (and helps students know where they stand throughout the semester). Lastly, I recommend documenting your service/ mentoring/ research (and more) activities on an informal Google doc or DropBox doc that you can readily access (I do this weekly). That way when you need to update your CV or portfolio during evaluation time, you can easily grab the information with the added bonus of not forgetting anything!

    Do you have any pre-semester tasks or productivity apps that help you save time?

    Sincerely,

    Your STP Early Career Psychologists Committee

    Karenna Malavanti, Ph.D.

    Albee Mendoza, Ph.D.

    Molly Metz, Ph.D.

    Janet Peters, Ph.D.

    Daniel Storage, Ph.D.


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