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GRAD 980

grad 980 Preparing to teach a psychology course


Loreto Prieto

Dr. Loreto Prieto, Professor of Psychology & Director of the U.S. Latino/a Studies Program at Iowa State University, is a member of the GRAD 980 faculty team.

What students are saying about GRAD 980.

To read a recent APA Monitor article about student reaction to GRAD 980, click here.

At the end of each term we ask our students to do an anonymous evaluation of the experience. One question we ask everyone to respond to elicits information about the practical effect the course is likely to have on their own teaching:

Courses in the GRAD series are designed to provide participants with experiences and information that they will be able to apply to their own teaching. In what ways do you think your participation in this course will affect the way you teach in the future?


Here is a sampling of recent responses to this key question:

  • This course has taught me a lot about how to effectively communicate with students, set achievable goals, employ diverse methods of assessment, and take greater advantage of technological tools. I found the assignments to be helpful, but the feedback and the groups discussion were even more so.
  • I realized that clarity of purpose is just as important as clarity of content when designing a course.
  • I think that my participation in this course will provide me with a lot of resources that I will look back to as I teach in the future (e.g., articles, web-sites, etc.) I also think it will provide me with a framework for preparing to teach a course so that I can do so more effectively (e.g., designing a syllabus, module, etc).
  • I honed my teaching philosophy based on pertinent feedback from my group instructor. I was a able to complete the syllabus I will be using to teach two sections of a course I will be teaching this fall, and completing the module gave me a structure for preparing. It helped me formulate objectives more clearly and use those objectives (along with my philosophy) to course content.
  • I learned a great deal from the variety of point-of-views of the individuals in my group. Their comment to my postings were very constructive and helpful. Additionally, the readings helped me to challenge my views on teaching. The assignments really forced me to think about how I would/should conduct my course.
  • This course allowed me to "flesh out" my teaching philosophy as well as to develop teaching skills like syllabus and course module design. It has definitely allowed me to be much better prepared to teach and made me more confident to develop and teach a course. I learned a great deal about grading and changed my philosophy on criterion-based grading (I am considering an alternative format). Thank you for a wonderful experience.
  • I got excellent feedback on my ideas for teaching my class not only from my instructor but from the other students. Their comments and suggestions helped me formalize my approach toward teaching the class as well as my interactions with my students.
  • Overall, I think I've grown a great deal as an instructor as a result of this class.
  • Taking the course forced me to outline my own beliefs about teaching and I think that this will be truly helpful when seeking employment. It also pushed me to create different aspects of a teaching portfolio - like a philosophy, or a particular module, that I might not have attempted on my own. But overall, I think that these assignments were really important in shaping the way that I now think about teaching. I learned a great deal about myself from the writing exercises and I was really pleased with the thoughts expressed by my coursemates (often offering ideas which I had never considered) and was equally pleased with the feedback from our instructor. I'm beginning to discover that one of the best ways to sharpen teaching skills is perhaps to discuss these with other individuals who are equally interesting in bettering themselves as instructors.
  • The course gave me confidence that I am doing things the right way (with some modifications of course!). The greatest thing I gained from the course was that I now feel I have the tools to effectively design and teach a course. And I have already begun with the work I did for this course. I think I will be a more organized thoughtful teacher in the future which will definitely benefit my students.
  • I have a much better understanding of how to structure my course based on the course objectives and how to make my test questions more congruent with the learning goals. I have more confidence in my overall teaching philosophy and approach. I think I will use more variety in my testing methods.
  • I feel way more prepared to teach my own course. Creating a syllabus and a teaching module really helped me organize my thoughts about teaching, and boosted my confidence to teach. It was helpful to get teacher feedback on these practical assignments, because I can now use what I created in-class.
  • This class was incredibly beneficial to helping me prepare to teach! It was good to have some basic teaching philosophy and pedagogy to help me structure my class. I also learned some practical tools to implement in the classroom that I will definitely incorporate next semester. Above all that, it was good to have the support of others going through the same experience as me--recognizing that we all have fears but we also have a lot of experiences we can share to help each other.
  • I think it will affect my teaching in many ways: how I lecture (design them and give them), how I design exams, how I grade, and how I get feedback about my performance as an instructor. I thought that I learned something practically useful in every section of the course.
  • Participation in this course gave me a greater realization of the amount AND type of preparation necessary for teaching not only a course in psychology, but any course in general. It is the work in this class that has allowed me to create a baseline for my own teaching.
  • The course helped from the beginning: I learned by having to write my philosophy. I can not believe how much personal feedback we received. Excellent job by the staff.

General comments on GRAD 980:

  • I enrolled in Grad 980 initially because of the convenience of an online course over the summer months when I have difficulty taking classes due to travel and scheduling problems. It far exceeded my expectations as far as personal communication with other students, and one on one communication with the professor. The course was broken into groups of about 8 students each, therefore there was a 1:8 professor:student ratio. The assignments were organized well, and built upon each other to allow us to learn and practice designing lectures and discussing classroom strategies. I was impressed at the individualized feedback I received on each assignment, and would not have expected more from a face to face course. Overall, I am happy and impressed with my experience in Grad 980.
  • The course this summer allowed me the opportunity to learn more about teaching and preparing to teach a psychology course. Having just completed my first year in graduate school, I had no idea how to prepare to teach a course and what sort of things need to be thought about before you actually teach. This course served as a good basis by which I will now be able to prepare to teach statistics lab in the Fall. Without this class, I would have been uninformed as to what philosophies of teaching, grading, etc. where out there and I would not have been able to make as informed of a decision about how I will structure my class in the fall. This class also allowed me to have the flexibility to learn at my own pace, and also allowed me to learn and discover a lot of things on my own. Overall this class was a great experience for me.