Teaching Assistantships: A Student Perspective

In honor of our all-registration issue, we’re including a bonus third installment about individualized learning experiences – a more recent interview with student Tonya Filz, who served as a teaching assistant for Introduction to Psychology.

1. Who did you work with for your teaching assistantship (TA)?

Dr. Gurung

2. How did you find out about the TA and go about getting it?

I had multiple TAs in other classes, but never really thought about applying for one. That is, until I was meeting with my advisor, Dr. Gurung. He was seeking TAs for a large lecture hall section of Introduction to Psychology with 250 students. At the time I was facing great uncertainty regarding future plans, and whether it would include graduate school or not. He suggested I apply for his final open TA position, which I ended up applying and subsequently being chosen to fill.

3. What kinds of things do you get to do for your TA?

The types of things you get to do for a TA vary with each faculty member that hosts TAs. In my teaching assistantship with Dr. Gurung, each TA was assigned a “pod” of 50 students to host review sessions for, and be the first contact point for questions and concerns about the course. Between the 5 TAs we reviewed in-class assignments, and took part in weekly meetings to discuss pedagogical issues in teaching such as making large lecture classes feel less like a large class, and more like a small class. Perhaps my favorite part of my TA came in the final week when each TA gave a lecture on a portion of the abnormal psychology section. I was terrified of speaking in front of so many students, and never considered myself a strong public speaker. However, I ended up receiving positive reviews and really enjoying lecturing. It was during the final week of class that I considered for the first time becoming a professor.

4. How do you think the TA relates to what you have learned in your classes?

I took Introduction to Psychology the first semester of my freshmen year, and completed my TA in the second semester of my junior year. By the time I completed my teaching assistantship, I had forgotten large amounts of what I learned in my own Introduction to Psychology course. It was extremely helpful for me not only to review the material, but also acquire a deep understanding of it to make sure I was able to explain it to my pod during review sessions. The depth of understanding I gained has helped me strengthen my foundation of psychology, which has led to greater ease of understanding more complex concepts that are presented in upper-level classes, as well as preparation for the GRE Psychology Subject Test.

5. How important has this TA been to your educational experience at UWGB, and why?

My TA shaped not only my educational experience at UWGB, but also my entire career goal. For my research project as a TA I was assigned to look at literature regarding specifically Undergraduate TAs. I became so fascinated by this material that I wanted to research this for my honor’s project; which over the next year I completed. The passion I first had for teaching quickly grew into a passion for researching a variety of topics. Since my TA I have had a 4.0 each semester, and am presently applying to Ph.D. programs in Clinical Psychology, in hopes of one day becoming a professor and being able to mentor undergraduates. In summary my TA experience made me a more confident, determined, and overall stronger student, and a more competitive applicant for graduate school. In fact, I have always said my TA was the first time I felt like a true psychology major, and not just a student.

Research Assistantships: A Student Perspective

When we first started writing The Pink Flamingo, we interviewed some students engaged in internships, research assistantships, and teaching assistantships. We decided to conduct some new interviews with recent students. In our first installment, Matt Machnik tells us about his RA with Dr. Martin.

1. Who were you working with for your research assistantship (RA)?

Dr. Ryan Martin

2. How did you find out about the RA and go about getting it?

I first heard about the research assistant opportunities during classes. I talked to different professors about the opportunities that were available. I periodically checked the Human Development Want Ads until an RA opportunity became available that was of particular interest to me. Then, I simply emailed the professor involved with the project, filled out an application, had an interview, and was offered the RA.

3. What kinds of things did you get to do for your RA?

I was able to be involved in just about every step of the research process. There were weekly meetings held during which Dr. Martin, the other RAs, and I would discuss the different studies we were working on during the semester. We continually worked on the methodology for each of the studies, and each of the RAs was given opportunities to provide suggestions for how to improve, or “fine tune,” them.

In addition, I had the opportunity to run data collections. This was my favorite part. This involved actually carrying out the different studies we had planned. I thought it was especially enjoyable because it was great to see people completing the measures we spent so much time preparing. Afterward, I would code the data in SPSS. This process was especially helpful, as it allowed me additional practice with SPSS.

Beyond that, I completed a literature review on the subject of my choice. While the prospect of having to write a paper isn’t always exciting to students, I believe it was a great learning experience. It gave me the opportunity to spend time familiarizing myself with scientific literature, as well as hone my writing skills.

4. How do you think the RA related to what you have learned in your classes?

Generally speaking, it gave me a better understanding of the research process. Since so much of what is taught at UWGB is research driven, it is apparent that this increased understanding will be of use when considering how scientific knowledge is gained. In addition, it helped improve my ability to critically analyze scientific literature – a skill that will come in handy when completing research related class assignments.

I also feel that my experience in the RA program will be of use when completing my Honors Project/Independent Study. The RA provided an excellent example of the type of work that will be involved in developing my project. In essence, the RA was a “warm up” to the research process that I will be carrying out. I would highly recommend that anyone considering doing an Honors Project or Independent Study participate in the RA program first, as it will help them become more familiar with research as a whole.

5. How important has this RA been to your educational experience at UWGB, and why?

Quite important. The experience has proved to be an asset not only when completing the coursework, but also in other projects, such as my Independent Study, as well as the internship that I am currently involved in. I strongly believe that I am a much more competent student than I was before doing the research assistantship, and this has helped enrich my educational experience here at UWGB. I also believe that the improved experience while doing my undergraduate work will also help me become a stronger graduate student. Thus, I believe the experience will pay off both immediately and in my future endeavors as well.

Editors’ Note: Wondering about getting a research assistantship of your own? Read the faculty profiles on the Human Development and Psychology websites to learn who typically works with RAs. These profiles also provide information about the research topics of interest to these professors. As registration time draws nearer for the next semester, you can also check out the department “Want Ads” to see if any openings are listed. Not all faculty members will list their opportunities there, so you should also feel free to contact professors directly to see if they are looking for RAs and find out how to apply.

Good Student News

As usual, our students have been involved in many wonderful things in recent weeks and months. Here is just a sampling of the great news we have to share.

Academic Excellence Symposium
The following students presented research sponsored by Human Development or Psychology faculty members at the Academic Excellence Symposium this spring: Carleen Horner, Heather Flick, Stephanie Freis, Krystal VanHoff, Amy Weise, Brittaney Molina, Caitlin Gurlt, Stephanie Lynch, Kristin Nick, Kayla Worchel, Maria Foth, Erin Ehlers, Jessica Hopp, Rebecca McCabe, Alyssa Zingler, Craig Van Pay and Tonya Filz. Congratulations, everyone!

University Leadership Awards
Please accept our apologies if we are missing anyone, but the following HUM DEV and/or PSYCH majors are receiving Chancellor’s Medallions: Heather Close, Jessica Hopp and Samuel Seefeld. Even more will receive University Leadership Awards. They include: Casey Calhoun, Tonya Filz, Kaitlyn Florer, Ashley Herrell, Andrea Kindschuh and Angela Thomsen. We look forward to celebrating your achievements this Friday, May 13!

Fergus & Bonnie Hughes Scholarship
Congratulations also go to Stephanie Freis, recipient of the 2011-12 Fergus and Bonnie Hughes Scholarship that honors the Human Development or Psychology major who best exemplifies interdisciplinary academic achievements in and out of the classroom. We want to recognize Stephanie for her many accomplishments, and also thank the other students who took the time to apply. We had an excellent pool of candidates and a truly difficult time making a decision.

Memorial Garden
Thank you and congratulations on a job well done to the Students of AMF at UWGB for the outstanding work they did continuing the tradition of the campus memorial garden. The event on May 4th was well-attended and wonderfully done.

Although there are too many names to list here, the ultimate good student news is that we get to celebrate the graduation of so many of our wonderful Human Development and Psychology majors and minors this week. Congratulations, good luck, and know that we will miss you–so keep in touch!

Good Student News

We always like to do a shout out to the many students we have who are out there doing great things. In this case, congratulations to Jessica Hopp and Rebecca McCabe, who presented with Dr. Bartell at the National Conference for the First Year Experience.  We have been told that their paper, Do Relationships Matter in the Effects of a First Year Seminar Program, was very well-received.

Good Student News

You’re basking in the excitement of the Packers’ Super Bowl win. Why not receive some reflected glory from some of your peers, as well? Psi Chi member Matthew Micolichek was the successful applicant for the second annual Yale University clinical psychology internship. He gets to work at Yale with Dr. Chris Cutter for three months of the summer. Travel, room, and board is paid by Yale and Psi Chi. He follows in the footsteps of Caitlin Gurlt, who worked at Yale last summer.

Tonya Filz, Stephanie Freis, Krystal Vanhoff, Amy Weise, and alum Tiffany Wilhelm all each got posters accepted for presentation at the 2011 APA symposium to be held this August in Washington, D.C. The team will collectively be presenting six posters: four at the Society for Teaching sessions (Div. 2), and two at the Social/Personality sessions (Div. 8). Work presented represents Honors projects, independent studies, and research from Dr. Gurung’s research lab.

Human Development Abroad: A Travel Course to South Africa

On a cold evening on January 5, six gutsy Human Development and Psychology majors met Professor Illene Noppe at Austin Straubel Airport for the beginning of what turned out to be an amazing adventure in South Africa.

Twenty-two hours and four plane changes later, we arrived in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, to study human development in a country 9,000 miles away from Green Bay. Port Elizabeth is on the eastern coast (cape) of South Africa,  alongside the beautiful Indian Ocean. It is home to Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, where we were treated to guest lectures from members of the History, Psychology, Nursing, and Social Work departments. We explored the entire life cycle, from pregnancy until death, in a society that had institutionalized racism (“Apartheid”) until 1994. We also toured many settings associated with our lectures, including a public hospital obstetrics ward for complicated pregnancies, orphanages, shelters for boys and teens, retirement homes, and cemeteries (to make Dr. Noppe happy). We saw a baby being born, line-danced with teens, interviewed middle-class adolescents, visited with elderly residents, and saw untold beauty and unbelievable poverty and the grief associated with a rampant HIV/AIDS crisis.

It was quite an intense learning experience, interspersed with many fun activities, such as participating in game drives, sunning ourselves at gorgeous beaches (it was South Africa’s summer), shopping at flea markets, ziplining, and eating great food. Most importantly, we met many, many gracious and giving people that were a source of inspiration to us all.

Please watch for our presentation of our experiences, to be held at a future Psi Chi event. Dr. Noppe hopes to run the travel course again in the future.

Thanks to Professor Noppe for filling us in on what sounds like an amazing trip! Here are a couple of pictures from the trip, including one that we at The Pink Flamingo find particularly relevant:


UW-Green Bay Memorial Garden has Human Development/Psychology Ties

Some of you may have noticed the flower garden between the University Union and MAC Hall last spring or when you returned to campus this fall. The garden was organized by a student group (“Together We Cope: Support for UW-Green Bay Grieving Students”) that is advised by Dr. Illene Noppe. The beautiful flowers are actually a memorial garden where individuals were able to place a plant to recognize a deceased loved one during a moving ceremony that took place last April 28th. Students Amanda Broadhagen and Nicole Hoagland made a presentation about the garden this summer to a conference for the National Students of AMF, the national grief-support organization of which our local student group is a chapter. The students plan to hold a ceremony at the garden every year, and students, staff, and alums will be welcome to plant a flower in someone’s honor at that time.

Student News to Celebrate: Scholarships, Fellowships, Research, and More!

We are overwhelmed by all the great things our students are doing! Here’s a sampling of the fabulous news we’ve received just since our last issue. Congratulations to everyone, and we’re very sorry if we missed anyone!

  • Caitlin Gurlt has been selected to be the 2010 Yale University Summer Intern! This is a great honor for her, our department and university, and Psi Chi at UWGB. She will receive travel funding, room and board, and a stipend.
  • Katie Kordus is the 2010-2011 winner of the Fergus and Bonnie Hughes Scholarship. She will receive $1000 to support her studies here at UW-Green Bay.
  • Kristin Nick recently presented her research at the prestigious “Posters in the Rotunda” event at the State Capitol Building in Madison.
  • Katie Von Holzen, a December graduate, has been awarded a $7500 Phi Eta Sigma Scholarship to support her graduate studies.
  • Finally, we want to congratulate all of our May and August graduates, as well as though who will be receiving Leadership Awards this Friday!

Experimental Psychology Poster Session: And the winners are…

Every semester, students enrolled in Experimental Psychology present their work at the campus-wide, Experimental Psychology Poster Session.  It’s an opportunity for them to showcase their hard work from the semester and a chance for other students and faculty to learn more about the great research being conducted in these classes. This semester’s session featured more than 25 impressive research projects from more than 100 researchers and, though we are proud of and congratulate all of the students for their hard work, three groups walked away with outstanding research awards. 

  • 1st Prize: Effects of Cell Phones on Learning and Memory Recall. Emma Bretl, Aaron Creamer, Kaitlyn Florer, and Rebecca Granger
  • 2nd Prize: The Effects of Color on Mood. John Chritton, Eric Effert, Heather Flick, and Brittany Zimmermann
  • 3rd Prize: Social Perceptions of Moral Character in Gothic Dressing versus Traditional Dressing Women. Shastel Baker, Aaron Menzer, Caitlin Neumann, and RoseMary Prem

Student News to Celebrate

We’d like to congratulate all of the Psychology and Human Development students who recently presented their work at the Academic Excellence Symposium.  Here is a list of their names and project titles:

  • Andrew Johnson: “Insights on Psychiatric Rehabilitation”
  • Kristie Kaczmarek: “Perceived Infidelity: Does Body Image Accentuate Women’s Jealousy?”
  • Amanda Luedtke: “Counseling Center Websites as Potential Suicide Prevention Tools”
  • Kristin Nick: “Midlife and Older Adults’ Perceptions of Mild Cognitive Impairment and Dementia Symptoms”
  • Joshua VandenBusch and Kelly Schroeder: “Transforming College Students through Design: A Review of the Literature”

Student News to Celebrate

We’ve been neglecting our duties of late, and it’s been awhile since we included a story celebrating all of the wonderful things our students have done. Here’s a sampling of just some of those amazing accomplishments. Congratulations to all!

  • The top 3 Experimental Psychology posters were awarded during the December poster session.  First place went to Diana Delbecchi, Amanda Emberson, Rebecca McCabe, and Jazmin Thomas for their project on the effects of chewing gum on memory.  Second place went to Panhia Lor, Andrew Palmbach, and Greg Weiland for their project on the effects of an audience on performance.  Third place went to Casey Calhoun, Laura Hamer, Amanda Hart, and Emily Kunze for their project on the effects of cell phone distractions on learning. 
  • Amanda Brodhagen and recent graduates Katie Von Holzen and Kirstin Thompson were awarded scholarships to attend the Annual Conference of the Association for Death Education and Counseling in Kansas City, MO, April 7 – 10, 2010. Katie will be presenting a poster on her research on humor and death. 
  • Several students will be making presentations in August at the national convention of the American Psychological Association in San Diego, CA. Amanda Luedtke and Andrew Blonigen are co-authors with Dr. Kris Vespia on a presentation about education and cultural competence.  Kristie Kaczmarek and Mandy Degeneffe are co-authors with Dr. Regan Gurung on presentations about body image.  Finally, recent alums Janet Weidert and Angie Roethal-Wendorf will be presenting at a symposium with Dr. Gurung on the benefits of being an undergraduate TA. 
  • Last, but not least, recent alum Katie Von Holzen and Dr. Jennifer Zapf will have a poster on the use of grammatical markers in the German language at the 2010 Annual Convention of the American Psychological Society in May in Boston, MA.

Students of AMF Support Network Plans Spring Activities

The UW-Green Bay National Students of AMF Support Network, a support and service organization for students who have loved ones who are suffering from life threatening illnesses or who have died, is planning a number of activities for the Spring semester, including the formation of a “Relay for Life” team to support the American Cancer Society.  That event takes place March 27 2010, and interested students should contact Dr. Illene Noppe. Please stay tuned for more announcements from the co-presidents, Ashley Durand and Nicole Hoagland, both Human Development majors. You can learn more about the organization at the national website: http://www.studentsofamf.com/