I am primarily interested in teaching courses on personality, psychometrics, and psychopathology. I have taught a standard survey course on personality theory and research, wherein students learned the basic findings of personality psychology, and summarized and evaluated the major approaches. I have also taught a course of my own creation, Great Ideas in Personality, which introduces a number of important personality theories and helps students address the question, What makes an idea in personality great? I would enjoy teaching an interdisciplinary course, similar to history and systems of psychology, that presents several theories of human nature, from Plato to Skinner, and asks what makes a theory scientific. Having found the web to be a valuable teaching resource, I have created the Great Ideas in Personality website, which includes not only my own work, but also some of my students' papers, peer commentaries, and web projects.
Indispensable to the science of individual differences is testing, measurement, and psychological assessment, and I would like to teach students the methods used in this field. I plan to take a hands-on approach, emphasizing the application of psychometric methods to student research projects.
In addition to teaching personality and psychometrics, I would also like to help students grapple with the important conceptual and empirical issues regarding abnormal behavior. This could be done in a survey course on psychopathology, but also in an advanced course that explores the definition, classification, and relation to personality of various psychological disorders.
I have an ongoing research program in personality psychology, and I have actively involved undergraduate students in this research program. Students have been involved in all phases of my research, from writing literature reviews, to data collection, to data analysis, to reporting results. I have found this one-on-one contact with students to be highly rewarding, and I intend to maintain a lab in which students will be involved continuously in research of mutual interest.
My teaching philosophy emphasizes the presentation of alternative points of view, encouraging students to weigh the evidence and draw their own conclusions. As much as possible, students should read what proponents and critics of a theory have to say in their own words. Students should be encouraged to think deeply about theories, to comment on them, and to present their ideas in class and, in some cases, to the public. Students encouraged to take ownership of ideas, to understand and appreciate the subtleties involved, will not only show enhanced interest, but will also develop the critical skills that reflect a good education.
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