Teaching Professor, Psychology
Dr. Aimee Reichmann-Decker is a Teaching Professor in the Psychology Department. Some of the courses she teaches include: Foundations of Psychological Science, Human Sexuality, Personality, and Forensic Psychology. Previously, Dr. Reichmann-Decker has worked as a clinician with victims of sexual abuse, in an emergency room, and on an acute psychiatric ward. She earned her PhD at DU in Affective, Social & Cognitive Psychology with Dr. Anne DePrince, has a master’s from Northwestern University in Counseling Psychology, and a BA from Kalamazoo College.
Describe a change to your general teaching practice as a result of the pandemic that worked well or better than expected.
Teaching a single online course in both synchronous and asynchronous modalities was challenging, but seemed to improve student learning and engagement compared to my past online courses. Thankfully, I completed the advanced course in Canvas offered by OTL over winter break 2020. The skills I learned were essential to having a successful quarter. For example, using Cidi Labs to organize a homepage and modules on Canvas worked well. Students in my winter online class loved the simplified organization that was visually appealing. Additionally, although not always the easiest tool, Kaltura allowed me to record video lectures with questions inserted to encourage thinking and participation during completion of the asynchronous material.
Describe a change to classroom activities or assignments that worked well or better than expected.
I began to use Kahoot! to quiz students during our synchronous meeting times about information that they had learned asynchronously earlier in the week. Students appreciated a game-based platform to review important concepts and many liked the competitive aspect. While managing the Kahoot! each week, I received real-time feedback on confusing topics. During the game, I would pause and explain the correct answer when any question was missed by a number of students. Students commented that this was a fun way to know what was important and to practice what they had learned.
What change/s have you made to your teaching practice during the last year that you anticipate continuing beyond the pandemic?
Prior to the pandemic, I thought I was already a fairly engaging professor who was skilled at communicating content (don’t we all?!). The foray into hyflex and online teaching has showed me ways I can further improve. Namely, as the pandemic dragged on, I noticed more students becoming disconnected. After fall quarter, I decided to change tactics in winter to help students who were struggling to stay engaged in online courses. I made a number of changes and one was to begin using self-assessments as a way to track attendance and participation. Students rated themselves on preparation, timeliness (arriving and leaving), listening, participation in breakout rooms, and engagement in the larger group (comments in chat and polls). At first, I received pushback from students who thought they should just get points for attendance and not be penalized if not more active in the learning process. When I explained my rationale based on best learning practices and skill development important in eventual careers, most came around. I am continuing to use this type of self-assessment to encourage self-reflection and student responsibility in my in-person courses this quarter.
Another pandemic-driven change that I will continue is related to flipped classroom principles. Last quarter I posted asynchronous video clips and my recorded lectures to help students prepare for our synchronous weekly meeting. This quarter I am teaching completely in person and decided to do more of this. I have videos and recordings of important cases in forensic psychology to complement assigned readings on Canvas each week. By making application of concepts part of preparation, students seem to better understand the material and have more time to discuss and process the information in class. Students have also enjoyed having variety in assigned activities to learn content.