Northeast Conference for Teachers of Psychology Fall 2023 Annual Meeting


Morning Keynote Address

Fact or Fiction?
How Can Students Know the Difference?

Ken Keith, Ph.D.
Professor Emeritus
University of San Diego

9:00 AM to 10:00 AM
Student Center, North Room, C112, First Floor

In an era of rampant misinformation and disinformation, the role of critical thought is more important than ever. For informed citizens, as well as budding psychological scientists, this means learning the relations among fact, truth, and opinion; and between science literacy and scientific literacy. The foundation for this learning lies in engagement with the process of critical analysis and awareness of sound methodology, in daily life as well as research. I will discuss these issues, and suggest some ways to address them.

Dr. Tony D. Crespi
Concurrent Sessions – 10:10 AM – 11:10 AM

Concurrent Session 1

Teaching College Students how to Discuss Controversial Topics

Jennifer P. Leszczynski
(Eastern Connecticut State University)

Student Center, Fallon Room, C320, Third Floor

One of the primary skills that college students need to learn today is the ability to speak to others about controversial topics. I will discuss my experience teaching an undergraduate senior-level discussion-based course entitled “Controversies in Child Psychology”. Social media has made it even easier for people to express their opinions in less than respectful ways (Maia & Rezende, 2016). The ability to speak with others and get your point across in a respectful way is essential and students reported that they had have never had a course that was so impactful to their lives outside of the classroom.

Dr. Tony D. Crespi

Concurrent Session 2

Active Learning Demonstrations for Cognition and for Behavioral Neuroscience

Brandy Bessette-Symons
(Ithaca College)
Sara Steele
(Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts)

Student Center, Foster Room, C318, Third Floor

Laboratories and in-class demonstrations are vital tools for enhancing conceptual understanding (McKee et al., 2007). But for many educators, and for multiple reasons, hands-on laboratory resources are unavailable. This increases the importance and value of effective in-class demonstrations. In this presentation, several demonstrations will be shared that focus on the teaching of cognitive psychology, where the student can learn about internal mental processes via active learning. The demonstrations will align with the sequential nature inherent to the information processing approach (Atkinson & Shiffrin, 1977, Baddeley & Hitch, 1974) and will focus on foundational concepts that are often included in cognition dedicated chapters in general psychology textbooks and entire chapters in cognition dedicated textbooks (e.g., attention, short-term memory, working memory, levels of processing, long-term memory storage and retrieval, and memory errors).

One area that many students struggle with in Psychology is the concept of neurons. Neurons are microscopic and not something you see in the everyday world. This can make it challenging for students to understand their structure and function in a typical lecture. This simple in-class activity brings neurons to life with 2 simple items: pipe cleaners and beads. Students get to take their finished product home with them! This handmade neuron can then be used as a study tool for future exams or other assessments. Attendees will leave with an instruction sheet of how to make these neurons in their own classroom.

Dr. Tony D. Crespi
Dr. Tony D. Crespi
Participant Idea Exchanges-11:20 AM to 11:50 AM

#1 Exploring the Utilization of ChatGPT in Higher Education: Advancing Course Development and Grading Efficiency

Jesse Miller & Lisa Marie Chervenak
Post University

Student Center
Lancer’s Loft, C315, Third Floor

AI language models like GPT-4 can significantly assist in course development by generating content and assisting in the organization and structuring of a syllabus. They can suggest topics to be covered, provide potential course objectives, and even offer examples of assignments that align with those objectives. This makes the course development process less burdensome, freeing educators to focus more on enhancing their teaching methodologies. However, AI assistance should be thoughtfully used, as human judgment is still crucial in tailoring courses to meet specific learner needs and outcomes (OpenAI, 2023).

#2 Identifying “Awe Walk” Routes on Your Campus

Kenneth A. Pérez
University of Connecticut, Avery Point

Student Center
Lancer’s Loft, C315, Third Floor

Student’s personal and emotional health are linked to their academic success. Improving the frequency and contexts for students to feel positive emotion can provide psychological benefits. This roundtable will introduce a technique introductory psychology instructors can adapt to promote the emotion of awe, which people typically express in the context of spectacular events. A guided fifteen-minute awe walk has been effective in providing a space for people to experience this emotion across environmental contexts. Experiencing awe can promote interest in scientific ideas, prosocial behavior, and reduce loneliness. Instructors are encouraged to imagine routes in their campus that facilitate awe.
Posters – 11:50 AM – 12:20 PM

Student Center
Blue Lounge, C101, First Floor

The Use of Gamification in an Asynchronous Research Methods Course
Deana Vitrano (Western New England University)

A pressing issue in education is how to keep students engaged and motivated in the classroom. Gamification has been proposed as one potential way to increase student engagement overall in educational settings. Gamification refers to using typical elements of a game (e.g., scoring points, progressing through levels, completing quests, etc.) in other areas of activity, such as in a classroom. Previous literature on gamification in educational settings shows that it can be an effective method for increasing student engagement (e.g., see Saxena & Mishra, 2021). The current study focuses on “low-tech” gamification (i.e., a simple way to include gamification without overtaxing the instructor, see Wilson-Doenges, 2022) in an online, asynchronous research methods course. Specifically, several small activities were created each week that students had the option to participate in. Students collected one gold star for each activity they completed, and then would progress through levels based on their star count (e.g., Level 1: 0-10 stars). At the end of the semester, students received extra credit depending on the level they reached by the last day of class. The aim of the current study was to assess this gamification piece in the course by asking students for their feedback. Students will fill out a survey asking about their involvement in the activities, their overall feedback, and their level of agreement with statements about their overall motivation and success in the course. I predict that gamification will be tied to better student outcomes overall. Preliminary results and conclusions will be discussed.

Innovative Pedagogy to Facilitate Peer-to-Peer Learning in Online Cross-cultural Psychology Class

Dr. S. Virginia Gonsalves-Domond (Ramapo College)

In March 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic sent educators reeling, as many transitioned to online platforms for the first time in their academic careers. Ways of facilitating peer-to-peer learning ensuring that plural narratives of cultural experiences in the global north and south were integrated in an online “Cross-Cultural Psychology” course.

Narrative Storytelling to Empower Minority Students

Audra Dankwardt & Jesslynn Rocha Neves (UMass Amherst)

This poster explores the power of narrative storytelling for youth who experienced collective and individual trauma. Storytelling interventions are framed as a means to promote equity and combat oppression in schools. Practitioners can leverage narrative storytelling to help youth connect with, create meaning from, and heal from trauma. Additionally, this presentation will help educators think about how to guide students in expressing their stories, and integrate storytelling interventions in classrooms and individual relationships with student’s.

Becoming a Better Teacher Means Becoming a Better Learner: Metacognitive Abilities Predict Effective Learning Strategy Use by College Instructors

Claire E. Consadine, Sara G. Goodman Ph.D. (St. John Fisher University)

Metacognitively-supportive teaching practices encourage effective student learning. Primary and secondary educators often receive formal training in these and other teaching strategies. However, college faculty are infrequently provided with sufficient pedagogical training to encourage the development of metacognitively-supportive teaching methods. In this study, we aim to understand what factors contribute to the effective use of metacognition by college instructors. We asked college instructors from an array of disciplines to evaluate their own degree of metacognition, their use of metacognitively-supportive teaching practices, and their promotion of metacognition among their own students.

Assessment of Quantitative Literacy in a General Education Statistics Course Across Different Modes of Instruction

Anne E. Stuart, Sandra A. Sego, Dora Butkovic, Grace Dervan, & Taylor Wildes (American International College)

At our school, like many colleges, the introductory-level psychology statistics course fulfills the General Education Quantitative Reasoning requirement. As part of a course redesign, we evaluated quantitative reasoning assignments from 341 students taking our statistics course from Fall 2018 through Fall 2022 using the AAC&U Quantitative Literacy VALUE Rubric. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, our instructional method changed several times during this period. We examined the averaged Rubric scores for differences across the modes of instruction. Significant differences were found across the modalities. Reasons for differences are discussed along with the relationship between Rubric scores and overall course performance.

 12:30 PM – 1:30 PM

Lunch for all registered NECTOP participants Student Center

Lancer’s Loft, C315, Third Floor and then please join us in Student Center, Foster Room, C317, Third Floor for the Active Learning Demonstrations


How Much Consciousness Is Out There, Really?

Douglas A. Kowalewski (University at Albany)

This activity involves learners ranking several entities on how conscious they are (via team-based learning techniques). Through providing rationales for their responses, students learn not only what psychologists generally include in definitions of consciousness (ability to pay attention, having a subjective experience, etc.), but also how things like generative AI (e.g., ChatGPT) and inanimate objects might sometimes challenge those definitions. Through this activity, learners gain a greater appreciation for the “in-progress” nature of psychological theory and research and are able to confidently apply their knowledge of consciousness toward better understanding their daily psychological experience (and the experiences of others).

An Engaging, Vomit-Proof Way to Teach Part of the Human Birthing Process

Nicole Depowski (Wells College)

Birth is a key concept covered in developmental psychology courses addressing all stages in the lifespan. However, due to the potential for students (or instructors) becoming ill during this topic, it is easy to gloss over it or not address the lifespan implications of the process. This engaging activity uses a mixture of medical diagrams, hair ties, and vegetables to bring students’ attention to the difficulties of birth and the lifespan (i.e., both parent and child) experiences and implications of the birth process.

Hands-On Learning: Make and Take Neurons

Sara Steele (Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts)

The literature strongly suggests that hands-on activities are a valuable way to engage students with educational content (Satterthwait, 2010). One area that many students struggle with in Psychology is the concept of neurons. Neurons are microscopic and not something you see in the everyday world. This can make it challenging for students to understand their structure and function in a typical lecture. This simple in-class activity brings neurons to life with 2 simple items: pipe cleaners and beads. Students manipulate the shape of the pipe cleaner to form the main components of the neuron (dendrites, cell body, axon, terminal) and the beads serve as the myelin. The best part of this activity is that students get to take their finished product home with them! This handmade neuron can then be used as a study tool for future exams or other assessments. Student feedback suggests this hands-on activity helps them understand these complicated cells in a fun and memorable way. Incorporating this idea into a course is a simple and relatively low-cost approach to increase student engagement and interest in the topic. Attendees will leave with an instruction sheet of how to make these neurons in their own classroom.

Teaching the Difference between Human Knowledge and AI Information Using Psychology Assignments

Jennifer McLeer (University of Hartford)

In this teaching exercise, students analyze ChatGPT’s responses to discussion board prompts in organizational psychology. Students first respond to the prompt on their own. Then, they are presented with ChatGPT’s response. After contrasting those two responses, they edit ChatGPT’s response so that it overcomes identified weaknesses. They show their work process using techniques, such as tracking changes, comment boxes, and outlines. The assignment’s primary point is to review the course materials. The assignment’s secondary point is to examine differences between the contextual and nuanced knowledge produced by humans and the broad and generalized information produced by AI.

Afternoon Keynote Address 1:30 PM – 2:30 PM

Both/And Thinking to Support Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion: Within the Classroom and Beyond

Maria S. Wong, Ph.D.
Endicott College

Student Center, North Room, C112, First Floor

There are many ways that we, as instructors, can support diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) for our students. Within the classroom, we cultivate a learning environment so all our students feel welcome and included. To decenter whiteness, we include work from underrepresented researchers. To remove barriers and increase equity, we design our courses based on universal design for learning principles. Outside of the classroom, it is important that our support for DEI continues. This presentation explores Both/And Thinking (Smith & Lewis, 2022) as a framework to examine our approach to supporting DEI within and outside of the classroom setting. This useful framework allows us to carefully examine assumptions, understand the larger context, lean into discomfort, and stay agile. Implications of Both/And Thinking for professional development are also discussed.

Concurrent Sessions – 2:40 PM – 3:40 PM

Concurrent Session 3

Maximizing Intro Psych’s Ripple Effect: The Question of Content

Sue Frantz
(Highline College)

Garth Newfeld
(Cascadia College)

Student Center, Fallon Room, C320, Third Floor

We have a fundamental belief that Intro Psych should benefit the lives of our students, and thus have a positive impact on their relationships, workplaces, and communities. The vast majority of our Intro Psych students will earn a degree in something other than psychology. For most of them, Intro Psych will be the only psychology course they will ever take. What do they need to know about psychology? Our time with our students is finite. For everything we choose to cover, we are choosing not to cover something else. For too long we have defaulted to teaching Intro Psych content based on some idea we had been given long ago about what that content should be. It’s time to step away from that default and give our Intro Psych content some serious conscious consideration.

For every concept we choose to cover, we are choosing not to cover something else. When we take time to explain the workings of the sodium-potassium pump, we leave ourselves less time to discuss the powerful roles played by neurotransmitters. When we take time to cover Freud’s psychosexual stages, we leave ourselves less time to discuss modern theories of personality. When we take time to cover the history of psychotherapy, we leave ourselves less time to discuss the different types of mental health providers, how to find a psychotherapist, and the ethics code for psychotherapists. Further, in the presentation, we will talk about some hidden, but important, impacts that various psychologists have had on the discipline, like the Mamie an Kenneth Clark and Lilian Gilbreth.

Dr. Tony D. Crespi
Dr. Tony D. Crespi

Concurrent Session 4

Student Data Collection: The Online Psychology Laboratory (OPL) Revision

Barney Beins
(Ithaca College)

Student Center, Foster Room, C318, Third Floor

APA’s Online Psychology Laboratory (OPL) has been renovated and streamlined to bring active learning in data collection to the classroom or to any location that has internet access. The changes allow enhancement of the student experience both in data collection as a research participant and in demonstrations of psychological content. OPL is now more accessible with updated programming that allows access by multiple devices: desktop computers, laptops, tablets, and cell phones. And, as before, OPL is available to teachers and students free of charge. The new version of OPL retains over two dozen 26 different data-collection exercises in cognition, individual differences, social psychology, learning, and sensation and perception. In addition, students can psychological content in modules that do not include data collection.

Dr. Tony D. Crespi
Concurrent Sessions – 3:50 PM – 4:50 PM

Concurrent Session 5

Visual Arts as a Vehicle to Understand Psychology

Justina M. Oliveira
(Southern New Hampshire University)

Student Center, Fallon Room, C320, Third Floor

Street art, paintings, sculptures, and photography help students understand complex psychology content in a visual manner. This can be especially beneficial to students with English as a second language, first-year college students, and neurodiverse students, as it allows for a hands-on and visual representation of content. Visual arts give students the opportunity to explore the environment around them and understand how psychology is connected to everyday experiences. It can break down the silos that students often perceive to exist across disciplines as well – art and psychology can inform one another. Come explore these ideas further in this session!

Dr. Tony D. Crespi
Concurrent Session 6

Personal-Professional Mission: A workshop for self-work realignment

Garth Neufeld
Cascadia College

Our career development pipeline serves the profession well (i.e., it produces competent professionals), but does so at the expense of the individual, leading many people toward self-work incongruence and burnout (Brandstätter et al., 2016; Maslach & Leiter, 2008). In this workshop, attendees will go through a strengths-based process to develop a personal-professional mission statement that will serve as a valuable, authentic career decisional tool – a north star to increase self-work congruence.

Dr. Tony D. Crespi

Friday 5:00 PM – 5:30 PM

Sheehan 109

Ted Bosack Address

Teaching the Teachers: First, Know Thyself

Over the past twenty years, teaching and learning has, for me, changed dramatically. I went from being someone who cared deeply about ensuring that I covered all the material that students needed to know to someone who now wants to be inclusive, engaging, and who wants to ensure that I can create an effective student learning environment. What happened in that time frame and how did I come to let it affect me? Many, many things impacted my understanding of teaching and learning, and in this talk, I plan to highlight not only how those events, ideas and experiences changed me, but also how it created a profound change in my teaching behavior. I end with a renewed teaching philosophy that I think will shape the remainder of my teaching career. And, I invite folks to share their journeys through their educational experience.

Ted Bosack

The conclusion of this session marks the end of the 2023 Annual NECTOP Meeting.

We look forward to seeing you in 2024!


Association Coordinator's
Mailing address:

Michael Amico, Ph.D.
Housatonic Community College
900 Lafayette Blvd
256 Beacon Hall
Bridgeport, CT 06604
Phone: 203-362-5163





The New England Psychological Association presents invited addresses, symposia, workshops, papers and posters at annual autumn meetings held in the six New England states, usually on a college campus.