Psych Dept.’s Craig talks technology

Category:  News
Wednesday, December 2nd, 2015 at 9:38 PM

When looking at the psychology department on campus and its relationship with technology, Dr. Ronald Craig’s name comes to mind with his skillful use of technology to enhance the learning process differently and effectively in each of his classes.

One cool technological feature Craig uses are called, “turning point clickers.”

“Our department was one of the very first on campus and in fact some of the first in the nation to really start using those. We worked with the turning point group and that was 10 years ago roughly,” Craig said.

The clickers are completely anonymous and provide an innovative way to teach information while getting immediate feedback.

“I use them primarily for reinforcing learning and understanding. So in stats class, we will have talked about, you know, correlation. Then, I will put up a problem and we will go through and use the clickers and see how everyone is mastering the material, for places we need to work, places we need to change, those kinds of things”, Craig added.

Craig stated that he also uses the clickers in his psychology and law class, as well as developmental psychology, where he creates a game with conversation topics on beliefs and misconceptions that we may have about certain topics.

While Craig really enjoys the clickers, he stresses that it’s important to be careful with it because it can take away from content time. He stresses the importance of getting the content covered while utilizing time management skills as this can sometimes deviate you.

Another feature Craig utilizes is called SPSS. With this program, student are able to learn about statistics in lecture and then go into a lab area and learn how to use this program to create statistics and graphs to show their research.

“We as a department, as part of our stats and experimental courses, incorporate SPSS which is a computer statistics program that is the most likely thing our students will face when they get out in the real world. In psychology and the social behavior sciences, and in the heart and
in the chemistry in those areas, it is a dominant statistical package that is out there”, said Craig.

“The feedback we get from our graduates is when they go to graduate school they are teaching their colleagues in graduate school how to use SPSS and some of their faculty. We are using the technology as it is being used in the real world,” added Craig.

Podcasting is another tool that Craig uses in his statistics classes. The smartboard system has a feature that allow him to do audio and sync that with his powerpoints so during class, Craig will be wearing a mic and will record those lectures so that they can be posted online for review after class.

“It’s nice for them to have that opportunity to go back over that material or something that they didn’t get,” said Craig.

While podcasting is a great tool, Craig makes sure to check attendance for those who don’t think they need to come to class for this feature. He stated that the feature is meant to help those who get stuck on homework at home and need a refresher or for studying purposes.

Aside from face-to-face teaching, Craig participates in teaching online courses where he can communicate in audio, video or texting to his students during his online office hours.

“Online students are on campus, but I also have students that are literally around the world. I’ve had students from six different countries now. It’s a nice way for students to interact and engage with me in that format,” said Craig.

Craig enjoys using a program called “GradeMark” that is built into Turnitin. It allows you to grade papers with a grab and drop feature of commonly used sayings so that you aren’t wasting time writing the same things over and over again.

“It allows me an opportunity to provide more individualized feedback because I’m not spending all my time marking up the sides with ‘this is not a sentences’ or ‘this is an awkward sentence, it needs a period.’ Instead, I can be like ‘OK this isn’t clear, I don’t understand where you are coming up with what this is saying.’ So I can give a lot more detailed feedback to students, which is nice. I found it to be a very effective tool”, said Craig.

A cool, tech-savvy feature that will be integrated into Craig’s curriculum hopefully next semester is the eye tracker. The eye tracker allows you to track people’s eyes when they are looking at a computer screen. The tracker is a small bar that looks like a Wii bar or Kinect bar that sits on the bottom of the computer and tracks you as you sit at that computer.

“You look at different spots on the screen and once it’s calibrated, it’s got your eyes and anywhere you look, it knows where you look. It can record how long you look, the sequence of looking, all this stuff and we are hopeful to start utilizing that in our experimental and our lab courses,” said Craig.

He hopes to use the eye tracker to allow students to generate experiments and run those experiment and then analyze it with SPSS. In terms of technology as an enhanced feature to the educational process, Craig stated, “I think that technology is a tool just like a chalkboard is a tool, just like a computer or the former typewriter is a tool in education, and it can be used effectively and it can be used ineffectively and there’s material it’s going to enhance and there’s material it’s not going to enhance. I think good use of technology is important and that simply using technology doesn’t make you a good teacher.”

“Education really needs to recognize how are we are using this technology, what is my purpose behind it, what’s my goal and I don’t just jump in, I think about it. I am an integrator. I use technology. I teach others how to use technology. But technology just may not fit with what you are trying to do.”

“It’s something that helps me in these areas and it may not help me as much in other areas and you have to find the way that it works,” he concluded. 

Karlee Dies is the News Editor for The Spectator. She can be reached at eupnews.spectator@gmail.com

Tags: psychology

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