Teaching

"You asked us to question our materials, our experiences, and each other. You served as an example being real and raw and honest about your thoughts and history. The first supplemental reading described how in a world that was different fire ladders could be made for small people. I think if more people took your class we could have small ladders." -Brent Berbecker, former Psychology of Women Student

Teaching Goals

My journey as a professor, as a teacher and a mentor, has been like the Beatles' proverbial long and winding road. I like to think I've come a long way from that first August when I sat with my doctoral advisor reviewing students evaluations from my first course as the instructor of record. Open-ended comments included statements like, "Doesn't like white men," and "doesn't like white women," and (to my shock) "hates black men." I asked my chair, "Who do I like? Only black women?" He was kind about it. And instructive. I learned how to let my agenda shape who I am as a teacher and not who I want my students to be as students. ​Psychologists often include as part of their pedagogy the desire to craft more critical consumers of information from their students. I think this is true. We don't want to create acolytes in our image (mostly). I tell my students that it's not my job to teach them what to think but how to think. As a methodologist, I process all curricula through this lens, but I also believe that this instruction gives students more than a critical thinking toolbox. The transactional nature of our cognitive development will, I'm convinced, provide them with a truer moral compass as well. ​Which is why I approach all courses from an intersectional perspective with a class, race, and sex framework through which students gain a richer understanding of core concepts. As an applied social psychologist, I'll admit to a certain level of cunning in doing so, for I also embed community-based research in several of these courses. I want my students getting dirty with the work of their worlds, and I plan for them to know what they're doing when they go about it.

AT THE END OF THE DAY: STUDENT POETRY

Following is a small sample of poetry produced over the past decade of my teaching. These are my students' own take-aways, in their words the single most important lesson of the semester from their time with me. They have the opportunity to provide this on their final exam (in haiku, limerick, or sonnet form; occasionally the rebel provides free verse).

I was unsure
until Dr. Wright made me feel
as if I can do anything

Walking into this class,
the eyes on the instructor,
waiting for her response
on how to be a better person.

The day we locked hands
I realized how lucky I am
thank you so much*

Don’t trust all you hear
Look for yourself and share what you gained
because knowledge is power.

I read
a book of wonder and skepticism
opens my eyes.**

I question things now
I have to figure it out
I’m loving my doubts

Always question
the things you hear
hold the truth somewhere

​I have the tools
that I need to become
a researcher.

​In most people’s minds
different things haunt each one
and they all matter.

​Emma Watson’s boobs
The outrage makes me angry
Am I feminist?

​From this class
I leave with the awareness
To see the world and change.

​Non-cognitive
traits essential to leveling
the playing field

That moment
I realized being a woman
Means I’m less

​A mother’s education
is important in relation
to a child’s future and mental health;
it improves their shot at wealth;
so, do your kids a favor and make it to graduation.

I paddled more deep
further in the vast ocean
of my flowing mind.
I used to be afraid
of the dark
but not anymore.

​*Privilege Walk
**Carl Sagan's The Demon Haunted World

CURRENT COURSES

  • General Psychology
  • Human Development
  • Abnormal Psychology
  • Theories of Personality
  • Applied Psychology
  • Research Methods in Psychology
  • Psychology of Women
  • Social Psychology
  • Psychology of the Death Penalty
  • Special Topics in Psychology