My approach and what I teach


My teaching philosophy is guided by my beliefs about the role and purpose of a college education. Individuals pursue learning at academic and professional institutions for a variety of reasons, and each person brings with them a unique set of capabilities, experiences, and interests that influence their goals and motivations as well as likes and dislikes. Nevertheless, I believe that there are a small number of themes universally critical to the success of undergraduate and graduate education–and these are the targets I aim for in my role as a teacher. These foci are represented in my teaching philosophy, summarized as follows:

I believe my role as an instructor is to encourage and help students…

  • Think critically, draw reasoned inferences, and raise questions about topics, events, or phenomena of personal and societal interest
  • Apply knowledge and skills to resolve questions or issues of personal significance
  • Identify and understand how to effectively use resources, opportunities, and experiences that enable continual learning and development beyond the classroom

A brief description of the courses I have taught at the undergraduate and graduate level are listed below. Sample syllabi for each course are also provided for anyone interested in designing a course on a similar topic. I update my course content and structure on a semi-regular basis, so the provided syllabi are not guaranteed to match those of any courses I may be currently teaching or may teach in the future. If you are an instructor interested in any of my teaching materials, please feel free to contact me with specific requests and I will be happy to discuss.


My approach to undergraduate instruction is organized around three main principles:

  1. Clear and consistent organization of content, ideas, and expectations
  2. Instructional delivery that promotes engagement and active learning
  3. Promoting the application of learned material to topics beyond the classroom

I attempt to achieve these goals through a variety of means, including the use of specific and direct learning objectives, frequent participative exercises and discussions, the integration of personal, student, and current event examples to supplement course content, and the integration of hands-on application assignments as part of the formal course assessment.

Introduction to Industrial/Organizational Psychology

The field of Industrial/Organizational (I/O) psychology is a fascinating discipline that blends rigorous research methodologies and practical applications towards understanding the following:

How do the emotions, behaviors, thoughts, and motivations of individuals at work contribute to their overall performance and quality of life as well as the effectiveness and efficiency of the organizations for which they work?

Introduction to Industrial/Organizational Psychology is designed to introduce students to topics, concepts, and principles relevant to understanding and improving people at work from the time they enter the labor force until retirement as well as the organizations in which they work. The course content focuses on understanding the psychological bases of work behaviors, cognitions, and emotions, and practices that can be implemented to create a good fit between employees and work demands. Example topics discussed in the class include the structure/characteristics of jobs, techniques for assessing and supporting employee performance, selecting and training a workforce, employee motivation and attitudes, work teams, and organizational leadereship.


Teams and Small Group Behavior

The study of group dynamics is a unique topic in that its primary questions of interest simultaneously acknowledge two key psychological experiences of individuals:

How do the emotions, behaviors, thoughts, and motivations of individuals influence group members AND how do groups and their situational contexts influence the experiences of individuals?

Teams and Small Group Behavior is designed to introduce students to important concepts, findings, phenomena, and principles relevant to understanding group dynamics–the processes and actions which occur within and between groups and their members over time. The course content explores characteristics and outcomes associated with how individuals interact in group settings; how groups/teams influence how individuals behave, think, and feel; and the ways in which group/team functioning can be supported to promote desired outcomes. Example topics discussed in the class include the formation and development of groups, perceptual, social, and experiential mechanisms which influence how individuals behave in groups, and features and consequences associated with poorly versus well-functioning groups.


Research Methods in Psychology

Conducting and interpreting research aimed at better understanding human behavior, emotion, and cognition poses several unique challenge. To this end, all subfields of psychology are faced with the following question:

How can we learn about people and events in a way that reliably and accurately improves our understanding of human beings and the manner in which they function?

Research Methods for Psychology is designed to introduce students to fundamental concepts and techniques relevant to research in the social and psychological sciences. The course content is targeted towards developing skills and competence in understanding how to critically think, make predictions, advance evidence, and interpret conclusions about observations relevant to human behavior, emotions, and cognition. Specific topics discussed in the class include the basics of scientific inquiry and causality, measurement, and research design.



I prefer to approach graduate student teaching from the perspective of an “informal apprenticeship” model. Thus, in addition to the principles listed above, I also attempt to adhere to the following principles for graduate instruction:

  1. Facilitate the learning process by acting as an active resource/guide rather than the “final decision-maker” about the learning experience
  2. Foster the development of student expertise and professional identity

The graduate courses I offer frequently draw students from multiple and diverse disciplines, including organizational psychology, social psychology, cognitive psychology, management/organizational behavior, marketing, higher education, information science, and engineering. With such wide variance in training and disciplinary norms, I strive to leverage those unique perspectives in ways that enrich the personal and collective learning of all students by inviting participants to make their unique backgrounds a central point of our class meetings and activities.

Introduction to Industrial/Organizational Psychology

Industrial and organizational (IO) psychology is the scientific study and application of psychological principles, theory, and research in the workplace. This course is designed to be an advanced survey of the field and will cover a wide range of topics from both the “I” (e.g., selection, training, performance) and “O” (e.g., motivation, leadership, teams) sides of the discipline. Through reading, discussion, and critical evaluation, students will participate in developing an integrative view of IO psychology as a science, profession, and scholarly endeavor.


Multilevel Theory and Dynamics

This PhD level seminar explores and critically examines principles, methodologies, and analytical approaches for research involving complex systems and dynamics that span multiple levels of analysis (e.g., time, individual, dyad, team, organization, society). The primary orientation of this course is theoretical and conceptual. That is, the goal is to equip students with foundational knowledge and interpretive skills for thinking about and capturing how human behavior, cognition, and affect changes and unfolds across time, and how those processes emerge and exhibit influence across levels in ways that shape interactions and psychological outcomes. In doing so, the course explores a variety of methodological techniques, analytic approaches, and applications.


Judgment and Decision-Making

Judgment, decision-making, and choice are processes which permeate virtually every aspect of human life–and the theoretical perspectives and practical applications of these concepts are equally large and diverse. This course is designed to be a survey of key theories and considerations related to the formal study of human decision and choice. Through reading, discussion, and evaluation, students will participate in developing an integrative view of both historical and contemporary approaches to understanding human decision-making, the methods used to study these phenomena, and applications of research in this area.


Research Methods in Social and Organizational Psychology

Psychological science is built upon systematic efforts to identify, understand, and explain phenomena involving human affect, behavior, and cognition in terms of cause-effect relations. Social and organizational psychology tends to emphasize how interactions among intrapersonal, interpersonal, and environmental processes/factors contribute to these relations. Advancing scientific understanding of these phenomena necessitates conducting rigorous research that contributes to accurate knowledge. Arguably the most significant choices relevant to achieving this goal concern research design (the methods used to gather and examine observations) and measurement (the processes/techniques by which observations are assessed, quantified, and documented). The purpose of this course is to help students develop an advanced understanding of theory, practice, and techniques relevant to research design and measurement.