Sara D. Hodges

Psychology | 541-346-4919

Courses: Psy 202 Mind & Society; Psy 410 Peer Lab Training

In my courses you will:

  • Make connections to lived experiences and real-world challenges.
  • Understand what it means to be at a research university with the chance to gain new knowledge.

I was invited into the Teaching Academy because:

  • I am a Herman Award Recipient.
  • I am a Williams Fellow.

In what ways are you working to make your teaching inclusive?

One of the courses I teach is Psy 202, Mind & Society. It’s a big introductory class – often with an enrollment of 500. I know how alienating it can be to sit and just be one of hundreds of people in this class – I know, because I’ve done it, visiting colleagues’ classes when they teach this course. If you don’t already know people in the class, it’s hard to get to know them during the class. So, I worked in my department to create smaller lab sections that accompany this course. The primary point of these lab sections is to teach Psy 202 students about how psychologists do the empirical research that makes up the content of this course, but an important secondary goal was to give students a chance to be part of smaller groups where they can get to know each other, work together on learning concepts, and find study partners.

What do you do in terms of professional engagement with the teaching and learning culture on campus or nationally?

I’ve attended (and am a huge fan of) the annual “Psych One” conference (used to be at Stanford; will be at Duke this year) for instructors who teach introductory courses in Psychology. The first time I went, I felt like I’d found my “tribe” – other people obsess about teaching intro psych! I learned a lot – and it also gave me ideas (and the courage) to start Psy 202 peer-led lab sections at the UO. I have also attended and benefited from several meetings of the Science Literacy Program’s science teaching journal club. I am annually asked to do peer teaching evaluations of my Psychology colleagues and always enjoy learning about the varied and creative ways they teach my field.

In what ways was your teaching in this course research-led—informed by research on how students learn and inflected by UO's research mission?

The primary goal of creating peer-led labs for Psy 202 was to demonstrate to introductory students how developmental, clinical, personality, and social psychology research is done. Any intro psych textbook is full of “stuff we know” about human behavior, cognition, and emotion, followed by parenthetical citations that tell us who gets credit for the research finding. But HOW did those people in parentheses do the work that allows them to make those claims? That’s what Psy 202 labs are designed to demonstrate – each of the labs is designed to give intro students a chance to use the methods and measures that “real” psychologists use in the areas of psychology covered by Psy 202. The labs generally involve students collecting data from themselves, then analyzing it and interpreting the results. Obviously, things sometimes need to be simplified or scaled back for the “research” to be conducted by beginners in the space of a 50-minute lab, but the labs really aim to give students an accurate idea about HOW researchers (including UO psychology faculty!) have learned about human psychology – often with a side helping of students learning about themselves.

Who or what led you to this discipline?

There is nothing more fascinating to me than human behavior. There is also nothing more complicated. Psychology was the perfect field for me, because I love how it uses the elegant and powerful tools of science to help make sense of human behavior.

Who is a role model for you?

I think my brother had the biggest influence on me growing up. He is 2 1/2 years older than me, and thus growing up, I looked up to him (and his friends) and wanted to do whatever they were doing. He's also really smart and very good at defending his position, so he prepared me well for a life in academia. He gave me good advice (e.g., "When you don't know the answer, at least be funny") and was an excellent teacher (I credit him for helping me learn how to drive and how to write well).