Morris has been a faculty member at the University of New Haven since 1978, where he serves as Professor and Director of the Master's Program in Community Psychology. His most recent book is entitled Evaluation Ethics for Best Practice: Cases and Commentaries, and his most recent article appeared in "Evaluation and Program Planning". We sat down with Michael Morris and learned what he is doing inside and outside of the classroom.
I mainly teach graduate courses at UNH although I recently taught an undergraduate course for the first time in 20 years. Graduate students are stimulating to have in the classroom because the content covered in their courses tends to be what they are most interested in. These students tend to be very enthusiastic about their education.
Teaching is moving towards online courses and compressed, accelerated schedules. Accelerated courses can be problematic, because some topics simply cannot be credibly taught in such a short period of time. Good universities approach accelerated courses with considerable caution.
Good instructors display enthusiasm about what they are teaching. Students need to believe that the teacher cares about the topic. Teachers need to be prepared for their classes. Their courses should represent the state of the art of knowledge in the areas addressed in them. A good instructor challenges students and requires that they apply what they learn. Good instructors require students to work. Things that are worth learning generally take some hard work and effort. Teachers should never, ever make a habit of reading to students from the textbook. This is a pedagogical mortal sin. The classroom presentation should add to what students are reading, not repeat it. Respect is key to a successful classroom experience. Teachers should return student assignments in a timely fashion and if they are unable to do so, they should abandon those assignments. Do not wait until the end of the term to return work that was turned in many weeks ago.
I am a member of the Honors Program committee and recently served on the Univeristy wide Tenure and Promotion Committee. I also edit the UNH publication “Reflections”.
I would take Art Appreciation, because I would like to know more about why I like what I like when I visit a museum. I would also take an Introductory Economics course that covers both micro and macro topics. Why can't we solve poverty by simply printing more money?
I attended Boston College, a Jesuit school in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts. Boston College, of course, is a much larger school than UNH. Boston College, when I attended, did not have as diverse a population of students as UNH has now. A distinctive aspect of UNH is that, as a student, you can really make a difference. It is a relatively small school with many opportunities for involvement.
Every meeting of the class is essentially a live play, a one-night-only performance designed to keep students engaged. I use humor to make the teaching environment interesting. Besides infusing humor into my presentation, I employ case studies, exercises, and guest speakers to keep students focused.
I am very low-tech when in comes to the classroom experience I provide to students. I utilize traditional teaching methods such as lectures, the whiteboard, and outlines of the topic being addressed. A good class is one that engages students in conversations in which varying perspectives can be explored.
I try to show the practical implications of theory. Students learn models and theories that have concrete consequences for their lives in the workplace and the community.
Examining cultural competence in the design and evaluation of social programs. Understanding the norms and values that define and shape people’s reactions to various approaches to research.
Ethical challenges that program evaluators face in their work.
Allen Sack; he is a hard worker who is truly dedicated to UNH. And Thurmon Whitley; he is fair minded, wise, and he gets the job done, whatever the job is. And he is a very scrappy racquetball player.
We are small. We care about our students as people, not just as students. We take the time to really get to know them. Students who are a part of the Psychology program are not likely to feel that they are just a number.
First, they should show up for class. They should feel comfortable speaking up. They should participate in their education so they get their money’s worth.
One of the challenges I face is how to present material in a way that engages students. Another challenge is how to evaluate students fairly. And I want to design assignments that emphasize application of ideas rather than just reproduction of facts, that can sometimes be tough.