Dr. Sanborn with two psychology students. (Stern photo)
Dr. Fred Sanborn, Award-Winning Professor, Talks about Teaching
Dr. Fred Sanborn, past recipient of the Jefferson-Pilot Professorship, founder of the Teaching & Learning Center, and co-author of a psychology textbook, last year added a new line to his résumé: 2016-17 Wesleyan Exemplary Teacher.
Now in his 14th year at Wesleyan, Dr. Sanborn, 44, came to the college from his native Kansas, where he earned an undergraduate degree from Kansas Wesleyan and a Ph.D. from Kansas State. He teaches courses in social psychology, developmental psychology and media psychology. He is co-author, with Richard J. Harris, of “A Cognitive Psychology of Mass Communication.”
Besides teaching at Wesleyan, Dr. Sanborn served as the first director of Wesleyan’s Teaching & Learning Center, which, among other functions, introduces new technology to faculty and keeps them abreast of recent trends in the art of teaching. He has been involved with the Psychology Club and “various iterations of LGBT students groups,” including SAFE, the newest organization.
When he’s not working. Dr. Sanborn spends time with his husband, Tony Hefner, an engineer. He likes to attend plays (Hefner is an actor in his free time) and watch movies and TV (some current favorites: “Veep,” “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver,” “blackish,” and “American Horror Story”). The two have spent considerable time renovating their home outside of Raleigh. “It was pretty bad when we started,” Dr. Sanborn said, “but we’re just about done. We’re looking for a new one so we can start the process again.”
The Decree conducted a recent email interview with Dr. Sanborn.
- How did you become interested in the field of psychology?
- Ever since I was a child, I’ve always thought that people, their thinking and their behaviors were fascinating. When I got to high school and realized I could take courses that would help me understand all of this, I was in. Years later, people are no less fascinating to me. Plus, now I get paid to talk about all this stuff with young people.
- I’ve long been impressed by your time-management skills. What’s your secret?
- As I get older, I think more and more about my time and how I use it. Over the years, I’ve also figured out what I most want to accomplish with my time (like doing a good job teaching and spending time with people I care about) and what doesn’t matter as much (like spending lots of time on social media, watching stupid TV, or gossiping). I also try to be disciplined with my time. For example, I have specific times and days when I prepare for class, write, grade papers, exercise, and meditate. I try very hard to respect those times and not let other things intrude. However, I’d be lying if I said that never happens—sometimes life interferes with the way I think things will go. In the end, I try to remember that everything will get done (or at least the most important stuff). Also, email spam filters are a great time-saving tool!
- What’s your teaching philosophy?
- It could fill several pages, but it boils down to a few basics. First, I think learning is fun, and I try to model this for my students. I almost always have fun and use humor when I’m teaching, and I hope that makes learning more fun for my students. The second big thing is that I hope to get my students to see the real-world applications of what they’re learning in the classroom. I’m lucky that in my discipline this is easy—I think students in classes like social psychology, child development, positive psychology, and media psychology can use what they learn almost every day. The last thing is that I hope my students are better communicators after they leave my class. Effective writing and speaking have made a huge difference in my life. I had good teachers who taught me those skills, and I try to carry on that practice with my own students.
- Describe what happens in one of your typical 100-level courses?
- In Introduction to Psychology, I try to give my students a taste of many different areas of psychology. The common notion is that psychology is people talking to a psychiatrist on a couch. Students are sometimes surprised to learn that psychology is also about things like how our senses work, how people become prejudiced, and how children think about the world.
- How about a 400-level course?
- When I teach Senior Seminar in Psychology, I try to help students get a sense of what graduate school is like, so the expectations are high. Among other things, students give a professional presentation, read original research, write a literature review paper, and become intimately familiar with APA style.
- How do you know when a class session has gone well?
- I trained for a time to do clinical psychology work. When working with people in that capacity, one of the first lessons is to pay attention to body language. The way people hold their bodies reveals a lot about what might be going on their minds. I think the same principle applies in the classroom. When I see interested faces and multiple hands in the air, I know things are going well. Even among quiet students, it’s apparent when people are engaged, thinking, and processing information. I try to pay attention to such cues.
- In graduate school, our education is focused on content more so than the art of teaching. Talk about your teaching influences, as well as the evolution of your style.
- I’ve had so many excellent teachers throughout my life. I’m grateful to all of them and often think back on the things they taught me. Sometimes, I can even remember their voices and their exact words. Read More Here…..
NCWC Science Majors Complete Advanced Research in Internships
Science major Beverly Anaele (Stern photo)
While many Wesleyan students were holding down summer jobs and others were hitting the beach or preparing for fall sports, some science majors were getting a first glimpse of their future careers.
Carolynn Davern, a chemistry major, spent ten weeks in the labs of North Carolina State as part of a program sponsored by the National Science Foundation’s Research Experience for Undergraduates. Her experiments and research focused on the building of peptoids.
Davern explained: “I was building peptoids, which are peptide mimetics with the R group on the nitrogen rather than the carbon. I incorporated a benzaldehyde hydrazone side chain in ‘sandwich sequences’ with eight different amine groups. I also had a computational part of my project where I modeled and calculated the energies of my peptoids with different dihedral angles using Gaussian software.”
Did you get all that?
Here’s a translation: Davern did sophisticated work with substances used in many biomedical applications.
The Wesleyan senior credits Drs. Pamela Patterson and George Whitwell for helping to guide her through the application process. She was encouraged to seek a research internship to prepare for graduate school. “My professors really emphasized that summer internships would be great experience for me,” she said.
Another REU participant was Caleb Rose, a biology and environmental science major, who conducted research and lab experiments as part of the University of Oklahoma’s Biological Survey project.
For 14 weeks, his responsibilities included collecting data at the Aquatic Research Facility on OU’s campus, collecting mussels for the experiments, performing lab work, and completing his own guided research project led by a postdoctoral fellow and a principal investigator.
He was urged to apply for the REU program by Dr. Joseph White, a former visiting professor in biology. “While Wesleyan is a fantastic school for a one-on-one experience with your professors, your undergraduate adviser, and the staff, there’s little (opportunity for) research,” Rose said.
The REU program allows undergraduates to gain research experience, as well as exposure to graduate school, Rose said. It confirmed what his Wesleyan professors have told him, that “research is grueling and difficult, but rewarding and fun!” he said.
Like Davern, Rose intends to pursue doctoral studies after he graduates from Wesleyan. He said the summer internship was a confidence boost; it proved that he could handle the rigors of graduate school.
“It only reinforced my love of science,” he said. “After working in a lab all summer, I’m more inspired for a future in science. I had doubts about whether I would be successful in a long-term academic setting, but my REU has put my mind to ease.”
In her REU internship, Kayla Lavan immersed herself in lab work for ten weeks at Georgia Southern University. She reported that her research concentrated on materials nanoscience and organic chemistry. “I spent most days trying to optimize the experiment, which consisted of making small tweaks in protocol,” she explained, adding that her adviser gave her the freedom to plan and execute her daily activities. Read More Here…..
Bishop Profile: Two-Sport Athlete Nate Gardner
By Quinn Tobias
Senior Staff Writer
Two-sport star Nate Gardner (SI photo)
“Let’s just sit at the bar,” said Nate Gardner as we walked into San Jose Mexican Restaurant one night back in October. The rest of the tables looked busy, there was no host available to seat us, and most importantly there were sports on at the bar. After ordering a sweet tea, Gardner lamented how he was sad his Red Sox were out of the playoffs but at least the Astros were beating the Yankees 4-0 in the bottom of the 7th.
As a two-sport athlete at Wesleyan, sports consume Gardner’s life. He returned as the starting at quarterback for the football team and serves as a multi-purpose player on the baseball team, pitching and playing the infield. “I came to Wesleyan to play both football and baseball,” Gardner said.
During the summer he plays in the Coastal Plains League (CPL) for the Edenton Steamers, a local summer league team near his hometown of Columbia. Read More Here…..
Bishops Rampage Through Conference, Fall in NCAA Tourney
The 2017 USA South Conference champs (SI photo)
The NCWC men’s soccer team claimed the USA-South Conference championship in a season highlighted by a 14-match win streak and culminating in the first NCAA tournament berth since 2008.
The Bishops placed first in their division and then took three more matches in the conference-wide tournament. A week later, playing at Washington & Lee University in Virginia, the Bishops fell to Oglethorpe, 5-2, in the first round of the NCAA national tournament.
“Oglethorpe was the better team but not by much,” Coach Frank Taal said.
Despite the disappointing loss, Taal was gratified by his team’s success, which earned him the first berth in the NCAAs during his tenure as head coach. “It felt great, fulfilling and very satisfying,” he said. “I congratulated the entire team and told them I was very proud of them.”
The talented Wesleyan team under-achieved early in the season, losing its first four games—all non-conference match-ups––by a combined score of 12-2.
Taal blamed weak midfield play and faulty defense for the team’s lethargic start.
“When a team performs well or poorly, it’s usually because of a number of factors,” the coach said. “We weren’t sharp early in the season. Our midfield play was weak, which led to a lack of goals.”
He added that the team struggled with its defense in set pieces—corner and penalty kicks. In the first six games, the team yielded 13 goals, 10 on set-piece plays. “Our set-piece defending was poor,” the coach said.
Then conference action began and so did the Wesleyan rampage. On September 15, the Bishops beat Covenant, 4-0, as midfielder Baboucarr Nije fired 10 shots and tallied three goals to lead the way. After a 1-0 setback at Piedmont a day later, Wesleyan reeled off 11 straight regular-season wins, eight by shutout, to finish 10-1 in the conference (12-5 overall). Read More….
Professor Buel Eager to Begin Communication Major
Fresh from graduate studies at North Carolina State, Jason Buel is excited to join the Wesleyan community as the college introduces a new major next fall.
Buel, 30, was hired as the first faculty member in the new communication department. Born in Sarasota, Florida, he was raised in Boone, where he attended Appalachian State, earning a degree in psychology and English with an emphasis in film studies. He then studied for a masters in English/film studies at NC State and just finished his doctorate there in communication, rhetoric and digital media.
He comes to Wesleyan with extensive teaching experience. He has taught courses in writing, film, business communication and applied communication at NC State as well as schools such as Vance-Granville Community College and Durham Tech. Read More Here……
FICTION:Killing Bunny Foo Foo
Lucy sat on the ground with her homework in her lap. Long division had given her a headache and now she was distracted, watching Mr. Foo Foo.
He looked so innocent with his pink eyes and long fuzzy ears. His whiskers twitched in the most adorable fashion. He delicately took a chomp out of a clover flower and chewed it calmly.
Lucy narrowed her eyes. She had no proof, but it had to be him. Her rabbit was a murderer.
Fluffy had been the first one to go missing. Lucy found the blood-stained collar of her neighbor’s beloved Persian lying in her yard with one fine, white hair caught in the gleaming gold buckle. Lucy had tossed the collar back over the fence once she was sure Ms. Hinkle had left for her weekly bingo game.
The next disappearance was that of Brutus, Mr. Fink’s Chihuahua. Lucy had seen the spiked collar almost completely hidden in the very clover patch where Foo-Foo was taking his afternoon snack. Lucy made sure the collar found its way back to Mr. Fink’s yard. Read More Here……