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 Teaching Interest 

My hope for psychology students is that they learn the breadth of the field, the critical thinking skills needed to conduct psychological research, and receive hands-on experience in conducting research. As a result, students will be better equipped to discern their future place in psychology. As a professor, I try to pull students into the material. In all my courses, I aim to broaden students’ view of psychology and create opportunities for them to participate in some part of the process of psychological science whether it is brainstorming potential research questions, conducting experiments, or analyzing the validity of past and current research claims. Below, I have described a few highlights from my common courses.


Cognitive Psychology

In my experience, students typically know very little about cognitive psychology and this course is an opportunity to broaden their perspective on psychological science. A highlight in this course is a class activity that I picked up from one of my mentors in graduate school. In this activity, students replicate classic cognitive experiments in class, using their peers as participants. These cognitive demonstrations occur at the beginning of classes and take about 15 minutes for students to run the experiment, graph the results, and explain the effect. When students see these effects occur in class, they receive a clear sense of how automatic processes and mental frames influence behavior. More importantly, these cog demos leave students fascinated by what we know and do not understand about the mind. The following student quote illustrates a common experience: “Professor Marsh did a great job of making this course interesting! The Cognition Demos made the class much more interactive and engaging, and helped us apply the concepts to situations outside of class. He was very clear and concise in his teaching, but also made the class fun and enjoyable. He gave me new insight into this field of psychology I had honestly not been interested in before this class.

Research Design and Methodology

Like most good research methods courses, students receive hands-on experience in the process of designing and conducting experiments. Specifically, students design experiments in small groups, collect data to answer their research questions, statistically analyze their data with my help, and individually turn in a full research report. What might be different about my course is that after I give students feedback on their reports, they must revise the original paper and propose a follow-up study. Going through this process is very important to students’ career development, because some reaffirm their goal to be engaged in psychological research, and others realize an opportunity has opened up to them that they thought was out of reach. Here is a student's thoughts on the course:"Dr. Marsh is a fantastic professor and he really cares about his students and the course material. He makes sure you understand the material and is willing to go over it again or explain it more than once if you are having trouble understanding the concept. He also knows that the course subject is a little rough, so he makes sure to keep the class atmosphere light and fun." In addition, I incorporate a few small discussions I call "Science vs. the Media". For these discussions, we read a research article and then a news article that explains the study, and its importance to a wider audience. In this exercise, students realize that academic findings are sometimes misinterpreted and misrepresented by media sources and that we all need to be more careful consumers of information.

Bilingualism, Biculturalism, & Cognition (BB Cog)

The BB Cog course is a cherished part of my teaching. My research area is a bit much to fit into the cognitive psychology course; hence, I created a separate course to accommodate the topics I research as well as related topics that I find fascinating. The course introduces students to a cognitive perspective of culture, psycholinguistics of bilingualism, and cultural linguistics. Moreover, students gain an understanding of how being bilingual and bicultural influences cognitive processes.  Here is a student’s perception of the course: “Professor Marsh is an excellent teacher and helps students understand the course material as easily as possible. Marsh is always there to help students who need additional help and provide ways for students to meet with him in order to go over anything the student needs. The course was a very interesting course and Professor Marsh made the class even more fun and interesting. I enjoyed the mini activities before engaging in the material for the week.”

There is a lot of ground to cover in this course so here is a list of specific topics we discuss:

  • Review semantic memory and knowledge representations

  • Discuss the Self focusing on the construction and management of schematic information and autobiographical memory. Moreover, we discuss where culture fits into the aforementioned concepts

  • Discuss who is bicultural and how mental representations of two distinct socio-cultural contexts are organized and how this organization influences cognitive processes

  • Discuss the organization and management of two languages

  • Discuss how lexical structures become associated with mental representations of culture in bilingual biculturals. Moreover, we discuss how using one language makes particular cultural conceptualizations more accessible, and how exposure to cultural cues influences the accessibility of the associated language

  • Discuss the basic perspectives of linguistic determinism and cultural linguistics as well as how specific properties of one’s language mediates cognitive processes

  • Discuss evidence for the bilingual advantage on executive function tasks

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