Teaching Guide

Assembled by Dr. Gary Lewandowski

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As teachers, we typically have several goals for any course:

  1. Keeping our lectures up to date by incorporating the most recent published research;
  2. Stimulate students’ curiosity and interest in how we use science to learn about psychology;
  3. Help students use high quality information to inform their everyday life experiences

One roadblock to achieving these goals is that very few of us have the time to keep current by perusing all of the recently published journals; not to mention that students don’t often experience excitement from reading journal articles. We believe that using articles addresses both issues, and helps students apply science to their own lives. 

Applicable Courses

Material on would fit well in any of the following courses:

  1. Intimate Relationships (go figure!)
  2. Marriage & Family
  3. Human Sexuality
  4. Social Psychology
  5. First Year Seminars

Finding Lecture Material

Here are a few tips on how to use to find interesting material for your lectures:

  1. Browse articles by general topic (link)
  2. Browse articles by article type (link)
  3. Use Research Spotlights (link) and Quickies (link) to find summaries of interesting research
  4. Use the search command to identify more specific information

Writing Assignments

Fostering students’ ability to convey complex information in a way that is accessible to a broader audience is a valuable skill to cultivate. To that end, there are several suggested assignments. 

  1. ScienceOfRelationships Fact Checker - Students should play the role of "fact checker" by finding an article on the website, then compare and contrast it with the original source (provided on the site) and see if the conclusions on Science of Relationships are the same that they would draw. (submitted by Brent Mattingly)
    • Q&A Fact Checker - Have students choose one of the existing Q&As and respond to it themselves, backing up their response with different articles or theories from the ones used in the Science of Relationships article. This would hopefully promote several goals: showing students that there is more than one justifiable solution to these situations, teaching them to apply research to solve problems they might encounter in their own lives, and encouraging compassion or understanding when approaching a stranger's problems. (submitted by Helen Lin)
  2. Your Very Own Spotlight - Provide students with examples of Research Spotlight articles from the site to get students thinking about how to present empirical material in a catchy way. Students could then write their very own 500-600 word articles using the Research Spotlight style. Classmates could attempt a "peer review", provide feedback to the author, who could then do a re-write, and submit their final article.  (submitted by Melissa Schneider)
  3. Do It Yourself Q & A – 1. Think of a question you have about relationships (we will brainstorm some ideas in class). 2. Find 1-2 academic research articles that answer this question. 3. Write a short 300-500 word post (similar to the ones on the website) answering this question using the research. Posts are grading on: understanding of the research, relevance of the research to the research question, clear, concise writing style and originality and style. Include references (following APA style) at the end of the post. Students will receive feedback and all posts will appear on the course website. (submitted by Amy Muise)
  4. Spotlight Reflection - Have students choose a Research Spotlight article (could also select other article types) and talk/write about a time when they encountered this situation in their own lives, how they responded then, and how they might respond (backing up with new references) now that they are educated in relationship science. (submitted by Helen Lin)
  5. Add a Little Science - For this assignment you will provide 10 examples from popular media sources (TV shows, movies, songs, YouTube clips, etc.) that elucidate relationship concepts. For each example, you will a) explain the relationship concept in your own words, b) provide your example, and c) then explain why the example is appropriate for the relationship concept. For example, if you used Similarity and Attraction as a topic, you would explain what this is in your own words (citing your source), then you would give an example (The movie titled “?????” in the scene where ????. accompanied by an internet link to the example). Finally, you would explain in your own words how this example demonstrates the concept. (submitted by Gary Lewandowski)
  6. A Writing Portfolio -  Making scientific articles accessible to broader audiences can be challenging. To help you develop these skills, you will create a writing portfolio. Using as a guide, your portfolio will include: 2 “Quickies”, 1 “Research Spotlight”, and 2 of any other type of post (i.e., they can’t be quickies or research spotlights). The 2 “Choose Your Own” posts should be different formats (i.e., they can’t both be Hot Topics). All articles must focus on a topic from intimate relationships. For each type of article, you will need to use empirical journal articles as the foundation (not class notes or the textbooks). When using a journal article, you should indicate the key results as well as how the study was done in your own words (i.e., avoid quotes and be sure to avoid plagiarizing). Be sure to provide sufficient detail (more than you can simply get from the Abstract) so that someone unfamiliar with the study understands what was done in the study, and the findings. Each article (regardless of type) should include: a title, your author byline, an indication of the article type, APA style citations and references, a relevant picture(s), audio and/or video links, the word count (not including the APA Style reference) for each article, and several key words.   Here are the article types:
    • Quickie” – 75-100 word summary of a very recent (last 2 years) empirical article.
    • Research Spotlight” – 400-500 word summary of a recent (last 5 years) empirical article .
    • Relationships and Pop Culture” - 400-500 word examination of a celebrity relationship using multiple journal articles/relationship concepts.
    • Fact Checker” - 400-500 word examination of a claim you find in the media. Think of this as “I read that ___, but in reality the research says ___”  
    • Relationship IQ” – 400-500 word article where you create a poll asking about some facet of relationships. You then provide the answers and a write-up that sets the record straight.
    • Hot Topic” – 400-500 word review of a particular research area that summarize findings from a handful of articles (e.g., “Top 10 reasons for ___” or “A Step by Step Guide for ___”)
    • Q&A”– Pose an interesting question about relationships, than provide a 400-500 word answer backed up by research. (submitted by Gary Lewandowski