The Awards: Fall, 2017

I am honoured to have achieved the Department of Psychology’s Honour Roll with Distinction for my PSYCO 104: Basic Psychological Processes and PSYCO 494: Human Factors & Ergonomics courses. I also got on the Honour Roll for my Fall PSYCO 282: Behavior Modification course. Thanks to all who gave their feedback on these courses--good, bad, or ugly!

Although my rating for PSYCO 282: Behavior Modification was high enough for Distinction, not enough students completed the online surveys for it to qualify. I appreciate the time you spend doing the evaluations. I do take them seriously. I read every comment and make changes in my courses based on your feedback. Your voice does count!

Warning! My parenthetical responses to selected comments below may contain sarcasm. Please avoid if you have an allergy or sensitivity.

PSYCO 104

notes are hard to study
(Comment is hard to understand.)

if there is more picture in the lecture notes that will be more helpful to the visual leaner person
(There is no evidence supporting auditory and visual learning. I include pictures where they are relevant, but I do not include extraneous clip art.)

he keeps us all very engaged by relating to real life situations that are relevant to students. very funny! by far the best psychology professor i’ve come to contact with
(I try NOT to come into contact with students, as I've been told that is inappropriate.)

dislike.
This is a great class, and I think instructor is good professor.
This was an awesome course taught by an awesome instructor, will be scouting to take classes from this professor again for his enthusiasm to teach us objectives that would otherwise be deemed as boring
This prof. was my favourite of the term. He was very knowledgeable and passionate about psychology and I enjoyed that about the course; he was the reason I showed up to this class and I would loooooovvveeeeee him to teach all of the rest of my courses forever.
(Okay, so one "dislike," one "good," one "awesome," and one "loooooovvveeeeee.")

I thought my professor was very good at teaching in the lecture times. My only issue was with the style of the exams. I found it hard to study for since we were not provided practice or example questions from the prof. The questions provided with the textbook did not help prepare me for any of the exam questions and overall I found the textbook incredibly useless. In the future, I would strongly recommend that the emphasis on the textbook (ie 50% lecture, 50% textbook) on the exams be reduced. This was too much information to be studied thoroughly and as a result, made the exam much harder than it needed to be. Perhaps if study guides or at least practice questions were provided with the exam would've been much more achievable.
(If you get the Connect online content, you will have access to literally thousands of practice questions based on the textbook, presented as adaptive testing. This is an incredibly powerful tool that changes the difficulty of the questions you get to suit your learning. Evidence has shown that this improves learning and exam performance significantly. It's frustrating that more students do not take advantage of this option.

The textbook pages were messed up and didn't match the glossary in the back which made trying to learn a concept from the textbook extremely difficult.
(Thanks for letting me know. I will pass this along to the publisher.)

The professor was very interesting to listen to, which made the topics he was educating the students on much easier to understand and learn. His examples often came from personal, humorous experiences, which also added to the overall course experience. He is very intelligent and I would love to have him for all if my psychology courses!
The instructor was fantastic he always made the class interesting and tried to connect to the students. He made the class enjoyable and always made us laugh a bit. He also had really good example of the material to show us.
The class was very interesting and the way Loepelmann taught it was filled with enthusiasm, passion and interest. He provided great study material that helped on achieving good on the exam. His iclicker quizzes were helpful and even funny. He was so passionate about the material he made coming to class fun. Best prof this semester.
Karsten was an excellent teacher, he made the class interactive and fun. I have told my friends if they have an option to choose him for an instructor for one of their courses to definitely pick him. Tests were fair, you needed to read the text book for sure to do well on the exams. Overall a very good course.
(Thanks!)

Overall my professor was outstanding, he’s a great speaker and most of the time the class was entertaining, but there we’re a couple things that stood out to me as kind of unacceptable during the course. First of all he said he wasn’t going to do review classes, which I think is very inconsiderate as a teacher; I understand wanting students to come for more than just a review class but I don’t believe he has the right to make it harder for the students who do come to class and just want to know what to expect going into the exams. I also don’t think that it’s his decision to make whether or not students attend his class considering we are paying him to teach and it’s the students own waste if they do not attend. One more thing that didn’t sit well with me was the fact that he would just start class without any warning, no hello, no welcome, he would just start talking which would sometimes lead to missed notes or missed comments. When 200+ people are all talking at the same time it can be hard to recognize that the one we’re here to listen to has already started.
(Thanks for your detailed feedback. No, I don't do review classes, as I've explained before (it's not because I'm lazy, inconsiderate, or trying to make things harder). It sounds like what you're looking for is not a review, but a preview of the exam, which is a very different thing.
Each class, I did say "Good afternoon" and then said "Last time..." and briefly summarized where I left off. I do this to give the class a moment to settle down before actually starting the lecture. I'm sorry that you weren't able to hear me over the noise of the class.)

I really enjoyed being in the class as you taught us in a way in which we could remember things. I also appreciate how you are really patient with students leaving early. Would like to be in one of your other classes in future!
(I understand that students often have good reasons for leaving a class early.)

Instructor could cover more material in the textbook. A lot of the textbook material was never mentioned in class
(No, I can't cover more material. I filled the classes covering what I could. And you do NOT want me (or any instructor) to cover all textbook material in class. If you thought it was boring before...

it was very boring and the instructor often just read from his powerpoint slides
(See? Boring. Maybe next time, I'll ignore my PowerPoints entirely and just do freestyle rapping.)

I usually hate taking 100 level courses because they're often tedious and hard to appreciate. Doctor Loepelmann changed that for me. He incorporate's humour and anecdotes into his lectures, which make the course material fun easier to learn. He has a genuine love for teaching and wants to help the students share his love of psychology. His personal website is also incredibly useful for navigating the course. One of the best instructors I've ever had.
Dr. Loepelmann is a great instructor. Even though the class had ~400 students, it was one of the most engaging I had this semester purely due to his enthusiasm and teaching style! I hope to take PSYCO 282 with him in the future!
(Thanks!)

Can I just say... wow! Completely LIT COURSE WITH LIT FRIENDS AND A LIT PROF. The textbook was half lit, the physical version would only become lit if someone LIT IT ON FIRE. But the online version was fantastic and the questions were wowza! Completely recommend the online, would only recommend the physical copy if... idk you get the electronic when you buy the physical current edition copy but you can't access questions as fast in the physical edition. The in class activities and iClicker and jokes were LIT. If this prof taught math I'd probably take it, the jokes are your classic dad jokes but well thought out so you'd remember the jokes and examples on the exams. His name is a little hard to spell, but shoutout to Loepelmann the mann and looking forward to Yummie Treets being trademarked or patented.
(Whoa. Now I wish I was teaching English Lit. Geddit?)

PSYCO 282

great lectures with excellent examples. Instructor disagrees with textbook a bit and it seems like there must be a better textbook option.
(Nope. I've picked one that is one of the best in the field, with helpful pedagogical features, and at a great price. You can check ratings of behavior modification textbooks on Amazon and see that Miltenberger is the most highly rated one at 4.5 stars.)

Very interesting course material with lots of relations to real life examples. Excellent course. One complaint is that the assignments are marked so finely, so specifically, that I lost marks for not italicizing a title and journal number and for having an axis labeled as "Days" instead of "Time (Days)" even though the textbook uses "Days". Another complaint is that when I emailed Dr. Loepelmann asking a question, he merely replied with a riddle and did not help me find the answer at all, and I ended up failing that assignment because I didn't know what he was asking or what he was looking for. In the future, it would be great to answer students questions directly or maybe providing some examples.
(Science is about precision and accuracy; I explicitly pointed out the requirement for labels and units in the lecture. To your second point, I sometimes get questions from students about the assignments, along the lines of "Here's my answer to question 2. Is it right?" Of course, I cannot answer that. Do math profs say if you got your answers to calculus homework sets right? If I "pre-mark" someone's answers to the assignments, I am obligated to do that for the entire class. That, of course, is impossible. The point of an assignment is to assess your learning. If I give you the answers, it obviates the pedagogical intent of the assignment. Sometimes, the answer to your question is going to be "I can't tell you.")

This was my favorite class. It made me love psychology so much more. The prof made all the difference.
This course was amazing! I looked forward to it every Monday, Wednesday, Friday. The professor was enthusiastic and made the subject matter interesting and easy to understand. The notes provided for the class were thorough and the blanks in them kept me coming to class. The iClicker questions helped review material and engage the class. Marking on assignments were fair and midterms were the appropriate level of difficulty.
This course was awesome to come to. The project component was interesting and valuable because we were able to directly apply what we learned in class to real life behaviour modifying.
Prof is fantastic, the website is extremely handy and easy to use, the textbook is essential if you wish to do great in this class. Self-management project was also interesting and quite fun to do, a different take on learning outside the classroom. I would definitely recommend this course to other people.
Passionate prof, made his classes enjoyable and learned something new everyday.
(Thanks for all the kind words.)

This course was taught in a very effective way. The fill in the blank notes used were helpful and made it easy to take notes while still listening to the professor lecture.
The way student notes are given is somewhat unhelpful. Having a ppt or pdf with blanks in it would be much better than the text based notes that were provided.
(These two comments were literally right next to each other. *Sigh*)

Overall the course was excellent, the only comment that I have is to be aware of using person-first language, especially since the research in this course focuses primarily on people with disabilities.
(Dang it, I really tried to do this. I will go through my lectures again to correct them. Thanks for your important feedback on this.)

It was great and there should be some sort of assigned readings
(Er, what? Like the assigned readings in the syllabus you mean?)

I appreciate the fact that the notes could be easily pasted into a word document for easy note taking (as opposed to notes posted in PDFs)
(You may be the first person to thank me for that. I'm glad it worked for you.)

Manipulative and obnoxious instroctor. I won't take any class with again.
(I know, right? I'm so obnoxious, manipulating you into taking my class, reading the textbook, taking exams.)

Loepelmann is not very approachable. Seems slightly obnoxious and cold when asking questions. Get the feeling he is offended at questions getting asked, since it could mean he did not explain a concept clear enough. Cheerful personality when presenting/teaching and a good prof, but has some underlying attitude issues when one-on-one.
(When did you ask questions? At the end of class when I'm trying to pack up my stuff and get out of the way of the next instructor while dealing with a line of students all asking questions? Or during my office hours, when I don't have to rush through my answers in a quiet atmosphere? I'm sorry if I gave you the impression through our interactions that I have a bad attitude. I respect students, try my best to answer questions, and try to learn and improve by paying careful attention to student comments.)

Karsten was an excellent and engaging instructor. I have told all of my peers to take this course with him along with any other courses he may teach. This course has inspired me to widen the scope of my degree and look at extra certifications in the subject area.
Karsten Loepelmann is an excellent instructor, and my designated TA taught me things about APA formatting I should have learned a very, very, very long time ago. Thank you both for that. I really appreciated all of Karsten's supplementary materials on his websites, which helped me extensively on the Self-Management Project. While I wasn't extremely interested in the material, the structure and enthusiasm in lectures made them easy to attend.
Karsten was very successful in creating an amazing classroom experience. I never missed a lecture because he made them so interesting and enjoyable!
The instructor was really good and always replied to emails promptly. He was always very helpful and answered questions in a meaningful way.
Karsten Lopelman is a God" Okay, but actually. Karsten is the most pleasant professor I have ever had a course with. He is caring about his students, he lectures well, he gives great examples and has clear notes. Karsten's exams are fair, the textbook is a very useful resource (I read it religiously) and the fill in the blanks are the best idea since peanut butter. I would take absolutely any course Karsten teaches and when anyone tells me that they might take PSYCO 104 or PSYCO 282 the first words out of my mouth are " You have to take it with Karsten". I truly enjoy that you start every chapter with a research focus, it helps centre the idea and focus on where these ideas might be going. Once again another amazing course taught by Karsten, Bravo !
Dr. Loepelmann is a very nice professor and accessible outside the classroom. I have encountered some professors who refuses to answer students' question through emails and will refer them to the TAs but Dr. Loepelmann always answers my emails promptly and with detail and care.
(Thanks!)

PSYCO 494

What can I say? I am obsessed with human factors and ergonomics, now! I think about it every day and in almost every situation. I may actually devote my life to this topic. Aside from the captivating lectures, however, I wasn't terribly drawn to the textbook or the required readings. They seemed to be more "supplemental learning" and I honestly found myself forgetting to read the course pack. Thank you, Dr. Loepelmann, for the wonderful term! I am excited to take more classes with you in the future!
(I'm constantly looking for better readings; thanks for your feedback.)

This is my second course I have taken with this instructor. I thought he did a great job of making the course engaging and explaining concepts clearly and with humour. There was a lot of lists of things to understand within each topic, but I thought the exam format did a good job of examining these. I studied really hard for the first midterm and didn't do as well as I had hoped, but the instructor was great about being willing to discuss how to improve for the final. I am actually enjoying writing my term paper as the instructor gave us the freedom to choose a topic we are interested in. Overall, I enjoyed this class and would recommend this instructor.
(Thanks. I recommend me, too.)

The timing of the Macewan exercise around thanksgiving weekend was tricky. Procrastination=closed buildings. Excellent use of recent research. Like the independent topics for paper, would love a formal draft date to encourage getting it done early.
(Sorry about encountering closed buildings. I'll mention that to future classes. I don't want to have a formal topic-selection deadline, because to enforce it, it would have to be for marks--and I don't want anyone losing marks for something like this.)

A bit more guidance/discussion on the term paper would have been appreciated Overall a very interesting course with a lot of parallels to real life. More class interaction maybe would be something to consider to improve the class
(I am willing to work with you one-on-one if you need help with your term paper, but you've got to reach out to me via email or during office hours--otherwise I don't know what you need.)

Dr. Loepelmann did an amazing job with this course. I wasn't 100% what to expect with this topic but he was able to spark my interest by always coming to class well prepared and delivering lectures with enthusiasm. The two written assignments in this course were well though out and were effective ways of making sure we actually understood concepts and were able to apply them. I really enjoyed how the Loepelmann was able to link course concepts to real-life situations with videos and case studies that helped break up the lecture time. I would encourage you to continue using these and perhaps adding more, if possible. I also appreciated that you were able to offer us feedback on the Term Papers before final submission; that was super helpful!
(Yup, I am working to include more active learning content.)

Why aren't you studying?

The Reading List (Winter, 2018)

It'll soon be time for another Reading Wee--wha? It's over already? Well, it sure didn't last long. (I swear, a week isn't as long as it used to be.) I did actually spend some time reading--mostly papers on neuromagic, but even more time frantically writing my lecture on neuromagic. (It's for PSYCO 403: Advanced Perception, if you're interested).

Anyway, I've got a backlog of books I've read going back to, er, 2016. (I swear, a year isn't as long as it used to be.) I posted some of my favourite recent graphic novels last time; this time it's some random nonfiction.

Head in the Cloud: Why Knowing Things Still Matters When Facts Are So Easy to Look Up by William Poundstone
Why do you need to know anything anymore? In a world with Google, what is knowledge worth? William Poundstone argues that it may be worth more than you think. This book, based on original survey research, catalogs the many things that people don’t know. It’s shocking. Would you be able to identify Johann Sebastian Bach in a photo? Do you know the sun is a star? Did you know research shows that people with more general knowledge (e.g., trivia) have higher incomes and are happier (Admittedly, it is just a correlation.) When you phone battery dies, you might start to realize just how little you actually know...
Gastrophysics: The New Science of Eating by Charles Spence
Spence won the Ig Nobel Prize for his study, in which he amplified the sound of a person eating a Pringles potato chip to make it seem fresher and crunchier. Yes, seriously. This book describes how our experience of food is affected by taste, smell, sight, sound, and touch, as well as the atmosphere, the people you are eating with, and more. Some of the most fun parts are his accounts of the often bizarre world of high-end restaurants. Imagine eating in the dark, or with your hands. How about eating food off a tablet computer? Or being spritzed in the face with scent as you eat? Loads of great perceptual psychology for anyone who eats food. I’m recommending this book to students of my PSYCO 403: Advanced Perception course.
Touch: The Science of the Hand, Heart, and Mind by David J. Linden
My area of training as a graduate student was perception and psychophysics, specifically how the skin processes information, so this book grabbed my attention right away. Be aware that an understanding of our sense of touch is going to require some biology. Terms like HPA axis, stratum corneum, dorsal root ganglia, ventroposterolateral nucleus, and TRPM8 receptor get thrown around a lot--maybe a bit too much for a popular book. If you can get past that, there are some interesting discussions of “hot” and “cool” taste sensations, the nature of itching, touch illusions, and the social nature of touch (yes, that includes sexual touching). I’d recommend taking PSYCO 367: Perception before reading this book.
See What I’m Saying: The Extraordinary Powers of our Five Senses by Lawrence D. Rosenblum
Yup, another book about perception! (Remember: I’m a perception geek.) Rosenblum’s thesis is that we don’t give our senses enough credit; we focus more on the limitations of our senses. But there are more to our senses than most people realize. This book is not a catalog of our senses; rather, it delves into particular phenomena that highlight extraordinary abilities--some of which are displayed by only a small number of people. Many of these cases will be familiar to students of psychology: the blind man who rides a bike using “sonar,” how molecules in human sweat may synchronize women’s menstrual cycles, and the curious phenomenon of synesthesia. Another recommendation for students of perception.
Selp-helf by Miranda Sings
Why did I read this book again? She was funny or something? If you really love Miranda Sings, you’ll--well, you’ll probably tolerate this book. Just like the real Miranda, it’s best in small doses. Like, really small doses. In fact, you’re better off watching Miranda on Jerry Seinfeld’s Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee (season 5, episode 4, available on Netflix). That episode made me laugh out loud. Hey, not all these books are winners. Wait--this book was on the New York Times bestseller list? I just can’t anymore...

Why aren't you studying?

The Awards: 18

I am honoured to have achieved the Department of Psychology’s Honour Roll with Distinction for my Spring, 2017 PSYCO 367: Perception class. Wait, what? Spring? That course ended 8 months ago! Did I just forget to post this? Am I too humble to post about winning an award? Nope and nope. The admin person who crunches the numbers for these department awards left and didn’t get around to this. And the new person had no idea there were awards or anything. It almost makes it seem like these awards are not that important. Well, it’s not like there’s a cash prize or anything. (But after I win one, I do take my family out to dinner.)

Warning! I may be a sarcastic jerk in making my snide little remarks. Comedy! If you are easily offended by overeducated, middle-aged white male privilege, turn back now. But if that’s your thing, read on!
The instructor made the information easy to learn and if students had any questions he was very good at explaining concepts in a different way. In a spring course, where some students are taking another course and/or working at the same time, it is difficult to keep up with the textbook readings and the lecture. It might be better to have lecture material cover 75% of exams and the textbook cover 25% rather than the 50/50 split. I'm not sure why so many students say this course is so hard, maybe it was the instructor that made this course better! I found the material to be fairly consistent with any other 300 level psych course. I really liked how the instructor had examples of illusions and concepts covered in class, and that he posted those and extra helpful material on his website. He was very organized!
(Thank you for the kind words and taking the time to write so much. There’s a lot of important information in the textbook, and you’re paying a lot for it. That’s why I make it worth a substantial amount on the exams.)


The final is too close to the last date of lecture. Not enough time to be fully 100% confident going into the final.
(I know--it really sucks to have the final the day after the last day of classes. Unfortunately, there’s nothing I can do about that. You should give your feedback to the Office of the Registrar - Exams and Timetabling.)


Course was very fast-paced. Maybe less topics would be better
(It’s because Spring courses are packed into 6 weeks. I do not want to compromise the nature of content of the course, because it’s supposed to be the same as Fall/Winter courses. At least it wasn’t a 3-week course.)


Good course with a very interesting topic. It would however be nice if there were some assignments associated with the course. I do not tend to perform well on exams in general, and prefer classes where assignments are a part of the final grade
(Here’s where I have compromised the course. When I taught it in Fall/Winter, I had 10 “lab” assignments that students did. They were done on computer outside of class time. They were pretty highly regarded, fun, and helped students to understand concepts. But running these in a 6-week course is a nightmare, so I’ve had to cut them out.)


I really appreciate that the instructor presented some different material in the lecture than was in the text. Too many professors simply teach from the textbook, but the additional material in lecture helped to clarify concepts and made it more interesting. I also appreciated how animated the instructor was. This makes it so much more fun to be in class.

Dr. Loepelmann is a fantastic professor. I love his enthusiasm and humor, and I hope he continues to teach for many years
(Thanks!)


The iClicker questions were very useful in knowing what was to be expected on exams.
(Thank you for noticing that. I get a lot of complaints about there not being “sample exams,” but the clicker questions are basically that.)


Course was great. University making students pay for textbook they can't afford to pass the course is "a dick move." Still really good instructor
(It’s not the University, it’s me. I’m the one who makes the decision to have a textbook in a course. I’m sorry if you think I’m being a dick about that. I believe that the textbook covers a lot of important material that is essential to an understanding of perception. There’s no way I could cover that much material in lectures. I choose the same textbook being used in Fall/Winter terms, so there should be lots of used copies available. And I do make sure that there are copies of the textbook on reserve in the library--you can check those out for 2 hours at a time if you are unable to afford the (admittedly expensive) textbook.)

Hmm, all done and barely any sarcasm. Maybe next time!

Why aren’t you studying?

The Lecture Notes & Copyright

If you look at the bottom of each page of my lecture notes, you'll see a copyright notice, and a link to a more elaborate copyright agreement. Essentially, if you use my lecture notes, you are agreeing to certain conditions. One of those conditions is that you do not post my lecture notes online anywhere. The notes are not your property to do with whatever you wish. You are definitely not permitted to post them to an online notes-sharing website in order to earn credits or money. If you do so, you are in violation not only of copyright law, but also the Code of Student Behaviour. Whoa, that's pretty harsh, right?


Why am I being so sticky about this? Here's what happened a couple of weeks ago. I got an email from a student who had a question about something in the lectures they didn't understand. But the question they were asking was weird. They were asking about lecture material that was not in my lectures. At least, not any more. I thought for sure I had taken this particularly confusing section out, years ago. I double-checked, and confirmed that it was indeed gone. So I asked the student where they got my lecture notes from. Oh, an online lecture note sharing site, they said.

Argh.

This unfortunate student had stumbled upon long-outdated notes posted without permission by a student in my class a few years ago. The student had missed a few days of class and instead of asking another student in that class (or me) for notes on what they had missed, they just Googled it instead.

This is why I copyright my lecture notes.

I don't want anyone coming across old, outdated notes posted on some random website. Yes, they may be filled in with all the blanks you missed when you were unable to come to class. But you could potentially be doing yourself a disservice--learning material that you don't have to, or even misunderstanding something important.

Yes, I do want students to take responsibility for themselves. If you miss a class, my policy is to get you to ask another student in the class for the notes. Why? Lots of reasons. You will get to know someone else. Many students complain that even though the university is filled with people, they feel alone--because they are not forming new relationships. There are loads of smart, like-minded people all around you. It wouldn't hurt to get to know someone new. You could, say, share lecture notes if one of you is sick. Smart students will make additional annotations to my lecture notes--not just filling in the words. These students tend to do better on exams. Although I can give you the blanks if you miss a class, that's all I can give you. It would be better to get annotated notes from a fellow student.

Even worse than posting lecture notes, I have found students posting their old assignments and papers online. This is a dumb thing to do. Not only can I download these papers too, I have electronic records of all assignments, going back more than 10 years. If a current student is dumb enough to submit your old assignment, it's a trivial matter to bust both of you for plagiarism. Yes, both of you. See, it's against the Code of Student Behaviour to provide material to another student. How would you like the University contacting you after you've graduated, telling you that your degree is being revoked? Yes, it's that serious.

So I've had to spend hours over the past couple of weeks writing takedown letters to multiple online note-sharing websites, which is a major drag. I'd rather be doing almost anything else.

If you feel my policies are too restrictive (and your social anxiety prevents you from talking to strangers), I've come up with a compromise. I am willing to set up a note-sharing forum on eClass. You can ask for notes or share your notes. I don't have a problem with this because it's under my control. If there are errors in the notes people post, I can fix that. I don't have control over websites that profit from my hard work--and, yes, it's hard work. I spend hundreds of hours developing my lecture notes. In many ways, my notes are the sum total of my work as an instructor.

Please don't give them away.

Why aren't you studying?

The Red Pens

Happy marking season! It’s so festive these days, what with all the red ink splashed everywhere. No? Well, it is for me: term papers and exams mean red ink. But is there a problem with using the colour red for marking? Let’s go to the evidence (what there is, anyway).

Using a red pen seems to make people pick out more writing errors, and cause them to grade more harshly resulting in lower scores, compared with using a blue pen (Rutchick, Slepian, & Ferris, 2008).

Another study found that corrections in red ink are interpreted by students as being harsher than those made in “aqua” (what, water?), because red is an emotive (“arousing or able to arouse intense feeling”) colour (Dukes & Albenesi, 2013). The corrections are also more likely to be interpreted by students as “shouting,” which leads to emotional loading and anxiety, and a potential rejection of the feedback on the paper.

Even before this evidence appeared, there have been suggestions that teaching mark using purple or pink pens. (That’s the ink colour, not the colour of the barrel. No research on that yet.)

I remember getting term papers back, and seeing the red ink. It didn’t make me feel good. If I had known that there was a typo or a lapse in logic, I would have corrected it before handing it in. See the red made me want to be a better writer. I was getting valuable feedback from professors, and I would be dumb not to learn from it. I can still remember some of the corrections, advice, and feedback I received decades later. Did it hurt my feelings? Sure. Did I let it stop me from improving? No way.

So I use red ink. Yes, it can trigger emotions. But maybe it’s supposed to. In (literal and figurative) contrast with blue (or even black) marks on the paper, red draws your attention. It says, “Hey, this is important.” Maybe it elicits an emotional reaction; maybe it acts as punishment (in the operant conditioning sense of the word). If I have emptied a red pen marking your term paper, it clearly needs improvement. Learn from all the scribbles I make on your paper. I’ve spent time reading, thinking about, and analyzing your writing. It’s customized, one-to-one communication, and it’s what you’re paying for when you take a course. I wouldn’t spend all the time I do if I didn’t think it would help.

I’ve used a lot of red pens over the years. Here are some I’ve tried recently.




Staples 1.0
It’s a pen. A red pen. Nothing special. But they’re cheap: You can get 864 of them for $252.69 at Staples.

Zebra Sarasa 0.7
This used to be my go-to pen, but even with gel ink the 0.7 mm tip is a bit too sharp. Often dies with ink left in it. (And what’s with the name? Is it made from zebra blood?)

BIC Velocity Gel 0.7
The name grabbed me right away: I need a fast pen. But it has a too-sharp tip, and also dies with ink left. Grr!

PaperMate Profile 1.4B
Now we’re talking. A nice big fat 1.4 mm ballpoint gel ink pen. It’s smooth and doesn’t require a lot of pressure to write with, which helps prevent tendonitis. Makes an inconsistent line though, so I only use it to mark exams.



PaperMate InkJoy 300RT 1.0M
My new favourite pen, the InkJoy series features amazingly quick-drying ink. Super smooth and fast, it’s what I use to mark term papers.

So, how do you feel about red ink?

Why aren’t you studying?

References
Rutchick, A. M., Slepian, M. L., & Ferris, B. D. (2008). The pen is mightier than the word: Object priming of evaluative standards. European Journal of Social Psychology, 40, 704-708. doi: 10.1002/ejsp.753

Dukes, R., & Albanesi, H. (2012). Seeing red: Quality of an essay, color of the grading pen and student reactions to the grading process. Social Science Journal, 50, 96-100. doi:10.1016/j.soscij.2012.07.005

The Comic Reading List (Fall, 2017)

What to do during Reading Week, but read. (OK, get a bunch of work done, too. But everyone needs a break.) Every so often, I like to share my reading list. It's been a while since my last one. Not only has it been a while, but I noticed that I haven't included any comics on the lists. I'm not a snob who looks down on comics; I love comics. And not just in the I-love-the-comics-that-I-read-as-a-kid way, but in the I-still-love-reading-comics way. I just forget to include them in my reading lists. Since I profess to being a geek, here's the evidence--some of my favourite comics from recent years.


I have to start with Saga. I can't bear the time between individual issues, so I wait to get the trade paperbacks (oh, fine: "graphic novels") every six months. It's the story of a couple from two warring worlds (the science-based planet Landfall and its only moon, the magic-infused Wreath), written by Brian K. Vaughan. It's moving, and thrilling, and heartbreaking. The art, by Calgary's Fiona Staples, is amazing: she can make you empathize with anthropomorphic meerkats. Or aristocratic humanoids with TVs for heads. Yes, it is deliciously weird and different. And good: It's won a dozen Eisner awards, and will win many more.

Matt Fraction (writer) and David Aja's (artist) widely acclaimed run on Hawkeye ended a couple of years ago, but I still come back to it. Yes, it's that Hawkeye from the Avengers (and also another Hawkeye from another Avengers). But if you think it's just some dumb, loud punch-up comic book, you are oh-so-wrong. It's a smart superhero book. Care for a wordless story about a dog who loves pizza? Yes, please. It defies expectation in every issue. Aja's spare lines meld perfectly with Fraction's show-don't-tell scripts. It won five Eisners, but deserved more. Be warned: you will have to read and re-read these stories, or you will miss much of the nuance.

If you've seen the movie, you might be interested in the original manga of The Ghost in the Shell. I recommend the deluxe edition, which is read right-to-left as it was originally published. It will bend your mind, but only just a little bit. And author Shirow Masamune's behind-the-scenes notes are totally worth it. Yes, it's (mostly) in English. Influenced by (and influencing) cyberpunk, this work has had an effect on movies (notably The Matrix, Avatar, and Ex Machina), and video games (Deus Ex, among many others). It was ahead of its time in the late 1980s, and--amazingly--much of it still is.

I'm way, way too young to have seen the original run of Batman in the 1960s, but I caught reruns after school. A goofy, silly Batman is better than no Batman at all. Right? Jeff Parker and Jonathan Case perfectly capture the zany and ridiculous aspects of the smash hit TV show--right down to Cesar Romero's Joker wearing makeup over his mustache. A grim, brooding Dark Knight this ain't. Anyway, nostalgia! Highlights include crossovers with The Man From U.N.C.L.E., Green Hornet, and even the 1970s Wonder Woman. (My favourite? When they encountered the Legion of Super-Heroes. Woot!)
Why aren't you studying?

The Edmonton Comic and Entertainment Expo (2017 edition)

A few weeks ago, I went to the Edmonton Comic & Entertainment Expo. I notice that I didn't write about it last year (even though I went). And my post from two years ago was less than glowing. Could it be that my enthusiasm for pop culture and various forms of geekery is waning? Er, no. Rogue One and Twin Peaks: The Return were fantastic. (I even bought the extra-super-special Rogue One Blu-ray set--only offered by Target in the US--off eBay. And, of course, this past summer was the summer of Twin Peaks.) Nothing against this year's "media guests." I don't really watch Daredevil, but I'm a fan of Charlie Cox because Stardust. It was inspiring to hear Alberta's own Eugene Brave Rock. And Shatner, of course.

But the guest list does not have the depth of other cons, like the Salt Lake Comic Con (sadly, held the same weekend as Edmonton Expo). Don't follow the link to see who was in Salt Lake, I implore you--you will weep. Maybe I'll skip the next Expo, and saving my money to go to Salt Lake, or Toronto, or (cough) Calgary. Eep!


In the meantime, I once again have some swag to give away. But not just give away. This time, I will give my loot to the person who pledges to give the greatest number of items to the Campus Food Bank. That's right, to get something, you have to give something. Submissions will be accepted (in the form of comments below), up until 12:00 MDT on Monday, October 16, 2017. At that time, the selection will be made. To receive your swag, you have to bring the items you pledged to donate to my office, so that I may confirm your generous donation, and bestow upon you the merchandise:
  • Edmonton Expo messenger bag ($25 value)
  • Edmonton Expo T-shirt (size M, never worn! $25 value)
  • Edmonton Expo Bluetooth earphones ($40 value. A warning: I was not able to get these to work with my Windows 10 computer.)
  • Edmonton Expo lanyard/badge ($5 value)
  • Edmonton Expo souvenir program
  • and more!
That's a total (claimed) value of over $100. Even if you do not win, I would kindly ask you to donate to the Campus Food Bank. This contest is now open!

Why aren't you studying?

Edit: Added closing date. Oops!

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