A Closer Look

In an effort to deliver its best teaching resources to as many psychology students and teachers as possible, APA's Div. 2, the Society for the Teaching of Psychology (STP), has launched an electronic publishing program that provides free online access to seven teaching of psychology texts. The books, all available for free download on the division's Web site, cover topics such as innovative classroom techniques, the future of teaching psychology in the 21st century, advice for graduate students on how to be effective teachers and memoirs from seasoned educators.

"We try to publish a wide variety of essays so that we capture the interests of a large audience," says Bryan Saville, PhD, a Div. 2 member and e-book editor.

The division hopes to educate and inspire teachers by offering e-books that cover topics ranging from classroom tips and techniques to memoirs by renowned teaching veterans.

The e-publishing frontier

The e-book program began in 2001 when division members Jane Halonen, PhD, of the University of West Florida, and Stephen F. Davis, PhD, of Texas Wesleyan University, proposed the division publish a manuscript they had co-edited called "The Many Faces of Psychological Research in the 21st Century" exclusively as an e-book.

Vincent Hevern, PhD, of Le Moyne College, tackled formatting the book for online publication as Div. 2's first Internet editor.

"The basic principle from the very beginning was to make the information accessible," says Hevern, who codes every online text that STP offers into three formats: PDF, RTF and HTML.

"There can be all sorts of computers and operating systems, but we wanted to make sure that as long as you were connected to the Internet you could look at our material." Each book is downloadable in its entirety or by chapter.

Div. 2 found their first e-book to be so popular that they decided to continue publishing electronically. Publishing online has several advantages over traditional print publishing, says Hevern. For one, STP is able to offer online access free of charge because division members donate their time and expertise to write, edit and code the books. For another, psychology students and teachers in foreign countries with limited access to printed materials can access the teaching resources quickly. "If you put quality information online, it's going to attract an international audience," says Hevern.

In fact, the e-books have proven very popular so far, he adds, with 250,000 hits in 2004. He estimates that the e-books will draw three or four times as many visitors this year. By comparison, in 1997 the division mailed teaching resources to only 300 people.

Online inspiration, education

Among the other offerings in the division's e-book collection is a compilation of five years of "Excellence in Teaching" columns edited by William Buskist, PhD, of Auburn University, Hevern and G. William Hill IV, PhD, of Kennesaw State University. The essays, which originally appeared on the division's listserv, cover a wide variety of topics including advice and tips on teaching, new and creative teaching strategies, book reviews and reflections on teaching in general. They are written by leading figures in the scholarship of teaching.

"We try to publish articles that are inspirational in nature, as well as more practical topics like using technology in the classroom," says Bryan Saville, PhD, of James Madison University, a former student of Buskist's who now edits the listserv columns with Tracy Zinn, PhD, also of James Madison University.

Saville points out that although the columns are geared to psychology teachers, they are applicable to all teachers.

Another highlight of the collection is STP's newest e-book, "The Teaching of Psychology in Autobiography: Perspectives from Exemplary Psychology Teachers." STP invited 53 teachers, who range from high school to university levels, to contribute autobiographical chapters about their experiences teaching psychology.

"We wanted to have an archive of the advice and experiences of psychology's best teachers-defined by those who have won national awards or played a big role in promoting the teaching of psychology," Buskist says.

Now that they've caught the e-publishing bug, Div. 2 members are exploring ways to add even more titles to their e-publishing venture. To that end, STP has formed a task force, headed by Buskist, to examine what Hevern calls "the wave of the future for publishing in academia." Among the specific topics the task force is examining are how to establish peer review, how to make sure that what they are publishing meets the high bar of scholarly texts, and how to manage the workload involved with coding each e-book.

E-publishing of scholarly books is an exciting frontier, says Buskist. "The division exists to promote teaching as a practice and teaching as a scholarly endeavor," says Buskist. "These books represent the best of the best in both regards."

Div. 2 at a glance

Div. 2 (Society for the Teaching of Psychology) represents the interests of psychology teachers from high school through the graduate level.

The division promotes research on teaching, and professional identity and development for psychology teachers through teaching programs at national and regional psychology conferences. Members of the division receive a subscription to the division's online quarterly journal, Teaching of Psychology, and free access to numerous teaching and advising materials offered by the division's Office of Teaching Resources in Psychology. The division also administers five annual Excellence in Teaching Awards and the annual G. Stanley Hall Lecture series. The lectures, held during APA's Annual Convention, are a way to help introductory-level teachers understand recent developments in a range of different psychological subdisciplines.

For more information, visit Div. 2's Web site at www.teachpsych.org.