Off DeWall: Class Has Begun!

            What a first day! With all of its excitement, anticipation, and curiosity, we began our class yesterday. There are about 50 students in the course. They’re all 2nd or 3rd year students. At Sun Yat-Sen University, they have a separate campus for the 1st-3rd year students. It’s located in a small, sleepy town called Zhuhai (CHEW-HI). Mountains surround the town, rivers snake through campus, and there are luscious trees adorned with Spanish moss. Very pretty!

We began with course introductions and a brief lecture on how to think like a social psychologist. We focused on how social psychologists use the same scientific method that the “hard sciences” use, but that what we measure is often subjective. For example, you can’t go the local supermarket and order a six-pack of self-esteem. How, then, do you measure self-esteem when you can’t put your hands on it and toss it your backseat? It takes work, but you can devise clever and nifty ways to measure most psychological things you’re interested in.

To increase engagement with the material, the students broke up into small discussion groups that they’ll have over the next week. They’ll discuss the readings and write small makeshift “blog” entries each day to gauge their reactions. For their final assignment, they’ll write a short proposal on a student they would want to conduct. It should be a blast!

            I’m deeply grateful to get the opportunity to come and teach here. I’m picking up a few Mandarin phrases to help me get around (e.g., hello, how are you?, thank you, my name is…), sampling the authentic Chinese food, and just soaking in what a wonderful treat it is to connect with students who have never been to the United States. 

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