Susan Sajna’s Experience

Posted March 12th, 2015 By OCUFA

Psychology, Lakehead University

My proudest teaching moment:

1) When, unbeknownst to me students in my class nominated me for LU’s Distinguished Instructor award (twice) and the Contributions to Teaching Award (3 times).

2) When I received an e-mail 10 years later from a student I helped through a rough first term. I had no idea that it was my intervention that made him change his mind about quitting school to go back to his job (mature student). He is now very happily a teacher.

3) When a smaller intercessional class got together for a group photo, enlarged, framed and signed it for me.  In all honesty, #2 touched my heart the most.

My greatest research accomplishment:

Preparing, administering, collating and analyzing the data on a survey for Introduction to Psychology Students on their participation in departmental research. The prepared results were presented to the Senate for Ethical Review. The bonus points for research participation arrangement was saved.

Conducting research is not part of my job description as a Continuing Contract Lecturer. However, keeping on top of daily emails from, where the newest research is posted even before it gets published is a feat in and of itself. I incorporate this material into my lectures.

How I use my knowledge, research skills and teaching ability to improve my community:

In addition to informal settings where people ask me questions about psychology, the brain and the like regularly, I was a panelist for Science North’s February Science Café, held in Thunder Bay.

Topic: “Why do people believe in misinformation even after it’s been corrected?”” I greatly enjoyed this opportunity to speak to and with members of the local community, 100 of whom showed up. I am also looking into joining a group of local “like minded thinkers” who I met that night.

The challenges I face in my work:

The challenges, sadly, are much the same as they were 25+ years ago when I first started. The role of contract staff is underappreciated. My 25th anniversary of teaching at LU went by unnoticed. I have had courses I nurtured for 10+ years “assigned” to new faculty without notice or explanation. And I face continuing challenges with spring course offerings, (run by a different department)  never knowing if that third course will run or not until it’s too late to offer an alternative.

Although a lucky few of us at LU now have a guarantee of at least two courses per fall/winter some years that is all the work I get. And the pay is not enough to live on. It’s a very good thing I still LOVE teaching. 

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