For Educators

Check out some of these handy teaching resources!

Teaching Operational and Conceptual Definitions

Students in research methods courses often struggle to understand and distinguish between conceptual and operational definitions. We offer an engaging active learning opportunity to help students make this distinction. This activity gives students the opportunity to practice developing both types of definitions using popular phrases or colloquialisms that are similar, but have nuanced differences.

Click here for an overview, lesson plan, and additional ideas

Citation: Robinson, J. & Goodman, S.G. (2023). “Banger-ness” vs. “Bop-ocity”: Teaching operational and conceptual definitions through colloquialism. Presented at the 2023 National Institute on the Teaching of Psychology, St. Pete Beach, FL. January 5, 2023.

Unessays in Psychology Courses


Cognitive psychology courses are rich in content that can be useful to broad audiences. Much of the foundational research presented in course texts is conducted in highly constrained laboratory settings, making the concepts difficult to apply or use in the real world. Students in cognitive psychology classes may not readily notice practical applications for the content. Standard assessments (e.g. written research papers) fail to capture the real-world applications of cognitive phenomena. Using an applied framework can motivate engagement in cognition. The use of an Unessay project in undergraduate cognitive psychology courses requires students to present a key construct in any format except an essay. Unessay projects originated in the humanities, and are an excellent fit for psychology. The Unessay is a useful vehicle for identifying and presenting the application of a cognitive construct in the real world. Students are required to convey that information in a creative, non-essay format. Instructions, a rubric and examples are provided. The Unessay is a novel approach to a course project in cognitive psychology that can motivate student interest while aligning with several APA outcomes for psychology majors.

Click here for the project overview

Click here for an example rubric

Citation: Goodman, S.G. (2022). Just as long as it’s not an essay: The Unessay as a tool for engagement in a cognitive psychology course. Teaching of Psychology0(0).