May 4, 1994
The Abnormal Experience
When I was given the opportunity to write this I thought that the end of the semester would never get here -- I guess I was wrong about that. But, in procrastinating for the past month I have given this paper quite a bit of thought. How do you write what you liked most about a class that you had two years ago is a very difficult question to answer. I mean, it would be simple for me to say “I thought it was fun,” or somethi ng cheesy like that. But, I wanted to put some serious thought into this; so here it goes.
Abnormal psych was my first upper-division psych class and I had no idea what to expect. Add to that the fact that I would be taking it from someone who knows my parents and you have a situation that definitely added some pressure. First of all, I wasn’t sure if I could do the work and secondly, I was really just worried about embarrassing myself and my parents. You see, up until that point my grades were average, I had 2.9 after three semesters and I wasn’t really enjoying the major (psychology) I had chosen. But then it all started to click. I took your class and I finally felt like I was doing college work -- whatever that is. I was finally in a class where disc ussion and lecture went together perfectly. It was almost like a scene from “Dead Poets Society” with a majority of the students participating and the lecture seeming to come from experience -- not a book.
That is what set my college career in motion. That semester I got a 3.75 (with the only B coming from YOU), and I haven’t gotten below a 3.4 since. The class turned me on to psych and, more importantly, learning. I can’t really put my finger on what made me get the most out of the class, because I think it was a combination of several different factors. I had a teacher who I felt I had to perform well for, I was in a class with mostly upperclassmen, and I finally had some material that was interesting to me.
I had heard all of th ˚e stories from my Dad about when he was here and knew you. This made me feel as though I had to do the work and earn my grade. The worst feeling you can have is to feel like you’re getting a free ride just because you have some “contacts.” That’s the reason I left home and came to WVU in the first place. I knew I couldn’t deal with having all of my parents friends as teachers and wondering if I were the one getting the grades or if it was because of my parents. Also, I couldn’t stand the idea of my parents talking to my teachers - as friends - and getting status reports about me on a day-to-day basis. So, I had to get my stuff together and start acting like a student. This carried over to my other classes and it is something that I try to do in everything I do now.
I think the most important thing I learned in your class was how to be a student. Not just some passive guy that sits in the back and hopes he doesn’t get called on. I wanted to be involved in the discussions and I wanted the opportunity to add to the class. I learned a lot about my self through all of your classes and I wish that more professors would teach more like this. I talked to someone and they said that if they were teaching the types of classes you teach they would be just as popular as you are. But, I said that the classes weren’t the ones who have won all of the teaching awards, it was Dr. Comer. He agreed.
I don’t want you to get the idea that I didn’t learn the subject matter at all, it’s just that I fe lt as though the other stuff has been much more important to my academic career. It’s funny that I got a B in this class and not the other two that I took with you. Even now, when people ask me what classes I’ve taken and if can recommend any, I always say Abnormal with Comer as the first choice. I guess I was just starting to get the hang of it the first time through, because my grades were much higher in the other two. But, I still consider Abnormal to be my favorite class I’ve had here.
I guess I should get back to the class. My favorite aspect of the class was the Bundy project. When I first heard that we would have to read a second book and do a profile on the character I was pissed; I thought “how dare he make us read this book plus our text.” Bu t, as soon as I started reading it I loved it. Then using the DSM-IIIR to do a mini-evaluation of Bundy was great. I really enjoyed doing this because I had seen my Mother use it and always wondered how and why she did it.
I’m sorry this isn’t really long, but I feel as though it really does tell what I got out of the class. The class taught me how to be an active participant in my education and not just another guy going along for the ride. I never really expected to be a top student and sometimes I still worry that I’ve just gotten lucky the past two and a half years. Thank you so much for letting me do this and thanks for being a great teacher. I don’t want you to think I’m too cheesy but the class was a lot of fun.