James E. Freeman




Teaching Background


I came to the University of Virginia, August 1999.  Prior to coming to UVa I taught 23 years at Denison University (Granville, Ohio).  There are several differences between teaching at Denison and teaching at UVa. 


The main difference is in the size of my classes.  Denison is a small, liberal arts school, while UVa is a moderate size research university.  The quality of student, however, appears to be about the same at both schools.  For my lecture class, I had about 130 students the first semester.  This is more students than I would have all year at Denison.  My seminar class at here is about twice the size of my seminar classes at Denison.  I also taught my first summer class this past summer.  It was fun and it only had 19 students.


Teaching Philosophy


The quintessential point I attempt to emphasize in all my courses is critical thinking and the science of psychology.  Regardless of the class, I want them to be better consumers of information about behavior.  I often read a psychology-related, newspaper article and ask them to evaluate it.  I ask them the question, are the conclusions supported by the research design?  Too often I hear students accept as gospel something that they have hear an “expert” say on a “talk show” or read in a “pop” psychology book.  A comment they often get from me on their first papers is “Where is the data?”  They come to know that an anecdote, no matter how compelling, is not enough. 


Teaching Style and Methods


The course that I teach most often—“Research Methods”—is a required course for all minors and majors in psychology.  It is in this course that students learn about research design and data analysis.  A review of the textbooks on the subject reveal that the content is rather dry compared to that of introductory and other content areas.  For example, there aren’t as many illustrations, photos, or humorous examples in methods or statistics textbooks compared to the other areas.  There is also a fair amount of statistics in the course, which past evaluations have revealed to be intimidating to some students.  I attempt to compensate by adding my own sense of humor in my lectures. 


I would describe my lecture style as “interactive.”  I often ask the class questions before revealing the next point in my slide presentation.  I continue to ask questions in an attempt to probe them to think critically about what they say.  I like to involve my class in a discussion even when the class is large.


Perhaps, the most distinctive feature of my teaching style is that I provide them with explicit learning objectives for each unit of my lecture class.  These are posted on the class web site.  I promise that no question will be asked on an exam that is not derived from a learning objective.  After each exam I also post a rubric or scoring key on the web that explains the answer to each question and how partial credit is awarded.


Teaching Experiences


Denison University

Research Methods

Honors Psychology

General Psychology


Psychology of Blacks (Seminar)



University of Virginia

Research Methods

Human Sexuality (Seminar)

General Psychology