March 19, 2004  
Volume 97, Issue 89  

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NEWS

Farewell SuperPsych; Western chops its biggest class

By Sarah Prickett
Gazette Staff

SuperPsych may not be so super next year, as a popular psychology professor is saying goodbye to Alumni Hall.

Alumni Hall was borrowed from the kinesiology program, and will be returned to non-classroom uses such as sports games, said Mike Atkinson, the professor who has been teaching Psychology 020 to classes of approximately 1,200 students every year since 1993.

But Alan Salmoni, director of Western’s school of kinesiology, said the decision to move SuperPsych had nothing to do with kinesiology, adding he did not think Alumni Hall was a fitting classroom and that a move towards smaller classes would benefit students.

“From a financial perspective, it doesn’t make any sense to have only one class there,” he explained, noting it was difficult to share the space between academic and other uses. “What we’ve basically done is monopolize an entire facility for one class.”

Bill Cox of Western’s Institutional Planning and Budgeting department currently assists “Dr. Mike” as technical director, a position set to be eliminated when the class shrinks. “[Administration] didn’t want the labour component involved,” he said, noting that moving the class out of Alumni Hall would save work.

Atkinson said he would continue to teach introductory psychology, but class enrollment would be reduced by one-third, to 800 students. His new classroom will likely be in the recently built North Campus Building.

“Everyone expected us to fail,” he said, noting the “super-class” was the first of its kind at Western. “We just believed that it would work — it was an incredible high to be able to pull it off and do it right.”

SuperPsych is well-known for its use of innovative technology like document cameras and rear projection, which Cox said would move to the new classroom.

“We’re using the same sort of technology that we’ve developed over the years at Alumni Hall,” Atkinson added.

Students currently enrolled in SuperPsych, however, said they enjoy the class despite — or even because of — its size. “I like how [Dr. Mike] keeps things interesting,” said first-year science student Kayla Anderson. “It’s my favourite class — it’s the only one I don’t fall asleep in.”

 

 

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