What Skills Do I Need as a Psychology Professor?

Jessica Ellis

A psychology professor can use his or her skills to help students understand and enjoy the complex subject of psychology. Psychology professors need a comprehensive knowledge of the subject gained through education and training, as well as the ability to keep up with new developments and topics in the field. At the secondary or collegiate level, the skills required to be a psychology professor can also include public speaking, communication and organizational abilities, and the added responsibility of balancing independent research with teaching classes.

Excellent public speaking skills are an important aspect of teaching.
Excellent public speaking skills are an important aspect of teaching.

First and foremost, a psychology professor must be knowledgeable and passionate about the subject. Most professors have a graduate degree or doctorate in psychology, and many also have practical experience in the field. Teaching jobs at the high school level may be available for those who complete a bachelor's degree in psychology and possess teaching credentials, but these positions are relatively rare. In addition to undergoing formal training in the subject, professors must also work to stay current on new topics, studies, and developments in psychology, so that they can incorporate new material that will benefit their students.

Many psychology teachers choose to teach their classes through lectures. In order to improve attentiveness and comprehension, professors may want to improve their lectures by gaining some public speaking skills. Public speaking classes can help professors learn how to write and present lectures in a way that is explanatory, engaging, and even exciting for students. By using oratory skills to help students get excited about the subject, professors may be able to instill greater understanding and appreciation for psychology in every class.

Along with oratory skills, psychology professors may benefit from cultivating strong communication skills. If a professor is a good communicator, students may feel more comfortable bringing questions or concerns about the material to the professor's attention. By being a good communicator, a professor can help encourage shy students to participate in class, and also get to the bottom of any problems a student may be having with the coursework. Since professors often work in a department with many other teachers, assistants, and administrative personnel, communication skills can also help the workplace run smoothly.

Organizational skills can benefit a psychology professor in many ways. Creating an organized, logical curriculum can help professors ensure that students have time to absorb and comprehend each topic, while challenging them to prepare for papers, tests, and other assignments. Moreover, organization can help a professor ensure he or she is giving the proper amount of time and attention to each class, so that papers are graded and returned efficiently, lectures are planned in advance, and the course goals of a class are met by the end of term. An organized schedule and classroom can help a professor reduce his or her own stress levels, and ensure that no students are shortchanged by a professor's lack of preparation.

At many university jobs, the skills of a psychology professor must also extend beyond the classroom. In addition to being a good teacher, a professor may also be required to produce independent research that will enhance the reputation of the school and further the science of psychology. To meet this challenge, psychology professors must work hard to develop the skill of balancing personal research with teaching requirements.

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