Psychologist Thomas Ludwig Receives
National Teaching Award
HOLLAND - Dr. Thomas Ludwig, professor of psychology at Hope College, has been named the 2005 recipient of the national Charles L. Brewer Distinguished Teaching of Psychology Award by the American Psychological Foundation.
The award recognizes a significant career contribution to the teaching of psychology. Ludwig will be formally recognized during the annual convention of the American Psychological Association, scheduled for Thursday-Sunday, Aug. 18-21, in Washington, D.C. The honor includes delivering an invited address during the convention, which is attended by several thousand psychologists each year.
"There are several different teaching awards," said Dr. David Myers, a long-time colleague on the Hope faculty, "but this is like the Nobel Prize of awards for the teaching of psychology. Only one is given per year by the American Psychological Association's affiliated foundation."
It is not the first time that Ludwig, a pioneer in adapting the computer and Internet technology for use in psychology education, has received national or international recognition. In 1997, he received the Silver World Medal in the College Division of the New York Festivals' "International Interactive Multimedia Awards" for his "PsychQuest: Interactive Exercises for Psychology." He also received the "Best Psychology Software" award in the 1990 EDUCOM/NCRIPTAL Higher Education Software Awards competition for his "PsychSim II: Interactive Graphic Simulations for Psychology."
"Few college faculty in American have exhibited more recognized excellence for specific, pioneering pedagogy than has Tom," said Myers, who is the John Dirk Werkman Professor of Psychology at Hope. "He is the world's recognized leader of computer assisted instruction for psychology. It's impossible to know precisely how many students have engaged his learning materials at colleges and universities worldwide, but very likely it is in the hundreds of thousands."
Ludwig also shares his expertise with the department in a variety of ways. For example, he has created a Web site used by all of the faculty who teach the college's "Introduction to Psychology" course, and has programmed several research assignments for the course. He also regularly assists his colleagues in their own use of instructional technology.
"He is probably one of the most humble, dedicated and generous persons with his time," said Dr. Patricia Roehling, professor of psychology and chair of the department. "A day doesn't go by when somebody doesn't drop by with some technology-related issue and he drops everything to help with those questions. He's worked very hard to teach all of us how to use the most up-to-date information technology."
Even as he reaches students around the world with his instructional software, Ludwig finds additional interesting ways to connect his Hope students to his discipline. In teaching "Developmental Psychology," for example, he regularly invites parents bring in their infants and young children so that the students can see how the principles they are learning take living form.
"For me, 'Baby Day' is one of the highlights of each semester,'" he said. "People come up to me 15 or 20 years after they graduate, and one of the things they always remember from Developmental Psychology is 'Baby Day.' It's a challenging day for me because I can never predict what the babies are going to do, but I love doing it."
Ludwig has been a member of the Hope faculty since 1977. He is the author of numerous articles published in scholarly journals, on topics including not only the use of computer technology in teaching but also his research interests in development psychology, gerontology and cognitive psychology. Hope presented him with its Provost's Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2003.
He began programming computers as an undergraduate at Concordia University, but his focus on using the computer in his discipline began shortly after he came to Hope. Noting that others in his field were using computers for research on aging, he applied for and received a grant from the National Institute of Mental Health that enabled him to purchase an Exidy microcomputer in 1978. In 1980, he linked a computer and television for his first in-class computer demonstration, and made a discovery.
"In spite of the primitive technology, I glimpsed a little bit of the potential of computers for instructional purposes," Ludwig said. "I began to see that you could do a lot of things that simply couldn't be done on a printed page."
He developed the first version of "PsychSim" in 1985 to accompany the popular introductory psychology text authored by Myers and published by Worth Publishers. Worth has since published the subsequent versions of "PsychSim," as well as additional software and Internet packages Ludwig has developed.
"PsychSim" is currently in its fifth edition and features 42 interactive modules which demonstrate key psychological principles. To introduce instructors to "PsychSim," a total of 20 of the exercises are freely available through the publisher's Web site (http://bcs.worthpublishers.com/psychsim5/launcher.html).
In addition to "PsychSim," Ludwig has also created "PsychQuest" which consists of eight in-depth modules in which students apply psychological principles to their experiences; "PsychInquiry," which contains 20 research simulations and critical thinking exercises; and "PsychOnline," a complete distance-learning psychology course. He also developed and taught Hope's first online course ("Developmental Psychology") in 1999, and recently completed "Exploring Human Development," a two-CD-ROM set of instructional activities co-authored with professors at four other universities.
Criteria for the Charles L. Brewer Distinguished Teaching of Psychology Award include evidence of influence as a teacher of students who have become psychologists, research on teaching, development of effective teaching methods and/or materials, development of innovative curricula and courses, exemplary performance as a classroom teacher, demonstrated training of teachers of psychology, demonstrated teaching of advanced research methods and practice in psychology and/or administrative facilitation of teaching. The award, first presented in 1970, is named for Dr. Charles L. Brewer of the Furman University psychology faculty, who received the honor in 1989.
The American Psychological Foundation is a nonprofit organization that provides scholarships, grants and awards in order to advance psychology as a science and a profession, and as a means of understanding behavior and promoting health and human welfare. The foundation was established in 1953.