Self-Paced, Personalized, Interactive and Networked (S.P.I.N.) System
(Above: Dr. Houmanfar with past and present instructional team members 2002-2010
From left to right: Daniel Reimer, Todd Ward, Sharlet Rafacz, Ramona Houmanfar, Jared Chase, & Greg Smith)
Since 1994, Psychology 101 (Introduction to Psychology as a Social Science) has been taught using a variation of the Personalized System of Instruction (PSI). The Self-Paced, Personalized, Interactive and Networked (SPIN) system is a technologically advanced system of instruction. The class is run out of a Learning Lab (253, EJCH) on the university campus. Students come to the Learning Lab to participate in required discussion groups and take quizzes on a web-based system. All quizzes are taken on computers, and are graded immediately. This system of testing offers students immediate feedback on their performance.
The course shares many of the original PSI components:
- First, it is self-paced. Students come to the Learning Lab according to their own schedule. In other words, class time is not predetermined and students progress at their own pace based on weekly deadlines. Accordingly, students are required to complete a chapter quiz and a discussion per week. Quizzes may be taken up to nine times during a given week and the highest score will be calculated toward the final grade in the course.
- In addition, students may advance at a faster than normal pace through the course. In other words, if a student has reached 87% or higher on a chapter quiz, they are allowed to move ahead to the next quiz.
- Further, for each of the assigned chapters, students participate in a 90-minute group discussion that is conducted by an instructor who is an advanced graduate student in the Department of Psychology at UNR. Each group discussion is designed to provide additional opportunities for discussion of the material covered in each assigned chapter. The low ratio of interaction (i.e., one instructor and 20 students) allows for active interactions between the instructor and students. This system of instruction enhances learning and performance on the assigned quizzes and tests.
- SPIN also employs undergraduate proctors. The department of psychology offers a course in Teaching of Psychology (PSY 439) that is designed for students serving as 101 proctors. Proctors have three roles.
- The first is to clarify quiz questions. If a student wishes to challenge the answer to a quiz question, they discuss it with a proctor and the proctor makes a decision.
- Proctors also review information with students that may be particularly challenging.
- Finally, proctors work with students who have moved ahead of the scheduled deadlines. They hold individual discussion sessions reviewing chapter information.
For any questions or clarifications regarding the SPIN system of instruction for PSY 101 at UNR, please contact Dr. Ramona Houmanfar, Director of SPIN, at (775) 682-8693 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.