Rod Gillis, PhD.

Senior LecturerPh.D. Psychology 1981, University of Miami M.S. Psychology 1978, University of Miami B.S. Zoology, 1971, University of Massachusetts

Brief Bio

I am a full-time teacher of Psychology. Over the past 38 years I have carved out an unusual career. I first taught Introduction to Psychology in 1977 while working on my Ph.D. in Social Psychology here at the University of Miami. The following year I accepted a position as Assistant Director of the Bureau of Measurement and Research (BMR) here at the university of Miami. Upon earning my Ph.D, in the spring of 1981, I was hired as the Director of the Bureau of Measurement and Research. BMR was part of a larger unit known as the Guidance Center, which included the student Counseling Center and a remedial Reading Center for local children in the community. The Guidance Center was part of the Division of Student Affairs. The name of BMR was soon changed to The Testing Center. As its Director, I spent the next 6 years doing administrative battle on issues pertaining to placement tests, CLEP tests, Faculty evaluations and many related issues. I served on numerous UM committees and a state-wide committee on Undergraduate Achievement. I chaired a national association of testing center directors. I found most of it to be tedious, unsatisfying and even, at times, mind numbing. It seemed that most of the obstacles I encountered resulted from battles of egos rather than of ideas. By the end of 1986 I knew that I did not care for university administration. I yearned for more, but not more of the same

Fortunately, in the spring of 1987 Herb Quay, the Chair of the Psychology Department, offered me the position of Acting Associate Chair of the Department of Psychology. I held that position for 2 years while Dr. Rod Wellens completed a research sabbatical with the U.S. Air Force. When Rod returned to resume his position of Associate Chair, I moved to Florida Memorial College, a local, historically black college, where I taught for the next 3 years.

In the spring of 1993 Rod Wellens, in recognition of my past teaching successes, invited me to become the first full-time teaching Professor of Psychology. It was made clear from the start that this new position was for teaching only. I would teach 4 courses each semester and my annual evaluations would be based solely on the success of my teaching. Rod wanted to bring me in as an Associate Professor, but the options were limited. The only 2 titles available for non-tenure-track professors at the time were "Research Associate Professor" or "Adjunct Associate Professor". Since I was specifically not expected to get involved in research, we settled on Adjunct Associate Professor. Thus I became the only full-time Adjunct Associate Professor at the University of Miami, an oxymoronic title that I held for 22 years. In 2015 I accepted what was billed as a promotion to Senior Lecturer.

Research Interests

I am a full-time teacher of Undergraduate Psychology. My Graduate training focused on Social Psychology. I later spent six years as Director of the U.M. Testing Center. My early teaching focused on Tests and Measurement and Social Psychology. In recent years, however, I have become more involved with the teaching of Statistics and Research Methodology. Computerized statistical packages and smart classrooms now allow us to teach Statistics better than ever before.

Teaching interests

Over the years I have taught a number of courses, but, by far, my most popular course has been Introduction to Psychology (PSY110). I teach 4 sections every year to as many as 150 students in a section. Consequently I have had many thousands of students in that course. Some of my earliest students should be in their mid 50's today. I wonder if any of them remember me? I very much enjoy teaching that course. It provides a sweeping overview of many of the different things that psychologists study. It also offers some important insights into the human experience.

PSY 110 Introduction to Psychology

Since 1990 I have been teaching Introduction to Statistics (presently PSY 291). I have always enjoyed that course. I use a textbook that was written by my own very first statistics professor, Dr. Robert Pagano. Beginning in the fall of 2015 I will be taking a break form teaching that course. I have been finding it to be less rewarding in recent semesters, but the syllabus is below.

PSY 291 - Introduction to Statistics

My main content course has always been Social Psychology (PSY 210). This is what I focused on in graduate school. Social Psychology studies the interactions between two or more people with a focus on the individual. Since every important thing in life involves some sort of social interaction, this is the study of the human condition. I really enjoy teaching this course, but it is the most labor-intensive course I teach. Unlike Introductory psychology or statistics, this field evolves rapidly and changes significantly as the years go by.

PSY 210 - Social Psychology

Once I mastered teaching the first statistics course (PSY291), I was asked to teach the next higher course, Advanced Statistics (PSY 491). This course is primarily aimed at Psychology majors who intend to go on to graduate school. It is taught at a very high level for an undergraduate course, but our best students do quite well in it and it serves them well when they go on to graduate school.

PSY 491 - Intermediate Statistics

After I mastered PSY 491 I was asked to teach the first Graduate statistics course in our three course statistics sequence. That course is Psychological Statistics, Research Methods and Design (PSY 631). Like any good graduate level course this course is a constant challenge and a constant work in progress. I enjoy it as much because it challenges me as because it challenges my students. One thing I most enjoy about this course is that in 4 months I can witness a striking transformation as my first year graduate students transition form anxious undergraduate students into confident graduate students who are able to think about statistics at a much higher level than when they arrived in the program. Many of them quickly master higher levels of statistical methods as they move on in our program. I like to think that my course gets their feet firmly on the ground.

PSY 631 Psychological Statistics, Research Methods and Design