Name: Robert E. Gutierrez
Title: Psychology, Lecturer
Degrees: BS, Loyola University Chicago; MA, DePaul University; PhD, DePaul University
Hometown: Schererville, IN
Courses Taught: ACPSY 201 General Psychology, ACPSY 275 Social Psychology, ACPSY 280 Abnormal Psychology
What attracted you to Arrupe College?
Higher education is very important to me. I very much believe in the potential transformative effect of the college experience. For the past eight years, teaching has been my primary professional endeavor. I have developed a strong interest in improving the impact of my teaching and the improvement of higher education more generally. For me Arrupe represents the ideal opportunity for both. It provides me with the opportunity to reach talented and committed students and to participate holistically in their education. Few institutions allow for such undivided attention to teaching and student support. I am very excited to play my small part in developing such an innovative institution and am interested in the larger impact that it can have on Chicago and higher education.
Talk a little about the classes you teach.
My three courses provide students with the fundamentals of psychology as a science and a helping profession. These classes help students critically analyze the biological, psychological, and sociocultural factors that influence our behavior. Understanding the complex explanations for our thoughts and behaviors is a valuable skill for diverse career paths and personal development. My classes consider the diversity of mental life and of behaviors across people and situations. We learn to apply psychological theory and empirical research towards understanding these processes.
How did you get involved in teaching psychology?
Psychology interested me initially because it tried to answer some very fundamental questions about how we think and act. Eventually what drew me in even further was the huge diversity of the field. A psychologist could be a therapist, a lab-coated neurology researcher, a community organizer, or any number of diverse professions. I loved exploring these variations of a core understanding of thought and behavior. Eventually I trained as a community psychologist studying the ways our surrounding environment shape our psychology and the impact we can have on our environment. I care very deeply about the field of psychology. As a science, I believe that it is investigating many of the most pressing questions about the human experience. As a profession, it prepares individuals to tackle a variety of professions in an effective and impactful way. For me teaching is an opportunity to grow the field of psychology and help impact the direction of the field’s development. Moreover, working with my students has been hugely influential in maturing my understanding of the concepts and practices of psychology.
What’s your favorite part about teaching? And the biggest challenge?
I prize the opportunity to help students make connections between diverse ideas and theories. There are areas within psychology and all of the them contain a variety of theories and concepts. My favorite part of teaching is when these seeming unrelated ideas and theories start to combine and overlap. I am very lucky to be able to assist students as they start to take the pieces we have gathered and construct them into a more complete and interconnected picture of the human mind. This process starts over again when we start to explore how that understanding can then be applied to a variety of real world problems and fields.
The biggest challenge that I have is a natural outgrowth of what I believe makes psychology so interesting. It is a big, diverse field where everything is interconnected and a complicated answer is more accurate than a simple one. I try very hard to break concepts down into manageable parts so that students can appreciate the complexity of relationships as opposed to being overwhelmed by them (and frankly, so that I am not overwhelmed as well).