Friday, September 17, 2021

Welcome Amanda Woodward, Our New Faculty Member

Headshot of Amanda Woodward
Amanda Woodward, our newest assistant teaching professor, joins us from the Department of Psychology at the University of California, Riverside. We asked her some questions about her research, teaching, and expectations.

Describe your research

My main area of research is early social cognition. I’m interested in the ways we think about others, predict future behavior, choose friends, and how these processes change as we get older. For instance, I’m interested in the expectations we form of friends and the judgments we form when those expectations are violated. My current focus has been on how children think about those who have included or excluded them and what factors influence these judgments.

What interested you to go into the field of Psychology?

I had always been interested in how people think and what motivates us to act in specific ways, but my understanding of psychology was limited to people who sat in armchairs and who asked questions like “and how does that make you feel?” I was fortunate to have a research methods professor who not only let me ask as many questions as I could come up with but who also introduced me to research psychologists. Once I learned that there were ways to actually test questions about social relationships (e.g. how can my roommate and I resolve a conflict?), I was hooked. I started working in a research lab on campus and eventually applied to graduate school.

What are you most looking forward to in your new position?

I’m most excited about working with a new group of students and faculty and teaching courses in statistics and open science. I think these are important topics for students to learn about, even if they do not go into research. Also, I find them the most fun to teach!

What do you enjoy most about teaching?

I really enjoy getting to know my students and seeing them connect what we learn in the classroom to their own lives. Students aren’t always the most excited about taking a statistics or methods class, so I find it rewarding when they start to bring in news clips that they think include misleading statistics or when they make practice problems using their favorite TV shows. I really enjoy the subjects I teach, so it’s fun to see students dig a little deeper into them and apply what they've learned to the real world.

What are you most nervous about with regards to Minnesota's weather?

I think I’m most nervous about the winter. I grew up on the east coast, and it rarely went below 30. After being in Southern California for a year, I am both excited and nervous about snow!

Composed by Flora Pollack, communications assistant.