Dr. Karsten A. Loepelmann

FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

 

  1. How do you pronounce your name?

  2. What courses do you teach?

  3. Can you get me into your class that’s full?

  4. What’s up with all the blanks in the online lecture notes?

  5. Why didn’t you respond to my e-mail?

  6. Why are your lecture notes copyright?

  7. How do you select textbooks for your courses?

  8. What books have you written?

  9. What is your research area?

10. What is your position?

11. Can you be a supervisor for Honours students, or graduate students?

12. Didn’t you used to...?

13. What are your ratings?

14. Will you write me a letter of reference?

15. What world records do you hold?

16. What is the craziest thing you’ve done in class?

 


 

1. How do you pronounce your name?

 

First, I would like to point out that the following are not examples of my name:

  • Dr. Kloepel
  • Dr. Kloepelm
  • Dr. Kloepelman
  • Dr. Kloepelmann
  • Dr. Loepelman
  • Dr. Leopelmann
  • Dr. Leo Pelmann
  • K.Lo
  • Capt. John Q. Highliner

My name is pronounced “LOW-pull-man.” If you can’t pronounce that, you can call me “Dr. Karsten”. I kinda like that; it makes me feel like Dr. Phil.

 


 

2. What courses do you teach?

 

I maintain a complete, updated list of courses that I am currently teaching, plus courses that I have been assigned in the future.

 


 

3. Can you get me into your class that’s full?

 

No. I have no way to access the registration system, and even if I could I would not be able to add you to any class that’s full. If you want to get into a class that’s full, you have to keep trying Bear Tracks.

 


 

4. What’s up with all the blanks in the online lecture notes?

 

I have a separate frequently asked questions list about the blanks.

 


 

5. Why didn’t you respond to my e-mail?

 

If you send me e-mail from Hotmail, for example, it tacks on a couple of lines of advertising at the end of your message. My junk filter may block your message. Send me e-mail from your UAlberta e-mail address only.

 

If you send me email at the end of term asking me to change/bump up your final grade, I will ignore it. By the time you see your marks on my website, I’ve already submitted the final grades--they’re out of my hands, and I cannot change them no matter how nicely you ask.

 


 

6. Why are your lecture notes copyright?

 

On the bottom of each page of lecture notes, there’s a link to a copyright agreement. There are some websites that have the brilliant business model of selling lecture notes to students. I don’t want anyone making money off my (free) lecture notes. I also don’t want any student in my classes paying for my (free) lecture notes. The copyright notice is my way of preventing that.

 

In other words, do NOT upload the lectures notes that I have provided for you to any website. I will find it and issue a copyright violation takedown notice, and you will get in trouble.

 


 

7. How do you select textbooks for your courses?

 

I try to pick textbooks by these criteria:

  • readability (do the explanations make sense?)
  • balance (are various theories treated equally?)
  • currency (does it cover up-to-date research?)
  • supplements (are there learning resources available?)
  • availability (is it still being published? are used copies available?)
  • cost (how much is it--before bookstore markup?)

 

8. What books have you written?

 

Introduction to Psychology: Concept Charts

OK, well, it’s only one book...so far. I’m co-author of Nelson Education’s book Introduction to Psychology: Concept Charts, which is packaged with several intro psych textbooks. The ISBN-10 is 0-17-617723-X, ISBN-13 is 978-0-17-617723-2. My mom is so proud.


 

9. What is your research area?

 

My training is in the area of perception and psychophysics; specifically, my area of specialization is tactile perception, and how the skin senses process information. I am interested in sensory substitution: using one sense modality as a replacement or enhancement to an impaired sense. Braille is an example of sensory substitution: visually impaired/blind people use the sense of touch to “read.” One of my goals is to apply the results of this research to the development of technological devices that can serve as auxiliary channels of information.

 

Currently, I am emphasizing the applied nature of research, and am active in a field known as human factors. “Human factors discovers and applies information about human behaviors, abilities, limitations, and other characteristics to the design of tools, machines, systems, tasks, jobs, and environment for productive, safe, comfortable and effective human use” (Chapanis, 1985, p.2).

 

I am very interested in issues of design, and the application of systems theory. I have given invited talks on design, and have collaborated with several researchers in the Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry.

 


 

10. What is your position?

 

Officially, I am a Faculty Lecturer for the Faculty of Science in the Department of Psychology. That means I have to teach 8 courses per academic year.

 

More generally, I am a member of a group known as Academic Teaching Staff (formerly known as “sessionals”). If you want to know more about sessionals, here are some good articles:
   • A Few Thoughts about Sessionals, in the Canadian Association of University Teachers’ (CAUT) Bulletin (2002)
   • Equity, ethics, academic freedom and the employment of contingent academics in Academic Matters (2009)
   • Sessionals, Up Close and Rethinking faculty roles for a new era from University Affairs (2013)
   • Casualization of the academic workforce has costs, Profile of an invisible academic, and Casualization is becoming a global trend in higher education in the CAUT Bulletin (2015)
   • More scholar for the dollar: the predicament of contract academic staff from The Gateway (2016)

 


 

11. Can you be a supervisor for individual research courses, Honours students, or graduate students?

 

Although I am eligible to supervise a student taking an Individual Research (e.g., PSYCO 496 or 498) course, my willingness depends on the courses you’ve taken (i.e., either my Advanced Perception or Human Factors & Ergonomics course), and your grades in those courses (i.e., at least an A-).

 

Because I currently do not have a laboratory, the kinds of research that I am able to supervise are limited; also, if I have a particularly busy semester, I may not be able to supervise all students who wish to work with me.

 

I probably cannot be a supervisor for an Honours psychology student, and I probably cannot supervise or co-supervise a graduate student in psychology.

 


 

12. Didn’t you used to...?

 

Yes, I used to be the Statistical Consultant for the Internship Program in Psychology from 2001 to 2003.

 

Yes, I was the Department of Psychology’s Undergraduate Program Advisor from 1995 to 1998. If you have questions about courses, majoring, or careers in psychology, please see the Undergraduate Program Advisor.

 

Yes, I used to teach at Grant MacEwan College (now MacEwan University) from 1996-2000. Yes, I taught for a semester at Augustana University College (now UAlberta Augustana Campus) in Camrose. Currently, I have chosen to focus on my teaching and research at the University of Alberta.

 

Yes, I worked one summer at Arby’s. I was the Salad Person.

 


 

13. What are your teaching ratings?

 

Near the end of the semester in every class, you fill out an evaluation of your instructors--including me. I read all of your comments, and take these very seriously. My classes are shaped, in part, by the feedback that you give me. You can check out my Universal Student Ratings of Instruction online.

 

I take my ratings at RateMyProfessors.com a bit less seriously. (But at least they spelled my name right! ;-) Hey, there’s a (now-defunct) “Rate Your Students” website, too. How about Rate Your Student, which posts "incredible" emails from student? (No, I never submit anything to these sites. My students rock!)

 


 

14. Will you write me a letter of reference?

 

An academic letter of reference is typically used by a graduate school (or school of optometry, chiropractic, dentistry, etc.) in two ways. First, in a tie-breaker situation. That is, if two candidates are essentially equally qualified (i.e., grades, research experience, etc.), a letter may be used to differentiate between them. Note that a letter of reference cannot be used to “make up for” low grades. Secondly, a letter may help to explain difficulties that a student has had, in a way that is not captured in a transcript. If, say, you’ve gone through some personal challenges that affected your performance in a course, a letter of reference could corroborate your explanation for that (as long as the writer has thorough knowledge of your situation).

 

For me to be able to write an academic letter of reference, I have to be able to assess your academic performance. Unfortunately, if you were a student in a class of 200 students writing multiple choice exams, I can’t really speak to your potential for further academic work in a meaningful way. I am sorry, but that means I am not willing to write you a letter of reference unless you have taken one of my 400-level courses, in which case I am better able to assess your academic potential.

 

If your grade in my 400-level classes was below an A, you probably should be asking someone else for a letter of reference. In my letter, I will list your rank in the class. If you are in the top 10%, that’s great. If you are in the top 50% or top 90%, well, not so great. Or if your GPA is less then 3.5, also not so great. In that case, my letter of reference will likely not be meaningful or help you in any way.

 

Also, please consider that a letter of reference from someone with the title of “Professor” is going to carry a lot more weight than any letter I write. In the worst case, any letter that’s not from a Professor may even be disregarded.

 

To write a letter of reference, I require:

1) a current copy of your transcripts
2) your resume
3) a list your strengths and weaknesses
4) all forms that I need to fill out. Please complete your personal information (e.g., your full name, intended program of study, etc.) in these forms before you give them to me.

 

Make sure that you tell me exactly what the deadines are for letters of reference for each instituion. Please allow me at least 2 weeks to prepare this letter, otherwise I cannot promise to meet any deadlines.

 

Finally, I regret that I cannot provide any personal letter of reference.

 


 

15. What world records do you hold?

 

I am one of many (unofficial) world record-holders at the Activision video game Megamania for the Atari 2600. In 1982, I reached the highest possible score: 999,999.

 

Here’s what we used to use for proof, back in the day: a photo of the screen. The shaggy head of hair belongs to me, proudly posing next to the TV. It was a very emotional moment for me, the result of a lot of hard work and practice and I’d just like to thank my agent, my manager, my parents who always believed in me but always called me for dinner in the middle of a game, and...

 

Megamania screenshots

 

Anyway. Be sure to ask me for my autograph.

 


 

16. What is the craziest thing you’ve done in class?

 

First of all, in psychology, we don’t like to use the word “crazy.” Preferred terms include “nuts,” or “wacko.” (If you’re not sure if I’m joking or not: If it’s funny, I’m joking.)

 

The highlight of classroom experiences has to be proposing to my wife. (She wasn’t my wife when I proposed to her--that wouldn’t make sense. Why would I propose to someone who was already married to me? But I can’t really say “proposing to my future wife” because she is my wife now. I suppose she will still be my wife in the future, but--hey, you’re just trying to confuse me. How’s this: “proposing to the woman to whom I am married”?)

 

From The Gateway, Volume 86, Issue 12, Thursday, October 17, 1996:

 

Romantic Psych
Professor proposes in front of his psychology students

by Susan Sava
     Professor Karsten Loepelmann’s Psychology 104 class witnessed a special event on Friday, September 27. Towards the end of the 8 a.m. class, Loepelmann said he would prove that he had psychic ability, and required a volunteer for a demonstration of his powers. He wandered between the desks and said, “I need to find the prettiest girl in the room.” After selecting a woman, he brought her to the front of the class and said he would guess her name by placing it on the overhead projector.
     When Loepelmann turned the projector on, it flashed the words: “Lisa, will you marry me?” Loepelmann got down on one knee and proposed to his fiancée, Dr. Lisa Rebus. She said yes, and the couple shared a kiss in front of the class, who erupted into cheers.
     “It was more than I’d hoped for,” said Loepelmann. “I wasn’t sure how [the students] would take it. They were very supportive.”
     The marriage proposal was well-thought out, said Loepelmann. “We were discussing it for a while. [Lisa] said that whenever she got proposed to, she wanted it to be a surprise...over dinner is not a surprise.”
     Loepelmann’s fiancée didn’t say yes to make sure she gets a 9 in her psych class; Rebus, who received her M.D. from the U of A in August, was only visiting the class. “The U of A has been a big part of both of our lives,” said Loepelmann.

 

Errors in above story:

  • I was not--and am not--a Professor (see my blog)
  • I actually proposed on Friday, October 4
  • Lisa got her M.D. in 1992 (not August of 1996)
  • I didn’t “wander” between the desks; I appeared to wander

The real problem is, how do I top that? ;-)