Doubt and Conviction: The Path to Meaningful Learning and Development

Main Article Content

Thomas A Conklin


Abstract: The Covid pandemic has impacted institutions and the people who inhabit them in unprecedented ways. It is demanding a wide variety of new forms of work and relationship and has siphoned energy and commitment from those activities central to our lives. The classroom is not immune to these effects as attention and commitment to learning have been impacted for both students and faculty. This paper is an attempt to rethink and re-interpret what to do on the first day of a course to maximize the potential that exists in that pregnant moment, especially in these turbulent times. To address these dramatic changes, details of an opening talk are offered that confront the new reality and provide a way forward. This talk is intended to capture students’ interest and compel them to commit to the time together in the classroom. The impact of the talk is interpreted through the Autonomy Supportive classroom literature and that of Fixed and Growth mindsets.


Download data is not yet available.

Article Details

How to Cite
Conklin, T. A. (2023). Doubt and Conviction: The Path to Meaningful Learning and Development. Journal of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 23(4). Retrieved from
Reflective Essay


Adnan, M. & Anwar, K. (2020). Online learning amid the COVID-10 pandemic: Students’ perspectives. Journal of Pedagogical Sociology and Psychology, 2(1), 45-51.

Ares, N. (2006). Political aims and classroom dynamics: Generative processes in classroom communities. Radical Pedagogy, 8(2), 3.

Bain, K. (2004). What the best college teachers do. Harvard University Press.

Bartsch, R. A. (2006). Improving attitudes toward statistics in the first class. Teaching of Psychology, 33(3), 197-198.

Bassett, J. F., & Nix, P. M. (2011). Students' first day of class preferences: Factor structure and individual differences. North American Journal of Psychology, 13(3).

Bastian, B., Jetten, J., & Ferris, L. J. (2014). Pain as social glue: Shared pain increases cooperation. Psychological Science, 25(11), 2079–2085.

Bennett, K. L. (2004). How to start teaching a tough course: Dry organization versus excitement on the first day of class. College Teaching, 52(3), 106.

Black, A. E., & Deci, E. L. (2000). The effects of instructors’ autonomy support and students’ autonomous motivation on learning organic chemistry: A self-determination theory perspective. Science Education, 84, 740-756.

Blackwell, L., Trzesniewski, K., & Dweck, C. S. (2007). Implicit theories of intelligence

predict achievement across an adolescent transition: A longitudinal study and an intervention. Child Development, 78, 246-263.

Case, K., Bartsch, R., McEnery, L., Hall, S., Hermann, A., & Foster, D. (2008). Establishing a comfortable classroom from day one: Student perceptions of the reciprocal interview. College Teaching, 56(4), 210-214.

Cheon, S. H., Reeve, J., & Moon, I. S. (2012). Experimentally based, longitudinally designed, teacher-focused intervention to help physical education teachers be more autonomy- supportive toward their students. Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 34(3), 365- 396.

Coates, S., Rosenthal, J., & Schechter, D. (Eds.). (2013). September 11: Trauma and human bonds. Routledge.

Crawford, J., Butler-Henderson, K., Rudolph, J., Malkawi, B., Glowatz, M., Burton, R., Magni, P., & Lam, S. (2020). COVID-19: 20 countries’ higher education intra-period digital pedagogy responses. Journal of Applied Learning & Teaching, 3(1), 1-20.

Davis, M. S. (1971). That’s interesting! Towards a phenomenology of sociology and a sociology of phenomenology. Philosophy of the social sciences, 1(2), 309-344.

Deci, E. L., Nezlek, J., & Sheinman, L. (1981). Characteristics of the rewarder and intrinsic

motivation of the rewardee. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 40, 1-10.

deLuse, S. (2018). First impressions: Using a flexible first day activity to enhance student learning and classroom management. International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, 30(2), 308-321.

DiGiovanni, C., Conley, J., Chiu, D., & Zaborski, J. (2004). Factors influencing compliance with quarantine in Toronto during the 2003 SARS outbreak. Biosecurity and bioterrorism: biodefense strategy, practice, and science, 2(4), 265-272.

Dweck, C. S. (2006). Mindset: The new psychology of success. New York: Random House Incorporated.

Erickson, B. L., & Strommer, D. W. (1991). Teaching college freshmen. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Eskine, K. E., & Hammer, E. Y. (2017). Students' Perspectives on the First Day of Class: A Replication. International Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 11(1), n1.

Eves, D. J., & Redd, J. T. (2014). General chemistry II: Setting the stage on the first day with Jeopardy. Journal of College Science, 43(6), 41-45.

Forrest, S. P., III, & Peterson, T. (2006). It’s called andragogy. Academy of Management

Learning & Education, 5, 113-122.

Furtak, E. M., & Kunter, M. (2012). Effects of autonomy-supportive teaching on student learning

and motivation. The Journal of Experimental Education, 80(3), 284-316.

Gilboy, M. B., Heinerichs, S., & Pazzaglia, G. (2015). Enhancing student engagement using the flipped classroom. Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, 47(1), 109-114.

Glenn, W. J. (2003). Imagine the possibilities: A student-generated unit to inspire creative thought. The English Journal, 92(5), 35-41.

Haerens, L., Aelterman, N., Vansteenkiste, M., Soenens, B., & Van Petegem, S. (2015). Do perceived autonomy-supportive and controlling teaching relate to physical education students’ motivational experiences through unique pathways? Distinguishing between the bright and dark side of motivation. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 16, 26-36.

Handelsman, M. M. (2011). First-class first classes. p. 211- 214 in Promoting Student Engagement, Vol.1. Programs, Techniques and Opportunities edited by Miller, R. L., Amsel, E., Kowalewski, B. M., Beins, B. C., Keith, K. D., & Peden, B. F. Society for the Teaching of Psychology.

Hart, V., Nováková, P., Malkemper, E., P., Begall, S., Hanzal, V., Ježek, M., Kušta1, T., Němcová, V., Adámková1, J., Benediktová, K., Jaroslav Červený, J., & Burda. H. (2013). Dogs are sensitive to small variations of the Earth’s magnetic field. Frontiers in Zoology, 10(80), 1-12.

Haynes, A. (2001). Student empowerment: Student designed syllabus. A group exercise. p. 215– 20 in Sociology through active learning, student exercises, edited by McKinney, K., Beck, F. D., Heyl, B. S. Thousand Oaks, CA: Pine Forge Press.

Helmy, H. E. (2016). A lottery on the first day of classes! An innovative structured steps assignment on a partially randomly selected topic. International Review of Economics Education, 21, 41-47.

Henslee, A. M., Burgess, D. R., & Buskist, W. (2006). Student preferences for first day of class activities. Teaching of Psychology, 33(3), 189-191.

Hermann, A. D., & Foster, D. A. (2008). Fostering approachability and classroom participation during the first day of class: Evidence for a reciprocal interview activity. Active Learning in Higher Education, 9(2), 139-151.

Hermann, A. D., Foster, D. A., & Hardin, E. E. (2010). Does the first week of class matter? A quasi-experimental investigation of student satisfaction. Teaching of Psychology, 37, 79- 84.

Hess, G. F. (2007). Collaborative course design: Not my course, not their course, but our course. Washburn Law Journal, 47, 356-387.

Hicks, L. J., Caron, E. E., & Smilek, D. (2021, April 29). SARS-CoV-2 and learning: The impact of a global pandemic on undergraduate learning experiences. Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in Psychology. Advance online publication.

Hunt, D. E. (1987). Beginning with ourselves: In practice, theory, and human affairs. Cambridge, MA: Brookline Books.

Husserl, E. (1962). Ideas: General introduction to pure phenomenology. New York: Collier.

Jafar, A. (2014). Giving up (some) control in the classroom. Inside Higher Ed. University of Venus Blog. Retrieved December 29, 2021. classroom.

Jafar A. (2016). Student engagement, accountability, and empowerment: A case study of collaborative course design. Teaching Sociology. 44(3), 221-232.

Kegan, R. (1982). The evolving self. Harvard University Press.

Knowles, M. (1980). The modern practice of adult education: From pedagogy to andragogy (2nd ed.). Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Knowles, M. (1984). Andragogy in action. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Kroeper, K. M., Fried, A. C., & Murphy, M. C. (2022). Towards fostering growth mindset classrooms: Identifying teaching behaviors that signal instructors’ fixed and growth mindsets beliefs to students. Social Psychology of Education, 1-28.

Lee, W., & Reeve, J. (2012). Teachers’ estimates of their students’ motivation and engagement: Being in synch with students. Educational Psychology, 32(6), 727-747.

LeVasseur, J. J. (2003). The problem of bracketing in phenomenology. Qualitative health research, 13(3), 408-420.

Loeng, S. (2018). Various ways of understanding the concept of andragogy. Cogent Education, 5(1), 1496643.

LoSchiavo, F. M., Buckingham, J. T., & Yurak, T. J. (2002). First-day demonstration for social psychology courses. Teaching of Psychology, 29(3), 216-219.

MacMahon, P., Stenfert Kroese, B., Jahoda, A., Stimpson, A., Rose, N., Rose, J., Townson, J., Hood, K., & Willner, P. (2015). ‘It’s made all of us bond since that course…’–a qualitative study of service users’ experiences of a CBT anger management group intervention. Journal of Intellectual Disability Research, 59(4), 342-352.

Mancini, T. J. (2017). First-day attendance and student course success: Does being there make a difference? Available from ProQuest Central; ProQuest Dissertations & Theses A&I; Social Science Premium Collection. (1916827903). Retrieved from success-does/docview/1916827903/se-2 on 4/2/2022

McGinley, J. J., & Jones, B. D. (2014). A brief instructional intervention to increase students’ motivation on the first day of class. Teaching of Psychology, 41(2), 158-162.

Reeve, J. (2016). Autonomy-supportive teaching: What it is, how to do it. In Building autonomous learners (pp. 129-152). Springer, Singapore.

Reeve, J., Bolt, E., & Cai, Y. (1999). Autonomy-supportive teachers: How they teach

and motivate students. Journal of Educational Psychology. 91(3), 537-548.

Reeve, J., & Jang, H. (2006). What teachers say and do to support students’ autonomy during a

learning activity. Journal of Educational Psychology, 98(1), 209-218.

Reyes, M. R., Brackett, M. A., Rivers, S. E., White, M., & Salovey, P. (2012). Classroom emotional climate, student engagement, and academic achievement. Journal of Educational Psychology, 104(3), 700–712.

Robinson, D. (2019). Engaging students on the first day of class: Student-generated questions promote positive course expectations. Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in Psychology, 5(3), 183.

Ross, L. (1977). The intuitive psychologist and his shortcomings: Distortions in the attribution process. In Berkowitz, L. Advances in experimental social psychology, 10. New York: Academic Press. pp. 173–220.

Serhan, D. (2020). Transitioning from face-to-face to remote learning: Students’ attitudes and perceptions of using Zoom during COVID-19 pandemic. International Journal of Technology in Education and Science, 4(4), 335-342.

Shor, I. (1996). When students have power: Negotiating authority in a critical pedagogy. University of Chicago Press.

Shor, I. (2013). The First Day of Class: Passing the Test. In Dialogue on Writing (pp. 69-78). Routledge.

Watkins, C. (2005). Classrooms as learning communities: A review of research. London Review of Education, 3(1), 47-64.

Wilson, J. H., & Wilson, S. B. (2007). The first day of class affects student motivation: An experimental study. Teaching of Psychology, 34(4), 226-230.

Wu, Z. (2020, March 16). How a top Chinese university is responding to coronavirus. In World Economic Forum. challenges-of-online-learning-for-universities/

Zhong, R. (2020, March 17). The coronavirus exposes education’s digital divide. The New York Times. https://