Engaging young minds: Professor talks teaching, regional honor

Contributing Writer
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Ever since her experience as an undergrad, Aimee Knupsky knew she wanted to work at a place like Allegheny.

“I have this memory, vividly, of being in my senior year at Moskega and then walking across campus and thinking ‘I always want to be in a place like this,” she said. “And so, absolutely, I always knew I wanted to be a professor.”

Originally from a small town in southern Pennsylvania, Knupsky loves living in Meadville.

“It’s very easy to get involved in the community. So the town I grew up in, smaller than Meadville, right, so it’s all about perspective. Meadville is a big city to me.”

Knupsky has been teaching various psychology classes at Allegheny since the fall of 2005. With a focus in Cognitive Psychology, she has taught Psych 164, Psych 206, FS 101 and 201, a Jr. Sem focusing on language and some other upper level psychology classes dealing with language acquisition and bilingualism.

But Knupsky’s love for Allegheny does not stem from her connection with Meadville.

“Whether it’s about class, or especially when it has to do with getting students involved in the discipline, and giving them the opportunity to become active in that,” Knupsky said. “That’s what I really enjoy.”

When not working during the week, Knupsky can still be found around the school assisting students with research, whether in the eye-tracking lab working with students around projects of attention, or with an individual Senior on his or her comp.

Courtney Hagan, ‘13, worked with Professor Knupsky as a research assistant in the eye-tracking lab.

“She’s so helpful and friendly and anytime I need her she’s there for me,” Hagan added.

Senior Nikki Smilak is currently comping under the advisory of Knupsky.

“I feel like she does a lot, just in reference to the work that she does because she always seems to be grading papers and doing things but it’s ‘cause she puts so much effort into every student,” she said.

“She gives a lot of feedback, and sometimes it can be very constructive, in the sense that she gives a lot of feedback, but it’s always very helpful,” Smilak adds.

Outside of her academic environment, Knupsky enjoys reading books and watching movies.

Harvey starring Jimmy Stewart, is Knupsky’s favorite classic movie.

While the movie does include a psychological aspect, she is drawn to the moral dilemma experienced by the main character.

She said he talks about the tension between getting ahead in the world and being a nice person who lives a good life, something she connects to her Allegheny experience.

“If you are at a school like Allegheny, it is because you love teaching and not so much because you are worried about, you know, ‘being a powerful scholar’. We absolutely do that research, but we’re not worried about being number one, per se, it’s more about getting to work with students and help them discover that field,” Knupsky said.

According to Hagan, connecting is what Knupsky does best.

“I am obsessed with her. I rave about her to everyone. I always recommend people take her classes cause you don’t always find that in other professors,” Hagan said.

“[It’s] the caring aspect,” she added, “She’s a great professor and a great person.”

Knupsky was recently selected by the Great Lakes Colleges Association to serve as one of 20 Pedagogy Fellows.

The Great Lakes Colleges Association (GLCA) which represents a select group of private liberal arts schools in Indiana, Ohio, Michigan and Pennsylvania, created this fellowship program to continue research on learning techniques that Knupsky and other professors recently developed from a two-year program sponsored by a grant through the Teagle Foundation.

The GLCA is an organization that unites schools together through supporting projects between them. According to Knupsky, the GLCA Lattice Program that she recently applied and was accepted to will be just this kind of collaboration.

“We are working together to facilitate conversations about learning and what we call ‘best practices in teaching’. I don’t know if that is a phrase that everyone will be familiar with. But it’s sort of looking at alternative teaching techniques, sometimes we refer to them as innovative,” Knupsky explained.
From the start, she was dedicated to the art of learning, which led to her discovery of cognitive psychology in her undergraduate work at Muskego College, Ohio.

“[I] fell in love with the idea of designing projects to identify – it was kind of being a detective, figuring out how things work and that’s how I got drawn in immediately,” Knupsky explained.

Knupsky is most excited about helping to spread her knowledge and experience to others at Allegheny and across the GLCA community.

“One other thing about the fellowship is that we’re also supposed to help other faculty who would like to design projects to examine some new approach or strategy or pedagogy they would like to try, so that’s also something that I would be helping either faculty from Allegheny who are interested in doing that, or faculty from these other schools,” Knupsky said.