Head of Psychological Sciences honored by APA for contributions to African American community

Professor David Rollock, head of Purdue University Department of Psychological Sciences, has received the Charles & Shirley Thomas Award from the American Psychological Association (APA).

This prestigious award “was created in honor of the significant contributions made by Charles and Shirley Thomas in the area of student mentoring and development, as well as their contributions toward making psychology responsive and relevant to the needs of the African American community.”

Nominations for the award were submitted by current and former graduate students of professor Rollock.

The Charles & Shirley Thomas Award is sponsored by APA’s Division 45: Society for the Psychological Study of Culture, Ethnicity and Race. The division “encourages research on ethnic minority issues and the application of psychological knowledge to ethnic minority issues.”

Professor David Rollock congratulates a student during Purdue University’s summer commencement on August 3, 2019 (Purdue University photo/John Underwood)

Throughout his time at Purdue, Rollock has earned multiple awards recognizing his excellence in teaching, including the James C. Naylor Award for Teaching Excellence and the Health and Human Sciences Award for Outstanding Undergraduate Education. He is also a recipient of the 2012 Charles B. Murphy Award for Outstanding Undergraduate Teaching and a member of Purdue’s Book of Great Teachers. He was among 10 faculty members across campus awarded 150th Anniversary Professorships. The named professorship recognizes teaching excellence, as well as a history of outstanding mentoring.

Rollock recalls reading a high school textbook that suggested the IQ performance of African Americans and other underrepresented minorities was lower than the average American score. “That did not square at all with my personal experience, so I figured there was something not quite right about how they were collecting or sharing their data,” he says. “I decided I wanted to be part of the enterprise that dealt with generating new information and framing it in ways to both inform the profession and help make lives better.”

In characterizing his own teaching philosophy, Rollock believes it’s his job to help people connect with the material. “That means deploying multiple techniques to meet multiple learners where their preferred styles of learning might be,” he says. “Sometimes I lecture because, similar to many faculty colleagues, I like to be a ‘sage on a stage.’ But we also need interactive demonstrations, places where students actively see the processes they’re learning about.”

About David Rollock

David Rollock, department head and professor of psychological sciences, has been an advocate for instructional excellence over decades of classroom teaching. He redesigned the multiyear curriculum of abnormal psychology and developed an empirically validated teaching evaluation. He also has served as director of clinical training and chair of Purdue’s Teaching Academy.

Portions excerpted from Life 360 Magazine