“I have relatively eclectic training as a psychologist,” says Sara Broaders, who earned a PhD in developmental psychology and mental health research from the University of Chicago. “That enables me to teach a wide variety of courses.” At the School of Professional Studies, Broaders teaches not only staples like Introduction to Psychology, Developmental Psychology, and Psychopathology but also topics like Psychology and Law as well as Psychology and “Weird” Beliefs. The weird beliefs class examines the social and cognitive factors that contribute to beliefs like superstition, alien abduction, witchcraft, and spirit possession. “One person’s ‘weird’ belief may be another person’s firmly held conviction,” says Broaders.
In her teaching Broaders uses examples from her research — among other topics, she has studied how gestures can affect memory and problem solving — but teaching remains her top priority. “School of Professional Studies students are really motivated and engaged,” says Broaders, who also teaches students at the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences during the day. “SPS students are balancing a lot of things in their lives, and they see how what we discuss in class relates to them personally.” She says that small class sizes at SPS allow her to get to know her students, especially when they enroll in her classes over several quarters. Broaders won an award for excellence in teaching from the Undergraduate Psychology Association at Northwestern University and was elected to the Associated Student Government Faculty Honor Roll.
Broaders is eclectic not only in her professional interests but also in her personal life. She’s an accomplished quilter — and she recently obtained a motorcycle license. Still, says Broaders, there’s nothing she enjoys more than teaching.