A Teacher’s Teacher

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Ruth Ault wins APA Presidential Citation.

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By Bill Giduz

Looking back at her early life, Ruth Ault realizes she’s always been a teacher at heart. As a youngster she taught typing to a fifth grader and helped high school friends with math homework. As an undergraduate at Pomona College, she was chosen by her psychology professors to direct a lab section and serve as a teaching assistant.

Ault followed that encouragement and her own instincts into teaching, and has now logged 38 years in the profession, 31 at Davidson. And Davidson students aren’t the only people who have benefitted from that tenure.

Ault has devoted time throughout her career to the Society for the Teaching of Psychology (STP), helping her colleagues become better teachers. That organization, a 3,000-member division of the American Psychological Association, recently awarded her its Presidential Citation “in recognition of your sustained and outstanding contribution to our organization as a leader, a mentor, an organizer, a scholar, and ultimately a teacher of great renown.” Ault began by reviewing articles for the STP journal, Teaching of Psychology, and then edited a section of the journal. As she proved capable and willing, she joined the executive committee, served as treasurer for five years, and currently directs its Office of Teaching Resources in Psychology.

Ault gets a first look at practices and products in her profession that members want to share, like study guides, annotated bibliographies, evaluations of new technology, and interactive teaching modules. The material that passes her review is posted to the STP Web site for teachers worldwide.

It’s a lot of work, but a rewarding way of fulfilling the college’s ideal of faculty who teach, conduct research, and offer service to the public and their profession. “It’s fulfilling to see others thrive because of what you do,” Ault said.

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