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Psychology Quiz Bowl turns digital to cap off Spring Semester

Images of Quiz Bowl supplies

The clock ticks and a question pops up on the screen. The Psychology students have a limited amount of time to select the correct answer. Instead of sweating bullets, the students are laughing. They tease one another.

After four years of learning all they can, the annual Quiz Bowl is an opportunity for Psychology students at York College of Pennsylvania to show off their skills in a fun, lighthearted manner. “All of our graduating seniors take a standardized assessment,” says Carla Strassle, Professor of Psychology at York College. “Students work hard for that assessment, and we have the data to show they know their stuff. But we also want to help them celebrate all they’ve learned, and the Quiz Bowl became a fun way to review those concepts.”

Without the pressure of a grade on the Quiz Bowl, students are relaxed. Most years, they enjoy the tradition of green and white cupcakes, with other faculty invited to the party. But, when COVID-19 forced students to finish the Spring Semester from home, it looked like the Quiz Bowl wouldn’t have the usual fanfare.

“We didn’t want to end the semester without the Quiz Bowl,” says Dani Curlik, Assistant Professor of Psychology. “Our students had to work through a lot of changes in the spring. We wanted to help them celebrate.”

There wouldn’t be cupcakes this year, but Jennifer Engler, Chair of the Psychology Department, made sure students had something sweet to eat. She shipped each of them a Hershey’s chocolate bar with strict instructions not to open them until the Quiz Bowl. The wrapper had Zoom screenshots of faculty. One student said they were having a stressful day until the chocolate bar arrived, and the gesture lightened their mood.

Going to be OK

Transitioning the Quiz Bowl to a digital format wasn’t too much of a challenge, Curlik says. Students usually submit their answers via a quiz app on their phones, so instead of displaying the questions on a screen in a classroom, Curlik did a screenshare via Zoom.

One of the benefits of going digital was that more faculty were able to log in. “There’s a great amount of support for students from this department,” Strassle added. “You really felt that when the faculty joined us for the event this year.”

Students felt that support, not only in the faculty who showed up for the Quiz Bowl, but in Strassle’s popular tagline: “It’s all going to be OK.” She often used the line when students had to face high-level work during the year, and they used the phrase in the quiz as a reminder to students that despite all the semester had thrown at them, they were “going to be OK.”

‘Ours forever’

Despite the digital format, Strassle and Curlik were glad they could have the send-off they wanted with their graduating seniors. The Quiz Bowl continued to be the lighthearted tradition they hoped for. One thing they missed, Strassle added, was getting to say goodbye as the graduates line up in the gym or Campbell Hall to prepare for commencement. It’s been a tradition of the faculty to find the students there and give them a final farewell.

But even without that final goodbye, the bonds between faculty and students remain. Strassle heard from a 2006 graduate who reached out recently to share he’d also become a professor and received tenure. “We want to celebrate all that’s going on in their life,” she says. “They’re not just ours while they’re here; they’re ours forever.”

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