The Barefoot Professor
Psychology Professor Dislikes Shoes, Loves Research
Associate psychology professor Aaron Ashley likes to teach barefoot. It’s just more comfortable. “I do own shoes,” he said. “I simply don’t like to wear them.” Ashley doesn’t mind being bold about what he loves. While he does not like shoes, he loves research.
Research has shaped Ashley’s perception of the world and how he interacts with students. He has developed several courses based on his research interests, including a psychology of language course and a psychology in film class that analyzed the portrayal of psychology concepts in popular movies and television.
“Weber has been an incredible fit for me, both personally and professionally,” Ashley said. “I’ve been able to continue much of the research I started before I arrived here, and I’ve also started a number of new projects.” In Ashley’s opinion, the amount of research funding available to WSU undergraduate students is one of the best things about the university. Every year, Weber State distributes long-term, short-term and travel grants to students to develop or present research.
One of Ashley’s favorite experiences was helping a Bachelor of Integrated Studies student with her capstone project, which was so well developed that the student was able to present it at an international conference. The student researched the effectiveness of different teaching methods by comparing how adolescents responded to a geography lesson when it was presented in a lecture or in a hands-on lesson. She discovered a correlation between teaching style and time of day. Lecture classes were more effective in the morning, but hands-on classes were more effective during the afternoon. Though this project stood out to him, Ashley said it was only one of many great student projects in which he has participated.
Ashley himself hasn’t stopped learning. He said that Eric Amsel, chair of the psychology department, has been one of the biggest influences on his life since coming to WSU seven years ago. “He has always been willing to support me in trying new teaching techniques or developing new classes. He has encouraged me to continually work on improving in the areas I avoid simply because I’m not proficient in them,” Ashley said.
When he isn’t teaching a class or doing research, Ashley, who is originally from North Carolina, enjoys being outside and taking advantage of the beautiful northern Utah area, he said. He likes to hike, rock climb, kayak and fish, but when the weather is uncooperative, he is also content to read or watch movies. And of course, whenever possible, barefoot is best.