UTOPSS Conference

UTOPSS is a grassroots organization affiliated with the American Psychological Association’s Teachers of Psychology in Secondary Schools (TOPSS). In a unique partnership, Westminster College and UTOPSS collaborate to improve the teaching of scientific psychology at the high school level by hosting the UTOPSS Fall Conference for High School Psychology Teachers. This conference provides opportunities for teachers to learn new content, obtain new teaching resources, and build professional networks.


Friday, Sept. 21, 2018 | 7:30 a.m.–3:30 p.m.


Westminster College, Gore Auditorium, Room 112


Breakfast and check-in: 7:30 a.m.
Presentations begin: 8:00 a.m.


Rob McEntarffer


Dr. Rob McEntarffer, Lincoln Public Schools

Session Description

Current psychological researchers are uncovering important concepts that help explain "the science of learning." In fact, many of the principles we teach in high school psychology classes can help students discover for themselves how to encode, retain, and recall information and skills. During this discussion we will explore some of these current findings, connect them to vocabulary and concepts from the high school psychology curriculum, and participate in activities that demonstrate these principles for students.

About the Presenter

Rob McEntarffer taught Psychology, AP Psychology, and Philosophy for 13 years at Lincoln Southeast high school in Lincoln, NE, and was involved with the AP Psychology reading for many years. He is the co-author of Barron’s AP Psychology review. While teaching, he became interested in educational measurement issues and got a Master’s degree in Educational Measurement (Qualitative and Quantitative Methods) from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln in 2003. Rob started his work as an Assessment/Evaluation specialist with Lincoln Public Schools in 2005, and works with the district on large scale and classroom assessment issues. Rob earned his PhD in Teaching, Learning, and Teacher education in 2013, focusing his research on how teachers make room for formative assessment processes in their classrooms. Rob lives with his wife, two kids, dog, and cat in Lincoln, NE and works for Lincoln Public Schools.

Suzy Cox


Dr. Suzy Cox, Utah Valley University

Session Description

We have all seen countless headlines about how technology is affecting teens, many of which are sensationalized. It is vital that we, as teachers of psychology and, most importantly, teachers of teens truly understand the impact of our modern digital age on adolescents. In this session, we will first explore the extraordinary and sensitive period of brain development known as adolescence. We will then engage in discussion about the role of technology in this period and how we can better help students navigate their digital lives to promote deeper learning and emotional well-being.

About the Presenter

Dr. Cox is an Associate Professor in the School of Education at Utah Valley University, where she works to help prospective junior high and high school faculty better understand adolescent psychology of their students in order to improve classroom climates and instruction. Her research interests include developmental neuropsychology, technology integration, and learner-centered teaching. She is particularly interested in finding ways to engage students in deeper learning using technology and in the technology-life balance. Her current research is focused on how technology use at school can help narrow the digital divide for underserved populations. Dr. Cox has presented at numerous local, regional, national, and international conferences, including the prestigious Learning and the Brain conference in Boston, MA and San Francisco, CA, and has also been a TEDx speaker. She presents about brain development for teachers and students of all ages in an effort to help both groups better understand learning and the impact of modern society on development and well-being, as well as strategies we can all use to make the most of this amazing period of development.

Annette Nielsen


Annette Nielsen, Woods Cross High School

Session Description

In this session, participants will learn how to turn a creative, hands-on activity or demonstration into a lab experience for Psychology students. Research methods are the foundation of psychological science, therefore it’s important for students to engage in research experiences to understand the concepts of the course. The presenter will provide examples of demonstrations from a variety of content areas that can be adapted to a lab format. The session will be interactive, giving the participants an opportunity to take part in several of the lab experiences. The presenter will also share strategies for adapting demonstrations to become labs, so participants can adapt their own lessons once they return to their schools.

About the Presenter

Annette Jordan Nielsen has loved teaching for over 20 years at Woods Cross High School in Woods Cross, Utah. She teaches Advanced Placement Psychology, Introductory Psychology, and Quest, a credit recovery course designed to help failing students get back on track for graduation. Since 2005, Annette has served as a reader, table leader, and is the current Assistant Chief Reader for the Advance Placement Psychology exam. She is also a current member of the Advanced Placement Psychology Test Development Committee. Annette helps coordinate the Utah Teachers of Psychology in Secondary Schools (UTOPSS) conference each fall and was thrilled to be a member of Strand 1 (Psychology as Science) at the APA Summit on High School Psychology at Weber State University in July of 2017. Her passion is creating fun and engaging lessons, connecting with her students and colleagues, and sharing her love of Psychological Science. She lives and plays in Salt Lake City with her husband and their two children.

Jessica HabashiAngela Anderson


Dr. Jessica Habashi and Angela Anderson, Utah State University

Session Description

In this presentation participants will learn new ways to demonstrate sensory system function, including vision, hearing, taste, and touch, in the classroom. These hands-on activities require minimal preparation and expense, but are engaging to students. They can used in a lecture or lab setting.

About the Presenters

Dr. Jessica Habashi is a Senior Lecturer in Biology with Utah State University. Dr. Habashi teaches a range of courses, including Human Physiology, Microbiology, Genetics, and Community Health. Dr. Habashi’s professional interests include increasing the retention of women in the sciences and promoting community health and wellness. Dr. Habashi holds a Master’s degree and PhD in Cell Biology from Yale University.

Angela Anderson is on a mission to help children diagnosed as hard of hearing develop and grow academically. Trained as a Speech-Language Pathologist, she has a background in language disorders, Listening and Spoken Language emphasis, and research in childhood education for the deaf and hard of hearing which provides her clients with unique advantages. Ms. Anderson works as a Certified Speech-Language Pathologist for Box Elder School District and Independence Rehab. She holds a master’s and bachelor’s degrees in Communication Disorders and Deaf Education from Utah State University.

Participant Idea Share

A portion of the conference is dedicated to sharing your own ideas for teaching concepts, managing classes, updating technological prowess, or other tidbits that can help improve our teaching and students' learning.

To participate, contact Emily Checketts by Sept. 14, 2018 and provide:

  1. The title/subject of your presentation
  2. An electronic copy of any handouts (alternatively, you can bring 70 3-hole punched copies to the conference)

Break-out Sessions

  • AP Psychology: Erik Bayles, Pleasant Grove High School; Tiffany Bliss, Olympus High School; Julie Gowans, Payson High School
  • Introductory Psychology: Dr. Rob McEntarffer, Lincoln Public Schools
  • Sports Psychology: Jillian Carver, Sky View High School


Online registration is $50.00 and due Sept. 14, 2018. Cost includes materials, continental breakfast, lunch, and a certificate of completion.

Late Registration

After Sept. 14, registration will increase to $60.00 and must be paid on site with a check made out to Westminster College. Bring a completed registration form to the conference along with your check.

Print Registration

If your district requires you to pay your registration fee with a check, please download and print the conference registration form and make the check payable to Westminster College.

Mail the registration form and check by Sept. 14 to:

Kristin Whitlock
Davis High School
325 S. Main Street
Kaysville, Utah 84037

Registration Refunds

There are no refunds. Contact Kristin Whitlock with questions.


A visitor parking pass should be prominently displayed on your dashboard the day of the conference. This will allow you to park in any campus lot. Due to construction along 1300 E., access campus from 1700 S. and park in the lower lots: NW parking structure west of the Jewett Center for the Performing Arts and garage under the athletic field, both accessible from 1200 E. off 1700 S. It's a short walk to Gore from the lot underneath Dumke field.

parking information campus map

TOPSS Membership

If it's time to join or renew your TOPSS membership, you can do so for $50.00. There are many benefits included with a membership.

Join or Renew TOPSS Membership

Special Thanks

  • Westminster College; Department of Psychology
  • Teachers of Psychology in Secondary Schools (TOPSS)
  • University of Utah; Department of Psychology