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by Baylee Anzai, student writer

Most of his students believe that Dr. Vincent Tsushima has a natural gift when it comes to teaching. Few know that he was a forensic psychologist and civil litigation attorney before deciding to become a professor.

After five years at HPU, this assistant professor of psychology and assistant dean of the College of Liberal Arts has been selected by the Hawai‘i Psychological Association (HPA) to receive the Outstanding Teacher of Psychology Award for 2007. He will be presented with the award at an awards luncheon to be held Oct. 25 at the Hilton Hawaiian Village.

According to its Web site, the association, chartered in 1962, represents more than 300 psychologists in Hawai‘i. Its mission is to advance the science and practice of psychology while supporting excellence in education, training, research, advocacy, and service. Its parent group, the American Psychological Association, APA, is one of the largest professional organizations in the United States.

To be considered for the award, a professor is selected by his or her peers and nominated through a submission to the association, whose Board of Directors reviews nominations and evaluates professors’ contributions to psychology education with information provided from the nominator.
According to Tsushima’s students, he is deserving of the honor. “He’s funny, and he knows his stuff,” said Teck Ming Ding, a HPU senior psychology major. “He tries to make everybody feel accepted in class,” Ding added.

Deborah Caver, a senior psychology major, said: “I feel comfortable and confident in his class. He is a good instructor, and he’s a well-balanced person. He’s a psychologist, a lawyer, and a rocker.”
On learning that he would be receiving the award, Tsushima said: “I have mixed feelings about it. It feels awkward because I’m surrounded by great teachers here at the University, but it is a great feeling to be recognized by my professional organization.”

Tsushima said he chose to become a professor because teaching utilized his abilities better than any other profession. Teaching, he said, was “more fun than anything I’d ever done before, and it didn’t feel like work.”

Although he says that his teaching style centers on a structured lecture, his ultimate objective is getting students to participate. “I always thought that I learned best when teachers got me interested in the subject,” Tsushima said.

While Tsushima teaches a variety of psychology courses at HPU, his favorite is Forensic Psychology. He said that the subject combines psychology, law, politics, and cultural practices all at the same time. This semester he is also teaching Research Methods in Psychology, Learning and Cognitive Processes, and Test and Measurements in Psychology.


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