Kathryn Gordon, associate professor of psychology
Published September 2016
Gordon is an outstanding instructor who teaches in such areas as abnormal psychology, child psychopathology and therapy, interventions and diversity in clinical psychology. Her research focuses on eating disorders and suicidal behavior.
She earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology and master’s degree and doctorate in clinical psychology from Florida State University. In addition, Gordon had a clinical internship at the University of Chicago Medical Center.
How did you decide to pursue your profession?
I have a passion for helping people with mental health struggles and disseminating accurate information about psychology. Teaching allows me to connect with many students who will hopefully find the information that they learn from my classes helpful in their future careers and personal lives.
What do you like best about teaching?
The two things that I like best about teaching are connecting with students in meaningful ways about mental health and the challenge of taking psychological science and communicating it in a compelling and relevant way.
What drives you as an excellent instructor?
It means a lot to me when students tell me that the content they learned in class helped them to better understand, feel compassion for and help people suffering from mental health problems–including themselves.
What is the best thing about your job?
The best thing is working in an environment that values continual learning.
How would you describe your teaching style?
My approach to teaching is to create an environment that facilitates growth and learning through respectful and clear communication.
How do you connect with students?
I connect with students by keeping their goals and interests in mind as I design my course materials and activities. In addition, I try to make myself approachable to students, so that they feel comfortable bringing up concerns and questions. Finally, I often use the time right before and after class to chat with students about current events, other classes, their jobs and other things that are important to them.
What has been the best moment of your teaching career so far?
It means a lot when I hear from students after they've graduated, and they tell me something they learned from me helped them in some way, such as to be more effective in their job or to help someone affected by mental illness. I also feel extremely proud of my graduate students as they develop into skilled psychologists.
What have you learned from your students?
I've learned the importance of being flexible in the strategies I use to engage people about mental health. I've also learned that a number of students are incredibly resilient people who are pursuing their education despite having experienced substantial hardships. This makes it all the more important to me that they receive quality education in my classroom and feel comfortable reaching out if they need help.
What is something every student should experience before they graduate from NDSU?
Every student should volunteer to help others before they graduate. Our community has many wonderful organizations for people who want to volunteer based on their particular gifts and interests. Those types of experiences can be transformative for both the student and the larger community.
What makes NDSU a special place?
One thing that is very special about NDSU is that there are so many opportunities for students to get involved with research. Even if you do not ultimately pursue a career in research, gaining a deeper understanding of the scientific process and critical thinking will certainly benefit you.
What is your favorite NDSU tradition?
It’s the campus' dedication to honoring diversity and historically underrepresented or marginalized groups through annual campus-sponsored events, such as those held during LGBTQ+ Pride Month and Black History Month.