Mike Atkinson

Dr. Mike Atkinson

Email: atkinson@uwo.ca
Office: SSC 6316
Tel: 519-661-2111 ext. 84644

  • Bio

  • Publications

  • Research

Biographical Information

I’m from the East Coast, born in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia and received my B.Sc. from Dalhousie University in 1975. I was extremely interested in social psychology (particularly aggression and nonverbal behaviour), and pursued this interested at the University of Wisconsin, Madison where I received my M.Sc. (1978) and Ph.D. (1982). My dissertation work involved nonverbal cues in the detection of deception. It appears that we first make judgements about whether a behaviour is deliberate or spontaneous, and then proceed to a consideration of deception (or other forms of deliberate behaviour).

Over the years, I have become increasingly interested in the process of education and have moved to the educational psychology area. How can we teach large classes most effectively? Are there any benefits to using multimedia in the classroom? Do students really learn from instructors who use a variety of engaging techniques? Important factors include student involvement, structure and organization of the material, and the ability to “engage”.

Selected Publications

Passer, M.W., Smith, R.E., Atkinson, M.L., Mitchell, J.B., Muir, D. (2005).
Psychology: Frontiers and applications (2nd edition), Toronto: McGraw Hill Ryerson.

Atkinson, M.L. (2005). Advice for (and from) the young at heart: Understanding the Millennial Generation. Guidance & Counselling, 19(4), 153 - 157.

Atkinson, M.L. (2005). The set-up: Production elements for a superclass. In M. Lerch (Ed.), Making a Difference. Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, p. 47 - 50.

Atkinson, M.L. (2002). Writing effective multiple choice questions. The Successful
Professor, 1 (6), 2 – 4.

Atkinson, M.L. (2001). Ask Dr. Mike: Frequently asked questions about psychology.
Boston: Allyn & Bacon.

3M Canada Teaching Fellow
USC & Alumni Western Teaching Award of Excellence
Four time recipient UWO Psychology Professor of the Year

Millennials rising: Students of the twenty-first century. Keynote address, Dietitians of Canada, Toronto, June, 2005.

Teaching large classes. Invited presentation, National University of Ireland, June, 2004.

Presenting for maximum effect. Invited presentation, Canadian Oncology Peer Exchange, Banff, Oct., 2003..


My main focus is effective teaching in a large class format. The goal is to try to understand what works and why. Instructor characteristics and structure are clearly important, but aspects of delivery can be used to become more effective. I look at large class teaching as “educational theatre” and one must treat the lecture in that fashion. For example, theatres have sets, ambiance, scripts and production involved in a presentation. We can use these metaphors in the large class to become more effective instructors.

Current interests include the use of multimedia in the classroom, structure of media materials, effective lecturing, test construction, learning styles, class size, and the effective use of nonverbal behaviour.