Photo by James Moss
Stephen Hupp stands in his office with the book he co-authored in the background. “It’s just a good fit,” Hupp said of his position at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.
EDWARDSVILLE — Dr. Stephen Hupp displays a “commitment to excellence and originality in teaching.”
He has superior knowledge of his subject matter, gives original and innovative classroom presentations, and has demonstrated concern for students inside and outside of the classroom.
At least that’s what the Southern Illinois University Edwardsville Alumni Association said when it awarded Hupp the Great Teacher Award in 2015.
“It means students are valuing the experience they’re having with me in their courses,” Hupp, who has a doctorate in clinical psychology from Louisiana State University, said of the award. “I assume and hope there are some alumni out there that felt like at least one of the courses they had with me helped them to get a job or do well in their job once they left here.”
Guadalupe Lopez, a senior who has taken three classes with Hupp, said she values her experience with him.
“I’m very grateful that I was able to take a class with him and I feel like I’ve learned so much,” she said.
Hupp, a St. Louis native, has worked at SIUE for 14 years. He started teaching in the psychology department in the fall of 2002, just months after obtaining his doctorate.
Hupp teaches mostly graduate classes, but he also teaches an undergraduate class in child psychology.
“He’s very passionate about this new area of psychology,” Devin Barlaan, a recent graduate from Hupp’s master’s program, said.
Lopez’s first class with Hupp was his undergraduate child psychology class in the spring of 2014. One of the aspects she admired most was the lectures.
“His lectures are not just simple lectures,” she said. “He makes them very entertaining to get the students engaged, and his examples are always real-life examples. When he’s teaching, it’s not like you’re listening to a lecture. It’s like you’re having a conversation and you’re actually talking and responding to him.”
In addition to teaching the undergraduate child psychology class, Hupp works with the St. Clair County Head Start Program, which offers services to help low-income children younger than 5 prepare for school. Hupp works with graduate students on this program, and every semester, he works with approximately 30 undergraduate students on a field study at Head Start.
“It’s just a ton of fun to be around 4-year-olds,” he said. “It’s fun to see the students learn how to work with 4-year-olds and feel like, even though it’s a class they’re taking, that they’re making a positive change in (these) kids’ lives.”
Hupp works with the undergraduate students on “universal prevention” at Head Start, teaching social and emotional skills to the children. He helps graduate students organize mental health screens, which help identify mental health issues. If a screen shows a child has a mental health problem, he and the graduate students work to provide specific services.
“The most rewarding thing is we usually get the feedback from teachers that they’re seeing kids get better in the ways we’re trying to work with them,” he said.
In addition to teaching and working with Head Start, Hupp conducts research focused on assessing “people’s beliefs about which treatments they think work and which treatments they think don’t work.”
“There are a lot of misconceptions about psychology, and his research does a lot for debunking those,” Catherine Stachniak, who graduated from Hupp’s graduate program in May, said.
Jeremy Jewell, a professor of psychology and program director of the clinical child and school psychology graduate program at SIUE, agreed.
“Dr. Hupp’s dedication to disseminating evidence-based practices and debunking pseudoscience is probably his best quality,” Jewell said. “His work in this area has helped an untold number of parents steer clear of ‘therapies’ that do not work toward those treatments that are most effective.”
In 2015, Hupp co-wrote a book entitled “Great Myths of Child Development” with Jewell. Their book focuses on common misconceptions people have about child development — such as the belief sugar makes kids hyperactive — that research does not prove.
Although it is written by professors, Hupp said the book is not only for academics.
“I like to say we wrote it for parents, grandparents, step-parents, foster parents, soon-to-be parents and anyone else skeptical of parenting poppycock,” he said. “It’s also written to be used as a supplemental text in a college classroom.”
The author said he plans to use it for the first time this fall in the undergraduate child psychology class.
Hupp credits SIUE with helping its professors conduct their research and work on projects.
“SIUE as a university has been really supportive of all of these different projects,” he said. “They’re the fiscal manager for the Head Start program, and they’re supportive of us trying to do this research that we’re interested in.
“This is a great place to work.”