Dr. Travland received an Associate of Arts degree from Mason City Junior College in pre-engineering in 1960 and a Bachelor’s degree in psychology and mathematics from the University of Iowa in 1962. He received a Master’s degree in psychology in 1965 and, following a clinical internship at Yale University, a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from the University of Iowa in 1967. His dissertation topic, “The A-B Dimension and Expression of Interpersonal Reactions,” explores the relationship between therapist personality and effectiveness treating schizophrenic patients.
Dr. Travland currently teaches undergraduate and graduate psychology classes at Post University as an Associate Faculty member. He also teaches online psychology courses at other universities. From 1967 to 1969 he was an Assistant Professor of Psychology at Wake Forest University, and later an adjunct professor at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.
Anyone engaged in a learning process wants the experience to be exciting, fun and easy to grasp. Abstract concepts are much easier to understand when the instructor uses concrete examples. His earliest university teaching at Wake Forest University made liberal use of role-playing, demonstrations, references to fictional depictions of syndromes and situations, films, and action homework (e.g., “Try this with your significant other.”).
Because of his decades of practical experience as a mental health practitioner and OD consultant in the private sector, he has a wealth of anecdotal experience with which to illustrate the abstract concepts which pepper the formal study of psychology.
One touchstone of his teaching is critical thinking, teaching the ability to distinguish between persuasive research-based conclusions and conclusions based on junk science. Debunking social mythology is one of his hobbies. He endeavors to equip his students with the ability to ask the right questions about what they hear and read. He helps them turn their baloney detector to High Sensitive.
A related theme in his teaching is the central role of the scientific method itself. Students need to understand how to develop knowledge, how to construct hypotheses and orchestrate ways to test them. He also teaches a specific form of critical thinking, the ability to analyze methodology in peer-reviewed research articles and arrive at an understanding of the limitations of how much one can generalize such findings to related situations. Then there is the whole matter of historical context. As Kierkegaard opined, life is lived forward but must be understood backwards. The ability to grasp the significance of scientific findings is often dependent on the historical context of the information. As his former Philosophy of Science professor Gustov Bergman said, “Is this a difference that makes a difference?” This question can often be answered only through the history of ideas. When did this question first arise? What was going on in civilization at that time? Why was this an important question back then? Who first posed it? What answers first began to emerge?
Another theme of his teaching philosophy is relevance. He would ask the rhetorical question of all students, “How would you be able to use the knowledge learned in this course? Why should you be learning what is being taught in this course? How might this affect the quality of your life?”
The style of his teaching is informal, fun, but drop-dead serious because psychology is the queen of behavioral sciences, and we as a civilization are not very good at predicting how other individuals, cultures, or countries will react to our actions. It is high time we got much, much better at it. His courses endeavor to contribute to this overall goal.
His most recent university teaching experience has been online. Not surprisingly, there is no shift of teaching philosophy needed switching to the online medium. As an instructor, points that he would be able to make orally must now be made in writing. If anything, it makes one more careful in choosing words. As with brick and mortar teaching, faculty must treat students with respect and given the kind of feedback that enables them to grasp the essence of the course material, and allows them to improve their performance as the course unfolds. The exhilaration from getting learners excited about learning is no different from an actual classroom. It is an exciting time to be an educator.
After a two-year position with Wake Forest University, Dr. Travland entered the consulting business at University Research Corporation in Washington, D.C. working with Department of Labor and Department of Housing and Urban Development programs. He then became Executive Director of Charlotte Model Cities (an anti-poverty program under Lyndon Johnson), a department head position with the City of Charlotte. At the end of the program, he left the city to begin a private clinical practice as a licensed psychologist, and to become a senior partner with Hayes and Associates, a corporate training and consulting firm in Winston-Salem, N.C. He later formed his own organizational development and corporate training firm, Travland and Associates, with large, medium and small corporate clients along the East coast.
His training and consulting specialties included sales training, managing change, supervisory training, executive assessment centers, a “charm school for executives,” corporate strategic planning retreats, and employee selection systems using the Five Factor Model of personality.
Dr. Travland is raising his second family and they are keeping him young and fit. He has introduced them to Beethoven and Shostakovich, but they are sneaking country music into the house. Together, he and Rhonda (a social worker at Hospice and a Ph.D. candidate in Human Services) are interested in history, science, writing, critical thinking, debunking social mythology, motor home camping, downhill skiing and motorcycling.
Dr. Travland met his wife Rhonda in a support group for well spouses and they received support in an unexpected form; meeting and marrying their respective soul mates. Together, they operate the non-profit Caregiver Survival Institute, Inc. They have written an award-winning book, The Tough & Tender Caregiver, a Handbook for the Well Spouse, and dozens of articles in popular magazines on family caregiving issues.
They lecture on caregiving issues throughout the country, and appear in radio and newspaper interviews to discuss their book.