About the Portenier-Wertheimer Teaching Conference



The teaching conference is designed for faculty who tech at four-year universities and colleges, community colleges, and high schools. Specifically, it is for those who wish to explore new ideas that will enhance and broaden their teaching skills.  The celebration of teaching will provide useful and interesting information to see award-winning teachers in action.  The teaching conference will also provide a forum for the discussion and exchange of knowledge and practice about the teaching of psychology as well as student learning and assessment.


  • Psychology teachers (colleges, universities, high schools)
  • Researchers in the teaching of psychology
  • Support staff and developers working with psychology teachers
  • Developers and publishers of psychology resources



In 1995, Lillian Portenier received the first "Outstanding Former Faculty Award" from the University of Wyoming.  A professor of psychology when she retired in 1961, she was dedicated to undergraduate psychology majors.

Dr. Portenier joined the University of Wyoming as a Mathematics instructor in 1925 after receiving an A. M. degree from the University of Nebraska.  She became an assistant professor of psychology in 1930 and after earning a PhD from Columbia University in 1933, she received a promotion to full professor.  During World War II, she was acting head of the Department of Psychology and Director of Student Personnel Services.  Dr. Portenier served a three-year term as Executive Secretary of APA's Division Two (Teaching of Psychology) and edited the newsletter from 1952-1954.  She served as President of Division Two in 1957. She was the first person from the Rocky Mountain region to serve as National President of Psi Chi, a post she held from 1949 to 1952.

She became involved with RMPA early on, presenting her first paper at the 1933 conference, a paper that examined factors other than intelligence that predicted school success.  She served as RMPA Secretary from 1944-1948 and was elected President of RMPA in 1948-1949.  In 1963, she became the third lifetime member of RMPA.




In 1983, Michael Wertheimer received the American Psychological Foundation Distinguished Teaching Award in recognition for his classroom teaching as well as his writings on the teaching of psychology.  In 1990, he received the APA Distinguished Career Contributions to Education and Training in Psychology Award.  Currently, Michael is Professor Emeritus at the University of Colorado-Boulder where he has served on the faculty since 1955.  Among his many university recognitions, he received the Faculty Advising Award from the College of Arts and Sciences in 1987.  Dr. Wertheimer served as President of Division Two (Teaching of Psychology) in 1965.  He was the Rocky Mountain regional coordinator of Psi Chi from 1973-1979 and in 1990-1991 served as the Psi Chi National President.

His involvement with RMPA began in the mid-1950s.  At the 1957 RMPA meeting, he and Dr. Portenier both participated in the program.  She was involved in a symposium on mental health in Western states, and Dr. Wertheimer presented a paper entitled "The Influence of Subjective Time Spent in Practice on Learning."  In 1981, Dr. Wertheimer was elected President of RMPA.  He served as the RMPA Archivist from 1986-1993.  He is the only person to twice receive the RMPA Distinguished Service Award, first in 1998 and again in 1994.


2019 Portenier-Wertheimer Teaching Conference

The 2019 Wertheimer-Portenier Teaching Conference will begin at noon on Thursday, April 4, 2019 with Teaching Take-Out, a session of short, interactive classroom demonstrations in several different areas of psychology. We are honored to have Professor Emeritus Wayne Viney join us to give the teaching keynote address.  He will discuss “William James as a Teacher: Some Lessons from Hiistory about Teaching.”

Several symposia and workshops on teaching topics have been proposed including (a) How to Prepare Students to Excel at and Benefit from Group Work, (b) Strategies for Navigating Myriad Online Teaching Options, (c) Dealing with Students’ Ethical Violations, (d) Fostering Students’ Academic Resiliency, (e) Building International Learning Opportunities in Psychology, and (f) further refinement of the RMPA Faculty Mentor Program, which was launched at RMPA 2015.

There will also be several sessions aimed at students including! Stay tuned. 

The Teaching Conference will close with a reception and a poster session at which the best poster will be selected for the RMPA Teaching Poster Award. 

The Teaching Conference Keynote Speaker for 2019 will be 

Dr. Alexandra Rutherford