I strive to teach all of my courses with energy, humor, and application to the real world. I approach each topic trying to find the element of fascination inherent in the material, and then I work diligently to evoke that fascination from students.
My goals as a teacher are to (a) hold students to high standards; (b) make those standards reachable by being accessible, clear, and offering multiple methods of learning; and (c) keep focus on real world application and careers.
On this page, explore the courses I teach, what students have said about my methods, and see summaries of my course evaluations.
Introduction to statistical methods. Descriptive and inferential statistics, with an emphasis on social science application, and some review of research methods. Correlation, t tests, ANOVAs, and chi-square analyses.
The application of scientific techniques to: crime scene assessment, documentation, and reconstruction; identification and assessment of criminal perpetrators; and evaluations of witnesses' accuracy and truthfulness.
Psychology & Law
The role of psychology in the U.S. criminal justice system and process. Focuses on the human elements of the justice system: including in the evolution of legal standards; how law writers, enforcers, and interpreters make decisions given personal differences and societal pressures; and how such things affect how citizens perceive the criminal justice system and, in turn, behave. Addresses empirically based criminal justice reform proposals in light of legal and societal challenges.
The Psychology of Violence
This course takes a primarily psychosocial perspective of the precursors and motives of multiple forms of human violence, as well as their impact on survivors. Students learn about explanations for violence based on multiple psychological sub-fields, such as biological, personality, developmental, and social psychology. Theories are clearly applied to multiple categories of violent acts.
Eyewitness Memory & Testimony
Major theoretical perspectives and practical applications of human memory research to the role of eyewitnesses in the criminal justice system. Focus on the situational, as well as intra- and interpersonal factors that may influence memory accuracy in crime scenarios. Roughly equal attention is given to its weaknesses and empirically based systematic reforms that have been suggested or evaluated.
Advanced Forensic Psychology
Advanced topical seminar in forensic psychology, with the focus on application of psychological science as a clinical psychologist or applied researcher. May address issues such as the role of clinical psychologists in assessing defendants, evaluating and treating corrections populations, and using their expertise to inform police, investigative agencies, judges, and attorneys. Psychological and psycho-social explanations for and solutions to criminal behavior and violence.
Children, Psychology, & the Law
The role of clinical and developmental psychology in all major areas where children and adolescents may be involved in the legal system: as victims of maltreatment, as witnesses to crimes, and as perpetrators of crime. History and current state of laws and practices affecting youth in court proceedings and rulings, with emphasis on psychological findings of youths' mental states, impressionability, adaptability, and rehabilitative potential. Examination of court rulings and reforms based in part on psychological research. Evaluation of proposed criminal justice reforms where youth are involved.
Select Student Comments
These are taken directly from anonymous official course evaluations. Aside from correcting punctuation and adding information [in brackets], they are in their original wording.
Dr. Ricks is a phenomenal professor who I go out of my way to take. He always makes learning exciting and increases the enjoyment of the subject matter.
Dr Ricks is one of the greatest professors I have ever had! I look forward to learning more from him next semester!
Professor Ricks made me actually enjoy stats. I used to cry whenever I did math because I could never understand it; but this was my favorite course I took this semester. I enjoyed coming to class because I was actually able to learn and understand statistics in a clear way. I love his humor and enthusiasm for the class. He really teaches in a way that college kids can learn from.
The structure of this class [intro. statistics] is incredible. I had a lot of anxiety going into this class because I knew depending on the professor it could really be hit or miss.
I'm also generally poor at math so that worried me about my experience also. But I'm actually learning in this class! I love Professor Ricks's humor, and his work experience that he shared with us is very helpful. Please keep the structure of this class.
The best professor I have had. I changed my major to psychology after taking this course. Very clear, helpful, and makes the classes interesting…
…He is one of the very few professors…that I would be absolutely beside myself with disapproval if I would miss his class. His lectures were beyond collegiate stereotype. They were applied to real world scenarios. He had an upbeat energy that brought the students up to his level of expert knowledge…I am almost saddened by the idea of not being able to attend more classes like his.
Dr. Ricks is by so far one of the best professors I ever had. I learn so much as well he always makes sure we understand the material by asking if we had any questions. He encourages students to ask questions as well office hours or emails. He is super reliable, I send him emails regarding of material and he responded me within minutes. He is an amazing professor.
Dr. Ricks made statistics something I want to pursue as a minor. In high school I took AP Stats and dropped out because I couldn't handle it and was so scared that would happen again. Instead I finished with a 98 in the class. I owe that to his wonderful teaching, well-thought out power points , and thorough explanations of the material.