SFYou: Yuthika Girme, Professor and podcast host

Photo courtesy of Yuthika Girme.

By Charlene Aviles, Peak Associate

Name: Yuthika Girme

Pronouns: she/her /hers

Departmental Affiliation: Assistant Professor, department of Psychology

Hometown: Auckland, New Zealand

During SFU’s transition to remote learning in the Spring 2020 semester, Dr. Yuthika Girme began recording episodes for her podcast “Merlot with my Beau.” During the episodes, Girme and her husband Steve relax with wine and discuss topics in psychology. Girme also invites guest lecturers, such as her former PhD research supervisor. Her podcast is available on Acast and Spotify. I had the chance to talk with Girme about her podcast, audio learning, and how her podcast has shaped her experience as an educator.

Merlot with my Beau can be found on Spotify and Acast.

Interactive Learning

Girme reflected on her goals when planning her podcast episodes and Steve’s contribution to the episodes. 

“With the podcast episodes, I was trying to essentially emulate a casual and conversational way of going through the lecture material. Now unfortunately, I couldn’t do that with my students but what I did have to utilize was, of course, my husband Steve.”

Girme appreciates Steve’s contribution because “he would ask the questions that [she] think[s] a lay person or a person that’s not familiar with academic research may ask [her] . . . and ask[s] the questions that students might be thinking as they listen to the podcast episode.”

“The key goals that I had in creating these podcasts were to continue creating an engaging learning environment for my students.”

Behind-the-Scenes Action

When asked about the podcast’s production process, she admitted, “I very rarely listen to podcasts myself, and this is the first podcast that I’ve ever tried to create.”

The hours she invests into the production process reflects the quality of her podcast.

“There is a little bit of post-production that students don’t see. There’s a lot of editing involved in the podcast, so typically my episodes might be an hour to an hour and a half, depending on whether I have a guest speaker on the show, and that is probably about two to two and a half hours of actual recording material and probably another two to three hours spent editing.”

Bidirectional Learning

Through recording her episodes, Girme realized that flexibility is “an important part of the puzzle as teachers to keep in mind when we’re creating our courses.

“Teaching can be a really varied experience for students. Having a podcast and trying to teach the podcast episodes has actually expanded my assumptions about what teaching looks like and what is most helpful for students.

“Not all students learn the same way. Some students find it really difficult to sit in a theatre and listen to someone speak continuously for three hours, so I think having teaching materials like this, something like a podcast, offers students flexibility to students.”

Photo Opportunity with Plato

A special guest that Girme would like to invite to her show is Plato.

“In one of my podcasts, I actually start the podcast talking about basically a little snippet from his philosophy. It’s about close relationships, not just romantic relationships, but about friendships and family relationships too.”

She envisions that Plato and her would have “philosophical arguments about the importance of relationships, what those relationships actually look like, and how they manifest in our day to day life. ”

Encouragement for Fellow Teachers

Since the transition to remote learning, professors are looking for interactive and flexible teaching methods for their lectures. I asked what Girme would say to professors who are considering starting their own podcast.

“It might be fun to break some of that speech up by inviting people to do part of that lecturing process with them. I realize that I’m lucky that I have a husband who was willing to do the podcast episodes with me . . . [G]uest lecturers [are] a great way to kind of break up that kind of one-way speech and invite someone else on there to have a conversation, which is something that I think students really appreciate because it makes it a lot easier I think to listen to the material and to absorb the material.”

Flexibility is Key

Girme acknowledges that not all programs may be suited for audio recordings as “trying to teach people mathematics or physics through audio is not going to be a very effective teaching tool, because I think those kinds of things really require some sort of visual representations of formulas and graphs and things like that. But I think that there are many programs at SFU that could really benefit from this type of teaching.”

On potentially recording a third season, she said, “It might be fun to have professors come on and talk about up and coming research that they’re doing in their labs.”

The topics she would discuss may range from “different types of experimental methods that people use, different kinds of research topics, and also how people apply a new theory or a new type of research method to new and novel research methods.

“It would be sort of an insight into more ground breaking research that’s just about to emerge.”

Student Feedback

Girme is grateful for her Spring 2020 students’ positive feedback and is looking forward to this semester’s upcoming feedback.

“I think students just appreciated the effort, especially because I was teaching and getting that feedback in a context in which the pandemic had just hit, so students were just really glad to see something different and appreciated the effort that went into creating the podcast episodes.

“One of my students said that they really enjoyed the podcast, especially my husband Steve who laughs like Seth Rogen. After reading that comment, and now every time Steve laughs, I just think of Seth Rogen.”