Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Psychology Snow Fort Progress

We had a small, but dedicated work crew turn out for our snow fort building project. I must admit, I was very impressed with our progress. Not only did we complete several tunnels, but we planted a psychology flag and decorated the fort with pro-psychology propaganda. Some videos of our progress below...

After about 30 minutes of digging we had joined three tunnels. This next video is a little dark because our daylight was fading, and I was trying to film in a tunnel.

New Quizlet Links Added!

Just in time for this unit's vocabulary review, links to two new Quizlets (online flashcard sets) have been added to this site. From here on out, they will be accessible through the "Commonly Used Course Links" section on the left-hand side of the blog page.

Here they are:

Quizlet -Learning

Quizlet- Memory

With 99 terms between the two of them, there's plenty to review!

Hope to see you at the review session this evening. Otherwise, best of luck on tomorrow's test!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Study Sessions and Possible Snow Fort Building

As we discussed last week in class, there will be two after-school opportunities for you to review for your upcoming Learning & Memory Unit Test:

Monday, December 13 - Right After School


Tuesday, December 14 - 5:30 PM

However, due to our amazing good fortune of having a massive snow drift right outside the classroom window, from 4:00 to 5:30 on Tuesday we will be meeting to build a masterpiece snow fort outside my classroom window.

This is assuming that the snow does not fall victim to the numerous snow plows and blowers roaming school properties today. Or to envious elementary school students. If our supply is taken, maybe we can find another drift...?

Dress warmly - it's supposed to be super cold tomorrow - and bring your best ideas and supplies for snow fort construction.
Oh...the possibilities!

Winter in AP Psych

Over the weekend a big storm system dumped 22 inches of snow in our area. Returning to the classrooms today we found big snow drifts outside all of the classroom windows, including in AP Psych. What a lovely winter scene to contemplate during these last school days before the holidays!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Book Review: Out of Our Heads by Alva Noe

Out of Our Heads: Why You Are Not Your Brain, and Other Lessons from the Biology of ConsciousnessOut of Our Heads: Why You Are Not Your Brain, and Other Lessons from the Biology of Consciousness by Alva Noe

Some of my students are chomping at the bit this year, eager to study the topic of human consciousness. We will get there in a few weeks, and I don't blame them for their enthusiasm. It's hard to imagine a more fascinating subject. If you are looking for some outside reading consciousness that will bend your mind to some degree, I'd recommend this book.

Alva Noe's basic thesis in Out of Our Heads: Why You Are Not Your Brain, and Other Lessons from the Biology of Consciousness is that neuroscientists hoping to uncover the "seat" of consciousness in the brain via fMRI's and similar techniques are bound to be disappointed.

Noe presents - with convincing support - the idea that consciousnes is a process created by our experiences with the world, including the reactions of our sensory systems. In essence, the disembodied brain would be unable to have a "conscious" experience because consciousness is tied up in all of the other things that make us human.

I appreciate the argument, and it is interesting to consider. But I did find myself feeling a little defensive about how easily Noe dismissed the work of neuroscientists and neuroimaging. Certainly, consciousness might be a more slippery concept than we first imagine. But that doesn't mean that neuroimaging studies of the brain are unimportant to our understanding of human consciousness, and sometimes I felt Noe was moving toward that idea.

View all my reviews

Monday, November 22, 2010

Notes - For Class 11/22/10

Here's the link for Notes...for today. My 6th and 7th hour classes will not be graced with the honor of my presence today, since I have to attend a committee meeting.

But that shouldn't mean that they have to miss out on the exciting information we were going to discuss! Click on the link and opening the file should get you a powerpoint slide show with narration. It runs on its own...just sit back and enjoy.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

2010 Visual Illusion Contest

By request from my students, here is the link to the Neural Correlate Society's Visual Illusion of the Year contest.

We looked at some of the 2010 finalists and winners in class, but from the site you can view finalists from previous years as well. Definitely worth a look.
For example, the image below is one of the finalist entries. By looking the dot in the colored image for about a minute, and then shifting your gaze to the dot in the white grid, you can create two different perceptions of after-images. For the full story, see the original entry.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Selective Attention Video Demos

Today in class I introduced the issue of Selective Attention - the notion that we can only attend to a limited amount of all the sensory information we are presented with, and thus sometimes fail to "see" even the most obvious stimuli. There are a number of great video demos of this, but here are my favorites.

The Office - Opening scenes from this season's "Costume Contest" Episode (entire video embedded below...all you really need is the first few minutes, though the rest is funny, too)

"Whodunnit?" from the UK's "Watch for Cyclists" ad campaign

"Do the Test" - Count the passes by the number of players in white jerseys and test your perceptual skills

The Monkey Business Illusion - Even works for those who have seen illusions like this before! A finalist for 2010 Illusion of the Year!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

More Fun with Vision

Thank you to one of my students, Adam S., for alerting me to this video by the Blue Man Group. The title - Rods and Cones - is a big hint as to what sensory process the song is dedicated to.

Also, by request, here is the link to the Rotating Spiral Illusion, which is great fun due to its ability to generate a strong motion after-image.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Some Links from Class - Sensation & Perception

Today in class I shared a few links to sites that demonstrate principles of sensation and/or perception.

The Rotating Cat Illusion was a popular one. The cat appears to rotate one direction initially, but if you stare at it long enough it will seem to reverse directions. Different people have different initial perceptions of it (some see it rotating right, others left). This is a great illustration of how the exact same sensory stimulus can elicit different perceptions from people. A related illusion that you might be familiar with is the Spinning Silouette illusion, which is often INCORRECTLY described as a left/right brain personality test.

Note: if you are accessing this from school, the district's filters might block the cat website. Try Googling "spinning cat illusion" and maybe a site that you can access will be available.

For those of you interested in the backmasking and reverse speech sites, here are the links:

Monday, November 1, 2010

Butter Braid Sale Kick-off!

Wow. What an attractive-looking bunch! You really can't go wrong with a Piaget shirt. :)

Today's Psych Club meeting kicked-off our fundraiser for the May 17th Next to Normal trip.

If you missed the meeting, you also missed out on some samples of the delicious Butter Braids we are selling to earn some cha-ching for the trip. But here's the pertinent info if you still need it:

Sale ends December 3rd (our next Psych Club meeting) and completed order forms & money are due that day. The product, which is delivered FROZEN, will arrive after school in the cafeteria on December 17th. Make sure that you (or a confederate) are available to pick up your stuff and deliver it that day, since Mrs. Welle does not have that much freezer space and cannot store your stuff indefinitely.

You make $4.50 per item you sell, and anyone hoping to write out a check can make it payable to Chi-Hi when they place their order. If you sell enough, you'll be able to score a rockin' seat at the Next to Normal performance, so good luck!

Monday, October 25, 2010

T-Shirts Have Arrived!

Just in time for our Developmental Psych Unit!

Our 2010-11 Psych Club shirts arrived this afternoon, so you may pick them up at your leisure. These shirts will be excellent attire for tomorrow's viewing of the Piaget video we're watching in class.

Also, we have a Psych Club meeting coming up next week on Monday, November 1, during Lunch B. This would be another great time to sport your Piaget-wear, though the main purpose of the meeting is to distribute fundraising materials for the Butter Braid sale we will be doing to raise money for the Next to Normal trip on May 17th.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Final T-Shirt Order

I'm submitting the order for Psych Club T-shirts today.

Please double check the final list to make sure your indicated size is correct. I may be able to make changes to the order as late as Monday (10/18/10), but after that, we're locked in!

If for some reason you do not see your name on the list, but you believe you did pay for a T-shirt, please let me know immediately.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Darwin Awards

Today in class I mentioned the Darwin Awards website as an example of stories and sites that poke fun at the idea of applying evolutionary theory to human behavior.

Feel free to check out the website, though use some caution in clicking on the links and stories. Though none seem to be too flagrantly inappropriate, people on the site have been recognized for killing themselves in profoundly stupid ways, which sometimes involved bad decisions about drug use or reproductive choices, so use the title of each story as a guide before exploring further. Of course, they are meant to be humorous, though sometimes its very morbid or crude humor.
The Darwin awards have been compiled into a very popular series of books and even a major motion picture, though I have seen the film and did not find it particularly entertaining. The idea of stupid deaths gets worn out pretty quickly, and that one is quite obviously not appropriate for an academic setting.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Dyslexia Info

Today's class discussion and lecture, which featured information about how the brain processes language, sparked many questions about reading and language difficulties, particularly dyslexia.

For those interested in additional information about dyslexia research, the APA website has a number of links to information about the disorder.

For example, this article by Beth Azar describes two areas of difficulty that seem to accompany dyslexia: deficits in phoneme awareness (an inability to distinguish between different basic sounds in language) and slowed processing speed, which may be a more general problem for some (i.e. not limited to just language tasks).

Interestingly, researchers have developed ways for children to overcome some of these processing difficulties using video games. The games systematically train children to distinguish between similar sounding phonemes (e.g. "ba" and "pa"), a task essential for learning reading and writing. This may offer an alternative to costly and time-consuming speech therapy that was previously the popular treatment choice. fMRI scans have revealed changes in brain function following these video treatments.

The International Dyslexia Association (IDA) may also be a good source of information for those with further questions.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Prefrontal Cortex news...

This recent post on the nature of the prefrontal cortex from Neuroskeptic is worth a read. It reviews a current article which argues that the prefrontal cortex operates in a holistic manner (e.g. all together) rather than as distinct, independently functioning parts. I'm simplifying things a bit here, so check out the post and the original article for a more thorough version.

The post also includes a snippet reference to phrenology, so, bonus.

This is a great reminder of the complexity of the cortex in general and the importance of those "association areas" your textbook describes.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Psych Club Shirt Money Due Friday

Greetings, all! If you are one of the many Psych Club members who ordered this year's club T-shirt - featuring the one and only Jean Piaget - this is just a friendly reminder that your $15 is due on Friday.

I hope to place the order before the weekend so we can get the shirts in a couple of weeks, so don't delay!

Also, as you are likely aware, our next Psych Club meeting is this Friday. We have a number of items on the agenda, including:
  • getting in place some fundraising plans for Next to Normal
  • possibly setting a date for our first Movie Night of the year (needs to happen soon...)
  • eating the Brain Food creations brought by our members

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Mouse Party Assignment

See how various drugs disrupt activity at the synaptic level. Use the Mouse Party interactive to complete your worksheet.

With funky music and cutesy intoxicated mice, this is a pretty fun way to learn about the neurotransmitters involved in psychoactive drugs.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Brain Food: Extra Credit Opportunity

Friday, October 1 will be our next Psych Club Meeting, and given our current studies in Neuroscience, it will focus on fun with the brain.

We will be having a “Brain Food” competition. In order to participate (and earn some extra credit it AP Psych), you should bring some edible treat that features labeled parts of the brain or the nervous system.

The Rules:

1. Your entry must depict the brain or nervous system, or some component part of either (e.g. a neuron).

2. It must have labels for the component parts. This is educational food, after all.

3. Your name should be marked somewhere on or near your entry, so we know who gets credit.

4. Although items will not be judged on taste, it should be something edible; we will be eating all of the entries during Lunch B, so don’t get too attached to your brain. This also means hygiene/food safety is important. Wash your hands, all right?

5. You must have your entry here at the beginning of Lunch A so our guest judge can make his/her determination of winners, which will be announced during our meeting (Lunch B).

6. Although you can get reasonable assistance from family members, your creation must be your own. For example, you cannot have your mom or dad simply make your entire entry or do all of the decorating, but they can help you with the recipe. Likewise, you cannot order a pre-made treat from, say, a professional bakery.

7. This is a one-shot deal, so if you are sick or for some other reason unable to bring your treat on Friday, you’ll have to wait for the next extra credit opportunity. Sorry, but we don’t want your old cupcakes/dessert/jello/whatever three days later.

5 Points EC (in test category) for All Participants!
Though, Mrs. Welle reserves the right to adjust points (or not award them at all) if your entry seems to not reflect any effort/learning. Don’t bring us one crudely-constructed cupcake. That’s lame. Bring your A-game.

Need some ideas? Here are some links to inspire you, but be creative! With Halloween coming up, supplies are bound to be out there if you are motivated.

PsychSim: Neural Messages

Greeting, AP Psychology students! On Tuesday this week we will be making the trip across the hall to the computer lab to complete a PsychSim on Neural Messaging.

Click on the above link, then read through the module, using the "previous" and "next" buttons to navigate while finding answers to the questions on your accompanying worksheet.

You will get a printed copy in class, but if you lose the worksheet or were absent, here's link to another copy.

This will be due at the beginning of class on Wednesday, September 22.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Link for those who didn't get the handout...

To those unfortunate few who did not get the handout with tonight's practice question, I sincerely apologize. It turned out to be harder than I thought to get that file uploaded, because I apparently did not have it saved on my computer at school.

So, instead, I've emailed those people who did not get it with the link just now (at your ePals account). If you would prefer that I send it to another email address, just email me tonight and I'll send it there. I should be at my computer most of the night, as I'm working on a paper for one of my classes, so I should be able to respond quickly.

I appreciate your patience and, again, apologize for not having the correct number of copies. It's too bad I only discovered this right before the bell, otherwise I would have had more printed right away. :(

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Experimental Design

Tomorrow (9/13/10) in class you will get your Practice Experimental Design assignment. This will require you to work with a team (two other students) to put together an idea for a hypothetical psychological experiment.

Use the link provided to complete the form with the required information. Remember to do a "save as" and save the file to your computer before filling in your group's information, otherwise the changes you make will be on everyone's form!

Completed forms can be printed off and physically handed in, or emailed to Mrs. Welle. Please double check with me in class to make sure I received any emailed assignments, though, because the school's SPAM filter is very aggressive and may block you. The assignment is due Wednesday, 9/15/10.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Study Resources for AP Psychology

With the first quiz of the year behind us, it is about the time when many students begin to consider making changes to their study routines. If you feel your study habits need revitalization (or a serious kick in the pants), there are a number of resources available to give you some direction.

Free Resources

Your textbook has a companion website that offers chapter summaries, quizzes on anatomical diagrams (helpful for Chatper 2), and two online quizzes for each chapter. You may have to create an account (provide email address and a password) to access the site, but this is an easy step. This link is ALWAYS available in the links list on the left-hand side of the blog.

I have also (sometimes with the help of students) created online flashcard sets for your use. I am working toward having these available for every unit, but am not quite there yet. There is a set for research methods, and other sets are available on the links list (left-hand side).

I also have a number of flashcard sets (physical copies) available in my room for use during the school day, such as during a study hall or Lunch & Learn. However, I don't let students take these home at night because I've lost several sets that way...and I don't like losing money.

Resources for Purchase
  • Textbook companion Study Guide: it has TONS of study prompts, practice tests, reading questions, etc. to make sure you're understanding the reading in the book. I have provided a link to an online resource for purchasing used copies, which are available for super-cheap.

  • Barron's AP Psychology flashcards: I've had students who use these regularly to prepare for tests, and they also come in handy during AP exam time in the spring. The local Borders store has sometimes had copies of these on hand, so they might be a source if you don't like to order online. But call ahead because they usually only stock one or two copies...and there are probably 300-400 AP Psych students in the area who might beat you to it.
As always, if you feel like you are lost at sea, please come talk to me! I can help you sort out what is working for you and what is not, and hopefully I can suggest avenues that you haven't tried yet. There is no single magic formula for success in this class because everyone is different, so together we can find out what works for you.

That being said, if you are not willing or able to put time into your studies, there is nothing I can tell you and no resource I can recommend that will get you A's without effort. So please come ready to roll up your sleeves!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

New File-Sharing Web Tool

I've recently discovered a handy tool for easily working with files that I have to transfer between home and work. Since a number of my students today encountered frustration when attempting to send their files back and forth between home and school, I thought I might share this in the hopes that some of you will find it useful.

Dropbox is a free, web-based service for storing files and syncing them between different computers. You can install Dropbox on your home computer, and when you save files there (just like saving them in a folder in your regular documents files) they are automatically accessible anywhere you have web access. This is GREAT for those who use multiple computers, because you can install it on all your computers, and every time you save the file it updates the version online. No more worrying about making sure the latest version is the one you are dealing with! Yay!
Although students wouldn't be able to install this on the school's computer desktop, they can access a dropbox account via the web (with their user name and password), so it seems an elegant alternative to the sometimes cumbersome process of emailing files back and forth.
As a bonus, if you are working on a group project, Dropbox allows you to create public folders that you can share with friends. So members of your group/team could all access and work on the same file from different computers, at different times.

Look Who Made the APA Monitor!

No, not yours truly. But that was a good guess.

This month's Monitor on Psychology features an article by Elizabeth Scarborough about the contributions of Margaret Floy Washburn, entitled Understanding the Animal Mind. The article suggests that Washburn, who is most often remembered for her role as the first female to earn a PhD in psychology and for serving as the APA's second female president, also should be remembered for her outstanding contributions to comparative psychology and her position on the prospect of studying animal consciousness. Her argument that animal consciousness was a legitimate topic of study was particularly courageous in an era where behaviorism was becoming increasingly the status quo.

The article serves a great reminder of the important role of Washburn in shaping the early history of psychology.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Top 25 Assignment Links

On Friday during class you will be getting directions for your "Top 25 Assignment." You will be provided with a written copy of directions and pictures. You can choose to fill in the paper copy you are given, or you can utlize the Excel Spreadsheet for Top 25 Assignment, which allows for easier sorting of the information when you are done. Just be sure to print your final copy to bring to class on Thursday, Sept. 9.

Note: Be sure to do a "save as" to save the Excel spreadsheet to your own computer.

Use the links provided below (and/or your best Googling skills) to determine the most noteworthy contributions of the “Top 25 Psychologists." A sentence or two per psychologist is plenty. Then, assign each a rank according to YOUR VIEW of which was most important, second most, third most…and so on.

NOTE: I do not need a repeat of what OTHER scholars think is the appropriate ranking. I want to know what YOU think.

Be sure to complete YOUR OWN WORK; plagiarism will result in a score of zero.

Steer clear of Wikipedia, please (and similar publicly-edited pages). While it is good for some things, it's also not trusted by most in higher-level academics, so get used to it being off-limits.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Psych Club Meeting Sept. 3

Today the Lunch & Learn advisors met to hash out schedules for this year's activities. Psych Club's scheduled monthly meeting time will be the first Friday of each month.

This means our first meeting is one week from today! Friday, Sept. 3, during Lunch B, in room 136. Wheeeeee!

On the agenda:
  • Selecting a T-shirt design for this year and placing orders
  • Determining interest in a trip to the Twin Cities to see Next to Normal on May 17
  • Fundraising ideas for Next to Normal, if the club is interested

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Textbook Pick-up This Week - Get a Jump on AP Psychology Reading

An exciting year is ahead of us in AP Psychology! I am looking forward to meeting each one of my new students and beginning this exciting (if challenging) journey together.

In order to let you get a jump start on the reading for our first unit, I will be letting students pick up textbooks this week. I would strongly encourage you to take advantage of this opportunity, as there is a substantial amount of reading for this first unit (and the ones that follow, but I find students need some time to "ease in" to the reading load). Plus, I get to say hello to you before the school year starts!

Hours for Early Textbook Pick-Up

Monday 8/23 - 9AM - 3PM
Tuesday 8/24 - 9AM - 3 PM
Wednesday 8/25 - 1PM-4PM
Thursday 8/26 - 8AM-12PM
Friday 8/27 - 8AM-11 AM & 2PM-4PM

I should be in my room during most of the hours listed above. Keep in mind, official staff inservice/workdays begin on Wednesday, so there are fewer open hours thereafter. Also, there will likely be impromptu meetings and obligations that pop up during those days as well, so if I'm not in my room, I'm likely in the building somewhere (maybe the copy room?).

Once you pick up your textbook, you may want to begin reading the Prologue and Chapter 1 and taking notes in whatever format is comfortable and familiar to you. This is in preparation for a quiz on the reading that will take place the second week of classes (exact date TBD), on which you can use your notes.

One more thing you'll want to take care of before school starts is getting a 3-ring binder for this class (color doesn't matter, so make it as pretty as you like). Since this is a year-long class with a major cumulative test in May (the AP Exam!) you will need to keep all of your notes and handouts organized for the entire year. You will need them for studying in the spring. Ask any former AP Psych student, they will tell you how important this is!

Because it is so important, having that 3-ring binder will count for an assignment grade on Friday, September 3rd. So don't delay! Take advantage of the cheap prices on 3-ring binders because of all the back-to-school sales going on.

Okay, I hope this hasn't scared any of you away already. Don't be too nervous, we'll take this one step at a time. And AP Psych will be a fun and AMAZING experience for you. But it will take some hard work, so do yourself a favor and hit the ground running by getting a little ahead while you have the chance. Hope to see you soon!

How I Spent My Summer Vacation...

Okay, I'm back. I know it's been a long time since I've posted anything to the blog, but I was busy, okay?

Busy doing what? Well, this summer found me on the road (or, more accurately, on a plane) quite a bit in the pursuit of knowledge and fun. Dorky, I know, but if you know me by now you should expect as much. My AP Psych students will be the primary beneficiaries of my wanderings, as a couple trips were dedicated specifically to psychology excitement.

For one, I was able to attend the APA-sponsored Clark University workshop for psychology teachers in late July. Not only did I get to have my picture taken with their lovely Freud statue, but I met some other great psychology teachers, toured the campus (which has a rich history concerning psychology) and got some great ideas for classroom activities.

In early August I continued by psych-related travel when I attended my first (of three) residential colloquia for my masters program. I am currently working toward a masters degree in counseling psychology, but don't ask when I'll be finished because it seems very far away to me right now. This week-long course was focused on learning clinical interviewing skills. And it was held in Florida...but don't be decieved. I didn't spend much time outdoors.

I also was able to fit in a couple of non-psych related trips. My cousin was married in Jamaica in early June and we were able to go (and spend some time on the beach). I also accompanied the Social Studies Department's history travelers on an 11-day trip to Italy in June.

All in all, it was a very eventful summer and I'm looking forward to getting back into something of a normal "routine" with the school year starting. I'm also glad to not have to go through another airport for many months.

Though, I am currently taking two grad classes and they will not be over until Sept. 17th, so my stress levels will be a little higher than normal as the school year begins. I've got a LOT of writing to do for them yet...THEN things can get back to "normal".

If you're a new psych student, welcome aboard! We have an exciting year ahead. If you are a former student and moving on to bigger and better things this year, adios and good luck!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Links for John Nash & A Beautiful Mind Discussion

The case of Nobel Prize winner John Nash presents an interesting platform for exploring the nature of mental illness. Winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics in 1994 for his contribution to game theory, Nash had suffered from paranoid schizophrenia much of his life.

Nash's life was depicted in the 2001 film, A Beautiful Mind, which took considerable dramatic license with his story (although still a good film, in my opinion).

For a more realistic consideration of his illness, treatment, and remarkable recovery, check out the American Experience documentary, A Brilliant Madness. The companion site features bios, extended interviews, and a timeline of mental health treatment.

Monday, May 17, 2010

TV ALERT: The Wounded Platoon

If you're looking for some psych-related television tomorrow night, be sure to check out FRONTLINE's latest invesigation: The Wounded Platoon. Sounds like a great source of information on post-traumatic stress disorder and modern warfare's psychological casualties.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Another one...

Completed by our classmate Sally Mueller... the Sensation (Chapter 5) Quizlet!

See you Sunday at 6:00 PM for our review session! Featured topics include:

  • Neuroscience
  • Research Methods
  • "All that Math Stuff" (standard deviation, descriptive stats)
  • Learning (UCR, CR, etc.)

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Just Added: Research Methods Quizlet

Thanks to the efforts of classmate Allie Tanzer, we have a new quizlet for our reviewing needs! Allie put together a list of 34 terms from our Research Methods unit (Chapter 1).

Feel free to give it a run-through as you are brushing up on those Chapter 1 notes.

Here's the link: Research Methods Quizlet

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Famous Psychologists Quizlet

As the AP Psychology Exam approaches, you may want to avail yourself of some online resources for review.
I have several sets of online vocabulary flashcards available (linked on the left hand navigation bar). More to come, of course. They include options to create "tests" for yourself, play games, or just shuffle through the deck for familiarity.
I would highly recommend using the Famous Psychologists Quizlet to review all those fabulous people in psychology. My list was recently updated to include all the folks recommended by the College Board for the AP Psych curriculum, plus a few more.
There are 75 people in all, and knowing them will also help you review some of the biggest ideas in psychology. Happy reviewing!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010


Below is a chart I'm using to demonstrate thesis defense to my sophomores. It's an attempt at humor, so don't judge. I made it using Chartle.net. I'll take it down when I'm done, but I needed some place to post it where I wouldn't lose it.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Recent, Sad Example of Bystander Effect

I was alerted to this story by several psychology teachers via listserves yesterday. I'll admit, even though I'm well aware of the bystander effect and its potential dangers, I still find this story shocking.

An April 24 story in the New York post details the chilling failure of numerous pedestrians to come to the aid of a dying homeless man who had been stabbed when he had recently come to the aid of a female under attack by the stabber. Surveillance video revealed that more than 20 people walked past the dying man as he laid on the sidewalk.

Firefighters found the body of the man more than an hour later when responding to a different call for aid. Apparently, at no point did anyone summoned aid for the man, despite the fact that several passers-by closely examined him (one even took a cell phone photo of the victim).

The story is eerily reminiscent of the 1964 Kitty Genovese case: a murder that took place under the noses of 38 neighbors who heard Ms. Genovese scream and plead for her life, but failed to call the police until after the killer had returned to the scene a third time and fatally stabbed his victim, 25 minutes after the initial attack.

Below is some of the surveillance video. Be aware, you may find it disturbing. I did.

View more news videos at: http://www.nbcnewyork.com/video.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Mistakes Were Made...But Not By Me: Cognitive Dissonance Resources

In my psychology classes today, we will be discussing the concept of cognitive dissonance. The idea - that holding two contradictory beliefs is uncomfortable and that we will change an attitude or behavior to remove the "dissonance" - is behind much of the self-justification we do when we make mistakes.
Many of the most famous studies in Social Psychology involve cognitive dissonance: the Standford Prison Experiment, the Asch conformity study, and Milgrim's obedience study, to name a few.

But public life is also riddled with examples of politicians, celebreties, and plain folks like ourselves engaging in this self-justification, sometimes with dire consequences. My favorite book on the subject, by authors Elliot Aronson and Carol Tarvis, is called Mistakes Were Made, But Not By Me (2007). It illuminates the prevalence of this behavior using examples from recent events.
Another great resource for those interested in all aspects of social psychology is the Social Psychology Network. It has TONS (over 17,000!) links to all types of information and organizations related to social psych. Happy surfing!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Vocab Review: Psych Disorders & Treatment

If you're looking for a quick study aid for this unit's test, try this: Pysch Disorders and Treatment Quizlet.

Quizlet is an online review site that allows you to create vocabulary lists and use them to generate flashcards, play matching games, and generally familiarize yourself with the terms. I've uploaded terms for this particular unit because so many students struggle with all the new vocab.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

CATCH-IT and MoodGYM: Online Therapy?

One approach to providing mental health treatment that has emerged in the past few years is the use of online workbooks or exercises to supplement counseling or therapy. The idea is not to replace face-to-face therapy, but to provide assistance to those who cannot seek regular mental health care (for example, those in remote rural areas).

Two projects worth investigating are CATCH-IT, for adolescents, and MoodGYM, for adults. MoodGYM is designed to replicate Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) and been shown to be effective in randomized, controlled trials. Both models provide visitors with assessment tools and exercises aimed at reducing current and future symptoms of depression.

You have to set up user accounts to use the sites, but it is possible to do so quickly and with the intention of exploring the site. Of course, you can use it to attempt to improve your own mental health, but keep in mind the sites are not intended to replace normal mental health care.

AP Exam Review Sessions Scheduled

Students, it's time to get serious about that AP Exam review stuff. With only a couple weeks remaining in April, it's hard to figure out what happened to our school year! Time flies when you're having fun, right?

Anyhow, I've penciled in on my calendar some evening review sessions in the days leading up to the AP Exam. These will be in addition to review that happens in class. You are encouraged to come for either or both, depending on your schedule and your preferred method of study. On each night, I will stay as long as students wish to, within reason of course. I will be available as a resource for whatever type of reviewing you want to do: structured, teacher-led, student-led, partner, flashcards, whatever.

Here are the dates:

Sunday, May 9th - 6:00 PM
Monday, May 10th - 6:00 PM

Both evening review sessions will be held in my classroom (136).

Friday, April 16, 2010

Shopping Psychology

I'll credit my colleague, our high school Marketing teacher Mr. Jon Sylte, for alerting me to this
intriguing title. It has wiggled its way to the top of my "To-read" list. (Okay, it's actually right behind some books I have to read for a grad class, but you know what I mean).
In Priceless: the Myth of Fair Value, author William Poundstone explains all the fascinating (and seemingly manipulative) tricks used by companies to get us to accept a particular price for an item. Much of it smacks of the content of a psychology course on problem solving or cognitive obstacles.
In the video below, Poundstone explains how restaurants manipulate their menus to encourage us to buy certain items (at prices the owners want us to pay). One neat trick: use the "anchoring heuristic". Lots of examples of framing as well.

Eliza: The Computer Therapist

Can't afford a real therapist? Don't have the time? Try Eliza, a computer program designed to simulate the active listening of a client-centered therapist.

While I encourage you to check it out for fun, keep in mind my recommendation is a little tongue-in-cheek. Eliza is not meant to replace real psychotherapy, so if you feel you are in need of such services, please, seek out a human counselor or psychologist.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Psych Disorders Assignment Links

By now, we've discussed in class three major categories of disorder: Anxiety Disorders, Mood Disorders, and Schizophrenia. The worksheet you were given yesterday requires you to explore four additional categories of disorder. See below for links to each one:

There are some major proposed changes ("reformulations") to the category of personality disorders in the DSM-5. Particularly, using trait severity ratings and increased emphasis on the person's level of functioning/social impairment in diagnosis.

Also, within the dissociative disorders, "Dissociative Fugue" may be eliminated and simply understood as a type of Dissociative Amnesia (see details).

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Mandatory AP Preadministration - April 20

During 2nd hour on Tuesday, April 20th, all students registered to take any Advanced Placement exam at Chi-Hi will be called to the cafeteria for "Preadministration" of exam materials. This means you will be filling out all of those tedious identification documents that we, in previous years, had you complete the day of the test. You will also receive all of your registration information about testing week (it will not be mailed to you, as in previous years).

This is a new procedure as of this year, since our building has so many students taking exams, and many of them taking multiple exams. Why the change?
  • You'll be "fresh" for your test. It takes almost an hour to fill out all of those boring (but required) forms. Doing it ahead of time means you won't have to endure it while you are anxious to begin your very important test!
  • It eliminates wasted time. You only have to fill out ONE set of these for ALL your AP tests. Previously, students who were taking their second (or third) AP exam had to sit for an hour with nothing to do while their peers taking a first exam completed this paperwork.
  • It helps ensure all exams run (and finish) on time. We had been having problems with exams running "over" their allotted times, pushing back the next test to be administered and inconveniencing those who had to be done on time for athletics or other obligations. This will hopefully eliminate the problem.

IT IS EXTREMELY IMPORTANT THAT YOU ATTEND THE PREADMINISTRATION SESSION. If even ONE person misses, the entire group of students taking that test will have to wait for him/her to fill out this paperwork on exam day. Don't inconvenience your peers by failing to show up!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Anxiety Disorders Assignment

Tomorrow in class you will be working on creating a "Handy" Guide to five anxiety disorders. Thus, it is to your advantage to bring some colored pencils, if you want them.

Here are the directions for that assignment, by the way. But you'll get a copy in class, too.

Also here's a good web resource for identifying the diagnostic criteria if you don't have a copy of the DSM-IV-TR laying around: Cleveland Medical Clinic's web guide.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Freud & Dr. Seuss

One of my favorite parts of teaching the psychoanalytic perspective is all the "inside" psychology jokes that students are able to get once they've been introduced to that cigar-smoking, Austrian psychiatrist. Freudian humor (school-appropriate, of course) ALONE is a good reason to take a psychology course, in my opinion.

Here are some great links for those who enjoy Freud and need a good laugh:

A Freudian analysis of Dr. Seuss's The Cat in the Hat.

Or, on a similar vein, Green Eggs & Ham.

For the bold: a Freudian analysis of the 90s-era MTV show Beavis and Butthead.

Given his belief that jokes were related to the unconscious, I'm sure Freud himself would approve.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Book Review: My Lobotomy by Howard Dully

My Lobotomy My Lobotomy by Howard Dully

Whoa. This is an AMAZING story. The author, Howard Dully, underwent a lobotomy at the age of 12. The predictable part: his life was pretty terrible for many years thereafter. The surprising parts: apparently the operation was at the behest of his stepmother, who urged it basically because she didn't like him and wanted him to disappear AND he managed to survive the ordeal (albeit damaged) to eventually lead a semi-normal life. In fact, the plasticity of his brain at 12 was likely what saved him from becoming an institutionalized zombie. He was one of the youngest lobotomy patients every worked on by the "lobomist" Dr. Walter Freeman.

The most striking thing about this story, to me, is that despite the obvious risk and consequence associated with the lobotomy, the worst damage done to Dully seems to have been a result of the broken relationship with his family. Due to his youth, his brain recovered. However, even in his late fifties as he uncovered the details of the story, he continued to question whether he was loved because of the remarkable dysfunction of his family. Yet he does not come off as a "victim" as you might expect. He seems a surprisingly resilient man.

I suppose he had to be.

Dr. Freud

Whether you find his ideas intriguing or repulsive, it is impossible to deny that Sigmund Freud had an incredible impact on the early years of psychology. If you're looking for more information on this controversial figure, there is no shortage of documentation on his life. In addition to the A & E Biography production we watched in class, these websites provide a wealth of information.

PBS special: The Young Dr. Freud companion site.
The Freud Museum in London.
The Freud Museum in Vienna, Austria.

Below, another historical video about the man, the myth & the legend, Dr. Freud.

Lunch Friends Extra Credit

This year in AP Psych we have learned a lot about individual differences, learning and the benefits of social interaction. If you'd like an opportunity to put that knowledge into practice AND earn some extra points in AP Psych, here's an opportunity for you.

Ms. Schmidt, one of our special education teachers, would love for you to come to her room (#128) during Lunch & Learn to visit with her students, who have various cognitive disabilities. They like to play games, talk, and when the weather is nice they do activities outside.

Read and print this form for more details on how you can help out, make some new friends, and earn some credit in AP Psych all at once. You can only earn these points once, but I hope even after you've earned the credit you will continue to stop in and visit your friends in rm 128.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

AP Exam Registration Due March 19th!

Chi-Hi Students, don't forget that AP Exam Registration forms and payments are due Friday, March 19th! You can pick up the form in Student Services (you only need one form for all the AP Exams you plan to take).

Don't let forgetfulness or disorganization be the reason you miss taking the AP Exam! Get it in today!

If you have questions about whether or not you should take the test, I'm always available to assist. However, my general approach is that everyone in an AP class should take the exam. You're already preparing for it...why not give it a shot? But of course, everyone has different circumstances, so if you want some help thinking it over, stop on by.

Practice AP Exam Scheduled for March 28

Looking for some extra credit AND a way to prepare for the AP Exam? Mark your calendars...

I will be administering a full-length practice AP Exam for any students who wish to take it on Sunday, March 28 at 5:00 PM. The whole process will probably take about 3 hours, since we will do 100 MC questions and 2 Free-Responses AND score it to see how you did.

We'll have a short break time for snacks after the test-taking part, so feel free to bring some munchies (for yourself or to share) for the scoring portion, if you like.

Students who complete the whole process will get 5 points EC on their test score category for 3rd quarter. Sorry, no alternate or make-up dates since this takes me so long to do (and because I can't release the test materials to you outside of class).

Friday, February 19, 2010

Psych Club Meeting - 2/19/10

Today's Psych Club meeting will feature a couple important business items:
  • Publicizing March's guest speaker event
  • Constructing materials for the bulletin board and
  • Taking an EQ test!

Since the test we are taking will be online, we will meet in rm 135 (across the hall from my classroom).

Here's the link to our EQ test.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Just Kidding! Movie Night TONIGHT!!!

Okay, I apologize for the confusion and rescheduling, but Psych Club movie night will be happening TONIGHT. I discussed this with all of my classes yesterday, but figured I'd post a reminder here as well.

We will be watching CAST AWAY, a great movie for analyzing human motivation. Especially Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. :)

Starts at 7:00 PM. The only conflict we should have to contend with is SWAT team excercises also happening in the building. So don't be alarmed by the armed gunmen.

Friday, February 12, 2010

BPS RESEARCH DIGEST: Evidence-based tips for Valentine's

If you're looking for help from psychology in that search for that special sweetie this Valentine's Day, check out this post from the British Psychological Society's blog:

BPS RESEARCH DIGEST: Evidence-based tips for Valentine's

As with any practical application of psychological research, use at your own risk.

Happy Valentine's Day, everyone.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Movie Night...Postponed to 2/18/10

I am bummed to report that I'm postponing Movie Night until NEXT week Thursday.

I apologize for the inconvenience, but I seem to be running into obstacles at every turn with scheduling for tomorrow night. Not only have I had trouble finding the movie I want, but I'm up to my ears in grading/make-up work from being gone on Tuesday.

For my AP students, this will be a good capstone to our unit on Motivation...as you will have taken the test for this unit on that day anyhow.

New York Times Article - DSM V

Thanks to Kent Korek at the Teaching High School Psychology Blog for alerting us to this New York Times article on the upcoming revision of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

Just last week I was discussing with students the excitement surrounding the newest version of this publication, as it could significantly alter how we talk about particular disorders (as well as define new ones and eliminate old). Interestingly, this article is the first one I've encountered that discusses the possibility of changing the language describing "mental retardation" (the term that spurred our in-class discussion of it to begin with), a change the some feel is overdue.

For more information on the revision process, including proposed revisions, click here.

U of M Semistarvation Study

During World War II, Ancel Keys and his colleagues at the University of Minnesota conducted a landmark study in human nutrition and hunger: the Human Starvation Study.

Keys sought to answer questions that were being raised by the horrible conditions brought about by the war in Europe: the effects of extremely low-calorie diets and cold, for example. The experiences of the participants in the semi-starvation conditions brought to light the psychological effects of hunger, particularly an inability to focus on anything other than food (including sexual relationships and intellectual persuits). His work is usually discussed in relation to Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs because the subjects behavior seems to support the idea of the primacy of physiological needs.

Another fun fact: the "K-ration" developed for the US Army is referred to as such because of Keys' role in creating it (K for Keys).

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

We're Famous!

Most of my students already have celebrity status when walking the streets of Chippewa Falls. They're just that awesome. But the newspapers seldom pay attention to my own toils.

Here's an article about the AP program at Chi-Hi that features a number of our AP teachers and students. Well done, everyone!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

And the Winner is...

Emily S.! (And no...that's NOT her picture)

Emily was the lucky participant whose name was drawn to win the fabulous Therapist in a Box prize from last evening's AP Night festivities. Like many others attending, she participated in our mini-research project on facial recognition.

All participants were shown the image at right. They were asked to determine which of the two images on the left best resembled him.
Two-thirds of participants chose the lower image (labeled "B" on the wall chart used), while only one-third selected the top image. Neither answer is more "correct" because each is simply a composite image created by "mirroring" one half of the face in the original photograph. So why did people prefer the "mirrored" left side to the right?
Here's the presumed explanation: The right half of the brain is responsible for interpreting information from our left visual field (i.e. the left side of the man's face). It is also more frequently used for facial recognition and emotional interpretation. When you look at the two possible choices, the part of your brain that is most adept at recognizing faces detects a match in the lower photograph: "here's that same left side"! It does not see a "match" in the upper photo because your right brain was not studying that part of the original photo (that was your analytical left brain).
Of course, we can all "see" that the images are equally representative of the man. But thanks to your wonderful brain...it's not necessarily what we perceive.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Descriptive Statistics PsychSim

For those looking for the link to the PsychSim module on Descriptive Statistics, here you go: PsychSim 5. Click on "Descriptive Statistics" to launch the module.

Also, if you are looking for Standard Deviation calculators online (because you have a bunch of data laying around that needs analyzing), there are plenty available. Calculating standard deviation is one of those mathematical tasks that proves calculators are your friends, of course.

You can just do a Google Search for "Standard Deviation Calculator" but my favorite is Statiscope because you can watch the distribution graph change as each score is added.

Confused about the Brain?

Thanks to Mind Hacks for alerting me to this video clip, featuring John Cleese (of Monty Python fame) explaining the anatomy of the brain. Maybe some of my students can relate to the experience after sitting through my discussion of neuroanatomy.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

One Proud AP Psychology Teacher

Although my eyeballs are burning from the huge amount of grading I've finished over the past week, I am very pleased with how finals week turned out for my AP Psych classes.

We had great turnouts for both evening review sessions, and I saw considerable progress toward that "team" feeling that is necessary as we support each other to meet our common goal: kicking the AP Psych exam's butt! (assuming it has a posterior) In particular, I know many of us put in lots of hours getting ready for that final and it paid off...bigtime.

Scores on this year's final exams were very impressive, and that speaks to all the hard work you have engaged in to date. We'll go over the exam in class tomorrow so we can see where we will need to go from here. Even if your score is not what you were personally shooting for, I think everyone has some accomplishments to be proud of this semester. And we're on the right track. As long as we continue to work at this level (and not fall victims to senioritis), I think we'll all be ready come May.

Keep on keepin' on! I'll see you all in class tomorrow.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

AP Info Night Approacheth!

Mark your calendars! Our first-annual AP Info Night is scheduled for Monday, February 1st at 7:00 PM. For all of my current AP students, this will be a chance for you to learn about testing scheduling and procedures for the spring AND to register and pay for your AP exams.

For students returning next year (i.e. juniors and younger), you can also learn about what other AP classes are offered at Chi-Hi and meet with teachers to determine if any of them are right for you.

I will probably be looking for assistants for various duties during that evening, so at our next Psych Club meeting (Friday, Jan 29) I will be doing a bit of recruiting. Also, if you are attending be sure to wear your Psych Club attire & REPRESENT!

If none of the above reasons is enticement enough, consider the fact that yours truly will be there to extoll the virtues of AP...and who would want to miss that?

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Upcoming Exam Review Sessions

With finals quickly approaching, it's time to get together to review all the fabulous wisdom that has been imparted to you over the past semester. There are TWO dates I will be offering evening review sessions for interested students:

  • This Sunday, January 17th at 5:00 PM (in my classroom) and
  • Tuesday, January 19th at 5:00 PM (though, we can talk about adjusting the start time for that one, depending on who will be coming).

On Sunday, we will be doing a general review of all topics by dividing into teams and summarizing particular textbook chapters.

On Tuesday, I'm leaving the schedule open to whatever attendees want/need. We can review specific topics or just meet to help each other go over flashcards. Whatever you feel you need at this point is what we will do.

Chat with A.L.I.C.E.

A couple of days ago, our classes chatted online with A.L.I.C.E. (Artificial Linguistic Internet Computer Entity), a "chatbot" the simulates chatting with another person. Several students have requested the link to try out on their own, so here it is! You can also read up on the history of A.L.I.C.E., as well as find general info about machines and their "thinking" capacities.

Remember, it may seem as though you're talking to a person, but "A.L.I.C.E." is really a machine! And...she's learning from your conversation, so don't be mean and try to confuse her.

And, for (albeit confusing) entertainment: A.L.I.C.E. and Fake Captain Kirk (two chatbots) attempting to have a conversation.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Functional Fixedness & MacGyver

Today in AP Psych, we practiced overcoming functional fixedness...by using a seemingly random assortment of classroom/household supplies to build (or attempt to build) record players. In doing so, I urged students to "be MacGyver."

MacGyver was, of course, the beloved titled character in the popular 1980s television show: a guy who was constantly getting himself into dangerous situations and then emerging victorious by utilizing random things in the surrounding environment. For example, he could diffuse bombs and pick locks with paper clips and chewing gum wrappers. Here's the original show intro for those who are interested.

MacGyver has been spoofed many times over for the predictable (yet unbelievable) plot lines and antics in the show. Below are some great examples.

My recent favorites have been SNL skits featuring Will Forte as "MacGruber", a similar but less successful and more distracted version of MacGyver.