Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Learning & Memory Quizlets

Each of the two topics for this unit - Learning and Memory - have their own Quizlet flashcard sets. I've embedded them below, but you are also welcome to visit each set page and print off your own flashcards. Good luck with your studies!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Guest Speaker on Hypnosis

Timed perfectly to match our in-class discussions of the phenomenon of hypnosis next week, Psychology Club is pleased to welcome Richard Marano, hypnotherapist, to Chi-Hi.

Mr. Marano, who operates the Hypnosis Center of Eau Claire, will be giving a presentation from 5-7 PM in our high school library on Tuesday, December 20th.

Following a talk about the phenomenon of hypnosis and how it is used in psychotherapy, Mr. Marano will lead any interested attendees in exercises that will allow them to experience hypnosis themselves.
These guided imagery exercises are completely voluntary and harmless, and often experienced as very relaxing.

Students interested in participating in the exercises are urged to avoid caffeine and any other stimulating agents in the afternoon prior to the presentation, as these things can interfere with one's ability to focus and relax, which is necessary for hypnosis.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Psychology Essay Contest Announced

Each year, the APA Teachers of Psychology in Secondary Schools (TOPSS) sponsors an essay competition for high school students. This year's topic concerns natural disasters and offers students the chance to apply their knowledge of psychology to real life situations.

Directions and application instructions can be found here.

The winner will receive a $250 award. Deadline is March 5, 2012.

I can help you think through and review your submission if you like.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Memory Exploration

Here's the link to the Memory Test created by the University of Edinburgh. Click where it says "Click here to start" to begin the exercise. It will take you about 20 minutes, and you will do the best if you are not disturbed or distracted during completion.

You will not be diagnosed with a "good" or "bad" memory on the basis of your results, though you will be provided with an explanation of some known phenomena about memory.

If nothing else, it's a fun challenge and a great illustration of some of the ways that memory is assessed.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Punishment & Operant Conditioning

As we discussed in class today, punishment can be used to influence behavior in subjects, but it does come with some major downsides. Punishment doesn't actually teach a desired behavior, it just discourages bad behavior. Physical punishments that parents use can sometimes teach unintended lessons: hitting solves problems, parents are to be feared, etc.

However, we have all seen and perhaps experienced robust examples of how punishments can effectively discourage unwanted behaviors. My recent most favorite example of people creatively employing punishment to deter a behavior comes from Vilnius, Lithuania. The Mayor of that city, fed up with people parking their expensive cars in no parking zones, launched this video (which appears to be more of a public service announcement than an organized enforcement campaign) of himself running over expensive, but illegally parked cars with a tank.

Why were expensive cars the problem? Presumably inexpensive cars parked illegally would create as big of a problem for the city, but there seems to be some assumptions being made about the motivations of the owners of the fancy cars: the Mayor notes wanting to send a message to drivers who "think they are above the law." Perhaps, also, it is more fun to run over expensive cars?

The mayor was honored with an Ig Nobel prize (the humorous counterpart to the Nobel prize)at this year's ceremony at Harvard University.

My favorite quote from the video: in answer to the question of what the city should do about the problem, Mayor Zuokas says, "It seems that a tank is the best solution."

Monday, November 7, 2011

Thresholds & Subliminal Sensation

Today in class we explored absolute and difference thresholds, particularly as they relate to "subliminal sensation." I usually have quite a few students interested in exploring these things on their own, so to that end here are the links to the musical backmasking site we looked at in class and another that examines "reverse speech" in recorded speech. As you probably can guess, based on the psychological research about subliminal messaging, I don't give a whole lot of weight to the claims made by some of the authors of these sites, but you should feel free to explore them on your own in light of the research we discussed in class.

And for fun...this video clip from the popular Monty Python series pokes fun at the inconvenience of working with people who have varying absolute thresholds for hearing. Thanks, Nathan S., for passing this on.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Developmental Psych Quizlet

For your reviewing pleasure, the Developmental Psych Quizlet! (Note: this is always available under the "study resources" section of this page.)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Nature & Nurture Quizlet

Those of you studying from home tonight might find the Nature and Nurture Quizlet vocab review helpful. Also don't forget to check out the Unit Objectives for Chapter 3 for a handy checklist of stuff you should be prepared to know and do for tomorrow's test.

Good luck with your studying!

Friday, October 7, 2011

We're Famous!

One of our AP Psych students was recently featured by WQOW TV 18 News, and this means our 7th hour AP Psych class got to be on television! The story is about Alex, but the rest of us are happy to ride his coattails to fame.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Darwin Awards

For those who enjoy morbid humor, The Darwin Awards are an entertaining way to to explore applications of evolutionary psychology. The website (and resultant books) have become popular fare for morning radio DJs hoping to fill air time and similar "stupid news" outlets.

The site is a compilation of submitted news stories (look for those marked "confirmed true" as others that have turned out to be hoaxes are still listed) about people who have met their untimely deaths in creatively stupid ways. According to the byline for the site, "The Darwin Awards salute the improvement of the human genome by honoring those who accidentally remove themselves from it."

Admittedly, it is a bit crass to find humor in others' deaths, and use descretion when clicking around the site. I would also caution that the site authors, while attempting humor, are not always well-versed in evolutionary theory, nor are those who submit comments on particular articles. However, it should be commended for drawing our attention to ways in which natural selection in human beings continues, sometimes in surprising ways.

For a couple points extra credit for tomorrow's class, you may visit the site and find one (appropriate) Darwin Award to share. It's nice to start class with a little humor. :) But please, don't WIN any Darwin Awards! This is not an honor anyone wants to attain!

Friday, September 30, 2011

Brain Food Extra Credit

Mrs. Welle's Brain Cake - 2010
After completing the Orange Brain Surgery lab earlier this week, you have undoubtedly figured out that the best models of the brain are edible ones. So, our next Psych Club meeting will feature a celebration of delicious neuroanatomy through a "Brain Food" contest.
Current AP Psych students who participate will earn 5 points extra credit (computed in test category), as this will help them review important structures in the brain/nervous system.

The Rules:
  • Entries must be edible representations of the brain or portions of the nervous system (e.g. neuron, synapse, brain stem, etc).
  • Component parts must be accurately labeled.
  • Entries will be judged during LUNCH A, so they must be delivered to room 136 no later than 12:15. You have to set up/complete registration for your entry during lunch (or have a friend do so), so please don't just leave your creation in my room in the morning an assume it will get set out.
  • Winners will be announced and snacking will commence during our regular meeting time (Lunch B)!
Even if you do not wish to enter (and earn Extra Credit), you are welcome to join us for the meeting & eating. There is always plenty of food to go around.

Be sure to wear your new Psych Club t-shirt, too, since those will be distributed early next week!

If you are looking for inspiration and ideas, check out the AP Psychology facebook page for pictures of some of last year's entries and winners.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Neuroscience Quizlet

Per request, I'm posting the Quizlet flashcard review here for ease of access. Keep in mind, this link is permanently available on the Study Resources tab for this page if you need to access it later.

Test for this Unit will be TUESDAY, October 4th!

The Teenage Brain

Dr. Jay Giedd (U of M) studies teen brain development using MRI
Today in class we viewed a selected portion of a Frontline documentary entitled "Inside the Teenage Brain". The program provides an introduction to what recent advances in neuroscience have revealed about the biological causes behind well-documented differences between adult and teenage thinking.

As often happens when we view and discuss the program, I received a lot of requests to communicate this information to parents (e.g. "Could you please come talk to my dad about this?"). Since it seems a little presumptuous to phone my students' parents out-of-the-blue for a nice talk about neuroscience, I'll post the links here and let students start the conversations themselves. Students may want to watch the full version (we only watched a portion in class) and parents may find this extremely interesting as well.

The website to accompany the program also has numerous resources for the parents of teenagers, which some may find helpful.

Another helpful video resource can be found in another PBS series from a few years ago, "The Secret Life of the Brain." Episode Three is focused entirely on the unique developmental features of the teenage brain.

While this program is quite good, I would note that there are some remaining controversies about using the "underdeveloped prefrontal cortex" explanation to explain teen decision-making (this is one of the concepts presented in the Frontline video). These were highlighted in a recent article from National Geographic on the brains of teenagers.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Mouse Party Assignment

Poor, poor intoxicated mice.
Here it is! The link to the Mouse Party interactive! You should have received this worksheet, which you will use to record your answers. Remember, this assignment will require you to use what you learned in class today to determine whether a drug is an agonist or antagonist for a particular neurotransmitter. It will be due tomorrow (Sept. 23).

If you've got time after completing the Mouse Party assignment, you might want to check out some of the other cool interactives and games created for you by the Genetics Science Learning Center at the University of Utah. For example:
Learn...and have fun!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Neural Messages PsychSim

Today in class you will be utilizing an online module (PsychSim) on neural firing and communication. The format is pretty user-friendly. You simply read the prompts and navigate the module using the "next" and "previous" buttons. As you complete the module, you should also be filling out this accompanying worksheet. Not only will this earn you some points, as it is an assignment, but it will be handy later as a study tool for this portion of Unit 2. This will be due tomorrow (Sept. 22).

If you are REALLY a quick study, you might also want to work ahead on an out-of-class assignment you will be getting from me later this week. The assignment, which will be due Friday, requires you to utilize the Mouse Party interactive and this accompanying worksheet. Have fun!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

New Quizlet Flashcards Available!

For most subjects in AP Psych, I have created online flashcards sets through Quizlet for your reviewing pleasure! I recently updated and added new terms/people to the two sets for this unit: History & Approaches and Research Methods. If you access them using the links provided, you'll be able to play games and test yourself on major terms and people for this unit.

I am in the process of transferring all of my Quizlet links to the Study Resources page of this website. So, you should be able to access them there at any time. Please be patient with me as I make the switch with all of the vocab review links.

If you are in the mood for a very quick review, you can use the applets I've embedded in this post for simple flashcard review. Happy studying!

History & Approaches Set (Prologue):

Research Methods Set (Chapter 1):

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Practice with Correlation Coefficients

Today in class we practiced matching scatterplots with correlation coefficients using this online game. The applet generates random correlation coefficients and accompanying scatterplots and keeps track of your success in matching them.

Give it a try tonight if you're still feeling shaky about scatterplots and correlation coefficients. To give yourself even more practice, see if you can come up with an example of two variables that might be related in the manner described by the correlation coefficients generated for you.

Here's one last test. What does the scatterplot to the left suggest about the relationship between arm strength and grip strength?

Can you take a guess as to what correlation coefficient might describe the relationship depicted on the scatterplot?

(The answer? r =.686. Were you close?)

Thursday, September 8, 2011

The Scientific Attitude: A "Baloney Detection Kit"

For the next few days in class, we will become increasingly familiar with the research methods used by psychologists. Thus, we will be talking a great deal about the scientific approach to answering research questions (which differs considerably from political, religious, or other methods of asking and answering questions). This will involve understanding what is meant by the phrase "scientific theory" and beginning to think with the skepticism of a scientist when presented with claims about human abilities and behavior.

The video below features an excellent description of this scientific "attitude" from famed skeptic Michael Shermer. He describes science as a "Baloney Detection Kit," and describes some general rules for thinking scientifically.

Some things to watch for:

  • His descriptive of our tendency to see patterns, especially illusory correlations

  • His specific mention of confirmation bias as a source of error

  • In point #3: the need for replication of research results

  • In point #9: a description of the nature of scientific theories...and how they are different from what most of us casually refer to as "theories"

My personal favorite quote: "You want a mind open enough to accept radical new ideas, but not so open that your brains fall out."

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

First Psych Club Meeting Scheduled!

Psychology Club will be meeting FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 2nd during Lunch B in room 136 (Mrs. Welle's room)! This is quicker than I had anticipated, but advisors for Lunch & Learn clubs met to put together the master schedule today and this is what we got...

Which is okay, because it means we can get out T-shirts ordered right away. :)

From here on out, Psychology Club meetings will be held the first Friday of the month (also during Lunch B in rm 136).

I'll post the T-shirt design options soon, so stay tuned.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Blog Links Updated & Reorganized

In preparation for the 2011-2012 school year, I've updated a number of links on this site which you may find useful. If you are viewing this page on your internet browser, you should see beneath the title header several stationary links that you may consult throughout the year, including:

  • A stable link to the Course Syllabus, which contains a list of important dates for quizzes, study sessions, and tests.

  • Lesson Plans for the 2011-12 school year.

  • A list of Study Resources and links that will be updated continually throughout the school year.

  • A list of Objectives for each unit, which enumerate specifically what you are expected to know at the conclusion of each unit and in preparation for the AP exam.

These resources will ALWAYS be available for viewing on the blog, despite changes in the content of my posts, which often deal with current psych- or class-related news. Hope you find them useful, and I'll see you soon. :)

Monday, August 22, 2011

Your First Reading Assignment

As I write this, 16 AP Psych students have already picked up their textbooks and we are only an hour or so into textbook pick up! Yay!

As students discovered this morning, you will get a copy of your first reading assignment when you come in to pick up the book. In it, there are directions for how to tackle the your first section of reading: the Prologue & Chapter 1.

While you are free to use any method of note taking you choose as you read the textbook, I'd recommend exploring the Cornell method if you haven't already. It's a very effective system that has been shown to improve retention of material (when used for textbook reading or for class lecture notes).

Good luck, and welcome to AP Psych!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Getting Prepared for AP Psychology

We are now just a couple of weeks away from the start of the school year, and I hope you are all getting ready for a fantastic experience in AP Psychology! I know I am.

We will have many exciting adventures together in psych class starting September 1, but there are a few things students can take care of before classes begin in order to get off to a smooth start in AP Psychology. Students should:

1. Plan to stop by the classroom (Rm 136) and pick up your textbook next week during one of the times listed below. You will get directions on your first reading assignment (in preparation for your first quiz, which comes up quickly). Many students, whether they have taken an AP course before or not, need time to adjust to the pace and density of the reading load in AP Psych, so getting started before classes begin will help you ease into the process. AND…there might be treats (if I get my act together in time to make them).

Monday, August 22: 8AM – Noon & 1–3PM
Tuesday, August 23: 8AM – Noon & 1–3PM
Wednesday, August 24: 3-5 PM
Thursday, August 25: 8AM – Noon & 1–3PM

Please note that I will generally not be available to check out textbooks during the “Staff Work Days” August 29-31, as I will likely be in planning and training meetings much of those days, so don’t put this off assuming I will be around. If you absolutely cannot make it during any of the times listed above, email me at to set up a time so you don’t arrive to find a dark room & locked door.

2. As you complete your back-to-school shopping, be sure to obtain a 3-ring binder for use during this class. Because exams are cumulative and you will need to save most materials for studying for the AP exam in May, all former AP Psych students can attest to the necessity of the 3-ring binder! I’d recommend looking for one that is sturdy and at least 1½ -2 inches wide. (Three inches is excessive, though, and just weighs down your backpack.)You will likely fill it up by May, which is the point. This may seem obvious, but I’ll mention it anyway: you’ll also need a notebook or loose-leaf paper (your choice) to go in the binder. This is where you’ll keep your notes.

3. Visit the course - and sign up for email updates (via the box on the top left of the page), if desired. If you regularly access your email, this will be a great way to stay on top of what is happening in class, as you will receive email notifications each time the blog is updated with links, assignments, or class news. Many parents have found this a helpful resource in the past.

4. “Like” us on Facebook if you are a regular Facebook user. There is a “like” box on the course website, for your convenience. I post reminders about upcoming quizzes, deadlines, course links, and fun video links on this page. “Liking” it means those posts show up in your Newsfeed. However, I will not have access to your personal page (nor will you have access to mine) so we both preserve our privacy.*

5. Consider ordering the textbook companion study guide. I will be posting more information about this resource as I update the website for this year. This is an OPTIONAL study guide that helps students focus their text readings, so the school does not provide copies. You can purchase them for ULTRA CHEAP on used book sites like Many students have found these very helpful; others develop their own reading strategies and do just fine. I’ll be happy to answer questions about the study guide (and have copies for display) when you pick up your textbook. The reason I mention it now is that it generally takes a while to ship, and the wait can be frustrating if you’re counting on using it to prepare for an important test.

Welcome to AP Psychology! I’m sure reading through this has got you thinking about what this class will be like, so please, bring any questions you have when you come to pick up your book. I hope to meet each of you next week and am looking forward to it!

*FYI: Please don’t take it personally, but as a general rule I don’t accept personal friend requests on FB from current Chi-Hi students or parents. Once you graduate, if you want to stay in contact, you are more than welcome to send a request to Mrs. Welle. Before then, it’s probably best to maintain some teacher-student (or teacher-parent) boundaries.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

We Are Mobile!

Students beginning AP Psych this fall will have even more tech tools at their disposal.

For example, just this afternoon I updated the format for this blog (our course website) to be mobile-friendly. Thus, you should be able to view posts easily on any smart phone. Signing up for email updates from the blog with an email account linked to your phone will ensure you won't miss a thing in AP Psych.

As in the past, the course Facebook page will be utilized to issue reminders and share interesting links and videos. Click the "like" button in the left sidebar to get updates on your Facebook account.

I am also considering using text alerts to issue reminders about tests, quizzes and the like. Given the communication tools I already have in place, I don't know if I'll be able to keep up with a third avenue of information dispensation, but I'll be looking for student feedback on the issue soon, perhaps through a survey on this site.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Have a Great Summer!

It's been a great journey this year in AP Psych, mostly because of the quality of my travel companions. :) Have a great summer!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Outstanding AP Psych Students Recognized

As a member of TOPSS (Teachers of Psychology in Secondary Schools), I have the opportunity to recognize the achievement of two outstanding psychology students in the spring of each year. Since I have so many fantastic students, it is hard to identify winners, so I have to go by "the numbers," so to speak.

In reviewing student grades from both first and second semesters, I select the top male and top female performers. This year, as usual, this led me to two very deserving honorees, Dan Magyar and Joyce King.

Both have consistently earned top scores on examinations and course assignments, as well as demonstrating interest in psychology above and beyond what is expected to excel in the course. In addition to receiving certificates commemorating their efforts this year, their names have been submitted to the American Psychological Association (APA) for recognition in the organization's online listing of each year's recipients.

Congratulations Dan and Joyce!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Can't get enough of Jim Jones and his Creepiness?

This week in class we watched the WGBH American Experience film "Jonestown," which is the story of the People's Temple and its ultimate tragic end in 1978. The film is LITTERED with examples of basic principles of social psychology, and I think my students did a great job identifying them.

For those of you who can't get enough of the People's Temple, Jim Jones, or survivor stories, there are plenty of resources online for you to consult. A great place to start is the film's companion website. The teacher's resources section has links to several different websites that each examine the incident from a different angle, as well as a list of printed resources for futher study. There's also a photo gallery that includes many of the still images seen in the film.

I'd highly recommend the film, though it does involve some very "mature" and disturbing content. My students can attest to the fact that it is shocking and emotional, and extremely well done.

Monday, May 16, 2011

A Long Overdue Thanks

With my end-of-the-year grading slowing down for a moment (and sure to pick up again very soon), I'd be remiss if I didn't take a moment to thank some folks for various acts of kindness over the past few weeks.

First, a big thank you to Clarissa C.-P., whose generosity helped me fulfill a life-long dream: owning my own Sigmund Freud Action Figure! While shopping at the Mall of America, this thoughtful student stumbled upon the item and was kind enough to gift it to me. Not only did this make my day, but Action Figure Sigmund will retain a place of honor in my classroom for years to come. I may have to build a special shelf for it.

Secondly, I would like to thank the anonymous friend who left me a copy of Demitri Martin's This is a Book. You obviously know my taste very well. The note inside suggested this book would "put a smile on my face," and that was exactly what happened. I had time to read it while recovering from the oral surgery I was out for a few weeks ago, and I quickly learned that I had to be careful to control my laughter because I was at risk of ripping out my many stitches. :) It was laugh-out-loud hilarious and even contained a few pithy quotes that will be useful in teaching psychology. Definitely brightened my day.

Moreover, these acts of kindness have reiterated to me the greatness of the people I am priviledged to work with every day. 2011 has been rough for me (so far) in a number of ways, but I have been so pleasantly and gratefully surprised by the support and encouragement I have received from friends, colleagues, and students throughout the mess. It seems like every time I had a day where I felt hopeless or lost, someone was always there to pick me up.

I can't thank you enough for that.

Friday, May 13, 2011

And we're back!

Hooray for Blogger being up and running again! That makes finding THIS LINK TO YOUR RESEARCH PROJECT APPROVAL FORM so much easier.

Be sure to save a copy to GoogleDocs and share it with your team members so you can all work on the form simultaneously, if needed. The completed version is required for approval no later than Friday, May 20, but I would advise you to get it to Mrs. Welle ASAP so that you can begin your data collection without delay.

Sand Brains

Check out this video of neuroscience enthusiasts building anatomically correct sand-art brains in London. If my classroom was located anywhere near beaches adequate to do this, it already would have happened. Brilliant.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Vincent Van Gogh - Mental Illness and Genius

Some of my students are aware of artists and great thinkers who suffered from mental illness. Among them was the popular painter Vincent Van Gogh, known for his impressive use of color
in works such as "Starry Night" (shown to the right).

There is some speculation about how a modern psychologist would respond to Van Gogh's constellation of symptoms. Some have suggested that he suffered from bipolar disorder, given his bouts of significant productivity that might be understood as manic episodes. He certainly suffered from bouts of severe depression, and ultimately took his own life in 1890.

Knowing Van Gogh's struggles gives one an interesting lens to view his numerous works. Although it's difficult to know how much his illness influenced each particular piece of his art, it certainly is tempting to believe that his depression seeped into some of the more somber scenes and faces he created.

Below, a compilation of images from Van Gogh's work, set to Don McLean's "Vincent," which references the artist and his difficult life.

Repost: John Nash Info

Note: This is a "re-post" of information I posted last spring in coordination with our classes' viewing of the related films. I'm putting it up again for the benefit of my current students, who may want to explore more about Nash's life.

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.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Only a few hours to go!

As I write this, there are still a number of AP Psych students reviewing in my room. We had a great turnout for this afternoon's study session, and I hope to see some of you tomorrow in the hours before the test.

I am VERY PROUD of all of the hard work my students have put in so far this year to prepare for this exam. I am confident that you have the tools to do well tomorrow, if you stay focused and apply what you already know. For those that I do see tomorrow, we'll work on quick vocabulary refreshers to keep these terms at the forefront of your thinking...and some relaxation techniques so that you don't let anxiety get the best of you.

With less than 24 hours now remaining before the AP Psych exam, some reminders:

  • You need to be at the testing site (CVTC-Chippewa Falls) by 11:45 AM. Please remember to wait quietly, as classes will be going on and you do not want to disturb them.

  • You will be released from classes after 3rd hour, unless you have a parent call you in so you can prepare/rest at home prior to the test (which is acceptable, BTW).

  • You will be excused from the rest of your classes for the remainder of the day (hours 4-7).

  • Plan for how you will obtain a light lunch/snack before the test, since lunch will not be served at school by the time you are released. And you don't want your tummy to be growling during the test...that's embarrassing and uncomfortable. :)

  • DO bring a couple of No. 2 pencils, a blue or black pen (or 2), and a watch that does not beep.

  • DO NOT bring calculators, cell phones, or psych-related clothing.

  • What to wear? Comfort is key, and since you don't know what the room temp will be (think of how cold/hot my room has been over the course of this past year!) the best strategy is to dress in layers. Comfy t-shirt topped off with a sweatshirt that you can take off if you get uncomfortable is probably ideal.

  • Remember to employ your best test-taking strategies on both sections of the test! We have discussed these at length throughout the year, so you know what to do.

And finally, AFTER THE TEST, NO DISCUSSING OF TEST CONTENT! Especially on social networking sites or other information outlets, but this does technically also apply to face-to-face conversations. Saying, "I think it went well," is okay; saying, "What did you put for question 32?" is not okay.

Good luck, everyone!!!! You can do it!

Today: Austin, Jeremy, Matt, and Tel review in the recliners.

Monday, April 25, 2011

A Big Week in AP Psychology

This week promises to be a busy one in AP Psychology as we complete our final preparations for the AP Psychology exam on Monday, May 2. Here's a list of some important dates/events in the next seven days:

  1. Test: Social Psychology - Tuesday, April 26 (Quizlet embedded below)

  2. Optional Practice Test - Thursday, April 28 (after school); Note: if Thursday doesn't work, I will also be available Wednesday after school to allow students time to take a practice test, or students can make other arrangements with me. Unfortunately, I cannot release official College Board materials to students to use outside of school. However, students may borrow/copy materials from unofficial, commercial test-prep books if it is impossible to arrange otherwise.

  3. Final weekend review sesssion - Sunday, May 1, Noon - ?; I will stay as long as needed to help students review areas of the curriculum that they feel need the most reviewing.

  4. AP PSYCHOLOGY EXAM - Monday, May 2 - 11:45 AM - CVTC Chippewa Falls Additional information will be posted here (final reminders, directions, etc.) in the coming days, though students should have received all pertinent information during the pre-registration session on April 19.

Happy Reviewing!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Vestibular Sense & Dolphins

While hunting for information in response to a student question (the best type of prompt to get me thinking!), I happened upon this interesting post on the vestibular sense of dolphins from the Dolphin Communication Project (DCP).

Is this a thinly-veiled excuse to share weird animal information? Maybe. But it does relate to psychology, particularly sensation.

According to the post, some evolutionary biologists believe dolphins evolved particularly small (and thus, less sensitive) vestibular systems as compared to other mammals because they have little need to be aware of which way is "up" in the way that land-based mammals do. Three times smaller than similarly-sized mammals, it turns out. Thus, they can now execute impressive barrel rolls and directional changes that would nauseate land-based mammals attempting to replicate them.

Of course, the original student question had nothing to do with dolphins, just motion sickness and weightlessness (which is addressed in the dolphin article to some degree).

If you're looking for a possible cure for motion sickness, this website on motion sickness offers a number of potential solutions, some more extreme than others. I was particularly intrigued by one strategy mentioned by the website: the "Puma Method," which unforunately does not reference the animal, but rather a NASA-employed Dr. Sam Puma. A video below...

Also, according to the website, those wrist bands for reducing motion sickness are probably effective only due to their role as placebos.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Philip Zimbardo on The Daily Show

Philip Zimbardo - psychologist behind the famed Stanford Prison experiment - appeared on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart a few years ago to promote his book, The Lucifer Effect. In the interview, the two discuss the relevance of the Stanford Prison Experiment to the (then current) Abu Ghraib prison scandal. Worth a view!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Colbert PAC & the Peripheral Route to Persuasion

Today in class we will be discussing persuasive strategies. Particularly, we will address the difference between the central route to persuasion - providing facts and logical arguments to directly convince the audience of the correctness of your position - and the peripheral one.

The peripheral route to persuasion involves indirectly appealing to your audience, often through emotional sounds and images, but sometimes without providing any specific information to support your case. There is nothing inherently good or bad about either strategy, though the audience may respond differently to either approach, depending on the context and the issue being discussed.

Increasingly, political advertisements have taken the peripheral route...appealing to our patriotism and emotions without providing any real information about a candidate's position or the facts surrounding an issue. Late night political comedy shows have picked up on this endless source of material. In the clip below, Stephen Colbert satarizes a particularly outstanding example of these high-impact, low-information ads from former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Adler's Ashes?

Ready for some weird psychology history?

According to this article in The Guardian, the long-missing remains of Alfred Adler were recently discovered in Edinburgh. How did they get there and why was this a mystery? Apparently, Adler, a psychologist remembered today for his early friendship with Sigmund Freud, for creating the idea of the inferiority complex, and for founding a unique approach to psychotherapy, unexpectedly suffered a heart attack in 1937 when visiting Aberdeen for a lecture tour.

His Viennese family lost track of the remains when they were shipped south to Edinburgh for cremation, where they have remained since. Surviving family members believe the chaos surrounding the start of World War II likely interfered with communication efforts following the prominent psychologist's death.

Adler's ashes will be returned to Vienna and a ceremony is planned to commemorate the famed, and now found, psychologist.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Study Resources for Upcoming Test

Whew! In April deadlines seem to rocket toward me at light speed, so I'll admit that Monday's test feels like it snuck up on me. However, with the AP exam less than a month away, this is no time to be pushing deadlines here we go! If you're looking for a way to review the vocabulary from this unit, you might consider trying the Abnormal Psych Quizlet located on this page. Or try the embedded flashcards below.

We also have a study session scheduled for 5:00 PM Sunday evening if you would like further review with the assistance of friends and your teacher. Test is Monday, of course.

If all of this is too overwhelming for you, and you are feeling in need of some support, go ahead and check out ELIZA, the computer therapist. Much like the chatbot we explored earlier in the year, this simple program is designed to converse with you as a client-centered therapist would. Perhaps she can help you manage your anxiety about the test, if that's an issue. :)

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

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).

Entertaining Video...Can You Identify the Conditioning Principles at Work?

One of my fantastic psych teacher colleagues sent this one to me. Hilarious clip of a little one "selectively" throwing a fit. Can you identify what conditioning principles might be at work here? Why would this child relocate to continue the temper tantrum?

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Quizlet for Personality Theory

Greetings, all! As promised, here is the link to the Quizlet on Personality Theory for this unit.

From here on out it can also be accessed through the "commonly used course links" on the left hand side of the blog.

Happy studying!
<----P.S. Freud wants you to do well here. Don't let him down. He can be cranky about these things.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Thank You

To the anonymous friend who left a SIGNED COPY of Mike Birbiglia's "Sleepwalk with Me" on my desk this morning, a deeply felt thank you. It made me cry.

Those who know me know that these past weeks have been extremely difficult for me, personally and professionally, and this act of generosity in the midst of a series of rather grim days moves me to tears.

I'm lost for words.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Monday, January 31, 2011

Battle of the Brains

Video link: thinkers from different walks of life compete against each other on a variety of tests of mental ability.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

PsychSim: Descriptive Stats

I realized as I was falling asleep last night that I had told people I would post this link before leaving school...and then didn't. I hope it didn't interfere with your ability to access the PsychSim Module on Descriptive Statistics, since the link for PsychSim modules is always in the "course links" section of the blog.

But in case it did, I'll take the worksheets tomorrow, too, if need be. My apologies...

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Inspiration for Your Studies: The Bias Song

I am humbled by this AP Psych teacher's mad skills. The song includes a review of several of the terms we've covered during this unit on thinking & language. Other forms of "bias" in the song we will address later in the year...but you should find it entertaining nonetheless.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

New Quizlet Added: Thinking & Language

Sorry for the delay, but here's the link to the Quizlet on Thinking & Language! From here on out you will be able to find it on the "Commonly Used Course Links" list on the left hand side of the blog.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Talk with a Chat Bot: Ultra Hal

Today in class we conversed with Ultra Hal, a chat bot who is designed to "learn" from the conversations you have with him.

Hal's developers are marketing software that will allow you to "talk" with your computer, much like having a virtual assistant. Apparently, Hal also has a Facebook presence and a character on 2nd Life.

He sounds like a busy guy, but if you want to catch up with him for a brief chat, here's the link!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Book I Want to Read: Sleepwalk With Me

Sadly, despite its prominent place on my Christmas lists this year, this item was ignored by my gift-purchasing relatives in favor of other trinkets. Don't get me wrong, Santa (& his associates) were good to me this year, but I was disappointed not to receive Sleepwalk with Me (and Other Painfully True Stories) by Mike Birbiglia.

Why? Two reasons (one of which relates to psychology):
  1. Mike Birbiglia is hilarious.
  2. In the book he shares his experience of REM Sleep Disorder, which I have discuss in my classes during our "States of Consciousness" unit.

Ok, both could relate to psychology, but the second reason is clearly an easier fit if you are trying to justify including this book in your curriculum.

For those of you not familiar with Mike Birbiglia, he is a stand-up comedian whose work has been featured on NPR's This American Life on several occasions. I have purchased his previous albums and am envious of those who were able to catch his live tour show of the same title in 2008-09.

For those interested in his (very funny) account of discovering his REM sleep disorder, you can probably still listen to it on NPR's This American Life online archives. It aired during a show entitled "Fear of Sleep," which is appropriate given the situations he describes.

Or you could buy the book. Unfortunately for me, student loan-enduced poverty now forces me to choose between waiting for it at the library or enduring the 9 months until my birthday in the hopes someone will buy it then.

P.S. Mike, if you read this, perhaps you would consider "donating" a copy to a needy AP Psychology teacher (me). :)

P.S.S. Students, with final exams right around the corner, there is no time like the present to ingratiate yourself with your teacher. Nothing says 'A' like a great gift...

P.S.S.S. Okay, just kidding about that last part. I do not accept bribes. That would be unethical.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

NOVA: What are Dreams? Link

For those of you who missed all or part of the NOVA film we watched in class, here you go!

If the embeded video above does not play correctly, try this link.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Final Exam Review Dates

Time to mark your calendars! The end of the semester is rapidly approaching, so as we finish our last unit of course content for this semester we also want to be looking ahead to the final exam.

Two Evening Review Sessions have been scheduled for the final.
Sunday, January 16th - 5:00 PM
Tuesday, January 18th - 5:00 PM
Since doing well on the final will require you to review all of the content from this year so far, it would be a good idea to bring your notes/binder (with handouts) and a textbook to the review sessions.

The final exam for this semester of AP Psych will consist of a practice AP exam (with only one free response). This has the advantage of giving you a sense of what an AP exam looks (and feels) like. It will be a good reminder of all you've learned over the course of this semester, as well as a way of alerting you to the fact that there is still much more to look forward to in AP Psych.

We'll talk about how the exam will be scored (and grades determined) in class as the exam approaches.