Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Reviewing Developmental Psych

Halloween is the perfect time of year to review developmental psych! It also happens to be the day before your unit test on developmental psych, so that's convenient. After you watch the trick-or-treaters that arrive at your door, looking for signs of various developmental stages, you may wish to use the tools below to polish your understanding.

  • Theory of Mind - (video) Describes research on the concept of the "Theory of Mind" that develops gradually as children lose their egocentrism
  • Piaget vs. Vygotsky in 90 Seconds - (video, 1.5 min) Video created by a teacher to explain (briefly) the major similarities & differences between these researchers and their theories.
  • Piaget's Theory of Cognitive Development - (video, 4 min) Admittedly, not the BEST instructional video ever made (you'll see mistakes in the writing on the board and in other places), but does provide a quick, accurate overview of the 4 Stages in Piaget's model.
  • Practice MC Quiz on Child Development - 66 questions on development in children & infants. Most are topics that we address in Unit 4. Some may seem unfamiliar because we address those topics (intelligence, language development) in other chapters.
  • Practice MC Quiz on Lifespan Development - 66 questions on development topics
And...everybody's favorite...Quizlet!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Moral Development - Video Lecture

On Monday, October 29, you'll be asked to apply the theories of Lawrence Kohlberg to some moral dilemmas presented in class. In preparation, you'll need to view the video lecture on Moral Development embedded below. Treat this with the same seriousness that you would if you were in class. For example, you'll want to take notes, since you will undoubtedly need this information later (both for reviewing this unit and at semester time...and prior to the AP Exam).

If the video player below is not working for you, try here.

As a bonus, I'm also embedding for your interest and entertainment a 2008 TED Talk by Jonathan Haidt, one of the critics (or counters) to Kohlberg's theory described in the lecture. Not only does his talk on The Moral Roots of Liberals and Conservatives describe the essence of the "Social Intuitionist" model, but be provides evidence (and explanation) for its roots in evolutionary theory and how it impacts modern political decisions. So, if you're at all interested in politics and why Democrats and Republicans seem so incapable of getting along, this talk may provide an useful answer. Especially in an election year, his message is relevant and may offer all of us some much-needed perspective.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Nature & Nurture Review Tools

As you prepare for the Unit Three test, some review tools...

The video below reviews Twin Studies:

    Of course, we don't want to forget our good friend Quizlet. There may be fewer vocabulary terms this unit, but that doesn't mean they are not important to know and apply. Obviously, some may appear on the FRQ you are asked to do, so be ready to explain how these terms impact development & human differences.


Ermahgerd! Mermes! (Memes)

Today, discussing the topic of "Nurture" as an influence on development led us into a discussion of memes. As tiny units of culture, memes influence our speech, dress, behavior, and thinking, but often in subtle ways.

No example of memes are more powerful than the fast-spreading, often nonsensical memes generated via the Internet. From LOL Cats to Planking to Gangnam Style, Internet memes showcase both the speed of cultural transmission and the creativity of Internet users, who seem endlessly capable of spawning new variations of popular memes.

In class today, we got a look at the history of the now-popular "Ermahgerd" (Oh My God) meme, whose history is described in the video below.

After you're done completing your Nature-Nurture projects tonight, see if you can come up with a AP Psych-related incarnation of the Ermahgerd meme. Then post a link here or on the Facebook page. We want to see it. :)

Friday, October 5, 2012

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!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Look Who's Here!

Guess what arrived late this afternoon as my 7th hour students worked to finish their Neuroscience tests? JOHN WATSON! Chi-Hi students will be able to pick up their (paid for) t-shirts tomorrow.

Your friends will be SO jealous of this fashionable tribute to the father of behaviorism.
 Folks who ordered from afar can expect to get their t-shirts next week sometime. We have to sort, pack, and ship...but first we've got some club business to attend to (a Brain Food contest), so we'll probably be mailing out orders on Monday, October 8.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Split Brain Video

For those who requested it, the video clip we watched in class on Michael Gazzaniga and his split brain research.

Monday, October 1, 2012

The Teenage Brain

As often happens after we view an excerpt of this documentary in class, I got requests from my students to post this for parents. Today in class we watched the first few segments of Frontline's Inside the Teenage Brain, a great program highlighting recent neuroscience research that suggest explanations for many typical teenage behaviors (e.g., staying up late at night and sleeping in mornings, taking risks that make their parents uncomfortable, miscommunicating with adults...etc.)

The entire program is available for viewing online (Windows Media and RealPlayer users, try here) and its companion site has numerous links to more information that may be helpful for both parents and teenagers.

The short version of the program's message is that the adolescent brain is still developing, and parents may be able to respond with more empathy to the sometimes frustrating behaviors of their teens if they know some things about this process. While we have to exercise caution when attempting to translate neuroscience research into prescriptions for parenting or teaching, the conversation about teen brain development is an important one, and parents may actually find it quite uplifting.

Those looking for additional resources might want to try these links: