Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Online Practice Tests - Check Your Progress!

As we enter into the final days of preparation prior to the AP Psychology Exam, don't dismiss the benefits of taking practice tests. There are a number of reasons these help with later performance, including:
  1. Practice testing/retrieval practice is one of the BEST ways to promote learning & memory. Now, full-length practice exams are not the only way to do this (flashcards can be used, too), but they are a great option, especially when reviewing outside of class.
  2. Reviewing items you missed may be a good way to pinpoint topics in need of further study or practice. Getting all the neurotransmitter questions wrong? Time to refresh your memory on that before doing more practice testing.
  3. And, unlike simple use of flashcards, practice tests present questions in the way they are likely to appear on the AP Exam: questions require application (not just recognition) of concepts, mix many topics from various parts of the course together, and force you to identify differences between correct and "almost correct" choices.
  4. Also, if you are concerned about pacing, some tests allow you to time yourself. If this is a source of anxiety for you, you can get a sense of what "feels" like the right pace.
Okay! I'm convinced! Where do I start?
Here are some FREE online AP Psych practice tests.
  • Kaplan's AP Psychology Pod - Includes TWO free tests and topic-specific practice questions. Can get immediate or delayed feedback about correct answers. You also get diagnostic feedback about which topics you need to review the most.
  • Barron's AP Psychology - Free, full-length practice exam. Can take timed or in "practice" mode where immediate feedback about correct answers is available.
  • Old AP Psych Tests from the College Board (1999 and 1994 versions) - If you prefer the paper and pencil route, and don't mind printing these publicly released versions, they can be a good option.
Good luck!

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Reviewing for the AP Psychology Exam

There are SO many things you can do to help you review for your AP Psych Exam, and it can be hard to know where to start. Never fear! Here are some links and general tips, including some important "Do's" and "Don'ts" to help you out.

What NOT to Do:
The following strategies have been shown by researchers to be ineffective (people using them don't do much better than people who hadn't studied at all), so DON'T WASTE YOUR TIME ON THEM.

  • Re-reading your textbook. Skimming over previously read passages of your text is a terrible way to study, in part because 1.) it is time-consuming, 2.) you don't actually retain any more info after doing this, and 3.) (even worse) it fosters the "illusion of mastery,"  which leads to WORSE performance. For example, you may think you "know" something just because you think to yourself, "oh, sure, that seems familiar," when actually you aren't able to answer questions about it correctly. Of course, this tip assumes you read the textbook the first time. Also, note that there is nothing wrong with looking up a specific topic that you don't understand in order to get a question clarified or answered. Just avoid passive re-reading of whole chapters (or the whole book).
  • Highlighting stuff in your notes. While it sure makes stuff look pretty, there is little processing going on when you highlight terms or ideas in your notes. Since memory is the product of thinking about something, you're better off doing something that forces you to think about the material.
What works?
  • Distributed Practice. You may remember this being called "the spacing effect" in your textbook. Spacing out study of your material, rather than planning one giant cram session, leads to better memory. In fact spacing is most powerful once a little "forgetting" has set in. So, study a topic until you feel you've "got it," then come back to it in a day or two and quiz yourself. This strategy can also be a time-saver, since less overall time is needed to achieve the same result as cramming. However, it takes more planning, which is the hard part.
  • Retrieval Practice or Self-Testing. There is NO BETTER way to prepare yourself for a test than to practice pulling information from memory. There are LOTS of online tools to help you do this, and I've included some of them below.
So...where do I start?
  1. Take a practice test. This will help you identify areas of strength and weakness and provide you with feedback about how "far" you have to go yet to achieve mastery. Some options:
  2. Narrow your focus and make a plan. If you found out that you rock at Abnormal Psychology, but are not exactly comfortable with Developmental Psych, use that to plan your study sessions! 
  3. In the last couple of days before the test, plan time for "polishing." 
    • Review Famous Psychologists to help practice many different areas of the course.
    • Use the "combine sets" feature on Quizlet to study multiple topic areas at once.
    • Study with a friend: take turns quizzing each other on major course topics (using flashcards or term lists).

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Social Psych Study Resources

This Tuesday you'll take your LAST unit test. It should be a great opportunity to finish strong! To help you with your review, some online study helps:
  • Review the Unit Objectives. Can you do all of these things? 
  • Of course, there's always Quizlet. Remember, you'll have to apply this vocab to examples. Can you give an example of each of these concepts?
  • And, some practice Multiple Choice items. For a shorter quiz, try here
  • Use your printed study guide that you received in class (more multiple choice practice).

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Peep Diorama Contest Entries

Wow. I cannot help but be impressed by all of the interesting and delicious-looking Peep dioramas that were submitted for our contest. There are an intriguing variety of concepts illustrated, so voting will be a challenge!

Take a moment to admire each of the entries. We'll vote in class this week to determine the winner.


Bre Nowak illustrates how "averaged" faces are deemed to be most attractive...in Peeps.
 Bystander Effects

David Arneberg's depiction of the tragedy of  Peep bystander effects.

Emily Gullerud shows how the bystander effect reduces helping behavior in Peeps.
Raeann Schwab's scene also illustrates the tragic consequences of Bystander Effects
Hannah Cowan's Peeps are also experiencing the Bystander Effect.

Sam Petefish's Peeps fail to help a stabbing victim. It's Kitty Genovese all over again!


Brianna Kopnick's Peeps are attempting to conform to Bunny fashion trends.

Carley Ruff's Peeps cut off their tails to fit in.

Haley Kragness illustrated a Peep color shift as a result of conformity!
Door in the Face Phenomenon

Brooke's Peeps effectively use Door in the Face technique to sell marshmallow bunnies.

Josh Flaig's Peep uses Door in the Face technique to convince his friend to exercise.

Kacie Bertrand illustrates how a Peep might begin the Door in the Face technique during a sales pitch.
Foot in the Door Phenomenon

Taylor Adam's Peep has just used the Foot in the Door phenomenon to scam an Aircraft Carrier from his friend.
Brandon Swim's Peep used the Foot-in-the-Door technique to sell a box of Girl Scout Cookies.

Kolton Hebbring's Peeps are struggling with the discomfort of groupthink.

 Ingroup Bias
Emma Strecker's photoshopping skills are on display in this rap-themed illustration of ingroup bias.
Hadyn Hebert's Peeps each think their own group is superior.
Brennan Schrader's Peeps are at competing conventions across the hall from one another. Serious Ingroup Bias.
Milgram's Obedience Study
Zach Pasano recreates the Milgram study, with Peeps!

Clara Lenhart shows the distress experienced by Peeps in Milgram's obedience study!

Minority Influence

Carter Clay's Peep starts a trend at this Disco-themed dance party!

Normative Social Influence

Janay Gunderman's Peep desperately wants approval from the group.

Morgan Bergeron's Peeps are demonstrating some prejudicial beliefs about other Peeps.
Social Facilitation

Mercedes Antolak's Peeps show us how Social Facilitation helps soccer players do their best.
Social Loafing

Jon Carli's Peeps are failing to contribute to their group project because of Social Loafing.

Kyle Zerbian's Peeps are not making their best effort at a Tug-of-War due to Social Loafing.


Nicole Crusing's Peeps unfairly stereotype another type of Easter candy.
Zimbardo's Prison Study
Kayla Hanley's Peeps are "good boys gone bad" when assigned to be guards and prisons in Zimbardo's prison study!

Brian Crocker's Peeps participated in the Stanford Prison study and turned "bad."

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Review Help Tool: Crash Course Psychology

Psychology students should be excited to learn that the friendly folks over at Crash Course have been working on creating videos for psychology topics. This is a great development, since the things that make Crash Course so popular (namely, Hank Green's upbeat and engaging style coupled with fun animations) are now being harnessed to help you learn psychology!

As the AP Psychology Exam approaches, students might find these videos to be a helpful review of topics presented in class. So far, there are 11 videos on major topics in psychology, all of them about 10 minutes long. I've put them together in a playlist below. I've also written up some tips on how to best use them to enhance your study for the AP Psych Exam, should you choose to do that.

How to use these videos to enhance review:
  • Use them to prime retrieval of content topics before studying that topic more in depth. So, for example, you might watch the video on The Chemical Mind before doing some retrieval practice (flashcards, practice questions) on neurons and neurotransmitters.
  • Use them to identify topics for a particular unit that are very "dusty." For example, maybe you had forgotten all about structuralism and functionalism. When Hank mentions these terms, and you realize they don't sound familiar, make a note to practice applying them later.
  • Use them to help spread out your studying. For example, consider picking one topic to review each night, and incorporate that video into your review.
How NOT to use these videos:

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Peeps Diorama Challenge

These roller-derby Peeps are experiencing Social Facilitation, given the cheering crowd.
With Easter now over, millions of Americans are faced with the same problem: what do I do with all of these Marshmallow Peeps?

Lucky for you, AP Psychology student, there is an answer. Since 1.) Peeps make an effective medium for composing dioramas (note: don't question this premise) and 2.) we are currently studying Social Psychology, there could NOT be a better time to illustrate the principles you are studying by thoughtfully arranging Peeps in heartwarming (or chilling) scenes.

Imagine the tragic impact of the Bystander Effect on a group of Peeps! Or, a startlingly accurate recreation of Milgram's obedience study, with Peeps! Are Peeps susceptible to Social Loafing? You be the judge!

  1. You must submit (via Tweet or email) your photo of an original Peeps scene that illustrates a principle from the Social Psych Unit.
  2. The principle being illustrated must be identified (either in the photo or text of message).
  3. Entries will be accepted until midnight on Friday, April 25th.
  4. Accurate entries will earn 3 points toward their Social Psych test scores on Tuesday, April 29th. A winning entry will be declared based on votes from classmates. That entry will be awarded 5 points.
  5. You can team up, though points will be divided among teammates, so...decide if that's worth it. Remember what Social Loafing is? Yeah...

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Reviewing Psych Disorders & Treatment

As you've found so far this unit, understanding psychological disorders and treatment requires applying much of what you've learned over the course of this past year. This unit can be a challenge--there is a lot of vocab and many people and theories--but well-prepared students can certainly shine on the upcoming (April 14) test.

Some resources to assist you in your studying:
Quizlet Flashcards

Slide Show on Psychological Disorders

Slide Show on Psychotherapy Approaches

Monday, April 7, 2014

Diagnosis and Treatment Project

The DSM will become your friend!
At the conclusion of this unit, you should be able to recognize several of the major categories of psychological disorders and their related symptoms. You'll also be able to compare and evaluate different treatment approaches for these disorders.

To demonstrate your mastery of these skills, you will be completing a Diagnosis and Treatment Project that involves analyzing two patient cases and providing diagnosis (based on DSM-IV-TR guidelines) and treatment recommendations for them. You'll also explore how each patient's diagnosis would appear under DSM-5 criteria.

You will be provided with handouts on your specific patient cases in class. They are taken from DSM-IV-TR Casebooks that are used to provide students with practice applying DSM-IV-TR criteria.

Your typed write-ups are due Friday, April 11. Because it is very normal for folks to have questions about this project, I'll be available after school every day this week to help, as well as during lunches and in the AM on Thursday. Please see me if you get stuck.


Directions: Diagnosis and Treatment Project

Example: Patient Case and accompanying Diagnosis & Treatment Plan

DSM-IV-TR Codes and Links to Diagnostic Criteria

Handout: Highlights of Changes from DSM-IV-TR to DSM-5

Scoring Rubric: Diagnosis and Treatment Project

Friday, April 4, 2014

Snow Day #7 - Bio-medical Treatments for Psych Disorder

If you are reading this, it is because our 2-hour delay turned into yet another snow day. In order to keep you on track, I'm posting notes and activities on a very specific approach to treatment: the Biomedical Treatments. These are approaches that attempt to address physiological (i.e., physical, organic, or biological) causes of mental illnesses. They range from drugs, to surgeries, to electrical stimulation.

Much of next week will be devoted to exploring psychotherapies, the "talk therapies," which are very different from these medical approaches.

What You Need to Do:
  1. View the Video Notes on this topic. As you do, be sure to record the four-digit code that I will provide in pieces throughout the presentation. 
  2. You can take notes either on your own OR using this Notes Guide.
  3. On Monday, we will begin with a 5-question quiz on this topic. You can use your notes, and you will need to provide the code at that time.
Technical problems? Prefer not to do this via the web? If you are unable to view the show for whatever reason, you have the option of coming to class at 4 PM on Sunday (April 6), and I will do the notes/lecture live. I will already be at school to set up for our Practice AP Exam (at 5:00 PM), so I'm more than willing to start early to give folks the chance to get this information in person.

Video Notes

Slides - Biomedical Therapies

  rTMS to Treat Depression

Deep Brain Stimulation