Friday, February 27, 2009

Two Conferences

There are two more conferences for high school and college professors.

1) Claremont Symposium on Applied Social Psychology
Enhancing Teaching and Learning: Lessons from Social Psychology

2) Dolan DNA Learning Center

Genes to Cognition conferences for science and psychology teachers

Student Response Systems ("Clickers") in the Psychology Classroom

The Society for the Teaching of Psychology's Office of Teaching Resources in Psychology (OTRP) just published a "how to" guide to Student Response Systems (clickers).

Over 19 pages, K.G. Kelly from Tennessee State University explains the basics of student response systems including how clickers can be used in a psychology classroom, their advantages and disadvantages, vendors, software, and best practices. This document is a "must read" for anyone considering adopting clickers in their classroom.

To download a PDF or RTF copy of the report go to

Thursday, February 26, 2009

National Sleep Awareness Week

March 1-8 2009 is National Sleep Awareness Week. The National Sleep Foundation has created the week as "a public education, information, and awareness campaign that coincides with the return of Daylight Saving Time, the annual "springing forward" of clocks that can cause Americans to lose an hour of sleep." You will lose that hour of sleep this year in the wee hours of March 8 as DST kicks in.
Why not take this time to educate your student body and faculty about the importance of sleep? There are many resources on teens and sleep including this PBS Frontline series (which can be viewed in its entirety online), an interview with teen sleep guru Mary Carskadon at the same site. a nice teen sleep research page and info on the school start time study at the University of Minnesota.

EDIT: Be aware that the word "vicious" is misspelled in the graphic at the top (before some wise guy points it out to you first period!).

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Mosquito Ring Tone

Someone in Great Britain developed a high pitch sound beyond the hearing capabilities of most adults. While teens not only hear the sound, they find it annoying. Adults, on the other hand, can barely, if at all, perceive the tone.

The original intent was to create a sound distasteful to teens that could be played where they tend to congregate. Instead, teens have placed the tone on their cell phones so adults, especially teachers, cannot hear their cell phones ring.

At this website you can download a number of different frequencies to play in class.

Below are two YouTube videos that go through a number of frequencies within a 30 second video clip. Lower to higher Higher to lower

Monday, February 23, 2009

Brain Facts

Brain Facts: A Primer on the Brain and Nervous System is a 74 page primer published by the Society for Neuroscience. The book is an excellent resource for both teachers and students alike and can be used in a multitude of units within an Advanced Placement or traditional high school psychology course.

The primer can be viewed and/or downloaded as a complete book or in individual sections. Teachers can distribute the book to their students in print, electronically or assign students to read directly from the internet.

More information about the Brain primer can be found at

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Psych in the news

In an op-ed column on race, Charles Blow focuses on Harvard's Implicit Association Test and the findings that most whites "harbor a hidden bias" against blacks. Direct links to the tests are here ... and here's a 2006 column (and follow-up blog post) by John Tierney presenting the evidence against the IAT. (All from the NY Times)

A new paper in the Journal of Social Issues shows that multiracial adolescents who identify proudly as multiracial fare as well as — and, in many cases, better than — kids who identify with a single group, even if that group is considered high-status (like, say, Asians or whites). (Time)

Newsweek traces the history of the alleged autism-vaccination link in its Anatomy of a Scare.

Researchers found in a small study of 30 young iPod users that teens not only tend to play their music louder than adults but, often, are unaware of how loud they're playing it, and are thus unaware of their risk of subsequent hearing loss. (Time)

The FDA approves deep brain stimulation as a treatment for OCD. (Chicago Tribune)

And finally, this is just sad. Not only did research show the men view bikini-clad women as objects (based on 21 Princeton boys as subjects) but no one has actually bothered to see if the same is true in reverse ("women may also depersonalize men in certain situations, but published research on the subject has not been done"). Sigh. (CNN)

Friday, February 20, 2009

Eastern Conference on the Teaching of Psychology

The Department of Psychology at James Madison University will host the next Eastern Conference on the Teaching of Psychology (ETOP) on Friday, June 19 and Saturday, June 20, 2009. The conference will be held at the historic Stonewall Jackson Hotel and Conference Center in Staunton, Virginia. The two keynote speakers include:

David Myers of Hope College

Barney Beins of Ithaca College.

For more information on the conference, including fees, hotels, travel, etc. please go to

A special thanks to Marjorie Cole of Kelam HS in Virginia Beach, VA for this posting. Please send your ideas to any of the moderators.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Brain Awareness Week - Ideas Wanted

As we are only one month away from Brain Awareness Week (March 16 - 22), now is the primary planning time. Even though the week is over twenty years old, many teachers of psychology are unaware of its existence. For those of you unfamiliar with the celebration, please go to

Please complete the survey below AND share your Brain Awareness Week activities in the comment section. For those of you wanting to share various documents, please go to the 4Shared website at to upload your files.

N= 30 as of 01/27/12

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

NIH Curriculum Supplement Series

The National Institute of Health has created a number of curriculum supplements. While written primarily for a science class, many lessons can be adapted to a high school psychology course. Below you will find information regarding the supplements from NIH website at Be sure to check out both the high school AND middle school supplements.

HTML and PDF versions of each supplement are online and accessible to all. Print versions are FREE upon request to educators in the U.S.

The new Clever Hans!

When teaching skeptical thinking, who needs the stuffy old image of Clever Hans when this modern-day arithmetic solving pup will do? The math questions begin about 1:30 into this. (via

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Psych in the news

Soldiers undergoing mock interrogations can be tricked by simple psychological techniques into misidentifying their interrogator. Combined with other research carried out by Elizabeth Loftus, psychologists are closing in on the exact procedures for creating false memories in individuals. (Wired Science)

Paul Ekman looks at old footage of Alex Rodriguez A-lying about his steroid use and finds, shockingly, a "higher probability of lying." (NY Times)

Merel Kindt and colleagues have found that by giving propanolol to people before they recalled a scary memory about a spider, they could erase the fearful response it triggered. (Not Exactly Rocket Science)

Scientists are studying schadenfreude (which is one of my all-time favorite words). “We have a saying in Japanese, ‘The misfortunes of others are the taste of honey,’ ” said Hidehiko Takahashi, the first author on the report. “The ventral striatum is processing that ‘honey.’ ” Awesome! (NY Times)

Newsweek has a cover story on stress and finds that, hey, it might not be so bad!

I finally got around to listening to some of my backlog of This American Life shows -- which I could not recommend more highly, by the way -- and I thought readers might be interested in this segment. "Host Ira Glass talks to Will Felps, a professor at Rotterdam School of Management in the Netherlands, who designed an experiment to see what happens when a bad worker joins a team. Felps divided people into small groups and gave them a task. One member of the group would be an actor, acting either like a jerk, a slacker or a depressive. And within 45 minutes, the rest of the group started behaving like the bad apple. (13 minutes)"


Whenever I have to drive, I make sure I have my iPod with me. While NPR is my only radio station, its programming is not always what I want to hear at the time. With that in mind, and going back to my childhood listening to CBS Radio Mystery Theater (back when AM radio was used for more than talk radio), I now listen to the best radio show around.

Robert Krulwich and Jad Abumrad are the hosts of each show, and they create a movie for the ears. In the words of the website, "Radiolab is a show about curiosity. Each episode is an investigation - a patchwork of people, sounds, stories all centered around one big idea." This means that topics will likely include psychological topics--memory, curiosity, deception, music, the brain, nostalgia, tickling, coincidence, morality, science, parasites (and effects on behavior). Every episode is seemingly a wonderful interdisciplinary show that feeds the mind.

One recent show was about the Obama Effect. The show was about people's perceptions related to their scores on intelligence tests (or some other term that was used). Results included differences in test scores when minorities had different beliefs about what the test was about. It really challenged the notion of the efficacy of intelligence tests.

In short, it is my favorite radio show and I highly recommend it. Please try one episode and you'll see. Enjoy!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Let's Start a Discussion:
Require the AP Psychology Exam or not?

Should students in an AP Psychology course be required to take the AP Psychology Exam? Why or why not?

Should students who decide not to take the AP Psychology Exam have their transcripts changed from taking "AP Psychology" to "Psychology"? Why or why not?

Please complete the survey below and express your opinions in the comments section.

N=79 as of 01/27/12

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Psych in the news

Should scientists study race and IQ? No, society and science do not befit. Yes, the scientific truth must be pursued. (Nature)

The truth is, spotting a lie isn't as easy as it looks. (Washington Post)

Sensors help keep the elderly safe, and at home. (NY Times) [Slate calls is Lojack for people.]

Jonah Lehrer says diet soda's not our friend; the brain doesn't like to be tricked. (Science Blogs)

Toronto's holding the world's first (?) music concert accessible to the deaf and hard of hearing. (Boing Boing)

How your looks betray your personality. (New Scientist)

Friday, February 13, 2009

TV alert: The Lobotomist on PBS this Monday

This Monday PBS' American Experience is re-airing the 2008 documentary "The Lobotomist" (check your local listings and the companion web site). The film is partly based on the book of the same name by journalist Jack El-Hai which has its own excellent web site. This is the story of Dr. Walter Freeman, the doctor who performed nearly 3,000 transorbital lobotomies (some with an ice pick) in the 1940s and 1950s. The Washington Post reviewer noted that "as the riveting documentary makes clear, Freeman's operation reflected the neurologist's peculiar combination of zealotry, talent, hubris and, as one of his trainees noted, craziness. Sometimes Freeman, who relished putting on a show, used a carpenter's mallet instead of a surgical hammer during demonstrations of his operation. At other times, he would operate left-handed rather than right-handed."

For the classroom there's an even better option -- the PBS web site also has the full film available, broken down in chunks from 2-7 minutes.

Did anyone see it the first time around and have thoughts to share? Or showed it to students? Please post your reactions, suggestions and other feedback in the comments section.

Survey of Famous Psychologists from the Past

This is the first of, hopefully, many surveys for the Teaching of High School Psychology blog. Have some fun and cast your vote. The results can be seen once you vote.

N=294 as of 01/22/11.
Thanks to all those who have participated.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Frozen at Grand Central Station

This is a fantastic video clip I found last year of over 200 people freezing for five minutes at Grand Central Station. The crowd reaction is amazing. While I love the clip, I have yet to find a good spot within the Social Psychology unit to put it. Any suggestions??? Please click the comment button below to leave your thoughts.

The full 2 minute video can be found at a number of sites including:

For similar videos go to the Improv Everywhere website and look through the Mission Highlights section. Before showing any of these clips to your classes, please make sure you preview them as some include some inappropriate segments. Please contact me if you find other clips worthy of classroom use and we can post them on this blog.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Psych in the news

February 11

A new study has found that people grossly underestimate the length of these lines -- a finding which implies that we’re all misjudging distances as we drive, and are driving too fast as a result. (Science Daily)

A new procedure is attracting increasing attention because it allows people to move prosthetic arms more automatically than ever before, simply by using rewired nerves and their brains. (NYT)

Two groups have put together a stylebook to guide media professionals through the minefield of politically correct and politically incorrect ways of identifying and portraying the elderly. (NYT)

In recent years, scientists have started arriving at more counterintuitive insights about the circumstances that court choking. Well-meaning experts often advise performers to take their time—slowing down delivery, the thinking goes, helps to quell nervousness—but it is actually better just to get on with things if you are well rehearsed. (Scientific American)

A new study suggests that the location of a recollection in the brain varies based on how old that recollection is. (Scientific American)

The Genetic Science Learning Center from the University of Utah

The University of Utah's Genetic Science Learning Center includes a host of activities for students to explore the wonders of genetics, heredity, drugs and much more. No doubt, the most popular at the site is "Mouse Party" where students learn the effects of various drugs on the physiological system. Click here for a link to the site.

Prejudice and Sneetches

The classic book came to life on television. Now it can be yours on YouTube.
Sneetches Part 1

Sneetches Part 2

Other Teaching Blogs

In case some of you teach other subjects (as I do), and you like this blog, then you'll be delighted to know that other teachers have been doing this for other subjects. Check out:

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Psych Files by Michael Britt

One of the ways I am able to keep up with more recent research or to have someone condense it into a format that works for my brain, is to listen to the psych files by Michael Britt. Whether video or audio, high school psych teachers can gain an incredible amount of insight into the concepts we teach.

He even has a section that is geared for teachers

I highly recommend the site. You can listen to the podcasts off his site at: or subscribe via iTunes. I've even been able to use his methodology podcast in class. So thanks to Michael Britt and the PsychFiles.

Psych in the news

Eating a Mediterranean diet appears to lower risk for mental decline, and may help prevent Alzheimer’s in people with existing memory problems, new research suggests. (NY Times)

Stanford University has put a series of engaging lectures up on YouTube where some of its leading researchers discuss cutting-edge cognitive science research. (Mindhacks)

Lengthy television viewing in adolescence may raise the risk for depression in young adulthood, according to a new report. (NYT)

In recent days, both the Daily Mail and looked at Charles Bonnet Syndrome, a disease characterized by bizarre and vivid visual hallucinations that often involve characters or things that are much smaller in size than reality. (via Boing Boing)

If you’re like most people with an English speaking background you rated Hnegripitrom as more dangerous than Magnalroxate ... what is the link between ease of pronunciation and how our brain judges risk? (Very Evolved)

Internet sites that facilitate diet betting have seen an increase in traffic ... diet bets work for many people who couldn’t seem to shed pounds any other way. (NYT)

The Special Pre-Primer Powerpoint

The Special Preprimer is similar to a child's early reading book with symbols substituted for the actual words. Most teachers use a print or Powerpoint version of the book during the discussion of language development. I turn my AP Psychology classes into first graders and have them go through the primer no different than an elementary teacher would. The students volunteer to read a page and inevitably it turns into the whole class reading through each page out loud. We then discuss the problems people faced, how some people excelled, others dropped out and tried to hide, etc. The activity really brings back what it was like to learn to read. To download the Powerpoint file click here