Thursday, March 5, 2009

AP Psychology: One Year or One Semester?

"Should an Advanced Placement Psychology be a one semester or yearlong course? Since the inception of the AP Psychology Exam in 1992, that question has been vigorously debated.

Please complete the survey below. While I am very aware many schools across the country are using other scheduling models, I am hesitant to put too many options on this survey. With enough data in the comments section, I can redesign the survey for the future.

The survey results will be revealed once you cast your vote.

N = 531 as of 01/27/12

If your school is on a schedule outside of the "traditional" quarter/semester program, such as trimester, block, modified block, etc., please leave your structure in the comments section below. This will provide us valuable information for future surveys.

Please feel free to include you opinions in the debate of yearlong versus semester in the comments section as well.


Chuck said...

I do not know about percent, but I've taught at three high schools that have taught it as a year-long course.

Munster High School, Munster, Indiana
New Trier High School, Winnetka, Illinois San Benito High School, Hollister, California

I did teach it for a semester when I was on a teaching fellowship. But that was at the Indiana Academy for Math, Science, and Humanities, the state school for the gifted.

Chuck Schallhorn

Anonymous said...

I just started teaching last year and this is my second year attempting to teach AP psychology in a semester.

In my opinion this is definitely not the best structure for this class. There is so much information that must be covered from (for our district) the middle of January to the beginning of May. With Spring Break that leaves fewer weeks to attempt to teach the information than there are chapters in most books. We cover at least one chapter a week and four weeks in the semester cover two chapters.

It is truly a college level course, apart from the professor being able to administer the test over what was focused on in class. Instead there is a vast amount of information they could be tested on with very little time to cover all of it.

Based on experience of teaching it in a semester I would say that if you have a choice it should definitely be a year-long course.

Paul Rush

Anonymous said...

I am on an A/B block. I see my kids every other day for one semester. It actually leaves me less than 45 days to teach my course-minus any field trips, fire drills, assemblies, etc. I have been fighting for 3 years now, but cannot get my distric to go with a full year schedule!!

Mr. Cantor said...

Our AP Psychology class is a year long course and I would not have it any other way. We don't have any non-ap psychology courses so this class is the first exposure most students have to the topic.

Even with a full year course I am still finding that we don't have enough time to cover everything that might show up on the exam.

As an anonymous poster said above, in college the professors emphasize certain topics and assess students on those topics. AP Psych is another story... we need to give dedicated coverage to roughly 18 different units ranging from acytlcholine to zebras not getting ulcers.

FULL YEAR is the only way unless your students have already taken a basic psych course and have college level reading and study skills.

Anonymous said...

My students learn certain topics independently, based on how difficult the info is to absorb, but I also have difficulty finishing the AP curriculum in a year course, which is actually less than 20 actual weeks of class, when holidays, vacations, exam weeks and the date of the AP are considered. When I taught the course in college, I didn't have to cover every chapter, but the AP exam requires this, so one cannot equate a 1-semester coollege course to what we have to do.

Anonymous said...

I teach AP Psychology as a one semester class on a 4x4 block schedule. I honestly can't imagine teaching it with any less time as I hardly have time to cover everything I need to as it is.

Anonymous said...

At my school, AP Psych is a year long course. Most courses are 1 semester because we are on block schedule. However, this is an alternative, "second chance" charter school so we have a little more flexibility and a definite need for having more time in AP classes.
-Elyse C.

Jim Frailing said...

At my school, we are on a Trimester schedule. Three 12 week trimesters with 5 mods per day each 70 minutes long. We have AP Psychology during the 2nd and 3rd trimesters. The students feel a bit rushed at times and there is next to no time to review before the AP Exam.
Jim Frailing

Amy Johnson said...

I am teaching AP Psych on a 90 Minute, daily block schedule for a semester. I previously taught for 3 years on the regular schedule - and I must say I like the block, semester format. I think it adds the 'college' challenge and rigor to the class that I did not feel or notice in my prior 3 years. My students are working HARD this semester and are experiencing the rigor of HOW much work and how much reading college will be. (Perhaps this has to do with more experience as an AP Psych teacher, too.)
I like it - hopefully my test scores show that the kids are working up to par, as well.

Anonymous said...

From Rick Reinders

Since my district has blocked access to Kent's site...

For a number of reasons, I am obviously in favor of year-long AP Psychology: content, research projects, placement exam prep, job security, fun, etc.

In Cedarburg, we run an eight period drop cycle, which means that once every eight days, my classes do not meet...that causes me to lose 20+ class periods compared to a normal seven period school schedule. I would love to have those days back. Does 130 hours vs. 150 hours sound right?

I'm trying to imagine what would happen to our success rate (#1 in the Midwest region) on the AP exam if we all went to semester courses.

On the other hand, I teach an introductory psychology course at MSOE. If we truly are hoping to give our students a "college" experience, those students meet with me for just over 30 hours.

Rick Reinders

This email is intended for the use of the addressee(s) only and may contain privileged, confidential, or proprietary information that is exempt from disclosure under the law. If you have received this message in error, please inform me promptly via reply email, delete the mail, and destroy any printed copy.

Cindy said...

This is my first year teaching AP Psychology in our school (inner-city San Diego, 100% F/R lunch). I taught it in one semester because we are on a 4x4 schedule (four classes + four quarters = 8 classes/year). We are the only AP course at my site that has to complete the course in one semester; all the others go all year, even on the 4x4.

To try to compensate for the fact that our course ends at the end of January and the test isn't until May, we are doing weekly review sessions on weekends/after school. Fortunately, my students are very dedicated and are attending.

Teaching in one semester was very difficult, especially since I had no training and no idea how to pace the course (I didn't even get the textbook until a week before school started). Fortunately, I had an experienced psych teacher at a neighboring school help me out a great deal. Once I figured out what I was doing, we had a lot of catching up to do in order to cover the material.

In retrospect, I would say that one semester of our 83-minute blocks is probably enough time to cover the material, but I would be very concerned if my students weren't dedicated enough to come to the review sessions.

Julie Kobold said...

I teach a full year on a block schedule-every other day plus an extra rotating class every two weeks. We have a high success rate though I find it difficult to stay on track. We start after labor day, have a week off for Thanksgiving, more for Christmas, a week for midterms, Feb and Apr break, plus those snow days-obviously I can't do lots of really fun projects or go off on tangents. Interesting that my school offers 1.5 year sections for AP US, European, Bio and other subjects. Our pass rates are similar. I tutored a college student through Intro to Psych which required less than half of the AP standards.

Matt Heling said...

We have a distance learning setting everyday for 45 minutes. It seems to work fine, but I even struggle to fit in all of the material. It would be insane to fit this course into a semester setting.

Cindy Kremer said...

It seems to me that we would all have less problems covering the curriculum if the College Board moved the test date to later in May. We do not finish school until June 10th. I will have students do field trips and videos but it would have been nice to have had more time during the regular school year.

Anonymous said...

I think I would like the 90 minute daily block for one semester but I am forced to teach it in one semester and the students have 7 classes a day. My class meets for approximately 50 minutes a day. This semester, when you take out holidays and state testing days we get to see our students for about 65 days and realistically the last week before our test I see very few of my students becasue they are out everyday for testing in other courses so good 60 days at 50 minutes a day is what I get... it is fast and furious. Rachel

Trevor Tusow said...

This is my second year teaching the AP Psych course, and second year teaching in total, and my school has it set as a semester class on a block schedule.

I have said from the outset that it should be a year long. This year I lobbied for it, and was told that if I want to keep it from getting cut as an elective, I needed to keep it as a semester.

The reasoning was that if it was a year long, 40 students max would be able to take the class, and when it came time to trim classes, one that only 40 students takes would get cut before something with more students...too bad the economy is getting in the way of providing students with the best education possible.

That being said, my principal was 100% behind making it a year long class. It will take a few years, but it will get there I think.

Anonymous said...

We have our AP class on a year long, 4X4 block that meets every other day for about 85 minutes. I wouldn't want to teach it in a semester again and hope that more schools can move to a full-year course.

Linda Jones said...

The AP Psychology class at my school in Kansas meets year long on a block schedule. All classes meet on Mondays (Blocks 1-7) for a 51-minute period. Even blocks (2,4,6,ELO study period) meet on Tuesdays and Thursdays for a 95-minute period. Odd blocks (1,3,5,7) meet on Wednesdays and Fridays for 95 minutes. I wouldn't want to teach the class in less than a year because a great deal of the "fun" projects and activities would have to be left out to fit in all the content (activities teach, but they take longer than just lecturing and passing on information).

Ms. T. said...

I'm in Marietta, GA on the 4x4 block. I used to teach on the old 55 minute, full year schedule, and believe me, the block cuts a lot of time out of my ability to teach the full curriculum. It allows absolutely NO time to "smell the flowers," especially with students taking 4-5 AP classes each year. AP Psych is an elective, compared to some of their other AP classes that are fulfilling a requirement. When it comes to devoting time to AP US History or AP Psychology, you know which one get the short shrift.
Additionally, focusing and concentrating for a full 90 minutes is extremely difficult for most students. Activities have to be varied, which usually means that some time out of each period is not spent on covering content.
My first semester AP Psychology classes ended in December, so each Friday afternoon this spring I hold Friday afternoon review sessions to try to help the AP exam takers stay current. Unfortunately, very few students can add "another thing" to their already crammed schedules, so attendance is low. Not an ideal teaching situation.

bob said...

I have taught AP psych for the past 9 years as a semester course. It can be done but it is no way near ideal. You have to rush through all the topics, rarely get to discuss or delve into interests outside of the text and the pacing sometimes overwhelms some of the students (roughly a week per chapter). On the flip side, I can double the amount of students that are enrolled into the course and the test is easy enough for them to do well with when they apply themselves (that being said, the spring semester is a nightmare for the kids who want to take the AP exam and most opt not to take the test.

Bob Wilson
Ward Melville HS
E Setauket NY

Bob Wilson said...

I've taught Ap psych for the past 9 years as a semester long class. There are pros and cons (more so with the cons). The pros as I see them are that you can service double the amount of students. ALso, the students get a taste of what college structure will be like and what college pacing will be like. THe cons.....well, lets just say that some kids drown and get lost very quickly due to the pacing. Also, you never get the opportunity to really delve into topics of interest or stray too far from the required materials. As for prep for the exam, I find the test easy and kids very capable of preparing themselves if they apply themselves.Prepping spring semester kids for the exam is somewhat of a nightmare. Teaching ap psych in a semester is doable but not an optimal choice!

Lisa said...

I have no idea how I am going to be able to cover all the material required in one semester! This is my 1st year teaching AP Psych and we are behind and I feel like I'm teaching in "yankee-turbo speed." It does not do the course justice!

Anonymous said...

I agree with one of the comments stated above....lobby the College Board to move the tests later in May. Why ARE the AP tests held so early in May?