Saturday, October 31, 2009

Teacher suspended for animal sexuality article

A Jacksonville (IL) high school English teacher has been suspended because he "allowed students to read the article 'The Gay Animal Kingdom' from the June 7, 2006, edition of Seed magazine." Teacher Dan DeLong has been suspended pending a school board meeting on Monday. The story was written by one of my favorite science writers Jonah Lehrer and presents the research of Joan Roughgarden, a Stanford biologist who challenges Darwin's perception that homosexuality is a maladaptive behavior given that hundreds of animals species show same-sex behavior.

Clearly the whole story has not emerged and there are some differences with psych teachers -- DeLong is an English teacher, for example -- but I personally find this action chilling. This research has long been part of the psychology curriculum and in our textbooks, so I wonder if the opposition to this article has to do with the nature of the article itself or the somewhat graphic language Lehrer uses in some parts of the article -- language that's perfectly acceptable in an piece written for adults but perhaps a little much for a high school audience. Still, I doubt this is over a few words.

Supporters of DeLong have created a Facebook group and the story is already making the rounds of the blogosphere including on Twitter and on Andrew Sullivan's blog The Daily Dish. I'll keep an eye out for an update and post here again with more news.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Just in time for Halloween: Rooms haunted through Science!

This article from Wired documents a study examining whether scientists could replicate and produce "paranormal" feelings and perceptions commonly associated with "haunted houses". They were remarkably successful: about 60 out of 79 participants reported "dizziness, tingling, disembodiment, dream-remembrance and “a presence. Several felt sexually aroused." The article doesn't mention whether they used a control group or not (hope so!).

Miller's Seven Plus or Minus Two Experiment

The Classics in the History of Psychology include a copy of George A. Miller's invited address to the Eastern Psychological Association detailing his studies on the limits of memory. The talk entitled "The Magical Number Seven, Plur or Minus Two: Some Limits on our Capacity for Processing Information" was later published in the Psychological Review.

The article might provide an ideal opportunity to not only discuss Miller's findings, but also the various ways scientists present their research findings.

Miller's article can be found at For additional information on Miller's research on memory go to

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Face Memory Test

The Science and Nature: Human Body and Mind portion of the BBC's website, includes a short demonstration on remembering human faces. While the primary intent behind the activity involves how the lack of sleep influences memory, the Face Memory Test would probably fit better in a Memory Unit rather than the States of Consciousness section of the class.

There are three parts to the activity each separated by a five minute break where students are shown a variety of faces and then later tested on which they can recognize. It should take between 15 to 18 minutes to complete the full activity.

The BBC website is located at

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Exploritorium - Memory Activities

The Exploritorium has a number of items on its website dealing with the biological, psychological and cultural aspects of memory. There are a number of articles, activities and demonstrations at the site.

While there are many items, pay special attention to:
  • The Memory Artist
  • Common Cents
The site can be found at

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

TV alert: The Botany of Desire

At first glance this might not be the typical TV alert for a psychology teacher but trust me, PBS' The Botany of Desire is a keeper. Based on the 2001 book by Michael Pollan and featuring interviews with Pollan, TBoD tells the story of how four plants -- potatoes, apples, tulips and marijuana -- emerged as victors in the global race for plant domination. Pollan argues that these plants give us back so much -- control, sweetness, beauty and intoxication, respectively -- that they have trained us to go to amazing lengths to spread them around the world and keep them actively growing.
Obviously for our needs the segment on marijuana will be the focus. I checked out the accompanying website and there's some good visual candy on how several different plants can alter our consciousness. Nothing extraordinary here, but pretty, with some nice quotations on these mind-altering drugs from Freud, Oscar Wilde and Louis Armstrong among others.

It should air nationally on PBS Wednesday night at 9 but as you well know, all PBS stations make their own decisions about when to broadcast what, so check your local listings!

Milwaukee Area Teachers of Psychology Meeting

The Milwaukee Area Teachers of Psychology (MATOP) Fall Meeting will be held on Tuesday November 10, 2009, 7:00 PM, at Pius High School, 135 N. 76th Street, Milwaukee, WI 53213 in the library.

Our agenda tentatively includes:

• an examination of new edition (8e) of Weiten’s Psychology: Themes and Variations
• a review of newly revised Zimbardo’s Psychology: AP Edition with Discovering Psychology
• an analysis of the supplements for the new Myers Psychology 9e
• information on the Teaching High School Psychology Blog
• ways to use Cell Phone Texting in your class
• a conversation about changes in the AP Psychology Acorn Book
• new information on the Quizlet Flashcard Website (
• a Report from the APA/TOPSS Clarke Summer Workshop and items from APA and TOPSS
• explaining a new twist to Student Book Reviews
• insights from the 2009 AP Psychology Reading
• announcing a new regular Psychology textbook coming out this spring
• presentations on online communications with students and parents (Moodle, Blackboard, WebCT, Wiki’s, Blogs, etc.)
• plus much more

If anyone uses Blackboard, WebCT or Wiki pages to communicate with their students and would be interested in making a short (5 minutes) presentation on the topic at the MATOP meeting, please contact me at the email address below.

Please mark your calendars. Everyone is welcome to attend. Please feel free to invite anyone you feel might be interested in coming. A detailed agenda will be forthcoming.

If you would like to be added to the MATOP email listing, please contact Kent Korek at

Bandura's Bobo Doll Experiment - Video

Bandura's Bobo Doll Exerpiment is both a classic in observation learning and a study high school psychology students find intriguing. While descriptions and pictures can tell much of the story, an actual video clip brings the experiment to life.

An online 5:02 minute video clip exists which includes Bandura explaining the overall experiment followed by short clips of the adult model and then the children imitating the behavior with Bandura explaining each segment.

I've included a number of links to the video as it seems to appear and then disappear from many websites. The sites which at one time included the video, now state it was removed due to copyright concerns from the Pennsylvania State University.

To find the original journal article from The Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology (1961) by Bandura, Ross and Ross go to

Monday, October 26, 2009

Little Albert: Found!

I haven't read the American Psychologist article about this yet, but this summary from the Mind Hacks blog summarizes the story pretty well: Dr. Hall Beck from Appalachian State University has been trying to track down the identity of "Little Albert" for 7 seven years, and he succeeded! It sounds like the article describes in detail how he used historical records, photographs, and facial recognition experts to figure out the true identity of the baby Watson and Rayner worked with all those years ago. Spoiler alert: don't read the end of the end of the blog post if you want to read the original and find out Albert's fate.

Also, Mary Cover Jones published an article years after the Little Albert study on using classical conditioning to "cure" a child of fears: A Laboratory Study of Fear: The Case of Peter.

Classical versus Operant Conditioning

Jim Biederman from the Anoka-Ramsey Community College, Cambridge and Coon Rapids, MN has developed a number of study aides for his General Psychology students helping them to sort out the the differences between classical and operant conditioning. They include a short document reviewing the types of conditioning, and two sets of examples to help students apply the information to the real world.

Classical and Operant Conditioning Study Sheet

Conditioning Examples Set 1 - examples and answers on the same sheet

Conditioning Examples Set 2 - examples with answers at a linked location

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Concussions, Brain Injury and Athletes

The Sports Legacy Institute is the organization whose research has been the focus of recent reports on CNN and 60 Minutes. The site includes media information and self-promotion, but there are also videos and research overviews about traumatic brain injuries. There are videos for parents, coaches and athletes about the risks and dangers of brain injuries as well as classroom resources for further investigation.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Animal Training at Seaworld

The Seaworld website includes a section on the basics of animal training and how they train the various animals at their parks. The site provides a fantastic explanation of how to apply the principles of operant conditioning to real life situations. The complete guide can also be download as a PDF document.

Seaworld's home page can be found at For the training section or to download the complete infobook, go to

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Basketball Playing Rats

On a daily basis, the Center of Science and Industry (COSI) in Columbus, OH includes a live show of two rats who have been conditioned to play basketball.

The COSI website describes the show as "Guests explore conditioning and different ways of learning, and learn about the physical traits of our resident superstars, a pair of Japanese Black Hooded rats. It all leads up to a thrilling game of one-on-one. Cheer your favorite rat on to victory!" To learn more about the shows and the COSI go to

To see a 47 second video clip of the basketball show go to or

To find a somewhat sketchy description of how the rat are trained go to

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Skinner in Life Magazine

Since Kent's midnight postings are currently in the area of operant conditioning I thought I'd look for some articles on B.F. Skinner in the newly released complete archive of Life Magazine on Google Books. Here are some stories I've found:

BF Skinner Foundation

According to their website, "the B. F. Skinner Foundation provides historical information about the life and contributions of B. F. Skinner and supports humane practices based upon his heritage".

The website includes:
  • a biography of Skinner's life
  • a brief article by Skinner, "A Brief Survey of Operant Conditioning", detailing the basics of operant conditioning
  • some photos and video clips of Skinner
  • a complete online book, Science and Human Behavior
The site can be found at

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Squirrel Obstacle Course

This is a short video of a squirrel going through a number of obstacles to reach a simple reward. The clip is a perfect demonstration of many operant conditioning concepts, especially the shaping process.

After classes have viewed the squirrel's work, students, as a class or in small groups, could discuss how to train a squirrel to learn all the many steps in the process.

If the below clip does not work on your computer, do an internet search for "squirrel obstacle course".

Monday, October 19, 2009

Life Magazine now completely online

Google Books has now made all issues of Life Magazine available online. Published from 1936-1972 Life was a major weekly magazine that had a great influence on the American people. A few years back Google announced that Life's archive of photos would be made available but with this announcement of all the pages this is an even better resource for any psychology and history course.
Some selected psychology features from life include the shocking portrayal of mental hospitals in "Bedlam 1946" (pictured at left). Given that the American public had only recently recoiled in horror from images of Nazi concentration camp victims the horrible conditions in these hospitals and of these patients angered many. Gerald Grob's The Mad Among Us: A History of the Care of America's Mentally Ill (excerpted here) has a nice background on the article and its impact -- not least of which was further spurring Walter Freeman on to develop his lobotomy treatment to spare his patients this agony.

There are many, many more amazing articles out there (I just tried to find "a few" and quickly became overwhelmed!) -- it would be a great assignment to have your students compare what is known now about some particular area of psychology with what was known then. It would also be interesting to compare how confident they were in their knowledge to how confident we are!

If you find a particularly good article, please share it in the comments below. Be careful, though: this archive can suck you in! And honestly, no matter how good the content is, the best parts for me are still the ads in between, which clearly could be a subject of an entirely different lesson plan!

PigeonRank: Online Search System

Looking to add a little fun to your lecture on Operant Conditioning? At some point in your discussions of the practical uses of conditioning have your students read through Google's explanation of their PigeonRank technology at, then sit back and wait to see how long it takes for them to get to the very last line printed in red.

This would be especially effective after a discussion of Skinner's proposals in WWII to use specially trained pigeons as a "guidance system" in missiles. For more information on that concept go to:

Friday, October 16, 2009

Skinner's Walden Two

Walden Two is Skinner's classic attempt to put the principles of operant conditioning into practice. More a traditional novel with a storyline than an academic explanation of theory, Skinner tries to explain what a society based on operant conditioning would look like.

The complete book is not yet online for free. has used copies for under $1 a piece.

Compete online version of the Spark Notes for Walden Two

Wikipedia entry for Walden Two

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Pavlov's Biography at the Nobel Prize Website

Many students are surprised to learn Ivan Pavlov won a Nobel Prize. What further surprises them is the prize was NOT given for his research into classical conditioning but for his work in digestion.

The Nobel website includes a short biography of every prize winner since the award's inception in 1901. The Novel biography on Pavlov can be found at

Other biographies on Pavlov are at:

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Constructing Social Reality and Rev. Sun Myung Moon

When in the social psychology unit, I love showing the episode "Constructing Social Reality" from the Discovering Psychology series. This is available at Among other things, it has Jane Elliott. But in one short burst of images dealing with cults, the episode shows a stadium of people getting "mass married" by Reverend Sun Myung Moon of the Unification Church. My students are amazed and disbelieving of this as a real event. This morning, on NPR, there was a story about Moon's most recent and possibly last mass wedding.

The story and images capture the immensity of the event and are worth examining within the context of our understanding of reality and cults. The article gives some nice context and insight into the process and the group.

Examples of Classical Conditioning

One of the biggest challenges in teaching the psychology of learning is getting students not only to know and understand the definitions of the unit's major concepts, but apply those same concepts to the real world.

Dr. Jeff Carre at the Cape Breton University, Sydney, Nova Scotia, Canada, has developed a internet based worksheet for his Psychology 211: Learning and General Psychology students. The exercise involves students identifying the UCS, UCR, CS and CR within twelve examples of classical conditioning.

The answers are revealed when the cursor passes over the specific part of the example. Please be aware students need to be very resourceful in their use of the mouse/touchpad on their computer in order to prevent inadvertently calling up an answer to a question different than the one they are working on.

The webpage of Dr. Carre's classical conditioning examples can be found at

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Concussions and Neural Encephalopathy

One question my students always have is, "what is a concussion?" and "why do they have to stay awake?" after experiencing one. Over the past couple years, I have found these resources.

Last year, Dr. Sanjay Gupta of CNN interviewed the same researcher and had a two-part story about concussions and traumatic brain injury. These links have both text-based and video-based stories.

From the Neuroscience for Kids website:

This link has some good, basic information about concussions:

This past weekend, 60 Minutes aired an episode that dealt with concussions and traumatic brain injuries that athletes suffer. A preview to that story can be found here:

Baby Albert

John B. Watson and Rosalie Raynor's conditioned emotional reactions experiment with Baby Albert is probably one of the most interesting and controversial studies done in the history of psychology. Students are usually amazed at the videos of Watson and Rayner interacting with Baby Albert.

The website, Classics in the History of Psychology ( has reproduced the original 1920 journal article Watson and Raynor published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology. The reproduced article can be found at

Monday, October 12, 2009

A musical method for behavior modification

Can you find a way to encourage people to take the stairs instead of the escalator? Volkswagen has an idea.

Where do you find good music?

In January of 2007, the Washington Post did a social experiment about perception. They had Joshua Bell, one of the world top violinists, play during the morning commute at a Washington subway station. Though over 1,000 people walked by, few stayed to listen. The week prior Bell filled a concert hall in Boston with tickets selling for over $100.

The original Washington Post article which includes a short video clip of Bell playing can be found at

YouTube has a longer video at

Go to the Deems Weblog to read an article on the experiment. (

As a quick demo on perception, you might play just the audio portion of the subway video to your classes. Then play the audio of Bell playing in concert ( Lastly, show both clips and start what should be a good discussion on perception.

A special thanks to Adina Shmidman PhD, AP Psychology teacher in Bala Cynywd, PA for bringing this experiment to our attention.

Pavlov and The Office

On February 9th of 2007, I remember getting inundated by students who had watched the TV show, "The Office" the night before. It seems the episode had a sequence where Jim classically conditioned Dwight to the sound of his computer booting up. My students were all ecstatic because, not only did the scene show classical conditioning, in one short segment Jim actually talked about Pavlov and his conditioning of dogs.

I've had some interesting discussions with my classes whether the example presented is classical, operant conditioning or a bit of both. Is Dwight being reinforced for putting out his hand when he hears the discriminatory stimulus of the computer OR is the computer sound a CS and putting out the hand a CR? And, what about the strange taste he has in his mouth at the end of the sequence?

For those of you looking to show the clip from the original DVD, you need to find the fifteenth episode of the third season entitled "Phyllis's Wedding". Below I have a number of websites which include the clip. If none of the sites work (I have found it hard to find a site which consistently includes the video due to copyright issues), do an internet video search for Pavlov, The Office, Prank, and/or Altoids.

These links are active as of December 15, 2009

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Psychoactive Drugs - Part II

Mary Spilis, retired AP Psychology Teacher, now College Board AP Consultant from Charlevoix, MI sent a number of additional links to other sites about psychoactive drugs. All are government sites courtesy of the National Institute of Health. The last link includes a document entitled "Addiction: Drugs, Brains, and Behavior - The Science of Addiction" which can be downloaded as a PDF document." The sites include:

Thank you Mary for always keeping us up to date on the latest websites.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Psychoactive Drug Chart

One of the best ways I have found to present the various psychoactive drugs is with some form of chart. To the right (click on the icon to enlarge) is a very complex Venn diagram as shown on Wikipedia detailing many different types of drugs. DrugNet has a more simplified version at

Near the end of the last school year we had two teachers, Mary Spilis of Charlevoix, MI and Kate Duggan of Herbert Hoover High School, Glendale, CA, shared charts on neurotransmitters each had created. Both charts can be downloaded at the 4Shared file sharing account at

I am hoping to recreate that same type of collaboration this year. If you are willing to share a chart of psychoactive drugs you have developed, please feel free to upload it to the 4Shared site at the address listed above or, if you would prefer, feel free to email me (Kent Korek - the chart and I would be happy to upload it to the 4Shared account. Please respect the work of others and do NOT upload a chart from a text or someone's website.

Thursday, October 8, 2009


The American Society of Clinical Hypnosis has put together a basic information article on hypnosis designed specifically for the general public. While a bit simplified and biased towards the use of hypnosis, the article provides a good background to this often misunderstood phenomena. The homepage for the ASCH can be found at with the article for the general public at

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

UTOPSS Fall Iinstitute!

Kristin Whitlock (Psychology teacher extraordinaire) asked us to post this announcement to the blog. Those of us not lucky enough to be close to Utah at the time of this institute will just ahve to be jealous - I got to attend a few years back and it is a WONDERFUL experience for psych. teachers.

Utah-Teachers of Psychology in Secondary Schools (U-TOPSS) Fall Institute
Friday, November 13 2009
University of Utah
Cost: $40.00 (if registration received by 10/30), $50.00 after deadline
Includes materials, continental breakfast, and lunch

  • Thinking Like a Psychologist: Teaching About Research (Dr. Barney Beins ITHACA COLLEGE)
  • Stereotype Threat: Sometimes Words (and Beliefs) Can Hurt You (and Your Performance) (Dr. Paul H. White UNIVERSITY OF UTAH)
  • Eye See: Teaching the Biology of Vision (Dr. Jessica Habashi UTAH STATE UNIVERSITY)
  • Participant Idea Share
Break Out Sessions:
  • Taking the Mystery Out of AP Psychology Test Development
  • Introductory Psychology: Questions and Answers
For registration information contact Kristin Whitlock (

Color Blindness Websites

Today on the College Board AP Psychology Electronic Discussion Group, Jim Frailing of Neenah High School, Neenah, WI posted links to two great websites devoted to color blindness.

As I know many of you are either on this unit or will be soon, I thought I'd post the addresses for everyone on the THSP blog.

Go to and for more information.

Thanks Jim for sharing these fantastic sites.

Sleep Diary

During the States of Consciousness unit, many teachers have their students complete a sleep diary. The diaries give students an opportunity to analyze their sleep habits or should we say lack of sleep habits.

Some teachers have created their own dairies, others use standardized forms found online. Two such forms are:
Please leave a comment if you have your students complete a sleep diary especially if you have developed your own diary form.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

National Sleep Foundation

Hands down, the National Sleep Foundation website is one of the best resources on sleep and sleep disorders. Whether it be information on sleep topics, sleep related problems, American polls on sleep, video clips. etc., the site seems to have it all. Unfortunately though, over the last few years, less and less can be found within the website itself and more and more is found for sale at the sleep store.

If you have used items from this site in your class, please leave a comment detailing your activity. The home page for the foundation can be found at

Monday, October 5, 2009

Lewistown Hospital Sleep Videos

The Sleep Center at Lewistown Hospital in Lewistown, PA has created a number of short videos on sleep and sleep disorders. While the primary purpose of the video clips is to give potential patients a background on the center's services, they could be used within a psychology course. Either click on a specific video below or go to

Sleep Study Videos

Introduction to Sleep Study
Multiple Sleep Latency Test
Sleep Stages

Obstructive Sleep Apnea
Sleep Apnea Diagnosis
Treatment of Sleep Apnea

Benefits of Treatment
The Importance of Sleep Study

Friday, October 2, 2009

QuickTime Video Clips

Dr. Mark Mather of the University of Sussex, UK, author of Foundations of Perception, has developed QuickTime video clips demonstrating a number of perceptual concepts such as stereokinetic motion, shown to the right. Each video includes a brief explanation of the concept shown. Below you will find a listing of the concepts with hyperlinks to each video. The listing can be found at

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Teaching Modules from APA

The APA's Center for Psychology in Schools and Education is in the process of writing/reviewing several "modules" for classroom teachers. These modules gather current research findings and make recommendations about practice based on the research. So far two modules are finished: Practical Classroom Management and Interventions for Classroom Disruption . Many other modules are currently being reviewed, including building positive student-teacher relationships, using assessment data to diagnose misconceptualizations, student resiliency, and the research behind "brain-based' teaching. Anyone interested in reviewing the modules should contact Rena Subotnik ( for more information.

"Executive Function", self-control and kiddos

This recent article in the NYT about "Executive Function" helped me make some connections between topics in intro. psych. The article discusses efforts in classrooms to help students with self-control and links this ability with the development of "executive function" (cognitive psych concept that I'm not sure is in most intro. textbooks yet?)

One of my favorite activities demonstrates executive function very dramatically - "Baddeley's Three Systems of Working Memory" . Next time I do this demo, I'll be able to talk about the connection between executive function and self-control.

A good topic for students might be connecting all this with the famous "Marshmallow Test" about deferred gratification, or even Skinner's proposal to hang lollipop's around children's necks and reward them for NOT eating the candy.

Eye and Ear Review Exercise

Jeff Hargett, a teacher at Rome High School (Rome, GA) has developed some simple review exercises for his biology and anatomy students. His reviews for neurons, the brain, the eye, and the ear are applicable to a psychology course. The neuron and brain reviews were posted on 9/2/2009.

Click any of the links below (note each has a model and diagram version), includes the main page for the the psychology oriented reviews, or go to for a complete listing of reviews.

Eye model
Eye model quiz
Eye diagram quiz

Ear model
Ear model quiz
Ear diagram quiz