Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Stereotype Threat and Social Costs of Academic Achievement

Researchers from the University of Colorado recently demonstrated that a simple intervention, a 15 minute writing exercise, essentially "closed" the gender achievement gap on a physics assessment. I read about this simple and elegant study demonstrating the power of stereotype threat on test scores on the same day I read Daniel Willingham's excellent summary of "The Social Costs of Academic Achievement"

This might be a tough (but important?) topic to discuss with students in a psychology class, but maybe its more important that we talk about it with our colleagues. We all read and hear about how the importance of "closing the achievement gaps" between ethnicities. How much of these "gaps" can be accounted for by a combination of stereotype threat and the social cost of “acting white” as described by Willingham?

And, more importantly, what can we do about it?

posted by Rob McEntarffer

Sunday, November 28, 2010

On Happiness and Long Life: Dan Buettner-Another NPR Find

On this morning's NPR Weekend Edition show, I caught a piece of an interview with Dan Buettner, a researcher examining why people are happy (or unhappy) in an interview titled, "How To 'Thrive': Dan Buettner's Secrets Of Happiness."

He's recently published some fascinating results that had me sitting there in the car with the engine running rather than taking my groceries inside-you know, typical NPR.  His results are cross-cultural, examining people from Denmark, Singapore and the US.  The happiest people are just over an hour away from me in San Luis Obispo, California where they had taken steps back in the 70s to focus on quality of life rather than commerce.  It seems to have paid some 'happy' dividends.  Buettner also examines the myriad factors that go into happiness including health, financial security, sunshine, location, vacation time, jobs we love (or not), and more.  Check out the story at the link above.  

Below is a YouTube link for a speech to a TED conference.

posted by Chuck Schallhorn

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Giving Thanks

Please forgive the possible cheesiness of this blog entry's title.  As we approach this particular holiday, I'd like to share a couple of thoughts I have every year at this time and a personal perspective.  First is that I am thankful for my health and happiness along with the people in my life.  I am also thankful for having a full-time job that I love and am happy to go to nearly every day and work with teenagers who benefit from my work.  I live in arguably the most gorgeous part of the nation near both mountains and the ocean.  I am also thankful for having the opportunity to be a part of this blog and working with the tremendously talented, intelligent and committed colleagues with whom I work with on this endeavor.

However, I do not "celebrate" Thanksgiving.  Every year, I have the same discussion with my various classes--"what are you doing for Thanksgiving?"  My reply is that I do not celebrate that national holiday.  The first response is that they are aghast with horror that I could possibly not celebrate any and every potential holiday that is available.  I explain that I am thankful for all the positives and challenges in my life on a daily basis and that  I do not need a date that someone else gives me to be thankful and grateful (and that I do not endorse or celebrate genocide, whether intentional or not).  I also do not celebrate my birthday--I do for others, but mine holds no special place in my heart.  I give gifts to myself and the people I care about throughout the year when I think the time is right.  For those who know me well, they "get" me and understand.  No worries. 
I find that a daily "thanksgiving" makes me more aware and appreciative of all I have and a peace at a deeper level.  With this daily attitude, I find that I am nicer, more forgiving, and more loving.  I do not appreciate just the larger, grand aspects of life.  I am grateful for the small things, like the smile of the cashier at the grocery store, the wave of a person letting me go in traffic, a student thanking me for helping, as well as waking up to the awareness that I have more than everything I need to live a happy life.   I look around at the people in Haiti, the Sudan, Afghanistan, and in other places around the world and re-realize that I have a tremendously fortunate existence.  I may complain from time to time, but my focus is generally upon the positives which, in turn, reduces my ability to be angry and resentful.

After our discussions, my students seem to acknowledge the merit of my choice not to eat turkey and spend time with my family (the closest is 2000 miles away).  I spend the time doing the things that I want to do--they are private and personal.  Ultimately, they may be confused or disagree with my choices, but they are my choices, not anyone else's.  I am comfortable with that.

If you'd like some good reading to raise your spirits, check out Louis Schmier's Random Thoughts.   You will find either inspiration there.  Here is another blog extolling the virtues of being actively thankful.

During this brief time away from the classroom, I wish you and yours a wonderful holiday weekend.  May you have all the free time, football, turkey, family, food, hugs, and smiles you can handle.  Make it a tremendous weekend and thanks to you all for reading our blog.

Chuck Schallhorn

Friday, November 19, 2010

Rob Gonsalves--Artist We All Know, But Don't

If you have been teaching psychology for very long, you've undoubtedly run into the work of Rob Gonsalves, a Canadian painter whose work is quite well known for the illusions that it contains.  Below are some samples.  A large portion of his work can be found at this link on Discover Galleries.

There are dozens more on the website linked above.

posted by Chuck Schallhorn

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Brain: The Inside Story

New York's American Museum of Natural History opens a new exhibition on November 20 called Brain: The Inside Story. According to the accompanying website the exhibit features these amazing components:
  • a dramatic 6-foot-tall homunculus, a human figure with abnormal proportion that highlight how much of the brain is devoted to the sense of touch in different parts of the body; 
  • a multimedia video piece with a clear resin brain that lights-up the functional areas used by a student dancer as visitors view a video that follows her while she auditions for Julliard 
  • an engaging neuron gesture table that shows how brain cells connect and communicate with each other
  • a glowing 8-foot-tall model of the subcortical brain (the region that includes evolutionarily “older” parts like the brain stem and cerebellum) that, by connections to exhibits, illustrates how the brain processes language, memory, and decision-making
  • a deep-brain stimulation implant, the first of its kind on display in a museum
  • a “brain lounge” where visitors can watch scans of the brain of a New York Knicks shooting guard as he reacts to the whoosh of the net and the roar of the crowd and see how the brains of musicians light up to classical and rock music. 
The website itself also has some terrific features including videos, interactive games (geared more toward younger kids) and a special site for teachers that includes an educators guide. If you check out the exhibit itself or just poke around the website, please comment below to let everyone know what you liked. The exhibit runs through August 15, 2011.

  --posted by Steve

Figure-Ground Artwork--3-dimensional

Scene360 has another nice set of examples of art that have figure-ground aspects built into them.  Great art.

posted by Chuck Schallhorn

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Faces on Walls--from Scene360

This next site has the work of the graffiti artist Alexandre Farto (a.k.a. Vhils) who makes portraits by removing parts of walls and the use of paints.  The 3-D effect seems dramatic in this 2-D representation

posted by Chuck Schallhorn

What to Say & Not Say to Someone With Depression

Great article I found while perusing Slate.com--this link is from Health.com. The original info is from http://www.depressionalliance.org/. Excellent advice.

Posted by Chuck Schalllhorn

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Hero and Villain on Scene360.com

While searching for something else, I ran across this set of illusions/ambigrams that contain both the heroes and villains in the drawings.  The artist is Simon Page.  The site is scene360.com/

posted by Chuck Schallhorn

Monday, November 15, 2010

Hidden Meanings in Popular Logos

Just discovered a blog site called "Wallet Pop" while looking for some visual illusions in popular culture.  That was when I ran across this beauty: Hidden Meanings in Popular Logos on walletpop.com

This site also explains why the logos are special.  I claim no ownership of this idea, but am happy to share their collection of images that I know your kids will find fascinating.  In the Fed Ex logo, there is an arrow in the ground of the Ex figure. 

In this next image, the Big Ten created an "11" in the ground when they added Penn State. I've looked at that logo all my life and never noticed it.  Hmmmmmmm

I will be posting more illusion sites this week that have flown below our radar.

Posted by Chuck Schallhorn

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

MedicineNet Stages of Pregnacy Slideshow

MedicineNew.com (www.medicinenet.com) has put together a short (23) slide show detailing the stages of pregnancy. Each slide includes an brief explanation of events happening during that particular stage.

While primarily designed for expectant mothers, the slide show could easily be used within a developmental psychology unit.

For more information on the stages of pregnancy slide show, go to http://www.medicinenet.com/stages_of_pregnancy_pictures_slideshow/article.htm In addition, check out the "Ten Principles of Good Parenting" slide show at http://www.medicinenet.com/parenting_principles_pictures_slideshow/article.htm

Monday, November 8, 2010

Which Books for the Library? Feedback/Ideas Needed!

On the AP-Psych listserv, the question was asked as to what psychology books we would recommend for a school to add to its own library.  I find this to be a fascinating question.  I have my own favorites which I will add later, but please take a moment to add your own idea(s) in the comments.  If I were to add one, this one would be it.

There are many, many more, but this is my current first choice.

posted by Chuck Schallhorn

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Operant conditioning from the 1940s?

 I know that debates about reinforcement and punishment often leave high school psychology teachers (and their students) tied in knots, so I post this with some trepidation. But when I spied the picture above on BoingBoing this week I thought - whoa - this has got to be a new example for students to ponder!

I say sewing the lace on the bottom is a great example of negative reinforcement. What say you, gentle readers?

(P.S. No way to know whether the mother here was Mrs. Skinner. I tried in vain to find similar images from the same source.)

-- posted by Steve

Friday, November 5, 2010

Milwaukee Area Teachers of Psychology Meeting - November 9, 2010

Since 1993, Milwaukee area psychology teachers have gathered twice a year to share teaching ideas and develop friendships. Our group has come to be called the "Milwaukee Area Teachers of Psychology" (MATOP). Below you will find an invitation to our next meeting on November 9th. If you live within driving distance of the Milwaukee area, please feel free to attend. If you would like to be included on the MATOP mailing list please contact me at the email address below.

For those of you not within driving distance of Milwaukee, feel free to "check out" our agenda for items you might find useful in your classroom. Whenever possible, I have tried to include email or website addresses for further information. Please contact me with any questions you may have.


Kent Korek
Germantown High School
W180 N11501 River Lane
Germantown, WI 53022
Phone: 262-253-3400
Fax: 262-253-3494

Dear Psychology Teacher:

Please consider attending our semi-annual meeting of the Milwaukee Area Teachers of Psychology (MATOP) on Tuesday, November 9, 2010 at 7:00 p.m. at Pius XI High School, 135 N. 76th Street, Milwaukee 53213 in the Library.

Our meeting will include:

■ an inspection of the new Myers’ Psychology for AP supplements courtesy of Eileen Tanania, Bedford, Freeman, & Worth Publishing, (866-843-3715 ex 1714) etanania@bfwpub.com Thanks to Eileen for providing copies of the Teacher’s Edition and Student Study Guide for everyone coming to the meeting. For more information on this text, go to http://www.bfwpub.com/HIGHSCHOOL/newcatalog.aspx?disc=HS&course=Social+Studies&type=AP*+Social+Studies&isbn=1429244364/

■ insights from the 2010 AP Psychology Reading. We anticipate a number of AP Psychology table leaders and readers will be attending our meeting. Come listen to their reflections on Kansas City and the 2010 reading. The FRQs, rubrics, sample responses, etc. can be found at http://apcentral.collegeboard.com

■ a review of the new 19th edition of Psychology and Life by Gerrig and Zimbardo. Everyone attending our meeting will receive an examination copy of this mainstay text through the generosity of Kevin Kuckkan of Pearson School (866-340-3692) kevin.kuckkan@pearson.com To read more about this text, go to http://www.pearsonhighered.com/educator/product/Psychology-and-Life/9780205685912.paget

■ a report from the October 22nd College Board One-Day Workshop at Grayslake, IL. We would ask anyone who attended this institute, to briefly discuss the events of the day. We’ve been in contact with Mary Spilis, the College Board consultant who coordinated the day at Grayslake, who has agreed to share with us some items from the day.

■ an analysis of the supplements for Psychology: Themes and Variations 8e by Wayne Weiten. Thanks to Katie Golem, Holt McDougal Sales Representative for Advanced & Elective Programs, (800-479-9799 ex. 3870) katie_golem@hmhpub.com for providing us copies of these resources. For more information on Weiten’s text, go to http://holtmcdougal.hmhco.com/hm/detail.htm?ID=1007500000073418

■ a demonstration of the new inversion goggles from www.PsychKits.com. These new goggles, selling for only $25, literally turn the world upside down. One lucky person will leave with a pair of these goggles courtesy of Gerry Palmer palmtree60045@yahoo.com of Psychkits at http://www.psychkits.com

■ an examination of the supplements for the new REGULAR Psychology textbook, Psychology: A Discovery Experience by Stephan Franzoi of Marquette University. These supplements were provided by Mary Sommers of Cengage Learning (608-239-1928) mary.sommers@cengage.com Thanks to Mary for all her help. To find out more about this new text, go to http://www.cengage.com/search/showresultsbysortpage.do?pageSize=10&urlQueryString=Ne%3D2%26N%3D+15+4294922390+4294950661

■ information from the October 22nd CHI-TOPSS meeting at Lincoln-Way Central High School in New Lenox, IL.

■ a Powerpoint presentation of AP Psychology Exam statistics. The 2011 AP Psychology Exam will be the nineteenth time the exam has been given. Over the course of those years, a number of stats have been generated.

■ a discussion of changes in the AP Psychology Exam. Items include; online retrieval of scores, moving the exam to the first Monday of the cycle, scoring changes with regards to guessing, and more.

■ information on smartphone apps for Quizlet flashcards. A number of different cell phone apps have been developed applicable for Quizlet files. Your students can now study their psychology terms and concepts using their smartphones and iPads, iTouches, etc.

■ and more.

Everyone is welcome to attend. There is no need to RSVP. Please feel free to invite anyone you feel might be interested in coming.

If you have any questions concerning our meeting, please contact Ruth Regent-Smith at Pius H.S. (414-290-7000) rregent@piusxi.org or Kent Korek at Germantown H.S. (262-253-3400) kkorek@germantown.k12.wi.us.

For more information on MATOP go to http://www.germantownschools.org/faculty/kkorek/MATOP_Home_Page.cfm. For directions to Pius go to http://www.piusxi.org/prospective/Transportation.aspx

We look forward to seeing you.

Ruth Regent-Smith
Kent Korek

Myth of Pink and Blue brains?

This recent (and great!) article in Educational Leadership by Lise Eliot summarizes piles of research about gender based brain differences (her conclusion: its much more accurate to talk about "brain similarities" than "brain differences"!)

The article is very accessible and is a good example, I think, of how responsible researchers try to look comprehensively at the evidence and reach a conclusion. This conclusion is also controversial - there is a different article by Gurian later in the same issue of Educational Leadership that seems to contradict Eliot's conclusion. Eliot responds to that article , and then Gurian responds to Eliot's criticism.

This might be a great experience for students - to see researchers disagreeing, and how that disagreement helps the whole field move forward.

posted by Rob McEntarffer

Monday, November 1, 2010

DVR alert: Trapped in an Elevator

 Just in case you need something extra for your unit on phobias: on Tuesday November 2 at 9 pm PBS' NOVA series is offering Trapped in an Elevator (check your local listings). Among other stories it includes is that of Nicholas White, who in 1999 was trapped in an New York City skyscraper's elevator for 41 hours! His story was captured in a terrific piece in the New Yorker by Nick Paumgarten  and there is an accompanying video on the magazine's web site that shows a time elapse of images of White captured by the building's security cameras.

No reference to elevators and psychology would be complete, though, without this classic:

  --posted by Steve