Saturday, April 30, 2011

The Cognitive Dissonance song debut!

For the first time on any blog (I think) AP Psychology teacher Brad Wray is debuting his new video "Cognitive Dissonance (Dissonant & Justified)." You may remember that Mr. Wray's hit song about cognitive bias was featured here just before the AP Psych exam last May, and he's back with another. I hope that all of you teachers and students who are doing some last minute reviewing this weekend will take a few minutes to enjoy his new song, this time complete with some awesome drawings and an MP3 remix!

  --posted by Steve Jones

Thursday, April 28, 2011

AP Psychology Summer Institutes (APSI)

As our thoughts turn from preparing for the AP Psychology Exam to the end of the school year, many teachers start thinking about AP Summer Institutes (APSI). These week long adventures designed for both the beginning and seasoned AP teacher, provide valuable insights into the teaching of any AP Psychology course. I've heard many a teacher say the APSI is probably the one best thing that has helped their teaching of AP Psychology with the possible exception of being an AP reader.

This summer, AP Psychology Advanced Placement Summer Institutes (APSI)are offered at over 50 locations throughout the country. Almost all are designed for both experienced and new AP teachers, while a few are exclusively for new teachers. APSI's usually last four or five days and are run by endorsed consultants of the College Board.

I (Kent) have had the good fortune to facilitate AP Psychology Summer Institutes over the past seven years. This year I am scheduled to be in MN, WV, PA and KN. I am always impressed with the professionalism and willingness to share by all the participants. I can confidently say, I always walk away from the weeks with many new ideas for my classes.

To provide a little insight into a typical AP Summer Institutes I facilitate, I have posted a brief overview of the week on my website ( Please be aware, every institute varies based on the facilitator, needs of the participants, sponsoring organization's requirements, as well as a host of other factors, but most APSIs contain many of the same basic elements. Other APSI consultants are invited to post comments, information, website links, or other items of interest in the comments section of this posting.

To learn more about summer institutes, go to the Institutes and Workshop section of AP Central at The site includes a search engine where you can find an APSI in your part of the country. You can search by topic, date, and/or location.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

News from TOPSS/APA

The following is from Emily Leary, Assistant Director of the APA Office of Precollege and Undergraduate Programs, regarding items of interest from the APA and TOPSS (Teachers of Psychology in Secondary Schools) to all high school psychology teachers. If you would like to be included on Emily's email listing, please contact her at the address below.

APF Professional Development Awards for High School Psychology Teachers

The purpose of these awards is to help high school psychology teachers travel to and attend regional or national teaching and/or psychology conferences.

Applicants may be awarded up to $250. Funds can be used to offset costs of travel, conference registration, and housing accommodations. Applications to attend the APA Convention (August 4-7, 2011, Washington, DC; are encouraged. $2,500 is available for funding. These grants are made possible through a generous gift from Dr. Lee Gurel.

The application deadline has been extended until May 1, 2011; for details on how to apply, visit

APF High School Psychology Teacher Network Grants

The purpose of these grants is to support the development of local and regional networks of psychology teachers and to support a local or regional teaching workshop or conference for high school psychology teachers. APF is particularly interested in proposals for professional development opportunities for teachers that could lead to the formation of a new regional network of psychology teachers. APF will award $1,500 in grants in 2011. These grants are made possible through a generous gift from Dr. Lee Gurel.

The application deadline is May 1, 2011; for details on how to apply, visit

APA TOPSS Poster Competition for High School Psychology Students

TOPSS is pleased to announce the 2011 APA TOPSS Poster Competition for High School Psychology Students. There will be four winners, each of whom will receive a $250 award.

Topic: Although psychology has historical roots in the discipline of philosophy, a contemporary definition of psychology states it is the scientific study of behavior and mental processes. The American Psychological Association (APA) recognizes psychology as a diverse scientific discipline with nearly boundless applications in everyday life. In this competition, students will design an original visual poster on the theme “Psychology is a Science,” and also submit a written explanation of the poster and theme.

The submission deadline is June 1, 2011; please visit for competition details, rules, scoring rubric, and submission information.

Call for Nominations: 2011 TOPSS Committee Elections

The mission of TOPSS is to promote introductory and advanced high school psychology, meet curricular and professional needs of secondary school teachers; and provide opportunities for high school students to be recognized and rewarded for their academic excellence. If you would like to become more involved in TOPSS, and are interested in gaining leadership experience and positively impacting the teaching of high school psychology, we encourage you to consider serving on the TOPSS Committee. TOPSS is especially interested in encouraging individuals from diverse backgrounds (including diversity in race/ethnicity, gender, ability/disability, sexual orientation, age, and religion) to consider running for TOPSS Office. In 2011, the following three elected positions will be filled: Chair (three-year term), Member-at-Large (two-year term), and Membership Coordinator (two-year term).

Nominations are due by July 1, 2011. Visit for additional information.

APA Annual Convention

All high school psychology teachers are encouraged to consider attending the APA Annual Convention (, being held August 4-7, 2011, in Washington, DC. TOPSS is pleased to announce the 2011 TOPSS Invited Addresses; the following sessions will be held Friday, August 5, and Saturday, August 6, 2011:

  • Barney Beins, PhD, Ithaca College, Ithaca, NY; Psychology: Gateway to Critical Thinking and Scientific Literacy
  • April Bleske-Rechek, PhD, University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, Eau Claire, WI; The Lee Gurel Lecture: A Primer on Evolutionary Psychology: Foundational Ideas, Exemplary Research, and Criticisms
  • Jessica Henderson Daniel, PhD, Boston Children’s Hospital, Cambridge, MA; Teaching Adolescents about Adolescents: Using Mirrors that Focus on Race, Ethnicity and Gender
  • Gil Einstein, PhD, Furman University, Greenville, SC; Remembering to Perform Actions in the Future: Can Intentions Pop into Mind?
  • Regan Gurung, PhD, University of Wisconsin Green Bay, Green Bay, WI; Maureen McCarthy, PhD, Kennesaw State University, Kennesaw, GA; Katherine Minter, Westwood High School, Austin, TX; and Steve Behnke, PhD, JD, APA Ethics Office, Discussant; Ethical Issues in the Introductory Psychology Course

Also, please join TOPSS for a reception on Saturday, August 6, from 5:00 – 5:50 PM, at the Grand Hyatt Washington Hotel (Burnham Room).


The TOPSS Website is For only $40 a year, high school psychology teachers can join APA as affiliate members and become a member of TOPSS. To join TOPSS, visit Benefits include access to 19 Unit Lesson Plans, subscriptions to the monthly APA Monitor magazine and quarterly Psychology Teacher Network newsletter, and more!

Please contact Emily Leary by e-mail ( or at (202) 572-3013 if you have any questions.

Emily Leary | Assistant Director, Office of Precollege and Undergraduate Programs
Education Directorate
American Psychological Association
750 First Street NE, Washington, DC 20002-4242
Tel: (202) 572-3013 | Fax: (202) 336-5962
email: |

Movies and Psychology

When I attended a day-long seminar in the early 90s about critical thinking in the social sciences, I was instructed never to show an entire film during class time-that time was too valuable.  I abide by that advice to this day.  In class, I show film clips, but prefer documentaries.  I do have AP Psych Movie Nights outside of class time. 

However, the time after the AP exam often presents us with lots of time and low interest by our hard-working advanced students.  Given that reality, many of us will be showing films.  Following a recent thread on the AP-PSYCH listserv, I did a couple quick searches and rediscovered these gems.

APA Division 2's page with two resources

PsychMovies dot com (I posted about this site back in late 2009)
Exceptional descriptions and overviews with ratings

APS guide to using film in teaching psychology
This is an excellent resource including steps to use in using film, solving ethical issues within the film, following copyright, and more.  Thank you Dr. Raymond J. Green.

Regardless of your views on the pedagogy of showing films, these are some excellent resources.

posted by Chuck Schallhorn

Big Bang Theory - Conditioning Penny

As fans of the Big Bang Theory TV Show (most notably my wife and oldest daughter) are no doubt aware, within the "The Gothowitz Deviation" episode (Season 3: Episode 3), there is a short segment where Sheldon tries to train Penny using Operant Conditioning.

There are a number of different versions of the clip at YouTube and other video sites. In my mind (Kent) the best version for a high school class can be found at

Monday, April 25, 2011

AP Psychology Exam - Last Minute Items

With the AP Psychology Exam just one week away, many of us are reaching the end to a long journey that started last fall. Below are some of the "last minute" items I (Kent) tell my students. Note: This listing is basically the same as previous years, with the exception of the guessing adjustment.

General Information:
  • Monday May 02, 2011 in the afternoon
  • Bring pencils with erasers and blue or black pens
  • Bring a watch that does not beep
  • Do not wear any psychology related clothing
  • Do not bring anything else: books, papers, calculators, cell phones, etc.
Multiple Choice Section:
  • 100 multiple choice questions
  • 70 minutes
  • 2/3 of the overall grade
  • A-E Answers
  • Names, charts, graphs, drawings are all possible
  • There is no 1/4 point adjustment for guessing, if you are not sure about a question, take your best educated guess after using process of elimination
Free Response Section:
  • 2 required Free Response (essay) Questions
  • 50 minutes
  • 1/3 of the overall grade - 1/6 of grade for each question
  • Points are given for correct responses not taken away for incorrect material
  • Points can only be removed if one part of an answer contradicts another part
  • Read through both questions before doing anything else
  • Think through the answer before starting to write
  • Write an outline or notes in the test question booklet
  • Don’t be afraid to cross something out, if needed
  • Write in sentences - DO NOT OUTLINE OR BULLET YOUR ANSWER.
  • Be as complete as possible, but keep to the point.
  • Watch the time. Don’t get caught short on essay #2
  • Structure the answer following the structure of the question
Test Security:
  • Do not discuss the multiple-choice section with anyone
  • Do not discuss the free response questions for 48 hours. The general rule of thumb is wait until the questions have been posted on the College Board website
  • Do NOT post, text, email etc. anything about the exam on the Internet, especially on Facebook, Twitter or other social networks
  • Do not come and visit me between the multiple choice section and free response section
If you have any questions on the above items, please contact me at Please feel free to leave any other ideas in the comments section below. Best of luck to everyone.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Understanding Autism course - from Yale University

Did you know that Yale offers an online course on autism? I didn't, but I just stumbled upon it and wanted to share. The course is offered to undergraduate students and the school decided to make it more widely available:
The Yale Seminar on Autism and Related Disorders is the United States' first undergraduate course of its kind. Our goal for this website is to make all of the lecture content and supporting materials available online for free for anyone who desires to learn about Autism Spectrum Disorders.
The course is divided into 11 sections and each section has links to video (like the one above), audio, PowerPoint and PDF files, and readings. This looks like an amazing resource and I hope that if you know more about it or delve into the course you will share it us at THSP.

  --posted by Steve Jones

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Resources for the AP Psychology Exam

With the 2011 AP Psychology Exam just around the corner, I (Kent) thought it might be helpful to list some of the many resources available on AP Central. Best of luck to all on the 2011 AP Psychology Exam.

General Information on AP Psychology

AP Psychology Home Page

AP Psychology Course Description Book (Acorn Book)

AP Psychology Exam Information
This site includes basic information on the AP Psychology Exam and access to all the Free Response Questions, rubrics, sample responses, etc. since 1999.

Released AP Psychology Exams

Occasionally, the College Board releases the actual AP Psychology Exam students have taken. To date, the 1994, 1999, 2004 and 2007 AP Psychology exams have been released. The 1994 and 1999 released exams can be found on the AP Central website. The 2004 and 2007 released exams can be purchased at the College Board Store. Due to the changes in scoring for the multiple choice section starting in 2011 (see below), revised scoring worksheets have been published for all the released exams except for 1994.

1994 AP Psychology Released Exam
  • Please Note: There are no revised scoring worksheets for the 1999 AP Psychology Released Exam

1999 AP Psychology Released Exam
2004 AP Psychology Released Exam
The 2004 AP Psychology Released Exam can be purchased from the College Board Store

2007 AP Psychology Released Exam
The 2007 AP Psychology Released Exam can be purchased from the College Board Store

AP Psychology Practice Exam

In 2008, the College Board released an AP Psychology Practice Exam free to authorized teachers. The practice exam, which mirrors a typical AP Psychology Exam, is available only to AP Psychology teachers who have passed the AP Audit. A major difference between the practice exam and the released exams is that students have access to the released exams, but not the practice exam.

Before using the AP Psychology Practice Exam, please read through the "Usage Guidelines". The practice exam should NOT be published on a website or in any other electronic format. Many teachers give the practice exam to their students for a grade in their AP Psychology course. Please do not violate the confidentiality of the practice exam by posting it on a website where any enterprising student can find it.

Information and access to the AP Psychology Practice Exam can be found at

Changes in Scoring for Advanced Placement Exams

Beginning in 2011, the scoring for the multiple choice section of AP exams will change. Below is a quote from the AP Central Website explaining the change.

"Beginning with the May 2011 AP Exam administration, there will be a change to the way AP Exams are scored. Total scores on the multiple-choice section will be based on the number of questions answered correctly. Points will no longer be deducted for incorrect answers and, as always, no points will be awarded for unanswered questions." (

Again, best of luck to all. Just think, on May 3rd we can start counting down to Monday May 7, 2012.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Images from The Beautiful Brain

The terrific site The Beautiful Brain ("the art and science of the human mind") has a great new feature on the work of artist Elizabeth Jameson, a civil rights lawyer who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1991. As TBB explains,
Jameson felt a hunger to step beyond her career as a lawyer and reinterpret this medical imagery, adding an artistic treatment to her brain scans in what has become a unique form of portraiture. Jameson writes that her MS inspires her “to create images that provide new insights into the brain and, at the same time, makes medical imaging and its representative humanity more accessible to both medical professionals and others who view these revealing pictures.”
Check out the online gallery of Jameson's work and the accompanying interview with her, as well as another gallery of her work from 2010. 

  --posted by Steve Jones

Friday, April 15, 2011

Freud's couch featured on The Amazing Race

If you are a fan of the CBS show The Amazing Race like I am you probably already know this, but if not, here's some news: this Sunday's episode has the teams traveling to Vienna, Austria.As in every episode, the duos will be required to do tasks that are unique to that locale, and this episode features Sigmund Freud! As you can see from the preview above (or if it does not load, go here) the teams are required to carry a couch like Freud's down the street and at least suffers a "Freudian slip"!
--posted by Steve
(who was probably the only person in the US jumping up and down in his living room last week at the end of the previous episode, when they showed "scenes from next week," yelling "they're carrying Freud's couch!")

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Brain Atlas = Done!

Chuck posted on this blog back in February about the Brain Atlas that the Paul Allen Institute for Brain Science was working on. Recently, WIRED magazine wrote a nice post announcing the COMPLETION of the Brain Atlas!

The reporter's description of dissection might make for good, entertaining, out-loud reading in class: "He takes a thin, sterilized knife and slices into the tissue with disconcerting ease. I’m reminded of Jell-O and guillotines and the meat counter at the supermarket. He saws repeatedly until the brain is reduced to a series of thin slabs, which are then photographed and rushed to a freezer. All that remains is a pool of blood, like the scene of a crime."

The picture in the upper right of this post represents a "3-D snapshot of all the locations in the brain where the Prozac’s biochemical target is expressed."

Its not clear to me whether this atlas is useable by high school students (might be WAY too technical?) but its still a great example of researchers trying to get a comprehensive database/picture of the brain, and students might be interested in the effort.

posted by Rob McEntarffer

Sunday, April 10, 2011

TV Alert: "Human Planet" on Discovery Channel

The Discover Channel has what appears to be a human version of their incredible Life series called, "Human Planet."  Granted, it may be more for a Sociology course, but what humans do and how they do has always fascinated me (I was fortunate enough to teach sociology for 14 of my teaching years).

The site describes the series as:
Human Planet is a majestic portrait of people's incredible ability to survive and thrive in our planet's most extreme environments. From oceans to jungles to deserts, Human Planet tells the story of the complex, profound and sometimes challenging relationship between humankind and nature.
In terms of usage, one could take clips of the show and examine problem-solving--seeing how different cultures, faced with challenging survival tasks, adapt to their environment and make it work for their group.  One could also use the series to examine value systems of groups, examining how the circumstances of nature "force" groups into particular kinds of beliefs, valuing more that which is necessary, but rare in the region.  Teachers could also use clips to gauge student reactions, showing how the students exhibit ethnocentrism, a personal-culture bias.  I have used "Body Ritual Among the Nacirema" to great effect over the years for a more academic, word-based version of the experience.

In perusing the photos, I ran across one of my favorite groups, the Woodabe.  From the caption:
A painted Wodaabe dancer wears his brightest smile at a courtship dance in Niger, west Africa. Called the Gerewol, it's one of the most extraordinary gatherings of fertility and flirtation in world. Three winners will be chosen out of dozens of male competitors, and each will win a new lover — even someone else's wife. The Gerewol is signaled by the coming of the desert rains.

I'm looking forward to the series in all its high-definition glory.  The six-part series begins tonight--see local listings for details.

posted by Chuck Schallhorn

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Announcement: June workshop for psychology teachers at NC State

North Carolina State University is offering a one day workshop for high school psychology teachers on June 25, 2011. The workshop offerings will include:

  • Cross-cultural research
  • Careers available for psychology majors
  • Fun classroom demonstrations
  • Myths and misconceptions in psychology
  • Research methods and ethics
  • Resources to implement in the classroom

Attendees will receive Continuing Education credits + 3 hours of reading credits. For more information and to register, visit

--posted by Steve Jones

Friday, April 1, 2011

Psychology in the news (special edition)

The world of psychology was rocked today by a number of alarming news stories:

TV host, psychologist and author Philip Zimbardo announced that he will be starring in his own Food Network reality show this summer. "The Flour of the Situation," set in the basement under the Food Network studios, will randomly select the show's contestants to work as authoritatrian chefs or as helpless diners forced to eat the meals that the chefs prepare. Zimbardo will be the executive producer and host of the show, which has a planned two week run this summer, and which will be produced by his own production company, Prisoner819DidABadThing.

The National Association of Clowns announced that they were suing psychologist Albert Bandura for his experiments in the early 1960s with the infamous Bobo dolls. "We know it was a long time ago," said spokesman Beau Zeau, "but ever since Bandura's experiments kids have been kicking us clowns around. We're not going to take it anymore - we're bouncing back!" When reached by an interviewer Professor Bandura declined to comment, as he was late for his turn as guest judge on America's Next Top Model.

Police in New York City this morning received a rash of phone calls about a sudden brilliant white light in the Times Square area. When police arrived they found a giant flashbulb, but could find no eyewitnesses nearby who could recall seeing the flash or where the flash came from. "You think I would remember something like that because it would be so vivid in my mind," said bystander Liz Lof-Tus, "but no, I've got no memory of anything like that."

Finally, the College Board surprised many today by issuing a press release about a change to next month's AP Psychology exam. This year, in addition to the familiar format of multiple choice and free response questions, the exam will include sections that require students to show their ability to practice psychology. For example, patients will be presented with a variety of disorders, and students can earn the highest grades on the test by both diagnosing and curing the patients on the spot. (Diagnoses alone without cures will not score.) But there is no truth to the rumor that students can get twice the points if they get a patient with dissociative identity disorder. If you have questions about this change, please contact Dr. A. Pril-fo Ols at the College Board.

  -- posted by Steve