Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Give me one psychologist

I know many THSP readers only indulge in high-brow culture, so when I encounter something psychology-related in the world of reality TV, I know I have to share it.

ABC's Big Brother knock-off, The Glass House, aired its second episode this past Monday, and part of the drama involved a young woman named Holly. In the first episode, Holly confessed to the camera that she was a psychology major in college, but that the didn't want to let her housemates know - because that would, you know, automatically tip them off that she was a clever player who would outsmart them all. She instead claimed to be an art history major.

In the second episode, however, she begins to annoy some of the others, and when a woman asks her about her art history major, she revealed that she clearly knew nothing about art, and she confessed to being a psychology major. (Note: the woman seems to say "Sixteenth Chapel" here, which puts her in the same boat as Justin Bieber, apparently.)

Her housemates say, okay, fine - tell us about the biggest paper you wrote in psychology. When Holly is unable to do this, a woman follows up with this: "Give me one psychologist and their viewpoint. Just one."

I won't spoil it, but you really should watch the two-minute clip below for the answer. (If the clip doesn't load, go here:

--posted by Steve

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

AP Psych Bellevue 2012

The great (fabulous!) AP Psychology Bellevue 2012 participants looking at the blog! (More details to follow!)

Thursday, June 14, 2012

On my first time as an AP reader

The KC skyline
Last Friday afternoon the last of more than 200,000 AP psych exams were graded in Kansas City. I've taught AP Psych for ten years but this was the first time I had been invited to participate as a reader, and I can report that it was such a terrific experience that I would strongly encourage all eligible folks to apply to read. (From the College Board, here's how to become an AP Reader.)
400+ people gathered to get their marching orders on Day 1
First, participating is a serious commitment of nine days - two travel days, plus seven reading days. Each reading day is a real workday that begins at 8 and ends at 5. At our reading, the first half of the first day was spent learning the rubric on the question we were grading, but by the afternoon we were independently grading essays. It is obviously not comparable to more demanding forms of physical labor, but it does take a physical toll to sit in virtually the same position for hours, reading essays that ranged from the excellent to the execrable.

Second, being a reader allows you to understand the exam in a whole new way - and I say that as one who was fairly confident going in that I had prepared my students well in terms of the mechanics of the test. One thing I'll take away, for example, is an importance of communicating to the reader that you just finished taking an AP Psychology course and can "speak the language." I recall numerous examples where the student wrote about the concepts in the question, but in a way that they could have before they ever took the course. Some things to iterate and reiterate next year: use the terms you have learned, define terms (even if it doesn't say define, it can't hurt) and give specific examples to show that you know what you are talking about. Psych teacher Amy Ramponi called her method TAD: Term, Apply, Define.
The last day - after the tests have all been collected.
Third, being a reader is a great professional experience. The more than 400 readers are either high school AP Psych teachers or college professors who teach intro psych, and to get that many people in one area all talking about psychology is phenomenal. Whether it was discussing how to score a point with my partner (a college professor), listening to a great talk by a former APA president (the terrific Diane Halpern) or just chatting informally, it was so valuable to talk to people who, again, "speak the language" of AP Psychology. It was also refreshing to hear Chief Reader Ken Keith say that at the reading, there are no titles - everyone is to be addressed by their first names, and there were as many high school as college folk with leadership positions.

Fourth, I got to meet so many great people! There were those who I've communicated with for years via e-mail but never met in person (like Kent and Chuck), those I've met through the THSP blog (like Virginia), those I met previously at other workshops (like Jen and MikeR), people I've gotten to know through Twitter (like Maria, Bill, Michael and Catherine), people who I'd heard great things about but never met (like Laura) and people I met for the first time (like AmyR and Sarah). And it was especially nice to meet colleagues who said "Oh, I love your blog!"

There's a lot more, but I just wanted to give you a brief overview of what the reading was like from my perspective. For another take, check out Charlie Blair-Broeker's overview of the AP Psych reading from 1994.

Biggest disappointment? I didn't get a photo of THSP moderators Kent, Kristin, Chuck and Rob when we were all under the same roof at the same time! Oh well, there's always next year. (I hope!)

--posted by Steve
(acorn no more!)

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

2012 AP Psych exam results

The College Board's head of Advanced Placement programs, Trevor Packer, is on Twitter (@AP_Trevor), and this afternoon he issued eight tweets (posted below) about the results of the 2012 AP Psych exam. I would be curious to know your thoughts about these results and Packer's seemingly odd comments at the end. Did college professors really want it to all be multiple choice originally? First I've heard of that, but I'm certainly not that knowledgeable about that time period. And has there indeed been a shift in the perception of professors about the free response section? Alas, Mr. Packer seems to see Twitter primarily as a one-way communication device, as to this point he hasn't replied to Twitter users who've questioned him.

Regardless, I'd love to hear your thoughts/comments/feedback on the results and/or the other comments.

--posted by Steve
(who really IS working on a post about the AP reading!)

Monday, June 11, 2012

Head Games: New Show on Discovery and Science Channels

While I was away at the AP Psych reading, the Discovery Channel began running a short series called, "Head Games," a series of episodes about different aspects of psychology.  Topics include conformity, morality and Pavlov's classical conditioning, perception and mirror neurons.  I accidentally discovered them when doing a Tivo wishlist search.  While the show calls the demonstrations "experiments," the principles I have viewed thus far are pretty indicative of what we attempt to show our students.  At first glance, snippets of the show would be best used in our classes rather than full episodes.  There are also some online activities to illustrate some of the concepts as well.

posted by Chuck Schallhorn

Friday, June 1, 2012

On to the reading

 I'm very excited to be going to Kansas City today to serve for the first time as an AP reader. According to Charlie Blair-Broeker we have 218,812 exams to read over the next week or so - and yes, Charlie did already note that it's a lovely palindromic number.
Chuck, Kristin, Kent and me (Steve)

Even more exciting that that is a rare gathering of several of the THSP moderators in the same place. In fact, this blog was started in 2009 by Chuck Schallhorn, Kent Korek and myself, and this will be the first time we'll all meet in person. I hope that we will all be able to post some things from KC over the next week - not on the exam itself, but on other psych issues that we encounter.

I'm also delighted to be seeing several "old" tweep pals in person and getting to see others face to face for the first time. Wish us all luck!

--posted by Steve