Monday, May 27, 2013

Changes in the new AP Psych course description

The College Board has just released the 2013 revised course description for AP Psychology. Also known as "the Acorn Book," this is the official overview of the course that is regularly revised, with the previous version being released in 2010.

I went through the 2010 and 2013 versions and have listed below the changes that I noted. Please note that this is not an official list of differences, just the ones I noticed - so please share in the comments below if you find I have made any errors or omissions. The one major thing I will say is that the changes are very minor. There are no changes in the fourteen content areas and no changes in the percentages of questions in each area; there are minor changes in the objectives and outline.

Changes in the Topics and Learning Objectives section:

I. History and Approaches (2–4%)
• Recognize how philosophical and physiological perspectives shaped the development of psychological thought.
• Describe and compare different theoretical approaches in explaining behavior:
  • evolutionary, biological, cognitive and biopsychosocial as more contemporary approaches.

III. Biological Bases of Behavior (8–10%)
Discuss the influence of drugs on neurotransmitters (e .g ., reuptake mechanisms, agonists, antagonists). 
Discuss the role of neuroplasticity in traumatic brain injury. 

V. States of Consciousness (2–4%)

Understanding consciousness and what it encompasses is critical to an appreciation of what is meant by a given state of consciousness. The study of variations in consciousness includes an examination of the sleep cycle, dreams, hypnosis, circadian rhythms and the effects of psychoactive drugs.

VI. Learning (7–9%)
Predict the effects of operant conditioning (e.g., positive reinforcement, negative reinforcement, punishment, schedules of reinforcement). (NOTE: schedules of reinforcement ARE still in content area VI – just not in the above sentence!)

IX. Developmental Psychology (7–9%)
Explain how parenting styles influence development.

X. Personality (5–7%)
Compare and contrast the major theories and approaches to explaining personality: (e.g., psychoanalytic, humanist, cognitive, trait, social cognition, behavioral)

Changes in the Content Outline

I. History and Approaches . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2–4%
A. History of Psychology
B. Approaches
8. Biopsychosocial
C. Subfields in Psychology

III. Biological Bases of Behavior . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8–10% 
E. Neuroplasticity

IX . DevelopmentalPsychology  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7–9% 
F. Sex and Gender Development 

Other changes 

There are 25 new multiple choice questions - I found some of them to be difficult and surprising. 
There are two sample free response questions taken from previous AP exams: the 2008 question on Asch's conformity study, and the 2009 question on the dancers Linda and Dmitri.

There is also a nice new section on page 24, AP Psychology Free-Response Question Writing Expectations, which I think will be a terrific guide for both new and veteran teachers on how students should approach answering the Free Response questions.  

Again, please add your thoughts in the comments about other changes you saw that I missed, or what you thought about those multiple choice questions.

--posted by Steve

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Online AP Scores for Students

Below you should find a posting from the College Board concerning a new program.  Starting this year, students will obtain their AP scores via the internet using password protected accounts rather than having the scores mailed via the US Postal Service.  Please make sure all your students are aware of this change and have signed up for an account.


AP Online Scores for Students

Now Available: AP® Score Access Schedule for Students

With AP Exams less than a week away, we want to remind you that students will receive their AP scores online this year. Students' online score reports will contain scores for all AP Exams they have taken. Paper score reports will no longer be mailed.

When Your Students Can Access Their Scores

All students will be able to view scores as of 5 a.m. EDT on Monday, July 8. However, to allow for those students who need to send scores to colleges by July 15, there will be early access to view and send scores at scheduled times from July 5 to July 7, based on a student's location. Students will receive an email shortly before early access begins with reminders about how and when to access their scores.

Click the link below to find out the window during which students in your area can gain early access to log in and view their AP scores. Students will have early access to their scores only during the scheduled date and times for their location. Once the window for a particular location has passed, students in that area will be able to log in again on July 8.

View the Early Access Schedule for Students

Look up your location and share the date and time with your students. (Stay tuned for more information about your own access to scores: We'll email you in late May with the access schedule for educators.)

How to Help Students Prepare to Get Their Scores

As a reminder, students MUST have a College Board account and either their AP number or their student ID number to retrieve scores. Here are some ways you can help ensure students are ready to get their scores:

Take some time during class to talk about it.
Write on the board and read this statement to your students:
To get your AP scores this year, you'll need to go to and create a free online account with the College Board. You will be able to log in for early access to your scores for a 24-hour period starting on [your state/country's date] at [your state/country's time].

Give your students a homework assignment of creating a College Board account.

Download an AP scores poster here and post it where students will see it.

We understand that some students may not have access to a computer or the Internet during the summer. Please encourage them to plan ahead by finding a local resource now (e.g., a public library). If your students expect to have severe difficulty finding such a resource, let them know that we will provide information about an alternative score reporting process on in the coming weeks.

We appreciate your help in keeping students informed about this transition. Stay tuned for more updates via email and on our website.

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THSP is a Ranked Education Blog

I recently submitted our THSP blog to the blog ranking site to see if it would be accepted and, if so, how we would rank.  As it turns out, we are pretty highly ranked.  Stephan Maldonado wrote this about our blog, "Congratulations! We love the work you're doing, and we're thrilled to include you." 

That kind of validation of the work and resources we share is important to those of us who write and post blog entries.  

The link to our particular page on the Blog is here:

The main blog at to find other great education blogs is here:

Main site for

Rankings change on a daily basis and this is our rank as of today (5/22/2013) out of 320 blogs.  All in all, I'd say this is a pretty good thing.  

Thank you to everyone who reads and comments on our blog.  We need you in order to make this whole enterprise worthwhile. 

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

You are less beautiful than you think!

Hello Everyone!

Many of you may have seen the recent, and popular, Dove commercial called " “Dove Real Beauty Sketches.”  In this video a forensic artist stretches a drawing of a woman as she describes herself to him.  A stranger also describes the woman to the artist.  When the drawings are revealed, the drawing based on the stranger's description is more beautiful than the other based on the person's description.  The message is that "you are more beautiful than you think."  If you haven't seen it yet, you can watch the video here:

But is this true?  A recent article in Scientific American reviews the psychological research and finds that the opposite appears to be true.  For example, Nicholas Epley of the University of Chicago and Erin Whitchurch of the University of Virginia have demonstrated that we tend to see ourselves as more attractive than we actually are.  Researchers digitally altered images of participants.  These images were either made to be more or less attractive than the real picture.  When asked to select the unaltered image, participants chose the attractive one. 

Read more about this interesting research at:

Kristin H. Whitlock

Monday, May 13, 2013

Interesting Situation--Change in Teaching Assignments

Hello everyone,

When I was younger, I was idealistic and thought politics did not exist in education.  Yes, I was
delusional and naive.  But I find myself in an interesting situation.

I have been teaching AP Psychology since 1992, the second year of the course's existence.  I have been teaching the course successfully since then and have been an AP reader twice.  As you can imagine, my passion for the subject is quite strong given my involvement with this blog and other activities.

So after making a decision, my school has decided to give the AP program I have created to another teacher.  I still get to teach regular psychology, but the AP numbers have not grown to the satisfaction of the deciders, so AP was given to an English teacher who recently got a doctorate in counseling psych.  As I sit here and write this, I am torn between laughing at the absurdity of the situation and doing something with the rage that I am feeling.  Numbers--that was the sole reason.  Let's give this a try and see what happens was the rationale.  The words arbitrary and capricious come to mind.

So here is my question.  Are there any schools out there looking for AP Psychology teachers?  Preferably California--SF Bay Area to avoid licensing hassles, but I would consider most places.  I still have a job, but am now actively seeking another position where I can teach AP Psych.

Sorry for using this blog for a personal platform, but I just wanted to inquire.  If you would like to see my CV, please email me at  Thanks for any advice or insight you may have.

posted by Chuck Schallhorn

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Child Abuse Ad--Secret Message Only For Children

I was reading through my email today and found this phrase, "Spanish ad has a secret message only kids can see (video)." That took me to the page on Marketplace Radio show (NPR).

The article and video describe the technology that makes adults see one image and kids younger than age ten see a different image.  Powerful material directed at kids who may be abused.

posted by Chuck Schallhorn

Monday, May 6, 2013

Set your DVR's! New "Brain Games"!

Hi All,

The National Geographic Channel has produced new episdoes of the Brain Games.  I've already missed 4 of them!  Here is a teaser from tonight's episode, called "The Power of Persuasion."

"By exposing us to specific stimuli, Jason Silva can prime our brains to respond in certain ways. See how identical twins interview for the same job, in the same clothes, with the same resume. They even give the exact same answers—but the order of the words in their answers is slightly different. The result? One twin comes off negative, and the other gets the job. Would you believe that Texas seceded from the U.S. if a crazy-looking guy told you? Probably not, but what if a news reporter with a microphone did? This episode unveils the subtle tactics that advertisers, marketers and con men can use to get you to do what they want, without you noticing."

There are online games, clips, and information to support each episode.  To find all of these resources, go to:

The episodes air on Monday's at 9:00 pm. 

Happy viewing!