Monday, June 30, 2014

Ten years of the APA-Clark workshop

The 2009 t-shirt, honoring the anniversary of Freud's 1909 visit to Clark
This week marks the 10th anniversary of the APA-Clark workshop for high school psychology teachers. It's hard to believe that it was five years ago when I wrote this post about attending the workshop. I was also very fortunate enough in 2011 to be one of the high school teachers presenters for this workshop, along with Kristin Whitlock, and I posted about it here. Whether as a participant or a leader, this workshop has been a phenomenal experience for me, and I believe that it was a terrific experience for more than 200 high school teachers since 2005.

Dr. Gurel in 2009
As I have written previously, this workshop is due to a partnership between the APA and TOPSS (especially Emily Leary Chesnes), Clark University (especially Nancy Budwig), and of course Dr. Lee Gurel. Dr. Gurel has generously given money each year to fund this workshop (along with many other TOPSS projects) and even participates himself by attending the workshop each year. I know many participants who are enchanted by that "sweet old guy" in the front row, who they learned much later was the benefactor making it all possible.

If you have been a participant in this workshop, feel free to leave a comment below about what the experience meant to you. I know that Dr. Gurel is a frequent reader of our blog, and I am sure he would appreciate hearing how his gifts have impacted you.

 --posted by Steve

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Call for applications from schools in the Northeast: Golden Psi Award

Attention Psychology teachers in the Northeast: the APA is calling for applications from schools in the Northeast U.S. (Maine, Mass., Conn., R.I., N.Y., N.J., Vt., and N.H) for the "Golden Psi Award."

Here's the official description of the award from the APA:
"The APA/BEA Golden Psi Award is given to schools that demonstrate psychologically based practices contributing to positive educational outcomes with successful learning environments, both academically and socio-emotionally. Along with a trophy, the winning school will receive (1) $1,000 cash prize; (2) recognition at the 2015 American Psychological Association convention; (3) an article in a 2015 APA Monitor; (4) Press Release from APA and winning school’s local media; and (5) acknowledgement on the APA Education Directorate website at"

posted by Rob McEntarffer

Monday, June 16, 2014

History of Mental Illness Treatment: An Infographic

I receive a daily infographic from Some offerings I skip over since the content is outside my interests. Yesterday, however, I found this little beauty entitled, Electroshock Therapy and Other Ways We Treat Mental Illness [infographic]."It includes trepanning, phrenology, repression, asylums, lobotomies, bloodletting and more.

I will definitely be using this graphic as an intro and context setting for when I teach disorders and treatment next. There is excellent overview with details that can be filled in by the researcher or the experienced psych teacher. It does get larger with re-sizing your browser settings.
The direct link to the post is here:
-- posted by Chuck Schallhorn

Thursday, June 5, 2014

An amazing way to learn using rats in psychology class

Today's guest post is by Maria Vita of Penn Manor High School in Millersville, PA. Take it away, Maria!

At Penn Manor High School, students in regular psychology and Advanced Placement Psychology conduct lab experiments using live rats.  Yep, you read that correctly: LIVING RODENTS!  After the 10-15 day project, students create Youtube videos demonstrating concepts learned.  Some short, but effective videos from this year are Agnes (2014), Lacey (2014) and Oz (2014).

During the project, students apply content standards from the APA/TOPSS standards in high school psychology, including:

Ethical issues in research with human and non-human animals
Principles of classical conditioning
Principles of operant conditioning

Students ensure their three-week-old rat’s health by weighing it on an electronic baby scale.  If rats lose more than 5-10% of their total weight, it can be an indicator of illness.

Working in teams of two to three, the students name and “adopt” their rat: Each group is encouraged to fill their rat’s cage with enriching items like PVC tubes and empty tissue boxes. Our classroom can have anywhere from 12 to 26 rats (and cages) at a time! 

In AP Psychology, students are encouraged to use a “clicker” to classically condition their rat.  Ultimately, the “clicker” sound excites the rats because they associate it with food.  Students apply Ivan Pavlov’s trace conditioning by clicking first (CS), pausing, and then presenting the rat with food (UCS). For an example, see these student-made videos on Youtube: the rat Anastasia’s video (2011) or Ellie the rat (2010).

Among their many feats, rats acquire bar-pressing behavior in an operant chamber.  They also learn to navigate a maze and obstacle course. The student-made videos published on YouTube demonstrate the successes of the rats, but also students’ understanding of target vocabulary.  In 2010, for example, students applied the term shaping by getting their rat Nessy to push a marble down two ramps, then eight ramps, then seventeen ramps (see images or YouTube video @ 40 seconds).  

To see more student and rat videos, go to There is a project description on this link for those interested in training their own rats.

Thanks for sharing this, Maria!
--posted by Steve