Thursday, September 20, 2018

Check out APA's Introductory Psychology Initiative (IPI)!  Building on the momentum of recent events, such as the APA's Summit on High School Psychology Education, this group is taking an in-depth look into the Introductory Psychology course at all levels of education. The working groups are divided into 4 main areas:  Student Learning Outcomes and Assessment, Teacher training, Course models and design, and Students success.  Here's the future of Introductory Psychology!

Kristin Whitlock

Wednesday, September 5, 2018


UTAH-Teachers of Psychology in Secondary Schools Fall Conference

Westminster College, Salt Lake City UTAH
Friday, Sept 21 2018
7:30 am - 3:30 pm


Dr. Rob McEntarffer, Lincoln Public Schools
What's Psych got to do with it? Using what we teach

Dr. Suzy Cox, Utah Valley University
The changing landscape of adolescence

Annette Nielsen, Woods Cross High School
Psychological Science: Adding Labs to Psychology

Dr. Jessica Habashi & Angela Anderson, Utah State University
Sensory System Demonstrations for Lab and Lecture

Participant Idea Share: Emily Checketts, Roy High School

Breakout sessions
• Sports Psychology: Jillian Carver, Sky View High School

• Introductory Psychology: Dr. Rob McEntarffer, Lincoln Public Schools

• AP Psychology: Erik Bayles, Pleasant Grove High School ; Tiffany Bliss, Olympus High  School; Julie Gowans, Payson High School

COST: $50 (due by Sept 14; after that date $60); includes continental breakfast, lunch, materials, certificate


Hope to see you there!
Kristin Whitlock

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Teaching Psychology: Where Can I Find Help?

The great folks at the APA/TOPSS have created a wonderful list of online resources for psychology teachers called, "Teaching Psychology: Where Can I Find Help?" Highlights include information for regular psych, IB Psych, and AP Psychology; professional development; course development; PLNs; much more.

Check out the resources at the link above. Incredibly helpful for any teacher, not just teachers new to the profession or subject area.

posted by Chuck Schallhorn

Friday, August 10, 2018

New APA Resources--The Canvas Course

AMAZING NEW RESOURCE--Thank you to Brad Wray and the Tech Strand at the Psychology Summit!!!!

TOPSS High School Psychology Course Template available in Canvas – From the technology and online learning strand. A giant thanks to Brad Wray in particular for creating and filming the linked video on the site, and for all his work editing and uploading the course. Feel free to watch the video and download the course – feedback is welcome!

“This teaching resource for high school psychology teachers includes many content specific, peer-reviewed resources, videos and formative assessments organized by the National Standards for High School Psychology Curricula. The entire course template is shareable and customizable and can be used in on-line or in-person psychology classes.”

posted by Chuck Schallhorn

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

New to Teaching Psych? Some Key Resources--2018 Edition

Welcome new psychology teacher! Congratulate yourself on finding/stumbling on/being forced to teach the best class in high school! There is an abundance of materials out there so you don't have to reinvent the wheel your first year (although you should feel free to after that). Here are some of the best resources.

The following is a combination post with material from Chuck Schallhorn and Steve Jones.

1) TOPSS stands for Teachers of Psychology in Secondary Schools and is part of the American Psychological Association. 

Join TOPSS and you become an affiliate member of the APA at a fraction of the cost that other professionals pay, only $50 per year. *NEW*

In 2011 teachers on the TOPSS board created a manual for new high school psychology teachers. This was written by high school psychology teachers who have "been there" with few resources and little help among your building colleagues.

Be sure to check this out! TOPSS has lesson plans for every unit of the high school psych course and is in the process of revising older units so that the lesson plans remain vital and useful. They're created by high school teachers and are edited by psych professors. There's also a quarterly newsletter, the Psychology Teachers Network, and an annual workshop for high school teachers at Clark University. Finally, and maybe most importantly, the APA and TOPSS have created the National Standards for High School Psychology.

The first version of standards was created in 2005 and the newest version of the standards was released in 2011. Following the Psychology Summit of 2017, a new steering committee has been tasked with creating new and updated standards in the upcoming years.

Full disclosure, Steve is a former chair of TOPSS and Chuck is currently a member-at-large.

2) The College Board

Even if you don't teach AP Psychology this is a great resource -- and if you do, it's terrific! Here are some pages to start with.:

3) Twitter

You will be amazed at all the valuable resources that are at your fingertips via Twitter. Many high school psychology teachers (like myself) consider my colleagues on Twitter to be an extremely valuable part of their personal learning community (PLN), and often share ideas and resources with each other.

In the past couple of years the hashtag #psychat has become a great way to share information as well. Other teachers are also using Twitter as a way to interact with their students online in many ways, such as commenting on news articles, sharing new sites and even homework reminders.

You can also follow Steve on Twitter at @highschoolpsych or Chuck at @MtnHousePsych.

4) Teaching psychology activity books.

These were compiled by Ludy Benjamin et. al. and have a wide variety of activities for intro psych courses. Some are hits and some are misses (in my opinion) so you might want to buy one and see what you think. 

5) Forty Studies that Changed Psychology

An excellent overview that will be invaluable to you if you're just getting started, and is often used by many AP Psych teachers during the year or as a summer assignment.

6) The publisher of your textbook. 

Find out what book you'll be using, then contact the publisher and get in touch with the high school representative for psychology. They are usually very helpful and can give you an idea of what might be available for you for free. A great tip from Michael Donner on the AP Psych list is to contact a publisher of another psychology textbook and see if you can get an exam copy of that book (or even find a used copy online). A second book can be very helpful for helping you come up with alternate examples or explanations for your students. Chuck has more than 15 alternate introductory texts--there are even activities one can do with multiple textbooks.

7) The National Council for the Social Studies Psychology Community. 

This group is part of NCSS and helps psychology teachers in many ways, including annual presentations at the NCSS conference, newsletters and more. They are available on Twitter at

You can e-mail chair Daria Schaffeld at daria.schaffeld AT to get a copy of the latest newsletter and to find out more. Also, consider attending the annual NCSS Conference to hear great presentations.

8) Your fellow teachers!

Though there are still listservs (which I have purposely omitted), there is the facebook AP Psych teacher group. While there are some excellent resources shared, some of the ideas shared are not connected to standards or other reliable sources and lack pedagogical quality. The google drive there is filled with ideas, so if you have time and interest, do check it out.

 9) A Blog Plug: this Teaching High School Psychology blog 

The blog was created by Steve Jones, Kent Lorek, and Chuck Schallhorn with Chuck being the primary contributor at the moment. Other contributors include Rob McEntarffer, Nancy Diehl, and Kristin Whitlock. It's a site for us to share with our fellow teachers the things that we like, find interesting, have questions about, etc. Follow us via e-mail so you are notified every time we post something new, in your RSS reader or just bookmark us and visit when you can.

When planning a new unit, check out the blog at and do a unit search for videos and assignments that we have. You can do this by checking out the list of units in the left-hand column of the blog.

There are hundreds of ideas and resources we have posted throughout the years. One final bit of advice: Psychology is a science. It doesn't matter what your background is as long as you're willing to embrace the scientific perspective and run with it. Have fun and enjoy teaching psychology!

We have a THSP Psychology folder on Google docs that has many resources for each unit. These activities have been vetted and are appropriate and quality lessons

**test out this link and make sure you can get inside each folder. Contact Chuck if there are any issues with the link.

10) Brain Games
The video series from National Geographic is outstanding for psychology and neuroscience demonstrations. In fact, it has overtaken many of our in-class demos both in terms of quality and quantity. You can purchase the DVDs online at or stream a couple seasons on Netflix. For content guides for all five seasons, click here.

11) Chuck Schallhorn has a YouTube Channel 
This can help out with some of the more complex ideas for the students at:

12) Chuck and 
It costs money, but if you are desperate, this should help out. You can also search YouTube for teachers who have put their lessons online. They are of varying quality

13) APA Division 2-The Society for the Teaching of Psychology

They have an amazing set of resources on their OTRP website. 

14) Joe Swope (longtime psych teacher who is currently on the TOPSS board) has an amazing site you can sign up for at There are many quality resources here including his videos on psychology.

17) Crash Course Psychology videos

The main playlist is available here--great for quick reviews, overviews, background information, or even as student homework--they are densely packed with information.

If there are any resources we missed, please leave them in the comments. posted by Chuck Schallhorn in 2018.

posted by Chuck Schallhorn

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Research Response Opportunity

Hi All,

I received this information from Courtney Walsh. This is a request to fill out a survey for psychological research. This blog is only passing along the information, we do not have any connection to the research. Please direct questions to the folks below.

Due to APA's support of immigrant student populations, I am reaching out to request your help in reaching a nationally representative sample. I am an experienced psychology and sociology high school teacher currently wrapping up my master’s degree in Human Development and Family Studies at Kent State University.

My thesis research is exploring high school teachers’ understanding of and professional development surrounding this atypical student population. In the current social environment, an exploratory survey gauging teachers’ awareness of how immigration policy affects undocumented adolescent students' school and daily life is extremely relevant and important.

I am requesting that you encourage your members to participate by disseminating the details below. Thank you for your consideration of this project.

Courtney Walsh
Master’s Student,
Kent State University


Research details: To participate there is an online survey (Secondary School Teachers’ Understanding of the Impact of Immigration Policy on High School Students) that should take no more than 15 minutes to complete. It can easily be completed on a phone, tablet, or computer.

Here is the link to the survey: 

Participation is anonymous and voluntary and you may withdraw from the study at any time.

Upon completion of the survey, you have the option to enter your email address in separate survey for the chance to win one of the following: $50 Amazon gift card (1 available), $25 Amazon gift card (4 available).

If are you under 18 years of age, or not a certified high school educator, please do not respond to the survey.

Questions? Contact the Principal Investigator (my advisor), Maureen Blankemeyer, at or 330.672.9397.

You may also contact Kent State University’s Institutional Review Board at 330.672.2704.

posted by Chuck Schallhorn

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

My Personal Journey from Creating Evil to Now Inspiring Heroism: A Webinar with Phil Zimbardo

Our friend Nancy Diehl (former TOPSS officer and all-around great person/psychologist) just shared this--looks like a great opportunity for teachers, so check it out and join the webinar!

Register today!

Webinar with Dr. Zimbardo. Just confirmed... ANYONE CAN PARTICIPATE! 

For teachers $10- for APA TOPSS members $5. 

 Join Division 52 President Merry Bullock and Stanford Professor Phil Zimbardo in a conversation on Zimbardo’s trajectory from trying to understand situational aspects of evil to trying to promote everyday heroism.

Hosted by: APA Division 52 and APA Office of International Affairs June 8th, 2018 3:00 PM EDT / 12:00PM PDT

CE credit is available 

For more information and to register:

posted by Chuck Schallhorn

Monday, June 4, 2018

2018 TOPSS Committee Call for Nominations

2018 TOPSS Committee Call for Nominations 

If you would like to become more involved with the APA Teachers of Psychology in Secondary Schools (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 in all locations and from diverse backgrounds (including diversity in race/ethnicity, gender, ability/disability, sexual orientation, age and religion) to consider running for TOPSS office. In 2018, the following elected positions will be filled: Chair-elect and Member-at-large. Both are three-year positions.

The TOPSS Committee meets at least once a year in Washington, DC. The APA covers travel and accommodation expenses. Please consider nominating a colleague who you feel would make a positive impact. Self-nominations are also welcomed.

Each term of office begins in January and continues for the succeeding 12 months. For details, please visit

 Nominations are due July 1, 2018.

Author note--I am in my second year in serving on the TOPSS board. There is at least one meeting in Washington, D.C. each year, with a second one sometimes occurring. We have conference calls monthly with each member having a particular focus and projects to be a point person on. One year later, we are still working on the amazing ideas and programs that the Psychology Summit created. Our newest project is deciding what to do with the one million dollars David G. Myers gave to the foundation for TOPSS to use. We are in an incredible time to be working within TOPSS and the teaching of psychology. I highly recommend giving it a shot.

posted by Chuck Schallhorn

Friday, May 18, 2018

Request for Feedback on APA’s National Standards for High School Psychology Curricula

Request for Feedback on APA’s National Standards for High School Psychology Curricula 

The National Standards for High School Psychology Curricula Working Group invites feedback on the National Standards (APA, 2011) to inform the next revision of the policy document.

 All high school psychology teachers are invited to complete a short survey available online here by July 1, 2018.

The Working Group will review all submitted feedback this fall as it begins to revise the psychology standards. The current National Standards, which expire in August 2021, define learning benchmarks for the high school psychology course.

The standards are available online at Questions can be sent to

posted by Chuck Schallhorn

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

APA Annual Conference--HS Teacher Opportunities

Hi Everyone,

If you can, check out the offerings for the APA's annual convention. This year it is in San Francisco in August. If you are already out here, join us. Among other offerings, you can see me interview the great Paul Ekman. I still cannot believe that one. So check this out and register!

The following is excerpted from a letter by past-Chair of TOPSS, Kristin Whitlock, sent out to TOPSS members. Wonderful opportunities for teachers of high school psych!

Dear Colleague, I am writing to encourage you to attend the annual American Psychological Association (APA) Convention, being held August 9-12, 2018, in San Francisco, CA. APA is a great opportunity to learn firsthand about current findings in psychological science, network with other high school psychology teachers, and meet noted psychologists.

Full Day Pre-Convention Workshop for Psychology Teachers 

On Wednesday, August 8, the APA Education Directorate is hosting a full day workshop for psychology teachers on metacognition, hard to teach topics in introductory psychology, and improving student well-being. The cost of this workshop is $40 to attend for TOPSS members; breakfast, lunch, and materials will be provided. Presenters are Elizabeth Yost Hammer, PhD, and Elliott Hammer, PhD, both of Xavier University of Louisiana, and Annette Jordan Nielsen of Woods Cross High School (Utah). For details and to register, please visit the workshop website. The application deadline is July 1. The workshop will be held at the San Francisco State University downtown campus. Space is limited, so we hope you will register soon.

 TOPSS Invited Speakers and Reception 

We are pleased to announce the TOPSS invited speakers at Convention. These sessions will all be held in the Moscone Convention Center:

  • Elliot Hammer, PhD, Xavier University of Louisiana; Leveling the Field: Fostering Identification with School in all our Students; Friday, August 10, 3:00 – 3:50 PM, Moscone Center Room 206
  • Paul Ekman, PhD, University of California, San Francisco; Lee Gurel Lecture: A Conversation with Dr. Paul Ekman; Saturday, August 11, 2:00 – 2:50 PM, Moscone Center Room 215 
  • Linda Woolf, PhD, Webster University; Randal M. Ernst Lecture: Politics, Sex, Religion, and Rights: Controversial Topics in the Classroom; Saturday, August 11, 3:00 – 3:50 PM, Moscone Center Room 151 

There will also be a reception for high school psychology teachers on Friday, August 10, from 5:00-6:30 PM, at The Irish Bank, 10 Mark Lane, San Francisco, CA 94108. We hope you can join us for complimentary drinks and appetizers.

The APA Convention is an outstanding opportunity to learn about psychology and network with teachers and psychologists. You can choose from hundreds of sessions on psychology, including numerous plenary addresses on cutting edge research in the field at APA.

You can read about additional convention sessions for educators through the Society for the Teaching of Psychology website. You can read a high school teacher perspective on why the APA Convention is the “greatest professional development opportunity available” here.

If you are not the only psychology teacher at your school we hope you will share this information with your fellow psychology teachers. For more details and to register for convention, visit the APA Convention website. You can also register on-site. We hope to see you in August!


Kristin H. Whitlock, MEd Davis High School,
Kaysville, UT
Past Chair, TOPSS
Chair, TOPSS 2017 Convention Programming

Office of Precollege and Undergraduate Education
The American Psychological Association
750 First Street, NE Washington, DC 20002-4242 202-572-3013

posted by Chuck Schallhorn

Monday, May 7, 2018

Job Opening in China-great opportunity for the right person

This is the information for a job opening in China--it's a great opportunity for a person at a certain point in their lives. This info comes by way of Kay Minter.

Forgive the formatting--I copy/pasted from a forwarded email. :)

Job Description:
This is an amazing opportunity to live and work in Hangzhou China, the most beautiful garden city in China if you are the ONE we are looking for!
One of the top 4 high schools in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province, China is looking for a certified and experienced AP Biology and AP Psychology teacher.
The school is located downtown with convenient connection to train stations, airport and only a 5 minutes’ walk to the beautiful West Lake.  In 2012, the AP center was founded which is dedicated to educating and helping the top students in Hangzhou to further study in the eminent universities worldwide. The school highly emphasizes and values the teaching quality so that they think their teachers’ main responsibility is to maintain a high level of teaching quality and in the meantime keep being professional inside and outside classroom.
Job Requirement for AP Biology and AP Psychology Teacherstarting Sep 2018
  • Master’s Degree or Bachelor’s Degree with Teaching Certification; 
  • Preferably 35 years of teaching experience; 
  • Must be able to teach AP level of AP Biology and AP Psychology at high school level. We strongly recommend that you have experience in teaching these subjects. 
  • ELL or ESOL teacher training and/or experience is highly preferred; 
  • Teachers who are very comfortable with technology are preferred  
  • Proficiency in facilitating lab experiences for ELL/ESOL students. 
  • Candidates must be able to successfully clear a criminal background check and provide official college degree. 
  • The candidate should agree on a three month probation period. Details of the probation are listed in the contract.    Here we offer our expatriate teachers a very attractive compensation package and treat our teachers with great respect. 
  • Our compensation varies based on related teaching experience and our evaluation based on your interviews.  
  • The rough range is about 300,000 RMB to 350,000 RMB annually. If a teacher deserves higher pay than this range, the school has no problem about offering a higher salary. 
  • 20000 RMB of contract completion bonus if the school is satisfied with the teacher    
  • A housing reimbursement of 4000 RMB per month and 4500 RMB per month if you come with your family (which can usually cover the rent) 
  • Reimbursement of the 2 flights: to our school and back to your home country  
  • 3000 RMB of excess luggage fee or moving fee if you’re already in China 
  • Comprehensive Insurance annually from an international insurance company.  
  • 10 days of paid sick/personal leave;  5 days of Paid Bereavement Leave 
  • One month of Paid Maternity Leave and 5 days of Paternity Leave
If you are interested, please send your resume and a cover letter to no later than May 11th 2018

posted by Chuck Schallhorn

Thursday, April 12, 2018

April 15 Deadline Reminders for Grants and Contests

The following information is from the APA Education Directorate. Please apply and/or encourage your students to apply.

The following programs all have April 15 deadlines; we hope you or your students will apply!

APA TOPSS Competition for High School Psychology Students

Students are invited to participate in a video competition to demonstrate how psychology can benefit society at a local, regional, or global level. Each submission must include a 2-5 minute video, supported by a written statement of 750-1,000 words. The deadline for submission is April 15, 2018. 

APF High School Psychology Outreach Grants

$5,000 is available to fund innovative programs that support networking, professional development and educational outreach opportunities for high school psychology teachers and students. These grants support regional teaching networks for high school psychology teachers (a new “how-to” guide is online here). The deadline to apply is April 15, 2018.

APF Professional Development Awards for High School Psychology Teachers 

$2,500 is available to help fund high school psychology teachers' travel and attendance to the 2018 APA Annual Convention, being held in San Francisco, California, Aug. 9-12, 2018. Funds can be used to offset costs of travel, conference registration, and housing accommodations. The deadline to apply is April 15, 2018.

APA/Clark University Workshop for High School Teachers: June 27-29, 2018

This three-day workshop is specifically for high school psychology teachers. The 2018 workshop presenters will include Jessica Flitter, of West Bend High School (West Bend, Wisconsin), and Scott Reed, of Hamilton High School (Chandler, Arizona). Regan Gurung, PhD, of the University of Wisconsin, Green Bay will give the keynote address entitled “To Boldly Go (Beyond Content): Teaching High School Psychology, Skills, and Learning.” There is no registration fee. Housing and food are provided for participants and travel stipends and travel scholarships are available. The deadline to apply is April 15, 2018.

posted by Chuck Schallhorn

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Dead Serious: Breaking the Cycle of Teen Suicide 
Many of you have likely read recently that the current generation of adolescents is facing higher levels of anxiety and depression than ever before. I've read a number of articles highlighting that fact. Today's teens face challenges in life that anyone over 25 has not experienced and to generalize, the individual teens often do not have the coping skills needed to cope with those stressors. In addition to creating relationships with students so they have a trusted adult in their lives, there are some more impactful steps teachers can take.

Dead Serious: Breaking the Cycle of Teen Suicide, 2nd Edition is an updated book that gives both teens and adults some excellent advice on recognizing anxiety and depression, recognizing warning signals, bullying, surviving another's suicide, LGBTQ-specific concerns and issues, and making connections. The stories are powerful, the information is solid and accurate, and the book is incredibly valuable.

As a person who has experienced suicides of friends, students, and a family member, I found this book to be incredibly powerful. If only I had such a resource earlier in my life. . .

Below are a list of chapters Jane Leder covers in this important book.

  1. When It's Someone You Know
  2. Behind the Statistics
  3. Anxiety and Depression
  4. Exploding the Myths / Recognizing the Warning Signals
  5. Suicide Survivors
  6. Over the Edge: Interviews with Suicide Attempters
  7. Bullying: A Power Play That Hurts
  8. LGBTQ Teens: Overcoming the Stigma with Resiliency and Pride
  9. Connections

I personally had a chance to read a pre-publication version of this book and was impressed. This is a valuable book that should be required reading for all middle and high school employees and made widely available for students. I personally bought five copies for my classroom and am encouraging anyone in education to read and purchase copies for your classroom or your library. Yes, I am biased, but human life is that important to me.

Yours in survival and prevention,

Chuck Schallhorn

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Magic, Mentalism, & Hypnosis: John Mohl Guest Blogger

Today we have a guest blogger, Dr. John Mohl, AP Psychology teacher and experimental psychologist from Pennsylvania. He brings us an insightful examination into mentalism and magic.

Derren Brown, a talented mentalist and magician, has been well known in the UK for over a decade, but many Americans are getting their first exposure to him through his first Netflix show The Push. [NOTE: Spoiler alert…if you are planning to watch it, stop reading until you’ve had the chance to see it]. Based on the premise that humans are vulnerable to manipulative persuasion, the show presents four people who had previously applied to be on a Derren Brown program but were told that they were not selected, and were unaware that their experiences were being filmed. Each person was individually placed in a staged setting in which other people (who were all actors) used persuasion techniques aimed to get the participants to do increasing deviant behavior, with the climax of being pressured to push an antagonizing character off the roof of a building avoid potential legal trouble stemming from earlier actions in the show (that person was surreptitiously harnessed, so no harm was done if the person was pushed). Three of the four participants ended up doing the push.

 The perceived implications are clear: we are susceptible to influence that can bring us perform even the worst of actions, for which we must be weary and prepared to resist. However, if everything presented in the program is accepted at face value, there is reason to doubt the validity of the results. While participants were likely not “in on the act” on an explicit level, they likely were on an implicit one. To understand this idea, we need to examine an often-overlooked issue in human behavioral research.

When people enter a psychological study, they have certain assumptions. The first is that the study is done in the name of science. They know that they are there to help investigators test a hypothesis. The second assumption is that no one will be harmed in the course of the study (barring any acknowledged risk learned during the informed consent process). They know that their actions will not have any lasting aversive impact on themselves or others involved. Finally, anything that happens to them, including any deceptions, only does so with their acknowledgement and consent. Coupled with these assumptions is the fact that participants, who volunteer themselves freely, desire to be good subjects. They hope to give the experimenter whatever he or she desires in order for the experiment to be successful, and will perform in whatever way they think is desired. The participant is always thinking, observing, and making judgments about the study, and can perceive the slightest of nuances embedded within the study, the people involved, and the procedures being used. All of these could, albeit unintentionally, potentially communicate the point of the study. As such, the participant will try to conform to what is expected of him or her. These nuances are what Martin Orne called demand characteristics.

 Though many psychology students (and teachers) are unfamiliar with them, demand characteristics are present in every psychological study. They are unavoidable and, unless a proper design is used, their potential confounding effects in studies are unknown. Participants act on demand characteristics implicitly and not as deliberate attempt to ruin a study, but their doing so can threaten the validity of its findings. In an ingenious experimental design used to determine whether hypnosis can make one do anti-social acts, Orne and his colleagues used two groups. The first was composed of highly hypnotizable people who were instructed to experience hypnosis like they normally would. The other was made up of people who were not responsive to hypnosis in spite of repeated attempts. These participants were told to fake their responses in order to dupe the hypnotist, who was blind to who was simulating and who was real. In doing so, the hypnotist (who, based on previous research, does no better than chance in guessing who was actually malingering) would treat both groups the same way. This way, the demand characteristics can be parsed out from the true effects of hypnosis: whatever the hypnotized participants do, and not the simulators, would truly be the result of the hypnotic process.

Participants were told in hypnosis to do a variety of anti-social acts, such as dipping their hand into fuming nitric acid, throwing the acid into the face of the experimenter, and reaching out to pick up a poisonous snake. However, unknown to the participants, the experiment was set up in such a way that no actual harm was being done to anyone (the participant, for example, was actually placed behind an invisible glass barrier that would prevent the experimenter from being hit with the acid). Five out of the six truly hypnotized participants completed all of the acts, but all six simulators did the acts as well, indicating that their acquiesce was the product of the demand characteristics to which they were complying, and not hypnotic suggestion.

Derren Brown’s The Push portrays a setting that is vastly different than the experimental setting. Still, demand characteristics and participants’ accompanying set of assumptions still apply. Presumably, participants had previously signed consent forms that acknowledged potential (and unwitting) participation in a future event. The actors in the show who interacted with the subjects may have communicated the demand characteristics of the situation in the same fashion that experimental confederates might do. Brown’s previous specials have portrayed people in staged settings in which they “robbed a bank” and “assassinated” a known celebrity without anyone actually being harmed. Participants knew, then, that their potential participation, while potentially distressing, would not include anything dangerous. These variables could have factored into the participants’ decision to do the final act.

 The strong and compelling emotions exhibited by the show’s participants could serve as evidence that they accepted the reality of the situation (i.e., they are really pushing someone). However, these can also manifest in simulating conditions. A dissertation study conducted by Charles Holland replicated Stanley Milgram’s procedure in his famous Obedience Experiment, but it had two additional quasi-control conditions. One had participants believing that the shocks were really only one-tenth of what was portrayed on the machine, while the other had participants informed that they were in the control group and were instructed to pretend that they were na├»ve subjects. In all three conditions, participants exhibited many of the same behaviors. Blind observers did no better than chance in guessing the condition to which participants were assigned. Thus, if simulating participants can produce sweating, fidgeting, and signs of distress in a psychological study, they could also in a TV show that they hope might be successful. The general message that Derren Brown promotes, that psychological principles, applied in a certain fashion can influence how we think and make decisions, should not be overlooked. The Foot-in-the Door Technique, which he referenced in the show, can lead people to acquiesce to large requests after agreeing to smaller ones. Forms of coercive persuasion (“brainwashing”) have been shown to work in a variety of settings, ranging from POWs returning from the Korean War to people who have been persuaded to join cults. A number of psychological factors employed in the special could have had a genuine effect. However, the degree to which demand characteristics played a role in getting the participants to commit the seemingly murderous act simply cannot be ascertained. While Brown referred to the episode as an experiment, the lack of a proper control group undermines his claim of how vulnerable we are to persuasion. If a simulating control group, similar to what was used in Orne’s or Holland’s research, were uniformly to refuse to commit the final act, then The Push would be much more convincing. However, until such is done, we must pull back on making overarching judgments.

posted by Chuck Schallhorn, written by Dr. John Mohl

Sunday, March 25, 2018

2nd Annual Psychology Conference for Michigan High School Psychology Teachers

I'm happy to share this announcement of the 2nd Annual Psychology Conference for Michigan High School Psychology Teachers! The conference - which is FREE and includes lunch - features professors David Myers and Katelyn Poelker, both of Hope College. More information about the conference is shared in the link above and in PDF format in this flyer. Register soon to reserve your spot!

--posted by Steve

Friday, March 23, 2018

APA Center for Psychology in Schools and Education Needs Your Help

Hi All,

I am at the APA Spring Consolidated Meeting in Washington, D.C. at the moment. There is a group called Center for Psychology in Schools and Education. They have a great desire to assist teachers, counselors, and support personnel in the K-12 world.

They need your feedback in order to create resources and programming to best meet our needs.

Please take a few minutes to fill out the survey at this link.

For additional information, please contact Maha Khalid at or call at 202-336-5977.

posted by Chuck Schallhorn

Monday, March 5, 2018

Psi Alpha--Possible New HS Psychology Honor Society

From the Psi Beta National Honor Society in Psychology for Community College Students March 3, 2018

This letter is from Jerry Rudmann, PhD
Executive Director Psi Beta 


This is a special message to America's teachers of high school psychology. I am pleased to announce Psi Beta’s decision to launch a high school honor society. “Psi Alpha” (the tentative name) will serve talented high school students having an interest in psychology. Moreover, Psi Alpha will support quality psychological science education, be a resource for teachers of high school psychology, and help inform high ability high school students about career options in psychology.

Building on 35 years of success in serving America’s talented community college students, Psi Beta has the resources necessary to facilitate Psi Alpha’s development. That said, teachers of high school psychology will be critical to Psi Alpha’s development and allocation of instructional resources. If you are one of America’s teachers of high school psychology, please indicate your interest and availability to assist in development of Psi Alpha.

Please use this link to access and complete a very brief interest form.

posted by Chuck Schallhorn

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Iowa Teachers of Psychology Conference (ITOP)

If you teach psychology in Iowa or near Waterloo, check out this post. The folks in Iowa are putting together an excellent spring meeting. Waterloo is not that far from Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, and Nebraska. Check it out!

Conference Website
Registration Form

posted by Chuck Schallhorn

Thursday, February 15, 2018

American Psychological Foundation (APF) Professional Development Awards for High School Psychology Teachers

American Psychological Foundation (APF) Professional Development Awards for High School Psychology Teachers 

APF has made $2,500 available to help fund high school psychology teachers’ travel and attendance to the 2018 American Psychological Association (APA) Annual Convention, being held in San Francisco, California, Aug. 9-12, 2018.

Funds can be used to offset costs of travel, conference registration, and housing accommodations. The deadline to apply is April 15, 2018. 

For details visit:

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

APF Money for Creating/Supporting Regional Networks

American Psychological Foundation (APF) High School Psychology Outreach Grants 

APF has made $5,000 available in 2018 to fund innovative programs that support networking, professional development and educational outreach opportunities for high school psychology teachers and students. These grants support regional teaching networks for high school psychology teachers.

The deadline to apply is April 15, 2018. 

For details visit:

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

APA/Clark University Workshop for High School Teachers--Amazing PD

APA/Clark University Workshop for High School Teachers

 The 14th annual APA/Clark University Workshop for High School Teachers will be held June 27-29, 2018, at Clark University in Worcester, MA.

 All interested high school psychology teachers are invited to apply; the workshop will be open to 25 teachers.

Workshop presenters will include Jessica Flitter, of West Bend High School (West Bend, Wisconsin), and Scott Reed, of Hamilton High School (Chandler, Arizona). Regan Gurung, PhD, of the University of Wisconsin, Green Bay will give the keynote address.

The deadline to apply is April 15, 2018. For details visit:

Monday, February 12, 2018

2018 TOPSS Competition for High School Psychology Students

2018 TOPSS Competition for High School Psychology Students 

High school psychology students are invited to participate in a video competition to demonstrate how psychology can benefit society at a local, regional, or global level.

Each submission must include a 2-5 minute video, supported by a written statement of 750-1,000 words. Four winners will be selected for this year’s competition, each of whom will receive a $400 award.

The deadline for submission is April 15, 2018. 

For complete competition details, rules and guidelines, visit:

Monday, January 15, 2018

Doing Psych: Survey Project

There are lots of calls for "doing psych" but not necessarily the ability due to ethical, time, resources, and financial constraints.

I began this survey project a few years ago when I had a Chromebook cart to use in class for several class periods.  My current school is 1:1 with Chromebooks and it makes the process a whole lot easier.

To expose students to creating surveys, obtaining data, and writing a summary and conclusions about the data gathered.

Equipment/Software: You'll need to be 1:1 with devices the kids can type on--computers, Chromebooks, computer lab all work. You also need access to Google for Education Tools for easiest implementation. My school is a google school--all students have gmail, google drive, and many other tools--they will need google forms/sheets, and google docs for this project.

You may need to teach students how to write survey questions, use google forms/sheets, and recognize bad/poor survey questions.

Process: As a teacher in this project, I provide some basic guidelines and then spend the rest of the time (potentially several days) walking around, checking screens, and asking questions. It is really hard work to constantly be checking student work in class.


1. Do Background Reading:

2. Choose survey topic--get teacher approval

3. Create 5-7 questions--must be closed-ended--include one open-ended question for feedback

4. Obtain feedback from at least 3 other groups and the teacher on how good your questions are--you are looking for feedback to improve the survey--do your questions make sense and help you answer the questions you have.

5. Turn in links to surveys (teacher should have own google form to collect survey links)

6. Every student anonymously takes everyone else's survey to gather data (you can use any/all your classes since data will be used only in your class--none of this will be published)

7. Do a write-up--Student pairs examine the data gathered
  • present the results in numbers form with each question
  • present the data in a graphics format (easily done within google sheets)
  • provide conclusions for each question
  • provide conclusions about the entire survey
8. Students then do a separate reflection on what they learned as a result of doing the project, from choosing a topic to making questions, to analyzing data. What did they learn? This is an important metacognitive piece.


Students may want to choose topics that are too difficult or too sensitive for your school district--use caution and care in allowing what might or might not get you into trouble.

Depending on your patience and your students' backgrounds, you may want to let them struggle with this. You may want to immediately direct students into specific questions--this is a situation by situation basis for me--it depends upon the student(s). Sometimes the struggle of my asking and them answering is worth it. I ask a lot of questions like, "what kind of responses does that question give you" and "you want information X--how does this question get you there?"

Postscript: I first did a version of this assignment back in the late 1980s with my honors sociology courses based upon the work of Paul Schreiner, the previous teacher. All the technological additions and ethical considerations are based upon experience and reading a variety of sources. For the good or the bad, this comes from my brain.

posted by Chuck Schallhorn

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Social Psych Review Activity

A belated Happy Holidays and a bright and merry 2018 to you! We had a great holiday here in the frigid Midwest and I even got to visit a frigid New York City for the holidays and see a dear "Psychology Friend" (those are the best kind of friends, btw.)

George Arthur visits NYC!
Maria and I eat cupcakes at Grand Central!

But seriously, back to the topic at hand. One of the great things about teaching psychology and AP psychology at my high school (Kimberly High School in Kimberly, Wis.) is that I have a great colleague, Mike Heling, who has some pretty creative and unique activities and reviews. He comes up with some seriously good stuff. (Many of you know Mike from the AP reading. He says, "Hi" and that I can not post his picture here.)

Since we're on the semester block schedule, we're DONE with content and in full-blown review mode. The other day, Mike came up with this GREAT Social Psychology review that I wanted to share with you all. It was funny, fun, interactive, and a great practice for FRQ scenarios that may get tossed at kids on exam day.

I thought this was a great activity and my kids had a blast! Here's a Google Drive link to his activity! (Note: the terms you can use does not have to be this list - I merely copied a term list I had from a Learning Target/Term sheet I give out at the beginning of the chapter. You can pick and choose which terms you'd like for the review.)

Wishing you all the best in 2018.

-----Posted by Amy J. Ramponi