Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Guilty Except for Insanity

This is a new documentary about the Oregon State Hospital (made famous by One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest). It documents the struggles of 5 people in the hospital. It also touches on the history of mental hospitals and the legal struggles these patients face.

It was shown in Portland at the end of June and there is no word on when the full version will be available for the public, but there is contact information for the people involved in the documentary.

Here is little excerpt from the website:
"Guilty Except for Insanity follows the journeys of five people who enlist the insanity defense after being charged with serious crimes. The documentary portrays the circumstances surrounding their crimes and the dilemmas they confront as they enter the Oregon State Hospital under the "guilty except for insanity" plea."

-posted by Trevor Tusow

Poll Everywhere

This post comes to you from the Pacific Northwest! I (Rob) got to work with some FABULOUS teachers at the AP Psych Institute in Bellevue, WA, and we worked with an interesting website this morning: Poll Everywhere

This site allows you to post a multiple choice question for folks (students and/or teachers in a prof. development course, etc.) who can then text in a certain code and "vote" on one of the options. At our institute we used poll everywhere as part of a discussion about "Formative Diagnostic Items" - a formative assessment technique that helps teachers quickly gather data about student misconceptions.

(By the way: My participants are the BEST participants ever in the history of AP Psychology institutes. So there)

- posted by Rob McEntarffer

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Donors Choose projects for psychology teachers - Teachers ask. You choose. Students learn.

I was browsing DonorsChoose today and found several psychology-related projects to share. If you can, please consider helping these teachers help their students by contributing. If you are a teacher, DonorsChoose is a great way to get additional resources for your classroom. Go here if you are a teacher to find out how to begin the process. (Full disclosure: I did one last year to get copies of The United States Constitution: A Graphic Adaptation for my civics classes.)

Here are the projects I found:

--posted by Steve

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Slogans and behavior - it's time for change

Okay, teachers, trust me on this one -- file it away for next year and bring it out when you want your students to apply their knowledge to a real-world setting.

The Wall Street Journal today posed a question: what's the best preventive health slogan for kids? The story focuses on Blue Cross Blue Shield's new "5-2-1-0" campaign (PDFs in English and in Spanish) to teach healthy habits and reduce the amount of obesity and prevalence of diabetes by encouraging children to do the following everyday:
  • 5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day
  • 2 hours or fewer of screen time
  • 1 hour of physical activity
  • 0 unsweetened drinks
As Katherine Hobson implies in the WSJ, though, "5-2-1-0" is not terribly catchy, and public service campaigns in general aren't as popular as slogans produced by the private sector in large part due to the vast differences in advertising budgets. She states that with rare exception, slogans like "Just Say No to Drugs" aren't as memorable as "Coke is it."

So here's your assignment, in three parts:
1) Have your students redesign the 5-2-1-0 campaign using what they have learned in psychology. This would be a perfect time to include subjects like operant and classical conditioning, memory, motivation, persuasion, etc. Can they create something that would be more memorable and most importantly that would lead to behavior change? (And how could you measure whether it was successful?)

2) See if your students can counter Hobson's article. For every "Coke is it" there are surely many other private sector ad campaigns that fall flat, and maybe there are more catchy public service slogans out there than she points out. "Fried Egg," also known as "This is Your Brain on Drugs," for example, was a PSA created by the Partnership for a Drug-Free America. "Friends Don't Let Friends Drive Drunk" is another memorable PSA. How many others can they think of?

3) How effective are PSAs in general at changing behavior? Have your students identify an issue, find the slogans used to encourage behavior change and then look for evidence that the behavior actually changed during the time that the slogan was used. Did "Just Say No" or "Fried Egg" really change behavior? Help them find the evidence that would support or reject these claims.

--posted by Steve