Thursday, December 29, 2011

The top psychology books of 2011

To begin, a few caveats. I'm a very bad reader. I read *about* a lot of books, and even read a few chapters here and there, but in terms of actually starting and finishing books, I'm not so good. So when I was thinking about a post on the best psychology books of 2011, I was delighted that the amazing had already gone to the trouble in a much better fashion than I would have. Actually, the site's list is of the best psychology and philosophy books of 2011, so here are the psychology-related books from the list:

There is also a psychology book in the Best Biographies and Memoirs of 2011 post, Moonwalking with Einsten: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything by Joshua Foer. Finally, listed in the Best Food Books of 2011 is Maira Kalman's excellent illustrated version of Michael Pollan's Food Rules, which includes this illustration:

Here are some other books from 2011 that should be in a top psychology books list, in no particular order:

Whew - that's quite a list. What books have YOU read? What are your thoughts? And which books did I omit that should be added? Please share in the comments section below.

--posted by Steve

Friday, December 23, 2011

Design a Brain Experiment Competition

The Dana Foundation is sponsoring this competition which asks high school students to design "an original brain-related experiment." Please note the quick deadline - January 19! The guidelines referred to are in PDF format and can be found here:

Design a Brain Experiment guidelines

--posted by Steve

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Race: The Power of Illusion and Race Sorting

I was just reading my email from Teaching Tolerance, an offshoot of The Southern Poverty Law Center trying to raise awareness of racial/ethnic issues and decreasing the conflict related to them.  In the newsletter there was a link to a PBS site called "Race: The Power of an Illusion, a video from 2003."  The main activity I was directed to was to look at pictures and sort the faces into racial categories.  Wow.  

Let's just say I was not successful.  Nor are most people.  It's a real eye-opening activity that can be done by a person on under five minutes and could be a great beginner to a social psychology unit or a mini-unit on race, ethnicity and/or prejudice/discrimination.  Great for sociology as well.

posted by Chuck Schallhorn

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

More than Mouse Party

It's not that Mouse Party isn't one of the most amazing websites for teaching about how various drugs affect neural tranmission - CAUSE IT IS - but there's a lot more to this site than just Mouse Party. Check out some other offerings from the Genetic Science Learning Center at the University of Utah:

Oh - did I mention the lesson plans and activities? Oh my!

So - how do you use Mouse Party and these other sites in your class? Have you played Cerebral Commando or used any of these other links? Please share below!

P.S. I could listen to the Mouse Party music all day. Is that wrong?
-- posted by Steve

Saturday, December 10, 2011

4Shared File Sharing Account

A few years ago, as many of the listservs and electronic discussion groups stopped allowing attachments to their posting, it became increasing difficult for teachers to share files with one another. Teachers were left with pasting the document within their posting which caused most of the formatting to be lost or offering to email the file to all interested parties. This last option became increasing difficult as one posting could result in hundreds of requests. Teachers became reluctant to make such an offer.

To solve these problems, in February of 2009, an all access account at 4Shared filing sharing service was created. The account allows anyone to easily download and upload files. The account currently has hundreds of files with thousands of downloads.

Below I've tried to outline the steps of downloading and upload files to and from the 4Shared account. Please be aware, the directions may vary based on the computer and internet browser you use. Please let me know how I can change these directions to accommodate everyone.

Some may have problems reaching the site as a few school districts block access to file sharing accounts. As a result, a number of teachers download the information at home and transfer it to their school computers.

Please feel free to download any of the files on the 4Shared site. Each was uploaded by teachers throughout the country willing to share their work. Please seriously consider uploading materials as well. Throughout my teaching career, I have found psychology teachers always willing to help. Please refrain from uploading copyrighted materials or items inappropriate for the high school level.

To Download Items from the 4Shared account to your computer
  1. Go to The main 4Shared screen should appear listing the various units in a psychology course
  2. Browse through the various folders (click on any folder you would like to explore) until you find an item you would like to download
  3. Once you have found something to download, click on the green down arrow located at the extreme right
  4. Cursor down until you see a blue box saying "Download Now" and "No Virus Detected". Click on that box.
  5. Click the "Slow Download" button. The screen should change to one with a blue countdown box. Wait until the countdown is complete.
  6. Click on "Download File Now".
  7. A typical Windows "You have chosen to open" box should appear. Select whether you want to open the file or save it.
  8. Click OK. If you are saving the file you will be asked where you want the file saved. Choose a location and click save.
Under no conditions should you be required to pay for using the 4Shared account. The owners of the account would obviously prefer you purchase a premium account. A premium account allows for a host of options making downloading files a bit easier and faster, but is not necessary to download or upload files.

To Upload Items from your computer to the 4Shared account
  1. Go to The main 4Shared screen should appear listing the various units in a psychology course.
  2. Browse through the various folders (click on any folder) and determine which subdirectory would be the best for your item.
  3. In the Upload files box at the bottom of the screen click the "browse" button.
  4. Locate the file you would like to upload on your computer.
  5. Use the "more" button if you have multiple files to upload to the subdirectory.
  6. Click the "Upload" button with the green up arrow.
  7. A screen should appear stating your upload was successful.
Thanks to everyone who has posted files on the 4Shared account. Please feel free to contact me (Kent Korek) at if you have any questions, comments, suggestions, etc. about the 4Shared account.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

APA Announces National Survey of High School Psychology Teachers

APA Announces National Survey of High School Psychology Teachers

All high school psychology teachers are invited to participate in a national survey the American Psychological Association (APA) is conducting of high school psychology teachers. This survey, which has been funded through the American Psychological Foundation, will provide APA and the APA Teachers of Psychology in Secondary Schools (TOPSS) with vital information on who is teaching high school psychology across the country. The survey asks questions about your educational background, preparation and training, resources and opportunities, classroom issues, future trends, and professional development needs.

Please take 20 minutes and complete the online survey, available at:

All data will be held confidential and reported in the aggregate only; individual-level data will not be released. Overall compiled survey results will be shared with everyone who completes the survey. The survey will close March 1, 2012, but we encourage you to take the survey now. It is critical for us to be able to have data on the teaching of high school psychology, as it will inform our work on behalf of high school psychology teachers and students.

If you have any questions, please contact Emily Leary at 202-572-3013.

-- posted by Steve

Sunday, December 4, 2011

NCSS2011 - what an experience!

 I am back from this past weekend's National Council for the Social Studies Conference and I can happily report to all who were unable to attend that it was a BLAST! I will be posting many updates over the next few weeks about the conference, but I also wanted to put up this post to remind everyone that THSP would love to be the home of any and all reports from the conference. If you attended and have notes to share from a presentation, overall impressions to share, photos -- as long as they are not incriminating photos of a certain THSP moderator with a certain emeritus professor of psychology -- please send them to me at and I will post them here. I'll also add the new label NCSS2011 to each post, so by clicking on NCSS2011 you can see all of those posts.

I will also be sharing the THSP presentation that I presented (along with Rob and Kristin) at the conference. Thanks again to everyone who attended, presented and shared - it was a GREAT experience!

--posted by Steve

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Guinness Record for 3D street art!

If you're not done with sensation and perception yet (or if you have time to go back, briefly) this world-record breaking effort at 3D street art might be worth sharing with your students. A huge understanding - these pictures show a bit of the "planning" and the final product, and this video includes an interview with one of the organizers/artists. Students could try to spot the monocular depth cues used!

posted by Rob McEntarffer

Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Flavorists on 60 Minutes

On tonight's (11/27/2011) episode of 60 Minutes, there is a nice piece on the flavor industry and their attempt to create "addictive flavors" to woo consumers.  Lots of potential here.

The link to the segment with script
The video segment itself:  it's 14 minutes long

One of the things I make sure to mention to my students during this unit is the use of language in terms of sights, sounds, smells, and flavors.  We are often lacking in describing smells and tastes that those in other cultures would easily describe.  To me, this is an important part of psychology--how do we understand the world around us and how can we best communicate it to others?

posted by Chuck Schallhorn


I was catching up on some reading this weekend and discovered a nice little article in the California Educator, our state (California Teachers Association/NEA magazine).  The post has a number of items that teachers/educators should know about ADD. 
This is the link to the direct article (digital version).
Text version of the article
California Teachers Association

Among the key ideas are:
  • this is a brain disorder--it's not that the students are trying to be annoying
  • larger class sizes make for more challenging circumstances for teachers
  • ADD/ADHD is the most common behavior disorder among children
  • self-regulation is a key deficit
  • these kids need "wiggle time"
  • article also covers teaching strategies, medication, and what life is like for someone who has the diagnosis
 Medline Plus reference and links on ADD
To learn more about ADD/ADHD, please visit the Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder website at or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at

posted by Chuck Schallhorn

Friday, November 18, 2011

Great student-created neural transmission video

Scott Miller sent me this link for a great student authored video about neural transmission (thanks Scott!). The video goes "deeper" into the chemical details of depolarization that I usually did, but it's well done! Congrats students!

posted by Rob McEntarffer

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Psych Songs!

Our topic in psychology club this morning was "Brains!" One of our great club members asked me if I'd heard "Phineas Gage: A Song" on youtube and I said "No, but I need to!" As far as I can tell, the song is not only catchy, it's pretty accurate! (although I never heard the detail about a tea cup full of brains?)

The song reminds me of the only other direct psych-concept to song translation: "John Lee Supertaster" by one of my favorite bands, They Might be Giants (that youtube clip isn't a great version of the song - the lyrics might be more useful)

Does anyone know any other "direct" connections between songs and psych concepts? Please chime in in the comments!

(PS: If you have kids, I think the They Might be Giants kids albums are a must-have. Great music that are perfect for little ears. The science album is my favorite :)

Picture credit:

posted by Rob McEntarffer

Monday, November 7, 2011

Brain Anatomy Instruction ... now with Zombies!

@BrdCmpbll posted a link to a great biopsychology assignment on his Twitter feed today: Zombie Day! Here's his description of the assignment: "Market a product to zombies as a way to prove you understand the importance/function of an assigned part of the brain."

His students' work is definitely worth a look - great, creative ideas that effectively connect their knowledge about brain anatomy and function to their obvious affection for zombie-Americans. Mmmm... Brain Bits. Please vote for your favorites!

posted by Rob McEntarffer

History of the Brain: A New BBC Radio Series

Do you like British accents?  Do you like learning about the brain?  How about history?  If so, I've found something you will probably like.  I was reading a blog over at "Advances in the History of Psychology" and they have a post about a new BBC Radio 4 show about the history of the brainCheck out their post here.

The BBC 4 Radio Site
Episode 1--A Hole in the Head

If you explore the site, there are also other links to some great brain education items.

posted by Chuck Schallhorn

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Movie review: A Dangerous Method

Unless you've been living under a rock - an iceberg, you probably are well aware that this is an exciting month for psychology: a feature film featuring Freud and Jung comes out on November 23rd nationwide. At THSP we're excited to feature this review of A Dangerous Method from our special correspondent, fellow psych teacher Kimberly Patterson:

With the succession of “psychological movies” out there, and an endless list of theatrical ventures of historical figures from psychology, I was surprised at the film that bubbled up at the Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival (FLIFF) 2011. On Friday evening, a colleague and I went to see A Dangerous Method – a film advertising itself as a historical account of Carl G. Jung and Sigmund S. Freud and their shocking friendship. This familiar camaraderie sets out with a bold woman who confesses her hysteria and becomes sexually involved with Jung, a Russian Jew named Sabina Spielrein. Multiple books exist about Spielrein, one of the first woman psychoanalysts.

I was stunned by the poignant dialogue and although I had many “what on earth?” moments, I found the film touching, lovely, and antiquely impulsive. Although this glance at the Jung-Spielrein story is solely alleged, the film captured viewers with the efficacy of talented actors, an eye-catching set, and costumes of the period.

If, by happenstance, the film makes it to your area, I encourage you to check it out. Lord knows we watch all types of movies for a $10 movie ticket – at least this one is entertaining in regards to the character portrayals.

And of advice from a nomadic character – “Never repress anything”. Enjoy!

Kimberly C. Patterson teaches AP Psychology at Cypress Bay High School in Weston, Florida.

[If the trailer does not appear above, it is available on YouTube at

--posted by Steve

Saturday, November 5, 2011

How do you use THSP?

(A THSP meta-cognitive moment.)
 You know who you are: you're a THSP user. That's right, just like some people use PCP or LSD or even THC, you are a THSP. What is THSP? It's this blog of course - Teaching High School Psychology. What we want to know is this: how do you use this resource?

I am delighted that three of the moderators - Rob, Kristin and myself - are going to be presenting at the National Council for the Social Studies conference next month about how our fellow psychology teachers are using the information shared here in your classrooms. We have a lot of empirical data already - we know the number of hits that we get, our most popular posts, the countries in which our readers are located - but we'd like to add some stories from actual users like you. (No, you don't need to begin with "Hello, my name is John, and I am a THSP-oholic...")

So: please either post your thoughts in the comments below, or send me a note privately ( Please be sure to include your school, the subject(s) that you teach, and whether we can use your name. I would love to have all of your comments by Tuesday, 11/ 8. Thanks so much for reading our blog!

--posted by Steve

Friday, November 4, 2011

Scientific Fraud

 The New York Times coverage of a recent case of scientific fraud could be a good starting point for a discussion about how science is supposed to "work", and how dishonesty and lack of replication/ oversight, etc. can cause it all to go "wrong", at least for a while.

Brief summary of the article: social psychologist Diederik Stapel of Tilburg University in the Netherlands recently admitted to falsifying data for several of his published journal articles.

This controversy started a very lively discussion about implications and potential "fixes" on the PSYCHTEACHER listserve  - a good reason to join that listserve if you like to read those kinds of discussions

image credit:

posted by Rob McEntarffer

Monday, October 31, 2011

Innattentional Blindness and Ghosts - Happy Halloween!

I was happy to find a Halloween-themed article by Daniel Simons in my RSS feed this morning: In his latest post, "Ghost busters, parapsychology, and the first study of inattentional blindness", Simons writes about discovering a very early study about innattentional blindness in a book by Mary Roach (Roach's books are all great, by the way. I think "Stiff" is my favorite). In 1959, a psychologist (at Cambridge decided to test how people would react to seeing a ghost on campus:

"Each night, Cornell or his assistants dressed in a white sheet and strolled down a path, making various hand gestures before shedding the sheet 4.5 minutes later. Other assistants observed how many people were “in a position to observe the apparition.”

Simons points out that "Although Cornell’s finding is consistent with later studies of inattentional blindness, his conclusion isn’t." Hardly anyone on campus admitted to seeing the "apparition", which Cornell attributed to an unconscious desire to NOT see a ghost. This finding is actually very consistent with Simons' and others' findings about innattentional blindness (and the invisible gorilla!).

Happy Halloween everyone! I hope all your costumes and fun Halloween surprises are noticed by all the bystanders :)

image credit: - some rights reserved via CreativeCommons

posted by Rob McEntarffer

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Old facilitated communication controversy and new iPad "research"

This recent 60 minutes clip about autistic folks using iPads to communicate reminded me of a Frontline clip I used to show about facilitated communication (that link takes you to google video, which makes me a bit nervous b/c I thought google video was going away?).

The Frontline clip presents a dramatic and compelling story about how a "revolutionary technique" can take hold of a group of professionals, and then goes on to show how careful experimentation reveals that what appeared to be "revolutionary" was actually just confirmation bias. I used to show the clip up to the point of the experimental design and then have groups of students design tests to gather evidence about the validity of the facilitated communication technique. Word of warning: the clip involves accusations of sexual abuse and some of the language gets graphic.

The more recent 60 minutes clip is a great feel good story, and it might be interesting to show after the Frontline video. Is there any chance some of the folks working with iPads are falling into the same cognitive "facilitated communication" traps? What are the similarities and differences?

image credit:

posted by Rob McEntarffer

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Research invitation from David Eagleman

We've posted about David Eagleman before(and here). He's a skilled neuroscience writer/researcher who has a knack for finding fascinating consciousness issues and writing/talking about them in compelling and understandable ways.

He posted an invitation on Twitter this morning: "Do you hate the sound of certain words? This may be a form of synesthesia. Pls participate in our 5 min survey:"

I haven't followed the link through to the research yet (I'll have to do it at home) but if any of you out there have time to take the test, please comment about your experiences here! Might be an opportunity to get students involved in research in an easy and engaging way?

posted by Rob McEntarffer

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Psychological First Aid

NPR had a recent post that led me to some basic research about a topic called "Psychological First Aid" or "Mental Health First Aid."  I found the following resources for something that, as psychology teachers, we all do to varying degrees--helping students deal with stress and other challenging situations.  I would hope that we all know when to refer--that as teachers of psychology, we know more than the average person, but we let the professionals do their jobs.  We do the first aid and let the counselors and therapists do the heavy lifting.

Here are the article and links:

Sunday, October 9, 2011

TV alert: Brain Games on NatGeo TV tonight

National Geographic TV (aka NatGeo) has three back-to-back features on the brain tonight under the title Brain Games:

Episode 1 (8pm ET) - Watch This! "Hack into the ultimate supercomputer — the human brain — as Hollywood filmmakers create mind-bending sensory illusions."
Episode 2 (9pm ET) - Pay Attention! "When it comes to mastering — and manipulating — attention, some of the world's leading experts aren't scientists; they're magicians."
Episode 3 (10 pm ET) - Remember This! "Our experts are on a mission — to find out where memories reside in the brain — and they're examining every millimeter for clues."

If you miss the series, be sure to check your TV listings as it's sure to be re-run many times. There are also many interesting looking clips on the Brain Games online site that I've yet to check out. Be sure to comment below if you watch the series or have checked out the online videos. (Also, did anyone else notice that exclamation points are! very! important! in this series?)

--posted by Steve

Guest post: Teaching Classical Conditioning to High School Students

Note from Steve: today's guest post is from teacher Mark Molloy.

I have been teaching a high school introduction to Psychology class for over 15 years. When I first started teaching the course, students had a very difficult time understanding the concepts of classical conditioning. It might be safer to say, I had a difficult time presenting the material in a clear, understandable way.

Since those first years, I have added two mnemonic devices, an additional helpful step to the equation, and two video clips of classical conditioning to my learning unit.

Mnemonic devices

VOICE - For the learning unit, students are introduced to two mnemonic devices. The first one is the word VOICE. VOICE points out the major difference between operant conditioning and classical conditioning. This word reinforces the role of the subject in the learning process.

V voluntary
O operant
I involuntary
C classical
E extra (no purpose. The E only completes the word)

“S starts it off and R is ALLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL right.” Before introducing the 3 steps of classical conditioning, I share this sentence with the students. I stress the word ALLLLLLL because I have found it helps the students remember the sentence better. I also really like saying it this way.

I developed this sentence 2 years ago. The purpose of the sentence is to help the students remember where the terms are placed in the classical conditioning equation. The CS and UCS will always be to the on the LEFT side of the equation, starting it off, and the CR and UCR will always be on the RIGHT.

The equation

Below are the notes I present to my students in a PowerPoint. (Teachers can email me at and I will gladly share the presentation):

The helpful step – The traditional classical conditioning equation consists of three steps. Students seem to gain a better understanding of the concepts when I include the “helpful step.” When reviewing the notes I say “The neutral stimulus DOES NOT PRODUCE the unconditioned response.” (The arrow with the X through it was the best way for me to created a visual with my limited computer abilities. I am sure other teachers could find a better visual.)

The helpful step reinforces the term “neutral stimulus” which is not included in the traditional steps of classical conditioning. It is also helpful to show that anything can be a neutral stimulus / conditioned stimulus. Additionally, I circle the conditioned stimulus and the neutral stimulus, drawing an arrow connecting them. The arrows illustrate that the word that is placed in the equation for NS and CS will be the same, similar to the UCR and CR being the same.

The Xs – I place an X in the spot of the term that is not used in step #1 and #3. This visual enhances student understanding of the material. It helps students remember that CS always comes before the UCS. During quizzes and tests, I leave the spaces for the Xs and deduct points if incorrect.

The BIG crossed out U – To reinforce the fact that the final response of classical conditioning is conditioned (learned), the students write a very large U and then place a line or an X through it.

The Videos

Seabiscuit: There is an excellent 2-minute clip from the movie Seabiscuit that illustrates how the trainer conditions Seabiscuit to start quickly at the sound of the bell. I have a tape of the movie (A DVD would be so much better.) I simply fast forward to the scene which takes place just prior to the match race with War Admiral, towards the end of the movie.

A teacher can extend the clip to provide the background information about the movie, which by the way is great.

Little Albert Experiment: The Little Albert experiment is an early example of classical conditioning. This clip (4:14) includes commentary. (Turn the volume down, it is set very high on this website!) The comments are a little comical, however, if you do not like the comments, you can mute them. The presentation does include some useful slides at the end that are very educational, identifying the different terms.

Another Little Albert clip (3:20) has excellent footage of the experiment without the added commentary.

Hopefully these tools are helpful in teaching classical conditioning to high school students. I would be glad to share other lessons ideas with any teacher who was interested. Email me at

The strange powers of the placebo

Great video above (or here, if you can't see the embed). I'm not sure that every one of these claims is accurate as there are no specific pointers to each individual statement, but most of them ring true with what I have read previously. And a mild heads up: "Professor Funk" uses the term "shiny and shit" in the narration at one point.

-- posted by Steve

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Situations Matter: Understanding How Context Transforms Your World

After having watched the Zimbardo Discovering Psychology series multiple times every year since about 1990, I have wanted more from social psychology in terms of examples and current and relevant research to support concepts within the topic.  The author, Sam Sommers does so with humor, both pointed and self-deprecating.

I also have a colleague who is very much in the "free will" camp philosophically and I have a difficult time convincing him about the social forces that shape our behavior.  If you are like me then you will love this new book I had the opportunity to review recently.  It is called, Situations Matter: Understanding How Context Transforms Your World.  It will be released at the end of the year.  Short review: if you like social psychology you will like this book and it's a worthwhile read.

For years I have struggled with coming up with great examples and additional research that had not been dealt with by the introductory texts.  Now I have that book I've been looking for.  Some highlights and observations from my dog-eared copy:
  1. judging people's expertise by our own narrowly ranged knowledge base
  2. being seduced by character is something we do when attributing explanations of behavior
  3. using famous people in advertising testimonials--do they really use the products they are hawking?
  4. realizing that situations are often invisible to us--we need to learn how to see them and their influence (the tools in this book can help me do this with my students)
  5. Numerous explanations of situations and the influence of context on people's behavior ("what's wrong with these people?"
  6. The wisdom of crowds--how real is it?  when should we use/avoid it?
  7. Asch's study, conformity and mimicry of nonverbal behavior
  8. Who are you?  An examination of self-definition that is flexible by situation and context
  9. What we think we will do and what we do are often very different things--some research
  10. A breakdown of the Singer-Schacter experiment--some details that are missing in the textbooks
  11. An overview of what is commonly called "The Lake Wobegon Effect"--where everyone is above average
  12. how we are skilled at self-deception
  13. achievement based on what we are told about intelligence
  14. gender differences--how much is biology and how much is society
  15. proximity and love--how location influences who we are attracted to
  16. how making yourself visible makes you more attractive 
  17. Much, much more
There are more examples and much more research referred to in the book.  Bottom line is that it is an extremely helpful book to have for support for your social psychology unit. 

If you have questions for the author, please comment below and we will do our best to get them answered.
You can find more of the author and this book at these links:

Author's website

posted by Chuck Schallhorn

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

An amazing new resource

Wow, this is sweet. The great people at the Society for Teaching Psychology (STP) have just released a terrific new e-book called Teaching Introductory Psychology: Tips from TOP. It's a compilation of more than 60 articles published in the journal Teaching of Psychology and get this - it's FREE. You can download each individual article in PDF format, or the whole thing (21 MB) at one time.

Here are some of the titles of the articles:
  • The effect of refuting misconceptions in the introductory psychology class.
  • Introducing students to psychological research: General psychology as a laboratory course.
  • Active learning within a lecture: Assessing the impact of short, in-class writing exercises.
  • How do students really study (and does it matter)?
(Now if only this came with a bonus 20 hours so that I could have time to read and absorb all this without getting behind in the rest of my life!)

What is the Society for the Teaching of Psychology, by the way?  STP is Division Two of the American Psychological Association. Their mission: "to promote excellence in the teaching and learning of psychology. We welcome teachers of all stripes, whether teaching in a university, two or four-year college, or high school, tenured, adjunct, or teaching assistant." Membership in STP for high school teachers is $25 a year.

-- posted by Steve

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

NPR moments, revisited - How Psychology Solved A WWII Shipwreck Mystery

Following up on Chuck's NPR Moments post - A friend at work excitedly told me about a great memory/psychology/mystery story on NPR this morning. He said it was great, details, and that I would love it - he was right!

How Psychology Solved A WWII Shipwreck Mystery

Briefly: Memory researchers used what they learned about how our memories change over time in predictable ways to examine the stories of captured German WWII soldiers and figured out where a ship likely went down. GREAT example of application of research, and the methodology they used in the original "how memories of stories change over time" could be easily replicated by students, I think.

image credit:

posted by Rob McEntarffer

Monday, September 26, 2011

UTOPSS Fall Institute, November 4, 2011

The 13th annual Utah-Teachers of Psychology in Secondary Schools (UTOPSS) Fall Institute will be held Friday, November 4, 2011 at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. If you would like to attend I would be happy to email you registration materials. Contact me at

Registration is due Friday, October 21. The cost of the conference is $40.00, by the deadline, and $50.00 after the deadline. Registration includes continental breakfast, lunch, parking validation, and all materials.

We have a wonderful schedule planned!

Dr. Jane Halonen, University of West Florida, "Bottlenecks, Thresholds, and Transformers: New Ways to Look at Old Content"

Cynthia Smith, Northridge High School, Kim Searle, Copper Hills High School, & Lark Woodbury, Layton High School, "Using Social Networking in Psychology"

Dr. Paul White, University of Utah, "Do I Have to be Freud to do Psychology? Moving Students Beyond Pop Cultural Images of Psychology"

Dr. Monisha Pasupathi, University of Utah, "Autobiographical Memory and Narrative Identity"

Participant Idea Share

Hope you can join us!

Kristin H. Whitlock

NPR moments--Sugar Cravings and Kids & Pain-What Works?

This morning on the way to work, I heard two stories that grabbed my attention. 
1)  Kids having a sweet tooth--it's biological and it changes during life
2)  Pain and how we deal with it--a one-size-fits all approach does not work

Take a couple minutes to check these out--short and worthwhile.

posted by Chuck Schallhorn

New Stereotype Threat research

In a previous Teaching High School Psychology post I referenced Daniel Willingham's great summary of some of the implications of the stereotype threat. Yesterday, the Wall Street Journal briefly summarized new stereotype threat research that high school psych teachers and students might find useful and provocative.

"Sunk by Stereotypes"

I haven't been able to get at the journal article yet, but according to the WSJ summary, the researchers made up a fake learning styles inventory and categories ("convex or concave learning styles" - might be just as (in)valid as auditory, visual, and kinesthetic :) and told participants that either their learning style would likely impact performance on a working memory test or that would probably have no effect. As predicted, the more strongly a participant identified with the fake learning style, the lower their test score.

This study might be easily replicable by high school students (after following ethical guidelines and getting the permissions you need in your district, of course), and students might be VERY interested in how stereotypes may be impacting their learning!

image source:

posted by Rob McEntarffer

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Internet Search and Discover Activities

One of my favorite things to do is share new ideas and perspectives with my students--especially ones that I do not necessarily have time to do within the formal curriculum.  Since I teach on a 100-minute alternating block schedule, I have created a couple of activities that have the students go to web sites that deal with aspects of a unit, read through the sites, and answer questions.  As much as anything, it exposes them to new resources that I've already checked for accuracy and appropriateness (front-loading).  I also ask questions that have them consider issues that I have some personal interest in.  Perhaps, at some point, they will continue asking questions themselves about obvious things within the context of their own lives.

Here is my first one for this fall for Social Psychology.  If you'd like a .docx version of this document, email me at psydways AT  I've also made one for the brain and biology unit later in the term.

Psychology: Web Exploration          Name                                                                          Per     
Social Psychology Edition rev. F2011
Be sure to read the instructions on each one to make sure you are doing the proper action.
Read the page and list ten things people can do to reduce their prejudicial behavior (I know there are more than 10).
#2    List two facts each about:

Body Image:


Eating Disorders:

Children and the Media:

Appearance Messages:

Socioeconomic Status, Ethnicity, and the Thin Ideal:

Choose a brand from repeat offenders______________________. What messages do this company’s ads send?

Choose a media literacy category.__________________________
What messages do ads from this category send?

Examine these ten ads.  Why are these ten ads seen as being better ads in terms of their portrayal of women?

Describe where the term “ghetto” comes from.  Can you really describe something as "ghetto" now?  Explain.

Take your native IQ.  This is a test about your knowledge related to Native Americans and their history.  How did you do?  Explain why you did as well or as poorly as you did.

#9  So you are curious about brainwashing?  Check out this site:
Find terms and ideas we’ve studied so far to find out what you can discover about brainwashing.  Write down at least 5 things.






#10  This site is a blog about relationships written by an author in the UK.  Choose one of the sub-articles and write down four observations/conclusions the research found about your topic. 
Title of sub-article here:




Write a five sentence (one paragraph) summary of the findings.

#12  Can we avoid segregation?
Go to this site, read each short page and do the exercise.  Describe the Schelling Effect and the Anti-Schelling Effect.

Schelling Effect

Anti-Schelling Effect

What you learned as a result of doing this exercise:

Describe what Nazi racism was about.

Read the article and list three key questions this raises in your mind.




Take two of the demonstration quizzes on this page.  Which two did you take?  How did you do?  What surprised you? Explain.

Quiz 1 Result:

Quiz 2 Result:

Explain why you think you scored this way.  How did it surprise you?

posted by Chuck Schallhorn