Monday, March 23, 2015

Big Summaries

This blog post from WIRED magazine got me thinking about the value of "big summaries"

"What I Learning Writing a Brain Blog for 17 Months"

 I like how Christian Jarret tries to take the "long view" of brain research in his blog post. Summaries like this that attempt to pull together a LOT of current research and make judgment calls about overall trends/principles can be very valuable. It's easy to use the web to find "cool new current brain research," but it's a LOT harder to find wisdom about what all the research might "mean" in the long run.

A couple of related "wonderings":
  • I wonder if students could do this about some topics. Could a student at the end of an intro psych experience tackle a "Big Summary" question, like "Given what you know from the developmental, biological, personality, and other chapters, what is wrong with the phrase "nature vs. nurture" and how would you restate it?"
  • I wonder if an experience like this might help students review for the AP exam. Some FRQs require a level of synthesis across chapters, and going through a "big summary" experience might help student's practice this kind of thinking.

posted by Rob McEntarffer

1 comment:

Expat said...

On a somewhat related note.... My chief interest is in taking what psychologists have learned and writing about how those findings could be applied to real world problems. I've seen certain destructive behaviors prevalent in societies where I've lived for the past five years (i.e. male cigarette smoking in China and helmet-less motorcycle riders in Thailand). China has the highest rate of smoking related deaths in the world and Thailand has the highest per capita rate of motorcycle fatalities. I'm thinking obesity might be the topic for the U.S. Anyway, here are links to a couple of articles I wrote suggesting how social norms could be useful in combating the problems.- one for a web column I authored for China Daily and another for the psychology column I write now for the Phuket Gazette. This could certainly be adapted as a capstone writing assignment for a psychology class. class.
Patrick Mattimore