Week 13 Student Blogging Spotlight: Topic – Social Psychology

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The main foci of the social psychology week were stereotypes and discrimination, obedience (no General Psychology course is complete without Stanley Milgrim!), and conformity. Students had the choice of examining their own implicit biases toward other groups via the Implicit Association Test or to break down the types of persuasion used in a set of commercials (see here for full prompts). Only one student chose the latter option by breaking down two Taco Bell commercials. The remainder opted to try the IAT and reflect on their results. Check out their posts and leave your thoughts in the comments section.

Link 1, Link 2, Link 3, Link 4, Link 5, Link 6, Link 7

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Week 12 Student Blogging Spotlight: Topic – Stress

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The focus this week was stress: what is it and how can we cope with it? My students had the option for this week’s blog to either watch a TED Talk that might make them think a little differently about stress (Kelly McGonigal’s How to make stress your friend) or discuss their own coping strategies for stress (for full prompts see here). Most students chose the former, though five decided to talk about their coping strategies and how to improve them (read these to get some ideas and leave your own in the comments!).

TED Talk: Link 1, Link 2, Link 3, Link 4, Link 5, Link 6, Link 7, Link 8, Link 9
Stress Coping Strategies: Link 1, Link 2, Link 3, Link 4Link 5

Week 11 Student Blog Spotlight: Topics – Emotion & Motivation

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As the semester draws ever closer to completion, students facing final exams often need a reminder about how to generate happiness and/or explore their motivations (or perhaps lack thereof). Always one to jump to help students out, this week’s blog prompts offered them the choice of watching Dan Gilbert’s fantastic TED Talk entitled The Surprising Science of Happiness or trying to explain their motivation for attending Austin College from different theoretical lenses (see the full prompt instructions here).

In many weeks this semester, one topic has dominated the other in terms of popularity with my students, but this week was much more balanced. Six students chose to explore the idea of “synthetic happiness,” while five students focused inward on their motivations. Check out their posts and share your thoughts via comments!

Happiness posts: Link 1, Link 2, Link 3, Link 4, Link 5, Link 6

Motivation posts: Link 1, Link 2, Link 3, Link 4, Link 5

Week 10 Student Blog Spotlight: Topic – Personality

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Spring is in the air in Texas, which means the end of the semester is growing near. Students and faculty are scurrying about trying to keep up with deadlines, and I need to get caught up telling you about what my students have been writing! The personality unit is always fun because students get to think about how all these different theories apply to them. It is also when the students complete one of my favorite assignments where they take numerous online personality tests, compare the results and critique the validity of the surveys. The blog prompts this week invited students to think about introversion vs. extroversion with the help of Susan Cain’s TED Talk or delve further into the MBTI by predicting the type of a fictional character (for full prompt instructions please see here).

Most students opted for the TED Talk about the “Power of Introverts,” though one student did an analysis of Rory Gilmore from Gilmore Girls and another analyzed Monkey “Straw Hat” Luffy from the anime One Piece. To see what my students thought about the TED Talk and how introverts vs. extroverts are valued in society and on our campus, check out the links below:

Link 1    Link 2    Link 3

Link 4    Link 5    Link 6

Link 7    Link 8    Link 9

Week 9 Blogging Spotlight: Topic – Intelligence

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The semester continues on with our discussion of intelligence. We covered a variety of theories related to the structure of intelligence, ranging from Spearman’s 2-factor theory to Gardner’s multiple intelligences to Ceci’s bioecological model. We discussed the difficulty of measuring intelligence in the context of the strengths and weaknesses of traditional IQ tests as well as attempts to use IQ testing as a “scientific” racism despite cultural biases inherent in the assessment. The blogging options for this week were to look at how teachers can affect students’ performance in school or to assess the claim about the Mozart Effect (see full prompts here). My students were overwhelmingly more interested in the former, with just one brave student going against the grain to look at the Mozart Effect. To see my students’ reactions to potential effects of teachers’ expectations on students, check out the links below:

Week 8 Blogging Spotlight: Topic – Consciousness

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I have fallen behind in getting these summary posts up, but my students have been working hard so I need to catch up with them! In Week 8 of the semester, we covered consciousness, specifically focusing on sleep and how drugs and alcohol affect the brain. The students had the option of blogging about the debate to legalize marijuana or exploring the theories about the purpose of sleep (see full blog prompts here). Check out their thoughts via the links below:
The Great Marijuana Debate:
The Meaning of Sleep:

Week 7 Blog Spotlight: Topic – Learning

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After taking a week off for spring break, we were back at it to learn about learning. We covered the three major learning theories (classical conditioning, operant conditioning, and observational learning) and the blog prompts for this week focused on several applied problems related to learning. Most students chose to take two different online tests that assess preferred learning styles and discuss their results. A few students decided to take a look at evidence for the claim that playing violent video games produces more violent children. Take a look at their posts via the links below and let them know what you think by leaving comments.

Links to posts about video game violence: Link 1, Link 2, Link 3

Links to posts about learning styles: Link 1, Link 2, Link 3, Link 4, Link 5, Link 6, Link 7, Link 8, Link 9, Link 10, Link 11, Link 12, Link 13, Link 14

Week 5 Blog Spotlight: Topic – Memory

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While there were two options in this week’s prompts, all six students chose the same one. I don’t blame them, as Elizabeth Loftus’s TED Talk is fantastic. She outlines her research on memory, specifically how fragile and easy to manipulate it is. Her work has identified how false memories were accidentally implanted in clients by therapists, the problems with eyewitness testimony in court, and even how to create false memories in people. In the talk, she even goes so far as to suggest we could possibly implant memories as a means to help people. Check out her talk then read through my students’ reactions and share your own via comments on their pages.

Week 4 Blog Spotlight: Topic – Neuroscience

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 Week 4 of the semester had us focusing on the wonder that is the human brain. We started off discussing how we investigate the brain (specifically the types of brain imaging used), then moved on to neurons, brain structures, and lateralization. To connect with cutting edge brain research, I gave my students the option of 7 different TED talks which focused on the brain (because who doesn’t like TED Talks right?). Most chose the talk focused on serial killers, with a call for a new approach to mental illness coming in second. The links to the talks are below, and the full prompt for the week is available here. Please take a look at my students’ reactions and share your own thoughts and ideas via comments on their posts.

Week 3 Blog Spotlight: Topic – Human Development

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This week in class we tackled the human development chapter. After discussing Ainsworth’s Strange Situtation Test, Baumrind’s parenting styles, Piaget’s stages of cognitive development, and the moral development debate between Kohlberg & Gilligan, I asked my students to choose between a blog post where they evaluated parenting advice they found online or react to a high school graduation speech from 2012 that went viral. The full prompts for this week are available here. Most students opted to discuss the graduation speech entitled “You are not special” which was delivered by David McCollough, Jr. This attention-grabbing title caught the attention of nine students this week, who shared how they would have reacted to this speech and connected it to some aspect of development. You can view their thoughts at the following links:

Three students opted to critique parenting advice. One put Dr. Phil’s recommendations to the test, another chose a Yahoo! article about how to select a quality nanny, and the third investigated Psychology Today’s 3 things you should never say to your child. For those of you who are parents, share your reactions to these students’ assessments via comments on their posts. My students and I look forward to seeing what you have to say!