Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Test results

Pretty good results on the first test. Typically, the first test of the year is difficult for kids - the average score is usually in the mid-70s. This year the 6th hour had an average score of 85% and the 7th hour averaged 89%.

Some of the kids credited their good results to their using the vocabulary practice they got using Quizlet. (Go to Quizlet and search for "Shea." Look for CASA quizlets.)

It's a pretty good start. We started the methods unit today. When we finish the unit the students will do their own research projects.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Test Monday

The first big test is Monday. When studying, recall the ideas of spacing your studying (cramming doesn't help); remember overlearning; study with friends - quizzing each other, talking about the topics all help to cement the information in your brain. Remember the more senses you use in putting the information in your brain, the stronger the internal connection will be and the easier it will be to retrieve on Monday.

Good luck to all!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Bipolar Teens

Here's a link to an article in PsychCentral on therapy for bipolar teens. Researchers found that family therapy had a positive effect on teenagers diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Family therapy will include parents and siblings and may focus on communication skills or reducing conflicts in the family. The bipolar teens were not "cured," but they had fewer episodes and recovered more quickly from the episodes they had.

Test delayed

I have moved the first test back to next Monday. We won't finish the material before Friday. The good news is that having the kids report on little research bits is taking more time than I expected. There is no bad news.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Experiment results

During the first week of class we ran a memory experiment. Each class was given 6 minutes to memorize a list of twenty words (all psychology terms taken from the end of year vocabulary review.) The sixth hour students got two minutes on Tuesday, two on Wednesday and two on Thursday. The seventh hour students got six minutes on Thursday.

The hypothsis was that students whose study time was spaced out would remember more words on Friday than those whose study time came in a single chunk. For the second year in a row, the results supported our hypothesis: the first group remembered an average of 11.9 words on Friday; the second group remembered 8.9 words.

My suggestion to the students is to apply this to their own study time. Do a little studying every night rather than try to cram for an exam the night before the test.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

First days

Impressions after two days:

1. I am not sure sure that I will memorize all the names by Friday - I'm trying

2. Looks like two good classes so far -

3. One of last year's students wrote me to say she really appreciates Quizlet now that she's in college

4. Today I'll distributes books and History of Psych packets

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Teen preganacy and marriage

What effect, if any, the teenage pregnancy of Sarah Palin's daughter will have on the presidential race is unknown, but it is clear that there is a fair amount of research on the issues of both teenage pregnancy and teenage marriage. We do know this much: Governor Palin has supported abstinence-only sex ed in the past and the campaign has said that the daughter will marry the father of the child. Most people have opinions on these topics; let's look at the research, instead, with two questions: Is abstinence-only sex ed effective? and What are common effects of teenge marriage?

In both cases, we should keep in mind that human behavior occurs in a large context. Decisions to have sex or to marry occur in the context of one's life. They are affected by family life, peer pressure, moral values, societal values and practices, culture, emotions, hormones. It is difficult to try to tease out one "cause" for any human behavior, but we are confident that a well-designed study can point us in the right direction.

The Washington Post reports today on a study that concludes that abstinence-only sex ed has no effect on teenagers' decisions to have sex.

Here's a link to the study itself: the study.

A quick Google search will provide many more examples of studies on the topic - some positive, others not. A critical thinker of course will evaluate the studies carefully - the samples, the research design, the biases of the researcher.

Generally research shows that teenagers who marry will face significant difficulties: lower lifetime earnings, more domestic violence. Again, though, age is not the only important variable. How mature and committed are these two? How much family support will they receive - both emotional and financial? Will they go to college or otherwise learn marketable skills?

It won't be easy for the girl to complete her pregnancy in the glare of a natinal political campaign. It is heartening, though, that both campaigns are treating the matter carefully, without demonizing the girl.