Week 9 Blog Prompts

Here are the blog prompts for Week 9:

Option 1:

Many people consider intelligence to be largely determined by genetics, but there is substantial evidence that the environment and social processes play a large role as well. Since schools are a place where children try to determine how smart they really are, it is important for educators to understand the impacts of their subtle or not-so-subtle interactions with students. Watch these three videos: Jane Elliott’s classic blue eyes/brown eyes experiment, Claude Steele explaining stereotype threat, and Rosenthal & Jacobson’s discovery of the Pygmalion effect. In your blog post, react to what you saw in the videos, reflect on your own interactions with educators throughout your school career, and discuss what, if any, changes to the school system based on the concepts in these videos could improve students’ performance in the classroom.

Option 2:

In 1998, the Governor of Georgia, Zell Miller, proposed spending $105,000 of the state’s budget to distribute a cassette or CD of classical music to the parents of each new child born in Georgia (see the NY Times article). Governor Miller was a staunch believer in the Mozart effect, a theory that listening to Mozart can increase intelligence. The Mozart effect is highly controversial and has spurred numerous research studies, but was based on one study published in 1993. Read the original journal article by Rauscher, Shaw, & Ky and discuss whether or not the original evidence supports Governor Miller’s decision.

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Week 7 Blog Spotlight: Topic – Learning

Microphone stands in spotlight by kjeik, on Flickr
Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License   by  kjeik 

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

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Week 8 Blog Prompts

Option 1:

Recently, several states have legalized recreational use of marijuana. This has lead to both celebration and condemnation depending on who you ask. Medicinal use of marijuana is still controversial as well. In your blog post, take a position on both medical and recreational use of marijuana. Should they be legal or not? Find a source to support your arguments and a source that summarizes the opposite position and discuss both in your post. Make sure to critique how trustworthy each of the sources are.

Option 2:

In this TED talk, Russell Foster outlines 3 prominent theories about why we sleep. Watch the talk and argue for the theory you find the most convincing. Include a link to another source that provides more information about the theory you choose, summarize the information from that source, and discuss how trustworthy you find the source.

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Week 7 Blog Prompts

Option 1:

Not everyone learns the same way. Each of us do best under certain conditions, and these tendencies are called learning styles. Take these two online learning style assessments (Link 1, Link 2). Report your results, discuss how credible you find them (both in terms of how well the results fit your experience and how well the assessment is designed), and discuss how you can use your preferred learning style improve your study skills. Finally, how well does AC do at teaching to your preferred learning style?

Option 2:

Violence in the media has been controversial for decades, but over the last 20 years there has been increasing attention to the amount of violence in video games. The rise of first-person shooters and games with graphic displays of blood and gore has led to criticisms of the video game industry and claims that children are becoming more violent as a result. For this blog post, find a source on each side of the debate and summarize their arguments. Also critique how trustworthy you find each source and decide whether or not you think violent video games should be allowed or permanently banned.

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Week 5 Blog Spotlight: Topic – Memory

Microphone stands in spotlight by kjeik, on Flickr
Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License   by  kjeik 
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.
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Week 6 Blog Prompts

This week’s blog prompts are from chapters we aren’t covering in lecture, so take advantage of this opportunity to delve deeper into psychology and explore sensation and perception.

Option 1:

Synesthesia is a condition in which people’s perceptions of one sense activates another (for example hearing colors or seeing sounds). Watch Daniel Tammet explain his experience of synesthesia in a TED Talk entitled “Different Ways of Knowing.” Share your reactions to this video and discuss how you think this condition would affect someone’s day-to-day life. You also need to find an internet source which provides more information on the condition. Make sure to critique the credibility of the internet source and provide a link to the source in your post.

Option 2:

Can we use magic to help people on the autism spectrum? This is actually a serious question. There is some evidence that people on the autism spectrum are less likely to be fooled by the slight of hand on which magicians rely. For this post, watch this video from the PBS show NOVA where neuroscientists work with magicians to understand how the way the brain processes visual information plays into magic. Then watch this brief clip also from NOVA about the potential for magic to give insight into or potential serve as treatment for autism and read this article from the LA Times about a new theory of autism as a “magical world” (the journal article upon which this story is about is available here). Share your reactions to these materials and discuss whether or not magic could be used to help those with autism.

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Week 4 Blog Spotlight: Topic – Neuroscience

Microphone stands in spotlight by kjeik, on Flickr
Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License   by  kjeik 
 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.
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Week 5 Blog Prompts

Here are the blog prompts for this week:

Option 1:

Elizabeth Loftus is one of the preeminent researchers in false memories. Her research has shed light on the fallibility of eyewitness testimony, the over-reporting of satanic ritual abuse, and the ease of implanting false memories. Her TED talk outlines much of her research and illuminates the fragility of our memory. Watch the TED talk and discuss your reactions. Make sure to specifically address Loftus’s implication that we could manipulate memory for positive outcomes (like enjoying vegetables) by discussing potential pros and cons and stating whether or not you believe we should consider tampering with memory.

Option 2:

Now that we have discussed memory, evaluate your study habits. Describe how you studied for the first exam in this class and explain what you could do differently for the second exam to improve your preparation. Also explain why these differences would be better than what you did before. You also need to find a website that provides advice about studying and critique the recommendations based on what we discussed in class and what you read in your textbook.

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