DRAFT TJ PROGRAM OF STUDIES: AP PSYCHOLOGY

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1 DRAFT TJ PROGRAM OF STUDIES: AP PSYCHOLOGY COURSE DESCRIPTION AP Psychology engages students in a rigorous appraisal of many facets of our current understanding of psychology. The course is based on the College Board s Course Description and Teacher s Guide for AP Psychology and builds on the student s earlier TJHSST experiences in biology, chemistry, statistics and other advanced science and math courses. Because of TJHSST s status as a STEM focused school, students will place a special emphasis on examining both foundational and current research that forms the scientific basis for our current knowledge of psychology. As stated in the AP Course Description at course description.pdf: The AP Psychology course is designed to introduce students to the systematic and scientific study of the behavior and mental processes of human beings and other animals. Students are exposed to the psychological facts, principles, and phenomena associated with each of the major subfields within psychology. They also learn about the ethics and methods psychologists use in their science and practice. Students will use an AP level Psychology textbook, plus lectures and class discussions and activities, to examine, summarize and evaluate all of the required topics for the AP psychology exam. In addition, TJ students will bring their STEM focus to this course by emphasizing [t]he development of scientific attitudes and skills, including critical thinking, problem solving, and an appreciation for scientific methodology, which the American Psychological Association recently identified as an overarching theme in the study of psychology. standards.aspx# (APA National Standards for High School Psychology Curricula (2011)). Students will examine and critique psychology s foundational and current research studies and assess how such studies contribute to the development of the major subfields within psychology. Students will also assess if such studies conform to our current understanding of ethical standards for both human and animal research. Students will broaden their evaluation of the significance of such research by looking beyond its scientific content to predict how it might apply to everyday life and how it might be used to address issues that range from individual to global levels. Because important discoveries are being made in psychological science that are too recent to be included in students textbooks, students will develop skills that will enable them to locate, evaluate, summarize, and present the most current and exciting research in psychological science. Students will work closely with TJ s library staff to meet their goals for students to learn the school s inquiry based research process that emphasizes 21 st century information literacy skills. In order to take advantage of TJ s access to quality scientific publications in psychology, students will receive instruction on how to locate, access, use and evaluate journals, e books, and articles from TJ s extensive databases. Because APA style guidelines are used not only in psychology, but also for most scientific writing, students will learn how to cite sources using APA style guidelines in their projects for this course. By the end of this course, students will have covered all of the major topics tested in the three hour AP Psychology exam. Perhaps more importantly, they will have been given the opportunity to develop both an inquiring mind and the critical evaluation skills necessary to enrich their lifelong relationship with psychology, regardless of whether their focus is academic or personal.

2 GOALS AND OBJECTIVES: CONTENT The goals and objectives of this AP Psychology course at TJHSST include all of the Topics and Learning Objectives listed in the College Board s AP Psychology Course Description at: psychology course description.pdf. In addition to the College Board s requirements (some of which are paraphrased below), this AP Psychology course at TJHSST will be enriched in the following ways: History and Approaches: When describing and comparing different theoretical approaches to explain behavior, students will focus on the process of developing and scientifically testing the theories that provide the foundation for each approach. When recognizing the strengths and limitations of applying theories to explain behavior and mental processes, students will not be limited to the examples in their textbooks, but will instead examine how the most current psychological research supports, or limits, theories that seek to explain behavior and mental processes. When identifying the major historical figures in psychology, students will look beyond the historical impact of such figures and will analyze and explain how the results of such figures scientific research influenced the course of the development of psychology. Research Methods: Students will place a special emphasis on this topic by: Relating what they learn about research methods in psychology to the research methods applied in their other STEM courses at TJHSST. Analyzing and evaluating the research methods used in current psychology research, as published in valid and important scientific journals. Closely examining ethical standards, such as the APA s Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct, and analyzing how they apply to specific research studies. In addition, students will use what they learn about ethical standards in psychology to reexamine the TJHSST One Question: How can we, the TJ community, take action to prepare students to confront difficult moral and ethical decisions, both now and in the future? Applying knowledge of research methods to creative projects, such as designing their own psychology research study proposal. Biological Bases of Behavior: Students will emphasize the relationship between knowledge gained in their other STEM courses at TJHSST to what they learn in psychology about the relationship between physiological processes and behavior, particularly: o The biochemical processes of neural transmission, including the role of neurotransmitters and the influence of drugs on neurotransmission o The effects of the endocrine system on behavior o The nervous system and its subdivisions and functions, particularly the brain o How heredity, environment, and evolution work together to shape behavior Students will place a special emphasis on examining the underlying biological and biochemical elements of research that they read and discuss in class.

3 Sensation and Perception: When describing sensory processes, students will place special emphasis on the specific nature of energy transduction, relevant anatomical structures, and specialized pathways in the brain for each of the senses. Students will do demonstrations on themselves to test some of the theories on sensation and perception and explain how their results support, or refute, such theories. When challenging common beliefs in parapsychological phenomena, students will apply what they have learned about the relationship between research design and the validity of the conclusions that can be drawn from the research. States of Consciousness: When studying the sleep cycle, dreams, hypnosis, and the effects of psychoactive drugs, students will focus on the research that underlies what we know about these variations in consciousness. Students will place a special emphasis on the biochemical processes that cause psychoactive drugs to have their effects on consciousness. Students will keep their own sleep diaries as a case study and use research methods to analyze their results. Learning: When exploring different types of learning, such as classical conditioning, operant conditioning, and observational learning, students will focus not only on the classical studies, but also on the biological bases that underlie changes in behavior caused by such learning. Students will explore current research that seeks to illuminate the relationship between the behavior that is altered by learning and related biological processes. Cognition: When examining how humans learn, remember, and retrieve information and how they experience problem solving, language and creativity, students will focus on the research that provides the foundation for both historical and current theories. Motivation and Emotion: As noted in the course description, students will explore biological and social factors that motivate behavior and biological and cultural factors that influence emotion. Students will place a special emphasis on their physiological and psychological reactions to stress and on techniques that they can use on themselves to cope with the stresses of their academic lives at TJHSST. Students will go beyond an academic examination of motivation, emotions, and stress and will broaden their focus to a more personal level to address TJHSST s One Question for : How does one balance the pressures of achieving personal academic success with the necessity of recognizing the fleeting nature of life and act accordingly? Developmental Psychology: As noted in the course description, Developmental psychology deals with the behavior of organisms from conception to death and examines the processes that contribute to behavioral change throughout the life span. The major areas of emphasis in the course are prenatal

4 development, motor development, socialization, cognitive development, adolescence, and adulthood. When examining the relative influences of nature and nurture throughout an organism s development, students will focus on the nature part of the equation, with an emphasis on the most current neurological and genetic research. Personality: As noted in the course description, students will explore major theories of how humans develop enduring patterns of behavior and personal characteristics that influence how others relate to them. Students will place a special emphasis on the reliability and validity of current research methods used to assess personality and will compare the relative values of each approach. Testing and Individual Differences: Students will examine a variety of approaches to intelligence and how individual differences in intelligence are assessed. Students will focus on issues related to test construction and fair use, with an emphasis on the statistical analysis of test results to determine reliability and validity of test instruments. Abnormal Behavior: Students will examine the major diagnostic categories of psychological disorders and their symptoms, using the American Psychological Association s most current version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Students will place a special emphasis on the biochemical processes that underlie most of these disorders and the most current research that explores malfunctions in these processes that contribute to the incidence of these disorders. Treatment of Abnormal Behavior: Students will examine the treatments for psychological disorders, looking at the major treatment orientations used in therapy, and the relative effectiveness of each approach. When examining the pharmacological options for treatment, students will emphasize the biochemical pathways involved in the drug s effect on a person s biological and physiological response. Social Psychology: When examining how individuals relate to one another in social situations, and the social phenomena that apply, students will focus on the research that adds to our knowledge of this branch of psychology. Students will closely examine the research methods and assumptions made in social psychology research, as well as any ethical issues, and look for any weakness in the conclusions drawn from such research. Students will examine current research, including evolutionary theories, for alternative explanations of why research subjects act the way that they do in social settings. GOALS AND OBJECTIVES: GENERAL

5 In addition to the content based goals and objectives outlined above, students will also meet the following general goals and objectives. Students will use techniques that they learn when studying memory to increase their ability to encode, store, and retrieve the concepts and vocabulary needed to discuss and understand important ideas and research results in both historical and contemporary psychology, with the hope that they can use these same memory techniques in other courses. Students will work with library staff to understand and apply APA citations and writing styles for research and writing in both AP psychology and in their future scientific writings. Students will assess and choose valid and credible scientific resources for psychology projects. Students will acquire the ability to more deeply analyze published psychology research to understand the scientific basis of the foundational principles of psychology. Students will work alone, or in pairs or small groups, to synthesize what they have learned about a particular area in psychology and make interesting and informative presentations to their classmates that summarize their findings. Students will explore the connections between the different content areas within psychological science and will be able to explain how the different theories and perspectives on psychology evolved over time and how they are related to each other. Students will make connections between the psychological knowledge that they learn in this course and the complexities of everyday life. PROPOSED CURRICULUM SEQUENCE First quarter: History and Approaches Research Methods Biological Basis of Behavior Sensation and Perception Second quarter: Consciousness Learning Emotions and Stress Cognition Testing and Individual Differences Third quarter: Personality Developmental Psychology Social Psychology Abnormal Behavior Fourth quarter: Treatment of Abnormal Behavior Motivation Review for AP exam

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