Using Your Experimental Psychology Skills...(R) To Teach Undergraduates

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Classes have started, and a whole new group of graduate students have
taken positions as GSIs (Graduate Slave Instructors).  These brave souls
will be molding soft young undergraduate brains into the steel traps that
are required to attain a University of Michigan Liberal Arts degree. 
Luckily, most of the empirical facts we psychologists know are based on
college undergraduates.  This, the second installment in the "Using your
Experimental Psychology Skills...(R)"  series, will show you how you can
give back to society and apply these hard-won facts on those who gave us
this information, the undergraduates themselves. 

            Using your Experimental Psychology Skills...(R)
	              To Teach Undergraduates.

For example:

"Primacy and Recency Effect"
	It is well known that college undergraduates tend to remember
items near the beginning and near the end of lists better than those in
the middle.  You can take advantage of this effect in several ways:

     A)  Discuss important matters near the beginning or near the end
	 of your section meeting.  The middle period can be filled with
	 anything you choose:  backward arithmetic, dirty jokes, hard
	 labor, etc.  It doesn't matter what you do; they won't remember
	 it anyway. 
     B)	 Divide your 1 hour section into two 1/2-hour sessions.  The
	 undergraduates will then remember twice as much:  things from the
	 beginning and end of the first session AND from the beginning and
 	 end of the second session.  An even more effective strategy is to
 	 use three 20-minute sessions, ten 6-minute sessions, or (taking
	 advantage of the Cognitive Processor's cycle time) 72,000 50-msec

"Magic Number +/- 2"
	A well known empirical finding is that College students can only
remember between 5 to 9 words.  Make your sentences short.  Telegraphic
speech is good.  If you must write or speak a sentence of more than 9
words, make sure you put all the important ideas in the first five to
seven words. A student would not be able to understand the last sentence.
For God's sake, do not allow them to talk: this "Articulatory Suppression"
will force you to speak in sentences less than four words long. 

"Brain and Neural Science"
	Through the use of modern techniques such as Fmri, fMRI, PET, ERP,
EEG, MEG, and neuropsychological techniques, we know that college students
use their brains to think.  This knowledge can be applied in the classroom
by providing incentives to those students how do this more efficiently.
For example, if you see a student using both sides of their brain at the
same time, give them a bonus point.  Challenge all students to a "Little
Brain" contest: the student who, at the end of the semester, has generated
cerebellar activity for the largest variety of tasks, doesn't have to take
the final.  You may even wish to encourage or require those students with
small brains to visit your office hours frequently, to help overcome their

	We know from recent studies that undergraduate brains work much
like feed-forward neural networks with back-propogation.  By understanding
this, it follows that college students will:
	A)  Be unable to accomplish tasks requiring symbolic logic.
	    (Forget about Venn Diagrams:  rephrase everything into a
	    permission schema involving Drinking Beer and Police Officers.
	    For example, rephrase the syllogism, "If I fail the exam, I will
	    not pass the Class.  I failed the Exam, therefore I will not pass
	    the class." to "I drank the night before the exam, and so I failed
            the the class.  Now I won't be able to become a cop.")
	B)  Will not understand the "Exclusive Or" logical operation:
            "Either you will pass the class or you won't, but not both" is
	C)  Hate anything written by Steve Pinker, Jerry Fodor, or Zenon

"Power Law of Practice"
	It is a ubiquitous principle that Undergraduates learn according
to the power law of practice.  This means that at the beginning of the
semester, the will learn a great many things in a short period of time.
As the semester progresses, they will be able to learn less and less and
it will take them longer and longer.  By the end of the semester, they can
study for an infinite period of time, and they will not be able to learn a 
a single fact.  You can take advantage of this fact by:
	A)  Saying all the important facts that you will learn in the
	    course during the first day.
	B)  Convincing the students to take the natural logarithm of both
	    their knowledge and their time.
	C)  Taking the last month of the semester off and going to
	    Florida:  The students can't learn anything so you may as well
	    get a nice tan.

"Surface vs. Deep Structure"

	As Norm Chomsky showed, undergraduates hear one thing (Surface
Structure) but believe another (Deep Structure).  You can use this to your
advantage in the classroom by presenting all material to the students
directly, using  propositions coded in HAM networks.

"Visual Search and the Pop-out Effect"

	Many studies with college undergraduates has shown that certain
visual features "Pop Out", while others require deliberate search to find.
This finding has an analogous effect in the classroom.  One of your
lectures is like a field of random visual features.  Hidden within your
lecture are several facts that will appear on the test.  You will find a
student will learn much more if the important facts pop out, like a red
circle in a field of blue squares.  Lecture-features that do not require
conscious attention to detect include the phrase "...know this for the
test", "This will be on the test...", and "Hey! Wake Up."  Liberal use of 
these features will allow your students to ace your exams, without even
being conscious.

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