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R. Eric Landrum (Boise State University) tells the story of a student who earned a BA and went out into the workforce. One day she ran into him and apologized for not using her psych degree. He asked what field she was working in. She replied, “I run my own business.” Landrum notes that we need to do a better job helping our psych majors understand that the skills and knowledge that they gain through the major will help them in a large number of career fields. Dialing it back to Intro Psych, we can help everyone who takes the Intro course see the value of psychology.


Near the end of the Intro Psych course, show students these data from the June 2016 APA Monitor.


People with a bachelor’s in psychology work primarily in sales, other work activities (i.e. “design, development, computer applications, production, quality management and work activities not otherwise specified”), professional services (e.g., “health care, counseling, financial services, or legal services”), and management/supervision. Other areas include teaching (11%), accounting/finance/contracts (9%), employee relations (5%), and research (3%).


For an in-class or online discussion board activity, divide students into eight groups and assign each group one job category from the chart. (For larger classes, to keep group-size small, use more groups.)


Ask students these questions:

  1. Identify at least one concept from each chapter we covered in this course that would be useful in this job field.
  2. For each concept chosen, briefly explain why it would be useful for those in that job field to know it.


Students can write responses individually or as a group or each group could verbally report out.


If time permits, you can opt to use a jigsaw classroom. If you have a class of 64 or more, create 8 groups of at least 8 students each. (Have less than 64 in a class? Use fewer groups and fewer students per group and assign each group two or more job categories.) Each group answers the questions above.


Following discussion, each group member is assigned to a new group so that each new group now has at least one person who had discussed each job category. Within the new groups, group members share the concepts their former groups had identified. Ask students to look for commonalities and differences.


Following discussion of these new groups, ask students to report out what they learned. For example, did the same concepts appear regardless of job category? Or were there some concepts that seem to be unique to a particular job category.



This is a nice integration activity that fits with the pillar model for Intro Psych (Gurung,, 2016) and Goal 5: Professional Development from Guidelines 2.0


Gurung, R. A., Hackathorn, J., Enns, C., Frantz, S., Cacioppo, J. T., Loop, T., & Freeman, J. E. (2016). Strengthening introductory psychology: A new model for teaching the introductory course. American Psychologist, 71(2), 112-124.

Theresa Wadkins (University of Nebraska – Kearney) has a quick, but powerful way to demonstrate schemas in action.


On the day she covers schemas, Wadkins walks into class, approaches a student, and asks, “How are you? Are you having a good day?” After the student responds, sometimes in befuddlement, she returns to the front of the room and begins her lecture. A few minutes later, she returns to the student and asks, “How is everything?” Again, the student responds, even more perplexed. And then back to the lecture. For the third and final time, she returns to the same student and asks, “Can I get you anything?”


Wadkins then explains to her students that we have different schemas for what happens in a classroom and what happens in a restaurant. While being asked such questions is peculiar for a classroom, we would be put off if we weren’t asked these very same questions by a server in a restaurant.


If you’d like to expand on this activity, ask students – in small groups or through an online discussion board – to identify the schema characteristics of what happens when a customer visits a sit-down restaurant and the schema characteristics of what happens when a customer visits a fast-food restaurant. Invite students to share the characteristics of each that they generated. Summarize the responses into a coherent schema for each type of restaurant.


Ask students to reflect – in small groups, through an online discussion board, or as a written assignment – on what would happen if they had no schema for a sit-down restaurant when they walked into one. Or if they had no schema for a fast-food restaurant when they walked into one. Or if they walked into one type of restaurant with the schema for the other type of restaurant in mind.


For added discussion or writing assignment, invite students to identify times when a schema they had did not match the situation.

The Washington Post published a wonderful article on the sense of shame that surrounds mental illness and how people are overcoming that shame and stepping out of the shadows.


Ask your students to read the article and respond to the following questions in class as a small group discussion, online through a class discussion board, or as an out-of-class written assignment.


1. Those interviewed for the article expressed a fear of coming out as having mental illness. What is the stigma associated with mental illness, and why would those with mental illness fear others knowing?


2. The article identifies several ways in which people with mental illness are coming out publicly. What are those ways? If you were to come out publicly as having mental illness, which of those ways would you choose and why?


3. Visit the blog Choose one blog post and answer the following.

a. What is the person’s name and what they do in life (short descriptions are typically at the end of each post)?

b. What type of mental illness do they have?

c. Describe their milestone events, such as their first memory of symptoms, their first diagnosis.

d. What’s it like for them to live with mental illness?

e. What reactions did you have as you read their story?


Itkowitz, C. (2016, June 1). Unashamed and unwell. Retrieved from [Note: Published in the paper on June 2, 2016 if you're looking for it in a library database.]

If you make candy bars and sell them through vending machines, you can use operant conditioning principles to get people to do all sort of things. In this case, Nestlé, the maker of Kit Kat bars in Brazil, put special vending machines on two different college campuses in the same Brazilian city. The machines streamed video to each other. Players stepped up to each machine and pressed play (“jogar” in Portuguese). The goal? To win a staring contest. The winner earned a Kit Kat Chunky chocolate bar.



Bonus: If you’d like to expand your coverage of schemas to talk about differences in food preferences around the world, tell your students about the phenomenon that is Kit Kat, the most popular candy, in Japan. Ask your students to guess how many flavors of Kit Kat there are in Japan. The answer: almost 300 (Goldman, 2016).


Some of the flavors: grilled potato, cherry blossom, soybean, blueberry cheesecake, chocobanana, white peach, green tea, pumpkin, apple, mango, lemon, red bean paste, apple vinegar, pineapple, kiwi, cappuccino, jasmine tea (The weird and wacky…, n.d.). Want to try out some of these flavors yourself? You can order some here.


Why is Kit Kat so popular in Japan? One factor is probably because its name is similar to the Japanese phrase kitto katsu – good luck (literally, surely win) (Goldman, 2016).


Goldman, R. (2016, May 13). Japan has a Kit Kat for every taste, and then some. Retrieved from


The weird and wacky flavors of Kit Kat in Japan. (n.d.). Retrieved May 28, 2016, from

Sue Frantz

Crisis Text Line

Posted by Sue Frantz Jun 1, 2016

The Crisis Text Line is a crisis hotline that lets those in crisis text a volunteer crisis counselor. Since they launched in 2013, millions of texts have been exchanged between those asking for help and those providing it.


This 10-minute TED talk by the founder Nancy Lublin provides an inspiring overview.



For students in crisis

I’m adding this statement to my syllabus:

Counseling Center.  Are you feeling stressed about college? Tests? Your future? A relationship? A loss? Adjusting to a new culture? An addiction, yours or someone else's? Living? Visit Highline's Counseling Center ( in Building 6, upstairs on the north side of the building. Email: Phone: (206) 592-3353

If the Counseling Center is closed and you need to talk with someone now, call the King County Crisis Clinic at (206) 461-3222.

If you'd rather text with someone, contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HELLO to 741-741.

For texters concerned about privacy, the volunteer counselors don’t see their phone numbers. It’s all done through an encrypted computer interface. And for those who are really concerned, they can text “loofah” (or similar spellings) to have their texts scrubbed from the system (Dupere, 2016).


Is your psych club, Psi Beta chapter or Psi Chi chapter looking for a project?

Print and post flyers on your campus. You can use the Crisis Text Line’s pre-made flyer.

Or do a fundraiser. Crisis Text Line accepts donations.


How to become a volunteer


Volunteers apply, and those who are accepted undergo 34 hours of online training. Volunteers commit to doing one 4-hour shift per week for a year.


Do you have students who are over 18 years old who might be interested in volunteering? Download the Crisis Text Line volunteer flyer: It’s not a guaranteed gig; 39% of those who apply are accepted to begin the training (Dupere, 2016).


Show me the data


All of those 18 million texts provide a boat-load of data. And those data are publicly available at


Texts about depression increase throughout the day, peaking at 8pm.


Texts about family issues are most common on Sundays.


The state with the most LGBTQ-related texts? Alaska. The least? Vermont.


The state with the most bullying-related texts? Vermont. The least? New Hampshire.


Starting in Spring 2014, texts about anxiety and texts about suicidal thoughts co-occur.


Anxiety and suicidal thoughts graph.JPG


You can also choose a topic to see a sample text and a word cloud of the top 50 words that appear in texts related to that topic. Here’s what I got when I selected anxiety.


anxiety word cloud.JPG

If you’re a researcher interested in using their data, their FAQ says, “Data access is available to approved academic researchers. The application will be available here in late January 2016.” As of this writing (June 2016), I don’t see an application. If you’re interested, email them at   


Dupere, K. (2016, May 28). This text line is helping teens talk about mental health without saying a word. Retrieved May 31, 2016, from