Back to Table of Contents for the On Course I Workshop

1. Strategy: Jigsaw

Application: General Psychology

Educator: Mandy Sexton, Roane State Community College, TN

Implementation: Create home groups of five. Have students choose to become their group’s expert on one of the following schools of thought in psychology: 1) psychoanalysis, 2) behaviorism, 3) humanism, 4) cognitive, 5) client-centered/Rogerian. To complete Step A, tell students about their resources (textbook, APA web site, etc.) and allow them time to become an expert (1 week). In Step B, have the experts meet and share information and plan how to teach their school of thought to their home group members. In Step C, experts return to their home groups to teach their method. Throughout the semester, the experts in each school of though can be called on to give an expert opinion on any given topic. For example, What would Freud and Ellis say about [the issue being discussed]? Many topics in the course will lend themselves to this type of discussion allowing course-long learning. By the end of the semester, each student will be knowledgeable in all the perspectives and be able to apply them to many topics.

2. Strategy: Jigsaw

Application: General Psychology–Learning the difference among positive reinforcement, negative reinforcement, positive punishment and negative punishment in operant conditioning

Educator: Dennis E. Schell, Assistant Professor of Psychology, The George Washington University, D.C.

Implementation: Pre-study: All students are assigned to read the section of the chapter in General Psychology that discusses operant conditioning and bring their textbook to class. Create home groups of four, with each member selecting one of the following concepts: (a) positive reinforcement, (b) negative reinforcement, (c) positive punishment or (d) negative punishment. Afterwards, each expert group:

  1. Takes five minutes to review the section of the textbook pertaining to their respective concept.
  2. Takes five minutes to deepen their understanding of the concept through discussion.
  3. Takes five minutes to develop two good examples illustrating the concept.

Students return to their respective home groups and each student takes five minutes to review/explain the concept and present the two examples from his/her expert group. The instructor elicits student feedback about the learning event and answers any questions.

Post-study: Each home group reviews the following case study and identifies where each of the following occurred: (a) positive reinforcement, (b) negative reinforcement, (c) positive punishment or (d) negative punishment.
Case: Kenisha and Sabrina were neighbors whose children played together. One July afternoon the two mothers decided to take their children on a special day trip to a farm-park, which both children adored. Five-year-old Leo had been stung by a bee two months earlier when he pushed trash into a large green trash can. Now he is afraid to even go near one. Today, when they were walking around the corner of the old barn, Leo jumped back in fear when he saw a big green rain barrel that looked like a large green trash can. Kenisha noticed his fear and immediately said, “Wow, Leo you were so brave to even go near the barrel.” Leo stopped whimpering; his mother caught just a hint of a smile. Kenisha promised Leo that if he walked near the barrels without whimpering, he would later get a Coca Cola, his favorite soft drink. So, every time Leo went near one of the rain barrels or trash cans, Kenisha either praised him or smiled at him. Eventually he even ran up to a trash can and pushed a discarded cup inside. And, of course, he greatly enjoyed his Coca Cola at the snack bar at the end of the day.
Alice, who is usually a well-behaved five-year-old, was anything else but pleasant today. The first thing she did was run through a water puddle after being warned not to run. Her mother, Sabrina, grabbed her arm and squeezed tightly enough to illicit pain and threatened Alice with “time out” if she did not stop running. Shortly thereafter, Alice bolted again, ran ahead toward the sheep stable—they were her favorite animal. In her haste and excitement, she tripped over a metal pail, fell head-long to the ground, scraping her knees and dirtying her pull-over and shorts. Her mother yelled bitterly, “Now look at what you’ve done. What did I tell you? I can’t take you anywhere!” Sabrina grabbed the little girl, walked her over to a bench, and sat her down. There Sabrina said, “You will sit here for ten minutes and you will not go to the hog pen.” Alice protested loudly, “I want to see the pigs! Let me go! You’re cruel!” Sabrina leaned down and in a firm voice retorted, “If you don’t stop yelling, you’ll sit here another five minutes and you will not even see the goats.” Alice immediately stopped yelling and the two sat quietly on the bench. When the ten minutes were up, the two joined Kenisha and Leo. Alice did not run or yell the rest of the day.
Answers to the Case:
Positive Reinforcement

  • Leo receiving his coca cola for “bravely” walking near the barrels and trash cans
  • Leo receiving praise for “bravely” walking near the barrels and trash cans
  • Leo receiving a smile for “bravely” walking near the barrels and trash cans

Negative Reinforcement

  • Alice refraining from yelling in order to avoid not seeing the goats

Positive Punishment

  • Alice getting her arm squeezed for running
  • Alice getting yelled at when she fell

Negative Punishment

  • Alice getting “time out”

3. Strategy: 8 Choices of Successful Students

Application: Psychology

Educator: Anna Kemdal Pho, Faculty, Psychology, Skyline College, CA

Implementation: Incorporate the 8 Choices of Successful students over the semester in Psychology 100, relating each choice to a different chapter, e.g., emotional intelligence in the Thinking & Intelligence Chapter, master self-management in thinking & intelligence (problem-solving), self-motivation to emotion & motivation and life-long learning to developmental psychology. Thus, create collateral learning of the On Course material and at the same time making the psychology concepts more personally relevant. Include quotes, activities, tools, etc.

4. Strategy: JigSaw Model

Application: Upper Level Abnormal Psychology

Educator: Sue Oltson, Faculty, Psychology, Southeast Community College, NE

Implementation: Break the classroom into groups of 5. If there are students left over, ask them to shadow someone. Each group is a “home” group. Assign the following to each member of the group: 1) phobia; 2) Panic Disorder; 3) Obsessive Compulsive Disorder; 4) Generalized Anxiety Disorder; and 5) Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Allow class time for each student to become an “expert” in their disorder. The, get each expert together with their particular disorder. Each student spends 2 minutes sharing what they have learned. Students then return to their home group. Then spend 3 minutes sharing what they learned. After time is called, instructor hands out short ending quiz that fits the learning objective.

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