Thursday, July 21, 2016

Testing, testing: Experiment Day

The room where it happens! We waited for our
participants in this room and got to see what all
that ivy looks like from the inside! 
Today was all about psychology. For the first half of class, our TA Marjorie taught the class instead of our professor. The lecture was about adolescents -- their stages of development, academic performance, peer relationships, etc. This was a pretty cool topic to cover while sitting in a room full of teenagers from all over the world. There were a lot of things  I could relate to, and some that I couldn't at all. It was good to address some of the stereotypes made about teenagers, and understand the roots of these stereotypes and the extent to which they may or may not be true. For example, the idea that teenagers take more risks comes from the fact that, due to changes in the brain, the limbic system gives higher rewards for risky behavior which is more of an incentive for teens to take risks. This is not necessarily something that is easy for teens to control, and different people may act on this at different level. While teens definitely need to learn discipline, they should also not be demonized for what they are experiencing. I loved having the chance to take a step back and analyze my own teenage psychology and how I fit into the puzzle.

We also learned about stereotype threat, which is the idea that people will perform worse on a test if they think they might be confirming some negative stereotype. For example, if a women is made to check a box on a math test identifying herself as female when there is a negative stereotype about women in math, she is likely to do worse on the test. This situation can be prevented using metacognition (acknowledging and analyzing one's own thoughts) and through education about stereotype threat. Not nearly enough schools do this in my opinion, and they should.

We were released early for lunch (which meant shorter lines, yay!) and came back earlier to set up for the first wave of participants to partake in our experiment! This was an eye-opening process, because there were so many little, hard-to-predict things that made me feel like the experiment was not controlled enough. A participant would ask me a question about the experiment that I had not prepared for and I would think "oh no, what if by answering I am compromising the data!" There are so many variables to take into account, and this gave me a greater appreciation for the work and care that goes into controlled experiments at the college level. My group spent most of the evening testing people, from 1:00 to 6:00 PM. I am excited to start analyzing the results, but we still have two days left of testing and you never know what might happen!



  1. What an interesting day. This class sounds so thoughtfully l prepared for you participants. Glad it is so full of learning opportunities and glad you are powerfully supported in that learning process. Hugs and kisses

    1. William, William, William, you have done it again. What an insightful comment William. William! (William).

      Mr. Leonard