Psychology in Action

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Active Learning Activity 6.12 - Schedules of Reinforcement Challenge the students to come up with at least three examples of each type of schedule. If the response is limited try offering a list of examples and have them decide which type of schedule is being illustrated (Fixed/Variable, Ratio/Interval). Examples include: working by the hour, being paid on commission, being paid by the piece, buying a lottery ticket, holiday sobriety driving tests, DMV tailpipe emissions test, practicing in a baseball cage, using a radar tracking device, backing up your hard drive every time you leave work, the annual Christmas party, a graduation party, panhandling, purchasing with volume discounts, calling into a radio show for prizes, surprise locker inspections, logging into your e-mail account every evening, looking out the window repeatedly for your date to show up, playing Bingo, nervously clicking your pen again and again, playing the slot machines, and beach combing for perfect sea shells. Active Learning Activity 6.13 - Conditioning in Nursing Homes Volunteers in nursing homes report that too often family members and friends are uncomfortable when visiting their relatives. As a result of this association pattern, many people come less and less often. For a few minutes have each group of students come up with a list of the events, sights, smells, noises, symbols that are in a nursing home that would affect visitors (or residents) negatively. Then ask the students to come up with ideas that would make visiting a friend or relative a reinforcing experience they would want to repeat. For younger students this can be a difficult exercise. Challenge them to think like behavioral therapists searching to maximize reinforcement opportunities. Sharing music, memories, touch, poetry, favorite foods, or story telling are just a few of the avenues to be explored. The idea is not to endure suffering but to create mutually satisfying experiences for visitor and resident. Be sure to probe that the list of negative stimuli from the preceding paragraph has been addressed. How do the concepts of habituation, generalization or discrimination apply? This exercise can also be expanded into a field visit, a diversity exercise or a writing project. Active Learning Activity 6.14 - Cognitive Maps The following mental imagery activity is a very effective demonstration of latent learning and cognitive maps. Start by asking students to close their eyes, sit comfortably in their seats, and rest one hand on their desktop. Tell them you are going to take them on an imaginary trip through "psychology land," and they should trace the route with a fingertip on the top of their desk. As you read the following passage, emphasize the words that are capitalized. Place your fingertip in the lower left-hand corner of your desk. You are at the one and only gate to "psychology land." After you open the gate, move straight upward on your desktop. STOP at the upper left corner of your desk to visit Ivan Pavlov's laboratory where he is studying salivation in laboratory dogs. Picture in your mind a Russian physiologist rushing around testing his dogs. Note how the dogs
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