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Volume 18, Issue11November 2005

Presidential Column

Michael Gazzaniga
Michael S. Gazzaniga
University of California, Santa Barbara
APS President 2005 - 2006
All columns

In this Issue:
Disciplinary Drift: Psychologists' success in their adopted fields

About the Observer

Published 6 times per year by the Association for Psychological Science, the Observer educates and informs on matters affecting the research, academic, and applied disciplines of psychology; promotes the scientific values of APS members; reports on issues of international interest to the psychological science community; and provides a vehicle for the dissemination on information about APS.

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Up Front


  • Disciplinary Drift: Psychologists’ success in their adopted fields

    Among the things not emphasized enough in graduate school is the versatility of a psychology degree in academia. This thought occurred to me during a visit to Wake Forest Medical School to give a talk in the department of neurobiology and anatomy, where my best friend from graduate school is the chair. As psychology graduate students at the City University of New York in the late 1960s, we imagined all sorts of future employment possibilities, but I don't think we ever considered the type of positions we currently hold. Our situation is not at all exceptional. I can think of dozens trained in psychology who now hold appointments in departments far removed from psychology. In many cases, only a few colleagues even know of their graduate degrees in psychology. Although there is disciplinary drift in all scientific fields, it seems much more prevalent in psychology.

APS Spotlight


  • Champions of Psychology: Jeffrey Scott Mio

    The Student Notebook welcomes Jeffrey Scott Mio as this months' Champion of Psychology. Mio, California State Polytechnic University, specializes in three lines of research: metaphors, and their use in political persuasion; multicultural issues; and how to develop allies. He teaches multicultural issues at both the undergraduate and graduate levels in addition to social psychology, cognitive psychology, and psychopathology. Mio earned his PhD in clinical psychology at the University of Illinois in 1984, has published numerous articles and books, and received an Emmy award for his role as a consultant in a public television educational series. APSSC: What are some of the mistakes you see graduate students making today?

Practice


  • Asking Questions

    Remember how, as a student listening to a lecture, your attention drifted between the words of the professor and sundry personal thoughts? A particular class might have been uneventful had not the speaker suddenly changed pace and begun directing questions at the class. If silence prevailed the teacher, intent on gaining a response, often resorted to a favorite weapon for class participation: “calling on” students. How Students Feel About Being Called On We can remember feelings of dread while waiting and hoping that we would not be the one singled out when teachers initiated direct questioning. To find out whether students today feel the way we once did, we surveyed our introductory psychology students about their reactions to a number of common teacher behaviors. What we learned was that more than half of the nearly 200 students either disliked or strongly disliked being called upon, and only 12 percent liked it. We also found negative responses for other teacher practices such as returning exams in order of highest to lowest grade (84 percent negative), not returning exams face down (66 percent negative), and posting name and grade (65 percent negative).

  • Asking Questions: Promoting student-faculty interchange in the classroom

    Remember how, as a student listening to a lecture, your attention drifted between the words of the professor and sundry personal thoughts? A particular class might have been uneventful had not the speaker suddenly changed pace and begun directing questions at the class. If silence prevailed the teacher, intent on gaining a response, often resorted to a favorite weapon for class participation: “calling on” students. How Students Feel About Being Called On We can remember feelings of dread while waiting and hoping that we would not be the one singled out when teachers initiated direct questioning. To find out whether students today feel the way we once did, we surveyed our introductory psychology students about their reactions to a number of common teacher behaviors. What we learned was that more than half of the nearly 200 students either disliked or strongly disliked being called upon, and only 12 percent liked it. We also found negative responses for other teacher practices such as returning exams in order of highest to lowest grade (84 percent negative), not returning exams face down (66 percent negative), and posting name and grade (65 percent negative).

First Person


  • Reading Scientific Research With a Careful Eye

    When we read scientific psychology journals, we notice that many well-respected researchers often use commentaries and other rebuttals to address their work or to critique the work done by other researchers. Listed below are several tips for new researchers and aspiring scientific readers in the field. What approach should students take when devising a commentary or rebuttal to other research? When they pursue a literature review, and feel that a still-debatable research issue is open for further inquiry, they can read the commentaries or rebuttal articles by experts in that field of study. How do students read an article or commentary and judge its impartiality? Science is experimentation. Dictums, designs, flaws, weaknesses, and the like will always be a part of scientific papers.

More From This Issue


  • Calculating Behavior

    Luckily for science, as a child R. Duncan Luce had astigmatism and parents who didn't think much of art as a career choice. Otherwise, he might have ended up a fighter pilot or an artist instead of a pioneer in mathematical behavioral science. As it is, during his career he has focused on constructing and testing mathematical models of the commonalities among people. In a third-person biographical note written in 1989, Luce recalled his youth in Scranton, Pennsylvania.

  • Just Published

    The Cambridge Handbook of Visuospatial Thinking Priti Shah and Akira Miyake Cambridge University Press 2005 ISBN: 0521807107 454 pages Visuospatial thinking encompasses a wide range of thinking processes concerning space, whether it be navigating across town, understanding multimedia displays, reading an architectural blueprint or a map. Understanding it and in particular, how people represent and process visual and spatial information, is relevant not only to cognitive psychology but also education, geography, architecture, medicine, design, computer science/artificial intelligence, semiotics and animal cognition.

  • Observations

    Enough Is Enough It goes without saying, doesn't it?: More is better — at least, when we're talking money, ice cream, or the other good things in life. Actually, it's not so simple. Economists have long known that as the magnitude of some good increases, people's subjective evaluations of the worth of that good may not increase proportionally. A 10-ounce serving of chocolate ice cream is appealing, but not fully twice as appealing as a 5-ounce serving. A nice juicy steak is appealing. Two nice juicy steaks? No, thank you.

  • New SAT Is to Old SAT as…

    Student study behavior, as recorded on a test preparation Web site, has changed with the introduction of the new SAT in March 2005. With the elimination of the popular analogy questions, students are spending less time overall on preparation, and appear to view vocabulary drills as less important. Three years of data show that the broad pattern of student study activity is still not well-matched to the actual demands of the SAT. We emphasize the potential for large-scale databases to open up new frontiers for education researchers.

  • Cattell Fund Extends Sabbatical, Research

    James McKeen Cattell was already recognized as a founding father of psychological science when he and two former students launched the Psychological Corporation in 1921 to develop and publish psychological tests and materials. He invested $6,000 of his own money for 60 percent of its shares.