Using the National Standards to Promote Excellence in Teaching: An Institute for High School Psychology Teachers on Biopsychology

Sponsored by the American Psychological Association (APA),
the APA Teachers of Psychology in Secondary Schools,
and the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay

July 22-27, 2007

University of Wisconsin-Green Bay
Green Bay, WI

This site contains information about a five-day institute on biopsychology held at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay in July 2007 for high school psychology teachers.

In July 2007, the American Psychological Association (APA) and the APA Committee of Teachers of Psychology in Secondary Schools (TOPSS) held a five-day institute for high school psychology teachers at the University of Wisconsin, Green Bay (UWGB). The 2007 Institute focused on biopsychology, one of the domains of the National Standards for High School Psychology Curricula. Thirty-one high school teachers from fourteen states attended the institute. Most participants stayed in the UWGB dorms, and all sessions were held on the UWGB campus.

Most participants arrived to the Green Bay campus on Sunday, July 22. The institute started Monday morning, July 23, with a welcome from Sue K. Hammersmith, UWGB Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs. Throughout the week, teachers heard presentations from a variety of expert psychologists, speaking on different topics related to biopsychology. Speakers included:

  • James Kalat, PhD (North Carolina State University), who presented on Biological Psychology: The Major Issues and Biological Psychology: Mechanisms

  • Nancy Dess, PhD (Occidental College), who presented on Feelings on the Tip of the Tongue: Taste, Emotion, and the Organization of Behavior

  • Dean VonDras, PhD (UWGB), who presented on Aging: Promoting Awareness and Advocacy

  • Eric Chudler, PhD (University of Washington), who presented on Neuroscience in the Psychology Classroom: Challenges and Opportunities and Neuroscience in the Psychology Classroom: Journey into the Brain

  • Cynthia Belar, PhD (APA Education Directorate), who presented on Health Psychology

  • Regan Gurung, PhD (UWGB), who presented on Advances in Stress & Coping (and Why Women do it better)

In addition to these biopsychology sessions, Kristin Vespia, PhD, and Georjeanna Wilson-Doenges, PhD, both from UWGB, presented special sessions on careers in psychology and environmental psychology.

Each day, four master teachers also presented on pedagogy, activities and resources. The master teachers were: Amy Fineburg (Spain Park High School, Hoover, Ala.), Hilary Rosenthal (Glenbrook South High School, Glenview, Ill.), William Elmhorst (Marshfield High School, Marshfield, Wis.), and Kent Korek (Germantown High School, Germantown, Wis.).

Besides providing attendees with lectures and addresses, the institute allowed for small groups of teachers and faculty to work together to update the following TOPSS unit lesson plans, all originally produced in the 1990s:

  • Sensation and Perception

  • Development

  • Biological Bases of Behavior

  • Motivation and Emotion

The unit plans are expected to be fully revised and posted to the TOPSS Web site by early 2008.

Beside the excellent sessions and group work, highlights from the week included:

  • Visits from two representatives from the Wisconsin Department of Education.

  • An opening dinner overlooking the bay

  • A tour of Lambeau Field (complete with cheeseheads!) and a dinner at Curly's Pub

  • A closing reception on the UWGB campus

The TOPSS Committee hopes that the 2007 institute will be the first of at least five summer institutes. The next institute will be held during the summer of 2009. Information about the next institute will be shared via the TOPSS website and in the PTN in 2008.

Questions? Contact Emily Leary by email or phone (202) 572-3013.