Resources: the glutamate hypothesis of schizphrenia

A colleague needed a short text on the glutamate hypothesis for a reciprocal teaching activity but couldn’t find one pitched at the right level. I therefore wrote one, because it was more fun that what I was actually supposed to be doing.

Resources: a lesson on neural transmission

I’m not getting tired of this any time soon.

Here are some resources for teaching neural transmission. There’s a lesson plan with various activities and a slideshow to support it, along with an unlabelled diagram of a neuron and a set of sequencing cards for events that occur during the action potential. These have been prepared for students who are scared of science, so descriptions have been simplified and you might want to use them as a bridging resource to something more complete.

Resources: two lessons on jury decisions

‘The INSET’ by John Morgan (Creative Commons).

Here are two lessons on jury decision making (plans). Both assume that you have set advance study of the relevant material.

The first addresses the characteristics of the defendant. There is an analysis task (based on an Edexcel sample question) you can use to structure a group discussion on  influences on jury decisions, explanations of those influences and the evidence that relates to them. This is followed by a consideration of the weaknesses of mock-jury research and an activity on research design to help integrate RMS knowledge and understanding with the topic of criminological psychology. Invite students to design studies and summarise them on this form, then stick them on a visualiser/photograph/scan and project them for a group critique. There is a slideshow to structure the lesson.

The second lesson focuses on pretrial publicity. It is also RMS-focused and structured around a content analysis of two newspaper articles about the Joanna Yeates case, one from the Daily Mail and one from The Guardian. The slideshow gives a structure for the lesson.

More action potential GIFs

Here are a couple more GIFs I’ve been mucking around with whilst teaching neural transmission.  Right click to save, or link to the URL if embedding in Google Slides.

Refractory period

Resources: introductory lesson on the brain

Here are some resources for an introductory lesson on the brain.  It assumes that you have set the students a preparation task before the lesson. There is a lesson plan, a slideshow, an advance organiser on the brain and brain scanning and a Socrative quiz on some key brain areas.

Improving assessment with a single-point rubric


I’ve started using single-point rubrics for assessing and feeding back on essays since coming across them on  This post has a nice summary of the benefits which I won’t repeat here.

Here are a couple of essay questions and single point rubrics designed to develop and assess critical thinking and writing skills in line with Edexcel’s Psychology specification. They are both ‘context’ questions requiring a combination of analysis/application, critical thinking and knowledge and understanding. I’ve tried to construct them to facilitate the sort of structure that works with Edexcel (but which is also consistent good academic writing). There is one on different types of brain scanning/imaging and another on eyewitness testimony (weapons effect, postevent information). These are RTFs, so you can hack them about to make your own. If you do, please share in the comments.  

Resources: two lessons on interviewing witnesses and suspects

Photo: Krystian Olszansky (Creative Commons licence)

Here are two lessons on interviewing witnesses (cognitive interview) and suspects (ethical interview). Each lesson assumes you have set advance reading from whichever textbook or other source you are using.  Lesson one starts with students making comparisons between standard police interviews and cognitive interviews using this visible thinking routine for comparing. The main application activity is to write a letter to a chief constable persuading her to adopt cognitive interviewing in her force.  I’ve found that some students get all up tight about writing an essay because it smells like assessment and they do a better job if they write a letter instead, even though the same skills are required. The slideshow gives a structure for the lesson.

Lesson two starts with the use of the same VTR. This is followed by an analysis task using this recording of a police suspect interview.  Finally, students work up an evaluation using a handout of evidence. A slideshow structures the lesson.

Action potential GIFs

Soon, action potential memes will be everywhere.

I needed to use this animation, which I made in PowerPoint, but I wanted to embed as a GIF in a Google Slides deck, because I use Google Suite for pretty much everything (what I lose on the bells and whistles I make back on the portability; I’m currently running my classroom off my phone).  It turned out it is possible but it’s a bit involved. In case you want to do it: I recorded the animation off the screen using Bandicam to create a .avi. This I edited in Microsoft Movie Maker and exported it as a .wmv file. This I then uploaded to Ezigif to create an animated GIF.

In principle, this should embed pretty much anywhere. However, I discovered, in the course of an hour-long experiment, that apparently animated GIFs don’t actually animate in a Google Slideshow if the source image is stored in Google Drive. I have no idea why. Therefore, I had to upload these GIFs to my own server and then use the URLs to embed them in the Google Slides. So this post is primarily for the benefit of those who run into the same problem as me and are frustratedly Googling for an answer. But in any case, the GIFs ended up on the Psychlotron server, so I thought I’d might as well share. Here’s a slowed down version, too.

Right click to save them.  If you want to embed them in your own Google Slides then use the image URL.


Resources: three lessons on brain scanning/imaging and developing academic skills

Kim J, Matthews NL, Park S. Wikimedia Commons.
Studies show that blog posts accompanied by brain scan images are 70% more convincing.

Here are three lessons on brain scanning/imaging. They’re from early on in my course so they’re also planned to help developing important skills and ways of thinking. There is a set of brief lesson plans for each session (these plans are read from top to bottom; no timings are given).

Lesson one introduces CT, PET and fMRI (slideshow) using a text on brain imaging and a reciprocal teaching activity. This is followed by an introduction to making comparisons, with a brain scans comparison table (copy this on A3). I ask students to complete the table outside class. There is some supplemental information to help them do this.

Lesson two (slideshow) starts with a Socrative quiz on brain scanning. This is followed by an application task in which students need to choose and justify the appropriate imaging technique for each scenario. There is then an opportunity for students to develop their academic writing.

Lesson three (slideshow) involves students planning and writing a short essay requiring application to a problem and critical comparisons between scanning/imaging techniques.

Resources: weapon focus, research methods and statistics

Ministry of Defence; licensed under Creative Commons.
Do to weapon focus, you will later be unable to recall this blog post.

Here are some resources for teaching weapon focus, research methods and statistics. There is a set of stimuli for a weapon focus experiment and a response sheet (copy for the students or project it). The experiment is designed with at least one fatal flaw (failure to counterbalance in a repeated measures design) and several extraneous variables (e.g. image quality). You could use it to demo the general idea underlying most weapon focus research, use it as a stimulus for class discussion etc. Alternately, there is a slideshow to structure a lesson and a set of activities on weapon focus, research methods and statistics.