Sounds and Learning Lab

I had another breakthrough in psychology! Last semester, my first semester teaching the class, the kids seemed the most engaged in class when we did labs (not surprising). This semester, I’ve been trying to include more labs and ensure that they are well-planned.

psychChapter 9 is about is about learning, asking students to understand how experiences change behavior. The lab asks students to consider how sound may effect a person’s learning and emotions. I opened up with some examples of songs that have strong emotional connections for me. First, I played Old Time Rock and Roll by Bob Seger and explained how it elicits very happy memories of my dad. He requests it at every wedding dance, and in my mind’s eye, I can clearly visualize him getting his grove on. Next, I played In Color by Jamey Johnson. This song was released around the time my Grandma Babe died, and hearing it still brings me to tears. Kids connected easily to this attention getter; many tapped their feet and sang along to the Bob Seger song whereas there was absolute silence during the Jamey Johnson one.

Next, we previewed the lab introduction in the book, but of course I changed up the directions…

Hypothesis: Because pleasant sounds make people feel happy, people will prefer an image paired with a  pleasant sound more than an image paired with an unpleasant sound.

Materials: Computer with internet access, data sheet.

  • Students should prepare a PowerPoint or iMovie of four images paired with four sounds.The pictures should be very general (nature, abstract art, etc.) and all of the same theme, but two sounds should be pleasant and two sounds should be harsh.
  • Students should administer the visual/auditory test to ten participants. After each participant views the presentation, students should ask the participant “Which image was your favorite?” and mark the selection on the data sheet.

After students completed the lab, students shared their data during a class discussion and completed a final lab report.

laptopsKids had a surprisingly good time building their presentations! Since my junior high is 1:1, students are pretty tech savvy. I was excited that adding sound  to presentations was a new challenge for some, and many students enjoyed using their own music (versus stock PowerPoint and iMovie sound effects). Lab reports reflected that students saw a connection between sound and learning, so I think they are well prepared to discuss the various types of conditioning.

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