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Welcome to Psych Web! This Web site contains lots of psychology-related information for students and teachers of psychology. Browse through the subdivisions of the site on the left, or if you know the proper keywords for your topic, try a site-specific Google search below:
[08/23/2013] I finished the Complex Systems MOOC in June and I'm proud to say I got 100 on the final (albeit an open-web final). It was strange but fun being in the college student role again, 35 years after getting my PhD. I even experienced the phenomenon of putting a stupid, erroneous answer on a quiz, when I knew better, but it was too late to change (because I had already submitted the answers)! Doh! I remember my own students complaining about this phenomenon... Fortunately, the quizzes only counted for a small portion of the grade. I made sure I double and triple-checked the final, let me tell you...even though it should not have mattered at all. It did, though. We never stop wanting to do well.
I recommend the course to students interested in cognitive science, where the "complexity sciences" are increasingly relevant. According to the course organizers, "7099 people enrolled, 1176 (~17%) of these finished successfully. Of the people who completed the first homework assigment, 50% went on to finish the course. Of those who finished the course, the average score on the final exam was 95%." So my high final exam score was actually typical...but it required a lot of searching the instructional modules to round up all the facts, and it was an effective intergrative exercise (which is the main rationale for a final exam). The next iteration of the course starts September 30, 2013.
For what it's worth, here are my reactions to the MOOC experience.
- The friendliness and coherence of the primary instructor remains important. Melanie Mitchell of Portland State University taught this course, and she did a great job. I bought her book Complexity: A Guided Tour on Amazon because of this course, although it was not required, and I thoroughly enjoyed it as well. Melanie projects warmth and intelligence and a desire for her students to understand.
- Like most evolutionary offshoots, the MOOC retains vestigial remains of its ancestors. The course was organized around talking-head lectures. These were short 5-15 minutes segments, easy to digest, but really the information content of each one could have been put into a half-page outline (or less). I felt ever since teaching Keller Plans (an independent study technique) at Michigan as a grad student that lectures were an obsolete information delivery system. Everything you can put into a long lecture you can put into a short, well-organized text. Lectures do add a social element, so I think there is a limited role for them, but the printed word remains better for precise information delivery.
- The course used NetLogo, a simulation environment, and it was a revelation to me. NetLogo is one of several free, student-oriented variants of the original Logo program, but I had never used it. The course required us to download it and use it to understand system principles by modeling them in mini simulation environments. This was very effective. Much of what we teach at an introductory or intermediate level is captured in classic demonstrations. NetLogo allows students to run demonstrations on their own computers, alter the parameters, note the effects, alter again...in short, to tinker and learn. Thre is no better way to understand something. For example, a classic example of synchronization involves flashing fireflies. (Steven Strogatz, a guest lecturer in this course, wrote a good book about this, called Sync.) In this course we downloaded a NetLogo simulation of firefly synchronization. We could alter the number of fireflies, flash rate, influence of neighbors, etc., to see how the synchronization was affected. It was a great way to learn and explore the subject.
How would I change MOOCs as they currently exist? One thing I would suggest is making them permanent, periodically updated web sites. There is really no reason to run a MOOC on the same schedule as a university term, unless it is tightly integrated with an actual class as some might be. Also, MOOCs cost some money to put together. So it makes sense to put some Google adsense ads on each page and leave the course up, free, for the students of the world (as indeed I have done with my intro psych book). I also wonder if a "Keller Plan" version of a MOOC is both practical and desirable: that is, put all the instructional information into written form, but retain the frequent small quizzes (that was a very useful feature of this MOOC). Maybe devote a smaller proportion of course resources to talking head videos...just enough to convey enthusiasm for the topic and introduce some guest speakers or relevant videos. I enjoyed how Dr. Mitchell interviewed many luminaries from the Santa Fe Institute, with which she is affiliated. When Luis Bettencourt's article on the scaling of cities came out in Science a few weeks after the MOOC ended, I had an enjoyable shock of recognition. We had covered the material, and Luis was one of our guest speakers.
Altogether this MOOC was well done. Check it out if you are interested! ComplexityExplorer.org
[02/08/2013] As you may know, MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) are the big new thing in higher education. This interests me because MOOCs share the original purpose of Psych Web: using the internet to make educational resources freely available. In a MOOC, an established professor offers a course online, complete with lectures, quizzes, and grading. If you complete the course, a certificate is awarded. Universities are pondering how to expand the potential of this approach and award actual credits, but for now the concept is experimental, free, and not for actual college credit, just for educational edification.
I stumbled on a very interesting MOOC: Introduction to Complex Systems, taught by Dr. Melanie Mitchell of Portland State University. I saw the announcement for it while visiting the web site of the Santa Fe Institute, one of the foremost institutions of complex systems research (a long-term interest of mine). So I signed up for the course, and I will get a student's perspective on this new MOOC phenomenon.
Here's a link if you want to check out the course.
Introduction to Complexity Theory course
I am pondering some MOOC-like evolutionary changes in Psych Web, also, after I finish a current (large!) project. Originally, when I put it online in early 1994, Psych Web was a way to direct students to interesting sites related to psychology, as well as dispensing some useful advice to psychology majors (via Marky Lloyd's Careers in Psychology site). In 2007 I put on Psych Web the introductory textbook that I had spent 30 years writing and using in my own classes at Georgia Southern University. About half the site traffic goes there now. In recent months I have received emails from China, Saudi Arabia, and Macedonia appreciating the availability of the intro book, so it is serving the originally intended purpose. The changes I have in mind would make the whole site more like a set of MOOCs [see the entry for 8/23/2013 above...I still think this is a good idea, so it is in the queue].
[09/27/2011] An email describes student reaction to the online introductory psychology textbook on this site (Psychology: An Introduction]. The book can also be accessed via intropsych.com. Communications like this are welcome, including those pointing out typos or potential improvements.
"Hello Dr. Dewey,
"Just a little note to thank you for making Psych Web and Psychology: An Introduction available online for all of us out here. I used it this past semester on my Introductory Psychology class for non-majors and was just reading through the comments that the students made about using an online book instead of a traditional book. An overwhelming majority prefers the online book. Throughout the semester I got many comments on how they liked the book and the study questions, in addition to the convenience to have it accessible online. The only complaints were that it was uncomfortable to read for extended periods of time (as is any material read through computer monitor, I guess). Some still prefer a traditional book, but I was quite surprised that even with the usual complaints, the vast majority of the students still chose your book when asked which would they prefer if given a choice (between an online book and paper one)." --A.I. Fraticelli-Torres, Ph.D, University of Puerto Rico
[10/29/2010] More people are using the free intro book at this site, which is great, but we exceeded our bandwidth allocation and were briefly offline. Tom, the guy who runs our web hosting service, responded by doubling the bandwidth at no charge. That is actually typical. The service at TRKhosting.com is impeccable. Thanks, Tom.
[08/31/2010] A new school year begins. One result is a big jump in the numbers of visitors to Psych Web. Welcome to students everywhere! (Special thanks for the friendly emails from China, India, Iran, Singapore, Fiji Island, Papua New Guinea, South Africa, UK, Canada, Mexico, not to mention the good old U.S.A.). If you are using the free online intro psych textbook, Psychology: An Introduction or just have general questions about psychology, feel free to write to me at email@example.com with questions or comments.
[08/12/2009] I noticed two interesting articles about online textbooks last week. First, the New York Times had a story: "In a Digital Future, Textbooks are History." Then the Wall Street Journal had an article titled, "Textbooks Offered for iPod, iPhones."
The Wall Street Journal article included a skeptical comment by an executive: "Nobody is going to use their iPhone to do their homework,.." But that is wrong! A month earlier I received an email from a student who was studying my online introductory psychology textbook, Psychology: An Introduction, on his iPhone. He said it was easy. And it is!
First visit intropsych.com and, if you are using a portable device, bookmark the site so you don't have to type out the address every time. Here's the intropsych.com home page on the iPod Touch browser. (If you plan on reading the whole 700+ page textbook, wedge a miniature cat between your fingers for comfort.)
Now rotate the iPhone or iPod Touch to give a wide view, and double-tap on the text column to expand it. This is familiar web browsing technique for iPhone or iPod Touch users. Other portable devices with touch-screen browsers will probably work in a similar way. The result is a very readable text column.
By a happy coincidence, the iPhone/iPod Touch technique encourages the optimal studying approach I recommended in Chapter Zero of the intropsych.com textbook. First read without using the questions. Then, when it is time to test your memory for specifics, go back and review the questions without looking at the text to see if you can recall the answers from memory.
That happens naturally on the iPod Touch or the iPhone. When reading the text column, the questions are out of sight, the way they should be. To see the study questions, you zoom out to a full page view (double-tap the screen) then double-tap on a study question. Then you can see the question, but you cannot see the answer.
The answer is nearby, in the text column to the right. First you truly test yourself (by not having the answer visible in your peripheral vision) then, if you need to double-check on the answer, double-tap the text column to see it.
[01/02/2009] My colleague Mike Nielsen successfully used intropsych.com for his introductory psychology class at Georgia Southern University during spring, summer, and fall term 2008. The students gave it high ratings, although a few did not like reading on the computer.
[09/03/2007] A complete, 725 page introductory psychology textbook has been added to the site. I have planned this for years, and I spent all summer getting it ready! Mike Nielsen (author of the Psychology of Religion site here on Psych Web) is using the book in his introductory psychology class at Georgia Southern this term. The presence of this book almost doubles the number of content pages on Psych Web. I have many updates to make to it, and I will be working on those during the coming months. In the meantime, check it out and let me know if you find any problems such as broken links and (inevitably) typos or other errors. [People have done that, and it has been very helpful.]
[06/03/2007] I have updated various pages with about 50 new links and corrections suggested by e-mail correspondents.
[01/12/2007] All 80 link pages in the Scholarly Resources and Self-Help sections have been updated.
[10/26/2006] If you haven't checked out Mike Nielsen's Psychology of Religion page, take a look; he has a great blog, too.
[01/15/2006] I have updated all pages of the Self Help section on Psych Web. In addition, I have discontinued the "Commerce" section and moved several of its pages into other sections. Here are links to the new locations of pages about biofeedback, licensure, software for psychologists, test publishers, and therapist finder sites.
[03/23/2005] Check out the list of "best online tests" (all free) on the Testing and Assessment page of Scholarly Psychology Resources on the Web.
[09/09/2004] I have tweaked the APA format crib sheet, making a few improvements in the final section which discusses reference formats.
[04/17/2004] I have reorganized the Self-Help section of Psych Web. Now there are pages devoted to each disorder. The amount of great, interesting material "out there" made this task enjoyable.
[03/10/2004] The Dream FAQ has been updated. The Dream FAQ is part of Jouni Smed's Altered States of Consciousness web site which has been mirrored here on Psych Web since 1995. The Dream FAQ is a good source of basic knowledge about dreams. I added editorial comments (which you can easily spot, because they are always in italics) to bring it up to date. Jouni's site also has excellent, thorough sections on hypnosis, lucid dreaming, and out-of-body experiences.
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This is the Psych Web home page, http://www.psywww.com. Psych Web was created by Russell A. Dewey, PhD. Write to Dr. Dewey at firstname.lastname@example.org.