High school psychology classes are often students' first official introduction to the discipline. Standard learning objectives for these classes require teachers to cover a wide variety of psychological concepts. Students learn about external motivators and internal effects that influence human behaviors while developing an understanding of ethical research techniques used to study human behavior and development. Learning objectives are derived from seven domains created by the American Psychological Association, and they include scientific inquiry, development and learning, and sociocultural context and diversity.
Students discuss contemporary psychology topics and research methods, as well as laws and ethical concerns surrounding the industry. Teachers introduce various fields of psychology and help interested students determine possible career paths in psychology. Students also learn different research techniques used to gather information, and they practice gathering and analyzing data. They also discuss significant past and present contributors to psychology.
High school psychology classes help students appreciate that psychology is a diverse and constantly evolving discipline. Students realize that cultural expectations highly influence their behavioral choices, thought patterns and psychological health. They identify social and cultural norms that are considered acceptable in their own culture that might be frowned upon in other parts of the world, such as their style of dress or gender roles. Teachers help students to identify social or cultural situations that cause stress in their own life and to work on stress reduction techniques. For example, students might learn ways to diffuse relationship conflict by talking through problems or by using deep breathing to calm down before an important test.
Human Development Objectives
Classes cover every major developmental stage of life, including development of fetuses in the womb. Students identify major milestones for normal childhood growth, such as the approximate age babies learn to sit up unassisted or preschoolers learn to write. They learn that children develop at different rates, but some delays might be cause for concern, such as children who are not yet walking by their second birthday. They discuss what kind of factors influence human psychological development, such as parental influence and nutrition. Learning objectives also require students to learn about the mental, emotional, sexual and social changes that occur during adolescence and consider their effects on psychological health.
Internal Systems Objectives
High school students learn about the different internal systems of the body, including hormonal and other internal influences that impact psychological health. During these biopsychology lessons, parts of the brain and nervous system are identified. Students consider the effect of hormones on mental health and learn how human behavior and motivation can be influenced by genetics or heredity. They develop an understanding of the importance of sleep on psychological health. Dreams are interpreted and analyzed, and students learn to recognize levels of consciousness.
- American Psychological Association: APA Revises National Standards for High School Psychology Curricula
- Psi Chi: Teaching High School Psychology as a Career Pathway
- American Psychological Association: Your Sphere of Influence: How to Infuse Cultural Diversity Into Your Psychology Classes
- Grapevine Colleyville Independent School District: Social Psychology
- Stanford University: News Release
- Public Broadcasting System: Lesson Title: The Developing Title
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