Society for the Teaching of Psychology: Division 2 of the American Psychological Association

  • News

Welcome from STP President Diane Finley

Celebrating and Supporting High School Teachers of Psychology

March 1, 2023Diane Finley

by Diane Finley, STP President

I hope your March has not come in like the proverbial lion although I am seeing a lot of unpleasant weather around! Please don’t let that dampen your enthusiasm for teaching and your students.

This month I want to talk a bit about our high school colleagues. Kristin Whitlock, our VP for Programming is my guest columnist. (The link brings you to more information about Kristin’s accomplishments). I want to give some history and context of high school psychology for those who may not be familiar with it.

High school psychology did not really exist when I was in high school, lo these many years ago. I first encountered it when I became a reader for the Advanced Placement Psychology exam. I started as a Reader in the early years when we really got to know all of the readers. As I became acquainted with the high school teachers participating in the Reading, I was gobsmacked! (One of my favorite British terms). They knew so much more than I did about the breadth of psychology plus they could read any handwriting when we, college faculty, were struggling to read essays.

High school psychology has existed in some form, albeit with various names, for over 150 years (Benjamin, 2001). In 1992, Teachers of Psychology in Secondary Schools (TOPSS) was formed by APA. Since then they have published National Standards, adopted by APA and also have published multiple lessons on common topics in Introductory psychology.  I have used their lessons many times and point new faculty to these for ready-made activities. TOPSS has been working to move psychology into the science curriculum, rather than the social science area. They are now sponsoring annual workshops at Clark University and at Oregon State University. There are about 840,000 high school students who take psychology each year and Advanced Placement Psychology is the 6th most popular AP course. I could go on with more high school teacher accomplishments but I want space for Kristin’s thoughts. (Thanks to Emily Chesnes of APA for some of this information; you can read more information here)....

To read the rest of this letter and past letters from the STP President, click here.

To read Diane Finley's presidential theme and task forces for 2023, click here.

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software