Cool Courses: Psychology

Megan Carpenter | Cowboy Life Editor

@meganandpoppies

At Livermore High School, Dawn Matthews teaches AP psychology and psychology – two courses that follow the scientific study of the mind and behavior. Seniors Jillian Valdez and Jensen Kirkendall find AP psychology a class that welcomes self-discovery and prepares students for future careers. Bottom line, LHS’s psychology classes are hands-on and intriguing.

Psychology student wears a brain cap for a test | Credit: Dawn Matthews
Psychology student wears a brain cap for a test | Credit: Dawn Matthews

Matthews says that both psychology courses are survey classes, where students learn about neuroscience, human development, abnormal psychology and therapy, and human intelligence. In addition, AP psychology and psychology do not require prerequisites, so any student can join either class without previous knowledge. Valdez especially likes the biology aspects of AP psychology, as she plans to pursue this in college.

And as for the daily schedule, many days are a surprise for the students. “I like to mix it up a lot. I think any student who has had the class will tell you that they kind of never know when they come in how the desks are going to be arranged or what we will be working on,” says Matthews. This year, students created brain structure caps out of swim caps, and many wore them for an exam for reference. In the past, students have interviewed a child and performed cognitive and social developmental tests for their human development section.

Students work together in AP Psychology | Credit: Dawn Matthews
Students work together in AP Psychology | Credit: Dawn Matthews

Matthews, Valdez, and Kirkendall all agree that many aspects of psychology can be applied to the students’ daily lives. Kirkendall believes the best part of the class is not only learning the parts of the brain, but also connecting what he learns to what he experiences in his day-to-day life. Matthews says, “What I really like about psychology is that students tend to get pretty invested in it. It’s really easy for the students to relate the topics in their own lifestyle. A lot of the things we learn have a direct application.”

“We all have minds, we all have personalities, we all have intellect, we are all in relationships, so it’s really easy for students to relate the material to themselves,” Matthews continues. These are the reasons why students take psychology. Whether it be preparation for college, fun projects, or just self-discovery, psychology is a perfect class for many students at LHS.

 

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