Psychology Lesson: Learned Helplessness

PsychInquiry is a great psychology website for high school teachers. It is a website that compliments the 5th edition Psychology textbook authored by Peter Gray. The organization of the website is quite simple. There are 17 chapters. Each chapter has a list of activities and quizzes.

High school teachers can incorporate some of the activities into a unit. The quiz questions also can be selected for their own assessments.

For the following activity, I have created questions for the students to answer. The directions and questions are shared in google.docs. At the end of the period, I view each student’s google.docs. The assessment is more of an effort grade than anything. The material also will be on a test.

The activities are well organized and interesting. The students seem to enjoy them, so there are very few problems with student focus.

Below is the information I shared with my students in a google.doc.

Today you are going to complete some on-line activities. Create a google.doc to answer the questions. (Once you open the document, go to file and select make a copy. This will allow you to edit the new document that you now own.)

This material will be on the test, so be sure to TAKE YOUR TIME and read carefully.

Learned Helplessness (15 minutes) link: http://ebooks.bfwpub.com/psychinquiry/shell.php?activity=learned_helpless

A great activity for students to learn the steps and process of learned helplessness.

1. Write the name of Slide 1:

2. Who is the researcher associated with Learned Helplessness?

3. Write the title of Slide #2:

4. Click play. Describe the animation.

5. Slide #3: What happened after a few trials?

6. Slide #4: Describe the variation to the experiment.

7. What is meant by the term naive dog.

8. Slide #5: Write a classical conditioning equation for this slide terms: light, shock, avoid pain / jump.

9. Slide #6: Describe the new variation to the experiment. What did Seligman do to the dogs?

10. Slide #7 What expectation had the dogs formed that lead them NOT to attempt to avoid the pain?

11.  What 2 ethical questions were raised with this experiment?

12. What do the initials APA represent?

A worksheet provided by the website that might also be useful.

The above study raises ethical issues about the treatment of animals in testing. It might be a good opportunity to introduce your students to the ethical guidelines for the treatment and testing of animals.

I hope you enjoy. Be sure to check back for additional ideas for teaching high school psychology.

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