Oct 17

Cellphones in Schools — should they be banned or embraced?

Almost every college student who attends their campus in person since the late 2000s has probably seen the dreaded words No Cellphones During Class appear on the syllabus. From a professor’s point of view, there are plenty of reasons in favor of banning cellphones. Students might be distracted; they could be using phones to cheat during assignments of quizzes, or, frankly, it could just be seen as rude to be texting someone while a professor is trying to do their job and teach the material. Students, however, might view that approach as needlessly draconian. If it’s their time and their money, why shouldn’t they be able to check something on Facebook or Twitter during class or respond to a text? It isn’t like they’re standing up and having a loud phone conversation. In their mind, the only disruptions cellphone use could have in the classroom is fabricated by people against it, and there are actually benefits to cellphones in a classroom. Phones can be used to cross-check information, bring up a calculator for quick computations, take notes, record lectures or lessons for later, take pictures of a slide or whiteboard quickly for later reference, and more. It just so happens that texting comes with it.

Cellphone use during class is ubiquitous, especially at high school age. The number of teenagers with cellphones in classrooms is climbing by the year (Graham, 2012). However, it isn’t just ownership of cellphones that’s increasing; as cellphones become more and more capable and full of possibilities for use, they become more used, too. The Pew Research Center found in 2010 that although 65% of polled teenagers (defined as 12-17 year olds) are in a school that completely bans cellphone use, 58% of those teenagers send text messages during class. 43% of all teenagers, no matter their school’s stance on cellphones, say they text in class at least once a day or more. The ramifications of this are broad and potentially enormous — students are breaking rules in favor of texting, or, if there isn’t a rule to be broken at all, they’re at least ignoring what’s going on in class to quickly fire off a text. As smartphones become more accessible and more widespread, the classroom will change as well, and perhaps not for the better. In The Atlantic, journalist Robert Earl (2012) commented that the distraction of cellphones and social media forces students to multitask — which reduces productivity and, in the end, might even reduce intellectual curiosity. He argues that if students are accustomed to digesting information in bite-sized, 140 character Tweets or short Facebook posts, it could dramatically reduce their desire or even ability to read longer-form writing and pry forth information. Here, the detriments of cellphone use are clear, not fabricated by anti-cellphone professors stuck in their ways.

Nonetheless, I’d argue that banning cellphones from the classroom is a foolhardy, worthless endeavor. Students that don’t want to pay attention in class will always find a way to slack off. Passing notes has evolved into texting, and at least texting mostly distracts just the student as opposed to neighboring students. Instead of rebuking cellphones, teachers should try to find ways to embrace cellphones in their classroom. Edward Graham of the National Education Association (2012) recommended encouraging students to use cellphones for academic purposes. Rather than make phones taboo, teachers define acceptable and unacceptable smartphone use in the classroom. Students can use apps to remind themselves of upcoming assignments or as calculators, and during set periods in classroom time, students can use their phones to look something up, but texting is prohibited. Phones already have ways to prevent incoming text messages from distracting students; putting a phone into airplane mode can prevent texts from being sent or received, and it can also be used as a “classroom mode” for a potentially distracting device.

Cellphones aren’t inherently bad for the classroom, although it’s easy to see them that way. It’s common knowledge that multitasking can reduce performance on both tasks, and a student that’s texting during class might be hearing the teacher speak without actually listening. However, bans on cellphones clearly do not work; those who want to text during class will find a way, and they may even justify it with comments on the benefits of cellphones in the classroom. For education to win the “war” against cellphones, it needs to accept them and integrate them in the classroom where possible rather than ineffectually try to act like they don’t exist.


Earl, R. (2012). Do cellphones belong in the classroom? The Atlantic. Retrieved from https://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2012/05/do-cell-phones-belong-in-the-classroom/257325/

Graham, E. (2012). Using smartphones in the classroom. National Education Association. Retrieved from http://www.nea.org/tools/56274.htm

Pew Research Center. (2010). Teens and mobile phones. Retrieved from http://www.pewinternet.org/2010/04/20/teens-and-mobile-phones-3/

Schneider, F. W., Gruman, J. A., & Coutts, L. M. (2012). Applied Social Psychology: Understand and Addressing Social and Practical Problems (2nd ed.). Los Angeles, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc.

Oct 17

Technology in the Classrooms

Education in today’s world remains one of the biggest topics in the world. Families and societies place education for their kids at the top of the priority list. Families decide to even move to different parts of the country so their kids can attend the schools that are known for their education programs. With the advancement of technology the world has changed and evolved in the last couple decades. In general, schools still teach in a traditional classroom setting. One of the biggest issues in schools is the use of smart phones, and other smart technology such as watches.

Our notes talk about observational learning. With observational learning we learn behavior by observing others (Psu lecture notes. 2017). With mostly everyone owning a smart phone it becomes a norm to have one. In the United States, 73 percent of teens own or have access to a smartphone. A mere 12 percent have no cell phone. Those numbers come from a 2015 survey by the Pew Research Center in Washington, D.C.(Kowalski, 2016). With the majority of students having access to their smartphones they have become a huge distraction inside the classroom. A few weeks ago we learned about social media and the effects it has on society. With smartphones we have access to social media, the internet, and messaging which results in constant checking of the phone during class.

In school students feel the effects of discrimination if you do not own a phone or smartphone. Attending school with a flip phone in today’s world would make you a target of discrimination. The cool kids do not have flip phones as that is something of the past. Discrimination could occur about their wealth status or popularity status just because of not having a smart phone. If you do not own a smartphone your connection to social media lacks. This might lead to having little or no presence in social media where my students interact and have a certain status of popularity. This can lead to negative effects. Schools need to acknowledge this change in technology and implement programs to inform the harmful effects of phones and other technology in school to the parents.

Technology has come a long way in aiding society to achieve great things, but the future of our world relies on the young generation in school. With the use of technology increasing in school it causes a huge distraction in the learning of the material. This not only effects those with phones, but also those without these smart phones because of discrimination. Studies show those being discriminated against scores lower test scores in the lecture notes.


Psu Lecture Notes. Applied Social Psychology, 2017

Bandura, A. (1986). Social Foundations of Thought and Action: A Social Cognitive Theory. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Kowalski, K. (2016). When Smartphones go to School. Science News for Students

Oct 17

Social Media, Fake News, and America’s Deepening Political Divide

The relationship between social media and the news–particularly news related to politics–has been a popular topic of conversation recently in the United States. Facebook especially has emerged just recently as a major platform for the average American to get their news; 30% of the general population receives news through the site (Anderson and Caumont, 2014) and I would argue that the site has become so relevant in people’s perception of news and the media itself that a significant number of Americans are indirectly influenced by the news that is shared on Facebook. When I first created a Facebook profile around six years ago, I was exposed to very little news through the site, if any. Now, however, the majority of my feed consists of news stories of one type or another. This can partly be attributed to my decision to actively follow some news outlets, but it is also due to the growing popularity of using Facebook to stay up to date on current events. At face value, this phenomenon may appear to be harmless or even positive; more people being more informed about the news seems like a good thing. However, the freedom and quick spread of information on social media comes with some serious concerns. Now that more individuals, companies, and publications can easily share their own coverage on the Internet, there is no requirement to be unbiased in reporting news–or even accurate. For the first time in history, consumers of American media can choose from thousands of different online sources that present themselves as “news.” These sources range from completely inaccurate in their reporting, to heavily biased, to well-researched and accurate. On top of the obvious problems with consuming media that is not based in fact, the issue that in my opinion is most concerning is that defining what news sources fall into which of the aforementioned categories can be completely different depending on who you ask. The “fake news” issue leads to the spread of misinformation and has contributed so heavily to the deepening partisan divide in America that it has become difficult to not only solve issues, but to even debate them effectively, which is a huge detriment to political and social progress.


The Schneider et al. text (2012) discusses the fact that negative coverage of the government has contributed to a huge increase of people reporting a lack of trust in the government. This has strong consequences in itself, such as lower voter turnout due to a cynical attitude towards the government (Schneider, et al., 2012). Now, however, the Internet is an even more prevalent media source; while it may be “nontraditional” media, it has become just as if not more influential than “traditional” media.  America is now grappling with an even more complex and, I think, dangerous problem–what happens when people stop trusting the media itself? What happens when our government stops trusting the media? The current POTUS has clearly and directly condemned certain news media outlets, such as CNN, as promoting and distributing “fake news”. In addition to more people being able to falsely present their publications as “real” news in the freedom of the Internet, this undercutting of the validity of the mainstream media (or “traditional” media) has encouraged many supporters of the current President to seek out alternative sources to get their news–which the Internet was eager to provide. While it is absolutely worthwhile to think critically about the media and recognize biased or shoddy reporting, and whichever news sources one deems “accurate,” be it mainstream media sources or otherwise, anyone can see that it is a big problem when citizens disagree on what is a lie and what is the truth.

Historically, the political divide has been strong since the very birth of the USA; however, the issues have mostly revolved around differing perspectives on how to solve the problems in our country; now, people don’t even agree on the reality of the problems themselves. This creates a divide that is even more impossible to cross. One strong example of this type of problem is the issue of climate change. Many Americans consume and trust media sources that present climate change as a man-made, urgent problem that needs to be addressed; however, many Americans consume and trust media sources that present climate change as a nonissue that has nothing to do with human activities. If we all trusted the latter sources, there would be no climate change debate. If we all trusted the former sources, then the debate would center around the different perspectives on the best way to address the issue, rather than the current state of the conflict, which mostly centers on whether or not it is a problem at all. This phenomenon can be seen in a wide variety of political issues and is magnified greatly by the diversity of information available on social media.


This is a problem that is essential to solve if we want to make any kind of progress as a nation. It is impossible to do effective problem solving when the public is in this curious state of volatile stagnation, in which extremely heated and sometimes even violent debates are occurring daily on social media, in real life, and within the government, but very little is actually being done to move towards compromise or solutions. In order to address the fake news phenomenon, critical thinking must be encouraged, people need to be more willing to question themselves and others (i.e, asking someone you disagree with why they believe what they do, as opposed to immediately dismissing them as brainwashed or gullible), and there must be some kind of agreement on what sources are valid and what sources are not. One good way to do this is to research the sources you get your news from, read about their backgrounds, who is funding them, etc. and think about how those things may affect the perspectives being presented by the source. A good place to start is PolitiFact’s list of fake news sites and what their respective agendas are (assuming, of course, that the individual trusts PolitiFact itself). Diversifying where you get your news from is another step people can take. Ironically, despite the large amount of information and perspectives made available by social media, the way sites like Facebook work make it easy to make your profile an echo chamber of political opinions. Purposefully following, listening to, and truly considering multiple sources’ information, provided you do so carefully and with an open mind, can give a user of social media a more holistic view of the news and help them to reach more informed conclusions. Finally, citizens can mitigate the harmful effects of misinformation spread by doing outside research about history, politics, and the way the government works. Biased news lacking in journalistic integrity can lead to ignorance about the government workings; for example, those who get their news from entertainment talk shows have shown decreased understanding of the government (Schneider, et al., 2012). Social media also tends to both play into and encourage the desire for instant gratification, and many people do not learn in depth about the news via social media. Statistics show that people spend less time on, read less pages from, and visit news sites less often when referred through Facebook as opposed to directly visiting the news site (Anderson and Caumont, 2014). If individuals are going to be politically engaged and confident in their knowledge, it is important to have a deeper understanding of current events than can be provided in a short video or by skimming headlines while scrolling through a feed. These solutions are based on active efforts being made by individual citizens, which can be encouraged but of course not forced. Unfortunately, it is an issue of such fundamental complexity that neither the media nor the government can really effectively intervene; firstly, many Americans don’t trust either entity, and secondly, because freedom of the press and of speech are highly valued rights in America, in most cases it is impossible to simply “shut down” a given source, even ones that can be proven fake (although, again, many might not consider “proof” to be valid proof, depending on its source). Such a complicated problem requires a complicated solution, or more probably, set of solutions. The way the trend is currently, though, if we do not find some kind of common reality to work from soon the divisiveness and vitriol is only going to become more extreme.


Works Cited


Anderson, Monica, and Andrea Caumont. “How Social Media Is Reshaping News.” Pew Research Center, Pewresearch.org, 24 Sept. 2014, www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2014/09/24/how-social-media-is-reshaping-news/


Gillin, Joshua. “PolitiFact’s Guide to Fake News Websites.” Politicfact.com, PolitiFact, 20 Apr. 2017, www.politifact.com/punditfact/article/2017/apr/20/politifacts-guide-fake-news-websites-and-what-they/.


Schneider, F., Gruman, J., & Coutts, L. (2012) Applied social psychology: Understanding and addressing social and practical problems. 2nd ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc.


Oct 17

ADHD and Self-Handicapping

As an adult, I have heard a variety of excuses individual’s offer for not getting tasks, assignments, duties, chores, and work unsuccessfully competed. However, the one that I find troubles me the most is the excuse, “I have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).” I feel as though, when adults use this diagnosis as an excuse for not completing their required tasks at work, home, and school, they may expect others to tolerate their lack of incompleteness. Specifically, I am referring to the area of group task oriented duties, such as coworkers and classmates.

According to the National Resource on ADHD (CHADD, 2017) 10 million adults have ADHD. Furthermore, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC, 2017) estimates 11% of America’s children are affected by ADHD and this disorder has been increasing in prevalence. By no means am I dismissing this diagnosis. ADHD effects many adults and children, and you may know several individuals struggling with the symptomology of this disorder. However, I do get annoyed and at times frustrated, when individuals just causally suggest this ADHD diagnosis is why they continually do not pull their weight in group oriented tasks.

Interestingly, this week’s lesson discussed self-handicapping as a strategy some individuals utilize as an excuse for failure. Schneider, Gruman, and Coutts (2012) define self-handicapping as “creating barriers to successful performance prior to, or simultaneous with, an achievement task.” This type of behavior enables individual’s the rationalization for their negative performance by “shifting” the blame to other conditions (Schneider, Gruman, & Coutts, 2012). As I was reading this concept, the ADHD excuse explicitly stuck in my head. Upon further investigation, I found several articles suggesting individuals diagnosed with ADHD do indeed utilize self-handicapping as their rationalization for failure, due to their disorder (Jaconis et al., 2016 & Waschbusch, Craig, Pelham, & King, 2007).

Jaconis et al. (2016) suggested both sexes utilized self-handicapping as predictors for self-reported severity of ADHD symptomology. However, they found females tend to claim higher perceived levels of self-handicapping, indicating these increased symptomology reports to compensate for their failures (Jaconis et al., 2016). Furthermore, Waschbusch, Craig, Pelham, and King (2007) found that children with ADHD demonstrated increased self-handicapping than those in the control cohort, regardless of self-reporting or measures of behavior were used. Children in the ADHD cohort demonstrated self-handicapping measures by “reduced effort and preferences for debilitating conditions” (Waschbusch, Craig, Pelham, and King, 2007).

These two studies suggest individuals afflicted with ADHD have an increased prevalence of self-handicapping, which may protect their self-concept (Waschbusch, Craig, Pelham, and King, 2007). Individuals tend to compare themselves to others, and the “feelings, attitudes, and perceptions that one holds about their own ability” is termed self-concept (Schneider, Gruman, & Coutts, 2012). The children in the ADHD cohort had increased self-handicapping when dealing with difficult tasks and this may have threatened their self-concept (Waschbusch, Craig, Pelham, and King, 2007). Whereas, they demonstrated decreased self-handicapping when faced with less difficult tasks maintaining their self-concept (Waschbusch, Craig, Pelham, and King, 2007).

Self-handicapping is an interesting concept and one that I am sure many of us may utilize as rationalizations for failure. It appears to be prevalent in both the academic and workforce environments. ADHD is just one disorder I found may be relevant to the self-handicapping concept, due to my frustration with this disorder being used as an excuse for incompleteness in group oriented tasks, such as academics and the workforce. Since ADHD is a disorder disrupting one’s concentration, activity, and impulsivity, it is plausible to suggest those afflicted with the disorder, have an increased prevalence of self-handicapping to rationalize their negative performance, while protecting their self-concept.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2017). Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) Data & Statistics. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/adhd/data.html

Jaconis, Maryanne, Boyd, Stephen J., Hartung, Cynthia M., McCrea, Sean M., Lefler, Elizabeth K., and Canu, Will H. (2016). Sex Differences in Claimed and Behavioral Self-Handicapping and ADHD Symptomatology in Emerging Adults. ADHD Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorders. 8(4), 205-214. Retrieved from https://link-springer-com.ezaccess.libraries.psu.edu/article/10.1007%2Fs12402-016-0200-y

The National Resource Center on ADHD. (2017). Understanding ADHD: For Adults. Retrieved from http://www.help4adhd.org/Understanding-ADHD/For-Adults.aspx

Waschbusch, Daniel A., Craig, Rebecca, Pelham, William E., and King, Sara. (2007). Self-Handicapping Prior to Academic-Oriented Tasks in Children with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD): Medication Effects and Comparisons with Controls. Journal of Abnormal Psychology. 35(2). 275-286. Retrieved from https://link-springer-com.ezaccess.libraries.psu.edu/article/10.1007%2Fs10802-006-9085-0



Oct 17

Online Education and Peer Interaction

As I read the assigned chapters for class this week, one thing that stood out to me was how critical peer interaction is in academic environments.  According to Schneider, Gruman, and Coutts, (2012), kids who have poor peer relationships struggle with developing competency in a variety of different areas of their lives, including academia, while those with positive relationships are more likely to thrive.  In fact, studies have indicated that the act of just playing with other children can increase a child’s self-confidence and, in turn, increase their academic achievement (Schneider et al., 2012).  However, in an increasingly modernized educational environment, more and more academic programs are being offered online.  According to Connections Academy (2015), from 2009 to 2014, there has been an 80% increase in grade school students taking online or blended learning courses and a 58% increase in full-time online public school enrollment.  If students are no longer in classrooms together, however, will this lack of peer interaction be detrimental?


As Schneider et al. (2012) note, the academic environment provides individuals with the opportunity to form and maintain friendships, acquire leadership skills, learn about conflict resolution and cooperation, and develop positive self-concepts, in addition to enhancing academic achievement.  All of these lessons are learned through peer interaction.  Early poor social adjustment is shown to lead to academic struggles later on, a negative perception of the school environment, and even eventual academic failure (as cited in Schneider et al., 2012).  This opportunity to develop social skills is even more important for students with disabilities and behavioral difficulties, with positive interactions leading to marked increases in their motivation and performance (Schneider et al., 2012).  If students are participating in online learning, then, they will experience distinctly less peer interaction, potentially leading to poorer academic and social skills.


Despite this dire picture, however, studies also show that the academic-social interaction can be reciprocal, with high academic performance leading to more positive social skills.  Specifically, studies have shown that actively working to increase the academic performance of children early in their school careers, through interventions such as math and reading tutoring, can lead to positive social development (Schneider et al., 2012).  This suggests that the lack of peer interaction in online education may not be so detrimental after all.  In fact, if these programs focus on high achievement, social development may just simply follow along.


So, where does that leave us?


It seems that since online education, especially that aimed at younger children, is still in its infancy, no conclusions have been universally agreed upon.  In an article for Parents.com, Deborah Stipek, a Stanford University education professor, noted that the research for the consequences of online education on social-emotional skills is simply not there (O’Hanlon, 2012).  It is agreed that traditional school provides a unique setting for students to learn and interact, but what happens to the development of social skills once this mold is broken is still unknown.  Since these future implications are still unidentified, I believe it is crucial that online education programs utilize as many strategies as possible to promote effective social skill development.  This includes social skills training programs, where students can learn appropriate behaviors and methods of interacting, an emphasis on small group work to encourage effective collaboration, and free time in a synchronous virtual environment where students can help one another learn.  All of these strategies, as mentioned in Schneider et al. (2012), have been shown to help foster social skills and, in turn, academic achievement in traditional classrooms, so implementing them in online learning environments would, hopefully, result in similar benefits.

Overall, the modernization of education, especially the drastic increase in online education, provides some interesting new challenges for students.  As social skill development has been shown to be important in fostering academic achievement, discovering ways to promote the development of these skills in asynchronous environments will likely be critical to the success of online students.



Connections Academy. (2015). Growth of K-12 digital learning. Retrieved from https://www.connectionsacademy.com/Portals/4/ca/documents/pdfs/press/2015/CE_Infographic%202015_FINAL(2).pdf


O’Hanlon, L. H. (2012). Virtual elementary school: Should you enroll your kids? Retrieved from http://www.parents.com/kids/education/elementary-school/virtual-elementary-school/


Schneider, F. W., Gruman, J. A., & Coutts, L. M. (2012). Applied Social Psychology: Understand and Addressing Social and Practical Problems (2nd ed.). Los Angeles, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc.


Oct 17

Why we need leadership education in schools

The question of whether leaders are born or made has been a topic of discussion since ancient times. Even today, people refer to natural leadership abilities, but research has shown that training programs and educational experiences can contribute to the development of skills and qualities that effective leaders need.

Leadership training is typically available in business, teacher education, organizations, and higher education.  The question that needs to be addressed is would access to leadership training in middle school and high school provide students with more self-awareness and confidence?  Learning skills like goal setting, problem solving, communication skills, and interaction skills can only contribute to the development of the student so why is it not happening?

The case has been made that students involved in sports and after school clubs and activities have opportunities to develop leadership skills, but what about the rest of the students? The students not involved in extracurricular activities, for a myriad of reasons, also need to develop those skills and knowledge that will make them successful as students and in their future.

Schools provide a safe arena to practice skills and students can identify their personal strengths and acquire competencies to enhance their opportunities for success. As an inclusive environment, schools can encourage inclusion and manage outcomes.

Schneider, Gruman, and Coutts refer to one definition of leadership as a person exerting influence on others, and other theories present leadership as not simply an individual exerting influence, but also “dyadic, shared, relational, strategic, global and a complex social dynamic” (Schneider, Gruman, Coutts, 2012, p. 219). Focusing on leadership development in schools would develop self-awareness, listening skills, negotiation skills, goals, and commitment.  Becoming astute with these skills creates a sound base for students in future endeavors. This venue is also the correct place for students to recognize their unique talents, whether it’s art, math, music, or emotional intelligence to figure out how people can work effectively in a group and what they can personally contribute.

Another value in providing leadership development in schools is related to Bandura’s social cognitive learning theory.  This theory recognizes the importance of modeling behavior (Schneider, Gruman, and Coutts, 2012, p. 211).  Providing positive role models as facilitators children can learn first hand an effective way to manage communications and conflict. The process allows the modeling behavior and the ability to debrief what happened and what could have happened. Experiences like this can assist them in navigating relationships within and outside of school.

            Penn State University offers a program through their Extension programs entitled: I can be a leader! Leadership fun for children.  This program is intended to do the following: “boost self esteem, improve public speaking, identify their strengths and weaknesses, develop organizational skills, and work with others” (“I Can be a Leader!,” n.d.). This example provides a starting point in developing programs that for differing age groups that could be included in the school setting.

            The world needs leaders.  Schools, communities, government, and churches all need leaders. The potential for leadership needs to be recognized, nurtured, and provided a safe place to be practiced. Schools are the right place for leadership training to begin.



I can be a leader! Leadership fun for children. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://extension.psu.edu/programs/betterkidcare/knowledge-areas/environment-curriculum/activities/all-activities/i-can-be-a-leader-leadership-fun-for-children


Schneider, F., Gruman, J., & Coutts, L. (Eds.). (2012). Applied social psychology (Second ed.). Los Angeles, CA: Sage.


Oct 17

Motivation in the Classroom

Motivation in the Classroom

This week’s lesson focused on the application of social psychology to education. We learned about many of the different ways the student’s personal psychology can influence their academic outcomes while also exploring the different ways the student’s academic environment can shape their psychology and, in turn, their academic performance. One concept that I found to be particularly interesting was the idea of motivation in the classroom. Our text discusses the differences between intrinsic motivations and extrinsic motivations, and how they either enhance or diminish academic success. More specifically, our text defines intrinsic motivations as those that are based on the individuals own desires and enjoyments, while extrinsic motivations are defined as those that are set by external forces and are reinforced by things like awards (Schneider et al., 2012). Our text goes on to suggest that educational environments that facilitate the development and maintenance of intrinsic motivation in students often yield greater student engagement and better academic results (Schneider et al., 2012). This is an important concept, as it has the potential to influence the way we structure our educational systems.
We are all familiar with the difference between intrinsic and extrinsic motivations and with how naturally good it can feel to engage in behaviors and acts that are intrinsically motivated. An example of this might be the feeling of elation that follows the completion of a personal project that has required significant investments of both time and energy, but that we decided to do just for the sake of doing it. This feeling contrasts the way we feel about doing something because we were told to by someone else or because someone else was rewarding our completion of the task. When people are intrinsically motivated, they are more likely to engage fully with the task at hand and are more likely to remain committed to completing the task (Dev, 1997). Furthermore, individuals who are intrinsically motivated will not rely on external rewards, but will instead work to complete tasks on their own accord Ryan & Deci, 2000). Why is this the case? An important concept that helps shed light on why intrinsic motivation can be so powerful is the self-determination theory (SDT). According to the SDT, motivation occurs along a spectrum that runs from completely intrinsic, to completely extrinsic (Ryan & Deci, 2000). Between these two polar motivational regulators are a number of overlapping levels of motivation that rely partly on intrinsic desires, and partly on extrinsic rewards. These levels include integrated regulation, identified regulation, and introjected regulation (Schneider et al., 2012). These different levels represent the extent to which the individual has matched their internal (intrinsic) motivations with external (extrinsic) rewards (Ryan & Deci, 2000). Results from numerous studies indicate that when individuals, students included, are either intrinsically motivated or have high levels of self-determined extrinsic motivation, they are more likely to succeed (Schneider et al., 2012). Researchers have even referred to intrinsic motivation as a “natural well-spring of learning and achievement that can be systematically catalyzed or undermined by parent and teacher practices” (Ryan & Deci, 2000). So, intrinsic motivation tends to lead to greater engagement with the task at hand, but how does the concept apply to education specifically, and what can teachers and parents do to create supportive environments?
Students face a number of challenges while in school, and their motivation or lack thereof to engage with school material and persist can have a significant impact on their academic outcomes (Schneider et al., 2012). At the most extreme level of the motivational continuum, you have a student who has amotivation, or in other words, a complete lack of motivation. This individual would likely have low perceived competence, and would not be able to provide any intrinsic reasons for why they are in school (Ryan & Deci, 2000).It has been shown how amotivated students tend to drop out of school at younger ages, do worse on exams, and are less persistent when faced with academic challenges (Cetin, 2015). While amotivated individuals are relatively extreme in their complete lack of motivation, a general trend exists that predicts more academic success as intrinsic motivation and self-determination increase (Vallerand & Bissonnette, 1992). So, it is clear that a student’s motivation can play a large role in their subsequent academic success, and that students who have higher levels of intrinsic motivation and self-determination are more likely to succeed long-term.
Given the findings discussed above, it is important for educators to consider how they may be able to create learning environments that catalyze intrinsic motivation in students. Humans are inherently curious and have deep reserves of intrinsic desires and motivations that can either be stoked or diminished (Ryan & Deci, 2000). In order to fuel intrinsic motivation, students must be made to feel competent and autonomous to some degree (Ryan, 1982). Perceived Autonomy and competence can be enhanced by teachers through lessons that encourage curiosity, exploration, and self-direction (Ryan & Deci, 2000). It has also been shown that parents can influence the development of autonomy in their children which can, in turn, increase the child’s sense of agency in the classroom (Grolnick, Deci, & Ryan, 1997). Together, parents and teachers can facilitate the development of these character traits that stoke intrinsic motivation both in and outside of the classroom. These findings are exciting because they suggest that teachers can shift from a reliance on rewards to lesson plans that encourage intrinsic motivation rather than extrinsic regulation. Even more exciting, is the fact that increasing intrinsic motivation in students does not require extensive changes to existing classroom settings, and would be relatively easy and inexpensive to implement (Ryan & Deci, 2000).

Çetin, B. (2015). Predicting academic success from academic motivation and learning approaches in classroom teaching students. Contemporary Issues in Education Research, 8(3), 171-180. Retrieved from http://ezaccess.libraries.psu.edu/login?url=https://search-proquest-com.ezaccess.libraries.psu.edu/docview/1720066398?accountid=13158

Dev, P. C. (1997). Intrinsic motivation and academic achievement: What does their relationship imply for the classroom teacher? Remedial and Special Education, 18(1), 12-19. Retrieved from http://ezaccess.libraries.psu.edu/login?url=https://search-proquest-com.ezaccess.libraries.psu.edu/docview/62629587?accountid=13158

Grolnick, W. S., Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (1997). Internalization within the family: The self-determination perspective. In J. E. Grusec & L.

Kuczynski (Eds.), Parenting and children’s internalization of values: A handbook of contemporary theory (pp. 135–161). New York: Wiley.

Ryan, R. M. (1982). Control and information in the intrapersonal sphere: An extension of cognitive evaluation theory. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 43, 450–461.

Ryan, R. M., & Deci, E. L. (2000). Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivations: Classic Definitions and New Directions. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 25(1), 54-67. doi:10.1006/ceps.1999.1020

Vallerand, R. J., & Bissonnette, R. (1992). Intrinsic, extrinsic, and amotivational styles as predictors of behavior: A prospective study. Journal of Personality, 60, 599–620.

Oct 17

Self-handicapping in the Classroom

Obtaining a higher education is not an easy feat. Sometimes a student might find a certain subject or course so difficult, withdrawal from attempting to do well may seem like a better idea than trying at all. The prime example of this phenomenon can be described by the college student that is constantly partying. If a student chooses to drink alcohol and attend a party the night before their final exam, this student will be subjected to taking their exam extemporaneously the next day. This unpreparedness may lead to lower grades. This particular student boosts their self efficacy in this situation by already having the excuse of not studying enough because they were out partying before their exam. The process of performing behaviors in order to sabotage their prior tasks, thereby using the negative behaviors as an expectant alibi for failure is known as self-handicapping (Schneider, Gruman, & Coutts, 2012). In this example of the party animal, if this student ended up failing the exam, they have the excuse of lack of studying due to their wild night last night.

Self-handicapping is a problem within the college environment. Many people that I have known personally partook in self-handicapping behaviors right before they failed out of their universities. Some examples of beliefs self-handicapping student may abide by are as follows: “When I do something wrong, my first impulse is to blame the circumstances,” or “I sometimes enjoy being mildly ill for a day or two because it takes off the pressure” (Schneider et al, 2012). These student may have erroneous beliefs that they are not able to learn the material in college as well as everybody else. This erroneous belief is a well known cause of self-handicapping behaviors. Many studies involving self-handicapping behaviors have been conducted in the college environment, so researchers are aware this is a large issue that occurs in college students specifically.

Berglas and Jones conducted a study in 1978 testing college students on their levels of self-handicapping. The researchers conducted the college students to first solve analogies. After the students were finished solving or attempting to solve the analogies, the researchers told all of the students that they completed the puzzles well even though the puzzles were not solvable. The researchers then asked the students whether they would like to take a performance enhancing drug before the next analogy they solve, or a performance impairing drug. Men in particular chose to take the drug that would impair their skills because their self efficacy to complete the task has dropped due to the discovery that the analogies are unsolvable (Berglas & Jones, 1978). Although men are more likely to sabotage their performance prior to even trying to solve the analogy, both men and women use excuses to obviate their potential for low performance to effect their self efficacy in that specific task (Hirt, McCrea, & Kimble, 2000).

In a study conducted in the year 2000 by Beck, Koons, and Milgrim, procrastination and self handicapping behaviors were found to be positively correlated. How can we reduce self-handicapping in the educational environment? It has been proven that self-affirming actions in replacement of self sabotage has assisted in mitigating self-handicapping behaviors (Siegel, Scillitoe, & Parks-Yancy, 2005). For example, writing down a list of educational values one has and educational goals one would like to reach may remind students of the importance of studying and learning. If a self-handicapped person’s educational values are prioritized, it will be much easier for that student to see the discrepancy between their beliefs and behaviors. Hopefully, this discrepancy will result in a change in behaviors for the better of their education.



Beck, B.L., Koons, S.R., & Milgrim, D.L. (2000) Correlates and consequences of behavioral procrastination: The effects of academic procrastination, self-consciousness, self-esteem and self-handicapping. Journal of Social Behavior and Personality, 15(5), 3-13.

Berglas, S., & Jones, E.E. (1978). Drug choice as a self-handicapping strategy in response to noncontingent success. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 36, 405-417.

Hirt, E.R., McCrea, S.M., & Kimble, C.E. (2000). Public self-focus and sex differences in behavioral self-handicapping: Does increasing self-threat still make it “just a man’s game”? Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 26, 1131-1141

Schneider, F., Gruman, J., & Coutts, L. (2012) Applied social psychology: Understanding and addressing social and practical problems. 2nd ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc.

Siegel, P.A., Scillitoe, J., & Parks-Yancy, R. (2005). Reducing the tendency to self-handicap: The effect of self-affirmation. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 41, 589-597.

Oct 17

Social Media “the ultimate advertiser”


If you have any social media accounts such as facebook, twitter, and instagram then you are probably well aware of the power of these outlets. These social media applications provide the ability to connect with thousands if not millions of people. There are people from all different backgrounds and cultures. This provides companies and businesses with  great advertising opportunity. It is a gateway for businesses to advertise to a large portion of the population. This population varies in age, ethnicity, demographics, and around the world. The reason it has spread so quickly is because these tools are free (Lesson 9, PSU Commentary notes, 2017).

One of the many ways Facebook and twitter have been so impacting is because of its use as a news outlet. The addiction of social media leads to people depending on Facebook or Twitter for their news report. A majority of U.S. adults – 62% – get news on social media, and 18% do so often, according to a new survey by Pew Research Center (Gotfried, Shearer. 2016). I can personally log into Facebook and have information on the latest sports games, politics, or any big event that has occurred around the world because of people sharing on Facebook. There are videos, posts, news reports, and posts which influence our views on the news just like CNN and Fox each lean towards different sides of political parties.

With the addiction of social media it allows the user to be tracked. Have you ever noticed the advertisements on Facebook are always about things you are interested in. For example, if you are posting about Iwatches and interested in Apple’s latest product facebook will actually track your interest and display advertisements about Apple. Facebook sells this information to companies. The companies are well researched on the person using social media because it tracks your every move. It knows what favorite sports teams you like, your political status, if you have any kids, what you drive, and what you talk about with your online friends. This creates a powerful weapon to be able to influence your mind into purchasing whatever it is they are trying to sell you.

The tracking of your social media page has also transpired onto other websites such as amazon, google, and bing. With the high use of smartphones with built-in microphones google has the ability to use the microphones to advertise products to you. It sounds crazy,but if you are talking about a product for a week. Let’s say it is one of those new finger spinners that are becoming increasingly popular. It gathers your age, gender, what websites you visit, the content of your gmail account to then advertise certain products to you.You will start noticing that advertisements on google will be for those spinners because it tracks what your interest are to be able to advertise specifically for you.

With the expansion of tools on social media such as checking into places it provides advertisement for many businesses. We are able to check into a location anytime we visit it in person on social media. This allows us to be tracked and give social media more information on how to advertise to us. It provides information on what content to advertise as well. This is one of the ways that Facebook makes money by providing advertisement slots that display on the users page while they are scrolling.


Facebook. (2011). Statistics. Retrieved online at: http://www.facebook.com/press/info.php?statistics

NATO. (2011). Social media: power to the people? Retrieved online at: http://www.nato.int/docu/review/2011/Social_Medias/Social_media_can_do/EN/index.htm

Pew Research Center. (2016). News use across social media platforms 2016. Retrieved online at: http://www.journalism.org/2016/05/26/news-use-across-social-media-platforms-2016/

Schneider, F., Gruman, J., & Coutts, L. (2012) Applied social psychology: Understanding and addressing social and practical problems. 2nd ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc.

Oct 17

Negative Influences everywhere

Considering 95% of households in 1971 had televisions in the US and Canada, imagine the percentage currently in 2017. (Schneider, Gruman, Cotts, 2012.) Everywhere we look we are surrounded by some form of media. Throughout history media has enhanced and expanded its capabilities drawing in newer generation each year with devices such as radios, phone, TV’s,  VCR/DVD and cell phones to name a few.   Media consumes extensive amount of hours within the day and the number continues to grow. Think about it, as I sit here writing this blog I can watch television, listen to the radio and possible hold a conversation on the phone at the same time. Imagine all the other devices I could use if I wasn’t typing! There are endless possibilities but with all of the extensive amounts of media outlets and electronics there are drawback.  In my opinion, the world is over exposed to violence, sex and the influences of mass media

Let’s start by reviewing violence. Society is overexposed to violence on television. Sadly, it’s not simply limited to the shows televised on premium channels such as HBO, “astonishing 85% of shows contain violence” and is increasing yearly. (Schneider, Gruman, Cotts, 2012.) In other words, there is only 15% of shows with no violence. What’s baffling is that it doesn’t stop with the adult shows; it extends over to the children shows with “approximately two thirds” of the shows forecasting some form of violent act? (Schneider, Gruman, Cotts, 2012.) As a result, experiments and studies have been designed to determine the effects of watching aggressive television and negative effects associated by viewing it. Namely, exposure to violent television shows heightened violent behavior and stimulate aggressive acts. (Schneider, Gruman, Cotts, 2012.)   Take the Notel study as an example, at first, the children didn’t have television. Once they were exposed to violent shows on TV, aggressive behaviors shortly followed. Since children cognitive thought process has not fully developed in their young years, they are more susceptible to being influenced.  Children tend to imitate what is seen; such as, the experiment with the bobo doll. The kids watched a movie of someone attacking the doll. As a result, they mimicked the same action displayed on the tape months later. Unknowingly to them, they were being primed to display violent acts of aggression. Priming is how one responds to a stimulus. (Schneider, Gruman, Cotts, 2012.) For this reason, alone it is imperative to monitor shows being watched my children. Not only can it prime there thought process but it will alter their view of the world by way of cultivation theory.  To enumerate, cultivation theory suggests that individuals who are exposed to media violence will start to view the world as unsafe.  (Schneider, Gruman, Cotts, 2012.)  Rightfully so, the media has a way of altering one perceptions and views if they are constantly exposed to a specific trigger.

Then there is pornography, just about everywhere a person turns it is there. An individual can find it on television, DVDS, and magazine with provocative images used to entice the viewer/reader. It’s no wonder the world is over sexed and enhancing sexist views towards women! It doesn’t stop with one type of porn; there are all types from erotica to nonviolent porn to violent porn. With attention too, I believe there are other types of porn that aren’t discussed in our text. Interestingly enough, the attorney General Commission on Pornography suggested that watching significant amount of nonviolent porn “increases sexual violence and coercion, ” with that being said, imagine the amount of damaged caused by violent pornography. Then, consider how this contributes to negative attitudes towards women. Or perhaps, it starts with Erotica porn and your palette for porn grows and now the individual is searching for the next type of porn; it’s like opening Pandora box.  Pornography has a way of influences one thoughts and perceptions and can make it hard to distinguish between what is reality. Media has a similar effect on altering ones thoughts. Schneider, Gruman, Cotts, 2012, believes the media “influences what people think about” by way of agenda setting. (Schneider, Gruman, Cotts, PG 157) The exposure causes the individual to think about what is being shown on television. There are three types of agenda: public agenda- significant concerns of the community, policy agenda- concerns of political parties and media agenda- concerns media discussed broadly. (Schneider, Gruman, Cotts, 2012) Each agenda has an objective that impacts the party exposed to it. Lastly,  the media tends to sway people based off of their available heuristic and what they are readily able to remember based off of what is more salient.  With this in mind, it depends on the method in which the media frames the message.

In sum, society is bombarded with violence, sex and influential media outlets. Unfortunately, it doesn’t stop there, now it has trickled over to video games. As an illustration, grand theft auto, which happens to be a video game, is filled with sexual content and violence. Everywhere you turn sexuality and violence is prevalent. Topics that use to be taboo to mention is being streamed everywhere. Turn on the radio in the car and the songs might actually make one blush or feel embarrassed. In fact, I find myself turning off the radio. Similarly, I personally do not watch the news because it depressing; in my opinion, it’s filled with violence, sadness and hatred.  As a parent, it’s scary to think of the amount of noise pollution our children are exposed too. An individual can only shield them but so much before there little eyes and ears catch wind of all of the negative messages and images currently found in media.



Schneider, F. W., Gruman, J. A., and Coutts, L. M. (Eds.) (2012). Applied Social Psychology: Understanding and Addressing Social and Practical Problems (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications. ISBN 978-1412976381

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