Assignment 1 – I Get Better Grades With A Little Help From My Friends

You have two friends who have been struggling with exams in their classes. They can’t figure out what they are doing wrong, so they approach you for advice. In talking with your friends, you learn:

  1. Both of them are studying in one big cram session the evening before the exam.  They’re just not motivated to put in more time.
  2. They primarily study by just reread­ing notes and the chapters.
  3. One of your friends is only 17 and she checks her phone about every 2 minutes for text messages or social media updates.
  4. Your other friend is returning to college after some time away and is 65 years old.  She finds it easy to recognize some information when asked a fill-in-the-blank question, but it is much harder if she has to define a vocabulary word or answer an essay.

The good news is that you are enrolled in a psychology class that can help both your friends improve their study habits and results on the exam.

As you prepare to help your friends, here are some specific topics to address.

  1. From Chapter 1, what part of the brain is responsible for remembering the important information that will be on the exam?  Describe that part of the brain and its purpose.
  2. As covered in Chapter 4, psychologists have determined that age can effect cognitive development and memory.
  3. For your friend who is 17, how could you use what you have learned about moral development to explain why she may be checking her phone every 2 minutes for text messages and social media updates.   How could she expand her attention?
  4. For your friend is age 65, and having a hard time with vocabulary, explain what may be happening that prevents her from doing well on this type of activity.  How could she improve?
  5. In chapter 6, we learn about operant conditioning.  Describe operant conditioning in your own words.  Thinking of operant conditioning, how could you help your friend use rewards as motivation to study more often?
  6. Using what we have learned in chapter 7, explain why your memory may not retain all the information learned in the cram session the night before the big exam.
  7. How would cramming effect encoding?
  8. How would cramming effect retrieval?
  9. What is one technique that each friend could use to help improve memory and prepare for the exam?
  10. It’s the night before the big exam.  You check on your friends and your younger friend is not doing well.  It turns out that things have turned out even worse.  Her boyfriend broke up with her, stole money from her bank account, and her grandmother passed away the week before.  You notice on her Facebook page that she posed, “Where can I find some rope?!?”
  11. In chapter 5, you learn about suicide and what to do.  Based on that, what steps can you take to help your friend?  Be sure to include any resources that you could call to get advice.

Grading Rubric





1. Identify and described   the part of the brain responsible for memory.

Weight: 10%

Thoroughly identified the   parts of the brain responsible for memory


2. Explained the   connection between moral development and attention span; offered suggestions   to improve attention.

Weight: 10%

Thoroughly explained the connection between moral development   and attention span; thoroughly offered suggestions to improve attention


3. Discuss the effect of   aging on the brain, including suggestions to help improve studying and brain   function.

Weight: 10%

Thoroughly discussed the effect of aging on the brain, including   suggestions to help improve studying and brain function


4.  Discussed operant conditioning and offered a   recommendation for how rewards can be used to increase motivation.

Weight 20%

Thoroughly discussed operant conditioning and offered a   recommendation for how rewards can be used to increase motivation.


5. Discussed how cramming affects memory (encoding and   retrieval) and offered a suggestion to improve memory

Weight 20%

Thoroughly discussed how cramming affects memory (encoding and   retrieval) and offered a suggestion to improve memory


6. Describe what to do in   the event that someone expresses suicidal thoughts or intentions, including   resources available

Weight: 20%

Thoroughly described what   to do in the event that someone expresses suicidal thoughts or intentions,   including resources available


7. Writing / Support for   ideas

Weight: 5%

Consistently uses explanations, examples, and evidence that   logically support ideas.


8. Writing / Grammar and   mechanics

Weight: 5%

Free of errors in grammar, spelling, and punctuation.

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