Order instructions


You will listen to (or watch or read) an outside source of material chosen from the options below. This is a chance to explore a topic that interests you in more detail and to think about course concepts in new contexts. The paper will also give you the chance to practice your academic writing skills and receive practical feedback.

Consider the source material as a springboard for your own ideas and reactions. This paper is not an exercise in simple summarizing. It is an exercise in applying and integrating your new knowledge. Try to draw connections between this source, the material we are learning in class, and your own thoughts and feelings.


for example…

“I was disturbed by Nim’s placement with a human family who knew nothing about chimpanzees or sign language. Not only was this situation risky, but it limited the researcher’s ability to provide convincing support for his hypothesis. It would have been more appropriate to observe Nim and the family in a lab setting where the influence of extraneous factors could be better controlled.”

is preferable to ….

“Researchers placed Nim with a human family in the city and studied his development to see if he could learn language. When this arrangement became too dangerous, he moved into a rural research facility with new handlers.”


Grading Criteria:


Format: (5 points/ 20)

  • 3-4 pages, double spaced, 12 point font size, 1 inch margins
  • Your name and page # on each page
  • An Introduction –

orient the reader to which source you used and what to expect from the rest of the paper in the opening paragraph

  • Body Paragraphs –

organize your reactions so that each paragraph contains one or two main ideas and links to the next paragraph with logical transitions

  • A Conclusion –

remind the reader of the most important point or two that you want them to ‘take away’ from your paper


You will earn points for following this format and structure; however you will not be graded on grammar or writing style. (I may still offer you that kind of feedback if I can, or suggest the writing center for help)


Content: (15 points/ 20)


You will earn points by making at least three thoughtful observations with a related reaction that ties the source material to your own experience and/or to course information. A sample student paper is available upon request.


To generate thoughtful content, I suggest an initial review of the material followed by immediate ‘freewriting’ of your reactions. Later, after considering related course information and the following questions (or others you might come up with), listen again and take notes.

  • Which areas of psychology does this material address? How?
  • Did this story remind you of your own experiences? How?
  • Was this information believable/credible? Why or why not?
  • What questions are you left with and how might you guess at an answer?
  • Which psychological perspectives were represented? By whom and how so?
  • Did you recognize any of the concepts we have read about in this material?


Source Options:

This is a list of one-hour long Radiolab podcast episodes that you can listen to online or downloaded free. See http://www.radiolab.org/archive/  for descriptions and access. (you may have to scroll down and around to find them by title in old seasons). Sample it first to make sure you can work with this style of presentation.

Musical Language






The Good Show


The Bad Show

Memory & Forgetting




The following movies also deal with pertinent psychology topics:

Temple Grandin (2010 biopic; autism, abnormal psych activism)

Project Nim (2011 documentary; language, animal research)

One of the Seven Up series (documentary; developmental psychology, personality)


If you prefer to use an alternate source, you must email to propose it by 7/14. I will consider substantive documentaries, books, or articles related to psychology topics that interest you (and can sometimes help you find something on a topic that interests you). Be sure to describe the source and why you think it is appropriate and I will email you confirmation of approval (or disapproval) within a few days of your request.


Submission Guidelines:

You will submit your papers as a printed hard copy in class or by campus mailbox (not electronically!)


Rewrite/Edit Option:


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