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psychology lesson activities

How to quit your job — without ruining your career - Gala Jackson

lesson duration 06:13


psychology lesson activities

How to manage your emotions

lesson duration 04:51


psychology lesson activities

How to deal with rejection

lesson duration 05:12


psychology lesson activities

When are you actually an adult?

lesson duration 05:22


psychology lesson activities

Why you feel anxious socializing (and what to do about it) - Fallon Goodman

lesson duration 15:12


psychology lesson activities

Why do you want to squeeze cute things?

lesson duration 05:50


psychology lesson activities

What sex ed doesn’t tell you about your brain

lesson duration 05:09


psychology lesson activities

The best way to apologize (according to science)

lesson duration 05:06


psychology lesson activities

The science of falling in love

lesson duration 06:41


psychology lesson activities

The benefits of not being a jerk to yourself - Dan Harris

lesson duration 13:40


psychology lesson activities

4 things all great listeners know

lesson duration 05:07


psychology lesson activities

The sibling rivalry that divided a town

lesson duration 05:27


psychology lesson activities

Why you procrastinate even when it feels bad

lesson duration 05:46


psychology lesson activities

What’s the smartest age?

lesson duration 04:53


psychology lesson activities

Should you care what your parents think?

lesson duration 05:48


psychology lesson activities

How friendship affects your brain

lesson duration 04:23


psychology lesson activities

The benefits of daydreaming

lesson duration 04:03


psychology lesson activities

The original ring of power

lesson duration 05:39


psychology lesson activities

Would you pass the wallet test?

lesson duration 05:35


psychology lesson activities

Why having fun is the secret to a healthier life - Catherine Price

lesson duration 12:34


psychology lesson activities

Ethical dilemma: Would you lie?

lesson duration 04:20


psychology lesson activities

Why are eating disorders so hard to treat?

lesson duration 04:40


psychology lesson activities

Give yourself permission to be creative - Ethan Hawke

lesson duration 09:17


psychology lesson activities

Ethical dilemma: Who should you believe?

lesson duration 04:47


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psychology lesson activities

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Contact Education

Free unit lesson plans for high school teachers of psychology.

APA is offering complimentary unit lesson plans to high school psychology teachers to support teachers adapting to school changes due to the coronavirus pandemic. Lesson plans are three- to seven-day units that include a procedural timeline, a content outline, suggested resources and activities and references.

These materials were produced by Teachers of Psychology in Secondary Schools (TOPSS), which represents the needs of psychology teachers at the high school level.

Looking for an activity you need tomorrow?

TOPSS has a new searchable database of over 100 classroom activities available to TOPSS members. Also posted are two-day lesson plans from past award winning teachers .

Problem-Based Unit Plans

A problem-focused unit is one that takes a common problem facing society and uses it as a way to teach psychological content.

Childhood Obesity (PDF, 260KB)

Unit Lesson Plans

Biological Bases of Behavior (PDF, 333KB)

Cognition (PDF, 562KB) Video: Watch the Cognition authors discuss this lesson plan

Consciousness (PDF, 348KB)

Emotion (PDF, 442KB)

Gender (PDF, 345KB)

Learning (PDF, 320KB)

Life Span Development (PDF, 404KB)

Memory (PDF, 712KB)

Motivation (PDF, 171KB)

Personality (PDF, 395KB)

Perspectives in Psychological Science (PDF, 306KB)

Psychological Disorders (PDF, 305KB)

Research Methods and Statistics (PDF, 624KB)

Sensation and Perception (PDF, 252KB)

Social Psychology (PDF, 429KB)

Stress and Health (PDF, 453KB)

Treatment of Psychological Disorders (PDF, 108KB)

Teaching Modules

The unit lesson plans above cover main content areas within the introductory psychology course. These lesson plans cover topics that may accompany the main content areas of a course. “Psychoanalysis and Psychodynamic Psychology” and “Psychology of Sexual Orientation” were both created in a modular format, to be used throughout the course.

Careers, Education and Vocational Applications in Psychology (PDF, 290KB)

Positive Psychology (PDF, 164KB)

Psychoanalysis and Psychodynamic Psychology (PDF, 284KB)

Psychology of Sexual Orientation (PDF, 212KB)

The Psychology of Sexual Orientation module is under revision and expected to be published by the fall of 2021.

Feedback Encouraged

The APA Committee of Teachers of Psychology in Secondary Schools is working to update and revise all TOPSS unit lesson plans on an on-going basis to ensure that all content is up-to-date. We invite all TOPSS members and other interested individuals to submit feedback and suggestions on all TOPSS units. Feedback can be emailed or mailed to:

Office of Precollege and Undergraduate Education APA Education Directorate 750 First Street, NE Washington, DC 20002

Please specify which unit you are referring to when you submit feedback.

Teaching Resources

TOPSS offers a collection of APA resources for teachers of introductory psychology, including curriculum and classroom tools.

psychology lesson activities
  • Undercover.pptx
  • Flashcards-Plus: A Strategy to Help Students Prepare for Three Types of Multiple-Choice Questions Commonly Found on Introductory Psychology Tests (2013)

    • Introductory Article
    • PowerPoint Slides  (If using internet explorer, ignore the username/password box that appears when you click on "open")

    Author: Drew C. Appleby Affiliation: Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (Retired) Description: The purpose of this resource is to provide students with a research-based study strategy (creating flashcards) designed to help them understand, prepare for, and take multiple-choice tests more successfully. The 32 slides that accompany the introductory article familiarize students with three types of cognitive processes their instructors will commonly ask them to use in their classes and then invite them to model the behavior of their instructors by creating flashcards.  Their flashcards should contain verbatim definitions for retention questions, accurate paraphrases for comprehension questions, and realistic examples for application questions.

    Integrating Mnemonics into Psychology Instruction (2011)

    A compendium of introductory psychology texts (2003-2006) (2006), frequently cited concepts in current introduction to psychology textbooks (2006), principles of psychology: experimental foundations laboratory manual (2002), learning and memory    return to index, writing to learn, reciting to remember: applying learning and memory principles to flashcards (2015), learning and memory strategy demonstrations for the psychology classroom (2014), cases in negative reinforcement (2010), media psychology    return to index, teaching scientific literacy and public engagement with social media (2018), instructor resources for media psychology (2010), taking it to the streets: how to give psychology away and become a local media hero (2009), national standards    return to index, national standards for the teaching of high school psychology (2011), principles for quality undergraduate education in psychology (2011), teaching, learning, & assessing in a developmentally coherent curriculum (2008), apa guidelines for the undergraduate psychology major (2007), open educational resources    return to index, a primer on open educational resources (oer) for psychology instructors: background, resources, and materials (2017), outcomes    return to index, the employable skills self-efficacy survey: an assessment of and resource for fostering skill development (2017), an electronic workbook for assessing the dunn et al. (2007) “quality benchmarks in undergraduate psychology programs" (2008), measuring the varied skills of psychology majors: a revision and update of the academic skills inventory (2013), a guide to writing learning objectives for teachers of psychology (2012), goals and objectives for the undergraduate psychology major: recommendations from a meeting of california state university psychology faculty (2000), physiological / biological psychology    return to index, authentic assessments for biopsychology: encouraging learning and retention by applying biopsychological knowledge in real-world contexts (2019), enhancing the physiological psychology course through the development of neuroanatomy laboratory experiences and integrative exercises (2013), interactive teaching activities for introductory biopsychology (2012), positive psychology    return to index, positive psychology teaching tools: supplemental readings to core texts (2012), psychology and law    return to index, psychology and law: a teaching resource (2005), sensation and perception    return to index, build-your-own sensation and perception lab kits: a compilation of inexpensive, accessible activities (2022), sensation and perception: activities to enhance learning (2017), using the drawing and animation tools in powerpoint® to build your own visual perception demonstrations (2010), problem-based group activities for a sensation & perception course [english version] (2009), actividades grupales basadas en problemas para un curso sobre sensación & percepción [spanish translation] (2009), social psychology    return to index, “c’est la vie: the game of social life: a role-playing game for teaching about privilege, oppression, and intersectionality” (2015).

    Author: Kosha D. Bramesfeld Institution: Ryerson University Description:  This resource is an empathy-based privilege and oppression awareness intervention that can be used to help students engage in difficult dialogues surrounding the issues of privilege, oppression, and intersectionality.  The materials include (a) 64 character profiles and game sheets that describe the demographic characteristics and resources assigned to each player’s character, (b) a strategy game that presents students with a variety of different decision scenarios that interact with their character’s resources (described in a 33-slide presentation), and (c) an instructor’s guide that covers the development of the game, its recommended uses, and a debriefing and discussion points that help students reflect on the outcomes of the game, its connections with real life inequality, and the role that privilege and oppression might play in the students’ own lives.

    Activities for Teaching about Prejudice and Discrimination (2013)

    Statistics and research methods    return to index, making research reproducible (2022).

    • Making Research Reproducible: Teaching Guide
    • Making Research Reproducible: Powerpoint Slides
    • Music and Room Color Data

    Authors: Jason McCarley & Raechel Soicher Affiliations: Oregon State University Description: This 32-page resource (plus supplementary materials) provides instructors with the resources they need to teach analytical reproducibility to undergraduate students. It includes an introduction to the concept of reproducibility and its importance, a discussion of the challenges researchers face when trying to reproduce others' work, and an activity that teaches students how to prepare their materials in a reproducible way (with step-by-step instructions for both JASP and R users). Instructors will also benefit from a set of ready-to-use PowerPoint slides. Note: 2021 Instructional Resource Award

    Evaluating Research Summaries (2021)

    Answers & Explanations  (PDF)

    Authors: Keith Millis 1 , Diane Halpern 2 , Katja Wiemer 1 , Patricia Wallace 1 Affiliations: 1 Northern Illinois University, 2 Claremont McKenna College Description: This two-part resource, geared toward undergraduate and high school students, provides students with opportunities to learn ways research may be flawed or limited. The first document includes 16 research summaries that contain one or more methodological flaws (e.g., no control group, small sample size). Students must identify which of the 12 possible flaws could be limiting the research presented. Answers and explanations are provided in the second document.

    An Exercise to Assess Student Understanding of Bottleneck Concepts in Research Methods (2018)

    Statistics that stick: embedding humor in statistics related teaching materials (2016), poker chip people: using manipulatives in a college level statistics course (2015).

    • Instructor Manual
    • Male Face Labels
    • Female Face Labels
    • Back labels:  Page 1   -  Page 2

    Instructor Materials for Teaching Research Methods Using a Consulting Model (2015)

    Increasing graphing literacy and graphing ability in undergraduate psychology majors through active learning based exercises (2014) .

    Author: Meridith Pease Selden Affiliation: Yuba College Description: This 63-page resource is designed to increase students’ ability to read graphs and to create a variety of types of graphs in Microsoft’s Excel program. In-class activities and detailed instructions (including screen shots) are appropriate primarily for the graphing unit in a statistics or research methods class, but other instructors who want to help students read primary sources can select particular stand-alone activities from the set provided. Note: 2010 OTRP Instructional Resource Award 

    Statistical Literacy Taskforce Learning Goals and Resources (2014)

    Instructor's guide to using research methods and statistics concept maps (2013), research readings and statistical exercises using spss and excel (2012), statistics assignments using excel(r) (2010), factorial research design (2010), a template paper with comments for illustrating the 6th edition of apa style (2010), why and how to write apa-style citations in the body and reference section of your papers (2010), exemplar studies for teaching research methodology (2010), yes, you can write in a statistics class: an instructional tool to reduce anxiety and improve statistics performance (2010), statistics decision aids [english version] (2009), ayudas para la decisión estadística [spanish translation] (2009), assessing student learning: a collection of evaluation tools (2009), a self-scoring exercise on apa style and research language (2008), teaching statistics and research methods: a collection of hands-on activities and demonstrations (2008), a student-faculty research agreement (2007), guidelines for preparing posters using powerpoint presentation software (2001), an instructor's guide to electronic databases of indexed professional literature (2000), publication and award opportunities for undergraduate students (1998), teaching tools / programs    return to index.

    Holding Space for Reflection: Bringing Current Events into the Classroom  (2022)

    Authors: Amy Maslowski

    Affiliation: University of North Dakota

    Description:  This 25-page resource provides guidance for instructors on how to incorporate the discussion of current events into their psychology classes. It outlines the potential benefits of addressing current events before the start of class and offers advice on how instructors can best structure and plan for these discussions. A sample syllabus statement is provided, as well as specific tips for facilitating these conversations and dealing with challenges that may arise. The resource concludes with a call for more research on the potential effects of including open spaces for discussion in the classroom.

    • Instructor Guide
    • Fillable PDF Form
    • Multiple Courses
    • Sample Final

    Authors: Ashley Waggoner Denton

    Affiliation: University of Toronto

    Description:  This 12 page resource and accompanying documents is a resource designed to help psychology students better identify and understand how what they have learned within their courses will transfer to their career and life after graduation. More specifically, this resource helps students be able to articulate the professional skills they have acquired in their psychology courses and understand the competencies that are the basis of these skills. A sample worksheet is provided along with the worksheets that can be utilized with psychology students as they examine either an individual course or when examining multiple courses.

    Note: 2021 Instructional Resource Award

    Sequential Assignments to Critically Evaluate Psychological Journal Articles (2020)

    Authors: Suzanne Wood and Vanessa Chan Affiliations: University of Toronto Description: This 24-page resource contains a series of assignments to teach students the skills needed to interpret and critically evaluate original psychological research (APA Goal #2: Scientific Inquiry and Critical Thinking.) There are five separate activities varying in complexity according to Bloom’s taxonomy. Each assignment includes an overview, guidelines, and a suggested rubric for grading. The individual assignments are hyperlinked in the table of contents to assist in navigation.   Note: 2019 Instructional Resource Award

    Critical Thinking in Psychology (& Life) Workshop Series: Instructional Materials (2018)

    Authors: Ashley Waggoner Denton and Thalia Vrantsidis Affiliations: University of Toronto Description: This 17-page resource describes the first workshop from a newly developed series of critical thinking workshops aimed at early undergraduate students. This initial workshop,  Setting the Stage: An Introduction to Good Thinking , introduces students to the notion of actively open-minded thinking and emphasizes the idea that critical thinking involves habits, skills, and mindsets that can be developed and continually improved with practice. The purpose of this resource is to offer instructors a brief, effective, and freely available guide that will enable them to incorporate lessons on critical thinking into their existing courses or allow them to run their own critical thinking workshop. The resource includes a list of learning outcomes for the workshop, corresponding lessons and activities, as well as potential assessment strategies. Throughout the resource, the authors also offer insight into which strategies or activities have worked particular well for them, and offer suggestions for alternatives or variations that may work well for others.   Note: 2016 Instructional Resource Award

    A Guide to Incorporating Social-Emotional Learning in the College Classroom: Busting Anxiety, Boosting Ability (2018)

    Authors: Kristel M. Gallagher and Shevaun L. Stocker Affiliation: Theil College and University of Wisconsin - Superior Description:  This 69-page comprehensive teaching manual describes a novel application of social-emotional learning in the college classroom. It describes an easy-to-implement and scientifically-driven intervention targeting the stress and anxiety experienced by students both within and outside of the classroom. The program includes 15 short, weekly activities that promote key mindfulness and anxiety-reduction practices. Included in the manual are all program materials (including a detailed narrative describing the implementation of the program), as well as an empirical assessment of the efficacy of the program, ideas for possible variations of the program, and a summary of key background research with accompanying references and recommended readings. Note: Note: 2017 Instructional Resource Award

    This Class is a Joke! Humor as a Pedagogical Tool in the Teaching of Psychology (2015)

    Authors: Dan J. Segrist and Stephen D. A. Hupp Affiliation: Southern Illinois University Edwardsville Description:  This 31-page annotated bibliography provides a representative and relatively comprehensive list of articles, book chapters, and books on the use of humor in teaching psychology, including using humor as a teaching tool, on exams, and in online teaching, and students' perceptions of instructor humor. Note: 2012 OTRP Instructional Resource Award

    Instructor Resources for Psychology: Learning to Blog -- Blogging to Learn (2011)

    Student Response Systems ("Clickers") in the Psychology Classroom: A Beginner's Guide" (2009)

    Traveling psychology fair: learner-centered outreach activities to stimulate interest in psychology (2006), building community in the classroom through ice-breakers and parting ways [english version] (2004), construyendo un sentido de comunidad en clase a través de estrategias para “romper el hielo” y estrategias de cierre [spanish translation] (2004).


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    1. Psychology Lessons

      Psychology Lessons | TED-Ed Want a daily email of lesson plans that span all subjects and age groups? Learn more Subjects All Psychology filter by none sort by none 04:51 Psychology How to manage your emotions 366,296 views 05:12 Psychology How to deal with rejection 279,735 views 05:22 Psychology When are you actually an adult? 309,129 views 15:12

    2. TOPSS Classroom Activities

      Quickly search over 100 activities from our popular Teachers of Psychology in Secondary School (TOPSS) unit lesson plans. Choose from popular topics like biological basis of behavior, memory, research methods and more. Be sure to check back regularly as activities will be added as they become available.

    3. Free Unit Lesson Plans For High School Teachers of Psychology

      Lesson plans are three- to seven-day units that include a procedural timeline, a content outline, suggested resources and activities and references. These materials were produced by Teachers of Psychology in Secondary Schools (TOPSS), which represents the needs of psychology teachers at the high school level.

    4. Society for the Teaching of Psychology

      The project can be modified for students in multiple psychology courses (e.g., general, biological, developmental, social) and it can be linked with programs or exhibits at a variety of community organizations (e.g., science museums, zoos, discovery centers). Lesson plans are provided along with the associated rubric.