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Perception in the Classroom

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Main -> In the Classroom: Perception

Articles on teaching Perception

A Size–Distance Scaling Demonstration Based on the Holway–Boring Experiment

Gallagher and Hoefling (2013) describe their demonstration, which enhanced understanding of the classic Holway–Boring (1941) experiment. They also include suggestions for implementation in a number of different teaching environments.


The Interactive Sensation Laboratory Exercises (ISLE) from Sage has labs on Perception.  You can use the table of contents or these links to get to modules on Object Perception, Color Perception, Depth and Size, Music Perception and Speech Perception.


Depth perception - echo location (courtesy of Joseph Swope via PSYCHTEACHER listserv 9/10/13)
Have a student stand about 8 feet away from a brick wall or other wall with a hard flat surface (no posters, pictures, windows).  Then have the student hum or hold a note out loud as he or she walks toward the wall with EYES CLOSED.  Instruct the student to listen to the tone as he approaches the wall.  Without peeking, he will be able to get within an inch of the wall by sound alone.


Taste Perception Demonstration (Hat Tip to Alexis McCall!)

Background: The ability to detect the bitter taste of phenylthiocarbamide (PTC) is correlated with a number of psychological and health outcomes. Although the exact phenotypic variation is still being explored to this day. Recent research has suggested that PTC nontasters may be more vulnerable to depression (see Joiner & Perez, 2004 Psychiatry Research), schizophrenia (Brewer et al., 2012 Psychiatry Research), as well as other psychiatric illness (Schlosberg & Baruch, 1992 Perceptual and Motor Skills). 


Research on supertasters has also linked PTC status with metabolic syndrome (see Turner-McGrievy et al., 2013 Journal of Food Science). PTC status has also been linked to aesthetic preferences (see DeWall et al., 2011 Empirical Studies of the Arts). For more on the history of PTC perception and a good overview of the genetics underlying PTC, see Guo and Reed (2001) here.


Materials: PTC test strips can be purchased online (see Indigo Labs).


Procedure: As a lecture/discussion launcher, instructors could ask students to place the strip on their tongue and report what they tasted, or students could rate the experience on a Likert-type scale (e.g., 1 = not at all sweet, 10 = extremely sweet; 1 = not at all bitter, 10 = extremely bitter). 


Note: Instructors may also use the information from this online article with links.


Size-Distance Illusion (Download the presentation slides)

Watch as the size-distance illusion disappears when the distance cues are removed.


Kreiner, D. S. (2009). Problem-based group activities for teaching sensation and perceptionTeaching of Psychology, 4, 253-256. doi: 10.1080/00986280903173157


Logos that are reversible figure-grounds.  For more visit the graphic design blog.

There's an arrow between the E and x.

There's an 11 bracketing the T.

There are 4 light fish and 4 dark fish

Australia is in the white space made by the arm and leg.

A shoe is formed between the t and s.

Africa's in the white space created by the adult and the child.

Change blindness demonstration: "Blink: What Changed" (NY Times, 8/13/2012). Also, see the Change Blindness page here




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