Schmidt 1 Donnie Schmidt Dr. Bell TED 3690 February 10th 2019 Text Analysis- Thinking About Psychology Introduction The text being analyzed within this assignment is a psychology book used in the high school classrooms of Thomas Jefferson High School in Council Bluffs. The book covers all everything about psychology in different sections. The students in this psychology course learn about many of the topics explored in the book. Mr. Liebenthal, the teacher of the class, uses this text to supplement his other materials. He lectures, provides activities, and shows videos to connect the learning to real-life examples. He does not focus on the text as the main source of learning in the classroom. He instead turns to the text to provide additional details and useful graphics to help students better understand the material being presented. The material he was working on when I arrived and helped assist him with was about the nervous system and endocrine system. The chapter/ module begins by introducing what makes up those systems, at the smallest level. It describes what a neuron is, what parts make up a neuron, how neurons communicate with each other, and what types of neurons exist. The chapter then expands upon this knowledge by discussing the divisions and subdivisions of the nervous system. (Central nervous system, the peripheral nervous system, autonomic, somatic systems). The module then advances onward to the endocrine system before ending. This part of the text fits into the greater scope of a psychology class because it dives deeper into how the body functions. Psychology, as stated on the front of text being analyzed, is the study of the mind and Schmidt 2 behavior (Broeker & Ernst, 2008). For us to understand why people think and behave like they do, we must first understand how the body operates. What systems contribute to our thoughts and behaviors. How does damage/ deficiencies in those system affect our thinking and behaviors? It is important to analyze the systems on a smaller level before zooming out and analyzing the body and mind as a whole. On page forty-five of the Tovani text, she lists many examples of what accessible texts look like (Tovani, 2004). Some types of these texts are included in the psychology book. For example, on page 98 of the Psychology Today textbook, there is a table that describes how a neuron communicates with other neurons (Broeker & Ernst, 2008). On many of the pages of the textbook, definitions of key vocabulary are placed off to the side of the main paragraphs, to help students better understand key terms. On pages 102 and 103 of the text, an in-depth analysis of the effects of neurotransmitters and drugs is presented. This takes the material a step further, allowing students to learn more than basic information. The structure in each chapter/ module in the book is set up in a similar way to the module explained above. There are main paragraphs that explain the content, vocabulary terms off to the side, pictures and tables to help illustrate certain ideas, and in-depth analysis of interesting concepts sprinkled throughout the modules. It is clear to see that the organization and flow of the text is concise and well-done. Each chapter is organized similarly and with a purpose. The flow is natural and easy to follow. From what I have analyzed, there are no confusing areas of the text. With all of this being said, this text is a decent example of what a high school text should look like. Throughout this analysis, I will look at strengths and weaknesses of the text, assumptions of the text, and how I would teach this text. This text is appropriate for high school students because it flows well, provides excellent tables and figures, is not too dull, and covers content in a succinct and organized manner. Schmidt 3 Strengths It is important to first examine the strengths of this text. Some of these strengths were introduced previously, but will not be looked at more closely. The first strength that stood out to me within this text was its balance between words on a page and tables and figures. It can be hard to get through a textbook that uses few pictures and is word-heavy. As a student myself, I have a tough time reading material that only has words in it and provides no maps, charts, figures, etc. This book does an excellent job of providing examples of the content through more than just words. It uses figures to describe how certain things look and provides definitions of key vocabulary words. On page 97 of the Thinking About Psychology Text, there is an excellent picture of the neuron and each of its parts. The parts are listed and defined as well, providing an extra tool for students to visualize the concept of a neuron (Broeker & Ernst, 2008). This illustration also provides a break in the text and allows to students to analyze something other than words. Another strength of this text is the use of in-depth coverage of material on certain pages throughout each module. For example, as mentioned above, on pages 102 and 103, the concept of neurons is taken a step further. On these pages, the author connects the neuron with bigger picture ideas. The two pages explain how neurotransmitters, chemical messengers that travel across neurons, affect the nervous system and body. Having too much of a certain neurotransmitter, or not enough of a neurotransmitter, can lead to mental disorders like schizophrenia or depression (Broeker & Ernst, 2008). On page 103 of the text, a picture is shown to illustrate how neurotransmitter moves from one neuron to the next. These two pages break away from the rest of the text and provide additional, important information to the student. Weaknesses Schmidt 4 Although the text does a great job with providing useful illustrations and in-depth analysis of certain topics, there is something missing. The biggest issue the text has is the lack of more in-depth coverage of the content. The basic ideas of psychology are provided in each module. Unfortunately, nothing else substantial is provided. For some reason, I kept a college psychology textbook from my Sophomore year. Comparing the two texts, I quickly noticed a huge difference. The college textbook (Discovering Psychology: The Science of the Mind) went into more details and provided much better illustrations for the same material covered in the high school textbook. The college textbook provided better definitions, better examples, and better charts and graphs to help students learn better. For example, on the section covering the nervous system within the college textbook, on page 111, a better graphic illustrating the central nervous system is provided (Cacioppo & Freberg, 2012). The details given for each part of the central nervous system are covered over multiple pages, whereas in the high school textbook, a paragraph covers the central nervous system. The high school textbook does an adequate job of presenting the material but, as evidenced by the college textbook, there is more than can be added to make it a more complete book. Understandably so, high school is different from college. Teachers have content that must be taught and a strict curriculum to follow in high school. If they use books that have too much detail, they will never be able to cover all the topics. In college, teachers can more in-depth with students and choose what is more important to cover. Still, I wish the text being analyzed provided more information. The biggest challenge I faced in reading this textbook, and it is related to the lack of details, was not understanding the content being taught. I think this ties in well with how high school students would feel when trying to read the text. It is not a hard text to read through or Schmidt 5 take notes on. However, the text provides few details, so, for first time learners of the material, or learners who need a refresher, like me, it is hard to grasp anything more than the basics without using other resources. It is understandable why Mr. Liebenthal uses the text to supplement his other materials. The lack of details in the book make it difficult to truly understand psychology and make connections to the real world. This makes it harder for high schoolers to get through the text as well as students like me. The Modified Cognitive Model does an excellent job of expanding upon the point made in the previous paragraph. My students will have a difficult time reading this text because of their lack of vocabulary recognition and background knowledge (McKenna & Stahl, 2015). These two important ideas are part of the bigger concept of language comprehension within the MCM. Without language comprehension, students will have a hard time with reading the material and understanding the concepts in the book. This is the biggest issue with this text. The lack of details make it nearly impossible to help learners dive deeper into the material. Assumptions The first assumption the text makes is that American students, who speak English, will be reading the book. There are no alternative language versions of the book offered in the classroom. The book assumes that every student will have a firm grasp on English. For ESL students, this book would be hard to follow. They would have to know the words to headings, what certain vocabulary terms mean, and what the descriptions of pictures actually mean. It would be difficult to teach the text to anyone who cannot speak or read English. This textbook does not seem to discriminate based on race or gender, or at least not in the module being analyzed. There are relatively few pictures of actual humans in the text so there are no gender or racial biases presented. There are also no socio-economic biases presented within Schmidt 6 the part of the text that was analyzed. The biggest bias was ethnicity and culture. This book is written for American students who speak English. It is not intended for students that come from different areas of the world or students who speak a language different from English. Teaching The way I would teach this text is how Mr. Liebenthal has been teaching it. It is not a text through which a teacher can use as a primary source. There is not enough information to use it to teach the entirety of the content. It is better to use this text as well as additional materials, articles, and documents to teach a thorough lesson of psychology. With this text, and many other texts, I would use the double-entry diary strategy to help teach this text. The double-entry diary strategy, as defined by Tovani on page 12, is an “access tool that students can use to hold their thinking” (Tovani, 2004). I believe this strategy would be useful for students because it would help them think beyond the definitions and basic ideas about psychology. They would be able to connect real life examples that affect their own lives to the material and explain why it is important. The class I have been working with, in particular, enjoys bringing their own lives into the lesson and relating the ideas to something that matters to them. This strategy would be easy to implement within the classroom I am working in at Thomas Jefferson. They use a Google Chromebook one-to-one program and have instant access to class materials in Google Classroom. I would put this strategy up in Google Classroom and have students go to it after I assign some reading from the analyzed text and other articles. I would model how to do it, showing the students my thought process as I read through the material. After modeling the material, I would work on one with them to see if students are understanding the material. After doing this, I would allow students to work together in groups Schmidt 7 or alone and complete the rest of the double-entry diary assignment. If this strategy worked well for the students, I would use it again. If it does not work, I would do something differently. Conclusion I generally assumed teachers choose texts based on administrators and curriculum. I did not believe they had free will to provide their own, unique materials to their students. After doing the text analysis, I better understand the process of choosing a text for classes. It has to be something that describes the correct concepts, it cannot be too difficult, it must be approved by administrators, and accessible to a diverse student body. It can extremely difficult to please all of these groups with one text and so compromises are most likely made. These compromises are made with the best intentions for students but still may be difficult for some students to comprehend. The most difficult aspect I faced as a new learned of the material was the lack of content knowledge. High school students face the same issues as they start new classes and learn new ideas. It is important to help all students comprehend the material. Relying on one book to reach all students is not enough. Multiple texts for different readers are essential for a successful classroom. Finally, after doing this text analysis, I now understand how hard it is to work with administrators on text choices while providing multiple options for students. As a future educator, I now better understand the importance of closely working with administrators decide what texts are used in my classroom. Schmidt 8 Reference Blair-Broeker, C. & Ernst, R. (2008). Thinking About Psychology: The Science of Mind and Behavior (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Worth Publishers. Cacioppo, J. & Freberg, L. (2012). Discovering Psychology: The Science of the Mind (1st ed.). Cengage. McKenna, M. C. & Stahl, K. A. D. (2015). Assessment for reading instruction (3rd ed.). New York, NY: The Guilford Press. Schmidt 9 Tovani, C. (2004). Do I Really Have to Teach Reading?. Portland, Maine: Stenhouse Publishers.