Using Field Trips Live to Explore Psychology as a Career

BGL’s Field Trips Live (FTLs) are changing education for a changing world. Students now have access to the highest quality educators and experiences no matter where they are as technology lifts the limitations of physical location. FTLs are particularly well-suited for connecting students with dynamic experts in any given professional field. 

An example of this new approach in education plays out in this video. 8th grade classes at Tsai Hsing School in Taipei, Taiwan welcomed Dr. Adriana Galvan, a psychology professor from UCLA, into their classroom as a guest speaker. Suddenly the 6,774 mile distance between their campuses did not prevent them from creating a meaningful connection. This was great news considering that the subject of the the research conducted by the award-winning professor is precisely the age group of the students she conversed with over Zoom.

maxresdefault-2.jpg

Dr. Adriana Galvan at a conference speaking about the adolescent brain. Photo credit: United Way King County via YouTube.

The question-and-answer session with Dr. Galvan about her work as a research psychologist – which focuses on adolescent decision-making – spawned a fascinating dialogue between the 8th grade novices and the seasoned professional. Important for the impact of the experience, the conversation did not occur in a vacuum; rather, beforehand, the students researched adolescent decision-making and took the industry standard Flinders decision-making questionnaire. The results of the survey shed light on which which factor was most influential in the respondent’s decision-making processes: self-confidence, vigilance, panic, evasiveness or complacency.

The results were surprising for the teenage students. For example, when asked what they thought would be the most important factor for their own decision-making, the vast majority of students responded either self-confidence or vigilance:

Screen Shot 2019-02-15 at 5.09.44 PM.png

However, when they were asked specific questions about their decision-making students realized that each of these five factors played significant roles in decision-making within the class as a whole. Students were asked to reflect on why they thought the results came out the way they did and many had interesting takes on their own psychology. For example, one student who scored high on panic said that she was worried about how her decisions would affect other people. When pressed to explain it further, she discovered that it was less about how the decision would affect other people and more about how it would affect their perception of her. It’s a reasonable fear to have, especially for a teen, but one that she may not have been aware of were it not for exposing them to the field of psychology at such a relatively young age.

The talk with Dr. Galvan gave students an opportunity to gain valuable insight into the results of the Flinders questionnaire. But the floor was also open for the students to ask any question they wanted about Dr. Galvan’s work in addition to their own psychology and that of their peers. Not surprisingly, what ensued was educational gold. Here are some of the more compelling questions asked by the students:

  • Why do I think my parents know nothing about me while they think they know everything about me?
  • Why do we have emotions?
  • I think it’s quite interesting that the video used scientific researches to explain the crazy stuff that teenagers do all the time. I want to ask: if we finish our brain development at the age of 25, then why do the laws want us to take responsibility at the age of 20?
  • Why do teenagers talk on the phone so much?
  • Why don’t I like to study?
  • What is a difference between the brain of a humorous person and an un-humorous person?
  • Why do we dream?

 

Dr. Galvan’s answers were fantastic. Some of the bigger hits were the following:

  • Student: Why do teenagers laugh at things that aren’t funny?
  • Dr. Galvan [paraphrased]: People use laughter in different ways for different reasons, it’s not just when something is funny. One thing laughter is used for is to create bonds between people. So when teenagers laugh at things that aren’t funny, maybe they are doing it in order to make friends.

 

  • Student: Why am I not tired when I go to bed?
  • Dr. Galvan [paraphrased]: This is very interesting. There’s a phenomenon called “temporal separation” that we see across many different species. The adolescents of a species stay up later than children and than adults in order to potentially give them the opportunity to experiment with being the ones in charge. So, it’s like they are using the temporal separation to try out adulthood while the adults are all asleep.

 

See the conversation with one of the two classes here:

All in all, this was a fantastic example of how FTLs and can provide the very best educational opportunities to students no matter where they are in the world.

For more from Dr. Galvan, check out her UCLA faculty page and her TEDxYouth talk with over a half million hits on YouTube:

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s