Social Studies Selection


Incoming juniors have one of the hardest scheduling choices to make: AP World History or AP Psychology. Some decide to clear their schedule to take both, and some have to choose one or the other. I will be interviewing a student that has taken each class, as well as the teachers for each class, in order to give incoming juniors a better understanding of what class might be best for them.

Here is the interview I had with AP World History teacher Mrs. Blackwell and the current student of the class, junior Audra Bergman.
Overview of this class.
Mrs. Blackwell: AP World History is a class that studies the story of globalization from all parts of the world. The content starts around the year 1200 and continues to the present day.
Bergman: In AP World History, we learn about different moments throughout history that play an important role in society
Is this class lecture, book, video, or project based?
Mrs. Blackwell: In any given class, there is usually a combination of around three of the four types of learning.
Bergman: The class is mostly group work and packet work with occasional projects and games.
What is the workload of this class like?
Mrs. Blackwell: I feel like the workload is pretty average. Students should expect around three weekly homework assignments that take between ten and twenty minutes each. I try to get students to work hard in class so that there is minimal homework.
Bergman: The workload isn’t too bad, but be prepared for homework some nights and studying for tests.
What is your favorite unit from this class?
Mrs. Blackwell: Either the study of industrialization or the world wars.
Bergman: Probably the industrial revolution.
What is the best project/assignment, in your opinion?
Mrs. Blackwell: After the AP exam, the class watches a Bollywood movie, and students find it very interesting to tie class concepts into the movie.
Bergman: My favorite project was making a document-based question poster with other classmates.
On a scale of one to ten, how difficult is this class? Why?
Mrs. Blackwell: I feel like the class is about an eight because there is a lot of information, and sometimes it can be hard to grasp everything.
Bergman: I would give it a five because the work is very manageable, but there is a lot of information.
What type of student do you have to be to thrive in this class?
Mrs. Blackwell: You have to be a student who has an open mind and is willing to learn new things, as well as one who is willing to put in the work to succeed.
Bergman: Any student can complete this class, but they have to be motivated to do the work.
What is one negative thing about this class?
Mrs. Blackwell: The way the units are laid out. Sometimes major events happen simultaneously in different countries, so it can get a little messy.
Bergman: A negative is that there is a lot of reading in the class.
What is the frequency for quizzes and tests, and what have you found is most effective for preparing for them?
Mrs. Blackwell: There is at least one test for each of the nine units, and sometimes quizzes if a certain topic needs one. The most effective way to prepare is to make sure to stay up to date on all of the class materials.
Bergman: We usually just have one test per unit. The best way to do well is to study and pay close attention to details in class.

Here is the interview I had with AP Psychology teacher Ms. Hart, and former student of the class, Senior Abby Samson.

Overview of this class.
Ms. Hart: This class is about understanding how the brain works, how that impacts our decisions, and how we can connect concepts to the real world. I love to say ‘psychology is everywhere’ because, in this class, we explore all aspects of psychology in everyday life.
Samson: There is a ton of material covered in this course, but I would say we cover all kinds of psychological material like learning methods, clinical psychology, and classical and operant conditioning. We learn about the parts of the brain, ears, and eyes, we learn about memory, perception and depth, and so much more.
Is this class lecture, book, video, or project based?
Ms. Hart: I try to include a bit of everything. I only lecture when necessary, the books are used to help with worksheets, I incorporate videos into lessons to help students connect concepts to other people’s lives, and I use projects to help students connect with their own lives.
Samson: I would say all of the above! Ms. Hart gave lectures pretty much every day, but we also did book work, watched videos, and did really cool projects.
What is the workload of this class like?
Ms. Hart: There is homework, but not an overwhelming amount. There are also big study guides for each unit.
Samson: The workload is not bad at all- just make sure to do your study guides on time or else you will be scrambling to get it done. They’re pretty hefty!
What is your favorite unit from this class?
Ms. Hart: My favorite unit is the personality unit because it allows students to explore what makes them who they are and how their personalities are formed.
Samson: My favorite unit from AP Psych would probably be a tie between the clinical psych unit and the classical/operant conditioning unit. I also really liked learning about the ethics behind psychological experiments.
What is the best project/assignment in your opinion?
Ms. Hart: This year, I am introducing a sock baby project, where students get a “baby” (which is actually a sock with stuffing) and get to decorate and care for it.
Samson: One of my favorite assignments we did in class was (attempting to) interpret our dreams. It was pretty interesting to somewhat put together why I was dreaming about those things. Also, we got to build a lego and then have a partner try to perfectly replicate it using instructions you wrote. It got intense and was super fun.
On a scale of one to ten, how difficult is this class? Why?
Ms. Hart: Because this is an AP class, I give it a seven, but if students work hard and make sure they understand the material then it will be even easier.
Samson: I would rate this class a 5 or 6. I personally really enjoy psychology and was genuinely interested in what I was learning, so that probably helped. Some units are harder than others, but overall it’s really not bad.
What type of student do you have to be to thrive in this class?
Ms. Hart: The most successful student in this class is one who is willing to work hard both in and out of class, and willing to make and learn from mistakes. Even if a student has never taken an AP before, they will do well if they do the work.
Samson: I think all types of students could thrive in this class because there is something for everyone! There’s a lot of note taking, group work, individual work, projects (both group and individual), and interactive activities. I would say the main thing is to have a solid time management system!
What is one negative thing about this class?
Ms. Hart: Most students will say the study guides because they are really long and take several hours. I personally don’t mind them and think they are very helpful.
Samson: The only negative thing about this class that I can really think of is that liking each unit is a real hit or miss. There were some units that I absolutely loved, but my friends hated, and vice versa.
What is the frequency for quizzes and tests, and what have you found is most effective for preparing for them?
Ms. Hart: Quizzes are rare in this class but there are a few and there is a test for each of the fourteen units.
Samson: I would say there is a test about once a month, sometimes a little over and sometimes a little under. Quizzes are less common though. I would say the biggest thing that helped me study for tests was doing the reading guide! I can’t stress enough how much it really helps. Also, Quizlet will be your best friend. Between my flashcards and reading guides, I was in good shape for the assessments.

Hopefully this article will help make the tough decision a little easier for the scheduling process.