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ECC Social Psychology final projects are compelling

Social Psychology final

Dalani McKibben of Iowa Falls was on the team of eight that invoked chocolate and Lion King imagery and wrote an original poem about the impact of Valentine’s Social Psychology class.

Anyone who’s ever been a student has surely wondered on more than one occasion how/why/where/when they would possibly ever need or want to know what the instructor was teaching on that day. Students in Ellsworth Community College Associate Professor Wendy Valentine’s Introduction to Social Psychology class not only understand the concepts, but they put them into action this week when their final project was to “persuade the instructor to give them a good grade!”

“This is an unusually large class (32 students), but it’s a wonderful and crazily diverse group,” says Valentine. “They’ve done many papers and projects this semester, so for the final I thought it was time to have a little fun, but still require them to demonstrate an understanding of key concepts. In persuading me to give them a good grade, individually or in groups, I urged them to be creative using advertising, photos or drawings, flashy letters, videos or whatever. They are judged on their creative effort and the application of what they’ve learned.”

The students were required to demonstrate their knowledge of central and peripheral route persuasion tactics (likeability, exposure, similarity, reciprocity, vividness, humor, etc.) and write a two-page summary of the tactics used to persuade. The seven groups and one individual composed a poem, played the theme song from “The Lion King,” produced a video about their limitless likeability, used sign language (the instructor has a family member who is hearing-impaired), and brought a cake in hopes of influencing their instructor and classmates.

Many of the students also shared personal information designed to garner Ms. Valentine’s support, sympathy, respect, and a host of other emotional responses:

  • One student had perfect attendance and has already accumulated more than 100% of the point possible by doing extra credit assignments
  • One student needs to secure a 2.5 grade point average (GPA) to qualify for a transfer scholarship to play sports at the next level and earn a bachelor’s degree
  • One student is a mother of five who holds down two jobs in addition to being a full-time student
  • One student is the first in his family to attend college, and the first to graduate high school with no felony convictions on his record
  • One student is a recovering meth addict struggling daily to make good choices and eventually become a mental health counselor
  • One student is a military veteran
  • One student dropped sports participation in 6th grade to care for a younger autistic brother at home and was unable to resume participation until his senior year in high school, when his father was released from prison
  • One student will graduate later this week with a perfect 4.0 GPA
  • One 18-year-old student has bipolar disorder and has been under treatment for depression since age 14

One group even gave the instructor “coupons” to be redeemed for killing spiders in her home, cleaning toilets, and giving hugs … now that’s persuasion!

“The final project presentations were very unexpected, but amazing in their creativity and sincerity,” says Valentine. “This, in a nutshell, is what I love about teaching!”

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