Save Your Seat for the Flipped Classroom Online Workshop NOW!

AP Psychology Resources for Unit 1 Scientific Foundations

Oct 14, 2019

Psychology is such a unique subject that makes for an incredibly unique course for students today.  So unique that no certification in any of the "core" subjects (you know, math, english, social studies, and, yes, even integrated science) prepares teachers to teach.

But that's not necessarily bad, it just means we need a little more assistance and support when we go to teach this course.  Not that we don't need that support in other, less unique courses (I'm thinking like an American History, which I taught for a couple years), but for unique courses like psychology (and human geography, for instance), the extra support makes a world of difference as we try to learn the content as we teach it.

As I wrote about in a previous post, my hope is to give you that support through quality, effective resources, and possibly even coaching.

But let's take it one unit at a time.  And, let's start with the first unit... Scientific Foundations.  I will provide you AP psychology activities and resources in hopes that you get to focus your time elsewhere in being effective with your students - you are the number one influence on their learning after all.  So let's get to it.

Unit 1: Scientific Foundations

As the first unit in the course, this one is both a solid and BORING start to the course... unless you are a history, numbers, or research nerd :).  Welcome to the club.

Whether you lecture everyday, flip your classroom, or are completely inquiry-based, you'll want to set up the solid foundation that is this unit for your students.  That foundation is two parts... the "perspectives," as I (and many others) call them, and research.


The "perspectives" are like schools of thought that have either existed previously in the psychological field of work, or are still relevant today in the study and treatment of mental health and behavior.

Students will need to know the basic understandings of these perspectives and their main thought leaders or contributors.  For the basic understandings of the perspectives, I emphasize and help students identify "buzz words" that indicate each perspective, let's say, in a test question.  Help them identify the words that are huge indicators of the perspective they reference.  For instance, "learning" is THE buzz word of the behavior perspective.  Likewise "thinking" and any synonym for the word are all buzz words for the cognitive perspective.  Help students see those within test questions.


This one is HUGE!  And by huge I mean that this will be the first, but certainly NOT the last time you hammer in research.  You should be pointing out research and basic research concepts in every unit.  Yes, every unit.

The three huge topics that I focus on for this ginormous concept are these:

  1. Intro to Research - this is where I focus on correlational studies (A LOT), and diving into the differences in each of the research methods.
  2. Experiments - where we focus on components of research, what makes it different, and techniques for identifying components of research on a test.
  3. Statistics - this one is a beast because it's the most math you'll do in a social science course!  But it really can be fun.  The biggest tip I have is to simplify, simplify, simplify.  And, rest in the knowledge that students don't need to calculate anything (ok, maybe mean.  They should know how to get to an average in a simple set of numbers), they just need to understand it all conceptually.

Resources & Support

I want to help you hit the ground running with scientific foundation resources, and AP psychology activities that will resonate with your students and help you focus on building relationships, rather than building slides and activities.  Check out each of my resources, each linked to my store and where you can find them, below.

Teacher/Lecture SLIDES!  Phew, yaaaaaas!  What would normally take you an INSANE amount of hours to produce.  Rest in having these at your fingertips (make sure to check out some speaker notes I include here and there ahead of time).  My goal in making these slides available to you is so that concepts are clearly conveyed and students feel pretty solid in their understanding because of the simplicity of the slides.

Also see the STUDENT notes (like guided notes) that accompany those slides.  They include images that are also in the slides so that students can see on paper exactly what they are learning about up on the screen in your classroom.  I give them space to think and ponder - the goal being that each page is FULL of their thoughts.  And that really should be your measure of quality note taking.  And, yes, I think that should some how be accounted for in a student's grade or formative check in working toward the test.  I explain more in my AP Psych Teacher Membership.

Now, depending on what textbook you use, I hope you can use these Reading Guides.  They correspond with Myer's Psychology for AP 1st edition.  I am working on getting updated versions of the textbook, but until then, I do include a Google Doc version on these slides linked in the PDF so that you can edit the page numbers as necessary.

But you'll need some AP Psychology activities to really back up what you are teaching through lecture and direct instruction, as well as what students are learning from their reading.  I give you... Scientific foundations activities.

In the Research "stations" I give multiple activities that can either be printed or assigned digitally, all with the goal of having students practice with correlations, research principles, and vocabulary.


In the Experiment activities (or stations... depending on how you want to work those in your classroom), I offer up multiple chances for students to, again, practice their knowledge and vocabulary pertaining to experimental concepts.  They'll work with confounding variables, and practice identifying experimental concepts in certain scenarios including independent variable, dependent variable, and both experimental and control groups.

Lastly, we have Statistics Stations.  These can all work as separate activities throughout a unit, but I do them in one day and have student rotate through.  You can print these or assign digitally.  Each station (actually all but one) includes a quick video I've created to guide students through one particularly tricky concept, then they work with what they learned.

Although this doesn't comprise a complete unit plan (although I do provide that in my monthly AP Psychology Teachers Membership), I hope it is a great place to start for you and your classroom.  I hope that you are able to not worry about the basic materials, which then gives you time to focus on building relationships with students and helping them better understand the material at hand.

Be sure to give me a follow on Instagram where you'll find some teacher and psychology specific inspiration, as well as follow my Teachers Pay Teachers store so you know when I post new materials.

I hope you are having a fantastic year with your students where you find your efforts effective, and your time used wisely so that you can have balance both professionally and personally.

All my best,




50% Complete

Two Step

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua.