Social Psychology Network

Maintained by Scott Plous, Wesleyan University

2006 Action Teaching Award Recipients

SPN Action Teaching Award    In 2006, the Social Psychology Network Action Teaching Award was won by Lori Rosenthal of Emerson College for her entry "Research for Community Action."

For details on the winning entry as well as other excellent entries that received Honorable Mention, please see below. Instructors are welcome to use or adapt these teaching ideas for their own classes, provided the use is noncommercial and appropriate credit is given to the individuals below. To see other award-winning entries, please use the pulldown menu below.

Winning Entry
Title: Research for Community Action
Submitted by: Lori Rosenthal (Emerson College)
Category: Student assignment, field experience
For students/learners in: Graduate school, college, high school
Objective(s): To teach students about research methodology through research projects that make an important difference to the local community


In this field experience, students learned about research methods by becoming principal investigators in service learning projects. For example, they designed and tested a social marketing campaign to get campus hall diners to make healthier food choices, and they helped a local library investigate why non-users weren't using the library (and what programs might attract non-users). Through these action projects, students made a difference in their community while developing an appreciation for the value of research.

Honorable Mention
Title: The "O" Train: Teaching the Power of Ostracism
Submitted by: Lisa Zadro (University of Sydney, Australia)
Kipling Williams (Purdue University)
Category: Classroom activity
For students/learners in: Graduate school, college, high school, work settings
Objective(s): To show students the powerful consequences of ostracism firsthand using an engaging, validated teaching tool: the "O" train


The "O" train is a role-playing exercise in which students are either the target or source of ostracism during a five-minute simulated train ride (the "O" stands for ostracism). To create a mock train in the classroom, instructors arrange several rows of chairs with three seats per row. Within each row, students holding an S-ticket ("sources" of ostracism) ignore and exclude a student holding a T-ticket (the "target" of ostracism) who sits in the center seat between the S-ticket holders. By showing students how powerful ostracism can become after only a few minutes, the demonstration naturally leads to a discussion of how ostracism might be reduced in society.

Honorable Mention
Title: Teaching Persuasion Through Fundraising
Submitted by: Debra Mashek (Harvey Mudd College)
Category: Classroom activity, field experience
For students/learners in: College, high school
Objective(s): To teach students about the effectiveness of persuasion strategies while helping victims of a major natural disaster


In this activity, students compared the effectiveness of several persuasion techniques as they raised funds for victims of Hurricane Katrina. After a brief training session on how to employ the foot-in-the-door technique, the door-in-the-face technique, and other persuasion techniques, students were given Red Cross donation cans, a data collection sheet, and an area of campus to canvass. By the end of the class session, students had not only learned about persuasion strategies through a hands-on experience -- they had collected behavioral data for later analysis and raised $600 for disaster relief.

Return to Top

©1996-2017, S. Plous