UniServe Science News Volume 13 July 1999



Stephen Provost
Department of Psychology, The University of Newcastle

Psyk.trek is a multimedia product designed to complement Wayne Weiten's excellent First-year text Psychology: Themes and variations (1998, Brooks-Cole). It comes as a CD-ROM, which will run under both Windows and Macintosh OS, as long as QuickTime is installed. In general the interface seems to have been designed to look slick, but is inconsistent and confusing (not to say annoying) in a number of places.

The Interactive Learning Modules are professionally presented material corresponding roughly to the chapters of the textbook. They consist largely of good-looking drawings, animations and pictures derived from the text, and a few video clips, with soothing male and female voice-overs providing the content. The content follows the text. At the end of each section there is a review and you can do a multiple choice quiz.

The Interactive Study Guide contains a large number of review questions and allows you to randomly generate multiple choice tests. This certainly could be useful if properly used by the student, although it might depend upon how closely lecturing staff follow the text.

There are seven simulations: The Stroop Test; Hemispheric Specialisation; Poggendorff Illusion; Shaping; Memory Processes; Problem Solving; and Measuring your Creativity. Each is followed by a discussion of what your individual results might mean, which in some cases is at a level appropriate for use in laboratories. The main deficiency in these simulations is the absence of any mechanism to vary any of the experimental parameters, in order to build a serious laboratory experience around it. They are demonstrations, really, not simulations.

The Multimedia Glossary consists of a word-list and search engine, which provides a simple definition of a number of terms (but few examples), and the opportunity to hear what the word sounds like.

With a stronger emphasis on developing simulations, and some work on interface design, Psyk.trek could be a useful tool for the academic psychologist. At present, it provides a nice-looking overview of introductory psychology for the senior high-school or commencing student.

Psyk.trek is available from:
Brooks/Cole Publishing Company
511 Forest Lodge Road
Pacific Grove, CA 93950-5098, USA
Tel: (408) 373 0728

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UniServe Science News Volume 13 July 1999

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