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KM psychology students profile criminals in class

Dec. 26, 2012

Vicki Kopidlansky's Psychology of Human Behavior classes recently had the opportunity to apply the communication and inferencing skills they have been developing this semester through their coursework. Students were assigned groups and researched a specific set of crimes looking to classify and determine patterns of behavior employed by a real-life criminal.

"Popular culture has brought the job of criminal profiler into my students' awareness. They have worked this semester at applying psychological principles of behavior patterns to real-world cases. This assignment affords them an opportunity to practice some of the college and career readiness skills we teach in this course," said Kopidlansky.

The multi-faceted assignment allows students to become experts on the offender that committed a specific set of crimes. Students then work in a small group to remove the offender's identity from the crimes and report out on the specifics of the offense, noting any offender behaviors that the class might be able to classify or identify patterns within.

In a large group, students ask the presentersclarification questions and point out key offender behaviors that might indicate something about the individual's education, background, or motive. As they complete the systematic process that real criminal profilers use, students use inferencing skills to form hypotheses as to how the crimes unfolded and attempt to glimpse the offender's psychological makeup.

Senior Katherine Salzer said, "Psych has really helped me develop a good understanding of how exactly it can be used to profile everyone from serial killers to people I know. There are so many cool things we do in the class like our current project where we have the chance to actually profile killers and use all the skills we have been taught so far."

"Students really enjoy this project, and it allows them to practice so many valuable skills that are used in many different courses and careers. They develop research abilities, communication and presentation skills, and significantly improve their ability to analyze human behavior," said Kopidlansky.

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Weekend Happenings

Featured this week:  

Dousman FD Pancake Breakfast: 8 a.m.-12 p.m.  Oct. 11, Dousman Fire Department, 107 S. Main, Dousman. Also includes Flight for Life at 9 a.m.; room fire demonstration (live fire) at 10 a.m.; car extrication demonstration at 11 a.m.  plus balloon creations (8-10 a.m.),  bounce house.  Waukesha County Communications (9-1-1), Waukesha County Sheriff K-9, Waukesha County Mobile Command Unit, ATF vehicle.

Pancake Breakfast Fundraiser: 7 a.m. -12 p.m. Oct. 10, Oconomowoc Volunteer Fire Department, 212 Concord Road, Oconomowoc. Free will donations appreciated. Also includes fire trucks and displays, raffles, kids activities. Proceeds go toward the purchase of new emergency equipment.

Move Your Mutt for HAWS: 7 a.m. Oct. 10, Genesee Lake Road Town Park, Genesee Lake Road, Oconomowoc. Choose the 5K and bring your pet or run the 10K without your dog. There is also a one-mile walk. Raise $100 in pledges and race for free. Food and beverages available as well as vendor booths and adoptable pets from HAWS. $25 one-mile walk, $45 for 5K, 10K.


Tyke Hike: 10 a.m. Oct. 10, Lapham Peak State Park, W 329 N 846, Delafield. Please meet at the observation tower. Look for yellow ’Ice Age Trail Event’ signs. Tyke hikes are 60- to 90-minute slow-paced hikes promoting nature and family hiking in an outdoor educational setting. 


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