Basketball...and rats?

Jazmyne Boozer, Staff Writer

Photo Courtesy Of Jazmyne Boozer  Rats Matilda and Eva battle it out on the court.

Photo Courtesy Of Jazmyne Boozer

Rats Matilda and Eva battle it out on the court.

The division champs are battling out their grudge match. Suddenly the creature makes a bold move, he steals the ball from his four-legged friend and expertly drops it in the basketball hoop for a tasty treat. That's right, we're talking about rat b-ball. For years rats have been used to test out behavioral theories, and in NGU's psychology of learning class, the students got to test their theories out. 

April 20 marked the big night for these furry rats. For a full semester these rats had undergone vigorous training outside of class to face off against each other for basketball supremacy.  This battle royale was part of psychology of learning; a course that teaches about behavioral changes and learning through reinforcements. Through positive reinforcements, these creatures were able to learn how to play basketball against each other for the benefit of treats. The chamber, or court is equipped with a feeding area, or magazine to reward the rats for successfully putting a ball in the hoop.  

There were amusing parts like when Matilda, a timid rat, shied away from her competitor Eva. 

"It's been really rewarding. It's a really good way to learn about the concepts. We learn about it in the textbooks but to put it in action with the rats is really cool" Kayla Kirkland, a student in psychology of learning stated concerning her rat, Matilda.  

For the championship, the fan favorite Labronica faced off against the mighty underdog Daisy. With a name like Labronica it's no wonder that this feisty female won the whole thing.  

"We put in a lot of extra time. We came outside of class to work with her, " the champions, Kaitlyn Robinson and Rose McKinely, said after their victory. 

Psychology of learning is offered every semester under the direction of Lorene Hutchinson, professor of psychology at NGU. It is a "flipped class" in that most of what you learn is outside of the classroom. In-class activities include bonding with your rat and applying reinforcement strategies to teach your rat how to play basketball. In order to take this class, one must have a pre-requisite of general psychology. All majors are welcome. 

"[My] field is very person based. Learning how to use things, positive things...will be helpful when you are building relationships and building community," Bae Bennet said regarding his outdoor leadership major.  

"It is definitely good for all majors to understand people. I don't know if there is really any major that could not benefit from this course," Hutchinson stated.