Welcome to the home page of Dr. Mark A. Casteel
Associate Professor of Psychology, Penn State York

Here are two photos me, the first at the 25 mile point of the Quebec marathon last summer and the second at the finish line of the Boston marathon this past April (April 16, 2007). My time at Boston was the fastest of my six marathons (3 hours, 18 minutes, 44 seconds), pretty amazing considering that this was the weekend of the famous April noreaster!! My goal is to break 3:15 and hopefully 3:10. I'm running the New York City marathons this coming fall so cheer me on! Don't be surprised if you see me training on the streets of York during the coming months.

This is the home page of Dr. Mark A. Casteel, Associate Professor of Psychology at Penn State York. I have been at Penn State York since August 1988 - in fact, I graduated with my doctorate on a Saturday from the University of Nebraska and flew to York to start classes on the following Wednesday. Nothing like cutting it close! I grew up in Iowa, went to grad school in Nebraska, and have been on the east coast ever since.

In the space below, I've provided links to a variety of sources of information - my educational background, the courses I teach, as well as a brief synopsis of my professional and personal interests. As you can see in the picture, I am an avid runner, and run many races throughout the year. It's one way to stay both mentally and physically sharp!

I hope you enjoy your visit to my site and find it useful. If you are a prospective student, I look forward to having you in class!


1982 B.A. in Psychology and BioSocial Science, Coe College , Cedar Rapids, IA. A great small liberal arts college of about 1100 students.

1985 M.A. in Developmental Psychology, The University of Nebraska at Omaha. , Omaha, NE. This is the sister campus of the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, located in the heart of downtown Omaha.

1988 Ph.D. in Experimental Child Psychology, The University of Nebraska, Lincoln, NE. You've heard of the Nebraska Cornhuskers, haven't you??

Courses Taught

The following courses are ones that I routinely teach. In addition, I teach honors courses and special topics courses from time to time.

Introduction to Psychology, PSY 002

This course provides a broad overview of the field of psychology. One of the main themes throughout the course is the notion that psychology is a science, and the students are exposed early on to what this means. The topics that are covered include the following: History of Psychology, Research Methods & Statistics, the Biology of Behavior, Sensation, Variations in Consciousness, Learning & Conditioning, Memory, Human Development, Intelligence & Testing, Personality, Abnormal Behavior, and Social Behavior. The course is taught using lecture, discussion, demonstrations, and a class Web project. Grades are based on five exams, attendance, participation, and the project.

PSYCH 100 Course Syllabus - Click here if you would like to browse through the fall 2007 syllabus.

Extra Credit Web Sites - Click here for the link to the extra credit web links

Introduction to Developmental Psychology, PSYCH 212

This course explores the principles of human development from conception through adolescence. It is a good course for students going into Education, Human Development, or just anyone wanting to learn more about the social, emotional, cognitive, and personality development of children. The course requirements include six exams, a major project, attendance, and participation.

PSYCH 212 Course Syllabus - Click here if you would like to browse through the spring 2007 syllabus.

Introduction to Cognitive Psychology, PSYCH 256

This course deals with the experimental investigation of human cognition. Each of the following topics is explored in-depth: Sensory Memory, Attention, Pattern Recognition, Short-term Memory, Working Memory, Episodic Long-term Memory, Semantic Long-term Memory, Language Comprehension, Reading, Decision-making, and Problem-solving. This is a unique course because students (working in small groups) actually conduct their own research project for the course. The results of the projects are presented to the campus community during the yearly Cognitive Psychology Research Fair. Every student in this course gets a first hand look at how to actually conduct research in cognitive psychology.

PSYCH 256 Course Syllabus - Click here for a pdf file of the fall 2006 course syllabus.

Social and Personality Development, PSY 424

This course is a senior-level course taught every other spring. It will next be offered in the spring of 2004. This course is taught in a seminar style format. There are weekly reading assignments, and teams of students are responsible for leading discussion each week. In the past, there have been no exams in this course. Although subject to change, grades have been based on discussion leadership, discussion participation, and a major research paper.

Psy 423 Course Syllabus - Click here for a pdf file of the spring 2006 course syllabus

Recent Scholarship

Casteel, M. A. (in revision). The Influence of Working Memory Span and a Textbase Emphasis on the Activation of Predictive Inferences.

Casteel, M. A. (2007). Contextual Support and Predictive Inferences: What do Readers Generate and Keep Available for Use? Discourse Processes, 44, 51-72.

Casteel, M. A., & Bridges, K. R. (2007). Goodbye lecture: A student-led seminar approach to teaching upper division courses. Teaching of Psychology, 34, 107-110.

Casteel, M. A. (2003). Teaching Students to Evaluate Web Information as They Learn About Psychological Disorders. Teaching of Psychology, 30, 258-260

Casteel, M. A. (2001). Book  review.  [Review of the book Developmental spans in event comprehension and representation: Bridging fictional and actual events.  van den Broek, P., Bauer, P., & and Bourg, T. (Eds.)]. Journal of Pragmatics, 33,  617-627.

Casteel, M. A. (1997). Resolving interpretive ambiguity in text: Children’s generation of multiple interpretations. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 64, 396-424.

Casteel, M. A. (1993). Effects of inference necessity and reading goal on children's inferential generation. Developmental Psychology, 29, 346-357.

On-Line Psychology Experiments

Psychology Experiments on the Internet- Do you want to participate in an on-line psychology study? This site has links to many different experiments.

Psychological Research on the Net - Here is another large connection of links to on-line psychology experiments housed at the Psychology Department of Hanover College.

Tips on How to Evaluate the Quality of Web Sites

The quality of information available on the Internet ranges widely. Some of the information is very good and some is pure garbage. As a result, the savvy student must learn how to evaluate the quality of different Web sites. Below is a check sheet to help you evaluate the quality of different sorts of Internet resources. There is no one surefire method to evaluate the overall quality of a Web site, but sites that address most of the issues outlined below are probably a better bet than sites that leave many of these issues unanswered.

Internet Evaluation Criteria

Source & Authority Issues

Objectivity Issues Accuracy & Validity of Information Issues
Helpful Web Evaluation Links

In addition to this check sheet, I've provided links below to a few  different sources that I have found helpful. There are many more resources available on the Web, but I've found these to be quite good.

Everything you Need to Find on the Web from A to Z: T is for Thinking , John Henderson, Ithaca College.

Evaluating Internet Research Sources , Robert Harris, Southern California College.

Tips for Avoiding Plagiarism

Below I have listed some excellent resources to help students avoid plagiarism in this and other courses. First, here is a link to Penn State's statement on plagiarism and academic dishonesty. This site does a nice job of explaining plagiarism and provides good tips to avoid it. Another site is provided by Paul C. Smith, an Assistant Professor at Alverno College in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He has put together a great web page to help students avoid committing plagiarism.  He has an extensive discussion of the various types of plagiarism, including numerous examples, and I urge all of my students to visit his site. You might be surprised to find that what you thought was acceptable writing practice is in fact plagiarism. Finally, Ruter's University has created a funny video that helps to teach students about how to avoid plagiarsm. The one thing to always keep in mind is this simple little thing -- If you are ever in doubt of whether or not you are committing plagiarism, always ask your instructor before you turn in a paper!

Research Interests

My research focus is on the cognitive processes involved in reading comprehension. For the past few years, I have been examining both bridging inferences (inferences required for comprehension) and predictive inferences (optional, elaborative inferences), attempting to determine the textual situations that govern if (and when) they are generated by a reader. In other words, the burning question has been this: What determines when and if a reader goes beyond the explicit text and infers information (based on both general world knowledge as well as clues in the text) that was not specifically mentioned? A second related question is that if inferences ARE generated by a reader, when are they generated - during the actual reading of the text, or only when they are needed, such as when a question is asked? My most recent research has focused on (1) whether a reader's working memory span influences the generation of inferences, and (2) whether predictive inferences can be stored in the long-term memory representation for a story.

My Hobbies and Interests

As I mentioned earlier, I am an avid runner, so in the afternoon you will usually find me out running the streets of York near the campus. Many weekends (even in the winter!) I will run races ranging from 5 miles to a full marathon (26.2 miles). I've run four marathons to date, and hope to run the Hartford, CT marathon in October. If you are a runner, please feel free to talk to me sometime after class and maybe we can get together some afternoon for a run. I enjoy running with students.

I'm also a diehard fan of the University of Iowa Hawkeyes. I grew up only 25 miles away from the U. of I, and you can't live in eastern Iowa without being a Hawkeye fan. I'm holding out high hopes for the 2006 football year. Go you Hawks!!

In my free time that remains, I enjoy visiting brewpubs (I love trying new craft-brewed beers), seeing a good movie, and reading mystery novels (some favorite authors are Michael Connelly, Ridley Pearson, Jonathan Kellerman, James W. Hall, Carl Hiassen, and Joe Gores).
Last Updated on August 6, 2007 by Mark Casteel