Blue, Red – Psychology

Mr. Brandon Fenner

The aims of this class are threefold:

1.To introduce the students to core psychological topics and theories in order to expand
the students’ understanding and to enrich their lives by interacting with the class material
in a creative and experiential manner.

2. To enhance their critical thinking skills and academic capabilities through lectures, in-
class activities, student presentations, and student research assignments in order to
prepare the students for college-level coursework.

3. To prepare the students to take either the AP Psychology exam or the Introduction to
Psychology CLEP test so as to earn college credit for this course if so desired.

Required Resources:
Introduction to Psychology: Gateways to Mind and Behavior 13th Edition
ISBN-13: 978-1-111-83363-3

Grading Scale:
A = 90-100 Very Good/Excellent
B = 80-89 Good
C = 70-79 Acceptable
D = 60-69 Needs Improvement
F = 0-59 Does Not Meet Minimum Requirements

Grading Breakdown:
10% In-Class Participation
15% HW Reading
15% HW Assignments
20% Exams
-10% Midterm (Due: December 14 th )
-10% Final Exam (Due: April 12 th )
40% Major Projects
-10% Social Science Research Project (Due: December 7 th )
-15% Research Thesis Paper (Due: April 5 th )
-15% Mental Illness Presentation (Due: May 24 th or May 31 st )

Assignment Descriptions:
In-Class Participation:
At the end of each session, each student shall receive a grade for their in-class participation for
that specific session. This grade reflects the students’ involvement in class discussions and
activities as well as their behavior and attitude towards their fellow classmates and the
instructor. Persistent tardiness, absences, or other similar circumstances will also be noted. At

his own prerogative, the instructor may warn students, either during or after class, before
making note of such behaviors. When given in-class participation grades at the end of each
session, a short description will also be given to explain why the specific grade was assigned.

HW Reading:
Every week, a reading selection from our textbook will be assigned. (You can check the class
schedule to see what each weekly reading assignment is. Changes or additions to the class
schedule will be announced in class and the course syllabus will be subsequently updated.) The
honor system will be used for the students’ self-reporting of their reading. Remember that one’s
character is far more valuable and important than a grade for an assignment or for a class.
Please note that completing a weekly reading assignment late will result in a 25% reduction in
grade for each class period it is late: if you read a previously unread or partially read
assignment, please inform the instructor if you should receive an increase in your grade for that
reading assignment. And, remember, a 75% or a 50% is significantly better than a 0%.

100% – Read completely prior to the start of the assigned class
50% – Read the majority of the reading selection prior to the start of the assigned class
0% – Did not read or read a minority of the reading selection prior to the start of the class
-25% – For each class period the reading was completed late, reduce the grade by 25%

Reading Grade Examples:
Read the reading selection completely but two class periods late: 100% – (25% x 2) = 50%
Read the majority of the reading selection but one class period late: 50% – 25% = 25%

HW Assignments:
Listed below are the homework assignments expected to be completed: changes or additions to
these homework assignments will be announced in class and the course syllabus will be
subsequently updated. More details will be given when the homework assignment is discussed
in class in advance of the due date (usually one week but possibly two weeks before it is due.)
Because of the nature of the homework assignments, MLA format should be utilized instead of
APA format: major projects, however, must be in APA format.

Homework Assignment 1: Your Perception of Psychology: Before and After
In this assignment, you will answer the following questions in a reflective paper about your
perception of psychology at the very start of the class. This reflective paper should be at least
three pages in length but should not exceed five pages. At the end of the class, you will go
through your previous answers and reflections and note where your perceptions have changed
and reflect on what you have learned in this class about psychology and how it relates to your
life. Utilize the following questions as a part of your reflection:
1) What do you think of when you think of the word psychology?
2) What do you know of major psychological theorists and what they theorized? What is
your opinion, if you have any, on their theories?
3) What do you think present-day psychologists do for their careers?
4) What roles does the field of psychology play in contemporary life?
5) Is human behavior determined biologically (Nature) or environmentally (Nurture)?
6) Is perception reality?
7) Are humans primarily rational or irrational in their thinking? Logical or intuitive?
8) What is your perspective on the treatment of psychological disorders—namely, therapy
and medicine?

Homework Assignment 2: Major Theorist Comparison
In this assignment, you will summarize the viewpoints of two different major theorists of your
own choosing, compare and contrast those viewpoints, and then share how each viewpoint has
impacted present-day psychology. This assignment should be at least three pages in length with
the comparing and contrasting representing at least one and a half pages. While the assignment
should be written in MLA format, cite any sources you use in APA format. Cite at least one
unique source per major theorist and a total of at least three sources in total. In class, you will
give a brief summary of your thoughts and conclusions to the rest of the class.

Homework Assignment 3: Parental Interview
In this assignment, interview your parent, or a parental figure, concerning your own personal
development. Ask questions about the following topics (sample questions are shown):
1) Motor Development: At what age did I crawl? What about walking? When did I begin to
master fine motor skills? What challenges did I face and overcome in my motor
2) Language Development: What was my first word? When did I begin speaking in full
sentences? What challenges did I face and overcome in my language development?
3) Social Development: Did I deal with separation anxiety as a toddler? When did I first
show signs of empathy (being able to understand things from someone else’s
perspective)? What challenges did I face and overcome in my social development?
4) Cognitive Development: When did I begin reading? When did I begin to understand
rational principles like the conservation of mass or volume? How did the process of
developing critical thinking go for me? What challenges did I face and overcome in my
cognitive development?
5) Moral Development: How concerned about justice was I as a child? As a child, what
were my primary motivations in moral decisions as you perceived? What challenges did I
face and overcome in my moral development?

After interviewing your parent about these developmental topics, write a two-page reflective
paper—summarizing their answers about each element of development and reflecting on your
own personal development. What you choose to share about your own personal development is
entirely up to you: you are not obligated or required to share anything you do not want to with
the instructor or the rest of the class.

Homework Assignment 4: Optical Illusion Design Creation
In this assignment, you are to create some sort of optical illusion that tricks or confuses the mind
because of how human perception works (different types of illusions or principles of human
perception can be found in the textbook.) Do not just copy an already existing optical illusion
(however, you can utilize an existing optical illusion as the basis for yours. In class, you will
present your optical illusion and explain what principle of human perception it tricks or confuses.
This assignment is largely graded on creativity shown and the amount of effort put into the work.
Remember that exactly copying an already existing optical illusion is a form of plagiarism.

Future Homework Assignments:
Included above was every homework assignment that is due during the first session. The
course syllabus will be updated when additional homework assignments are finalized. Students
should expect that there will be approximately six additional homework assignments—usually
every two to three class periods, which will be a mixture of academic, creative, and experiential.

Both exams will consist of multiple-choice questions modeled after the AP Psychology exam as
well as a randomly chosen long essay question from a selection of three long essay questions
that are provided ahead of time. By default, the exams are not curved. However, the instructor
reserves the right to curve the exams on his own prerogative. Reasons the instructor may
choose to curve a test may be as a reward to the class for excellent behavior or for their hard
work or if the test was more difficult than expected and the instructor deems it desirable to curve
the grade so that the students’ grades more accurately reflect their comprehension of the
material. When an exam is curved, the student with the highest grade is given a 100%. Then,
the difference between that original grade and a 100% is applied to each other students’ tests.
In order to better prepare the students for either the AP Psychology exam or the Introduction to
Psychology CLEP test that are cumulative in nature, the final exam of this class will also be
cumulative (i.e. the final exam covers the class material that is taught both before and after the
midterm.) More details on these exams, including any study guide and the three possible long
essay questions, will be given out two class periods in advance of the exams.

Major Projects:
Details concerning the major projects, such as instructions and the rubric for grading, will be
given out at least a month in advance of the due date for each major project.

Social Science Research Project: (Due December 7 th )
In this assignment, students will conduct a social science research project in small groups. Each
group will research a psychological topic of their research through one of the following methods:
an experiment, an observational study, a correlational study, or a survey study. Students will, as
a group, come up with a hypothesis and propose the parameters of the research project that will
test their hypothesis—ensuring they are accounting for biases, minimizing outside variables,
following appropriate ethical guidelines, and are conducting this social science research project
in a professional manner. After approval of the parameters of the research project, the students
will conduct this research project. Then, after conducting this research project, they will compile
their data, evaluate their hypothesis, and present their findings in class on December 7 th in a
short presentation and in a paper that is to be modeled after actual research papers. On
September 14 th , groups will be determined and more details concerning the research project will
be given, including the grading rubric.

Research Paper: (Rough Draft Due = March 15 th ; Final Draft Due = Due April 5 th )
In this assignment, students will write a 6-8 page thesis paper on a topic of their own
choosing that covers any psychological topic (parental approval is required for the topics of
gender identity or sexuality: please take note of the ‘Note to Parents’ appendix found below.)
The paper should have a clear thesis statement and should be defended point by point with
counterarguments explained and handled when appropriate. The paper should contain six to ten
academic and/or reliable sources (at least four of which should be sources from an academic
journal concerning psychology.) The formatting and the citation work should be in APA format.
More details, including the rubric, will be given January 11 th . Students are encouraged not to
stress out about this research paper: The instructor will help the students along with this
research process. On March 15 th , the students have the option of submitting a rough draft of
their research paper. Then, the following class period, the rough draft will be handed back to the
student with suggestions for improvement and an approximate grade. Handing in this rough
draft is not required (it does not affect your grade in any way) but is highly suggested.
Regardless, the final draft of the research paper is due April 5 th —both a physical copy should be
handed in as well as an email submission with the research paper as an attachment. Please

note that this physical copy of your final draft will be what is evaluated for your grade for this

Psychological Disorder Presentation: (Due May 24 th or May 31 st )
In this assignment, each student will give a 20 minute presentation about a psychological
disorder found in the DSM-V as if representing an organization that is dedicated to bringing
awareness to the disorder, educating the masses on the disorder, and raising funds for further
research into treating the disorder. This presentation should include an overview of the
psychological disorder’s signs and symptoms, possible causes and risk factors, treatment
options and suggested therapies, and any other relevant information. It should also include a
brief activity or creative work to help the audience better understand or experience the
psychological disorder, attractive-looking visuals, and an educational handout. Finally, it will end
with a brief question and answer time. The actual presentation should be approximately 15-18
minutes long while the question and answer time should be 2-5 minutes long. More details,
including a rubric, will be given at least one month before the presentations are scheduled to
take place. No two students will be allowed to present on the same psychological disorder:
picking a psychological disorder shall be first come, first serve. Sign-ups for both the desired
presentation day (May 24 th or May 31 st ) and for the desired psychological disorder shall begin on
March 8th. If a student feels very strongly about presenting a specific psychological disorder,
please inform the instructor prior to March 8 th and shall see about ensuring you are able to cover
that specific psychological disorder. Final approval from the instructor is required for any
psychological disorder chosen: (psychological disorders concerning sexuality will not be
approved for this assignment: please take note of the ‘Note to Parents” appendix found below.)

Absences and Late Work:
As long as the absence was unavoidable (such as because of an illness or a family emergency)
or was forewarned (whether in a prior class or in an email prior to the start of the class that will
be missed), the student will not receive any penalty to their in-class participation grade. Reading
assignments will also not be considered late if completed on time (and are properly reported in
advance in the case of being forewarned.) Homework assignments and other projects should be
submitted online prior to the start of class when absent on the day they are assigned in order for
them not to be considered late. By default, late homework assignments and major projects are
reduced by 25% for each class period late: the instructor reserves the right to alter the reduction
for late work in favor of the student based on his own prerogative due to the reason for the late
work. However, this would be the exception, not the rule.

Extra Credit and Resubmissions:
By default, no extra credit is given in this class. At his own prerogative, the instructor may offer
extra credit in-class activities or extra credit exam questions. When extra credit is offered, all
students present are offered the opportunity of extra credit on the same basis. By default, there
are no resubmissions of homework assignments or major projects. If a resubmission for extra
credit is offered, it will be offered to all students on the same basis. It is unnecessary to ask the
instructor for extra credit or for a resubmission: if the instructor intends to offer either extra credit
or a resubmission opportunity, he will do so without the need for a request to be made.
Meanwhile, if the instructor does not intend to offer either extra credit or a resubmission
opportunity, asking for one will not increase the chances of one being offered.

Plagiarism and Cheating:
In this class, plagiarism and cheating will not be tolerated—while plagiarism may seem
innocent, it is often a crime and an offense that could get you fired in one’s career when one is
an adult. Cheating also shows a lack of character and is unfair to the instructor, the fellow

students, and yourself. Intentional plagiarism and cheating (such as copying someone’s work as
your own or bringing answers into an exam or looking at a fellow student’s exam while in an
exam) will result in a zero percent for whatever homework assignment, major project, or exam
that is in question. In addition, the director of ODE and your parents will also be informed.
Cases of unintentional plagiarism and cheating (such as improper citation work or incorrect use
of paraphrase or not following exam instructions in an unintentional manner) will result in a
grade reduction as assigned by the instructor: the size of the reduction is left to the instructor’s
discretion and will be based on the severity of the plagiarism or cheating in question.

Class Schedule

Session I:

Week 1. August 31 st Introduction to Class/Psychology
Week 2. September 7 th Introduction to Psychology
 Read pages 13-34
 Perception of Psychology HW Assignment Due
Week 3. September 14 th Research Methods
 Read pages 35-46, 663-642
Week 4. September 21 st Brain and Behavior
 Read pages 51-79
 Major Theorist Comparison HW Assignment Due
Week 5. September 28 th Human Development (Part 1)
 Read pages 83-100, 117-119
Week 6. October 5 th Human Development (Part 2)
 Read pages 101-116
Week 7. October 12 th Sensation and Perception
 Read pages 125-162
 Parental Interview HW Assignment Due
Week 8. October 19 th States of Consciousness
 Read pages 167-200
 Optical Illusion HW Assignment Due

NO ODE on October 26 th for Session I Break

Session II:

Week 1. November 2 nd Conditioning and Learning

 Read pages 205-236
Week 2. November 9 th Memory
 Read pages 241-270

Week 3. November 16 th Cognition, Language, and Creativity
 Read pages 275-299

NO ODE on November 23 rd for Thanksgiving Break

Week 4. November 30 th Intelligence
 Read pages 303-326
Week 5. December 7 th Research Project Presentations
 Research Project Due
Week 6. December 14 th Midterm
 Study for Midterm

NO ODE on December 21 st , 28 th , and January 4 th for Christmas Break

Week 7. January 11 th APA Research Paper Instructions
Week 8. January 18 th Motivation and Emotion
 Read pages 331-364

NO ODE on January 25 th for Session II Break

Session III:

Week 1. February 1 st Personality
 Read pages 403-436
Week 2. February 8 th Health, Stress, and Coping
 Read pages 441-471
Week 3. February 15 th Psychological Disorders (Part 1)
 Read pages 475-482, 492-494, 505-507
 Read Mood Disorder and Suicide Handout
Week 4. February 22 nd Psychological Disorders (Part 2)
 Read pages 495-504
 Read Anxiety, Stress, Dissociative, and Somatoform Disorders Handout
Week 5. March 1 st Psychological Disorders (Part 3)
 Read pages 482-491, 502-504
 Read Schizophrenia and Personality Disorder Handout
Week 6. March 8 th Therapies
 Read pages 511-542
Week 7. March 15 th Social Thinking and Social Influence
 Read pages 547-571
 Research Paper Rough Draft Due

Week 8. March 22 nd Prosocial and Antisocial Behavior
 Read pages 575-599

NO ODE on March 29 th for Session III Break

Session IV:

Week 1. April 5 th Applied Psychology
 Read pages 603-628
 Research Paper Final Draft Due
Week 2. April 12 th Final Exam
 Study for Final Exam

NO ODE on April 19 th for Easter Break

Week 3. April 26 th Topics in Psychology
Week 4. May 3 rd Topics in Psychology
Week 5. May 10 th Topics in Psychology
Week 6. May 17 th Topics in Psychology
Week 7. May 24 th Mental Illness Presentations
 Mental Illness Presentations Due
Week 8. May 31 st Mental Illness Presentations
 Mental Illness Presentations Due

Note to Parents:

The community at ODE is a diverse one, and with ODE’s primary goal being to come alongside the
parents in partnership to provide community, enrichment, and educational opportunities for their
children, I am overjoyed to be able to teach your child psychology at a college level while also preparing
them to take either the AP Psychology exam or the Introduction to Psychology CLEP test! With that said,
it goes without saying that certain topics within the field of psychology are more controversial than
others or may not be deemed as appropriate to teach or discuss in a high school setting—namely gender
identity and sexuality. As such, as the instructor, I have made the decision that we will not be covering
these topics in class. The students will not be assigned to read the chapter entitled “Sex, Gender, and
Sexuality” nor will any lecture discuss the topics of gender identity and sexuality. Furthermore,
questions on gender identity and sexuality will be redirected towards you, the parent. As such, you, as
the parent, will decide what to teach and discuss with your child concerning these topics: (if you do
decide to go through the chapter entitled “Sex, Gender, and Sexuality” with your child, I strongly suggest
you read the chapter in its entirety prior to your child reading it.) In addition, topics within other
chapters that directly deal with these controversial or age-inappropriate subjects, such as the sexuality-
related psychological disorders, will also not be discussed. As for how this will impact your child’s
preparation for either the AP Psychology exam or the Introduction to Psychology CLEP test, I would not
be concerned: gender identity and sexuality are not topics that these exams focus on. At most, I would
expect just a single question on these subjects to be included, if even that. For students that want to
know more about the topics of gender identity or sexuality, they will still be allowed to choose such a
topic for their research paper: however, this requires your explicit approval as their parent. Without
your direct approval of their research paper topic and thesis, they will not be allowed to choose that
topic or thesis for their research paper. Since the research papers are not shared or read among the
students as a part of this class, whether or not a fellow student chooses, with their parent’s permission,
to research one of these topics will not impact the other students in what they are taught or are
otherwise exposed to in this class. Other than cases of a parent-approved research paper, no other
major project or homework assignment will feature anything concerning gender identity or sexuality. If
you have any questions or concerns about any aspect of this class, please email me at or share them in person at the Parent-Teacher Meet and Greet that will
tentatively be held on September 21 st from 3:00-4:00 pm. I am eager to work alongside you in educating
your child about the amazing field of psychology!

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