Approved by Faculty Senate
University Studies Course Proposal
Department or Program: Psychology
Course Number: 210
Number of Credits: 3
Frequency of Offering: Every semester (approx. 8 sections of 80 students each)
Course Title: General Psychology
broad introduction to psychology: the science of human
behavior and mental processes, focusing on its questions, methods, research findings, theories and applications.
This is an existing course previously approved by A2C2 Yes
This is a new course proposal No
University Studies Approval is requested in The Arts and Science Core: Social Science
Department Contact: Carrie Fried, Assistant Professor
Email Address firstname.lastname@example.org
Psychology 210 General Psychology 3 s.h.
An Arts and Science Core: Social Science Course
Proposal and Rationale
A broad introduction to psychology: the science of human behavior and mental processes, focusing on its
questions, methods, research findings, theories and applications.
General Course and Proposal Information:
Psychology 210 is being proposed as an Arts and Science Core: Social Science course. The intent of P210 is to
provide students with a solid introduction to the theories, research findings, and applications of contemporary
psychology. It is designed as a prerequisite course to other classes in the Psychology department and as a stand-
alone introductory course for students who do not pursue further study or course-work in psychology. The course
is most often taught in large sections of approx. 80 students each. Sections are taught by different faculty members.
All sections cover core topics such as research methods, biological psychology, sensation & perception, consciousness,
learning and memory processes, cognition, social psychology, personality, and psychopathology. Additional specific
ontent and emphasis varies with instructor. Though all instructors do not cover all topics, they do cover core topics and
elected additional topics depending on individual interest and expertise. Thus, although each course section will have
common core elements, the sections will vary in how much each is emphasized and what additional topics or areas are covered.
Objective A: Understand humans as individuals and parts of larger social systems
Psychology, as a discipline, has as one if its primary concerns the effects of the external social, cultural, and physical environment on the behavior and internal mental states of individuals. It is one-half of the Nature-Nurture debate -- which
is one of the central themes in psychology. Though this is an overall theme relevant to many topics, the individual as part
of a larger social system would be most deeply addressed in the area of social psychology. In social psychology, we cover
a variety of topics involving how the individuals thoughts and behaviors are influenced by others. These topics include persuasion, obedience to authority, conformity, altruism, and bystander effects. Learning activities used to achieve this
objective may include lectures, class discussions, reading assignments, CD-ROM or internet based exercises & demonstrations, in class videos, and in class demonstrations and reaction papers. Objective A is also met throughout the course whenever cross-cultural differences or cultural influences come up. Cross-cultural differences and cultural influences are most often discussed in topic areas such as sensation/perception, cognitive psychology, psychopathology, and developmental.
Objective B: Understand the historical context of the social sciences
In order to truly understand the field of contemporary psychology, students are exposed to the social, cultural and historical influences that resulted in the emergence of various ideas and theoretical perspectives in psychology. Instructors most often
use lectures, reading assignments, and in-class discussions to get students to understand this issue. This objective may be
met in the following areas of the course (these are examples, not an inclusive list): 1. An examination of Psychoanalytical theories of personality and mental illness would not be possible without some reference to the historical trends (the Zeitgeist)
of 19th century Europe. This would include some reference to the history of attitudes toward and the treatment of the mentally
ill as well as attitudes towards women and sexuality. 2. The development of Behaviorism in the United States is rooted in early 20th century American optimism about the perfectibility of human beings and their capacity for change. 3. Reference to the emergence of evolutionary theory is necessary to understand such core psychological topics as learning, sensation & perception, and neuroscience. Placing these types of topics within the historical context is typically presented as a foundation for understanding the research and theory of contemporary psychology.
Objective C: Identify problems and frame research questions relating to humans and their experience
Perhaps the most common theme of General Psychology is that psychology is the science that seeks to explain and understand the human experience. Every topic in psychology is at its base an examination of how the human experience can be understood by asking the right questions . For example, the study of the brain is often accompanied by discussions or videos of individuals who have suffered some form of brain-injury. Students may be presented with questions such as: What problems did this person face after a brain-injury? What part of the brain was injured? What does this suggest about the structure and function of the brain? How could we test these theories? As another example, when covering sensation and perception, instructors often present students (through CD-ROM or internet based exercises & demonstrations, reading assignments, or in class demonstrations) with various optical illusions. Students are presented with questions such as: Why does this particular pattern of information result in an optical illusion? What is the nature of this illusion? What does the presence of this illusion tell us about how the human brain processes visual information? These kinds of exercises help students to see the human experience
as a set of processes which can be examined systematically by looking at appropriate problems and asking appropriate research questions. This objective is related to specific theoretical frameworks and research methods which are discussed in objectives D & E below.
Objective D: Become familiar with the process of theory building and theoretical frameworks used by the social sciences
Since psychology is a diverse field and there are different approaches to the understanding of human functioning there is a natural tendency to examine problems from multiple theoretical frameworks. A number of theoretical perspectives are presented in a typical general psychology course including: neurological/biological, behaviorist, psychoanalytic, socio-cultural, and cognitive theories. They are presented in different contexts as appropriate. This is most often done through lectures, class discussions, and reading assignments. Since all these theoretical frameworks play a role in contemporary approaches to understanding mental illness, that topic area would be an excellent example of how this objective is addressed in this course.
The historical development of the theory is outlined and the current status or thinking on the theory is presented and evaluated. An example might be how the 19th century medical model of "insanity" guided theory development which has evolved into modern theories on neuroscience and mental illness. This theory development produced research into drug and surgical treatments to mental illness which led to a better understanding of brain biology. Understanding mental illness through this neuroscience framework will be very different from a behaviorist or cognitive theoretical framework. Typically, in an effort to elaborate these differences we encourage students to examine how each theoretical framework would approach a specific problem. For example, how would the psychoanalyst, the behaviorist and the neuroscientist try to understand depression?
What would they see as the underlying cause? What kinds of evidence would each of them seek in order to validate their position? What type of research question might be asked to differentiate between the approaches? How would they seek to
treat depression given their theoretical framework?
Objective E: Understand the research methods used in the social sciences
The presentation of the various research methods used in psychology is almost always among the first core topics addressed in the course. The different research approaches such as experimental, observational, field, questionnaire, psychometric, and case study methods are introduced. These methods, along with the advantages, disadvantages, and limitations of each, are usually presented through lectures and reading assignments along with case examples and class discussions to illustrate these points. CD-ROM or internet based exercises & demonstrations often give students first-hand experiences in different types of research. Also, many instructors encourage general psychology students to actually participate in research projects being conducted by WSU faculty. The study of research methods does not end with one class session or lecture. Throughout the course, as specific content areas are introduced, reference is made to specific research studies, focussing on the methodologies used and the findings.
Objective F: Describe discipline specific knowledge and its applications
The nature of the course is an overview of the core topics of contemporary psychology: research methods, biological psychology, sensation & perception, consciousness, learning and memory processes, cognition, social psychology,
personality, and psychopathology. In addition to these core areas professors may cover additional material such as
mental testing, intelligence, health psychology, developmental psychology, motivation, and emotion. Lectures, class discussions, reading assignments, CD-ROM or internet based exercises & demonstrations, in class videos, in class demonstrations, reaction papers and internet assignments may all be used as learning activities to teach students this
specific knowledge. Students also make use of self-directed quizzes, assessments, and examinations to gauge their understanding of the issue. Throughout the course, applications of psychological principles are emphasized. Examples
of the application of the knowledge have been brought up in other objectives. Further examples would be such things
as the application of an understanding of concepts in the area of states of consciousness to treating sleeping disorders
or drug addiction. Students are even exposed to knowledge that has immediate application, such as when the principles
of learning and memory are used in classroom examples to facilitate and encourage more effective study habits among our students.
Objective G: Understand differences among and commonalties across humans and their
experience, as tied to such variables as
gender race, socioeconomic status, etc.
The discipline is inherently interested in the similarities and differences among people. We search for universals among
humans in such areas as brain-biology, language use and development, memory systems, sensation systems, learning processes, and the existence of basic emotions. Additionally however, we examine where groups of people differ. Gender differences are commonly discussed in areas such as mental illness (genders differ in the rates of various forms of mental
illness), perception (genders differ in, for example, rates of color-blindness), social roles, personality types, motivation, etc. Although "race" is not a central theme, it is often addressed within social psychology when discussing racial stereotypes
or in testing when discussing test bias in, for example, IQ tests. But if we understand race to include "culture", certainly
cultural differences are commonly addressed in the course. Many of these have already been mentioned in this proposal. Commonalties and differences, whether based on individuals or groups, are often points around which instructors and
students examine underlying causes of psychological phenomenon (e.g., is it nature or nurture, genes or environment, or
an interaction of both).
Note: This proposal outlines the use of various learning activities, including:
Lectures, class discussions, reading assignments,
CD-ROM or internet based exercises & demonstrations, self-directed quizzes and assessments, in class videos, in class
demonstrations, examinations, reaction papers and internet assignments. Although not all faculty use all of these learning
activities when they teach P210, each faculty member uses at least 4 different types of learning activities when they teach P210.
As required in points 3 and 4 of the approval process the following is a course
prototype for Psy 210. Since this is a course taught by a number of instructors it should be viewed
as a generic example.
This syllabus identifies the course as a USP Social Science Course, it highlights the relevant outcomes
expected of a USP Social Science course, and it identifies the topics/activities that focus on the specific
(A University Studies Program Social Science Core Course)
Professor: Dr. Exemplar
Office: Phelps 231
Office Hours: 10:00-11:30 M W F
And by appointment
Textbooks: Nairne, J. (2000). Psychology: The Adaptive Mind, (2nd ed).
The textbook comes with the "PsychNow" interactive CD-ROM.
There is also an optional Study Guide. The study guide is not
Course Objectives: to understand
- how psychologists predict and explain both normal and abnormal behavior and
- the methods psychologists use to study mental and behavioral processes.
- the technology and processes psychologists use to control or influence mental and
- why people differ in their behavior, thoughts and feelings.
The examinations in the course will cover material presented in the textbook, CD-ROM and lecture.
This is a University Studies Program Social Sciences Core Course. It satisfies 3 credits of your social
a. understand humans as individuals and parts of larger social systems
b. understand the historical context of the social sciences
c. identify problems and frame research questions relating to humans and their experience
d. become familiar with the process of theory building and theoretical frameworks used by the social sciences
e. understand the research methods used in the social sciences
f. describe discipline specific knowledge and its applications
g. understand differences among and commonalties across humans and their experience, as tied to such variables as gender race, socioeconomic status, etc.
For each topic area the salient USP outcomes addressed in that area is identified (a-g.).
Course Schedule and Topics
Date Topic Reading
8/28/00 Introduction Ch. 1
Presents an overview of the content and interests of psychology and psychologists(f.)
8/30-9/6 Research Methods Ch. 2
Different research methods, their advantages, disadvantages and limitations(e.)(d.)(f.)(g.)
9/8-9/15 Brain & Nervous System Ch. 3
Fundamentals of neural activity, brain organization and biological processes(c.)(d.)(f.)
9/18 Test 1
9/20-9/25 Sensation & Perception Ch. 5
Sensory systems, perceptual processes, constancy, illusions(d.)(f.)
9/27-10/2 Consciousness Ch. 6
Sleep, dreaming, hypnosis and altered states of consciousness (b.)(d.)(f.)(g.)
10/4 Test 2
10/6-10/16 Learning Ch. 7
Principles of conditioning, higher order learning theory and research(b.)(d.)(f.)
10/18-10/23 Memory Ch. 8
Levels of memory and factors that influence information processing and cognition(d.)(f.)
10/25 Test 3
10/27-11/1 Motivation & Emotion Ch. 11
Survival and higher order motives, eating and eating disorders, sexual behavior. Theories of emotion,
11/3-11/8 Social Psychology Ch. 13
Conformity, obedience, attitudes, stereotyping, altruistic behavior (a.)(d.)(f.)(g.)
11/13 Test 4
11/15-11/20 Personality Ch. 12
Theories of personality, psychoanalysis, cognitive, humanistic psychometric(b.)(d.)(f.)(g.)
11/27-12/4 Personality Disorders Ch. 14
Abnormal behavior, historical attitudes, syndromes, major psychoses, biological genetic and cultural
12/6-12/8 Therapy Ch. 15
Different therapeutic approaches psychological and biological. Evaluation research(b.)(d.)(f.)
12/11 Final Exam 1:00-3:00
Grading: There will be four hourly exams and the final. Each exam will cover
the content for that section including
lecture content, reading and other class assignments. The final examination will not be a comprehensive exam. Each
of the five exams (including the final) will have approximately the same weight.
In addition to the exams, grades will be based upon periodic in-class assignments.
Students may also be asked to
complete out-of-class CD-ROM and/or internet assignments. These supplementary assignments will account for
about 10% of the final grade. If an assignment is given in class, students must be present on that day in order to
receive credit. There is no provision for makeup assignments.
There are no makeup examinations. The exam schedule is tentative. Students are
responsible for being
aware of schedule changes.
If you are unable to be present for an exam, you must speak with me before the exam, if
possible. The professor
does have the option of assessing a penalty for missed exams.