AP Psychology

ADVANCED PLACEMENT PSYCHOLOGY

Mr. Andrew Nelson (email: anelson@woodscharter.org)                      2016-2017

 

 

 

Course Syllabus

            The purpose of Advanced Placement Psychology is to introduce you to the systematic and scientific study of the behavior and mental processes of human beings.  Students will be exposed to the psychological facts, principles, and phenomena associated with each of the major subfields within psychology.  You will also learn about the ethics and methods psychologists use in their science and practice.

            The course is broken down into 14 units that the Development Committee of the College Board feels reflects the content of a typical college course curriculum.  The goal is to increase your understanding of the field, its methods, theory, and research, with the objective that each of you passes the AP Psychology examination at the conclusion of the course.

            This course will provide you with an experience equivalent to that obtained in an undergraduate introductory psychology course.  In doing so, you will complete material most colleges require for taking upper level courses in psychology.

            The AP Psychology examination will be administered on Monday, May 1st 2015 during the afternoon session.  It schedules a 70-minute multiple choice section that accounts for two-thirds of the student’s exam grade, and a 50-minute free response section made up of two questions, which account for the remaining one-third of the student’s grade.

 

 

Text: Myers, David G. Psychology for AP* (1st ed). New York: Worth Publishers, 2011.

 

Ancillary/Supplementary Materials:

 

            Halonen, Jane & Gray, Cynthia. The Critical Thinking Companion for Introductory Psychology (2nd ed.). New York: Worth Publishers, 2001.

            Straub, Richard O. Study Guide to accompany Myers’ Exploring Psychology, Eighth Edition. New York: Worth Publishers, 2007.

            Hock, Roger R. Forty Studies that Changed Psychology (6th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson/Prentice Hall, 2009.

           

 

 

Organizations:

 

-          American Psychological Association (APA): www.apa.org

Website of “the largest scientific and professional organization representing psychology in the U.S.”.  Site provides links to journals, publications, specialty divisions, and more.

-          American Psychological Society (APS): www.psychologicalscience.org

Website of “the leading national organization dedicated solely to the science of psychology,” with useful publications and links.

 

 

 

Learning Outcomes: Students will be able to…

1.    Describe and apply psychology’s concepts, language, and theories, understand its theoretical perspectives, empirical findings, and historical trends.

2.    Differentiate research methods, evaluate the aptness of research conclusions, design and conduct basic studies, and generalize research conclusions appropriately.

3.    Use and engage in critical thinking skills, use reasoning in arguments and persuasion, and approach problems with sophistication.

4.    Identify psychology’s major applications, articulate how it can be used toward social understanding and public policy, and recognize the ethical complexities of applying psychology.

5.    Understand the need for ethical behavior, tolerance of ambiguity, demonstration of skepticism and intellectual curiosity, attunements to scientific evidence, civic responsibility, and respect for human diversity.

6.    Demonstrate effective writing, interpersonal and oral communication skills, showing quantitative literacy and collaborating effectively with others.

7.    Show sensitivity to and respect for diversity, consider and explain the role of cultural, racial, ethnic, and economic factors, and of privilege and discrimination, in people’s behavior.  By learning that aspects of human behavior and thinking are based on quality research designs, students will become discerning about how their actions affect others, how the actions of others affect them, and how groups and cultures interact.

8.    Apply psychology to personal development, to self-regulate, and to display personal integrity.

9.    Apply psychological principles to career decision-making, aim for feasible career paths, value life-long learning and ongoing professional development.

10. Demonstrate competent, ethical, and responsible use of information in academic work.

 

 

Course Outline:

      The following is a description of the major content areas covered by the AP Psychology exam, the textbook chapters where the material can be found, and the approximate percentages of the multiple choice exam questions that are devoted to each area.

 

I.                   History and Approaches………………………………………………………..............2-4%

A.    Logic, Philosophy, and History of Science

B.     Approaches

1.      Biological

2.      Behavioral

3.      Cognitive

4.      Humanistic

5.      Psychodynamic

6.      Sociocultural

7.      Evolutionary                                             Unit 1, Handouts

 

II.                Research Methods……………………………………………………………….....8-10%

A.    Experimental, Correlational, and Clinical Research

B.     Statistics

1.      Descriptive

2.      Inferential

C.     Ethics in Research                                               Unit 2, handouts

 

III.             Biological Bases of Behavior…………………………………………………………………8-10%

A.    Physiological Techniques (e.g. imaging, surgical)

B.     Neuroanatomy

C.     Functional Organization of Nervous System

D.    Neural Transmission

E.     Endocrine System

F.      Genetics

G.    Evolutionary Psychology                                        Unit 3, handouts

 

IV.             Sensation and Perception…………………………………………………6-8%

A.     Thresholds and Signal Detection Theory

B.     Sensory Mechanisms

C.     Attention

D.     Perceptual Processes                                 Unit 4, supp. readings

 

V.                States of Consciousness…………………………………………………..2-4%

A.    Sleep and Dreaming

B.    Hypnosis

C.    Psychoactive Drug Effects                                     Unit 5, handouts

 

VI.             Learning…………………………………………………………………..7-9%

A.    Classical Conditioning

B.    Operant Conditioning

C.    Cognitive Processes in Learning

D.    Biological Factors

E.     Social Learning                                                   Unit 6, handouts

 

VII.          Cognition………………………………………………………………...8-10%

A.    Memory

B.    Language

C.    Thinking

D.    Problem Solving and Creativity          Unit 7, supp. readings and handouts

 

VIII.       Motivation and Emotion…………………………………………………..6-8%

A.    Biological Basis

B.     Theories of Motivation

C.     Hunger, Thirst, Sex and Pain

D.    Social Motives

E.     Theories of Emotion

F.      Stress                                            Unit 8, supp. readings and handouts

 

IX.             Developmental Psychology……………………………………………….7-9%

A.    Life-Span Approach

B.     Research Methods (e.g. longitudinal, cross-sectional)

C.     Heredity-Environmental Issues

D.    Developmental Theories

E.     Dimensions of Development

1.      Physical

2.      Cognitive

3.      Social

4.      Moral

F.      Sex & Gender Roles                         Unit 9, supp. readings and handouts

 

X.                Personality…………………………………………………………………………….….5-7%

A.    Personality Theories and Approaches

B.     Assessment Techniques

C.     Growth and Adjustment                 Unit 10, supp. readings and handouts

 

XI.             Testing and Individual Differences…………………………………………...5-7%

A.    Standardization and Norms

B.     Reliability and Validity

C.     Types of Tests

D.    Ethics and Standards in Testing

E.     Intelligence                                      Unit 11, supp. readings & handouts

 

XII.          Abnormal Psychology………………………………………………………………….7-9%

A.    Definitions of Abnormality

B.     Theories of Psychopathology

C.     Diagnosis of Psychopathology

D.    Types of Disorders

1.      Anxiety

2.      Somatoform

3.      Mood

4.      Schizophrenic

5.      Personality

6.      Dissociative                       Unit 12, supp. readings and handouts

 

XIII.       Treatment of Psychological Disorders……………………………………5-7%

A.    Treatment Approaches

1.      Psychodynamic

2.      Humanistic

3.      Behavioral

4.      Cognitive

5.      Biological

B.     Modes of Therapy (e.g. individual, group)

C.     Community and Preventive Approaches                  Unit 13 & handouts

 

XIV.       Social Psychology………………………………………………………...7-9%

A.    Group Dynamics

B.     Attribution Process

C.     Interpersonal Perception

D.    Conformity, Compliance, Obedience

E.     Attitudes and Attitude Change

F.      Organizational Behavior

G.    Aggression / Antisocial Behavior

H.    Cultural Influences                         Unit 14, supp. readings and handouts

 

 

 

Learning / Teaching Strategies:

 

Lecture                                                         Discussion

Debates                                                        Networking Assignments

Interviews                                                     Demonstrations

Note-taking                                                    Field Work

Video Modules*                                               Psychodramas

Journal Entries                                                Journal Articles / other readings

Guest Speakers                                              Active Learning Projects

 

            *Among the modules used are the Annenberg CPB collections Discovering Psychology, The World of Abnormal Psychology, and The Brain teaching modules.

 

Evaluation:

 

1.    Chapter tests (typically 50 multiple choice, possibly a few short answers, and always one free-response question) will be weighted 40% of the trimester grade.  Tests will become cumulative as the year progresses.

2.    Class Work: including frequent quizzes and assignments, participation in classroom activities, and attendance will make up 30% of the trimester grade.

3.    Home Work: unit journal entries, research assignments and other projects will comprise the remaining 30%.

4.    The Mid-term exam will be modeled after the AP exam (100 multiple choice, 2 free response), and will count 10% of the final grade.  The final exam is a year-end project of your design and will count for 15% of the final grade.

 

Because this is an advanced placement course, you may find it more difficult to earn top grades in the class.  In general, students will find the course more difficult at first and will do better as the year progresses.  Setting a high standard has several tangible benefits.  You will learn a great deal about psychology, you will be better prepared for college work, and you will be prepared to excel on the AP Psychology exam.

 

 

Academic Responsibility:

 

            All students are expected to abide by ethical standards in preparing and presenting material, which demonstrates their own level of knowledge.  Such standards are founded on the basic concepts of honesty and integrity.  We all want to do well and avoid poor grades.  A higher goal, however, is to do so honestly and be worthy of the grade that we receive.  Academic honesty is its own reward.  It makes us feel whole and full of integrity.  Any type of academic dishonesty diminishes us and makes us less than what we are.  This should be a special consideration if we are tempted to ask others to collaborate in dishonest behavior.  Academic dishonesty in an advanced placement course is particularly useless since it will not improve your AP exam grade at all.  Any students found engaged in any form of academic dishonesty will be reported and appropriate disciplinary action will be taken.

 

 

 

Classroom Expectations, Standards, and Practices:

 

1.    You are expected to be in class on-time every day.  There have been found strong correlations between class attendance, achievement in the course, and success on the advanced placement exam.

2.    Care for your textbook! Our books are new and very expensive.  Have your book with you in class unless instructed otherwise.

3.    You will need to acquire a two-inch three-ring binder with a set of dividers to keep supplementary materials, handouts, assignments, study guide exercises, class notes from lectures, discussions, demonstrations, videotapes and readings.  Take notes in your own words and date them.  Review your class notes each day while they are fresh in your mind.  Leave some blank space on each page to make additions and clarifications.

4.    Handouts are distributed regularly at the beginning of each class to facilitate an understanding of the material being discussed that day, and to supplement the text.  Be sure to pick them up (or have a friend do it for you if absent) as you enter the room, read over them, and then file them away in a safe and appropriate place.

5.    You will be given a preliminary reading schedule for the entire year at the beginning of the course.  Most assignments (reading and writing) as well as testing dates are announced well in advance.  To maximize learning and retention it is necessary that you come to class daily having read the assigned material.  Short quizzes (recognition-type) on the previous night’s reading are given regularly as a progress check.  These quizzes will be administered once at the beginning of the period only and may not be made up.

6.    Home assignments (reading and writing) are given not only to enhance understanding of the material, but also to promote class discussion.  Written assignments, especially journal assignments, that are submitted late will result in a significant reduction of grade (up to a full letter grade for each day).  Unit tests must be made up the day you return to class following an absence (at a mutually convenient time, not during the class period).

7.    If extenuating circumstances arise please speak with me regarding upcoming or late work and we can devise a plan for getting work completed.  Don’t just expect me to take work at any time and receive credit.  I need to know what is going on.

8.    If you miss a class for any reason, it is your responsibility to find out what material was covered that day and to make up any work the day you return.  You are asked to email me in advance if you know that you will miss school.  Anyone who is absent from school without a valid excuse forfeits the right to make-up work, including unit tests.  Being absent on the day an assignment is due is not, in itself, a legitimate excuse for not having it done since you know well in advance what is expected of you.  Always communicate with me so that I can make sure that you know what you missed.

9.    Since it is necessary to follow a strict time schedule in order to complete each chapter of the Myers text, to have class time for active learning strategies, and to review for the May exam, you (the student) must assume the primary responsibility for mastering the material in your textbook.

10. You are going to be asked to demonstrate your ability to apply many of the concepts learned in the course to your life throughout the year.  Journal entries will be assigned sporadically to help you to see these concepts can be applied and used in real life.

11. There are a variety of recent secondary and college-level textbooks written by leading psychologists from across the country.  I will have a selection of these available in the classroom which you can feel free to borrow at any time with my permission.  Since a standardized lexicon in psychology has not been fully developed, different authors may use different terminology to convey the same or similar concepts.  The more you become acquainted with how different authors discuss the same topics, the better prepared you will be to excel on the AP exam.

12. Preview each reading assignment before you begin and review the material frequently.  Do not hesitate to reread a particularly difficult paragraph.  Pause at the end of each paragraph and summarize it mentally in your own words.  (Recitation has been shown to be one of the most effective maintenance rehearsal strategies).  Pay attention to the vocabulary words and quotes in the margins, picture captions, diagrams, tables, sidebars, the critical thinking questions and chapter summaries.  These often contain important information.  While not required (unless otherwise stated) outlining chapters can be very helpful and can earn you additional credit on chapter tests.

13. As a junior or senior you will be facing many competing and conflicting demands on your time and energy this academic year.  It is up to you to manage your obligations in a mature and responsible manner, and your ability to do so will have an impact on your performance in school.  The key to success is to plan carefully to meet all of your obligations.  If you are having a problem, feel free to ask me for help in solving it.

14. Most of the desired outcomes of the course fall within the cognitive domain.  It is expected, however, that you will acquire certain competencies in the affective domain as well.  What you actually derive from AP Psychology will be a function of our combined efforts.  I commit to you now at the outset my best effort and trust that I can expect the same from you.

 

 

 Course Rational:

 

      Before you devote yourself to any task – particularly a demanding task – you need to ask, “Why am I doing this?” “Why is this worth my effort and my commitment?”  In the case of the AP Psychology course, the answers to those questions should be clear and powerful.  They relate to the most interesting, exciting, and complex of all things worth knowing: the human being itself.

      What impels us to act?  How does memory work? What happens when someone is ‘mentally ill’? How can he or she be helped back to health?  How do humans develop cognitively and emotionally?  How are fears created?  How was my self-concept developed?  What is the interplay between thought and behavior?  Does my brain control me, or do I control it?  How much of ‘me’ was determined genetically at birth, and how much was acquired by experience and learning?  Do I have freedom and control of my behavior, or does my psyche control me?  How much am I in charge of my life?  These and many other fascinating questions will frame the subject matter of this course.

      The AP Psychology program is intended to provide the scope and level of academic accomplishment expected in a college introductory course in psychology.  This we will accomplish, along with the acquisition of a substantive amount of knowledge, skills, and attitudes to apply to our own lives.  We will also plan to enjoy this learning experience. 

      Please understand from the outset one fact of paramount importance: the least important person in this course is the instructor.  Acting as a college student, you are expected to charge ahead on your own, to seek, inquire, find, and internalize knowledge on your own – in short, to be the main agent in your educational process.

      The instructor’s job is to facilitate your drive and your accomplishment by structuring learning situations and selecting learning tools that will help you attain your goals: passing the AP exam, enriching your life by the acquisition of psychological knowledge, and enjoying the course of study.

      In the end, you will have acquired the most fundamental, important, and useful of all kinds of knowledge – knowledge about yourself and other human beings.  Regardless of what your future life and career choices are, your psychological knowledge will help you to be a more effective and fulfilled human being – on the job, with your loved ones, in social situations, or in the quiet satisfaction of just being yourself.  Welcome to the study of human behavior!