Psychology Course Descriptions


PSYCH 156 -  Introduction to Psychology-Culture and Systems

Alissa Russell - 12:30-1:45 TR  -  3 credits

(Fulfills the Sophia Social Science I, legacy Gen Ed requirement and a Psychology major  requirement)

This course provides an introduction to psychology through a variety of perspectives.  Overall, this course seeks to enhance understanding in what we know about human thought, behavior, and growth.  A background on the research methodology will first be provided to lay the groundwork for the science underlying psychological topics.  Subsequently, we will address several topics including the brain, stress, consciousness, learning and memory, intelligence, development, personality, disorders and therapy, and social psychology.  Additionally discussed will be how culture and diversity influence human psychology.  Evaluation will be based on 3 unit exams, chapter quizzes, discussion, a paper and a final exam.


PSYCH 156 - Introduction to Psychology-Culture and Systems

William Youngs  -  11:00-12:15 MW  -  3 credits

(Fulfills the Sophia Social Science I, legacy Gen Ed requirement and a Psychology major requirement)

An introductory survey of theories, topics, and application in psychology.  Course covers a wide range of classic and contemporary topics in psychology, including research methods, brain and behavior, sensation and perception, states of consciousness, learning and memory, thinking and intelligence, life span development, personality, psychological disorders and treatment, and social psychology.  The 156 course is organized around systems of thought and social science concepts that identify biological, psychodynamic, cognitive, behavioral, and sociocultural approaches to psychological topics.  Students will recognize the impact of human diversity, and learn that psychological explanations vary across populations and contexts.  Lecture-discussion format.  Evaluation will be by means of three in-class examinations worth 100 points each as well as the opportunity of extra credit papers for an additional ten points.

PSYCH 156 - Introduction to Psychology-Culture and Systems

Bettina Spencer - 3:00-4:15 MW - 3 credits

(Fulfills a legacy GenEd, the Sophia LO1:  Social Science I, and counts as a Psyc major requirement)

This course is an introduction to the study of behavior and mental processes - basically, what makes the human creature tick.  Some of the questions psychologists try to answer are things like:  How does a person develop?  How do we learn and remember things?  How do we manage to get along with one another?  How does one person influence another?  How do we come to know who we are?  Do we act differently in groups?  When do we say a person has a behavioral disorder?  How are behaviorial and mental problems dealt with?  Are these mental problems really illnesses, and are there cures?  To answer questions like these we have to learn the language and methods of psychology - that is, the way psychologists describe things, and the way they get at answers.  Using scientific methods, psychologists search for answers that are intended to withstand the tests of skeptical scientific scrutiny.  You will soon realize however, that this course raises as many questions as it answers.

PSYCH 157 - Introduction to Psychology-Culture and Systems

Terri Aubele-Futch - 10:00-10:50 MWF & 11:00-11:50 MWF - 3 credits

(Fulfills a legacy GenEd, the Sophia LO1:  Social Science II, and counts as a Psyc major requirement)

The purpose of this course will be to provide you with a survey of concepts, principles, and theories of psychology - the empirical study of behavior and mental processes.  Topics will range among behavioral, biology, sensation and perception, learning, memory, cognition, emotion, social behavior, personality, and psychopathology.  You will learn about methods psychologists use to study human behavior, historical and contemporary research findings, and questions psychologists are interested in such as - who are we?  Why are we the way that we are?  Are we all going to turn out just like our parents, or not?  How are attitudes and preconceptions formed?  What is a psychological disorder, and how do we classify them?  Questions like these (and more) will be discussed using the language of psychology and examined through the process of the scientific method.  You will also be encouraged to think critically and skeptically not only about the course material, but about psychologically-related research, articles and claims that are seen every day in the world around us.  Evaluation will be based on exams, quizzes, in-class demonstrations and worksheets, oral presentations and writing assignments. 

PSYCH 157 - Introduction to Psychology-Science for Citizen

Rebecca Stoddart - 11:00-12:15 TR  -  3 credits

(Fulfills a legacy GenEd, the Sophia LO1:  Social Science II, and counts as a Psychology major requirement)

The purpose of this course is to introduce you to major theoretical perspectives in psychology, to their concepts and methods of studying human behavior, and to contemporary research findings.  While many people believe that psychology is primarily concerned with individuals with mental disorders, you will learn that that is only one subset of the field:  much of our focus in psychology is on understanding basic questions about people's behavior and mental processes.  How do we learn and remember things?  How and why do people grow and develop the way that they do?  How are attitudes, such as prejudice and stereotyping, formed?  How much of our behavior is due to innate predispositions we inherit from our parents (nature) vs. experiences and social influences ( nurture)?  As a result of this class, you should have a good understanding of the basic processes that underlie human thinking and behavior, be able to scrutinize the various claims and so-called facts stated in the popular culture about people's behavior, and understand the different scientific methods that psychologists use.  In this way, you will be better equipped to participate as an informed citizen in a society that grapples daily with psychological issues.  Evaluation will be based on exams, homework, mini-research projects and writing assignments.

PSYCH 301 - Developmental Psychology

Alissa Russell - 9:30-10:45 TR & 10:00-10:50 F  -  4 credits

(Fulfills Psychology major requirement)

The purpose of this course is to examine human growth and development, beginning with conception and ending with adolescence.  As such, we will focus on the theoretical and research-based underpinnings of human development.  Specifically, we will look at the physical, cultural, social, cognitive and psychological changes that manage and influence human growth.  Although we will focus primarily on children ages 0-12, we will consider processes of development from within a life-span perspective.  You will have opportunities to consider your own and others; hypotheses about development and to review research supporting or contradicting these hypotheses.  Finally, because the best way to learn about development is to spend time with children, you will also have the chance to observe and interact with children at the Early Childhood Development Center.  Evaluation will be based on:  3 exams and a case study, 4 assessments and a final exam.  Prerequisite:  Psych 156/157

PSYCH 305 -  Lifespan Developmental Psychology

Rebecca Stoddart - 3:00-4:14 MW  -  3 credits

(Fulfills a major elective)

The goal of a course in lifespan developmental psychology is a lofty one:  to introduce you to the changes that take place from birth to death in our development as people, and to understand the factors that influence our development as unique individuals.  In order to explain the continuities as well as discontinuities in human development across the lifespan in a coherent manner, we will focus on the three primary domains of development:  physical development (primarily neurological, but also physical/motor growth); cognitive development (including thought, language & memory); and psychosocial development (personality and social/emotional behavior).  We will use developmental theories as well as the ecological systems model (more on that later) to explore the contributions of nature - biological heredity & process -- as well as nurture - the multiple forces in our physical, cultural and social world -- that influence development.  Lifespan development researchers come from a variety of disciplines and often ask applied questions, and we will examine and discuss these, and the implications of developmental research findings for a variety of important social issues.

As an online class, you will be required to check in daily on a computer (your own or the college's )to read and complete assignments; participate in online discussions; participate in our weely "live" (via the Blackboard Collaborate function) class meetings; submit journals and essay portions of your exams; and take and upload tests.  You will also complete a "life review" interview of an older adult (age 60+ years) by the end of the course, and post it along with feedback to your fellow classmates regarding their life reviews.

Pre-requisite:  PSYC 156/157


PSYCH 305 - Lifespan Developmental Psychology

Alissa Russell - 3:30-4:45 TR  -  3 credits

(Fulfills a major elective)

The purpose of this course is to examine growth and change that occurs throughout the entire lifespan - from conception to death.  We will consider several different influences on human development (e.g., environmental, cultural, and genetic influences) and will explore many domains of development, includng physiological, social, cognitive, and emotional development.  Students will be asked to think critically about research and theory in lifespan development.  As part of the course, students will have the opportunity to conduct a structured interview with an older adult, which will be used to reflect on many themes of development covered throughout the course.  Evaluation will be based on:  3 exams, a structured interview assignment and a paper, class activity assignments, and a final exam.

PSYCH 323 - Psychology of Personality

William Youngs - 3:00-4:15 MW

(Fulfills Psychology major requirement)

Discussion of major contemporary theories of personality, including the psychdynamic, trait, biological, humanistic, behavioral, cognitive, and social-cultural theories and the research emerging from these theories. Lecture-discussion.  Evaluation will be by means of three in-class examinations worth 100 points each as well as the opportunity fof extra credit papers for an additional ten points. Prerequisite:  Psyc 156/157

PSYCH 325 - Research Methods in Psychology - 4 credits

Karen Chambers - 9:00-9:50 MWF & 10:00-10:50 F or 11:00-11:50 MWF & 12:00-12:50 F

(Fulfills a Psychology major requirement)

This course is intended to give students an understanding of the process of the science of psychology.  At the end of the course students are required to be able to: (1) read and evaluate studies in the psychological literature; (2) design a study to test a research hypothesis; (3) analyze the results of an experiment using computer statistical packages; (4) present a research project as both a paper and conference style presentation.  Evaluation is based on quizzes, homework, one exam, written and oral reports of research projects.  Prerequisite:  Psyc156/157 and Psyc 324

PSYCH 326 - Abnormal Psychology

Catherine Pittman  -  11:00-12:15 TR or 3:30-4:45 TR  -  3 credits

(Fulfills Psychology major requirement)

An introduction to major questions, issues, perspectives and findings in contemporary abnormal psychology.  Topics include the biological, psychoanalytic, behavioral, cognitive, and sociocultural perspectives, with a focus on the dynamic interplay between neurological, psychological, and social factors involved in understanding psychological disorders and their treatment.  All major disorders in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual will be addressed, with clinical material presented via videotape.  Evaluation will be based on homework, exams, and an oral presentation.  Prerequisite:  Psyc 156/157

PSYCH 337 - Social Psychology

Bettina Spencer  -  11:00-12:15 MW or 4:30-5:45 MW

(Fulfills Psychology major requirement)

In this coure we will examine the way we interact with the world around us, and how social forces can shape the way we think and feel about ourselves and others.  Using classic and modern research articles we will discuss how our self-perceptions, attitudes, and impressions are affected by society; how and why we stereotype others; the phenomena of conformity, obedience, and groupthink; what situations lead us to help or hurt others; what attracts us to others; and finally, how we are influenced by our culture and the media.  Evaluation is based on participation and written work.  Prerequisite:  Psyc 156/157

 PSYCH 339 - Physiological Psychology 

Terri Aubele-Futch - 9:30-10:45 TR, Lab 2:00-2:50 W - 3 credits

(Fulfills Psychology major requirement)

  This course serves as an introduction to the biological basis of behavior - that is, the intersection between the nervous system and psychology.  This course provides an in-depth examination of neuroanatomy (the structure of the brain, spinal cord, and peripheral nerves), neurophysiology (the structure and function of neurons), and the essentials of neurochemistry and neuropharmacology (that is, the chemical messengers of the nervous system - neurotransmitters - and the ways in which they can be manipulated or changed via administration of drugs or toxins).  This course is meant to provide you with a "systems" approach to brain function and to help you understand the ways in which the nervous system produces behavior and thought, and how it allows us to interact with our environment.  This means that we will explore the above concepts by looking at ways in which particular parts of the nervous system come together to form discrete functional groups, such as our sensory systems, our movement systems, and our memory systems.  We will also examine the physiological basis of behavior disorders, development of the nervous system, and neuropolasticity.  Weekly labs will be used for mini-experiments or to evaluate literature in neuroscience topics.  Evaluation will be based on exams, quizzes, article discussions, experimental worksheets, and writing assignments.  Prerequisites:  Psyc 156 or 157.


PSYCH 386 - Practicum in Clinical & Community Psychology

Catherine Pittman - 7:00-9:30 M  -  3 credits

(Fulfills Psychology major elective)

A clinical psychology externship experience.  A student is given the opportunity to provide supportive services in a community agency.  Students are provided with supervision by a professional in the community, as well as by the instructor.  The student keeps a learning journal, and is expected to discuss her experience during class meeting times.  The student is graded on her performance in the externship, her learning journal, and her preparation and presentation of an educational lecture on a psychological topic such as communication skills, assertiveness training, or problem solving.  Prerequisite:  Psyc 381 


Psyc 497 Independent Study in Psychology - 1 to 3 credits

Each professor will be assigned a section of this course.

Intensive and critical reading culminating in a paper in an area that supplements regular course offerings. Prerequisites: Psyc 156, submission of an acceptable proposal prior to registration, and permission of the instructor.


** note Special Topics courses are offered based on interests of students and faculty on an occassional basis; offerings change based on interest. Special topics course descriptions can be obtained from the Psychology Department if they are not found here.