Psychology Course Descriptions

PSYCH 156 -  Introduction to Psychology-Culture and Systems

Alissa Russell - 2:00-3:15 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 exams, quizzes, discussion, projects and writing assignments. 

PSYCH 156 - Introduction to Psychology-Culture and Systems

Bettina Spencer - 12:30-1:45 TR and 2:00-3:15 TR - 3 credits

(Fulfills a legacy GenEd, the Sophia LO1:  Social Science 1, 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 156 - 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 1, 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 MW  -  3 credits

(Fulfills the Sophia Social Science II, Gen Ed requirement and 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 - 11:00-12:15 TR & 12:00-12:50 F OR 9:30-10:45 TR & 11:00-11:50 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.  Requirements:  3 exams and a case study, 4 assessments and a final in-class presentation.  Prerequisite:  Psych 156/157

PSYCH 302 -  Psychology of Adult Development and Aging

Rebecca Stoddart - 2:00-3:15 TR  -  3 credits

(Fulfills a major elective; counts towards the Gender and Women's Studies and Gerontology minors, and as the second developmental psyc course completing a Lifespan sequence)

Psyc 302 essentially "picks up" where Psyc 301-ends:  Starting with adolescence, the course examines issues and processes that influence development throughout adulthood.  We will use Erik Erikson's theory as a basis for examining each stage of adulthood, and also use contemporary theories of adult development, e.g., Arnett, Lebouf-Vieve, etc. to suppleent and critique these theories.  One focus is on gender differences both in the central issues facing adults throughout the lifespan, and in the social and cultural supports available to men and women as they address these issues.  A second focus is issues of diversity, i.e., how identity development unfolds for adolescents who are gay/lesbian; biracial youth; adolescents' growing up in poverty and in the margins of our culture.  A third focus is on contemporary research on aging, in particular on cognitive and psychosocial skills, as well as behaviors and interventions that can improve senior adults' optimal aging.  The course is taught as a seminar; as such, students should be prepared to lead and participate in discussins of readings in each class.  In addition to daily journal writing, students will write reflection papers, weekly quizzes, and 2 exams.  Pre-requisite:  PSYC 156/157

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,c, trait, biological, humanistic, behavioral, cognitive, and social-cultural theories and the research emerging from these theories. Lecture-discussion format.  Evaluation will be by means of three in-class examinations worth 100 points each as well as the opportunity for extra credit papers by means of several brief papers.    Prerequisite:  Psyc 156/157

PSYCH 324 - Statistics in Psychology

Amber Grundy - 1:00-1:50 MWF or 2:00-2:50 MWF

(Fulfills a Psychology major requirement)

This course is designed to (1) give you the ability to read and understand the results sections of a paper in a psychological journal, (2) develop your quantitative and analytical thinking skills, (3) give you the ability to determine and perform the appropriate statistical test for many basic research situations and (4) prepare you for your advanced classes in statistics.  Grades will be based on performance on exams.  Prerequisite:  Psyc 156/157

 PSYCH 339 - Physiological Psychology 

Terri Aubele-Futch - 12:30-1:45 TR - 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.  Evaluation will be based on exams, quizzes, in-class mini-experiments, and writing assignments.  Prerequisites:  Psyc 156 or 157.

PSYCH 364 - Cognitive Psychology

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

(Fulfills Psychology major category B requirement)

A survey of contemporary theories and research on the acquisition, retention, and use of knowledge as well as processes involved in thinking.  Topics include perception, attention, memory, language imagery, cognitive development, reasoning, problem solving, creativity, and intelligence with information on basic neuroscience, research methods in cognitive neuroscience, and neurocognitive disorders also being presented.  Lecture-discussion format.  Evaluation will be by means of three in-class examininations worth 100 points each as well as the opportunity for extra credit by means of several brief papers.  Prerequisite:  Psyc 156/157.

PSYCH 381 - Clinical Psychology

Catherine Pittman - 10:00-10:50 MWF  -  3 credits

(Fulfills Psychology major category A requirement)

This course is an introduction to the methods of clinical psychology.  Students will learn personal and interpersonal skills necessary to develop an effective helping relationship.  Students practice interviewing strategies, communication and listening skills, and developing a supportive, non-directive relationship.  Skills are demonsrated and evaluated through in-class videotaped interaction.  An important aspect of this course is the expectation that students will examine their own cultural identities and improve skills for interacting with those from a variety of cultural backgrounds.  Participation in community field trips is required.  The student is evaluated in terms of her performance on three essay exams, reflection papers, and journaling assignments.  Pre-requisite:  Psyc 326 or permission of instructor. 

PSYCH 437 - Psychology of Violence

Bettina Spencer - 5:00-6:15 TR  -  3 credits

(Fulfills an elective for the major)

This course will cover many aspects of the psychology of violence.  We will first examine how nd why people aggress and under which conditions aggression may be heightened or lessened.  Next, we will address the psychology of perpetrators and bystanders.  In other words, what may lead one person to help and another person to harm.  From there we will explore specific forms of violence including bullying, hate crimes based on ethnicity, gender identity, and sexual orientation, and will discuss gendered violence such as sexual assault and domestic violence.  Expanding upon domestic issues, we will next examine an international perspective of violence:  terrorism, civil wars, genocide, and political violence, specifically focusing on the role of gendered violence and rape as a tool of war.  Following these case studies, students will study the psychology of survivors and trauma before closing with research on conflict negotiations, reconciliation, and pece psychology.  Students will read classic and modern psychological journal articles, paired with memoirs and films, in order to better understand theprocesses that contribute to, or reduce, violence.  Pre-requisite:  Psyc 337 or permission.


PSYC 495 - Senior Seminar in Psychology

3 credits - Rebecca Stoddart and Catherine Pittman - (2 separate sections both meeting 11:00-12:15 TR)

(Fulfills a major requirement)

Senior Seminar is designed as a capstone experience and an opportunity for students to contribute to the discourse of psychology.  Two sections of the course are offered, focusing on either an empirical study or a comprehensive literature review.  In addition to seminar readings and discussion, students will either develop an empirical study and write a report which demonstates their ability to conduct and present research on a psychological topic of interest; or examine a topic from a psychological standpoint and write a comprehensive literture review that persuasively presents their own perspective on the topic.  Dr. Stoddart will be working with students who are interested in doing an empirical research study; students in Dr. Pittman's section will be working on a comprehensive literature review.  Successful completion of the seminar satisfies the comprehensive examination requirement for the B.A.  Pre-requisite:  Senior psychology major status, Psyc 201 + three 300 level Psyc classes (Psyc 202 required for the empirical research section).

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.