Psy 002, Introductory Psychology, Fall 1998

Instructor: Dr. Mark Casteel, Associate Professor
Office: Computer/Bookstore Building, Room 210, phone 771-4028
Office Hours: Monday & Wednesday, 1:30-3:30 (other times by appointment)
E-mail address:
Required Book: Psychology: Themes & Variations, Briefer Version (3rd ed.), by Wayne Weiten
Optional Book: Textbook Study Guide, by Wasden & Stalling (highly recommended!)

Course Goals and General Comments

My goals for this course are pretty straightforward. First, I want to provide you a broad overview of the field of psychology. Although some of you may have a sense of what psychology is all about, many people mistakenly think that all psychologists do is "help people," either through therapy or counseling. While it is true that therapy and counseling are part of psychology, there really is much more to it. To put it simply, psychologists study behavior, at all possible levels of analysis. This means that we'll be discussing issues that deal with culture, social class, biology, and gender. You'll probably be surprised at how vast the field of psychology really is.

Second, I want you to understand that psychology is a research science, and to understand what this means. In other words, I want you to begin to understand why psychology is more than just "common sense" or "folk wisdom."

Finally, I hope that you will find some part or parts of this course relevant to your own lives. I can't promise that you'll gain any great insights, but at least you'll be armed with more knowledge about psychology than when you started. Additionally, if it turns out that a few of you actually get excited about this field and want to pursue it in more depth, then that's an added bonus!

I would also like to point out that because our in-class time is limited, it will be impossible for me to cover all of the information in each chapter. Therefore, it is CRITICAL that everyone stay current with the reading assignments. As noted in the Course Outline on the last page, I expect everyone to have read the assignments prior to the scheduled class meeting.

Specific Course Objectives

In addition to the general goals above, I have a number of specific objectives that I would like every student to master by the completion of the course:
- To understand the various issues that are investigated by psychologists
- To become knowledgeable about the major theoretical perspectives in psychology
- To understand that opposing views in psychological research represent a strength, rather than a weakness of the  field
- To learn the various types of research methods that psychologists use
- To learn and become comfortable with the use of psychological terminology
- To become more critical consumers of psychological information reported in the media


Your final grade in the course will be based on the points you accumulate from a number of different sources: 5 exams, 10 quizzes, a World Wide Web scavenger hunt, 3 World Wide Web assignments, a group project, attendance, participation, and extra credit. Each of these sources will be explained below.

A. Exams. All of the exams will consist solely of multiple choice questions, each question worth two points. The first four exams will have approximately 65 questions, while the final exam will be longer. Please note that the final exam is not comprehensive. The final exam will only cover information from chapters 12, 14, and 16. The exams will consist of questions from the textbook, class discussions, and films & videos. You will be held responsible for all of the information covered in each chapter, not just the topics discussed in class, so be sure and read each chapter carefully.

B. Quizzes. A series of 9 short quizzes of about 6 questions each are scheduled on various dates throughout the semester. These quizzes will be given immediately at the start of class, so it is critical that you make it to class on time. In addition to these short quizzes, there will also be a "Test Preparation Quiz" on Friday, Sept. 11. This quiz will have about 15 questions and is designed so that you can see how prepared you are for the first exam (two classes later). The questions on this quiz are generally harder than those on the shorter quizzes, and reflect the type of questions you will see on the exam. This quiz will be graded, so be prepared.

C. World Wide Web (WWW) Scavenger Hunt. This assignment is intended to provide you with practice in searching for information on the web. Shortly after our web training day, I will distribute a handout that asks you to find a variety of different types of information on the web. You'll be asked to provide the web sites that answer the questions, and write a brief paragraph or two about the contents of each one. More information on this assignment will be provided later.

D. World Wide Web Assignments (45 points; 3 assignments @ 15 points). The on-line Course Outline has web links for many of the chapters in our textbook (a brief description of each link is provided later in the syllabus). These links will take you to sites that either provide demonstrations of important topics, or provide additional discussion on key issues. You may choose to explore any three links as long as each link comes from a different chapter. You'll notice that some chapters have more than one link; you may only choose one link per chapter for credit (except for extra credit, as outlined below). Please notice that two links (Police Horse with Narcolepsy; Personality Test) do not count toward course credit. Although only three are required, I encourage you to explore all of the links.

Some sites have only one page of text, which you read by scrolling down through the document. Other sites have a number of different parts to them, and I expect you to explore these sites. You don't necessarily have to visit every link, but some sites won't make sense unless every link is visited. After visiting each site, you'll need to fill out an evaluation form which can be found on the last page of this syllabus. Note that each link has a due date; all evaluation forms must be turned in to me by this date at the start of class. Please do NOT print a copy of the web page on the University printers. This is a waste of paper and University resources. Please just read the web page from your computer screen or print it on your own home printer.

E. Group Project. In order to promote your research skills, as well as to promote your active learning and use of critical thinking, I will be assigning everyone to small groups to work on a specific type of psychological disorder. Basically, everyone will be responsible for finding reference sources concerning their disorder on the World Wide Web. Each student will be responsible for typing a brief paper of their own, and will then distribute their written work to the other members of their groups. The groups will then meet in class, and critically evaluate one another's work. Each group will then generate one final product which will be graded. The group members will share the grade on this group effort. More specific instructions will be distributed at a later date.

F. Attendance (35 points). Attendance is essential to understand the concepts and processes explained in the reading material. Everyone will start off with 35 attendance points. You will be allowed to miss three class periods, for any reason whatsoever, without penalty (this includes illnesses). Every absence over three will result in the loss of 2 points per absence.

G. Participation (40 points). In order to encourage you to read your textbook in a timely fashion, as well as to make the class more interesting, everyone will receive a participation grade. Your score will be based on your spontaneous questions and comments in class, as well as your ability to answer questions in class. I will often ask specific questions based on the readings in the textbook - if you are staying current with your readings, you should have no problem answering these questions.

H. Extra Credit. You may receive extra credit from one of three different sources, explained below.

1. WWW Assignment (5 points) - You may complete one additional web assignments (above the required three), worth 5 points. The extra credit web assignments are still due on their respective due dates, so just pick a date and turn in two assignments; one will count toward extra credit.

2. E-mail discussion list (20 points) - You have the opportunity to participate in an open forum discussion list with students from Sue Frantz's class at New Mexico State University - Alamagordo. In order to subscribe to the list, send an e-mail message to with the following in the message: subscribe psy201 Your Name. You will know you have successfully subscribed when you receive a confirmation message via e-mail. If you have difficulty subscribing, please see me and I will be happy to help. Even if you don't want to participate in the discussions, please subscribe to the list anyway. I will occasionally forward interesting e-mail messages to the list or send information specifically related to the course, so you need to know what's going on.

Once you are subscribed, what should you talk about? That's up to you. Folks in the past have discussed ethics, child rearing practices, and what it means to be human. You can discuss anything as long as it's related to the course. Although Sue's class is not using the same textbook we are, they are following a discussion of the topics in a very similar order, so feel free to discuss any topic as it occurs to you. I know that you might feel a bit awkward at first communicating with students that you've never even met, but don't worry about it. Simply give a very brief introduction about yourself and ask your question or make your comment. ("Hi, I'm Tami in Dr. Casteel's class. We discussed day care today in class, and looked at the factors that distinguish good from bad day care. Do any of you have kids in day care and what was your experience? My sister just had a baby and is talking about going back to work right away and I'm worried.") The discussions are pretty free flowing and mostly run by the students, which means that Sue Frantz and myself will generally stay out of it.

For each message you post to this email list that contributes to the discussion you will receive 2 points, but your comment and/or question must be of substance. I won't count simple "I agree with that" or similar. I will also only give you credit for one contribution per week (a week is defined as Sunday-Saturday). You may certainly choose to contribute more - and I urge you to do so! - but you will only receive credit for one per week. I do this so that you won't cram all of your contributions into the last week of class. You may receive credit for 10 total weeks, so there is the possibility of 20 extra credit points. To receive credit, please keep a print-out of your message, with a header showing both the date and the time of your posting. I strongly encourage you to print out your e-mail messages as you go. Too many folks have lost their messages at the end of the semester due to computer problems. Turn all of your contributions in to me on Friday, Dec. 4. Sue's class ends on Nov. 29, so I will not count any messages after that for credit, although you may certainly continue with your discussions!

3. Research Participation. I am conducting some research studies on reading, and will need volunteers to participate in the experiments. Additionally, my Psy 221 students will be conducting group research projects, and will also need volunteers. The number of extra credit available will vary with the project. Additional information will be provided as opportunities become available.

Make-up Policy for Exams & Quizzes

Make-up exams or quizzes will only be considered in cases of extreme unforeseen events. In the case of a serious problem, it is YOUR responsibility to contact me BEFORE the exam or quiz is given. I am in the office by 7:00 a.m., so you must contact me prior to 7:45 a.m. (no exceptions). No make-ups will be allowed without first contacting me.

Appropriate and Inappropriate Classroom Behaviors

Below I've listed some classroom behaviors that are both appropriate and inappropriate for learning purposes. I'm really striving to create an environment in class that is conducive to learning, so I want everyone to know my expectations.

Behaviors that are praiseworthy:
- reading assignments prior to class
- asking questions/showing curiosity
- letting me know if I'm talking too fast
- legible handwriting

Behaviors that are acceptable:
- eating/drinking in class (please throw your trash away)
- getting up and moving about when drowsy
- taking a bathroom break without asking (please ask during exams)
- bringing manageable children when there are no other alternatives

Behaviors that are not acceptable:
- disrupting class if arriving late
- sleeping in class
- private chats with classmates
- disrespect for others' opinions
- packing up to go 5 minutes before the end of class

Some Useful Hints for Studying

Probably the single most important piece of advice I could give you is to spread out your studying. Trying to cram the night before a test will not work well in this course. You also shouldn't confuse the amount of time you spend studying with the quality of your studying. It doesn't matter how many hours you spend studying if you don't understand what you're studying. I can't even begin to tell you how many times I've heard students complain after receiving a poor grade "But I spent hours studying for the test!" If you don't understand the information you're dealing with, no amount of studying will help you.

What to do then? Well, here are a couple pieces of advice. First, I strongly urge you to visit the web site entitled The 6 hour D. This is advice from Dr. Russ Dewey at Georgia Southern University that is absolutely first rate! If you would like to learn even more about Promoting Academic Success  Promoting Academic Success, Dr. Linda Walsh from the University of Northern Iowa maintains a site of sites that lists many different links to explore. I urge you to browse through her list.

Second, I urge all of you to purchase the Study Guide that accompanies our textbook and work through each of the chapters after reading the textbook. Don't simply work through the Study Guide without first reading the text; that will be a waste of time. The Study Guide is valuable because it provides you with a number of different kinds of question to test your knowledge. It also provides a list of key terms to help you review. The Study Guide can also be a big help because there is no way we will be able to cover all of the topics discussed in each chapter in class. In the classroom, I'll have to focus my time on three or four main topics, which means that you will be responsible for the rest of the material. The Study Guide can really help those of you who feel uncomfortable with the unfamiliar topics.

Study Assistance

If you are experiencing difficulty in the course, or your exam scores are lower than you expected,  there is a Learning Center on campus that I highly recommend. The Learning Center is located in the lower level of the Library and offers free tutoring services. The tutors are students like yourselves that I have recommended as tutors because they did extremely well in my course, and also because they have the necessary social skills. They are easy-going and really know their stuff! Feel free to stop by and take advantage of this service.

Academic Integrity

I fully expect all of you to exhibit honest, mature, respectful, and ethical behavior in this class. In the event, however, that some form of academic dishonesty is encountered, it will be dealt with severely following Penn State's policies. If I have a question or a suspicion, you may be called into my office for a discussion.

Grading Scale

Your final grade in the course will be based on the percentage of the points you have accumulated out of the total number of possible points. The following grading scale will be used:

92 - 100% of total possible points  = A
89 - 91.5% of total possible points = A-
86 - 88.5% of total possible points = B+
82 - 85.5% of total possible points = B
79 - 81.5% of total possible points = B-
76 - 78.5% of total possible points = C+
70 - 75.5% of total possible points = C
60 - 69.5% of total possible points = D
0 - 59.5% of total possible points = F


Still have a question about the course? If so, feel free to email me your question at


** Exam, quiz, and important due dates are highlighted in bold text.

Reading Assignment
What's Due?
W, Aug. 26  Syllabus  Intro to the course 
F, Aug. 28
Computer Training  Class meets in Room 103 CBB
M, Aug. 31 Chapter 1 (pp. 2-14) History of psychology
W, Sept. 2 Finish Chapter 1; Chpt. 2 (pp. 14-27) Psychology specializations
F, Sept. 4 Chapter 2 (pp. 28-37) Experimental research methods Quiz 1 
How to Read your Textbook like a Comic Boook  
Choosing a Psychologist  
Career Options
M, Sept. 7
W, Sept. 9 Chapter 2 (pp. 37-53) Correlational research methods WWW Scavenger Hunt
F, Sept. 11 Appendix B (pp. 482-490) Statistics Test preparation Quiz (Quiz 2) 
Correlation Coefficients
M, Sept. 14 Chapter 3 (pp. 54-60) Neurons & action potentials
W, Sept. 16 Chapter 3 (pp. 60-62; 75-76) Neurotransmitters & hormones
F, Sept. 18 Review first unit Exam 1 Exam 1
M, Sept. 21 Chapter 3 (pp. 62-71) Brain anatomy & specialization
W, Sept. 23 Chapter 3 (pp. 71-83) Genetics
F, Sept. 25 Chapter 4 (pp. 84-92) Vision Quiz 3
M, Sept. 28 Chapter 4 (pp. 92-95; 105-109) Color vision; hearing
W, Sept. 30 Chapter 4 (pp. 109-114) Hearing; other senses Blind Spot  
Koestler Parapsychology Unit
F, Oct. 2 Chapter 5 (pp. 120-128) Circadian rhythms; sleep Quiz 4
M, Oct. 5 Chapter 5 (pp. 128-136) Sleep issues & problems Sleep Apnea  
Police Horse with Narcolepsy (doesn't count for course credit)  
Past Life Regressions
W, Oct. 7 Chapter 5 (pp. 136-149) Hypnosis
F, Oct. 9 Review second unit Exam 2 Exam 2
M, Oct. 12 Chapter 6 (pp. 150-160) Classical conditioning
W, Oct. 14 Chapter 6 (pp. 160-171) Operant conditioning Positive Reinforcement
F, Oct. 16 Chapter 6 (pp. 171-181) Observational learning Quiz 5
M, Oct. 19 Chapter 7 (pp. 182-188) Encoding; short-term memory
W, Oct. 21 Chapter 7 (pp. 188-195) Long-term memory; retrieval
F, Oct. 23 Chapter 7 (pp. 195-209) Forgetting; types of memory Quiz 6 
Repressed Memory  
Animal Cognition
M, Oct. 26 Review third unit Exam 3 Exam 3
W, Oct. 28 Chapter 9 (pp. 236-243) Intelligence & basic testing concepts
F, Oct. 30 Chapter 9 (pp. 243-247) Modern views of intelligence Quiz 7
M, Nov. 2 Chapter 9 (pp. 247-261) Effects of genetics & culture Mensa and Mesa Workout  
W, Nov. 4 Chapter 11 (pp. 290-302) Early childhood development
F, Nov. 6 Chapter 11 (pp. 302-309) Cognitive development Quiz 8 
M, Nov. 9 Chapter 11 (pp. 309-327) Adolescence & adulthood Project Paper (group project) 
Family Relations
W, Nov. 11 Review fourth unit Exam 4 Exam 4
F, Nov. 13 Chapter 12 (pp. 328-335) Personality traits; Freud
M, Nov. 16 Chapter 12 (pp. 335-346) Freud
W, Nov. 18 Chapter 12 (pp. 346-359) Behaviorists & Humanists Quiz 9; Course Late Drop deadline 
Personality Test (doesn't count for course credit)
F, Nov. 20
NO CLASS Psychonomics Society meeting in Dallas, TX
M, Nov. 23
In-class group work Paper Evaluations (group project)
W, Nov. 25 Chapter 14 (pp. 389-399) Psychological disorders
M, Nov. 30 Chapter 14 (pp. 399-406) Psychological disorders
W, Dec. 2 Chapter 14 (pp. 406-417) Psychological disorders Quiz 10 
Answers to your Questions  
Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology
F, Dec. 4 Chapter 16 (pp. 461-469) Conformity & obedience Extra credit e-mail posts
M, Dec. 7 Chapter 16 (pp. 456-461) Attitudes & cognitive dissonance
W, Dec. 9 Chapter 16 (pp. 448-456) attraction; attributions Attribution Theory  
F, Dec. 11 Chapter 16 (pp. 444-448; 470-473) Person perception & discrimination
Dec. 14-17 Review unit five Final Exam Final Exam (Chpts. 12, 14, & 16)

Description of Course World Wide Web (WWW) Links

Each of these links can be found in the on-line syllabus. Simply go to the Penn State York home page, click on “Faculty and Staff Web Pages,” and then click on “Dr. Mark A. Casteel.” Once at my home page, scroll down until you find the link for the Psy 002 Course Syllabus. The links are colored in blue in the Course Outline.

Remember - You may evaluate only one web link from each cue date. You must evaluate a total of three web sites.

Due Date          Brief Description

F, Sept. 4          For an innovative way to approach reading your textbook, visit How to Read
                         your Textbook like a Comic Book.
                         Think you might need to talk to a psychologist? Get some help on Choosing a
                         Psychologist by visiting this site.

                         If you're thinking about majoring in psychology, visit Career Options to find
                         what sorts of jobs are available to you.

F, Sept. 11        To get practice interpreting and guessing scatterplots, visit Correlation
                         Coefficients. In order to understand and make sense of this site, you must read
                         the discussion of correlation coefficients in Appendix B before you visit.

W, Sept. 30       Visit the Blind Spot link if you would like to explore your blind spot through
                          the use of interactive demonstrations.

                          To learn more about parapsychology, visit the Koestler Parapsychology Unit
                          at the University of Edinburgh. There are a number of links to explore here, so
                          go where you fancy takes you. You may even participate in on-line studies
                          investigating psi phenomenon (i.e., telekinesis, clairvoyance, etc.).

M, Oct. 5           To learn more about the sleep disorder Sleep Apnea, visit this site.

                          To learn more about the sleep disorder Narcolepsy, visit this site.

                          If you would like to read what a noted Yale psychologist has to say about the
                          validity of Past Life Regressions, visit this site.

                          ** This site does not count for course credit ** If you want to read an amusing
                          case about a Police Horse with Narcolepsy, visit this site.

W, Oct. 14         For a great tutorial on Positive Reinforcement, as well as a tough 14 question
                          quiz to see how well you understand the concept, visit this site.

F, Oct. 23           To learn what the American Psychological Association's official statement is
                           on the Repressed Memory controversy, visit this site.

                           Do you think that animals are capable of thinking? If you're curious about the
                           issue of Animal Cognition, visit this site and test your knowledge against the
M, Nov. 2           Read about Mensa, the international organization of geniuses. Once you've
                           read about the organization, take a practice Mensa Workout Intelligence Test
                           to see how bright you are.

                          Want to see what a smart brain looks like playing Tetris? Visit this site to see
                          the differences between "smart" and "dumb" brains.

M, Nov. 9          To learn more about Adolescence, visit this site constructed by Dr. Nancy
                          Darling's Penn State students in HDFS 433. This is another large site with
                          plenty of links, so read what interests you.

                          Dr. Nancy Darling's HDFS 418 students also have a site on Family Relations.
                          Browse through the various topics that interest you.

W, Dec. 2          Although we're not covering this topic, students always have questions about
                          homosexuality. If you're curious and want Answers to your Questions, visit
                          this site for more information from the American Psychological Association.

                          If you're thinking about becoming a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology, visit this site
                          to read some sobering info about how hard it is to get into graduate school.

                          ** This site does not count for course credit ** Visit this site if you would like
                          to take a sample Personality Test loosely based on Carl Jung's theory. (Please
                          note that this personality test has no scientific validity, and should only be
                          taken for fun and discussion purposes).

W, Dec. 9          To learn more about Attribution Theory, and its role in social psychology,
                           visit this site.

                          If you're interested in Propaganda (especially political propaganda, visit this
                          site. There are some very interesting video clips showing movie propaganda
                          clips about WWII and communism. (You need the Real Player plugin
                          interfaced with your browser to receive the video clips).

Web Site Evaluation Form (do not print a copy of the web site on University printers)

Name: __________________________________________________________     Student Mailbox Number _________

Title of Web Site: _________________________________________________________________________________

1. Summarize: Please summarize the main points, ideas, and concepts that were addressed. Give careful thought to your answer, and write 2-3 paragraphs in your own words (do not copy from the web site).

2. Evaluate: How does the author support his or her main premise? Were the facts and opinions supported by appropriate research? Were sources provided that would allow you to do additional digging on the topic?

3. Synthesize: How well does the information "fit" with what you knew (or thought you knew) previously? Did you learn anything new? Did anything surprise you? If this was a new topic for you, were you able to follow the reasoning? Please explain.

4. Take a stand: Explain why you either agree or disagree with the author's main premise. Please explicitly provide the reasons (i.e., the evidence) that supports your perspective. If the web site involved a demonstration, was it helpful? Do you now understand the topic better? Why or why not?

5. Suggestions for improvement: If you were the author of this web site, how would you improve it? (use the back if necessary).