Ap psychology Course Description

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AP Psychology
Course Description: Advanced placement psychology is a year long course designed to provide the student with an in-depth knowledge of introductory psychology. This course follows the College Board's Advanced Placement curriculum and as such is extremely rigorous and fast paced. 
Required Text:

Myers, D.G. (2007) Exploring Psychology (8th edition.). New York: Worth Publishers.

Supplemental Books:

  1. Hock, Roger R. Forty Studies that Changed Psychology: Explorations into the History of Psychological Research, 4th ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 200

  2. Allen, Bern Personality Theories, Allyn and Bacon, 2003


Worth Publishers Companion Web Site: http://bcs.worthpublishers.com/cppsych/

Psychology in the News: www.psychport.com

Psych Web: www.psychwww.com

Course Objectives

1. Students will prepare to do acceptable work on the Advanced Placement Examination in


2. Students will study the major core concepts and theories of psychology. They will be able to

define key terms and use them in their everyday vocabulary.

3. Students will learn and evaluate the basic principles of psychological research.

4. Students will be able to apply psychological concepts to their own lives. They will be able to

recognize psychological principles when they are encountered in everyday situations.

Grading: The course is set up on a point basis. Points are given on assignments, tests, quizzes, etc. Keeping track of your points will enable you to simply divide my points into your points and come up with an average. The scale for grading is based on the academic policy of the district.

























Percents greater than or equal to .5 will be rounded up to determine grades. You will not receive a daily participation grade, but your participation and preparedness for class can have an effect on borderline grades. The final exam is worth 20% of your final grade. The final exam is a comprehensive multiple-choice final exam. A review sheet will be given.
Tests/Quizzes: Some alternative assessments will be used this semester as well as standard quizzes and tests. The tests are challenging, but not impossible. The tests and quizzes require you to know the book and material covered in class. You will need to read the chapter thoroughly

Assignments/Projects: We will have traditional “bookwork” assignments. There may be a few “project” oriented assignments. “Projects” tend to include some sort of reflection. They are usually not difficult but do take time. The “project” usually has 2 purposes: To extend the reading and for you to apply the concepts to your life. You will need to take time to think about its application and be serious in your reflection. Psychology is learning about individual people and behavior, and these assignments will allow you to explore your own.

Homework Procedures: Due dates: All work is due on the date given. Late work will be accepted ONE DAY late and will be given half the value that you earn. It is YOUR responsibility to check with the instructor before or after class of work that you missed. Because of the group projects, your attendance is imperative. If you should have to miss, it is YOUR responsibility that your group is prepared to go without

you. In other words, let your group know (hint: cell phone?) that you will not be in school. Also, make plans to give them your materials, so they can make a good presentation despite the fact that you are not there.
Make-up work: Make-up tests will be scheduled with the instructor upon return to class. Schedule a time to make up the test, put it on your calendar, and then be there at the scheduled time. All work must be handed in the day after you return. If the assignment is long term and you miss the due date, it is expected to be turned in on the day of your return. I will not go back to previous chapters to discuss your missing assignments. In other words, check your grades on line often!!!
Cheating and plagiarism are not tolerated. If this should happen the students involved (whether you copied or let someone copy your work) will NOT receive credit for the assignment.

Readings: Throughout the semester students are required to submit reports on chapters from Hock’s Forty Studies that Changed Psychology book. Your reports are to answer the following questions:

1. Indicate the chapter title and the formal research citation. For example:One Brain or Two?

Gazzaniga, M.S. (1967). The split brain in man. Scientific American, 217 (2), 24-29

2. Describe the basic research question, or hypothesis, that was explored in the study and indicate the research method that was employed. Note that several of the studies involved a review of the psychological literature rather than being an original research study.

3. Describe the basic results and conclusions of the research that is discussed.

4. Describe the criticisms and limitations of the study or research.

5. Describe your personal reaction to the research. For example: What did you find interesting about it, what questions did it raise for you, how did it relate to what is covered in the text about this topic, what would you like to discuss in class about the research.

Abbreviated Outline for the Course:
Unit I: History and Major Approaches

A. Logic, Philosophy, and History of Science

B. Approaches/major perspectives

1. Define psychology and understand its roots and historical development.

2. Be familiar with the major perspectives in psychology.

-Timeline of significant people/events in the history of psychology.
Unit II: Research Methods

A. Experimental, Correlational and Clinical Research

B. Statistics

C. Research Methods and Ethics

1. Identify the scientific method and its application in psychology.

2. Compare and contrast research methods (case studies, survey, and naturalistic observation)

3. Explain correlation and causation.

4. Describe the three measures of central tendency and of variation.

5. Discuss ethics involved in research.

-Create a survey for peers; analyze and post the data.

-Natural Observation Walk

-Phineas Gage case study
Unit III: Biological Basis of Behavior

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

B. Neuroanatomy

C. Functional Organization of Nervous System

D. Neural Transmission

E. Endocrine System

F. Genetics

1. Identify the parts of a neuron and explain neural impulse.

2. Describe communication of neurons and the role of neurotransmitters.

3. Describe the nervous system’s two major divisions.

4. Describe the nature and function of the endocrine system.

5. Describe the functions of the major brain structures.

6. Identify the four lobes of the cerebral cortex and their functions.

-3D neurons

-Jell-O Brain

-Orange Brain Mold and Dissection

-Left/Right Hemisphere Brains

Unit IV: Sensation and Perception

A. Threshold Theory

B. Sensory Adaptation

C. Sensory Mechanisms

D. Perceptual Processes

1. Contrast sensation and perception.

2. Distinguish between difference and absolute thresholds.

3. Describe sensory adaptation.

4. Describe the major structures of the eye and their role in vision.

5. Describe the major structures of the ear and their role in hearing.

6. Describe the operations of the other sensory systems.

7. Discuss Gestalt psychology’s contribution to our understanding of perception.

8. Identify cues to depth perception.

-Sensory Stations including Inverted Vision Goggles

-Perception Overheads
Unit V: States of Consciousness

A. Sleep and Dreaming

B. Hypnosis

C. Psychoactive Drugs Effects

1. Describe the stages of the sleep cycle and functions of sleep.

2. Discuss and compare the difference between NREM and REM.

3. Identify major sleep disorders.

4. Discuss the major perspectives on functions of dreaming.

5. Discuss hypnosis and differentiate between the different theories.

6. Discuss the nature of drug dependence.

7. Differentiate and chart the effects of depressants, stimulants, and hallucinogenic drugs.

-relaxation/meditation exercise

-Drug Addiction Simulation

-Dream Journaling/Sleep Diary

Unit VI: Learning

A. Classical Conditioning

B. Operant Conditioning

C. Cognitive Process in Learning

D. Biological Factors

E. Social Learning

1. Describe the process of classical conditioning.

2. Summarize the processes of extinction, spontaneous recovery, generalization, and


3. Describe the elements of operant conditioning.

4. Differentiate between the forms of reinforcement and punishment.

5. Describe the importance of cognitive and biological influences on learning.

6. Describe the process of observational learning.

-Lemonade Classical Conditioning

-Maze Day for Trial and Error Learning and plotting results to identify a plateau

-Baby Albert Reading

-Brave New World excerpt applied to classical conditioning
Unit VII: Cognition

A. Memory

B. Language

C. Thinking

D. Problem Solving and Creativity

1. Define memory and differentiate between sensory, short term, and long term memory.

2. Contrast between effortful and automatic memory processing.

3. Distinguish between implicit and explicit memory.

4. Contrast recall, recognition, and relearning.

5. Describe the two types of memory interference.

6. Define cognition.

7. Discuss concept formation.

8. Discuss problem solving comparing algorithms and heuristics.

9. Describe the basic structural units of language (phonemes, morphemes and grammar)

-Long Term/Short Term Memory Tests

-Problem Solving Contest

-Brain Exercises

-Functional Fixedness Activities

Unit VIII: Motivation and Emotion

A. Biological Basis

B. Theories of Motivation

C. Hunger, Thirst, Sex, and Pain

D. Social Motives

E. Theories of Emotions

F. Stress

1. Define motivation and identify the four perspectives for studying motivation.

2. Describe physiological , psychological and cultural influences on hunger.

3. Define achievement motivation and differentiate between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation.

4. Compare and contrast James-Lange, Cannon-Bard and Schacter-Singer’s theories of emotion.

5. Identify the physiological changes that occur when experiencing emotional arousal.

6. Describe the biological response to stress

-Stress Self Evaluation Test
Unit IX: Developmental Psychology

A. Life-Span Approach

B. Research Methods

C. Heredity-Environmental Issues

D. Developmental Theories

E. Dimensions of Development

F. Sex Roles, Sex Differences

1.Discuss the course of prenatal development

2. Describe physical, social, and cognitive development from conception to puberty

3. Discuss attachment and the role of parents in development.

4. Differentiate between secure and insecure attachment.

5. Describe the theories of Piaget, Erikson, Horney, Kohlberg and Maslow.

6. Describe the early development of a self-concept.

7. Distinguish between cross-sectional and longitudinal studies.

8. Analyze how sex roles influence individual and social behavior throughout the lifespan.

-Leggos Activity for Piaget

-FAS baby dolls

-Deserted Island for Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

-Horney Quiz

Unit X: Personality

A. Personality, Theories and Approaches

B. Assessment Techniques

C. Self-Concept, Self-Esteem

D. Growth and Adjustment

E. Birth Order Research

1. Describe Freud’s personality structures (id, ego, superego).

2. Identify and describe the functions of defense mechanisms.

3. Compare and contrast the neo-Freudians with Freud’s theories.

4. Describe the social cognitive perspective on personality.

5. Discuss perception of personal control, learned helplessness, optimism, and pessimism and

their effects on behavior.

6. Discuss the research on the effects of birth order and evaluate it’s validity


-Birth Order Group Discussions

-Reading on P.T. Barnum Effect with fake horoscopes activity

-Personality Test
Unit XI: Testing and Individual Differences

A. Standardization and Norms

B. Reliability and Validity

C. Types of Tests

D. Ethics and Standards in Testing

E. Intelligence

F. Multiple Intelligences

1. Discuss the history of intelligence testing.

2. Describe the difference between reliability and validity of intelligence tests.

3. Differentiate between aptitude and achievement tests.

4. Discuss evidence for genetic and environmental influences on intelligence.

5. Discuss whether intelligence tests are culturally biased.

6. Discuss Gardner’s Multiple Intelligence

-Intelligence Tests (and evaluation of)

Unit XII: Abnormal Psychology

A. Definitions of Abnormality

B. Theories of Psychopathology

C. Diagnosis of Psychopathology

D. Anxiety Disorders

E. Somatoform Disorders

F. Mood Disorders

G. Schizophrenic Disorders

H. Organic Disorders

I. Personality Disorders

J. Dissociative Disorders

1. Identify the criteria for judging whether behavior is psychologically disordered.

2. Compare and contrast the medical model with the biopsycho-social approach to disordered


3. Describe the goals and content of the DSM IV and discuss the benefits and dangers of using

diagnostic labels.

4. Describe the symptoms of the major anxiety disorders.

5. Describe the symptoms of somatoform and mood disorders.

6. Describe the major symptoms of and types of schizophrenia.

7. Describe the nature of organic brain disorders.

8. Describe the characteristics of dissociative disorders.

9. Describe the characteristics of personality disorders and contrast the three clusters.

-PSA Project for a Psychological Disorder
Unit XIII: Treatment of Psychological Disorders

A. Treatment Approaches

B. Modes of Therapy

C. Community and Preventative Approaches

1. Define psychoanalysis and discuss the goals of this form of therapy.

2. Identify the basic characteristics of humanist therapy.

3. Describe the characteristics of behavior therapy.

4. Describe the basic approaches of cognitive therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy.

5. Discuss the benefits of group and family therapies.

6. Discuss the general findings on the relative effectiveness of psychotherapy.

7. Describe the various forms of biomedical therapies.

8. Describe the benefits of preventative mental health programs.

Unit XIV: Social Psychology

A. Group Dynamics

B. Attribution Process

C. Interpersonal Perception

D. Conformity, Compliance, Obedience

E. Attitudes and Attitude Change

F. Organizational Behavior

G. Aggressive/Antisocial Behavior

1. Describe attribution theory (dispositional, situational, and the fundamental attribution error).

2. Define attitude and describe its effect on behavior.

3. Discuss Asch’s experiment on conformity.

4. Describe Milgram’s experiments on obedience and the conditions in which obedience was


5. Discuss how group interaction can facilitate group polarization and groupthink.

6. Discuss the social, emotional, and cognitive factors that contribute to prejudice and


7. Discuss the psychological, biological, and social influences on aggressive behavior.

8. Discuss factors that promote interpersonal attraction.

9. Define altruism and explain altruistic behavior resulting from social exchange theory and

social norms.

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