Social Studies/Science Room 110A
AP Psychology Course Syllabus
(SUBJECT TO CHANGE ANYTIME AT MY DISCRETION)
The Advance Placement Psychology course is designed to introduce scholars to the
systematic and scientific study of the behavior and mental processes of human beings and
other animals. Students are exposed to the psychological facts, principles, and
phenomena associated with each of the major subfields within psychology. They also
learn about the ethics and methods psychologists use in their science and practice.
Text- Zimbardo, P, (2007). Psychology: AP Edition (Provided by the school)
American Psychological Association (2009). Publication manual of the American
Psychological Association (66th ed.). Washington, D.C.: Author.
The Advance Placement Psychology course aims to provide the scholars with a learning
experience equivalent to that obtained in most college introductory psychology courses.
In addition, this course will aim to enhance knowledge, skills, and attitudes that apply to
our own lives. Please understand from the get-go that you are the person of utmost
importance in the learning process. Acting as a college scholar, you are expected to seek,
find, and internalize knowledge on your own. You must be the main agent in the
My job is to facilitate your drive and accomplishment by structuring learning situations
and selecting learning tools to help you attain your goals which should be as follows:
To earn a successful score on the Advance Placement Psychology Exam (3 or higher, but
I would aim higher)
To enrichment of your life through the acquisition of psychological knowledge, and
enjoyment of the course
To show both the unity and the diversity of psychology’s subject matter
To illuminate the process of research and its intimate link to application
To make the text challenging to think about and easy to learn
I. History and Approaches
The historical introduction helps scholars gain an understanding of the principal
approaches to psychology: behavioral, biological, cognitive, humanistic, psychodynamic,
evolutionary/sociobiological, and sociocultural.
II. Research Methods
The scientific nature of psychology is made clear through coverage of the scientific
method focusing on the following methods: experimentation, naturalistic observation,
surveys, case studies and descriptive, correlational research. All of these methods will be
evaluated in terms of their advantages and disadvantages, including sampling bias, the
placebo effect, the possible distortion or bias of data. Additionally, the question of ethics
in research will be addressed in terms of human and animal subjects; with a focus on the
APA Ethical Guidelines for Research and specific case studies.
III. Biological Bases of Behavior
Students need to understand the relationship between biology and behavior. Students
study the brain as a key part of the body’s nervous system, paying particular attention to
the anatomical and functional relationships among the central, somatic, and autonomic
IV. Sensation and Perception
The study of sensation and perception begins with the concept of threshold. Students
learn about the measurement of absolute and difference thresholds and the physical,
physiological, and psychological variables affecting measurements. Coverage includes
anatomy and function of the eye and ear, color theories of vision, audition, perceptual
acuity, sensory adaptation, and sensory disorders such as deafness and color blindness.
Of major importance is the role played by experience and culture in perception and the
way in which perception can be improved by learning.
V. States of Consciousness
Students are introduced to research information on different states of consciousness,
ranging from normal occurrences in people’s everyday lives to those that are markedly
different from the experience of most people. The study of variations in consciousness
frequently includes an examination of hypnosis, meditation, and daydreaming, as well as
a discussion of the effects on consciousness of such drugs as narcotics, depressants,
stimulants, and hallucinogens.
This section of the course introduces students to the differences between learned and
unlearned behavior. It covers the basic learning processes of classical conditioning and
operant conditioning and makes clear their similarities and differences. Students learn
about the basic phenomena of learning, such as acquisition, extinction, spontaneous
recovery, generalization, discrimination, and higher-order conditioning. They study the
effects of reinforcement and punishment in different, specific learning paradigms:
reinforcement and omission training, behavior modification, and active and passive
Cognitive psychology is concerned with the process involved in the transformation,
reduction, elaboration, storage, recovery, and use of sensory input. Cognition includes the
different kinds of knowledge and types of processing. Psychological views of different
modes of thinking, including concept formation are also considered.
VIII. Motivation and Emotion
In studying motivation, students learn about the forces that influence the strength and
direction of behavior including homeostasis. The concepts of intrinsic and extrinsic
motivation are also examined. The study of emotion centers on the complex interactions
between cognition and physiological mechanisms that are associated with feelings of
love, hate, fear, and jealousy.
IX. Development Psychology
Students will examine from a life-span perspective the major dimensions in which
development takes place and the role gender plays within each dimension. These
dimensions are physical, cognitive, social and moral. Students will learn about the
different theories of development, for example, those of Erik Erikson, Carol Gilligan,
Lawrence Kohlberg, Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, Jean Piaget, and Lev Vygotsky.
In this section of the course, students come to understand the major theories and
approaches to personality: psychoanalytic/psychodynamic, humanistic, cognitive, trait,
and behaviorist. In the process, they learn about the background and thought of some of
the major contributors to the domain of personality, such as Alfred Adler, Gordon
Allport, Albert Bandura, Raymond Cattell, Hans Eysenck, Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung,
Walter Mischel, and Carl Rogers.
XI. Testing and Individual Differences
This section of the course deals with the assessment of human differences in aptitudes,
intelligence, interests and personality. It details the various types of tests used to assess
these traits and the methods by which the tests are constructed. It describes the measures
obtained from tests and the process of standardizing these measures.
XII. Abnormal Psychology
Students will discuss the definition and diagnosis of abnormal behavior. Criteria that
identify behavior as abnormal could be statistical comparisons, sociological norms, or
adaptive behavior. Specific attention will be given to etiology and diagnostic criteria for
the following disorders: mood, personality, dissociative, somatoform, anxiety, organic,
XIII. Treatment of Psychological Disorders
Students are introduced to the treatment of psychological disorders through an overview
of the approaches used by therapists of different treatment orientations. Behavioral,
humanistic, psychoanalytical/psychodynamic, Gestalt, cognitive-behavioral, and
pharmacological approaches to treatment are discussed. Therapy may be administered on
a one-on-one basis or within the context of a group. Students are exposed to prevention
and intervention techniques offered at the community level. Such services include
educational programs, crisis intervention, and counseling.
XIV. Social Psychology
Students first learn how the structure and function of a given group may affect the
behavior of the group as a unit or the behavior of the individual group member. Students
then learn the basic concepts of social cognition. Students will also be exposed to classic
studies dealing with the concepts of conformity, compliance, and obedience and learn
how findings in the laboratory can help explain situations in everyday life.
A = 90–100 B = 80–89 C = 70–79 D = 60–69 F = 0–59
All assignments are due on the date specified, unless prior arrangements have been made
with the instructor.
After each textbook chapter, a chapter exam will be given. The format will be multiple-
choice and free-response, depending upon the chapter content. They will follow the
format of the AP Psychology Exam.
o There are no make-up exams given.
o Please note: if you arrive more than 10 minutes late for an exam, after someone has
already completed his/her exam, you will not be allowed to take the exam.
The number of papers per quarter will vary, as will the length, duration and depth of the
papers. Any papers submitted late will receive a 10% deduction per day late. No papers
will be accepted after the course deadline.
A reading schedule for the textbook is available on the class website. You are responsible
for keeping pace with this schedule. Because of unforeseen circumstances there may be
instances in which certain topics may not be fully covered through lectures, notes or class
assignments this DOES NOT indicate you are not responsible for the assigned reading. It
is your responsibility to make sure that you have completed all the reading, whether or
not you directly instructed to do so. There is a nightly reading assignment based on your
A student accumulating 10 or more unexcused class absences in an annual course or five
or more unexcused absences in a semester course will be subject to the withholding of a
final credit. Review the Curriculum Bulletin for more information.
Students with a documented disability may contact Office of Special Education (SpEd) at
ext. 2369, to arrange for academic accommodations.
All students are deemed by the schools district to understand that if they are found
responsible for academic misconduct, they will be subject to the Academic Misconduct
procedures and sanctions, as outlined in the Student Handbook
Cheating: Cheating is a form of academic misconduct that involves the unauthorized use
of books, notes, aids or assistance from another person with respect to
exams/assignments. ANY STUDENT CAUGHT CHEATING WILL
AUTOMATICALLY FAIL THE COURSE AND FURTHER DISCIPLINARY
ACTION MAY BE TAKEN. – ANY STUDENT WHO AIDS/ABETS THE CHEATING
STUDENT WILL ALSO BE PENALIZED
Plagiarism: Plagiarism is a form of academic misconduct that involves presenting the
words, beliefs, opinions, facts, data, hypotheses, information of others as your own. ANY
STUDENT CAUGHT PLAGIARIZING WILL AUTOMATICALLY FAIL THE
COURSE AND FURTHER DISCIPLINARY ACTION MAY BE TAKEN
OTHER COURSE POLICES
Grade of incomplete
An Incomplete is not an option except in extremely rare circumstances, and must be
approved by the instructor. It is not an option if you are failing the course.
A student may withdraw from the class prior to the midpoint of the semester, but you are
only guaranteed a grade of "W" if you are passing the course.
It is expected that students will read the textbook thoroughly. There is not enough time in
the lecture to cover everything discussed in the book; lectures will be used to highlight
important topics and go into more depth on difficult concepts, as well as having
discussions, watching video clips, etc. Lectures will also cover some material not covered
directly in the book. The exams will have questions from all course material, which
includes the entire assigned textbook, all lecture, articles read, films, guest speakers, etc.
It will be VERY difficult to get an acceptable grade in the class without attending class
and reading the textbook.
Professional behaviors are expected, including demonstrating courtesy and respect for the
instructor and for other students during class. This includes turning off cell phones, not
reading the newspaper or texting or facebooking during class, etc. I will ask you to turn
off your laptop if your laptop use is distracting other students. All academic work must
meet the standards contained in "A Culture of Honesty" (available online). Students are
responsible for informing themselves about those standards before performing any
academic work. Cheating on exams will not be tolerated. The minimum penalty for being
found guilty of violating the academic honesty policy will be a grade of "0" on the
affected exam with no opportunity for makeup; further penalties could include a note on
your transcript, failing the class, or expulsion from the university.
Decisions about grades
Decisions about grades are made carefully, and are final at the end of the semester. Please
do not contact the instructor about a grade change unless there has been a clerical error
which you can document. Requests to change final grades are a waste of your time as
well as mine. I do not give "extra credit" or makeup assignments at the end of the
semester. Also, please note that any disputes about grades from earlier in the course must
be resolved before final exam period. Once we arrive in the final exam period, your
grade from earlier in the semester is set.
Semester 1 Quarter 1: (9-10 weeks)
Chapter 1: The Evolution of Psychology (pages 1-33)
•From Speculation to Science: How Psychology Developed
•Psychology Today: Vigorous and Diversified
•Putting it in Perspective: Seven Key Themes
Chapter 2: The Research Enterprise in Psychology
•Ethics: Do the Ends Justify the Means?
Chapter 3: Biological Bases of Behavior
•The Brain and Behavior
•Heredity and Behavior
•Evolutionary Bases of Behavior
Chapter 4: Sensation & Perception
• Psychophysics: Concepts and Issues
• The "Five" Senses
• Other Senses
Semester 1 Quarter 2: (9-10 weeks)
Chapter 5: Variations in Consciousness
• Nature of Consciousness
• Biological Rhythms
• Sleep, Dreams, and Hypnosis
• Altered States of Consciousness
Chapter 6: Learning
• Classical Conditioning
• Operant Conditioning
• Changing Directions in the Study of Conditioning
• Observational Learning
Chapter 7: Memory
• Physiology of Memory
• Multiple Memory Systems
Semester 2 Quarter 3: (9-10 weeks)
Chapter 11: Intelligence & Psychological Testing
• Key Concepts in Psychological Testing
• The Evolution of Intelligence Testing
• Heredity and Environmental Influences on Intelligence
• New Directions in the Assessment and Study of Intelligence
Chapter 8: Motivation & Emotion
• Motivational Theories and Concepts
• Motivation of Hunger and Eating
• Sexual Motivation and Behavior
• Affiliation and Achievement
• Elements of Emotion/Theories of Emotion
Chapter 9: Human Development
• Prenatal Development
• The Transition of Adolescence
• The Expanse of Adulthood
Chapter 10: Personality
• The Nature of Personality
• Psychodynamic/Behavioral Perspectives
• Humanistic/Biological Perspectives
Contemporary Empirical Approaches
• Culture and Personality
Semester 2 Quarter 4: (9-10 weeks)
Chapter 13: Stress, Coping, and Health (COMBINED WITH CH. 8)
• Nature of Stress
• Types of Stress
• Responding to Stress
• Effects of Stress
• Factors Moderating the Impact of Stress
• Health-Impairing Behavior/ Reactions to Illness
Chapter 12: Psychological Disorders
• Abnormal Behavior
• Anxiety/Somatoform/Dissociative Disorders
• Mood/Schizophrenic/Personality Disorders
• Psychological Disorders and the Law
• Culture and Pathology
Chapter 13: Treatment of Psychological Disorders
• Elements of Treatment Process
• Current Trends and Issues in Treatment
• Institutional Treatment in Transition
Chapter 14: Social Behavior
• Person Perception: Forming Impressions of Others
• Attribution Process
• Close Relationships: Liking and Loving
• Conformity and Obedience
• Behavior in Groups
Review for AP Exam
***AP EXAM Tuesday, May 7th 2012***
Start studying now!
Commit to putting in the necessary time to remember information from the course!
There is a direct relationship between the amount of time you spend learning material and
the length of time you remember it. The general rule of thumb is 2 hours out of class for
every hour in class (YES - carrying a full load is like a full-time job!). It will take you at
least 2 hours to read each module - block out that time in your schedule. An ideal
situation is to review your notes and do some reading/studying shortly after each class
period while class is fresh in your mind.
Space your study sessions
All night cram sessions are one of the least effective ways to learn or memorize new
material. Repeated spaced practices (e.g. reviewing a little every class day) allow you to
mentally process and incorporate the information into memory. It's a basic fact about the
way human memory works. Students who take the distributed practice approach to
learning retain significantly more information than students who use cramming. Can you
imagine if the Panthers tried to win after a single cram practice just before the game? Or
a band tried to perform after only a single cram practice?
Read material BEFORE we cover it in class
Another function of human memory is that we tend to remember things much easier
when we have some sort of mental framework to guide us. That's exactly what reading
the material ahead of time does; it gives you that all important mental framework so that
when the professor mentions the concept, you already have a place to "hang" the
Find a place to study where you can concentrate
Problems in absorbing new information arise when distracting thoughts, background
noise, televisions, stereos, and friends sidetrack your attention. I recommend the library.
So much of psych sounds familiar that it is very tempting to think you are grasping it all
just by passively listening in lecture. This is not enough to actually learn and be able to
use the material in the course. You must be an active, involved learner and really work
with the text and lecture notes to get a good grade.
Before I test you -can you answer all the questions in our book or on the website without
difficulty? If you take the online practice test and only get 60% right, there is a pretty
good chance you'll only get ~60% on our test too! The study aids you actually produce
yourself (flashcards, outlines, concept maps) are extremely important to your learning.