Introduction to Psychology

Introduction to Psychology


Spring 2012
01/17/2012 - 05/13/2012

Course Information

Section 032
Distance Learning
Shirin Khosropour

Section 049
Distance Learning
Shirin Khosropour

Office Hours

  • Rio Grande Campus, Building 3000, room 3244

    Other hours may be arranged by appointment.
  • T Th
    5 - 6
    Rio Grande Campus, Building 3000, room 3244
    RGC 3244
    If you are making a special trip to RGC to see me, please contact me ahead of time to make sure there have been no changes in my office hours due to meetings or illness.
  • F
    12 - 1
    Rio Grande Campus, Building 3000, room 3244
    If you are making a special trip to RGC to see me, please contact me ahead of time to make sure there have been no changes in my office hours due to meetings or illness.


Students enrolled in this course: please note that you must refer to the full syllabus which will be available on Blackboard the first day of the semester. 

Welcome to the course. I look forward to working with you!


Required Textbook & Online Material


Understanding Psychology (by Robert S. Feldman) with Connect Psychology Plus Access Card TENTH edition  (ISBN: 9780077468705)

Connect is an online program. It is not a physical book.

My tests and the assignments will come from the 10th edition. If you buy another edition, you are jeopardizing your success in the course.

Your textbook has great resources for you online.  Go to and click on “Student Edition” in the “Online Learning Center” box (left side of screen).

I asked the publisher of our textbook to provide a list of options that you may consider in acquiring the required course materials. Below is the information McGraw Hill provided. Please know that you may purchase or borrow the material from a source of your own choosing. I do not profit from the sales of the material in any way. But you must have regular access to the textbook AND purchase the “Connect” material.

Please note that if you purchase a used textbook or if you rent the textbook, you must use option 3 below. See under Course documents in Blackboard for detailed information on how to set up your Connect account. You can also purchase it directly through Blackboard. The system will also give you free access to Connect and to the e-book for 21 days, but make sure you make the purchase before the period expires.

Your purchase options are below (the second two options can be purchased online during the “Connect” registration process):

1.       New textbook packaged WITH connect

2.       Connect PLUS-eBook with access to Connect 

         3.       Connect access stand-alone (no eBook) 


Student Learning Outcomes/Learning Objectives


Purpose of the Course

This course will introduce you to the topics that psychologists study, the methods they employ in studying them, and the major findings from their studies.  Our study of the basic terminology and principles in the field will enable you to take more advanced courses in psychology. Perhaps more importantly, you will have the opportunity to apply this knowledge toward problem solving in your own life and in the life of your community. 


My main goals for this course are to provide you with:

  • a survey of the field of psychology and psychological principles;
  • a solid foundation in theory and methodology;
  • the ability to think like a psychologist, and
  • opportunities to further develop your critical thinking and writing skills.

Course Subjects


Fall 2011: 16-Week Session




Readings (Chapters)


11:59 PM Jan. 25

Orientation Deadline

Syllabus & all Bb. Info.



Unit 1

Introduction to psychology

Psychological Research Neuroscience and Behavior





Feb. 12

Unit 1 Connect  Assignments Due



Jan. 23 through

Feb. 13

Take Unit 1 Test and

Post Unit 1 discussion




Unit 2


Sensation and Perception

States of Consciousness








March 18

Unit 2 Connect  Assignments Due



Feb. 6 through

March 19

Take Unit 2 Test

Post Unit 2 Discussion



11:59 PM

Mar. 26

Reflection Paper is due





Unit 3


Cognition & Language









April 15

Unit 3 Connect  Assignments Due


Feb. 27 through

April 16

Take Unit 3 Test

Post Unit 3 Discussion




Unit 4

Health Psy.: Stress, Coping, and


Psychological Disorders

Social Psychology






May 6

Unit 4 Connect  Assignments Due



Mar. 5 through

May 7

Take Unit 4 Test

Post Unit 4 Discussion



May 10

Deadline for taking the Optional

Comprehensive Final



Course Requirements


Course Requirements


 Late assignments and tests are only accepted with documentation of a valid reason at my discretion. In case of an emergency, you must contact me within one week.


Orientation (20 points)

You must complete the orientation according to the guidelines (See How to Complete the Orientation) to receive these points. Please note that if you do not complete the course orientation by its deadline, I reserve the right to drop you from the course.

These could be very easy 20 points for you to earn. However, you must follow the orientation directions completely to receive any points. There is no partial credit on the orientation.

Exams (400 points)

You will have four tests. The tests have a multiple-choice format.  You will need to take the tests in a Testing Center at any ACC campus anytime before its specified deadline.  If you miss a test deadline, you will not be able to take a make-up test.  You will need to take your own #2 pencils and erasers, but the Testing Center will supply you with the Scantrons (“bubble sheets”).  For more information about the Testing Center hours and policies go to:

Test questions will come from assigned readings and from class discussions on Blackboard ( 

Make sure you clarify your questions with me before the tests.  

Each of the four tests is worth 100 points.  There are no make-up tests.  Students who miss taking a test before its deadline will be required to take a comprehensive final exam which will replace one missing test score.  Note that the comprehensive final exam can only replace ONE missing test score.  For example, if you miss taking two tests before their respective deadlines, one of those test scores will remain a “zero” even if you take the comprehensive final. 

You may also choose to take the comprehensive final to replace your lowest of the four test scores.  If you are happy with your scores on the four required tests, you don’t need to take the comprehensive final.


Reflection Paper (100 points)

The purpose of a reflection papers is to help you organize your thoughts  (or reflections) about a topic we have covered in the course.   A reflection paper is usually two pages long.  In a reflection paper you first briefly describe or explain a psychological theory in your own words, and then state your own opinion about it or give an example from your own experiences that demonstrates it. 

The most important thing about these papers is that you must make a clear connection between the theories from class and your own experiences.  Reflection papers that only summarize and rephrase the theories from the text, or that only state your own opinions and examples will not be sufficient.  You have to make connections between the theories and your opinions or experiences.

You may choose any psychological concept from your textbook to write about as long as it was not a topic of discussion for any of the units (see the Discussion Forum for topics).  A good topic for a reflection paper is one that you have a strong reaction to.  For example, as you are reading about a psychological theory you may think to yourself “Yes, I can see that!  That’s just like when …” and you remember an experience that is consistent with the theory.  Or, on the contrary, you may think, “That’s just nonsense, because…..” and you think of several reasons you disagree with a theory.   In both of these situations, you should sit down and write a reflection paper (although sitting down is not a requirement).  You are likely to have a lot to say in both instances. 

You may submit your paper anytime during the semester, as long as it is before the deadline.

The quality of your writing (grammatical correctness, word usage, spelling, etc.) will affect your grades on reflection papers.  Please take advantage of the help available to you in ACC’s learning labs to polish your papers. I strongly encourage you to take your papers to a Learning Lab (take your syllabus with you so you can share the requirements with the your writing tutor).  If you like, in your “reflection paper” email tell me what date you visited the Learning Lab and the full name of your tutor. Having visited the Learning Lab will only help you, both in improving your writing and in my estimation of you as a serious student.

Your paper must be at least two full pages long (double-spaced), not including the “References” or “Works Cited” section.  If your paper goes slightly over two pages, that is all right.

Look under Course Documents for a few sample reflection papers written by students in the past semesters (and used here with their permission). While these are not “perfect” papers in every way, they will give you an idea of what a good paper looks like.  I hope every one of the reflection papers submitted this semester is worthy of making it into my "sample papers" folder!

You must use the American Psychological Association’s (APA) or Modern Language Association’s (MLA) format for your written work and documentation. If you are a psychology major, I encourage you to use the APA format.

Submit your papers as Word documents under “assignments” in Blackboard. You must upload a Word file. No other format will be accepted. If you don’t have Word on your computer, use an ACC computer.


Blackboard Online Discussions (120 points)

I will post four discussion topics on Blackboard.  You are required to contribute at least twice to each of these online discussions: once as a commentator and once as a responder (to someone else’s comment). You are encouraged to participate as much as possible.

Guidelines for your Blackboard Discussions

You should be aware that I will always know who has made a particular comment.  While comments you make on these discussions should be confidential and not repeated outside the context of our class, you are not anonymous.  Additionally, I expect that we will all follow the common rules of courtesy, etiquette, and kindness in our online interactions, as no doubt we would in classroom discussions. 

You may post comments and/or responses to any topic, but you MUST post one comment and one response for each topic to be graded.

As a commentator, your role is to comment on the posted topic or question. Your comment must be related to the posted question and must be based on the required readings (cite the page number from your textbook). You must make this relationship clear.  Discuss your own opinions or an example from your experiences and how it relates to the question or topic. 

As a responder, your role is to respond to others’ comments. Your response must be related to the posted question and the comments. And it also must be based on what you are learning from our readings. A response such as “I agree” is not sufficient. You must go beyond what the original comment was with your own contributions either in agreement or disagreement.

Please remember that all your comments should be informed by what we are learning in the course. You are not just having a discussion with friends; you are discussing the topic as someone who is informed about the science of psychology.

You should write at least half a page, but no more than a page.  

How are Your Comments / Responses Graded?

The main requirement for receiving full credit is that your opinion or comment is based on understanding of the psychological principles and the research we are studying in the course.  I want you to have studied a chapter before you post any comments on its topic so that your opinions are informed opinions.  This will not only raise the intellectual level of our discussions, but also will give you, the participant, the most learning benefits.  

Your goal should be to make comments that indicate you are well-informed (you have read the information in the book about the topic), you have considered the information and opinions offered by others in the forum, and that you are offering your own thoughtful opinions and are advancing the discussion. 


Here is a summary of what I will consider in grading your participation:

·Does it look like you have read the textbook material?  Does your comment indicate an understanding of the readings in the textbook and/or posted discussion topic? Do you cite something from your textbook to support your argument/opinion? Lack of an appropriate citation (with page numbers) from the textbook results in an automatic 5 point deduction from your grade.

·Does it look like you read other students’ (and my) postings and attempted to address them with your own thoughtful observations or opinions/examples? Lack of a reference or response to other comments results in an automatic 5 point deduction from your grade.

·Does your comment contribute something new to the discussion and help to move the discussion along the posted topic or a related psychological topic (rather than get totally off topic—into areas unrelated to psychology). 

·Does it look like you were just posting something to get the requirement out of the way, or did you offer thoughtful comments and got involved or pulled into the discussion.

·Is your writing clear and are your arguments coherent?  I will not grade your posts solely based on the quality of your writing.   However, there is still a level of clarity in writing required for us to communicate effectively in this format. While the writing does not need to be as formal as that of a research paper, it is still academic writing. Please do not write your comments as if they are text messages or emails to your friends. Please no lol, bme, or other things that send me to this link!

Chapter Assignments in Connect (70 points):

I have posted an assignment for each chapter that we cover. Look in Blackboard under “Assignments” for these. You can see the deadline for each assignment. Make sure you don’t miss the deadlines. You will continue having access to the assignments after the deadline, but the system will record your score as of the moment the deadline passes (all deadlines are Sunday nights, at 11:59 PM).

For each chapter, the percentage of the assignment that you complete counts toward your grade, not the percent correct. Your percent completed before the deadline is converted to a 5 point scale and that is your grade for that chapter.

Because each unit covers 3 to 4 chapters, you could easily add 15 to 20 points to each of your test scores. This is like having an open-book test that lets you add 15 to 20 points to each of your test grades!

Detailed instructions for how to register in Connect are under “Course Information”.

Here are some important things to know about the assignments:

  1. The program runs on Firefox. If you don’t have that browser on your computer, you can download it for free from
  2. If you read the chapter before you attempt the assignment, you will save yourself loads of time. What may take you 3 hours if you haven’t read the textbook, may take you 15 minutes if you have.
  3. Sometimes you have two chapters due on the same day. Please review all the due dates and pace yourself.
  4. Completing these assignments will help you perform better on your unit exams. In order to give you more flexibility, I have given you a wide range of dates for taking the exams-so some chapter assignments are due after their Unit exam. It’s up to you to make the best use of this flexibility. I highly recommend that you complete the chapter assignments before you attempt the Unit exams. Your test scores will be so much better after you have completed the assignments.
  5. Play around in the Connect site and see how you are doing with each chapter. Let your cursor hover over a chapter to see what percentage of that chapter you have completed. Use the reports that show you which topics are your most challenging topics. If you have an e-book, you can connect directly from an item to the page in the book that covers that information. You can also highlight and take notes and save these by chapter. This stuff makes me wish I were a student again!
  6. Don’t forget that you MUST register with your ACC email address or the system will not import your information into Blackboard.


 Optional Extra-Credit Assignments on Blackboard

I may post some extra-credit assignments. See Blackboard for these. Scroll down past the required discussions. Make sure you don’t miss the deadlines.


Course Grade

Your grade in the course will be based on the sum of all the points you have earned on the required elements, plus any points you may have earned on optional extra-credit assignments.  Your grades in this course arenot “curved”.  It is possible for each of you to get an “A” in this course!  

Grade assignments will be based on the simple point system below. I expect you to be able to add up the points you have earned this semester using your syllabus as a guide and to keep up with your own progress during the course.

639 to 710 points


568 - 638


497 - 567


426 - 496


less than  426



Important: Please note that if you take the optional final exam, you must subtract your lowest test score from your "Total Points". The final replaces the lowest test score.


We have also had difficulty with Blackboard’s “gradebook”. Don’t trust the “total” points Blackboard automatically calculates for you.


Please do your own math (it’s simple addition) and add up your points using your syllabus as a guide to verify your course standing.



Academic Freedom

 You have the right to believe whatever you happen to believe (of course) and, within the appropriate constraints that follow from the organization of a course and its class discussions, to express those beliefs. In order to foster inquiry and the free exchange of ideas, we will all show respect toward the views of others when expressed during such forums.

Your grades will never be based on your beliefs, but only on the quality of the psychological work you have performed and the clarity and coherence of your arguments and writing. 


 If you decide not to participate in this class any more, you are responsible for withdrawing yourself before ACC’s official drop date.  Failure to do this will result in an F on your academic record.

A law that affects all Texas state colleges and universities states that: “students attending Texas public colleges can withdraw from no more than six courses during their undergraduate career. The withdrawal limit applies to first-time college students and follows them until they graduate. Current and returning students are not affected.”


Grades of Incomplete

 On very rare occasions, I may assign a temporary grade of “Incomplete” at the end of the semester.  It is to your benefit to complete the course during the semester in which you are registered.  Many students who are granted an “Incomplete” grade never complete the course and end up with an “F” in the subsequent semester.  The following is from the ACC Student Handbook:

“The grade of “I” (for incomplete) may be given by an instructor for a course in which a student was unable to complete all of the objectives for the passing grade. A grade of “I” cannot be carried beyond the established date in the following semester or session. Grades of “I” that are not resolved by the deadline will automatically be converted to a grade of “F.””

In order to receive a grade of “Incomplete” you must meet all of the following conditions: 

·There is a valid reason for needing the delay (I may ask you to provide documentation supporting your reason).

·You request the Incomplete grade in writing and complete the necessary forms at least ten days before the last day of the semester.

·You have completed at least 2 of the 4 exams with at least a "C" average.  

·You have participated in at least 3 of the 4 discussion forums.


Accommodations for Students with Disabilities


Students with disabilities who believe that they may need accommodations in this class are encouraged to contact the Office of Students with Disabilities (OSD) at any ACC campus as soon as possible to better ensure that such accommodations are implemented in a timely fashion. 


Scholastic Honesty

All work submitted in this course should be your own; any violations of ACC’s  Student Code of Conduct regarding plagiarism or collusion will cause you to receive a failing grade in this course and to be referred to the Dean of Student Services.  A record of this disciplinary action will remain a permanent part of your academic file. 

Plagiarismis the appropriating, buying, receiving as a gift, or obtaining by any means another’s work or ideas and the unacknowledged submission or incorporation of it in one’s own work.  Collusion is the unauthorized collaboration with another person in preparing written work for fulfillment of course-work. 

For information regarding proper documentation refer to the “Documentation and Plagiarism” guidelines available at the ACC Library. If you are not sure about how to document your sources properly, get help from one of our librarians. They are even available to you through the “live chat” format.


Email Guidelines

Because this is an online course, most of our communication will be through email. Students are expected to review all the information below and to use the email guidelines in all email communications with me or my TAs.

Send all your emails from your ACC email address. I reserve the right to delete emails that do not come from your ACC email address. ACC will send important information and will notify you of any college related emergencies using this account.

Instructions for activating an ACCmail account can be found at

The “subject” of your email should always follow the same format:

the five digit course synonym, (one space)Your last name, first name: (one space) the topic of your correspondence

For example, if the synonym for this course were 12345 and Rory Gilmore were sending an email about the orientation, Rory’s subject would have to be:

12345, Gilmore, Rory: Orientation Question


I receive hundreds of emails each week. In order for me to keep track of your messages, it is essential for you to follow the above format.


Please note that if your email does not fit this format, I reserve the right to ignore it.

Please maintain a professional tone in all your communications with us and with your classmates.  Your emails should read like professional letters, not like text messages even if you use a small device such as a phone to send your emails. 

Here are some guidelines to help you with your emails to your professors or others who don’t know you very well. Thanks to the writing lab at Purdue University for compiling this short list (my additions are in italics). I expect all your emails to follow these guidelines (so do your other professors and potential employers).

  • Be sure to include a meaningful subject line; this helps clarify what your message is about and may also help the recipient prioritize reading your email (use the subject line format described above).


  • Just like a written letter, be sure to open your email with a greeting like Dear Dr. Jones, or Ms. Smith. If you are writing to someone who has a professional title, use that title (for example, “Dr.” or “Professor”, instead of Mr. or Ms.


  • And just like a written letter, end your email with a closing, such as “Sincerely,


Rory Gilmore”


  • Use standard spelling, punctuation, and capitalization. THERE'S NOTHING WORSE THAN AN EMAIL SCREAMING A MESSAGE IN ALL CAPS. (OK, maybe an email written as if it were a text message is worse!)


  • Write clear, short paragraphs and be direct and to the point; professionals and academics alike see their email accounts as business. Don't write unnecessarily long emails or otherwise waste the recipient's time
  • Be friendly and cordial, but don't try to joke around (jokes and witty remarks may be inappropriate and, more commonly, may not come off appropriately in email).
  • And before you ask a question, make sure the answer is not already available to you (for example in the syllabus, a previous email, or in an announcement).

Questions, Comments


If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to talk to me.  My office hours are for you. If you are having trouble understanding a concept, ask me to help you clarify it. Sometimes I can give you a different example from the ones in the book or explain something to you in a different way that helps you understand the concept better. 


So make a list of your specific questions as you study.  If after finishing the chapter and maybe taking a practice quiz, you still have those questions, contact me.


I will respond to specific questions. If you say something like: “I just don’t understand the chapter about the brain”, I will ask you to study the chapter and make a list of specific questions.


Some Learning Labs have a psychology tutor who may be an additional source of help for you (check with individual Learning Labs).