Introduction to Psychology – PSYC 101-05

Longwood University – Spring Semester – 2014


Chris Bjornsen, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology

Office: Ruffner 305; 395-2736,

Office Hours: MW 3-4, TR 1-2, and any time I’m there.

Time/Location: T/R 11:00 – 12:15 in Ruffner 312 and 314

Catalog course description:

A discussion of the relevant contemporary issues in psychology, and how they affect our lives and our society. Basic psychological processes are discussed to explain practical consequences.  Interconnections with other disciplines are emphasized.  3 credits.

Additional course description:

In this class we will explore some of the fundamental theories and research in psychology. We will also learn about psychological disorders and the treatment of these disorders. This class is intended to give you a broad introduction to the areas of psychology that deal with social behavior and interaction, responding to life’s challenges and stressors, and those elements that make up one’s personality. This class is also intended to give you the opportunity to discover how exciting and thought-provoking it can be to understand yourself and others from the perspective of the discipline of psychology.


Required Books:

Psychology, An Exploration (2nd Ed). Saundra Ciccarelli & Noland White, 2013, Prentice-Hall. (Spring 2015 sections will use 3rd ed.)

Saving Normal: An Insider’s Revolt Against Out-of-Control Psychiatric Diagnosis, DSM-5, Big Pharma, and the Medicalization of Ordinary Life. Allen Frances, 2013, HarperCollins.

Course objectives:  Students will demonstrate an understanding of:

  1. the major methods of psychological inquiry, including an understanding of the procedures of psychological research (i.e., research projects, research participation), andan understanding of the code of ethics of the American Psychological Association as applied to research, therapy, and teaching
  1. the major theories and empirical results in psychology
  1. how psychology has been used to address significant contemporary issues, including an understanding of how to examine social and human problems from the perspective of psychology, and how to apply critical thinking and problem solving to the human condition

Course Requirements:

3 Tests – Multiple choice and short essay 100 points each
Completion of Dr. Bjornsen’s online questionnaire 10% extra credit on Test 1
Paper – review of book: Saving Normal 100 points
Final Exam – on Saving Normal and 15 cumulative items 100 points
Research Experience Assignment 0% – 4% of Final Grade
Above Assignments added together 100% of Final Grade
Completion of Dr. Bjornsen’s cell phone study 3% extra credit on Final Grade

This will be a difficult course for most students, because of the amount of NEW terms, facts, and concepts that comprise the content of the course. All students must know that reading chapters in the text before the lectures is expected. There is not nearly enough time to cover all text material in class; nevertheless, students are expected to learn all of the information in each textbook chapter covered. Students are encouraged to ask the instructor questions, whenever necessary, about text material not covered in lectures.

Students need to be prepared to take thorough notes during class. The professor will not give printed lecture outlines, and will not save Power Point slides on Blackboard. Students should know at least one other student in the class who is willing to share his/her notes in the event a class is missed.


No tests are cumulative. Tests will be administered in class in paper format (not online). No books or notes may be used during tests. Students will need pencils and their student ID for the tests. Tests will contain multiple-choice and essay questions.  No test scores will be dropped.

Completion of Dr. Bjornsen’s online questionnaire.

Dr. Bjornsen is continuing data collection on a study begun last semester. Students who are willing to participate can go to the following Survey Monkey page ( ) and complete the questionnaire. It will take students approximately 30-40 minutes to complete. The topic of the study is normal, healthy changes in family relationships and maturation in college-age students and does not include any questions about disorders or psychological problems. Participation in the study is confidential. (No one but Dr. Bjornsen will see individual results.) Students who complete the questionnaire will receive 10% extra credit on the first test.


Students will read the new bookSaving Normal: An Insider’s Revolt Against Out-of-Control Psychiatric Diagnosis, DSM-5, Big Pharma, and the Medicalization of Ordinary Life, by Allen Frances, 2013, HarperCollins. In order to gain a full appreciate of the field of psychology, one must understand one of the major functions of the field, namely the diagnosis and treatment of psychological disorders. In many ways psychology is succeeding in this endeavor, and in many ways it is not. This book is a critical analysis of the state of the field of psychology (and psychiatry) in this regard.

For this paper, students will write a summary and reaction/application for the entire book. The paper must contain sections for each chapter of the book, and each section should be labeled using the chapter number and chapter title. Each section of the paper must provide a summary of the major points of a chapter, as well as the student’s understanding of, reaction to, and application of the content of that chapter. Application means to apply the information from the text to your own life or the lives of people you know.

The paper will be graded according to the following:

A. Mechanics: The quality of the syntax and grammar of the paper. You need to write in clear, complete sentences and correct any errors in syntax, grammar, spelling, and punctuation before turning in the paper.  The paper must be at least 10 full pages in length, double-spaced, 1-inch margins, and 12-point font. The reaction/application for each chapter must be approximately one full page.

B. Structure: The quality of the overall structure of the paper. You need to have an introductory paragraph, and a conclusion. The introductory paragraph tells the reader in very general terms what the paper is about. The conclusion is a wrap-up and provides the “take home message” for the paper. Do NOT include any new information in the conclusion. That is not the place to introduce any new information. All other separate paragraphs of the paper should communicate your understanding of and reaction to/application of the important points of each chapter.


C. Message: Finally, the quality of the explanation and interpretation of the book. How well did the student explain, interpret, and apply the information from each chapter?

This assignment should also prepare you very well for the final exam.

Final Exam

The final exam will be all multiple-choice questions, and the majority of the questions will cover the content of the book Saving Normal.  There will also be 15 multiple-choice questions from content covered throughout the semester, and Dr. Bjornsen will provide students with the list of topics covered in these questions.

Students may request an alternate date/time to take the final exam only if a student has more than two final exams scheduled for the day of the exam for this course.

Research experience assignment.

This assignment is worth 4% of your final grade. You can earn between 1% and 4% of your final grade, depending on your efforts. The assignment is completed by participating in research projects within the department of psychology or completing the paper assignment described below.

One research credit will be equivalent to 30 minutes of research participation – some research sessions may be worth more than one credit depending on the amount of time that is required of you (e.g., an hour long session is worth two credits). The amount of time for each session and the associated number of credits will be posted on Sona Systems when you sign up to participate.

To sign up for the research projects, go to the following web site and click on New Participant: the Sona-Systems website, students will create an account that they will use to sign up for research sessions as they become available. Once sessions are available they will be listed on the website. Students will select sessions to participate in, sign up for them, write down when and where the studies will take place, and be sure to attend the sessions. Students only receive credit for completed sessions.  The Sona-Systems website will record your participation; there is no need for students to inform Dr. Bjornsen of completed studies.

Alternatively, if you are opposed to participating in research or have scheduling conflicts, you can read and summarize research project papers by past senior psychology students for credits (one credit per summary). These papers can be requested from Dr. Bjornsen. You can complete any combination of research sessions and paper summaries in order to earn the 4% points.  Students must inform Dr. Bjornsen of intent to complete the papers instead of participating in the studies no later than the last day of class before Spring Break.


Cell phone study:

Dr. Bjornsen is continuing a study that began last semester on the effects of the use of cell phones in class. (See handout given in class.) In short, students are allowed to use cell phones in class only in their lap, not on the desk. Cell phones must not be on the desk during class, and must be set to “silent.” Students may NOT leave the room during class, as noted below, and that includes leaving class in order to answer or make a call on one’s cell phone. Important: Dr. Bjornsen is not encouraging students to use cell phones in class, and is not suggesting it is a good idea or a bad idea. After the end of the semester, cell phone use data will be analyzed in comparison to course grades and overall GPA to investigate the question: Does cell phone use in the classroom have an effect on achievement in college.


Data will be collected at the end of each lecture class using the form given out in class. In addition to answering questions about cell phone use in this class on that day, students are also given the opportunity to write questions or comments about class. Dr. Bjornsen will read the comments each day and send an email to the class with the answers. Last semester, this form proved to be a highly valuable tool to solicit student comments and questions that we couldn’t get to in class or students did not want to share verbally during class.

Extensions, Make-up Policies.

Extensions on assignments, make-up tests, etc. may be given, at the discretion of the instructor, only for the following reasons: (1) Prior to the exam date or assignment due date, the student has requested an extension because the assignment/exam conflicts with a college-sponsored activity (such as a class field trip or LU sport team event). (2) The student has requested an extension, prior to the exam/assignment due date, due to a serious illness (for which medical attention was sought) or family emergency. (3) The student was hospitalized and could not request an extension prior to the exam date or due date of the assignment. No other reasons for missing an exam or assignment will be considered. Except for the reasons stated above, students will be given a grade of zero for assignments/quizzes/tests missed. The final exam will be given on the date and time assigned by the University, as printed in the official exam schedule.  The only exception to this rule is if a student has more than two final exams on one day, he or she may request that he/she be given the exam on a day that is agreeable to the professor and student.

Grading policy

Final course grades will be calculated as a percentage of total points earned for tests and final exam, and will be converted to letter grades as follows:


100% –  93% = A                  79% – 77% = C+

92% –  90% = A-                 76% – 73% = C

89% – 87% = B+                72% – 70% = C-

86% – 83% = B                   69% – 67% = D+

82% – 80% = B-                 66% – 63% = D

62% – 60% = D-

59% –    0% = F


Final grades will be rounded up from .50, and down from .49. For example, an 89.5 final grade will be rounded up to a 90, and an 89.49 final grade will NOT be rounded up to a 90, but will be rounded down to an 89. Final grades will not be available until the grades are posted on the University web site.


Students are expected to attend all classes. Most of the students in this class are freshmen, and during the first year it is essential to develop the discipline and motivation to get to class regularly and on-time. Students who do not attend class regularly often fail out of college, and none of us want that to happen.

Attendance will be taken at the beginning of class. If a student is not present in the classroom when his or her name is called, he or she is absent for that day.

Students will receive a grade of “0” or “F” on work missed because of unexcused absences. Course grades will be lowered one letter grade if the student misses (absent) 10 percent of the scheduled class meeting times for unexcused absences. A course grade of “F” will be assigned if a student has missed a total (excused and unexcused) of 25 percent of the scheduled class meeting times.

Students must assume full responsibility for any loss incurred because of absence, whether excused or unexcused. Students will be allowed to make up work when the absence is excused. Excused absences are those resulting from the student’s participation in a college-sponsored activity, from recognizable emergencies, or from serious illness. Documentation for excused absences is required. Student Health Services can provide documentation only for students hospitalized locally or absent at the direction of Student Health Services personnel.

Students are required to be in class when class is scheduled to begin, and to remain focused on class activities until the professor has indicated class is completed. If a student misses a class, the student is responsible for what was discussed or taught in class that day. The professor will not provide students with handouts or notes or lend students videotapes shown in class, unless a student missed a class for a documented emergency or University-sponsored event. It is always best to ask the professor beforehand if your reason for missing class would be excused or not. Information presented via Power Point in class will not be available in Canvas after class. Students therefore should be prepared to take notes each class, or get notes from a classmate. Notes missed due to a University-sponsored event (e.g., athletic team travel) must be obtained from another student. Videos or handouts missed due to a University-sponsored event (e.g., athletic team travel) may be provided by the instructor, with approval given prior to the missed class.

Honor Code and Student Responsibilities for Classroom Engagement

Students are expected to assume full responsibility for their actions, and refrain from lying, cheating, stealing, and plagiarism. University penalties for infraction of the Honor Code are detailed in the Student Handbook, which students can find on-line within the Longwood University web pages and are responsible for understanding and following. If the professor believes a student has violated the Honor Code, the student will receive an “F” for the course. The professor may also file Honor Code charges against the student.

During class students are expected to be “on task” and paying attention at all times. Students should be aware that the Student Handbook states that interfering with the duties of a student, faculty, or staff member is a Judicial Code offense, and can result in academic probation. It is the responsibility of your professor to protect and promote a classroom environment that meets high educational standards. The professor will enforce the following policies for classroom conduct. The professor will determine the degree to which such disruptions will affect the student’s assigned work and grades, and possibly result in the filing of Judicial Code charges.

The following are not allowed and will result in reductions in the student’s final grade:

  • Using a laptop in class.
  • Arriving late
  • Leaving class before Dr. Bjornsen has ended class
  • Packing up one’s belongings before Dr. Bjornsen has ended class
  • Private conversations between students during class
  • Falling asleep in class, or putting one’s head down on the desk as if asleep
  • Reading or doing work during class that is not for this class and the topic of that day’s class
  • Eating food or snacks or candy in the classroom
  • Audiotaping a lecture without permission of the professor

Other violations of proper student conduct may arise during the semester, and the professor will discuss these with students at appropriate times. 

Course Schedule 

The last day to add/drop is January 21 at 5:00 p.m. and the last day to withdraw is March 10 at 5 p.m.


Tuesday Thursday
Jan 14 Syllabus, photos, introduction Jan 16 Chapter 5 Memory
Jan 21 Chapter 5 Memory Jan 23 Chapter 1 The Science of Psychology
Jan 28 Chapter 1 The Science of Psychology Jan 30 Chapter 2 Biological Perspective
Feb 4 Chapter 2 Biological Perspective Feb 6 Chapter 4 Learning.
Feb 11Chapter 4 Learning Feb 13 Test 1 (Chs 1, 2, 4, 5)
Feb 18 Chapter 6 Consciousness & Cognition Feb 20 Chapter 6 Consciousness & Cognition
Feb 25 Chapter 7 Lifespan Development Feb 27 Chapter 7 Lifespan Development
Mar 4 Spring Break Mar 6 Spring Break
Mar 11 Chapter 7 Lifespan Development Mar 13 Chapter 8 Motivation & Emotion
Mar 18 Chapter 8 Motivation & Emotion Mar 20 Chapter 9 Stress & Health.
Mar 25 Chapter 9 Stress & Health Mar 27 Test 2 (Chs 6, 7, 8, 9)
Apr 1 Chapter 10 Social Psychology Apr 3 Chapter 11 Personality & Intelligence. Paper due.
Apr 8 Chapter 11 Personality & Intelligence Apr 10 Chapter 12 Psychological Disorders
Apr 15 Chapter 12 Psychological Disorders Apr 17 Chapter 13 Psychological Therapies
Apr 22 Chapter 13 Psychological Therapies Apr 24  Test 3 (Chs 10, 11, 12, 13)
Monday, April 28 – Final Exam – 3:00-5:30 (Saving Normal, plus 15 cumulative items)


The instructor reserves the right to make changes to the above syllabus during the semester if necessary, with proper notification provided to students either during class or via email (Longwood University email addresses will be used).


If you have a disability and require accommodations, please meet with me early in the semester to discuss your learning needs. If you wish to request reasonable accommodations (note-taking support, extended time for tests, etc.), you will need to register with the Office of Disability Resources (Graham Hall, 395-2391). The office will require appropriate documentation of disability. All information is kept confidential.