• AP Psychology





    Instructor Name : Dr. N. Starling

    ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­South Effingham High School


    General Objectives: For most of you, this class will probably be the first college level course. Due to the subjective nature of this class, you will be exposed to thinking styles and terminology that are unique and which at first may seem somewhat perplexing. As you learn more about this type of material some of this initial frustration should diminish. In this class, you will have the opportunity to complete a challenging course on an academic level, while also having an opportunity to learn a great deal about yourself and your fellow human beings.



    Expectations: Students will be expected to do the following this semester: 1). Read the textbook as the material is covered in class. 2). Complete in-class assignments on a timely basis. 3). Contribute to class discussions. 4). Complete a research projects on the topics related to the field of psychology (Theorist/disorders).5). This course will represent the beginning of the journey through college-level academic work. 6). You will learn how to analyze problems effectively, improve your writing skills and prepare for exams.


    Methodology: The information if this course will be presented in a number of ways. Multiple intelligence theory is utilized-audio, visual, individual, group, etc. There will be lectures, class discussions, audio-visual presentations, and guest speakers. Psychology is a fascination science and it is possible to explore this field through a variety of methods. We will take advantage of these various possibilities.


    Course Objectives:

    State Quality Core Curriculum Standards


    Psychology Objectives: State Standards


    1. Psychology: Defines psychology and its associated subject matter.
    2. Psychology: Examines the relationship of psychology to the other sciences and social sciences:
      • biology
      • genetics
      • neuroscience, and
      • sociology 


    1. Foundational Psychologists: Identifies major psychologists and their contributions- Wilhelm Wundt (structuralism)
      • William James (functionalism)
      • John Watson (behaviorism)
      • Ivan Pavlov (biological psychology)
      • Max Wertheimer (Gestalt, and
      • Sigmund Freud (psychoanalysis)


    1. Scientific Method: Identifies the scientific method used by psychologist in a psychological experiment


    1. Uniqueness: Evaluates the uniqueness of human nature and the concept of personhood.
      • Intellect/conceptual thought
      • Freedom to choose/ free will
      • Ethical responsibility (standards)
      • Moral accountability (obligations), and
      • Inalienable rights of personhood


    1. Ethics: Evaluates ethical considerations in psychological experiments
    2. Principles: Discusses principles in human development
    3. Influential Factors: Differentiates between the influences of heredity/biology and environment on human behavior
    4. Personality: Defines various personality traits and describes the multifaceted development of personality.
    5. Methodology: Examines various methods of measuring personality traits and intellect
    6. Methods: Identifies the methods of learning
      • classical conditioning
      • instrumental conditioning
      • modeling (verbal/live)
      • retention (memory recall, and
      • reinforcement/punishment


    1.  Learning/Memory: Distinguishes among learning, remembering and forgetting
    2.  Thinking Types: Differentiates among various types of thinking:
      • autistic/ directed
      • convergent/divergent
      • associative/generative, and
      • creative problem solving


    1. Awareness : Examines the factors that promote awareness
    2. Emotion: Describes and discusses the nature, source and function of emotions
    3. Motivation: Describes the factors that influence motivation:
      • instinct
      • need
      • drive, and
      • learned behavior


    1.   Conflict Resolution: Discusses normal abnormal reactions to conflict and frustration associated with incompatible motive conditions
      • approach/approach
      • avoidance/avoidance and
      • approach/avoidance


    1. Personality Disturbances: Describes various emotional, physiological and environmental personality disturbances
    2. Methodology:  Evaluates various methods of therapy for personality disturbances:
      • somatic and
      • psychotherapy


    Course Themes


         The course will focus on the following THEMES as we cover the major topics of study.  These THEMES are from the Psychology: Themes & Variations textbook by 6th edition by Wayne Weiten.


    Theme 1:  Psychology is Empirical

    Theme 2 : Psychology is  theoretically diverse

    Theme 3 : Psychology evolves in a sociohistorical context

    Theme 4 : Behavior is determined by multiple causes

    Theme 5 : Behavior is shaped by cultural heritage

    Theme 6 : Heredity and environment jointly influence behavior

    Theme 7 : People’s experience of the world is highly subjective


    Taxonomy of Skills Covered in the Critical Thinking Applications (Weiten Text)


    Verbal Reasoning Skills

      • Understanding the way definitions shape how people think about issues
      • Identifying the soured of definitions
      • Avoiding the nominal fallacy in working with definitions and labels
      • Understanding the way language can influence thought
      • Recognizing semantic slanting
      • Recognizing name calling and anticipatory name calling
      • Recognizing and avoiding reification


    Argument/Persuasion Analysis Skills

      • Understanding the elements of an argument
      • Recognizing and avoiding common fallacies, such as irrelevant reasons, circular reasoning, slippery slope reasoning, weak analogies, and false dichotomies
      • Evaluating arguments systematically
      • Recognizing and avoiding appeals to ignorance
      • Understanding how Pavlovian conditioning can be used to manipulate emotions
      • Developing the ability to detect conditioning procedures used in the media
      • Recognizing social influences strategies
      • Judging the credibility of an information source


    Skills in Thinking as Hypothesis Testing

      • Looking for alternative explanations for findings and events
      • Looking for contradictory evidence
      • Recognizing the limitations of anecdotal evidence
      • Understanding the need to seek disconfirming evidence
      • Understanding the limitations of correlational evidence
      • Understanding the limitations of statistical significance
      • Recognizing situations in which placebo effects might occur



    Skills Working with Likelihood and Uncertainty

      • Utilizing base rates in making predictions and evaluating probabilities
      •  Understanding cumulative probabilities
      • Understanding conjunctive probabilities
      • Understanding the limitations of the representativeness heuristic
      • Understanding the limitations of availability heuristic
      • Recognizing situations in which regression toward the mean may occur
      • Understanding the limits of extrapolation


    Decision-Making and Problem-Solving Skills

      • Using evidence-based decision making
      • Recognizing the bias in hindsight analysis
      • Seeking information to reduce uncertainty
      • Making risk-benefit assessments
      • Generating and evaluating alternative courses of action
      • Recognizing overconfidence in human memory
      • Understanding how contrast effects can influence judgments and decisions
      • Recognizing when extreme comparitors are being used










    National Standards for High School Psychology Curricula ( American Psychology Association) Endorsed by National Council for the Social Studies


    Domains and Standard Areas (Each Standard area refers to a major topic or unit representing a subdivision of psychology)


    I.                   Methods Domain

                          A. Introduction and Research Methods


    II.                Biopsychological Domain

    A.    Biological Bases of Behavior

    B.     Sensation and Perception

    C.     Motivation and Emotion

    D.    Stress, Coping and Health


    III.             Developmental Domain

    A.    Life Span Development

    B.     Personality and Assessment


    IV.             Cognitive Domain

    A.    Learning

    B.     Memory

    C.     Thinking and Language

    D.    States of Consciousness

    E.     Individual Differences


    V.                Variations in Individual and Group Behavior Domain

    A.    Psychological Disorders

    B.     Treatment of Psychological Disorders

    C.     Social and Cultural Dimensions of Behavior


    Course Outline Format (National Standards Model/Weiten Themes)


    Unit                                                     Domain                                    Themes

    Intro & Research Method               Methods                                          1 & 7


    Life Span Development                  Developmental                                2, 3, 4,5,6


    Biological Bases of Behavior         Biopsychological                            1, 4, 6


    Sensation & Perception                   Biopsychological                           2, 5, 7


    Motivation & Emotion                     Biopsychological                           2,3, 4,5,6


    Stress, Coping, and Health               Biopsychological                           4 & 7


          Learning                                            Cognitive                                       3 & 6


          Memory                                             Cognitive                                       2, 4, 7


          States of Consciousness                     Cognitive                                      2, 3, 5, 7


          Thinking  & Language                       Cognitive                                      1, 5, 6, 7


           Individual Differences                       Cognitive                                      1, 5, 7


           Personality and Assessment               Developmental                             3 & 5


           Psychological Disorders                     Variations in Individual/             3, 4, 5, 6

                                                                        Group Behavior

           Treatment of Psychological                Variations in Individual/             2, 5, 6

            Disorders                                              Group Behavior


            Social and Cultural Dimensions           Variations in Individual/           1, 5, 7

            of Behavior                                           Group Behavior




    First 9 weeks Objectives: PowerPoint project- (psychologist/their theory and field of study). You will be introduced to Psychology at a level consistent with the demands of a college level class. We will cover the first 8 chapters.


    Unit One: Evolution, Research, and Biological Bases


    Curriculum Requirements:

    I.                   Chapter 1-The Evolution of Psychology

    II.                Chapter 2-Research Enterprises in Psychology

    III.             Chapter 3-Biological Bases of Behavior



    1.      Empiricism

    2.      Theoretical Diversity

    3.      Sociohistorical Context

    4.      Multifactorial Causation

    5.      Cultural Hertitage

    6.      Heredity & Environment

    7.      Subjectivity of Experience


    Discussion Topics

    Assessment & Assignments

    1.      From Speculation to Science: How Psychology Developed

    2.      Psychology Today: vigorous and diversified

    3.      Personal Application: Improving study habits

    4.      The Scientific Approach to Behavior

    5.      Looking for Causes: Experimental Research

    6.      Looking for Links: Descriptive/Correlational Research

    7.      Looking for Conclusions: Statistics & Research

    8.      Looking for Flaws: Evaluating Research

    9.      Looking for Ethics: Do the Ends justify the means?

    10.  Journal article Review: Little Albert story

    11.  Communication in the Nervous System

    12.  Looking inside the Brain: Research methods

    13.  The Brain & Behavior

    14.  Journal Review: Phineas Gage story (essay)

    15.  Right Brain/Left Brain – Experiment in class/homework

    16.  Brain Test video- Q & A

    17.  The Endocrine System

    18.  Heredity and Behavior

    19.  Journal Review- article Sir Frances Galton’s research

    20.  Evolutionary Bases of Behavior 

    21.  Critical Thinking Application

    22.   Key terms & Key people

    23.  Practice Test

    24.  Reading Quizzes for each chapter- multiple choice and free response analysis

    25.  Exam- 1, 2, 3


    Unit Two: Sensation & Perception, Variations in Consciousness


    Curriculum Requirements:

    IV.             Chapter 4-Sensation & Perception

    V.                Chapter 5- Variations in Consciousness



        2. Theoretical Diversity

        3. Sociohistorical Context

        5. Cultural Heritage

       7.  Subjectivity of Experience


    Discussion topics

    Assessments & Assignments


    1. Psychophysic: Basic Concepts and Issues
    2. The Visual System
    3. The Auditory System
    4. Chemical Senses: Taste & Smell
    5. Sense of touch: sensory system in the skin
    6. Other senses
    7. Class lab- experiment modules, students move from table to table and perform  and record data from each experiment
    8.  Philip Zimbardo Series: Variations in Consciousness (Q & A)
    9. The Nature of Consciousness
    10. Biological Rhythms and Sleep
    11. Sleep & Waking Cycle
    12. The World of Dreams
    13. Hypnosis: Altered Consciousness  or role play
    14. Meditation: Pure Consciousness or Relaxation
    15. Guest speaker: Counselor (thematic imagery activity)
    16. Altering Conscious with Drugs
    17. Excerpts for the book Go Ask Alice (Q & A)
    18. Personal Application
    19. Critical Thinking Application
    20. Key Terms & Key People
    21. Reading Quizzes each chapter
    22.  Extra Credit : Sleep Experiment (weekend only) Set alarm and record sleep data into a journal/ analyze data and report to the class
    23.  Exam- multiple choice and free response



     Unit Three: Learning, Human Memory. Language & Thought


    Curriculum Requirements:

    VI.             Chapter 6-Learning

    VII.          Chapter 7-Human Memory

    VIII.       Chapter 8-Language & Thought



      1. Empiricism

      2. Theorectical Diversity  

      3. Sociohistorical Context

      4. Multifactorial Causation

      5. Cultural Heritage

      6. Heredity and Environment

      7. Subjectivity of Experience


    Discussion Topics

    Assessments & Assignments

    1.      Journal Reflection: How you learn

    2.      Teach someone something and record the data (homework)

    3.      Classical Conditioning

    4.      Operant Conditioning

    5.      Changing Directions in the Study of Conditioning

    6.      Observational Learning

    7.      Journal Article Review: Pavlov’s conditioning

    8.      Cooperative Learning: Review and discuss various learning scenarios

    9.      Philip Zimbardo: Memory Series (Q & A)

    10.  Encoding

    11.  Storage

    12.  Retrieval

    13.  Forgetting: When Memory Lapses

    14.  The Physiology of Memory

    15.  Journal Review Writing: David’s Story

    16.  Personal Application: Improving memory

    17.  In class chunking activity

    18.  Language : Turning Thoughts into Words

    19.  Problem Solving

    20.  In class problem solving activities (individual & cooperative)

    21.  Decision making

    22.  Critical Thinking Application

    23.   Reading Quizzes each chapter

    24.   Writing responses each chapter

    25.   Presentations: Psychologist (exa. Bandura, Skinner, Loftus, Gilligan, Jung, Milgram, Piaget, etc)

    26.  Key Terms & Key People

    27.  Practice Tests

    28.  Exam   



    Second 9 weeks Objectives: PowerPoint project- (disorder/treatment)

    You will continue to keep a “book of self” (15% of the second 9 week grade)


    Unit Four: IQ & Psychological Testing, Motivation and Emotion

    Curriculum Requirements

    I.                   Chapter 9- Intelligence & Psychological Testing

    II.                Chapter 10-Motivation & Emotion



       2. Theoretical Diversity

       3. Sociohistorical Context

       4. Multifactorial Causation

       5. Cultural Heritage

       6. Heredity and Environment


    Discussion topics

    Assessment & Assignments

    1. Key concepts in Psychological Testing
    2. Special Guest: School Psychologist (experiment-interactive testing elementary school test)
    3. Evolution of Intelligence Testing
    4. Journal article: Binet
    5. Extremes of Intelligence
    6. Heredity and Enviroment
    7. New directions in assessment
    8. Motivational Theories and Concepts
    9. Cooperative Learning-various types of emotion explored-example James-Lange, Cannon Bard, Schachter’s two factor
    10.  Personal Application: Exploring the Ingredients of happiness
    11. Key terms & Key People
    12. Reading quizzes
    13.  Writing responses
    14. Exam



    Unit Five: Human Development, Theory, Research and Assessment, Stress

    Curriculum Requirements

    III.             Chapter 11-Human Development Across the Life Span

    IV.             Chapter 12- Personality Theory, Research & Assessment

    V.                Chapter 13-Stress, Coping and Health



        2. Theoretical Diversity

        3. Sociohistorical Context

        4. Multifactorial Causation

        5. Cultural Heritage

        6. Heredity & Environment


    Discussion topics

    Assessments & Assignments

    1. Prenatal Development
    2. Wondrous Years of Childhood
    3. Transition of Adolescence
    4. Expanse of Adulthood
    5. Internet Research Activity-interactive personality test (write up data)
    6.  Nature of Personality
    7. Twin Studies
    8. Psychodynamic Perspective
    9. Behavioral Perspective
    10. Humanistic Perspective
    11. Biological Perspective
    12. Contemporary Empirical Approaches to Personality
    13. Cooperative Learning Activity: four perspectives explored
    14.  Stress Test- Holmes & Rahe (College version)
    15. The nature of stress
    16. Responding to stress
    17. Effects of stress on psychological Functioning
    18. Effects of stress on physical health
    19. Factors Moderating the impact of stress
    20. Health impairing behavior
    21. reaction to illness
    22. guest speaker: counselor (coping skills, Q & A)
    23. Personal Application: improving coping and stress management
    24. Reading quizzes
    25. Key terms & key people
    26. writing responses
    27. Exam


    Unit Six: Psychological Disorders an d Treatment, Social Behavior


    Curriculum Requirements

    VI.             Chapter 14-Psychological Disorders

    VII.          Chapter 15-Treatment of Psychological Disorders

    VIII.       Chapter 16-Social Behavior



    1.      Empiricism

    2.      Theoretical Diversity

    3.      Sociohistorical Context

    4.      Multifactorial Causation

    5.      Cultural Heritage

    6.      Heredity and Environment

    7.      Subjectivity of Experience


    Discussion Topics

    Assessments and Assignments

    1. Abnormal Behavior: myths, realities, controversies
    2. anxiety disorders
    3. somatoform disorders
    4. dissociative disorders
    5. mood disorders
    6. schizophrenic disorders
    7. personality disorders
    8. Psychological Disorders and the law
    9. Culture and Pathology
    10.  Excerpts A Beautiful Mind (Q & A)
    11.  Three Faces of Eve (Q & A)
    12.  Excerpt Monk, As good as it gets (Q & A)
    13.  Philip Zimbardo series : Disorder and treatment
    14.  Elements of the Treatment process
    15. Insight Therapies
    16. Behavior Therapies
    17. Biomedical Therapies
    18.  Current Trends and issues in treatment
    19. Institutional treatment in transition
    20.  Case studies- Cooperative Activity (symptoms/treatment) Written responses/oral
    21.  Person Perception: forming impressions of others
    22. attribution processes: explaining behavior
    23. close relationships: liking and loving
    24. Attitudes: making social judgements
    25. Conformity and Obedience
    26. Journal Article review: Stanley Milgram Experiment
    27.  Watch the Stanley MilgramExperiment (Q & A)
    28.  Watch the Wave (Q & A)
    29.  Examine the Brown eyed blue eyed experiment (Q & A)
    30.  Behavior in groups: joining in with others
    31.   Personal application
    32. Key terms and key people
    33.  Reading quizzes
    34.  Writing responses and analysis
    35.   Exam




    Text: Psychology: Themes & Variations (sixth edition)

    Author: Wayne Weiten


    Guest speakers

    Concept Charts for study and review

    Psychology Today (Issues-Five years past to present)

    Brain Models

    Auditory Models


    Standard Deviants Psychology




    Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders

    American Psychiatric Association

    National Standards for High School Psychology Curricula

    American Psychological Association



    AP Course Demands: It should be understood at the outset that the expectations of this class are consistent with those of any Advanced Placement course. Students should expect a workload similar to what they would have if they were to complete this course at a college level. This includes extensive reading, active involvement in class discussions, writing, taking notes and doing research.


    AP Exam: One goal for this course is to prepare students to take the Advanced Placement exam in May. Students who earn a passing grade on this exam will receive credit for an introductory course in Psychology in college.


    Grading:    Summative- Test, projects, and summative performance task- 60%

                        Formative-   instructional task, quizzes (2), homework, 

                                                                              -“Book of Self” (experiments,

                                                                              journal reviews, personality test, birth

                                                                              order, mock marriage project, aptitude

                                                                              test, etc.)




    *Local Test-20% of the student’s final numeric grade in the course


    • Please Note that since this is an Honors course-5 points will be added at the end of the course per county requirement .                 
    • Make-up tests-If you miss an exam due to an absence, you must make up your text within 3 school days. You must schedule a make-up with me on an individual basis.
    • On a personal note: As your instructor, I will do everything possible to make this class both interesting and challenging. I will give my best effort and I only ask the same from each of you as students. Plan to come to class prepared and alert. I will try to get to know each of you personally and to be available for any problems or concerns that arise during this semester. My email address is
Last Modified on July 31, 2020