Psychology 101-02 - Winter 2012

Introductory to Psychology


Dr. Steven J. Spencer

PAS 3043 ext. 33046

Office hours: Mondays 4-6pm and Tuesdays 1:30-2:30pm

Course website:


Libby Berry

PAS 3252

Office hours: TBA


Merrick Levene

PAS 4043

Office hours: Wednesday 11:30am - 2:30pm


Lectures: Tuesdays 6:30-9:30 in the Humanities Theatre

Required texts

Text: Krause, M., & Corts, D. (2012). Psychological Science: Modeling Scientific Literacy

Readings: Posted on the course website

Course descriptions and objectives

This is an introductory course in psychology, which means that we will be covering all areas of psychology in the course. It is designed to introduce you to the field of psychology as a whole, and to the major theories and findings in the discipline. The course is designed so that you can meet the following objectives:

  1. That you become familiar with the broad range of topics that make up the discipline of psychology.
  2. That you become familiar with the methods of investigation used in psychology, and the strengths and limitations of these methods.
  3. That you develop an understanding of the vocabulary and concepts of psychology that will allow you to study further in advanced courses or through independent reading.
  4. That you develop the ability to relate the findings of psychological research to your life and to important issues in our society and the world at large.

Course requirements & grading


  1. Tests: You will take three multiple-choice tests during the semester. The tests will cover material that is presented in the text, the articles, and in lectures. In general, there will be no make-up exams, but in cases of severe illness or other extenuating circumstances a make-up exam will be offered. Given the size of the class written documentation will be required for any make-up exam. It is also required that you contact a TA or myself as soon as you possibly can, in person, with your written documentation, to schedule the make-up exam. Please do not send an email. That means if you have a doctor’s note that says you should be ill until Tuesday, you need to contact one of us on Wednesday otherwise you should not expect an opportunity for a make-up exam. There will also be an optional final exam. This exam will be cumulative. If you choose to take the final exam, your score on that exam will replace your worst test performance (even Test 2 which is worth more). You can also take the final exam to replace an exam that you missed during the semester. It cannot hurt you to take the final, if you do worse on the final than your worst test then you will simply get the grade you would have gotten.
  2. Application Paper: You will also write a short paper (1000 to 1500 words in length or approximately 3 to 5 pages, but use the word count). What I would like you to do is take any topic from a published news account that has been published during this term and provide a psychological analysis of the topic. It could be anything from why relations between Israel and the Palestinians have deteriorated, to why hockey attendance has dropped since last year, to why university students don’t like morning classes. You just need three references--one can be the book, a second should be from a psychological journal, and finally you need to reference the news article you are analyzing. You will receive specific instructions for this assignment at a later date. It will be due on Tuesday November 27th.
  3. Psychological experiments/studies you participate in/article reviews: During the term, you will have opportunities to participate in studies that are being conducted by University of Waterloo researchers. See the description below. Your participation is voluntary. During the first three weeks of our course, there will be a Mass Testing Questionnaire that can be completed on the web. This will count as one research participation. You can earn up to 5 additional percentage points in the class by participating in other experiments.

Please note that you do not have to participate in experiments/studies if you don’t want to. Alternatively (or in addition), you may write up short reviews of articles that are relevant to psychology. Articles that you review must be serious (e.g., a news report of a study that has genuine relevance to psychology) rather than frivolous. You must check with a TA about the appropriateness of any article that you are thinking about summarizing. You may use the sheet at the end of the course outline to guide the writing of your summary. Please turn it in with the summary. In addition, you may not summarize any of the articles that you are using for your application paper or the articles in the Scientific American reader.

You complete a total of 4 research participations in any combination of mass testing questionnaire, experimental participation and article summaries (e.g., 2 experimental participations + completing the mass testing questionnaire + 1 article summary; or 3 experimental participations + mass testing questionnaire) for normal course credit. Each hour of research participation/summary/mass testing questionnaire will be worth 1% of your grade for a total of 4%. In addition, I will allow you to participate in two additional hours of experiments (or article summaries) for an additional 1% extra credit for each. So theoretically, you could earn a mark of 102%. There will be no other opportunities to earn extra credit—I cannot grant any special requests for extra credit.


Test 1 & 3 will be worth 21% of your grade, Test 2 will be worth 42%, the application paper will be worth 12% of your grade, and experimental participation/article summaries will be worth 4% of your grade. In addition, you can earn up to 2% extra credit by participating in experiments.

Participation in Psychology research: guidelines for Psychology 101 section 2, Winter 2011

Experiential learning is considered an integral part of the undergraduate program in Psychology. Research participation is one example of this, article review is another. A number of undergraduate courses have been expanded to include opportunities for Psychology students to earn grades while gaining research experience.

Since experiential learning is highly valued in the Department of Psychology, students may earn up to 4% of their final mark in this course through research experience (i.e., course work will make up 96% of the final mark and research experience will make up the other 4% for a maximum grade of 100%). In addition, for those students who wish to sample a wider range of these experiences, a further "bonus" of up to 2% may be earned and will be added to the final grade if/as needed to bring your final grade up to 100%. In total, students may add up to 6% to their final grade.

The two options for earning research experience grades (participation in research and article review) are described below. Students may complete any combination of these options to earn research experience grades.

Option 1: participation in Psychology research

Research participation is coordinated by the Research Experiences Group (REG). Psychology students may volunteer as research participants in lab and/or online (web-based) studies conducted by students and faculty in the Department of Psychology. Participation enables students to learn first-hand about psychology research and related concepts. Many students report that participation in research is both an educational and interesting experience. Please be assured that all Psychology studies have undergone prior ethics review and clearance through the Office of Research Ethics. 

Educational focus of participation in research

To maximize the educational benefits of participating in research, students will receive feedback information following their participation in each study detailing the following elements:

  • Purpose or objectives of the study
  • Dependent and independent variables
  • Expected results
  • References for at least two related research articles
  • Provisions to ensure confidentiality of data
  • Contact information of the researcher should the student have further questions about the study
  • Contact information for the Director of the Office of Research Ethics should the student wish to learn more about the general ethical issues surrounding research with human participants, or specific questions or concerns about the study in which s/he participated.

Participation is worth 0.5 participation credits (grade percentage points) for each half-hour of participation. Researchers will record student’s participation and will advise the course instructor of the total credits earned by each student at the end of the term.

Study scheduling, participation and grade assignment is managed using the SONA online system.  All students enrolled in this course have been set up with a SONA account.  It is VERY IMPORTANT that you get an early start on your studies.  For detailed instructions on when and how access your SONA account and for a list of important dates and deadlines please, as soon as possible, click on:

*** Please do not ask the Course Instructor or REG Coordinator for information unless you have first thoroughly read the information provided on this website.***

More information about the REG program in general is available at:

Option 2: article review as an alternative to participation in research

Students are not required to participate in research, and not all students wish to do so. As an alternative, students may opt to gain research experience by writing short reviews (1½ to 2 pages) of research articles relevant to the course. The course instructor will specify a suitable source of articles for this course (i.e., scientific journals, newspapers, magazines, other printed media). You must contact your TA to get approval for the article you have chosen before writing the review. Each review article counts as one percentage point. To receive credit, you must follow specific guidelines. The article review must:

  • Be submitted before the last lecture in this course. Late submissions will NOT be accepted under ANY circumstances.
  • Be typed
  • Fully identify the title, author(s), source and date of the article. A copy of the article must be attached.
  • Identify the psychological concepts in the article and indicate the pages in the textbook that are applicable. Critically evaluate the application or treatment of those concepts in the article. If inappropriate or incorrect, identify the error and its implications for the validity of the article. You may find, for example, misleading headings, faulty research procedures, alternative explanations that are ignored, failures to distinguish factual findings from opinions, faulty statements of cause-effect relations, errors in reasoning, etc. Provide examples whenever possible.
  • Clearly evaluate the application or treatment of those concepts in the article.

Keep a copy of your review in the unlikely event we misplace the original.

Academic integrity

Academic Integrity: In order to maintain a culture of academic integrity, members of the University of Waterloo are expected to promote honesty, trust, fairness, respect and responsibility. [Check for more information.]

Discipline: A student is expected to know what constitutes academic integrity, to avoid committing academic offences, and to take responsibility for his/her actions. A student who is unsure whether an action constitutes an offence, or who needs help in learning how to avoid offences (e.g., plagiarism, cheating) or about “rules” for group work/collaboration should seek guidance from the course professor, academic advisor, or the Undergraduate Associate Dean. When misconduct has been found to have occurred, disciplinary penalties will be imposed under Policy 71 – Student Discipline. For information on categories of offenses and types of penalties, students should refer to Policy 71 - Student Discipline, For typical penalties check Guidelines for the Assessment of Penalties,

Grievance: A student who believes that a decision affecting some aspect of his/her university life has been unfair or unreasonable may have grounds for initiating a grievance. Read Policy 70 - Student Petitions and Grievances, Section 4, When in doubt please be certain to contact the department’s administrative assistant who will provide further assistance.

Appeals: A student may appeal the finding and/or penalty in a decision made under Policy 70 - Student Petitions and Grievances (other than regarding a petition) or Policy 71 - Student Discipline if a ground for an appeal can be established. Read Policy 72 - Student Appeals,

Academic Integrity website (Arts):

Academic  Integrity Office (UW):

Accommodation for students with disabilities

Note for students with disabilities: The Office for Persons with Disabilities (OPD), located in Needles Hall, Room 1132, collaborates with all academic departments to arrange appropriate accommodations for students with disabilities without compromising the academic integrity of the curriculum.  If you require academic accommodations to lessen the impact of your disability, please register with the OPD.

Lecture schedule

Week Date Topic Modules
1 9/11 Introduction to class  
2 9/18 History and methods to Psychology 1,1, 1.2, 2.1, 2.2, 2.3, 12.3
3 9/25 Behavioral Neuroscience

3.2, 3.3, 4.1, 4.2, 4.3, 4.4, 5.1, 11.1

SAR*: split brain

4 10/2 Test #1  
5 10/9 Developmental Psychology 6.1, 6.2, 6.3, 10.1, 10.2, 10.3, 10.4
6 10/16 Cognitive Psychology I

5.2, 8.1, 8.2. 8.3SAR: consciousness

7 10/23 Cognitive Psychology II; Clinical Psychology I 7.1, 7.2, 7.3, 13.1, 13.2, 13.3, 13.4
8 10/30 Clinical Psychology II

14.1, 14.2, 14.3

SAR: fear

9 11/6 Test #2  
10 11/13 Social Psychology 11.4, 15.1, 15.2, 15.3
11 11/20 Applications of Psychology: sex, success, and health

11.2, 11.3, 16.1, 16.2, 16.3, 17.3

SAR: mind-body

12 11/27 Test #3: application paper due 11/29  

Scientific American Reading from Course website

The final examination (to be scheduled) will be optional and comprehensive (see above for details). We do not know the time of the exam yet, but you will be informed as soon as it has been scheduled. Neither I, nor the Psychology Department, have any control at all over the scheduling of exams.

[As an alternative to participating in experiments, you may summarize an article about psychology. The following is an example of a cover sheet that we would like for each article. You may photocopy this page]

Summary of Article

Please Print:

Name ______________________   I.D. Number ______________________

Author(s) of Article _______________________________________________________

Title of Article    ___________________________________________________________


Source (Magazine/Newspaper/Journal): ________________________________________ 

Date of Article: ______________________________________

  1. List some basic psychological concepts used in the article. Indicate whether each concept is used appropriately based on how the concept is used in the course (either from the textbook or from the lectures). If a concept is used incorrectly, describe the nature of the error and the implications this may have for the conclusions drawn from the article. It is important to critically evaluate the article with reference to the course material, so be sure to cite page numbers from the textbook in your critical evaluation (if you use the textbook in your evaluation).
  2. List the important points of the article. Then critically evaluate them. For example, are the headlines misleading?  Do the conclusions fail to distinguish facts from opinions?  Are the conclusions based on unspecified or otherwise biased samples?  If the article describes a research study, are there any control/comparison groups?  Is the study experimental or correlational?  If the study is correlational, does the article claim that one variable causes another?  If so, what are other possible explanations?  Have the researchers and/or author(s) made any errors in reasoning that you can identify?  Explain and provide examples where possible.
  3. Attach a copy of the article (be careful with material that you have obtained from the library).
  4. Please type (or word process) your review.

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