University of Evansville


PSYC 121

Introduction to Psychology

1-1:50pm in Hyde Hall 202



John R. Lakey, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology


206 Hyde Hall: 488-2531 or 488-2520 (Home: 858-9378)

Office Hours: M:12&5; Tu:4&5; W:12,3,4&5; Th:--; F:12&3


COURSE DESCRIPTION: A survey of the diverse areas of psychology.  Emphasis of major influences, basic principles, historical perspectives, and current directions. Concern for personal growth. Traditional lecture-discussion format with textbook, readings, online quizzes, study notes, examinations, and formal papers. Prerequisites:  None.

GENERAL EDUCATION:  For majors outside Psychology, this course meets the requirement for general education Outcome 9:  Understanding of Core Concepts of Society, Human Behavior and Civic Knowledge.  It also fulfills the requirement for an Honors Program course.


Provide a solid knowledge base in psychology.  Advance “critical thinking” skills. Promote scholarship skills, close reading and effective writing.  Foster positive, open, and optimistic values.   


COURSE ORGANIZATION:  Basic chapter-a-week textbook format with weekly online quizzes and periodic study notes. Lectures will only partially overlap textbook chapters; usually you will have read and been quizzed on the chapter before we discuss it in class.  PowerPoint slide sets are posted for all lectures by chapter. One outside reading with associated formal paper. One final take-away paper on topic of interest. Final exam. 



(1) Wayne Weiten (2014). Psychology: Themes and variations, Briefer version (9th ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth/Thomson [ISBN: 9781133939061].  Read entire textbook with weekly chapter quizzes. 

(2) B.F. Skinner (1948). Walden Two. New York: Prentice-Hall [ISBN 0-02-411510-X].  Read entire book with one formal paper.


WEEKLY QUIZZES:  Fifteen (15) weekly online chapter quizzes.  Each individual’s quiz is unique with 20 multiple-choice questions randomly selected from a large standardized pool for each chapter.  Each quiz should be completed within one 25-minute period.  Quizzes are usually available Monday morning, may be taken anytime, but most weeks must be complete by Sunday midnight.  Each quiz is worth 20 points and quizzes contribute 50% to the course grade.  The lowest three scores will be dropped.


STUDY NOTES:  There are a variable number (8-12) of “study notes” or one-page papers each worth 10 points (indicated by a check mark) and scheduled as appropriate (every week or two).  The topics will vary but you may be asked to obtain information (video, online lecture, article, etc.) or interact with an online site (take a psychological online test, etc.), summarize the key information or results, and comment on the material or experience.  These papers provide an opportunity to organize your thoughts about a lecture topic or recent finding, practice technical writing, and perhaps generate undergraduate research ideas.  They should be reasonably well written, 200-400 words (at least 200 words), and submitted as printed copy on a single page (not emailed).  They are due at the class on the specified date, and late submissions (you must mark “Late” at the top of any tardy Note) are automatically assessed one point (check-mark minus).  Scores range from 0 to 11 (check-mark plus for an exceptionally good review or keen insight).  Each Study Note is worth 10 points and Notes contribute 15% to the course grade.


MAJOR INFLUENCE PAPER: One paper on a major influences in psychology, Behaviorism.  Papers will be 2-3 double-spaced printed pages that provide (1) a brief summary of the reading (show you have read it) and (2) a discussion of a related idea that you consider most important or meaningful (show you appreciate the reading).  These papers will be evaluated for thoughtful appreciation, critical thinking, and effective writing.   Copies of the paper must be submitted to (upload in .doc or .pdf format – not .pages if using a MAC PC).  One revision and resubmission may be permitted for a higher grade.  The paper is worth 100 and contributes 15% to the course grade.


FINAL EXAMINATION:  One final essay examination worth 100 that contributes 5% to the course grade.  


FINAL COMPREHENSIVE QUIZ:  This 27-question multiple-choice quiz is taken with the final exam, and the results are posted to your permanent portfolio.  It asks questions that anyone finishing an introductory psychology course should be able to answer.  This quiz is worth 100 points that contributes 5% to the course grade. 


FINAL TAKE-AWAY PAPER:  This paper is limited to two pages and must be submitted to before the final exam (upload in .doc or .pdf format – not .pages if using a MAC PC).  Choose a psychological concept or topic that you find interesting from what we have covered in class: First, provide a clear summary of the topic, including a brief description (in your own words) of what psychologists and researchers have learned relevant to the topic. You must think critically about what we do and do not know about the topic based on the research found in the text or reviewed in class. You may choose to have additional references for this portion of your paper, but they are not required. Then, discuss how it relates to a real-world issue of your choosing (if the connection to the course topic seems unclear, make it clear in your paper). Give several clear examples illustrating the connection. Basically, and most importantly, show that you have thought critically about the topic and its relation to real-world issues or problems. 

In summary, to write a good paper, make sure you:

(a) clearly describe the psychological concept/issue/topic, and

(b) clearly relate it to a real-world problem by explicitly describing this problem and providing clear examples that illustrate the connection.

The final take-away paper is worth 100 that contributes 10% to the course grade.


ASSESSMENT CRITERIA: Grades will be assigned on a weighted percentage system: The grading criteria are:

95%  A     88%  B+    80% B-    75% C     68% D+

90%  A-    85%  B      78% C+   70% C-    50% D


EXTRA CREDIT:  A “grade-step bonus” may be earned by participation in the Psychology Department’s subject pool or by completion of alternative projects.  We require three (3) separate studies and/or alternative exercises (regardless of any “credits” or “units” for each exercise).  The standard alternative exercise is a PsychINFO or PsychARTICLES search (see class webpage links) on a topic of interest and an additional one-page summary of one of the journal articles.  You may mix study participations and topic searches to total the required three.  You keep track of your study participations and, if you have earned the minimum three studies/searches, then you simply claim the bonus at the last class (honor system).  Journal article summaries must also be submitted by our last class.  This credit will not show in Blackboard’s Gradebook and must be added by hand when reporting the grade.  This is a substantial bonus that will raise your passing course grade one step, e.g., B+ to A-, if the grade is D or higher, and everyone is expected to take advantage of it.


HONORS CREDIT: If in the Honors program and contracting this course for Honors credit, you have two additional paperbacks to read, and two additional papers to execute.  All papers are longer at 4-6 pages, and your submission dates differ from those taking the class for regular credit.

(1) B.F. Skinner (1948). Walden Two. New York: Prentice-Hall [ISBN 0-02-411510-X].  Read and report on entire book.  Paper due 5th week. Revision allowed after individual conference.

(2) V.S. Ramachandran (1998). Phantoms in the brain. New York: Quill [ISBN 0-688-17217-2].  Read and report on three chapters.  Paper due 10th week. Revision allowed after individual conference..

(3) V.E. Frankl (1946/1984). Man's search for meaning. New York: Washington Square Press [ISBN 0-671-66736-X]. Read and report on entire book. Paper due 15th week at the last class.  No revision allowed.






>ATTENDANCE: If sick, you should not attend class (with the flu you are infectious two days before and five days after onset).  Assignments and class lectures are available on BlackBoard.  Papers and Study Notes can be submitted online or by email.

>HONOR CODE: The University of Evansville requires your support for the following statement:  "I understand that any work I submit for course credit will imply that I have adhered to the Academic Honor Code:  I will neither give nor receive unauthorized aid nor will I tolerate an environment which condones the use of unauthorized aid."  If you have any problems with this, you’re at the wrong school.

>CREDIT HOURS:  This course meets the federal requirements of 15 in-class hours plus an expected 30 hours of out-of-class work per credit hour

>OUTSIDE CLASS EFFORT:  According to the US Department of Education, students should spend (on average) a minimum of three hours per week per credit for a college level course.  This means that, as this is a 3-credit course, you should spend roughly 9 hours per week on this course.  Therefore, you should be willing to put in a minimum of 6 hours of out-of-class time each week on this class. Some of you may succeed and complete the work in less time.  If that works for you – more power to you.  However, if you are not succeeding as well as desired, you may want to study more.  Remember, if you’ve read the assignment once, you’ve read it, but if you’ve read it three times, then you’ve studied it.

>BLACKBOARD:  This course will use extensively.  Quizzes are administered and taken by Blackboard “Weekly Quizzes.”  “Study notes” will be assigned by Blackboard “Assignments”.  We will also communicate with one another by BB email: Maintain your university email account, make sure your mailbox isn’t full, and check it periodically.  If you have problems accessing ACELINK or maintaining your email account, please contact the OTS Help Desk ( or 488-2077) for assistance. 

>GRADE POSTING: The instructor's grade book is that on Blackboard’s “Grade Center” and fully assessable to you at all times. Should you detect errors or omissions, promptly report these to the Instructor. 

>WEEKLY QUIZZESS:  You have one twenty-five minute period to complete the 20-item chapter quiz by Sunday midnight -- without assistance or unfair advantage.  As we’re dealing with new technology, if you discover a way to circumvent the system, you are honor bound to not use it (but please let the instructor know about the system fault).

>MAJOR INFLUENCE PAPER:  A paper copy of this paper and any revision must be submitted to the Instructor and a duplicate file copy must be submitted to (upload in .doc or .pdf format – not .pages if using a MAC PC).  Papers are assumed “missing” with zero credit until submitted and reviewed by  Papers may be submitted directly though Blackboard “Course Information” to, where they will be evaluated online.  Revisions are also submitted via Blackboard.   

>QUOTATION LIMITATION:  In this course, quoted material may not exceed five percent (5%) of the word count of any paper or study note.  Papers that exceed this percentage are not accepted.

>REVISION:   The major influence paper will be graded online with notation that you may re-write and re-submit a revised copy for a specified higher grade.  If you wish to take advantage of this option, you must consider the revisions indicated, make those you deem appropriate, prepare a revised version, submit this new file through Blackboard to Revisions at   

> AUTHORIZED AID:  You may freely obtain help from the Writing Center (located in the Excel Center in front of the Library).  You may ask other students to read your paper and make verbal suggestions for improvement, but they may not provide any written help.  Provide a footnote to the title of your paper acknowledging any aid.  You may (and should routinely) run your word-processor’s “Spelling and Grammar” check without footnote acknowledgement. 

>CITATION SYSTEMFailure to correctly cite and properly reference others’ work is plagiarism.  Usually, writers use one of four citation systems:  APA (social sciences), CBE (natural sciences), Chicago (history), and MLA (humanities).  Most have been taught a variation of the MLA system in high school, but you should now use and learn the system appropriate for your college major and probable career.  Updated guides for all four systems are found in Hacker & Sommers, A pocket style manual; links to reliable online APA format guides are also listed on our class webpage.  Please indicate which system you are using on our major paper with a footnote.  The instructor is current with and corrects only APA format errors and obvious inconsistencies using the other formats. 

>PLAGIARISM:  Plagiarism is usually a citation error without intent to deceive.  Any copied word phrases in your paper must be in quotation marks (or if long, 25 or more words, then offset, double indented, without quotation marks) with citation of the specific source (author, publication and page or website name and paragraph number).  Any paraphrased ideas in your paper should be attributed to their author (at least by name, usually but not always citing the publication or website).  Plagiarism occurs when you do not adhere to either of these two basic rules.  Then, you are presenting someone else’s work as your own, and it always violates our Academic Honor Code.  [Yes, you can plagiarize yourself.]

>LATE PAPERS:  Late papers are determined by submission date and penalized one grade step (A to A-, B+ to B, etc.) for each week past due, but no more than three grade steps maximum.  Missing papers are scored as zeroes. 

>WITHDRAWAL: A course may be dropped without a designated grade during the first two weeks of a term of the regular academic year.  From the third through the eleventh weeks, a grade of W is assigned.  After the eleventh week, a grade of F is assigned in this course (a higher grade requires that you actually complete the course).  Discontinuance of attendance does not automatically constitute a withdrawal; you must formally withdraw at the Registrar’s Office.  Regardless the reason, those who cannot complete seventy percent of the course (attendance, assignments, and tests) should drop the course.  The extra-credit bonus does not apply to failing grades, and it will not raise an F to a D.

>INCOMPLETE GRADES: The grade report of I (Incomplete Grade) will be submitted only when justified by personal crisis or legitimate sickness; otherwise, missing scores are entered as zeroes for computation of the course grade.  If you request an Incomplete, please provide a specific time schedule for completion of the course by email (in writing).  To be assured of the Incomplete Grade report, you must receive the instructor's written approval (make sure you keep a copy for future reference).  Incomplete grades carry no academic credit and affect your GPA as an F until removed.  They are best avoided.  Note that all Incomplete grades are reported with a suspense date:  if no grade has been submitted by that date, then the grade is automatically changed to F.  Your instructor usually enters the final examination date with the following year.  Thereafter you must formally repeat the course to remove the F (UE allows you to repeat any course once for a higher grade).

>DISABILITY ACCOMMODATION:  It is the policy of the University of Evansville to make reasonable accommodations for students with properly documented disabilities.  Written notification to faculty from the Office of Counseling and Health Education is required for any academic accommodations.  If you are eligible to receive and accommodation and would like to request it for this course, please discuss it with me and allow two weeks’ notice.  Otherwise, it is not guaranteed that the accommodation can be received on a timely basis.  If you have questions about services for students with disabilities or procedures for requesting services, you may contact the Office of Counseling and Health Education at 488-2663.


(1) Attend class.  Come mentally prepared, focused and ready.  Have a commitment to engage the material at hand.  Be interested in the material and what others have to say. 

(2) Take responsibility for your own learning.  Be organized and have a sense of time management.  Put in the necessary effort.  Be accountable to and for yourself.  Appreciate growth.

(3) Have and share positive attitudes.  Be optimistic. Be open and confident.  Acknowledge and embrace risk.  Have a willingness to accept and incorporate constructive criticism. Love learning.   

>OFFICE HOURS:  Walk-In Hours will be posted on the Instructor’s door and his Faculty Website (  I am also available at other times, and you need not make formal appointments.  Graded major papers must be picked up during these hours (allow 10 minutes for comments and discussion) – major papers will not be returned in class – I want to tell you directly what I think are the strengths and weaknesses of your work and how it can be improved.  If uncomfortable with direct praise and criticism, you’re in the wrong course.



Go to our class website at