Course Syllabus

Discovering Psychology

Syllabus 2019-2020


Hello and welcome to Discovering Psychology!  Use this syllabus as your guide for course content, policies, and procedures.  I am excited to work together this semester!


Instructor: Ms. Giddings

Contact: / Ext. 4409


Course Overview:

This course will focus on the dynamic field of psychology and its interaction with real world issues, personal connections, and theoretical applications.  Beginning with a focus on “stress,” students will learn how the field of psychology emerged as a multi-faceted discipline and how psychological principles emerged to shape daily life.  Students will apply psychological principles to their personal experiences and share these experiences in a nurturing academic environment.  


Essential Questions:

  1. How do the body and mind interact with and respond to our environment?
  2. What steps can we take to predict, analyze, and reduce stress, anxiety, and conflict in our mind and our environment?
  3. How can we best employ psychology to resolve emotional conflict? 


Course Content*:

(*Subject to change if necessary)

Unit 1: Stress, Motivation, & Abnormal Psychology

  • Stress, Appraisal, and Health
  • Hans Selye & Martin Seligman
  • Kelly McGonigal
  • Anna Freud: Defense Mechanisms
  • Case Study: Alcohol Dependence
  • Motivation
  • Sleep as a Primary Motivator
  • Case Focus: Sleep
  • Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs
  • Case Application: A Beautiful Mind

Unit 2: Emotion and Cognition

  • Emotional Theory
    • Historical: James-Lange and Cannon-Bard
    • Modern: Schachter-Singer & Lazarus
  • Case Study: Bipolar Disorder
  • Memory and Thought
    • Memory Hacks
    • Creativity and Divergent Thinking
    • Language and communication
  • Case Application:  Inside Out

Unit 3: Learning and Behaviorism

  • Behaviorism
    • Thorndike’s Cats
    • Pavlov’s Dogs
    • Watson’s Babies
    • Skinner’s Pigeons
  • Case Study: ADHD
  • Latent and Observational Learning
    • Tolman’s Mice
    • Bandura’s Bobo
  • Case Application: Temple Grandin

Unit 4: Developmental Psychology

  • Developmental Psych 101
      • Piaget’s Cognitive Development
      • Language Development
    • Case Study:  Panic Disorder
  • Attachment & Parenting
    • Ainsworth’s Attachment
    • Baumrind’s Parenting Styles
  • Case Application: Antwone Fisher

Unit 5: Personality

    • The Freudians and NeoFreudians
      • Freud: Psychosexual Development
      • Erikson’s Social Development
      • Carl Jung: Archetype Theory
      • Karen Horney: Vicious Cycles
      • Alfred Adler: Inferiority Complex
    • Abnormal Case Study: DID/Multiple Personality
  • Trait and Humanistic Theories
    • Raymond Cattell: 16PF
    • Paul & McCrea: CANOE
    • Carl Rogers: The Ideal and Real Self
  • Case Application: The King’s Speech


Course Policies



  • Engagement: Be present for class  in body and mind. Give attention to the instructor, the material, and your peers.  Respectfully support and challenge the learning of your classmates.




  • Advocacy: Communicate early and often.  When you need help, talk to Ms. Giddings.  If you expect to miss class, talk to Ms Giddings ahead of time.  If you miss class unexpectedly, talk to Ms. Giddings as soon as possible.  If you are excited to share something, talk to Ms. Giddings. Basically, just talk to me, a lot. 




  • Community:  We will learn best when we know and trust each other.  To facilitate a strong classroom community, we will be regularly using restorative circles.  In circles, we are open, honest, and respectful. We strive to build a space where individuals can be vulnerable and reflective. 




  • Technology: Technology will only be used when it is necessary for learning.  We will park our phones and will only use laptops when needed to complete assignments. It is required that all students take notes on paper.




  • Timeliness: We will use the following intervention-based progressive late-work policy.  Ms. Giddings will NOT ACCEPT late work if you fail to participate in the interventions.  In other words, late work will be counted as a zero until you engage in the steps below.  


    • Intervention for first late submission: No action - everyone gets one mulligan
    • Intervention for second late submission: Meeting with Ms. Giddings to debrief on causes of late work and to make a schedule for completion of the next assignment
    • Intervention for third late submission: Contact home and guidance counselor to work together to make a plan.




Each assignment for this course will be worth a point value ranging from 5 points (homeworks and smaller assignments) to 20 points (projects and major assignments).  You will choose which assignments you want to complete throughout the semester, and must earn a certain number of points to reach a grade for the class. There will be certain homework assignments you are required to do to prepare for the next class that will not count for points


We will be using a semester-grading model, which means that your course grade will be the result of your work from quarters 1 and 2 combined, and NOT an average of your work from quarter 1 and quarter 2.  In other words, you have until the end of the course to earn your points. For seniors applying to college, the grade reported for your Q1 transcript will be out of 40 points.  Therefore, if you earn 40 points by the end of the school’s first quarter, you will have an A+ on the transcript submitted with your application.



  • Assignment Completion Parameters:


    • Students must complete the unit project for at least three of the five units
    • Students must complete the unit reflections for at least two of the five units


Letter Grade

Points Earned


























59 and below

Academic Integrity


You will submit all of your assignments through via Canvas, and you will be held to the standards and consequences of the WHS academic integrity policy. 


Please see the Wellesley High School Handbook of the school’s academic integrity policy.  


Please sign and return this sheet to indicate that you have read the syllabus and have no further questions about the course content, expectations, and policies.  


Student signature: _______________________________________ 


Parent/Guardian signature: _____________________________________


Date: _______________

Course Summary:

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