Course Syllabus

Discovering Psychology

Syllabus 2021-2022


Instructor: Ms. Emily Giddings


Course Overview:

This course will focus on the dynamic field of psychology and its interaction with real world issues, personal connections, and theoretical applications.  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
  • Project-Based Learning Unit: Understanding stress and motivation at Wellesley High School

Unit 2: Developmental Psychology

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

Unit 3: 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


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. 

  • 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.  
  • First late submission: No intervention (everyone gets one mulligan!)
  • Second late submission:  Submit a written plan for completing the next major assignment.  In this plan, lay out steps and intermittent deadlines for the assignment.  Ms. Giddings must sign off on this plan before you begin working on the assignment.
  • Third late submission: Meeting with Ms. Giddings, guidance counselors, and parents/guardians to problem solve
  • Fourth late submission: Mandatory regular working sessions scheduled in Ms. Giddings’ room at least until the end of that quarter.




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


Your course-grade will be the flat average of your earned points in Q1 and Q2.


For seniors applying to post-high school programs, I still need legitimate evidence of your learning to report on your college applications.  The grade reported for your application from WHS will be out of 40 points.  Therefore, if you earn 40 points by the time WHS sends out transcripts to colleges, you will have an A+ on the transcript submitted with your application.

  • Assignment Completion Parameters:
    • Students must complete the unit reflections for at least two of the three 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:

Date Details Due