PSY 120 Elementary Psychology
Fall, 2006
TR 1:30-2:45 PM - Kettler 246
TR 4:30-5:45 PM - Kettler 246

Instructor:   Lenore E. DeFonso, Ph.D.
Office:   388C Neff Hall
Phone:   481-6396 (My office); 481-6403 (Psychology Dept.)

Office Hours: Tuesday & Thursday, 3:00-4:15 PM; Thursday 6:00-6:30 PM
I will normally be in my office at these times; however it is best to check with me beforehand to make sure. (I may occasionally have a meeting or some other conflict.) I may also be at IPFW on Wednesday afternoons and some Fridays, and I can be available at other times by appointment.

Text: Gerow, J. R., Bordens, K. S., & Blanch-Payne, E. (2007). General Psychology: With Spotlights on Diversity. The Study Guide is optional.

Course Objectives:

This course is a survey of the basic concepts and subject areas of psychology. Its purpose is to promote a broad understanding of the general principles of psychology, to study some aspects of human and animal behavior and the factors that affect it, and to look at different perspectives from which behavior may be examined.

It is important, first of all, to put the study of psychology into some historical context. Then, we will spend some time looking at research methods used in psychology. This is very important, for it is the means by which psychology has established itself as a science.

Before going on to study larger and more complex types of behavior, we must study the smallest units of behavior, which occur in the brain and nervous system. This is important because all behavior ultimately depends on these very basic elements. Next, we will study our sensory and perceptual processes. Our whole experience of our world depends on the information we receive through our sense organs, and the way in which our brain interprets this information. The section on consciousness will then deal with how we are aware of these processes.

Our next topics, learning and memory, are two of the traditional core areas of psychology. We will study simple forms of learning in simple organisms, in order to understand the basic principles of learning that apply to all life forms, including ourselves. You will probably find that the section on memory will be particularly applicable to you and your studies, as you learn how we process and retain information in memory.

We will then begin to focus more on issues involving human behavior and abilities as we study intelligence and personality. We will also look at the ways in which psychologists measure these characteristics. Then we will study some of the biological, psychological, and social aspects of emotion.

Stress has effects on both our physical health and our psychological well-being. We will learn how stress affects us, and also about the abnormal behaviors that can result either from stress or other psychological issues, or from biological causes. We will not cover the treatment of psychological disorders in detail, but we will look at the historical roots of treatment.

Finally, we will consider behavior in a social context as we look at some of the topics that make up social psychology, such as interpersonal attraction, persuasion and influence, conformity and obedience, etc.

General Education:

PSY 120 is one of the courses approved for General Education Area III credit. The basic goals of General Education are to provide students with foundation skills that they will be able to use to describe, explain, analyze, evaluate, and synthesize information. In addition, upon completion of Area III, learners will be able to:

In order to meet the General Education criteria, students will be expected to complete two short writing projects. You will get more information about these projects later.

Course Format:

This is primarily a lecture course, but class participation is welcome and encouraged. Please feel free to ask questions or make comments. They make the class much more interesting! Films and videotapes will also be shown from time to time.

Class Expectations:

Just as you have the right to expect certain behaviors from your instructors, I expect certain minimal standards of behavior from students. These include not disrupting class or disturbing other students by talking, etc. Also, please turn off cell phones while in class. No text messaging, either. This class has no attendance requirement, so if you must talk or carry out other activities during the class period, please do these elsewhere. Also, if you come to class, I expect you to stay for the entire class period, unless you let me know in advance that you must leave early for a specific reason.This includes periods in which I will give back exams.

Weather/Cancellation Policy: (Watch this web page - I'll post information on this whenever possible.)

If school is called of because of bad weather (or any other reason) on the date of a scheduled exam, come prepared to take the exam at the next class meeting. If school is called of for the class before a scheduled exam, the exam will be postponed, unless I tell you otherwise. If the weather is very bad on the day of an exam, but school is not called off, please use your judgment about driving to school. Call me if you are unsure about coming.

Doing Well In This Course:

If you have any questions, problems, etc., with the course, or if there is any way that I can be of help to you, please feel free to contact me. If you are not doing well on the exams, please come to me early in the course. Please don't wait until just before the final if you are having trouble. If you come in early, there will probably still be time to do something about it. However, I will try to help you anywhere along the line if you need advice on test-taking, study skills, etc.

Help will also be available from Teaching Assistants (TAs) assigned to your class. You will get more information on this later.

You can also get assistance with study skills, test-taking strategies, test anxiety, tutoring, etc. from the Center for Academic Support and Advancement (CASA). They are located in Kettler Hall, room G23, phone # 481-6817.

I also encourage you to visit the IPFW Writing Center:

Save time and write better papers for any class through free individual consultations in The Writing Center, Kettler G19. Bring assignments, questions, ideas, and a draft (if you have one.) Consultants can help you get started, write more clearly, revise, edit, and cite sources responsibly. Come as you begin a paper and as you revise. Drop-ins are welcome, but to ensure appointments, sign up on TutorTrac at Questions? Call 481-5740.

The Psychology Department web page has a PSY 120 link that you may find helpful. Go to the IPFW web page ( and click on the Psychology Department. Also, check out the department faculty individual web pages. Several instructors have links to material that is interesting/ helpful for PSY 120.

ALSO, if you have or acquire a disability and would like to find out what special services and accommodations may be available to you, contact Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD) in Walb Union 113 (phone # 481-6657, voice/TTY).

Course Requirements:

Grades will be based on the following requirements:

  1. 5 Examinations (50 points each; total of 250 points)
  2. Participation in 4 Research Projects (3 points each; total of 12 points)
  3. 2 General Education projects (4 points each; total of 8 points)

In other words, your grade will be based on the percentage of points you earn out of a total of 270 points.

A = 243-270; B = 216-242; C = 189-215; D = 162-188; F = 0-161 points.

You will receive more information on the Research & General Education requirements, as well as some extra credit opportunities, in a separate handout.

The exams will typically be multiple-choice in format. Each exam will cover 1/5 of the course material; all exams will count equally toward the final grade. The final exam will NOT be comprehensive, but will cover only material after Exam #4, and it will count the same as any other exam. Grades are based on the total points obtained on the five exams and other assignments, NOT on the average of your letter grades. Students are expected to take all 5 exams. No exam grades will be dropped.

Exams will cover the text plus lecture material; the emphasis will be on material covered in both. There may be some required reading material that will NOT be covered in class, but may be on an exam. If so, I will let you know about it. Also, you will receive a study guide that lists the most important material for the exam at least a week before each exam. (NOTE - these study guides will be available on my website. See links on my web page.)

Make-up Test Policy:

Due to ever-increasing requests for make-up exams that put a burden on our departmental secretary as well as on me, I am forced to tighten up on my make-up exam policy. The policy will be: No make-up exams during the semester. Make-ups may be taken only at scheduled exam times during final exam week. (I will announce these make-up times near the end of the semester.) Any exceptions to this will require written documentation of illness, hospitalization, work-related absence, etc. If you don't have this documentation, please don't even ask about taking a make-up exam before finals week.

IMPORTANT: PLEASE NOTE that the last day to withdraw from the course with a grade of "W" is October 27, 2006. You will need special permission from your School or Dean to withdraw after that date, usually because of illness or other special circumstances. (This decision is not up to me - see your advisor if this becomes necessary.) You may not withdraw after that date simply to avoid getting a low grade.

If you decide you no longer want to be in this class, or no longer want to be a student at IPFW, please note that you MUST officially withdraw from the course or from the University. Otherwise, you will automatically receive a grade of "F". (Again, this is not up to me.) It's in your best interest to withdraw officially, even if you think you will not be coming back to school. You may change your mind sometime in the future, and you won't want an old "F" grade coming back to haunt you.

A Final Word

I hope your experience with PSY 120 will be an enjoyable one. If there is anything I can do to help make this happen, please let me know.

Go to Dr. DeFonso's PSY 120 Class Schedule
Go to Dr. DeFonso's Supplemental Instruction Page

Go to Dr. DeFonso's PSY 120 Research Policy
Go to Dr. DeFonso's General Ed./ Extra Credit Policy