• AP Psychology: 2013–2014

    Instructor: Brian Clements                                                                                                         

    Room: 412

    Email: bmclements@ppps.org

    Course Description

    Welcome back, and welcome to AP Psychology.


    AP Psychology is a course designed to introduce students to the systematic and scientific study of the behavior and mental processes of human beings and other organisms. Students are exposed to the psychological facts, principles, and phenomena associated with each of the major subfields within psychology, as well as methods psychologists use in their practice of psychology (CollegeBoard AP Psychology Course Description: May 2006, May 2007: 3).


    What impels us to act? How is personality formed? Am I a product of genetics or my environment, or both? What does it mean to be “normal”? Who is “mentally ill”, and is there any hope for their recovery? Am I extroverted or introverted? Type A or B personality?

    These are just a few of the questions we will address over the course of this year.


    Understand from the onset a fact of utmost importance: the least important person in this classroom is the instructor. Acting as a college student, you are expected to “charge ahead” on your own, to seek, find and internalize knowledge on your own. You will learn the rewards of hard work before heading off to college or into the “real world”, where hard work is the norm, not the exception. The instructor’s job is to facilitate your drive and accomplishment (coach you) by structuring learning situations and selecting learning tools to help you attain your goals: a successful score on the AP Psychology Exam, an enrichment of your life through discovering and applying psychological knowledge, and an enjoyment of the class time.


    Instructor and Student Expectations

    I have the following expectations of YOU in class:

    1. To be present, punctual, prepared, and attentive during each class.
    2. To be willing to participate positively and constructively during each class.
    3. To understand and abide by the procedures, regulations, and schedules of this syllabus.
    4. To behave in the dignified and respectful manner of mature and responsible upper classmen/women.

    YOU may have the following expectations of ME in this class:

    1. To be present, punctual, and enthusiastic during each class.
    2. To be genuinely concerned about your ability to perform well in this class and on the AP exam.
    3. To uphold the procedures, regulations, and schedules described in this syllabus.
    4. To behave in the dignified and respectful manner of a teacher of psychology.



    93-100% A                                                              73-76%                   C

    90-92%                   A-                                            70-72%                   C-

    87-89%                   B+                                            67-69%                   D+

    83-86%                   B                                              63-66%                   D

    80-82%                   B-                                            60-62%                   D-

    77-79%                   C+                                           0-59%                     E


    Course Grading

    20%- Participation, Homework

    40% Quizzes, Tests

    40%- Projects, Timed Essays


    Course Text

    Myers, David. Psychology, Eighth Edition. 2007, Worth Publishers.


    Evaluation, etc.

    AP Psychology Exam: Passing this test, which is graded on a scale of 0-5, will result in college credit for an introductory psychology course. Students are not required to take this exam, as it costs $87, but are strongly encouraged to do so…save some money! It’s a lot cheaper to pay $87 for 3 college credits than to pay a couple hundred dollars per credit hour in college! 

    • AP TEST à May 6th, Noon


    Traditional Tests: Given upon the completion of every unit. There will be a total of 16 Chapter tests throughout the year. Tests will draw from current as well as past material in order to keep a “running inventory” of content covered throughout the year.

    There will also be a first semester final exam in which the first half of the course will be covered.  You can opt out of the final exam by taking the AP Test. Tests and finals will be a combination of multiple choice and essay questions.

    • Tests missed due to absence must be made up at a date determined by the student and Mr. Clements
    • These are not burdens…they are opportunities.


    Quizzes: Given on the due date of each assigned reading. Will not always be given with notice.


    You will have 2 days to make up quizzes and tests.


    Writing: Traditional and Timed Essays.

    • Traditional essays will be assigned at various times throughout the year as avenues for refining students’ abilities to express knowledge through writing.
      • Point value assigned per assignment.
    • Timed essays will be done in class as a means by which students will become familiar with the format and time constraints of the writing requirement of the AP Psychology exam.
      • Timed essays will be assigned throughout the year. Expect one each couple chapters.
      • Timed essays will be worth between 20 and 40 points per essay, depending on the varying requirements of each.


    Homework: Expect it.

    • Students will be required to read the texts assigned for each unit, and will be held responsible for the content through quizzes, worksheets, the construction of outlines, and/or other various tools of organizing and retaining information.
    • Point values will be determined per assignment.
    • No late homework is accepted.
    • Students will be required to maintain a notebook of class notes.


    Text Reading: You will use the SQ3R: Survey, Question, Read, Review, and Reflect. First, survey what you’re about to read, including chapter outlines and section heads. The chapter outlines at the beginning of each chapter will help you question what you will answer as you read the section, as will the questions posed at the beginning of each module. Students must READ actively and critically every section of every chapter! Finally, review and reflect by studying the “Summary” sections at the end of each module and quiz yourself with the Concept Check questions scattered throughout each chapter.

    Note Taking: Simple: Everybody takes notes on everything. Take complete, dated notes. It is important to review your notes each day while they are still fresh in your mind.


    Participation: Students will be required to be active participants in pushing our class towards success on each essay, test, and ultimately the AP test. Obviously the teacher is the formal leader of a class, but it becomes rather boring when the teacher becomes the center of the course…this is your course, you decided to take it, so make it fun! Make it interesting!

    • Active participation in class discussion, whether based on readings, current events, personal experiences, etc., will be expected.


    1. Introduction / Psychological Perspectives

    ·         Topics / Skills

    o        Behavioral, Evolutionary, Behavior genetics, Neuroscience, Humanistic, Psychodynamic, Cognitive, and Social-cultural

    o        Nature vs. Nurture, Rational vs. Irrational and Stability vs. Change

    1. Thinking Critically with Psychological Science

    ·         Topics / Skills

    o        Critical Thinking Errors: Hindsight Bias, Overconfidence, Confirmation Bias

    o        Scientific Method

    o        Descriptive Research: Case Study, Survey, Naturalistic Observation,

    o        Predictive Research: Correlation

    o        Experimentation: Cause and Effect

    o        Develop note-taking and vocabulary system

    o        Explain the guidelines for timed essays

    1. Neuroscience

    ·         Topics / Skills

    o        Neuron: Components and Communication

    o        Neurotransmitters: Types, functions, disorders and drugs that affect

    o        Nervous System: Peripheral and Central

    o        Brain: Types, structure, components, disorders

    §         Explain the role of various brain parts

    §         Consider the implications on behavior of damage to any brain part

    o        Endocrine System: Components

    1. Development

    ·         Topics / Skills

    o        Prenatal Development

    §         Describe teratogens impact

    o        Infancy, Childhood, Adolescent and Adult

    o        Physical, Cognitive / Piaget, Emotional / Eriksen, and Moral / Kohlberg


    1. Nature vs. Nurture

    ·         Topics / Skills

    o        Genes, Evolutionary Psychology, Behavioral Genetics

    §         Critique Twin studies

    §         Explain Temperament

    §         Heritability

    o        Molecular genetics, Gender

    §         Defend/Criticize Molecular genetics

    o        Gender

    §         Compare/Contrast the gender behaviors

    1. Sensation

    ·         Topics / Skills

    o        Thresholds

    o        Sensory Adaptation, Sensory Restriction

    o        Vision, Hearing, Touch, Taste, Smell, Kinesthetic and Pain

    §         Stimulus, Structure, Processing, Diagram and deficiencies

    1. Perception

    ·         Topic / Skills

    o        Selective Attention

    o        Illusions

    o        Perceptual Organization, Interpretation

    o        ESP





    1. States of Consciousness

    ·         Topic / Skills

    o        Waking

    §         Identifying levels of Consciousness

    o        Sleep/Dreams

    §         Describe the process/stages of sleep

    o        Hypnosis

    o        Drugs

    §         Explain how psychoactive drugs work

    1. Learning

    ·         Topic / Skills

    o        Classical Conditioning

    §         Pavlov

    §         Terminology / Applications

    o        Operant Conditioning

    §         Skinner

    §         Terminology / Applications / Schedules

    o        Observational Learning

    §         Bandura

    §         Terminology / Applications

    1. Memory

    ·         Topic / Skills

    o        Encoding

    o        Storage

    §         Sensory, Short term and Long term

    o        Retrieval / Forgetting

    o        Memory Construction

    §         Misinformation, Amnesia, Eyewitness and Repression


    1st Semester Exam




    1. Thinking and Language

    ·         Topic / Skills

    o        Thinking

    §         Concepts, Problem Solving, Decisions, Belief Bias and Artificial Intelligence

    o        Language

    §         Structure / Development

    o        Thinking and Language influence on each other

    o        Animal thought and language

    1. Intelligence

    ·         Topic / Skills

    o        Origins

    §         Binet and Terman

    o        Assessing Intelligence

    §         G factor, Multiple Intelligences, Neurological and Tests and Test Construction Principles

    o        Dynamics of Intelligence

    §         Extremes, Stability and Creativity



    1. Motivation

    ·         Topic / Skills

    o        Motivation Concepts

    §         Instincts, Drives and Incentives, Optimal Arousal and Hierarchies

    o        Hunger Motivation

    o        Sexual Motivation

    o        Need to Belong

    o        Achievement Motivation

    1. Emotion

    ·         Topic / Skills

    o        Emotion Theories

    §         James-Lange, Cannon-Bard, Two Factor and Cognitive

    o        Physiology of Emotion

    §         Arousal / States

    o        Expressing

    §         Nonverbal, Culture and Facial Impact

    o        Experiencing Emotion

    1. Personality

    ·         Topic / Skills

    o        Psychoanalytic

    §         Frued, Unconscious, Psychosexual Stages and Assessing

    o        Trait

    §         Types of traits, Theories and Assessing

    o        Humanistic

    §         Exploring Self / Assessing Self

    o        Social Cognitive

    §         Situational Behavior / Assessing Behavior

    1. Psychological Disorders

    ·         Topic / Skills

    o        Psychological disorders

    §         Defining, Classifying and Labeling

    o        Anxiety Disorders

    §         Generalized, Phobia, OCD and Causes

    o        Mood Disorder

    §         Major Depressive, Bipolar and Causes

    o        Schizophrenia

    §         Types and Causes

    o        Personality Disorders

    1. Therapy

    ·         Topic / Skills

    o        Psychological Therapies

    §         Psychoanalysis, Humanistic, Behavioral, Cognitive and Group

    o        Evaluating Psychotherapy

    o        Biomedical Therapies

    §         Drug Therapy, ECT and Psychosurgery

    o        Prevention

    1. Stress and Health

    ·         Topic / Skills

    o        Stress and stressors

    §         Locus of Control, General Adaptation Syndrome (GAS) and Fight and Flight

    o        Stress and Heart Disease

    §         Type A/B and Stress Hormones

    o        Stress and Immune System

    §         Lymphocytes and Disease

    o        Coping

    §         Exercise, Feedback, Social Support and Nutrition

    o        Modifying Behaviors

    §         Smoking and Obesity

    1. Social Psychology

    ·         Topic / Skills

    o        Social Thinking

    §         Attributions /Attitudes and Actions

    o        Social Influence

    §         Conformity, Obedience and Group Influence

    o        Social Relations

    §         Prejudice, Aggression., Conflict, Attraction, Altruism and Peace Making

    1. AP Test Review

    ·         Topic / Skills

    o        Timed Essay Strategies

    o        Content Review

    o        100 question multiple –choice Test  /  70 min.

    o        2 Timed Essay /  50 min.

    2nd Semester AP Psychology Exam




    I am here for no reason other than to make your experience, both in this class and in high school in general, the most positive it can be. For this class to function, each member must develop the understanding that it will not proceed as a dictatorship. You are all valued members of this class, and school in general, and your opinion counts…share it! You will only get out of this class what you put in.

    • Feel free to ask any question.
    • Mean-spirited treatment of others will not be tolerated.
    • If you have an idea for a project, assignment, or how this class might run smoother or more effectively, please share it with either your classmates or the teacher.
      • Great ideas do nothing bottled up inside their originator’s heads. This is psychology, not telepathy.
    • If ever you feel wronged (on a test, essay, as a person, etc.), do not feel as though the issue cannot be brought up (to either the class or teacher or both) and addressed, provided it is done so in an adult-like manner.
    • Mr. Clements reserves the right to add to/subtract from any area of the syllabus at any time throughout the year.