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PSYC 101: General Psychology

Course Overview

PSYC 101 is structured to provide you with an overview of the rapidly changing science of psychology. No prerequisite is required, and no prior knowledge of psychology is assumed. This survey course will introduce you to many of the underlying principles and approaches believed to guide human behavior, including biological factors, learning, memory, social cognition, intelligence, emotion, and personality.

This class is not a self-help course; it is an introductory science course. You might gain some insight into your own behavior or the behavior of others along the way, but that is not the primary focus of this course.

The majority of the course will be spent learning about normal human behaviors and the techniques that psychologists use to research these behaviors. We will discuss psychological disorders and treatments, but only during the last few weeks of the course.

Required Text

See course description for current materials.

Objectives and Expectations

In completing this course you will be able to:

For each lesson, you will be expected to:

I expect you to submit all written assignments (Web papers and forum postings) by the due dates posted on the course schedule, and successfully complete the midterm and final exams. Complete information will be given to you as we approach the exam dates.

You should plan to spend approximately three hours each week reading the chapters in your text and the lesson notes on the course website. You will also need to spend an additional two to three hours per week evaluating Web links provided, reading items posted to the discussion forum by your classmates, and writing your own posts to the forum. When you include quizzes and exams, you should spend at least eight or nine hours each week on this course.

Yes, it can be quite time consuming. But, it is only fair to compare that figure to the time you would spend if you were taking the course on campus—you would spend three hours per week in the classroom and an additional six to nine hours per week doing the required readings, completing the written assignments, and preparing for exams (and that estimate might be a bit low).

Grading and Exams

Grade by percentage:

Grade by point value (out of 1,000 total possible points):

Your final grade will be based on the total number of points you accumulate and determined with the following scale (minus and plus grades will be awarded):

900-1,000 = A (900-929 earns an A-; more than 930 earns an A)

800-899 = B (800-829 earns a B-; 830-865 earns a B; 866-899 earns a B+)

700-799 = C (700-729 earns a C-; 730-765 earns a C; 766-799 earns a C+)

620-699 = D (620-669 earns a D; 670-700 earns a D+)

619 and below = F

Late Policy

Please pay attention to all due dates. Early submission of assignments is accepted and encouraged. Late quizzes or late discussion forum posts will not be graded. Late Web papers will be penalized 20 points for each day late. Late exams will be penalized 25 points per day late. Submit your work early if you are worried about meeting a deadline.

Please note that as wonderful as the Internet is, it is not perfectly reliable; nor are individual computers, routers, service providers, etc. It is your responsibility to ensure that you complete assignments from a reliable computer with a reliable connection. Do not count on smartphones to complete assignments on time as dropped connections are common.


You will take your quizzes online within the course, using Sakai. You may take the quizzes open-book. It will be good practice for the exams if you first write down the answers you think are correct without looking at your book, and then check any answer you are unsure of before submitting the quiz. Do not access or attempt to access a quiz before you are ready to take it. Each quiz will be graded automatically and information on your performance returned to you.

Most quizzes are due by Sunday of each week, but there may be exceptions. Please pay close attention to the lesson schedule for all of the due dates. The quizzes become available on Monday morning and you are free to take them at any time during the week of that lesson.

Quizzes are due by 11 pm Eastern Standard Time on the date indicated. Again late quizzes will not be graded.


There will be one midterm and one final examination. Unlike the quizzes, exams are to be taken closed-book and are timed. You are not to look at your text, the course Web pages, or any other material, using only your memory and understanding of the course material.

On exam day, the test will be made available at 8 am. Your exam must be completed before 11 pm Eastern Standard Time on the date indicated. I will deduct 25 points for every day the exam is late.

The Discussion Forum

You must maintain an active presence in the discussion forum—our electronic “classroom.” I consider this your participation grade. If you don’t participate at an acceptable level, you may receive an email message directly from me. Please read this brief section on netiquette before posting. You will access the discussion forums via the link in the sidebar.

In using the discussion forum, I expect you to write at least two of the following for each lesson:

How will I grade discussion postings? As I read your postings I will ask myself:

The discussion forum will be open continually, and it is meant as a place for you to exchange information, share ideas, share opinions, form opinions, and help each other throughout the semester.

All posts to be graded for a particular week should be posted by the quiz deadline for that week. I welcome and encourage additional posts. Continued discussion among all of us will help everyone master the material.

I will check in on the discussion forum once or twice per week and add my own comments. My hope is that the discussion forum will serve primarily as a vehicle for you to learn from and interact with each other. If there are any specific questions you want me to answer, it is more efficient to email me than to post your question on the discussion forum (see Communicating with the Instructor).

Your discussion postings should represent your thoughts on the material being studied, as if you are making a comment or asking a question in a regular class meeting.  Students who post the minimum twice per week will probably fall in the B+/A- range for this portion of their grade. Students who regularly go beyond the minimum will get higher grades on this portion of their grade. However, excessive posting will not yield extra credit points.

Communicating with the Instructor

If you ever have any questions about anything—course content, course mechanics, something from a Web reading, something your Aunt Hilda once did at Thanksgiving dinner, quizzes, dreams, and so on, please email me your question and I will do my best to respond within twenty-four hours. Email will be the most efficient way of communicating with me, and you should all feel very free to use this. Please try to remember to begin the subject heading of all emails to me with “CCO PSYC 101.” Occasionally my email has a nasty habit of filtering out perfectly legitimate emails. To minimize the likelihood of this happening, try to communicate with me via Sakai’s email application. If you haven’t heard back from me within forty-eight hours and it’s not a holiday or school break, please resend your email. And again, please include “CCO PSYC 101” in the subject heading.

Please read the “Email” section in Course Mechanics. Note that messages regarding the course will be sent to your UNC email address, so you will need to make sure you have taken steps to receive those messages.

Web Papers

You will be required to complete two brief Web papers on topics of your choice. These papers will give you an opportunity to expand upon some of the discussion forum assignments and delve a bit deeper into a particular topic or idea that interests you. You should choose a topic that we have covered in the course, and find three relevant websites that expand upon this topic. The Web papers should be brief—about three pages each—and include:

You should cite the sources you use in the body of your papers using American Psychological Association (APA) format. There is a link from UNC’s library homepage that provides details on the APA citation format.

Also, include a separate page with a list of your references (in APA format). Under each reference, you should include a brief paragraph summarizing the website. Do not summarize the websites in your paper. 

Please see the lesson schedule for due dates. The papers must be submitted via the Drop Box link in the sidebar on or before these due dates. I encourage you to submit them early, especially if there is a chance that you will miss the deadline, because late webpapers are penalized heavily.

Study Strategies

SQ3R—Survey, Question, Read, Recite, Review

P.O.W.E.R. is another study technique:

Academic Policies

By enrolling as a student in this course, you agree to abide by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill policies related to the acceptable use of online resources. Please consult the Acceptable Use Policy on topics such as copyright, net-etiquette, and privacy protection.

As part of this course, you may be asked to participate in online discussions or other online activities that may include personal information about you or other students in the course. Please be respectful of the rights and protection of other participants under the UNC-Chapel Hill Information Security Policies when participating in online classes.

When using online resources offered by organizations not affiliated with UNC-Chapel Hill, such as Google or YouTube, please note that the terms and conditions of these companies and not the University’s Terms and Conditions apply. These third parties may offer different degrees of privacy protection and access rights to online content. You should be well aware of this when posting content to sites not managed by UNC-Chapel Hill.

When links to sites outside of the domain are inserted in class discussions, please be mindful that clicking on sites not affiliated with UNC-Chapel Hill may pose a risk for your computer due to the possible presence of malware on such sites.

Honor Code

Remember that as a student of UNC-Chapel Hill, you are bound by the University’s Honor Code, which states that “It shall be the responsibility of every student at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to obey and support the enforcement of the Honor Code, which prohibits lying, cheating, or stealing when these actions involve academic processes or University students or academic personnel acting in an official capacity.”

All graded academic work must include a pledge comprised of the following: “No unauthorized assistance has been received or given in the completion of this work.”

An especially serious Honor Code violation is plagiarism. If you are uncertain about what constitutes plagiarism, contact me and/or familiarize yourself with this plagiarism tutorial, courtesy of UNC Libraries.

Course Outline

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