PSYC 4400 Self-Esteem and Positive Psychology (General Seminar) and 5860 (when applicable)

Dr. Chris Mruk, Professor of Psychology, Bowling Green State University: Summer, 2017

Phone: 419-433-5560 (Ext: 20612). E-mail address:

Note that office hours and biographic information are posted at my general web site which is


Mruk, C. (2013). Self-Esteem and positive psychology: Research, theory, and practice (4e). New York: Springer. You may also be required to read an additional article on self-esteem and self-esteem and/or positive psychology.


This class is designed to be taken during a five or six-week period in the summer. Our goals are to become familiar with the psychology of self-esteem, to understand the problems involved in researching self-esteem, learn how to enhance self-esteem, and understand the relationship between the psychology of self-esteem and positive psychology. The course is based on the 4th edition of an upper-level book on self-esteem that was written by the instructor which gives you the opportunity to interact with the author of your text. However, I also feel that there is an ethical issue involved in an instructor requiring students to purchase a copy of his or her own book. Thus, although you can buy the book from the college bookstore or online, I will make PDF copies of chapters available as needed in the course and you can also order if from various libraries.

The text is divided into seven chapters but includes readings. Thus, the class is structured so that you simply follow a series of steps that roughly correspond to the class readings on after the others until you are done. The course involves reading, researching on the Internet, "talking" with your classmates through discussion boards, and using e-mail to send in assignments. The class is run on an "asynchronous" basis which means that you may work at your own pace as long as you keep within the deadlines for assignments. This format was chosen because it provides a maximum degree of flexibility in terms of meeting individual needs, transportation issues, work schedules, family obligations, and so forth. In theory, you could even take the course while vacationing at the beach! However, taking such a class does require a certain degree of self-discipline as there is no set time for anything other than deadlines. I will attempt to contact you via e-mail just before course begins to let you know how to enter its web pages, which are on the university's Blackboard system.

In order to reach these goals, the course is broken down into 10 learning objectives. They are:

1. Becoming familiar with how to learn on the Internet

2. Understanding the importance of defining self-esteem and of defining it in terms of competence and worthiness.

3. Appreciating the research issues and difficulties that arise in trying to understand self-esteem scientifically.

4. Reviewing what researchers seem to have found about self-esteem and its relationship to behavior over the last 25 years or so.

5. Identifying the major theories of self-esteem and enhancing it.

6. Developing a comprehensive, integrated theory of self-esteem.

7. Seeing how it is possible to help people enhance self-esteem

8. Understanding the relationship between self-esteem and the field of positive psychology that is emerging today.

9. Demonstrating your mastery of the material.

Not so coincidentally, learning objectives 2-8 are tied to chapter readings in the course and the last one concerns demonstrating your ability to integrate and apply what you have learned in the course. This arrangement also makes it easier to develop a sense of where we are in terms of learning as we move through the topics and the course!


By the end of this course you should be able to do the following: define self-esteem; recognize the kinds of research issues and problems that exist in this field; summarize several major important findings about self-esteem; describe the major theoretical approaches to understanding self-esteem, identify some practical techniques that can be used to enhance self-esteem, appreciates the field of positive psychology and, perhaps, find yourself better prepared for the modern distance educational technologies of the 21st century. In order to assess your progress toward these goals, the topics will be the subject of readings, investigations, and reflections that you turn in to me at a steady rate throughout the course. I will respond to them in ways that I feel are appropriate toward helping you reach the goals and objectives mentioned above, especially if I think you are having difficulties.


The course is designed as a step-by-step learning experience. You can access the steps using the Course Schedule Page on Blackboard through your MyBGSU account. The first step is introductory involves simple exercises to make sure you have or learn all the computer skills necessary to complete the course. The next set of steps follow the book's chapters and additional readings. The steps include an online take-at-home exam. Most of the steps consists of three parts. Part A usually involves a reading assignment and one page reaction paper, Part B is a one page Internet research activity called a "glyph" which I will teach you how to write. Part C concerns two discussion board postings. Of course, I am "reachable" 24 hours per day via email and am always willing to set up an appointment with you to discuss something in person or by phone.


The course requirements and grading scales for both versions of the course are presented below. Simply scroll down to the one that interests you. In all versions, you will need to have access to a computer that is hooked up to the Internet, a web browser that is compatible with BGSU's interface, and the ability to send email over the Internet. All of these things are usually available at a public library, so you can work on the course even while on vacation. For this course, all communication with me and other students, including your email homework assignments, must take place through your account. Access to it is provided to you when you enroll at BGSU, but you need to make sure they are up and running. You will need your student ID number and password to enter either account.

All written material must be compatible with Microsoft Word for Windows doc or docx files. If you think there may be a problem reading your files, then send a sample to me and I will check it out. A solution is usually possible. Similarly, if you have trouble with any of the activities in the course because of a low level of computer skills, feel free to call, email, or stop in to see me. The course is easier if you know how to use the Internet, but I have taken people through the course who were first time computer users and they did just fine, providing they stuck at it!

4400 Undergraduate and 5860 Graduate Versions of the Course

1. Steps: Step 1-4 and 6-11 in the course are worth 6 points each for a total of 60 points. In order to receive points, the material must be received BY THE DUE DATE AND TIME! The number of points assigned will depend on whether or not you have the two one page papers done and two substantial postings to the board.

In all cases, a page is defined as having 1 inch margins and 22-23 double-spaced lines of print using New Times Roman 12 point font in Microsoft Word doc or docx. A substantial posting is defined as one that involves an original thought or reflection that makes a contribution to the discussion and is at least 5 full sentences long. You are also encouraged to make shorter, supportive comments such as "I agree with that" or "Nice post!" as they are part of everyday discussions too and let people know they are being "listened" too. However, such conversational prompts may not receive points.

Steps 10 and 11 involve a short paper, so you may want to look at their requirements earlier in the course. Always keep a copy of your work in case an electronic version of the dog "eats it."

2. Steps 5 and 12 are two multiple choice exams that you will have during the semester. They will be worth 23 points each points and are tied mostly to the readings.

3. Participation in this course is important. Although minimum postings are required for points, at the end of the course I will review your discussion board contributions. Your rate of participation will receive additional points. The participation rate, as determined by quality and quantity of board postings, will be divided into 4 groups. The upper one will receive 4 extra participation points, the next group 3, the following 2, and the bottom quarter 1. 

4. Total points (60 + 46 + 4) = 110. Canvas, as limited and clunky as it is, is geared toward using a rolling  percentage system of 90% = A, 80% = B, etc., so we will use that system. Graduate students may regard the exam as optional if taking the course for 1 credit.


My hope is to make this a unique, exciting learning experience. Please talk to me if you have any difficulties with the course or activities because I want to be flexible and do not like surprises. Remember, one of the nice things about this format is that you can e-mail me at any time!

Academic Honesty and Student Code of Conduct: Of course, any form of cheating cannot be tolerated and students are referred to the "Academic Honesty" section of the current Student Code/Affairs Handbook for specific information concerning definitions of cheating, plagiarism, other offenses, and their respective penalties beyond the one for violating class policies. All violations will be reported. Naturally, students are expected to conduct themselves appropriately on campus, in class, and when using computers. See (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. for details.

Disability Policy: In accordance with the University policy, if the student has a documented disability and requires accommodations to obtain equal access in this course, the student should contact the instructor at the beginning of the semester and make this need known. Students with disabilities must verify their eligibility through the Office of Disability Services, 105 George Mylander Hall - Firelands or 38 CPOB - BG campus. Students wishing to discuss their eligibility for such accommodations are encouraged to contact the office at phone: 419-372-8495, fax: 419-372-8496, or email: (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site..

If you need to take an exam in the learning center at Firelands, then you MUST follow these procedures: (a.) Follow all of BGSU's procedures for accommodation, (b.) If the accommodations involve extended time for testing, you must first email me notification of that need 24 hours in advance of the time the class will take any particular exam - a blanket request will not suffice as sometimes students wish to take the exam in the regular classroom anyway, (c.) Make arrangements to start the exam at the same time as the regular class does but in a proctored environment, such as the learning center, or I will need to create a makeup version for you. Other accommodations, such as readers, note takers, and so on, must be made through the learning center or disabilities staff.

Class Cancellations, Modifications, and Office Hours: Note that notification of class cancellations, changes, and other modifications in case of illness or other events will be sent to you as an Announcement in the Canvas pages for the course, BGSU email, or both. My office hours can be found at under the appropriate link.

Any violation of a class policy will result in the lowering of the student's final course grade by one full letter. Make-up activities are not offered in the course because it is structured with a high degree of individual flexibility already. We can discuss anything related to the course at any time by e-mail. Grades of "Incomplete" must be approved by the instructor, who gives them only   under extremely extenuating circumstances occurring near the end of the semester. Requests to extend an incomplete must be made to the Dean's office before the appropriate deadline has passed. If for some reason you intend to drop the course after the first few weeks of class, do not just stop showing up and assume that BGSU knows you've dropped it. Instead, make sure you fill out a drop form and have me sign it.

Copying and Recording: The use of electronic data recording or transmitting devices is acceptable except when taking or going over an exam. The University has suggested that professors make it clear to students that lectures and other course materials are protected under copyright laws, meaning that you should not make a complete copy of the course lectures or materials and that you should not pass your copy or recording on to others. No one has permission to post anything from the lectures, videos, or the discussions. Although it is unclear who actually owns student generated material other than exam responses (which belong to the instructor), I will make an effort to return written or project material to you as soon as is reasonably possible.

A final note: Distance learning technology is good and is getting better, but it is far from perfect. Canvas is far from perfect, so there may be occasional problems with the course that require adjustments from time to time. Simply e-mail me about something that you notice does not seem to work and I will be glad to try to improve it!