COURSE SYLLABUS

PSYC 4400: GENERAL SEMINAR: POSITIVE PSYCHOLOGY

Dr. Chris Mruk, Professor of Psychology

Bowling Green State University, Fall, 2017

Phone: 419-433-5560, Ext: 20612

e-mail address: cmruk@bgnet.bgsu.edu

Web site and Office Hours: http://www.cmruk.org

REQUIRED READINGS

Carr, A. (2011). Positive psychology: The science of happiness and human strengths. New York: Routledge.

COURSE AIM AND OBJECTIVES

This 4-credit class is designed to be taken completely online during a 16 week period. This year we will explore an area in which I am currently working in and publishing on generally called "positive psychology." The focus of this version of the course, which now includes a lab component, concerns more applied topics, such as life satisfaction studies, material on psychological well-being, the place of meaningful work and leisure, the importance of healthy relationships, resilience, character strengths, positive coping, and change. The class is based on reading assignments (all of which are accompanied by short writing activities), a weekly progress report on the lab activities, a discussion board, two short quizzes about 20 questions each (though I may add some), and a 9 page APA formatted research report.

The course 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. 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 the class begins to let you know how to enter its web pages, which are on the university's system. In order to reach the goals of the course, it is broken down into 16 learning objectives each of which creates a "step" that is necessary to take in order to complete the course. They are:

Step 1: Read chapter 1 (Happiness) and submit activities

Step 2: Read chapter 2 (Positive Traits) and submit activities

Step 3: Project Part I Topic

Step 4: Read chapter 3 (Hope and Optimism) and submit activities

Step 5: Read chapter 4 (Flow) and submit activities

Step 6: Project Part II: Design

Step 7: Read chapter 5 (Emotional Intelligence) and submit activities

Step 8: Mid-term exam

Step 9: Read chapter 6 (Giftedness, Creativity, and Wisdom) and submit activities

Step 10: Read chapter 7 (Positive Self) and submit activities

Step 11. Project Part III: Form

Step 12. Read chapter 8 (Positive Relationships) and submit activities

Step 13: Read chapter 9 (Positive Change) and submit activities

Step 14. Read article provided on the history of positive psychology

Step 15. Project Part IV: Paper Due

Step 16. Course evaluation and final exam

COURSE GOALS AND ASSESSMENT OF LEARNING

There are four goals for this class. By the end of it, you should: (1) have a broad understanding of what is called "positive psychology," (2) be able to describe several major characteristics of psychological well-being and the "good life" in terms of the importance of flow, work, and healthy relationships, (3) know how to go about applying some of the practical aspects of positive psychology to everyday life, (4) and have researched a topic in positive psychology of particular interest to you. I will respond to your material at each step which should allow both of us to assess your progress all along the way. This way, I can also make suggestions to you if I see that you are having difficulty or need encouragement.

COURSE ACTIVITIES

1. The course is designed as a step-by-step learning experience. Each step must be completed on time to earn points. There are 14 steps in the course, plus two more steps for exams, thereby creating 16 steps for a 16 week semester. Except for the exams and final research report, each step usually involves several, activities, including a reading, a one page written response to the reading, a one page research progress report, and two discussion board postings.

COURSE REQUIREMENTS AND GRADING

The course requirements and grading scales are presented below but 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 traveling does not necessarily have to be a problem while taking the course. Send your assignments in through the Canvas provides to you on the assignment page. Do not simply email assignments using regular email unless I give your permission in advance.

1. The 13 non-exam steps are worth 6 points each for a total of 78 points. In order to receive points, the material must be e-mailed and received BY THE DUE DATE! Always keep a copy of your work in case an electronic version of the dog "eats it."

2. The two exam steps consist of 20 multiple choice questions each and are worth a total of 40 points (unless a few more questions are added, which would be worth 1 point each).

3. The final research project step and report is worth 20 points + 2 points for discussion board associated with this step for a total of 22 points. Your discussion board postings for the boards must be at least five sentences long and contain evidence of genuine reflection in order to merit points. The five meaningful sentence rubric applies to both your original posting and you comment to someone else's posting. Although you may use one sentence from your reaction paper or progress notes to let us know what you are talking about in the original posting, the rest needs to be original thought. Shorter replies to encourage discussion will count toward your overall participation rate so they are welcome in addition to the two substantial postings just described.

4. Participation factor: Active engagement with others is a key feature of college courses -- there is much more to them than simply turning in good work on time. Therefore, points will be awarded for the degree of participation that goes beyond simply making the required discussion board postings. Rate of participation, which means the quality and quantity of discussion board participation beyond the minimum number of postings, will count. Simple "I agree" or "I found that interesting too" statements, for example, may not count here. Participation scores will be divided into four groups: the top quarter = 10 points, second quarter = 8 points, third quarter = 6 points, bottom quarter = 4 points.

5. The grading scale is based the typical percentage system of 90%, 80%, 70%, and so on, of total points (172). Note that Canvas uses a running percentage scoring system that continually updates your score until the last assignment is over.

COURSE POLICIES

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!

Attendance: While the text is a good one, it is by no means the final authority on the subject. Therefore, the lectures are the key to the course and attendance is expected.

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 http://www.bgsu.edu/student-handbook/code-of-conduct.html (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: dss@bgsu.edu. http://www.bgsu.edu/disability-services.html (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 www.cmruk.org under the appropriate link.

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. Absolutely no audio or video material generated in class or on its web pages is to be posted or displayed anywhere without the written permission of the instructor. 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.

Class Room Behavior: Pagers, cellular phones, lap tops, text messaging devices and so forth may buzz, ring, make noise, or otherwise distract any person at any time. Such intrusions can disrupt the teaching and learning process, which is the most important priority of a university. It is the responsibility of those who use such equipment to make sure it does not disturb either the instructor or other students. Similarly, excessive talking in the class while someone else holds the floor, or any other kind of disruption to the learning process, cannot be tolerated.

You should know that BGSU values diversity and civility. Being rude, disrespectful, or otherwise acting against the principles of common and academic decency will not be tolerated. If I determine that any of the above phenomena interfere with the learning process in the classroom, I will try to offer the individual(s) concerned a verbal warning. If the disruption continues or is repeated in any way, I may take the steps necessary to have the individual(s) disciplined according to university regulations which can include being removed from the course.

Support for Student Success: BGSU wants students to succeed academically and otherwise. To this end the greater university community has created several supports for student success. Those for Conduct, Classroom Expectations, Learning Commons (centers), and Disability Services have been discussed above. However, you should also know that we also offer support for other important things that can help you to be successful too. For example, instructors may make reasonable accommodations for major religious holidays or for the needs that veterans may experience in fulfilling their service obligations. In fact, both campuses have veteran's organizations or representatives who can help. In addition, you should know that BGSU also has many technology and library support services that may help you succeed, such as writing labs, computer assistance, help with Canvas, and so on. You may access them through BGSU's and BGSU Firelands College web pages, the offices themselves, your advisor, and of course, your instructor.

Make-ups and Drops: As you should know, BGSU does not require the instructor to provide make-up examinations. However, this instructor may allow them for problems deemed by the instructor to be reasonable, such as documented illness, emergencies, and so forth. The make-up exam must be completed within one week of the regular offering of the exam or it becomes an "F." You should know that the make-ups will take place in the Learning Center and that they require you to make an appointment with them for such exams. 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 turn it in to registration or take care of it online.

Incompletes: 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.

Final Comment: This course involves writing. For our purposes, a page is always defined as 20-22 lines in 12 point font in a Microsoft Word docx or compatible rtf format only. Of course, online learning technology is good and is getting better, but it is far from perfect. There may be occasional problems with the course that require minor 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! Those who are using the course to fill a Psych lab requirement for majors should know that you may have to make a course substitution request with that department in order to make this happen. However, I have been told that the process is very simple.

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