Sample Syllabus Only -- Actual on Canvas

Sample Syllabus Only -- Actual on Canvas

Bowling Green State University

Dr. Chris Mruk, Professor of Psychology

Phone: 419-433-5560, Ext: 20612

E-mail address:

Web site and office hours are at


All required readings are accessible through PDF or library lending policies so that you do not have to purchase a book for this course and yet will still be reading sophisticated material. However, those of you who wish to have some good books on the topics covered in this class by find two of them to be especially helpful: Compton, W. (2005 edition only). Introduction to positive psychology: Belmont, CA: Thomson/Wadsworth, and What is Zen, by Alan Watts. The books can be ordered online or through the Firelands bookstore by contacting it.


This class is designed to be taken completely online during the spring semester. The goal this year is to explore the psychology of well-being. The first part of the course concentrates on covering what we know about the "good," engaged, and meaningful life in the Aristotelian sense. Topics include such things as psychological health, optimal performance, love, spirituality, and coping. The second half focuses on mindfulness as a practical way of facilitating adjustment and well-being. This material begins with a look at research on mindfulness meditation, the brain and meditation, a cognitive approach to mindfulness, and mindfulness in the context of Zen psychology.

The course involves reading, "discussion" with your classmates and me through discussion boards and reactions to readings. 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 (wouldn't that be nice)! 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: All the writing assignments are to be sent to me through the Canvas homework system. Do not send it by email unless you have my permission. Also, although Canvas has an email system in it, it is very clunky so you can also use your regular BGSU email system to ask me questions.

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. The actual dates vary with the semester in which the course is offered and if there is a need for flexibility at some point in the course, but at this point, they are:

Step 1. Understanding the course and its technology: Introductory activities

Step 2. Introduction to the Psychology of Adjustment: Link and reading. (BVtextpub)

Step 3. Appreciating Resilience (Vaillant)

Step 4. Trauma and Rebuilding (Janoff-Bulman)  

Step 5. Self-Esteem in Relationships (Mruk)

Step 6. A Psychology of Love (Reis)

Step 7. Virtue and Values (Peterson)

Step 8. Mid-term quiz

Step X. Spring Break. No assignments, of course.

Step 9. Practical Activities: Three Good Things

Step 10. Meditation as "mental floss:" View Kabat-Zinn's video on mindfulness

Step 11. Meditation and the brain: Another video opportunity

Step 12. A cognitive approach to mindfulness. Read PDF 11 on neural images by Johanson

Step 13. Mindfulness and Zen. Read PDF 12a and 12b Alan Watts Part I & II

Step 14. Mindfulness and Zen continued: Read PDF 13: Alan Watts, Part IV

Step 15. Course consolidation activity

Step 16. Final quiz:


The goal of the course, which is to explore psychological well-being, has two parts or aims: appreciating the work that psychology has done in regard to understanding the positive dimensions of human behavior known as "the good life" understanding that there are practical things we can all do to deal with the challenges of living in more positive ways over time through the use of mindfulness as well as other coping strategies. 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 specified times. 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.


The course is designed as a step-by-step learning experience. Each step must be completed on time to earn points. You may access the steps by using the Canvas link on your MyBGSU account. The first step is introductory and involves simple exercises to make sure you have all the computer skills necessary to complete the course. The last one is coming to closure on the course. All but the first and last two steps consist of two parts: Part A usually involves a reading assignment and a one page paper concerning what stood out most to you, as well as a relevant internet link on that theme. Part B consists of two discussion board postings on the reading. The first one should be on something in the reading you found important and why. The second one should be a thoughtful response to someone else's posting. If you have difficulty, 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.


To take this course, you must have access 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. For this course, all communication with me and other students, including your email homework assignments, must take place through your and your MyBGSU accounts. Access to these accounts 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. If you think there may be a problem reading your e-mail or 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, e-mail, 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 with it!


1. Steps: Regular (non-test based) steps 1-7 and 9-14 are worth 4 points each for a total of 52 points, provided they are completed correctly and on time. Two points come from the first part of the assignment, called "Readings" and two points come from participating in the discussion board for each step. Step 15 is worth 5 points for a total step point possibility of 57 points. In order to receive points, the material must be e-mailed or posted and received BY THE DUE DATE! Always keep a copy of your work in case an electronic version in case the electronic dog eats it.

2. Reaction Papers (Two points): The reaction paper must be at least one page long and include a clear statement of what in the text reading or video stimulated your thinking. You also need to find an internet site that offers more on that particular theme. A page is defined in the assignment section but generally is as follows: 22 lines of print in Times New Roman form, 12 point font, using an MS Word docx format with paragraph spacings set at 0 pt and line spacing set at Double so that double spacing occurs, though you can do that manually, and margins set at 1 inch. One point will be deducted for reaction papers that do not meet form requirements. Another will be deducted if the content is poorly written or superficial. The form of the paper should be as follows and be sure to use the following headers:

I. Name and Step Number

II. Reflection: Your thoughts about importance of the theme for one's well-being and how what you found could help a person live a more fulfilling life.

III. Key Words (Five key words that summarize what you wrote)

3. Discussion boards (Two points): You need to make two discussion board postings for each step of the course except those that involve exams. One of these two postings must be something that stood out to you in the reading or video of the step that you wish to comment on. Another must be a response to someone else's comment. You are very welcome to make general comments, supportive comments, and helpful comments, but the 2 points per step are only given to comments that are clearly tied to the course, identified by a clear reference to the material in the step, and at least a short paragraph (5 complete and substantial sentences or more) of relevant reflective work that contributes to the discussion.

4. Participation points: (four points). 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 = 4 points, second quarter = 3 points, third quarter = 2 points, bottom quarter = 1 point.

5. Quiz based steps: Two 20 point quizzes or 40 points.

6. Total points = 101 points (40 + 57 + 4)

7. Grading: A = 100-90 points, B = 89-80 points, C = 79-70 points, D = 69-60 points, F = 59-0 points


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 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:

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!

Note: The course is being heavily revised this semester which means the opening up a few of the early steps may be delayed until the date the step is to begin.

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