330-2: Syllabus Pages

COURSE SYLLABUS:  DHS 3300: Interviewing and Observation

Sample Syllabus Only -- Actual on Canvas

Dr. Chris Mruk, Professor of Psychology

Bowling Green State University

Phone: 419-433-5560, Ext: 20612

E-mail address: cmruk@bgsu.edu

Web site http://www.cmruk.org

Office Hours


Murphy, B., C. & Dillon, C. (2011). Interviewing in a Multicultural World (4th ed.) Pacific Grove, CA: Brooks/Cole.


Shearer, R., A. (1996). Interviewing in the criminal justice system. Action, MA: Copley.


Interviewing and observing others is a fundamental part of human life: We cannot escape it. For example, each time we interact with someone, whether it involves completing a task, being in class, helping someone, being helped, or asking someone out on a date, we are engaged in a complex process of finding things out about a person and observing how they react to us. Indeed, it can be said that we "interview and observe" others throughout much of our daily life and will do so throughout our entire lifetime. The only real question is how well we do these things, and that depends on our ability to see others clearly, understand them accurately, and communicate effectively.

The goals of the course, then, are an equal mix of theory and practice. On one hand, we wish to explore what is known about how to interview and observe others in a way that facilitates our work as a health care professional, case manager, corrections worker, police officer, and so forth. This aspect of the course involves reading about the process of human communication and learning about how it works. To this end, we will use a text and watch videos created for it that match specific lessons. On the other hand, we wish to do more than learn about something: we will also learn how to do it. This skill-based aspect of the course involves trying your hand at interviewing and observation through a series of practical experiences and activities.

Since the class gives an equal amount of weight to theory and to practice, these two kinds of activities will also structure our work together. Each week, we typically begin by reading a chapter of the text, watching the video segment that accompanies it, and practicing the material through various exercises. In addition, you will also have a series of activities to complete that are designed to allow you to have an opportunity to put some of these skills to use in the form of interviewing and observing others both in and out of the classroom. Once we are solidly into the course, we will use video recording to help you refine the process of learning and skill acquisition. Attendance is an important part of the course, especially for practicing skills. Often times there will be several individuals in this class are doing shift work or who have other types of obligations that interfere with attendance. Over the years, I have experimented with various ways to address the problem of missing classes due to such difficulties but never with complete success. This year, I will try to address this issue by only counting attendance on day that we do activities as those times cannot be made up. If the conditions are right, I may also try a format that BGSU calls "Web Centric" class structure. This format allows for greater flexibility but would need to be set up very carefully.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of the course, then, you should be able to: identify in oral and written form the major concepts involved in interviewing and observing a person effectively; discuss various techniques for doing a good (effective) interview, and demonstrate that you have learned enough of the skills associated with these activities to practice them at the entry level.


Of course, you are responsible for all assigned readings, the required writing assignments, in-class activities, the lecture material, and homework. Class participation is an especially important part of this course because of its practical goals, so attendance is required. This particular offering of the course focuses on learning how to conduct a clinical interview in a structured, reliable fashion, but will also contain considerable reference to the other disciplines, particularly criminal justice. To this end, we will learn basic communication skills such as empathy, clarification, and problem solving, as well as how to use them in a standard way, such as doing an intake or diagnostic interview.

Second, skill acquisition requires regular practice. Thus, in addition to classroom activities, you will also be required to conduct outside interviews. For example, you will interview and observe two professionals outside of class, one in human services, broadly defined, and the other in the area of criminal justice, again defined broadly. The particular form of the interview will be standardized in class, but it will be designed to give you the opportunity to practice your interviewing and observational skills while exploring these fields. You alone will be responsible for finding appropriate subjects to interview. Of course, you can turn to your colleagues for help in this regard or see me.


Assessment of your learning progress will be done through class discussion of lectures, small group activities, videotape recording, and in-class reviews of your work. These learning tools allow us to see how well you are learning the material and to make adjustments as the course progresses. Since we will be doing much work in dyads or small groups, attendance will be counted toward the final grade. The last day of class, if it is not an activity day, may count as one because coming to closure is also an activity. Each activity session is worth 2 points for a total of the 30 points. It is not possible to make up for one of these classes because it is unlikely that your colleagues will be willing to hold a special class for you. However, attendance will not be taken for lecture sessions because they are usually text-based and copies of notes can often be obtained from others.

Each of the two external interviews described above require a two-page write up that is turned in a short time afterward and which may be shared in class with others. Each report will count for up to 5 points, meaning that this part of the class is worth a total of 10 points. Late reports may suffer a one-point loss for each day it is late. The report will be graded on the basis of how well they follow the form for the interview which will be provided on a web page. The due date will be announced in class and an effort will be made to post them on the class announcements page of the course web site.

The last major activity is worth 15 points. You and one to two colleagues will produce a short 15-minute video evidencing your newly acquired interviewing abilities. One person will be the interviewer and one person will be the interviewee. The interviewer will select three interview skills to demonstrate. Then you both will do a role play together on any human services related topic demonstrating these skills in action for at least 10 minutes. That example will be followed by the interviewee leading a five minute discussion of what skills were used and how they were received. In the case of a 3-person group, which may be mandatory this year depending on class size and other commitments, the person not in the video or the one who had the "easiest" role will lead the discussion. I would suggest that you conduct an interview that is germane to your major clinical interest. The videos will be due the last day of regular lectures, not finals week, but you may complete them earlier as we could show some in class. Handing the video in late is a 5 point deduction for all parties, so plan and complete the assignment on time.

Since this course attempts to teach skills as well as ideas, about half the points result from activities, such as practicing during the class periods (attendance) and interviewing people (the field work and video). However, we still have to deal with theory, which means you will have a mid-term and final exam worth 25 points each. Thus, Attendance = 30 points; Activities = 25 points; Exams = 50 points. The final course grade depends on the number of points you earn during the semester converted to a standard percent system in Canvas where A = 90-100% and so on.


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. In case class is canceled, we may meet for up to hour longer after the usual ending time until we make up material, providing space is available. If this happens, I will attempt to make a recording of the lecture and place it in Canvas case you cannot stay.


The following schedule is offered as a general guide to the course. It is organized in terms of subject areas more than dates and is flexible, not fixed. In other words, the pace at which we move through material may vary slightly and alter the sample schedule. It is a good idea, a very good idea, to keep your reading ahead of the lecture: At least be familiar with the material ahead of time.

WEEK 1 - Chapter 1: Becoming a Professional and Chapter 2: Responsible Practice

WEEK 2 - Chapter 3: Getting Started

WEEK 3 - Chapter 4: Attending and Listening

WEEK 4 - Chapter 5: Support and Empathy: A Sustaining Presence

WEEK 5 - Chapter 6: Exploration and Elaboration

WEEK 6 - Chapter 7: Assessment, Formulation, and Goal Setting

WEEK 7 - Chapter 8: Planning for and Evaluating Change


Week 9- Chapter 9: Gaining New Perspective: Helping Clients and Feel Things Differently

Week 10 - Chapter 10: Changing Behaviors: Helping Clients Do Things Differently

WEEK 11 - Chapter 11: The Clinical Relationship: Issues and Dynamics

WEEK 12 - Chapter 12: The Clinical Relationship: Addressing Self-Disclosure and Other Boundary Issues

WEEK 13 - Chapter 13: Working with People in Crisis

WEEK 14- Chapter 14: Endings and Transitions and Chapter 15: Professional Issues: Ongoing Education and Self-Care

WEEK 15 - Activity: Group video projects (Some may be shown in class)


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