PSYC 4400: Self-Esteem and Well-Being

Bowling Green State University: Summer, 2019

Dr. Chris Mruk, Professor of Psychology

Phone: 419-433-5560, Ext: 20612

E-mail address:

Instructor's Personal Web Site[i] (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.










All of the required readings are accessible through PDFs found on the Internet or through library lending practices so that you do not have to purchase a book for this course. Since we are using one of my books, I recommend buying a used copy or obtaining one from a library, such as BGSU's or OhioLink's systems. Note that my annual donations to the university far exceed the profits from the book. This practice easily off-sets any income generated by book sales in order to avoid any ethical issues some might find associated with a professor using his or her own book in a class. The book, Mruk, C. J. (2019), Feeling good by doing good: A Guide to authentic self-esteem. Oxford University Press: New York, is the best book for the course in my opinion and is published by one of the world's most prestigious academic presses. It is also low-cost and the other required readings are PDF's, which at this point includes two chapters, that do not have to be purchased.


This class is designed to be taken completely online during the summer semester. The goal this year is to explore the connection between authentic self-esteem and well-being. A special emphasis is placed on learning how it is possible to increase these two important dimenions of life. In other words, there are two general goals in the course. One is to understand some important dimensions of scientific work on self-esteem and its connection to well-being based on existing work in the field. The other is to consider research-based practices people may find helpful for increasing authentic self-esteem. Since those methods are connected to psychosocial well-being, that aspect of life may benefit as well.

The course is organized in a series of steps, each of which has a specific beginning and ending. The steps have their own readings and activities that are due when they are over. In general, the course involves reading self-esteem related literature, your reactions to or reflections on them, "discussions" with your classmates and me through canvas boards, and keeping an actual journal that reflects your experiences with the activities found in each chapter of the book. Students who do not wish to keep such a journal based on personal experience may simply create a theoretical case study and use that "person" to go through the steps of creating a self-esteem journal. This approach is two-pronged in that it combines theory with practice and is capable of providing a more integrated exploration of a topic, in this case self-esteem and well-being.

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. 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.

In order to reach the goals of the course, it is broken down into specifi learning objectives. Each one of them "happens" to be the basis for the steps in the course. The class also includes two 20 point multiple choice exams. The actual dates and activities may vary as this offering of the course it its first one, but at this point, they are:

Step 1. Defining self-esteem scientifically (PDF)

Step 2. Defining self-esteem in popular literature (PDF) and finding a middle path (preface)  

Step 3. Chapter 1: What is Authentic Self-Esteem and Why does it Matter?

Step 4. Chapter 2: The Imporatnace of Self-Esteem: Positive Self-Regulation and Control

Step 5: Midterm Quiz

Step 6. Chapter 3: Developing Authentic Self-Esteem

Step 7. Chapter 4: How to Increase Authentic Self-Esteem

Step 8. Chapter 5: Self-Esteem and Individual Well-Being

Step 9. Chapter 6: Authentic Self-Esteem: Authentic Self-Esteem, Relationships, and More

Step 10. Integration Activity

Step 11. Final Quiz


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. All but the first and last two steps consist of three 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. Part C consists of a 1-2 page entry for your self-esteem journal using the forms provided in the main text, except of the first two steps.

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. The course will also an integration activity aimed at developing concepts and activities to help one maximize well-being based what is available in the course. Note that since this course has been completely revised this semester, it may be necessary to address changes in the syllabus or structure from time to time. Such  changes, if they occur, will be minor clarifications.


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.

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.


I. Steps 1-4 and 6-9 are worth 6 points each. 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.

1a. Reaction Papers (Two points): In general the reaction or reflection paper must be 1 full page 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. For all pages in the course, a page is defined in the assignment section but generally follows APA form. Be sure to use Times New Roman print, using 12 point font, in an MS Word docx format, with paragraph spacings set at 0 pt, line spacing set at Double, and all margins set at 1 inch. A general rule is a page equals 23 lines of such print, though I use a +/- 1 line as a margin of error to account of computer or Word differences. 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. A correct pages and its parts are shown in an example found in step 1. 

    1b. 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.

    II. Participation points: (9 points). Participation factor: Active engagement with others is a key feature of college courses -- there is much more to engaging your colleagues in discussion 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 quartile = 9 points, second quartile = 8 points, third quartile =7 points, bottom quartile = 6 points.

    III. Step 10: Integration activity 6 points: Up to 2 for proper form, up to 3 for overall quality based on whether the material is good (1 point), very good (2 points), or outstanding (3 points) as determined by the instructor's familiarity with such work over time. There will also be 2 points for the accompanying discussion board. The nature of the activity is flexible at this point.

    IV. Two Quizzes: 20 points each.

    V. Total points = 103 (Steps 1-4 & 6-10 =54 ), (Participation = 9), (Quizzes =40) 

    Grading: Regardless of total points either presented or adjusted, Canvas defaults to a rolling (cumulative) percent system based on the standard 90, 80, 70, 60 percent grading system that we will use in the course. So monitor your total percent score to understand your current grading at any point in the course.


    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 this university web site for details. (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.[ii]

    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:, or visit this web site Link[iii] (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.

    If you need to take an exam in any but the Canvas format, 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!



    [iii] (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.

     (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.