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AP Psychology
Course Syllabus
Mr. Kyle Cummins
School Phone: (480) 478-5711
Room# - 811
This is a year-long course designed to provide students with a learning experience
equivalent to that of an introductory college course in psychology. Students will be introduced
to the systematic and scientific study of the behavior and mental processes of human beings and
The course provides instruction in empirically supported psychological facts, research
findings, terminology, major figures, and perspectives. The course also teaches ethical standards
and research methods used in psychological science and practice.
 The course is open to juniors and seniors.
 All students who are willing to accept the challenge of a rigorous academic curriculum
will be admitted to the course.
Student Text:
Psychology Themes & Variations, 7th ed.
Wayne Weiten, author
Thomson Wadsworth, 2007
 Quarter and semester grades will be calculated very simply on a point system.
Assignments and quizzes will be worth various amounts of points. Unit exams will be
worth 100 points or more.
 First semester grades will reflect a merging of first quarter and second quarter points, as
well as a mid-year exam (200 points) covering the first nine units.
 Second semester grades will reflect a merging of third quarter and fourth quarter points,
as well as a final exam (200 points) covering the final seven units.
 Letter grades will reflect the standard grading scale (A: 90-100%; B: 80-89%; and so on.)
 Grades will be weighted for all students who complete the year-long course. This means
that students earning an “A” will receive 5 points; a “B” will be worth 4 points, etc.
 Students who complete the first semester only will not receive a weighted grade.
 Unit exams are modeled on the AP Exam, with 50 or more multiple-choice questions and
one FRQ essay to be completed in 30 minutes. The MCT is cumulative, adding 5
questions from each of the previous chapters.
Quizzes are scheduled the day after a reading assignment. Usually 10 questions worth
2pts each for 20 points total.
 Students are expected to read and take notes from the textbook and supplementary
sources as assigned. Expect some reading every night.
 Students will keep a list of terms and definitions for each chapter, due on the day of each
 From time to time, students will complete charts, diagrams, or graphic organizers.
 There will be a variety of classroom activities for individuals, partners, and groups.
 There will be several special projects throughout the year.
Drop Policy:
 Students who drop the course after 20 days of instruction will not be able to enroll in
another course. The student will be placed in study hall or be granted release time.
A.P. Psych Norms:
 Confidentiality
 Respect
 Open Minds
 Responsibility
 Intrinsic Motivation
Late Work:
Most assignments will not be accepted late. On the other hand, if something is going on in
your life that takes priority over your schoolwork, let me know. I want to be strict, but not
I expect students to take the quizzes and tests on the scheduled day. Missing the class
period before the quiz or test does not excuse you from taking the test on the scheduled day. It
would be a good idea to have a contact in class or get with me if you have missed a class period.
I post the class notes on my website for each unit. This site may also have other documents and
links related to class. I already have the link to the textbook site posted to the site.
AP Exam:
 Students are encouraged to sit for the AP Psychology exam in May.
 The AP Psychology exam includes a 70 minute multiple-choice section and a 50 minute
free-response (essay) section made up of two questions.
 Those who pass the exam with a score of 3 or higher may earn three college transfer
credits, depending upon the college or university they attend. The Arizona universities
require a score of 4 or higher.
Course Outline
First Quarter: August – October
Unit 7: Memory
 Basic memory processes: encoding, storage, retrieval.
 Sensory and short-term (working) memory.
 The process of encoding.
 Long-term memory.
 The process of memory retrieval.
 Forgetting.
 Reconstruction of memories.
 The physiology of memory.
 Methods of improving memory
Unit 1: Introduction, History, and Perspectives and Appendix B
 The origins of the science of psychology.
 How philosophy, physiology, and various other sciences affected the emergence of
psychology as a science.
 The differences among the early schools of psychology.
 The major contributions of individual scientists and psychologists.
 The major contemporary theoretical perspectives in psychology: psychodynamic,
behaviorist, humanistic, cognitive, biological, evolutionary, socio-cultural.
 The major recurring themes in psychology.
 The classification of psychologists and the major sub-fields in psychology.
Unit 2: Research Methods and Statistics
 The nature of scientific inquiry.
 Sources of bias and error.
 Research methods and their elements: experimental research, descriptive/correlational
research, including surveys, case studies, naturalistic observation.
 Descriptive and inferential statistics: measures of central tendency, normal and nonnormal distributions, variability, significance, correlation.
 Ethics in research for human participants and animal subjects.
Unit 3: The Biological Bases of Behavior
 Characteristics and function of neurons.
 Neurotransmitters and synaptic transmission.
 Methods of studying the brain.
 The structure and function of the brain.
 Brain research.
 The structure and function of the nervous system.
 The structure and function of the endocrine system.
 The influence of heredity on behavior.
 The evolutionary bases of behavior.
Unit 4: Sensation and Perception
 Basic concepts and principles of psychophysics.
 Thresholds and signal detection.
 The principles of attention.
 The relationship among sensation, transduction, and perception.
 The human visual system and processing visual information.
 Feature analysis and the perception of shape, depth, and motion.
 Perceptual constancies.
 Visual/perceptual illusions.
 The human auditory system and processing auditory information.
 The chemical and body senses: the gustatory system, the olfactory system, our sense of
touch, the kinesthetic system, and the vestibular system.
Second Quarter: October - December
Unit 5: States of Consciousness
 The experience of consciousness.
 Biological rhythms, circadian rhythms, and stages of sleep.
 Theories of sleep/theorists and researchers.
 Sleep disorders and their treatment.
 The content and meaning of dreams.
 Theories and characteristics of hypnosis.
 Meditation.
 Psychoactive drug states.
 Classifications of drugs and the effects of drugs within each classification.
 Drug/alcohol addiction and treatment.
Unit 6: Learning
 The biological factors involved in learning.
 The major principles of classical conditioning, including acquisition, extinction,
spontaneous recovery, generalization, discrimination, and higher-order conditioning.
 The major principles of operant conditioning, including schedules of reinforcement,
avoidance, and behavior modification.
 The principles of observational/social learning.
 Cognitive processes in learning.
 Biological constraints on learning.
Unit 8: Cognition: Thinking and Language
 Thinking - imagery and concepts.
 Deductive and inductive reasoning.
 Approaches and obstacles to problem-solving.
 Decision-making and forming judgments.
 The structure of language.
 Language acquisition and development.
Unit 9: Intelligence, Testing, and Individual Differences
 Intelligence in its various forms.
 Heredity and environmental influences on intelligence.
 Human diversity.
 Research on intelligence.
 Creativity and the characteristics of creative people.
 Measuring intelligence/psychological tests.
 Standardization and norms.
 Reliability and validity of tests.
 Ethics and standards in testing.
Third Quarter: January - March
Unit 10: Motivation and Emotion
 Biological bases of motivation.
 Theories of motivation and theorists.
 Sources of motivation: physical and social.
 Hunger and eating disorders.
 Achievement motivation.
 Components of emotion.
 Physiology of emotion.
 Communicating and expressing emotions.
 Theories of emotion and theorists.
Unit 11: Human Development
 The scope and key themes of developmental psychology.
 Methodology of developmental studies.
 The stages of prenatal development.
 How the brain develops after birth.
 Cognitive, physical, and social development in infancy, childhood, adolescence, and
 Theorists, theories and dimensions of development, including physical, cognitive, social,
psychosexual, and moral development.
 The basic premises of attachment theory and parenting styles.
 Gender differences and gender roles.
Unit 12: Personality
 The major theories of personality development and related psychological perspectives.
 Nomothetic and idiographic research.
 Assessment techniques.
 The difference between self-concept and self-esteem.
 Human psychological growth and adjustment.
Unit 13: Stress, Coping, and Health
 The effects of life changes, daily stress, and emergency situations on physiological and
psychological functioning.
 The association between stress and illnesses.
The nature of conflicting motives and the relation to stress.
Stress responses.
Strategies for coping with stress.
Fourth Quarter: March - May
Unit 14: Psychological Disorders/Abnormal Psychology
 Characteristics of abnormal behavior.
 Criteria of abnormality and using the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM).
 Theories of psychopathology.
 Diagnosis of psychopathology.
 Anxiety disorders.
 Somatoform disorders.
 Mood disorders.
 Schizophrenic disorders.
 Organic disorders.
 Personality disorders.
 Dissociative disorders.
Unit 15: Treatment of Psychological Disorders
 Characteristics of psychotherapy and biomedical therapy.
 Categories of mental health professionals.
 Psychoanalytic therapy.
 Humanistic ("client-centered") therapy.
 Behavior therapy.
 Cognitive therapies.
 Group therapy.
 Family therapy.
 Culture and psychotherapy.
 Ethical guidelines for therapists.
 Effectiveness of psychotherapy.
 Biomedical therapies: treatments and meds.
Unit 16: Social Psychology
 Perceptions of others.
 Attribution theory.
 Attitudes, bias, prejudice, and stereotypes.
 Characteristics of conformity.
 Characteristics of obedience.
 Altruism and helping behaviors.
 The influence of groups and organizations on individual behavior.
AP Exam Review
AP Exam
Individual Student Projects – Presentations the last week of school.