IntroPsych News

August 13, 2013

IntroPsych News provides periodic announcements, course updates, and additional teaching resources for introductory psychology instructors at the University of Alabama.

1. On your syllabus: PY 101/105 is designated as a Social and Behavioral Science course (SB) in the UA general education curriculum. For that reason, I ask that you integrate these statements into your course description that address specific SB criteria:

A. Please note that although you will introduce the student to the scientific method applied to humans, this course is not primarily methodological or focused on professional skills.

B. Throughout the course, you will show how there are basic characteristics shared by all humans and how some aspects of experiences are shaped by social institutions and culture.

C. You should have at least a few learning outcomes listed in your syllabus (e.g., Recognize and explain the scientific method and use it to evaluate psychological research; Apply course concepts to your personal, social, and professional lives).           

D. Please also include a statement of how the learning outcomes will be assessed. Bev Thorn asks that you strongly consider a learning outcomes matrix. I urge you to do that too. At a minimum, include a statement such as, “The learning outcomes described above will be assessed through ten in-class exercises, a writing assignment, and four exams.” Should you want to see an example of learning outcomes and a matrix, you can check out the following information from my PY 105 online course and PY 101 online course

E. Although not required, please consider adding the following statement to your syllabus. It is recommended by UA's SafeZone:

Statement on Diversity and Nondiscrimination:

As an academic community, our educational mission is enhanced by the robust exchange of ideas that occurs between a diverse student body, faculty, and staff within a respectful and inclusive learning environment. As a campus community we are dedicated to the pursuit of personal and academic excellence, to advancing the ideals of individual worth and human dignity, and to maintaining a nurturing and respectful learning environment. All members of the UA community are expected to contribute positively to the environment and to refrain from behaviors that threaten the freedom or respect that every member of our community deserves.

The University of Alabama is committed to providing an inclusive environment that is free from harassment or discrimination based on race, genetic information, color, religion, ethnicity, national origin, socioeconomic status, political beliefs, sex, sexual orientation, gender expression, gender identity, age, ability, size, or veteran status. The University of Alabama prohibits any verbal or physical conduct that threatens or endangers the health or safety of any individual or group, including physical abuse, verbal abuse, threats, stalking, intimidation, harassment, sexual misconduct, coercion, and/or other communication or conduct that creates a hostile living or learning environment. Harassment or other illegal discrimination against individuals or groups not only is a violation of University Policy and subject to disciplinary action, but also is inconsistent with the values and ideals of the University.

2. Your syllabus on OIRA's online site: By the first day of class, please be sure to post your syllabus on the the Office of Intitutional Research & Assessment's (OIRA) site. Posting syllabi is a requirement for UA’s accreditation. Here are some instructions for locating the site. Once there, you will find some addtional instructions for posting your syllabus. Essentially this consists of cutting and pasting from your syllabus into the relevant sections on the OIRA site. Mary Beth Hubbard has offered to assist you should you run into trouble.

3. Textbook options for students:
Most of us are using the 4th edition of Gazzaniga et al. textbook. Please consider including the following description of the various textbook formats on your syllabus:

Gazzaniga, M. S., Heatherton, T. F., & Halpern, D. F. (2012). Psychological science (4th ed.). New York: W. W. Norton. The text is available in hard copy from local bookstores. It may also be purchased from W. W. Norton ( as an eBook (in either online or downloadable form), paperback, hardcover, or in 3-hole punch loose leaf. The various textbook options are priced differently.

4. Textbook resources for instructors: I have copies of the ancillary materials that come with the Gazzaniga et al. text, should you be missing one: instructor's resource disk (with ppt slides), test bank software, DVD with video clips, etc. You can also get online access to the resources by contacting our Norton book representative, Scott Cook, at

5. Student course contract: One way to ensure that students read the syllabus and understand the course requirements is to have them submit a signed course contract. Several of us have found that such contracts reduce excuse-making about assignments and decrease distracting activities in class by clearly stating guidelines. Here's an example: Sample PY 101 course contract.

6. StudySpace: Did you know that the Gazzaniga et al. textbook has a free website for students that contains a variety of tutorials, demos, and practice tests?: I suggest including this link on your syllabus. Should you have any questions about the text you can contact Scott Cook, at


7. YouTube: The article, YouTube to the rescue from Inside Higher Education, provides advice on the use of video clips in teaching.

8. Optional hard copies of the syllabus: Keep in mind that the department does not require you to supply students with a hard copy of the syllabus. Simply show students how to access the syllabus on Blackboard Learn. Are you new to Blackboard? There are ample online tutorials in the On Demand Learning Center ( and on UA's Faculty Resource Center site (

9. Useful resource: Teaching introductory psychology: Tips from ToP: A collection of over 100 articles from the journal, Teaching of Psychology. Articles cover demonstrations and activities, approaches to the course, and technology in teaching. Looks like a gold mine.

10. Teaching resources: There are several resources on the Teaching of Psychology course website and I invite you to make use of them. Should you find additional resources that might be helpful to others, please let me know and I will post them. Resources for New Instructors contains information on assisting students and on teaching. The Multimedia Library is a compilation of videos, demos, and websites. You can find these resources by going to the Teaching of Psychology course website ( and clicking on the desired link in the left margin. 

11.Students, laptops, and multitasking: Research in Computers & Education addresses the impact of laptops in the classroom: Laptop multitasking hinders classroom learning for both users and nearby peers. In addition, an article in Slate provides an accessible summary of an array of studies on multitasking and divided attention: You'll never learn!

12. Psychology headlines from around the world: Notice the news feed at the bottom of this page. It contains a frequently-updated set of links to psychology-related reports in the media.

13. UA’s Faculty Resource Center ( offers a number of online tutorials about e-Learning and other instructional technologies. In addition, the FRC offers several one-hour workshops throughout the semester on various topics.

14. New to teaching large classes? If so, you might review this article that is read in the Teaching of Psychology course. Effective teaching when class size grows

15. Critical thinking guidelines: Many of you emphasize the development of critical thinking skills in your teaching. Carol Wade developed a set of guidelines for critical thinking in psychology that students often find useful. You may also want to check out presentation ideas and resources on the Skepticism 101 website:

16. Making a difference: Here's an article based on a survey of students: Polick A. S., Cullen, K. L. & Buskist, W. (2010, September). How teaching makes a difference in students' lives.

17. Psychology's "ideas worth spreading." The TED talks are brief (< 18 min), accessible presentations on a variety of topics. Follow this link to see what's available for psychology:

I’m available for assistance with issues that arise in your course this semester. Please don’t hesitate to contact me.


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