Biopsychology (350)


Writing Assignment Information and a Note about the assignments

Homework Assignments for Biopsychology

Information about the SI Group

Additional Resources and Links to other sites

How do I check my grades on WebCT?

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Syllabus for Biopsychology (PSY 350)

Fall 2006

Instructor: Dr. Lauren Scharff

Office: EDU 215F Lab: EDU 117C; TEC: Steen Library 202H
Hours: M 9 -10, T 10:30 -11:30, W 2:30 - 4:30, R 2 - 3 and by appointment
Phone: (936) 468-1415
Web page: /courseinfo/biopsy350.html

TA: Kathy Yeager
Office: tba Hours: M 9-11, T 2-3, W 2:15-3:15, Or by appointment Email:

Required Text:

BIOPSYCHOLOGY - 6th Edition (with CD-ROM included)
By John J. Pinel

Class Email List Articles: As part of this course, you will receive information and links to articles through a class email list. These articles will be used for the required summaries. I will use your titan account that you are assigned through SFASU. It will be your responsibility to check your email regularly. It is possible to forward your titan account email to another account if you prefer (e.g. a hotmail account).

Objective: The objective of this course is to teach you the fundamentals of biopsychology. This will include topics such as genetics and research methods, the structure of the central nervous system and how it develops, how basic neural events function, how neural events influence human perception, sleep, memory, and damage / response to damage of the nervous system. The use of writing to learn (one method of active learning) will also be a major component of the course.

EXAMS: There will be six exams (two chapters each) plus a comprehensive final. All of the exams and the final will consist of some multiple-choice questions and some short answer questions. Questions will be drawn from the assigned chapters in the text, as well as from the lectures and discussed readings from outside sources. Each exam and the final will be worth 100 points. You may choose to keep the grades from all six exams and not take the final, or you may drop your lowest exam grade and take the final. The (highly) probable exam schedule is as follows:

Exam 1

Sept. 12 (Tuesday)

Ch 1,2 plus lectures / readings

Exam 2
Sept. 28 (Thursday)

Ch 5, 3 plus lectures / readings

Exam 3
Oct. 12 (Thursday)

Ch 4, 9 plus lectures / readings

Exam 4
Oct. 31 (Tuesday)

Ch 6, 7 plus lectures / readings

Exam 5
Nov. 16 (Thursday)

Ch 10, 11 plus lectures / readings

Exam 6
Dec. 5 (Tuesday)

Ch 14, 12 or 15 plus lectures / readings

Dec. 14 (Thursday)


NO make-ups will be given except for a DOCUMENTED emergency. (In other words, friends' weddings, vacations, oversleeping etc. will not qualify as a legitimate excuse.) Make-up exams will be all short answer in format.

If you require special arrangements for taking exams, and you are registered with Disability Services, please see me as soon as possible to discuss this.

Note: It will be to your benefit to keep up with the chapter readings as they are covered in lecture. If you have any questions over the course material, please come discuss them with me. (It helps to do this before the tests rather than after...) You may also email me at any time.

Writing Assignments: There will be 5 writing assignments (article summaries) throughout the session. These assignments will consist of directed questions over readings from articles you will receive through the class email list. These articles will come from a variety of sources such as online newspapers and journals. The questions are explained on the attached page. The evaluation of your writing assignments will be based primarily on how fully and effectively you complete each summary. However, I will expect all writing to use the conventions of standard written English, which includes usage, punctuation, and mechanics (especially spelling). Assignments should be turned in typed (use spell check or else!). Be sure not to plagiarize. (Changing no, one, or a small number of words in a sentence and otherwise using it verbatim will count as plagiarism.)

Each writing assignment will be worth 20 points.

** Although you may turn in papers early, at the latest you must turn in a paper by each of the following dates: Sept. 19, Oct. 5, Oct. 19, Nov. 7, and Nov. 30. Late papers will not receive full credit (minus 2 points per day late, including weekend days). Papers turned in on the due date but later than the beginning of class will receive a 1 point deduction.

Homework Assignments: Five times during the semester there will be homework assignments. The assignments might have you read and respond to an article, answer questions over the current topic, keep a short journal, or find and evaluate information on the Internet, etc. They do not have to be typed, although it is appreciated. They will each be worth 20 points.

Attendance/Professionalism Attendance will not be recorded; however, you are strongly urged to attend class everyday because approximately 25% of the material on each test will ONLY be covered in lectures (i.e. it will not be in the textbook.) Finally, I expect you to be professional and courteous in your behavior. Although I realize that occasional tardiness cannot be avoided, late arrivals disrupt the lecture, which is not fair to those students who do arrive on time. If you must arrive late or leave early for some reason, please let me know, and sit by the door so as to minimize the interruption. Other examples of professional behavior include turning off your cell phone, and not holding side conversations. Thank you.

Academic Dishonesty: THE NEW POLICY STATES: "After a determination of dishonesty, the faculty member shall notify the Office of the Dean of the student's major by submitting a Report of Academic Dishonesty form, along with supporting documentation as noted on the form. This report shall be made part of the student's record and shall remain on file with the Dean's office for at least four years. The Dean shall refer second or subsequent offenses to the University Committee on Academic Integrity established under this policy. The faculty member shall also inform the student of the appeals process available to all SFA students (Policy A-2)."

Course Grade: Points from the six exams (600) or from five exams and the final (600), the article summaries (100), and the homework assignments (100) will be summed, and course grades will be determined by the following (max possible 800 points):

A: 90% - 100% B: 80% - 89% C: 70% - 79% D: 60% - 69%

A Supplemental Instruction (SI) group will be formed for this class through the AARC. SI groups are not for remedial students; they are for students who want to get more out of the class, and in turn, to increase performance on tests. Christopher Brown will be attending class and running this SI group.

Extra Credit: According to department policy, the maximum amount of extra credit you can earn is 2% of the course grade (16 pts). You may earn extra credit points by writing additional article summaries, using the same questions as the required summary assignments. You may at most write 2 extra summaries. Each will be worth 5 points. Full credit will only be given for thorough summaries. I may also give quick quizzes at the beginning of class or other short exercises for extra credit points.

Article Summaries

Your summaries to the articles will consist of responses to the following questions. Some of these questions will require that you think about and process the readings rather than simply reiterate what you read. Summaries which only contain minimal / superficial responses will not receive full credit. All questions should be answered with complete sentences, rather than a list or a phrase.

For each summary type your responses using Times New Roman font and double spacing; each should be about 1.5 pages when completed. Don't forget to use grammatical sentences and spell check! You do not need to retype the questions; however, please number them and word your answers so it is clear what you are answering.

Although you may turn in papers early, at the latest you must turn in a paper by each of the following dates: Sept. 19, Oct. 5, Oct. 19, Nov. 7, and Nov. 30. Late papers will not receive full credit (minus 2 points per day late, including weekend days). Papers turned in on the due date but later than the beginning of class will receive a 1 point deduction.


I. Name: ____________________ Date: ____________________
Title and Number of Article: ____________________________________

II. Briefly state the main idea of this article:

III. What are two important facts that the author uses to support the main idea? (A fact should be considered a statement that can be supported by verifiable data or other facts.)

IV. Give at least two opinions the author includes concerning the information presented in the article. (An opinion should be considered a statement of a person's feelings or impressions, or something not yet supported by data. Indications of opinion are words like "may be," "possibly," and "suggests.")

V. a. Give an example of a cause and effect relationship or of a correlation mentioned in the article. Explicitly state whether it is cause and effect or correlation.

b. Explain why it is an example of cause and effect or correlation. As part of your explanation, focus on the type of method used.

For this question you need to explicitly restate/explain the relationship from the study and what type (experiment or correlation) you believe it to be. When you explain why it is a specific type of relationship, you will need to draw upon the definitions/differentiations given in class and the text (e.g. how were the subjects selected, etc.).

VI. Relate something that you learned from the article to something you've learned from this class (during lectures or from the textbook).

VII. Relate something that you learned from this article to something outside of class (something personal, or in the news, or in a movie, etc.).

VIII. Summarize your opinion of this article.


A Note about the Writing Assignments

Good writing skills are among the most important and fundamental that you should develop as a student of higher education (and prior to that). No matter what field you decide to explore, written communication skills will allow other people to clearly understand you, and they will often open doors that would remain closed if you did not have such skills. For example, many companies routinely discard any resumes that contain even a single spelling mistake or grammatical error. * That's it - no chance for a second impression to overcome the first, negative one. Whether you want to work for someone else or be your own boss, to be successful in this world, you will generally need to make a favorable impression on others: they will need to believe that you are competent and professional.

So, in this class writing assignments will be taken seriously on two levels. The most obvious will be that of content. You should take time to think about the questions and write complete, reflective answers. Make sure you answer all questions, and all parts of each question. Incomplete or superficial answers will not receive full credit. Many of the questions, however, will not have a "right" or "wrong" answer; they will be personal reflections.

The second level upon which your writing assignments will be graded will be for correct spelling and grammar. All misspellings will receive a 0.5 point deduction, even if they are a correctly spelled word out of context (e.g. if you use the word "there" instead of "their"). In this age of spell checks on computers, there is no excuse for most misspellings (if you don't have spell check, use a dictionary!). Proofreading is essential to find misused words and grammatical problems. Major grammatical problems (e.g. run-on sentences, sentence fragments, subject-verb disagreements) will receive a 0.5 point deduction, and minor ones (e.g. awkward sentences, transitions, paragraph structure), a 0.25 point deduction. Remember, each paper is worth a total of 20 points.

I realize that this is not an English class. However, good writing skills are fundamental and transcend course topic. Therefore, take the time to write and proofread your work. These papers can significantly help your course grade (especially if you are a poor test taker), or they can hurt it if you do not take them seriously. There are many free resources if you do not feel confident about your writing: make an appointment to have me review a paper draft, make an appointment to meet with the TA, go to the AARC in the library, or have a friend give you feedback.


* Here is a quote from an interview published in the Washington Post, June 2003. The person being interviewed is an assistant director of a company who is answering questions about hiring practices at her company.

"You do have to be able to speak intelligently about what you know. If you're well-spoken, and can explain it back to me -- I'll respect that," she says. When Van Loon sees a typo on resume, she knocks an applicant out of the running. Her reasoning: if a candidate can't handle the details of his own job search, he probably can't meet the meticulous standards of the lab team

"You need very high attention to detail ... I need to know if something is going wrong," she says.

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