• Sigmund Freud with his signature cigar.

    Godinez Fundamental High School



    Course Overview

    Advanced Placement Psychology is a college level course designed to introduce students to the systematic and scientific study of how human beings and animals act, feel, think, and learn. As such, the students will be exposed to a rigorous curriculum in which they will be exposed to the psychological principles, philosophies, events and people associated with the major theories and practices within psychology, as well as the methods psychologists use in their research. In addition, this course is designed to provide many opportunities for cross curricular and interdisciplinary study with the math, science, history and literature departments.


    Course Objectives

    1.       The students will be able to pass the Advanced Placement (AP) Psychology Exam.

    2.       The students will be able to read the approved course textbook using the “PARATI” reading strategy (which is based on learning theory and psychological research), and be promoted from the class with college level reading comprehension skills.

    3.      The students will be able to explain the main theories of psychology.

    4.      The students will be able to understand and incorporate key psychological terms and vocabulary into their writings and discussions.

    5.      The students will be able to conduct psychological research using the scientific method, taking ethical care, following established psychological procedures, while evaluating the validity and reliability of that research.

    6.      The students will be able to exercise critical thinking skills through careful observation and objective evaluation, using ethical care, and appropriate psychological theory as the foundation for research.

    7.       The students will be able to interpret research findings using statistical analysis.

    8.       The students will be able to write expository and/or persuasive essays using the American Psychological Association (APA) writing style.

    9.       The students will be able to familiarize themselves with employment opportunities in psychology, and explore the academic requirements necessary for a career in this field.

    10.    The students will be motivated to pursue advanced educational opportunities in the science of psychology, and related disciplines.



    Course Outline

    The College Board has established the AP Psychology Course and enumerated the major content areas covered by the AP Exam (as well as the approximate percentage of the exam that is devoted to each area). The outline is a basic guide. It is not intended as an all-inclusive list of topics. The major content areas are as follows:


    I. History, Method, and Approach                                  7-9%

    A. Philosophy and the History of Science

    1. Greek Philosophy and Mythology

    2. Renaissance (Rebirth)

    3. Age of Enlightenment

    4. Scientific Revolution

    B. Approaches/ Psychological Perspectives

                                                    1. Biological

                                                    2. Behavioral

                                                    3. Cognitive

                                                    4. Humanistic

    5. Psychodynamic

    6. Sociocultural         

    C. Experimental, Correlational, and Clinical Research

                   1. Double blind procedure

    2. Groups (control/experimental)

                   2. Cause and effect

                   3. Variables (dependent/independent)

    D. Statistics

                                                    1. Descriptive

                                                    2. Inferential

    E. Ethics in Research Methodology

                   1. Cultural sensitivity

                   2. Animal research

                   3. Human research

                   4. Gender studies

                   5. Safety issues

                   6. Confidentiality issues


                            II. Biological Bases of Behavior                                           8-10%

    A. Physiological Techniques

    B. Neuroanatomy

    C. Functional Organization of the Nervous System

    D. Neural Transmission

    E. Endocrine System

    F. Genetics



                            III. Sensation and Perception                                               7-9%   

    A. Thresholds

    B. Sensory Mechanisms

    C. Receptor Processes

    D. Sensory Adaptation

    E. Attention

    F. Perceptual Processes


                            IV. States of Consciousness                                                 2-4%

                                        A. States of Consciousness (Non-conscious, Preconscious,

    Unconscious, Conscious)

    B. Sleep and Dreaming

                                        C. Hypnosis

                                        D. Psychoactive Drug Effects


                            V. Learning                                                                            7-9%

                                        A. Biological Factors

                                        B. Classical Conditioning

                                        C. Operant Conditioning

                                        D. Cognitive Processes in Learning

                                        E. Social Learning


                            VI. Cognition                                                                         7-9%

                                        A. Memory

                                        B. Language

                                        C. Thinking

                                        D. Problem Solving and Creativity


                            VII. Motivation and Emotion                                              7-9%

                                        A. Biological Bases

                                        B. Theories of Motivation

                                        C. Hunger, Thirst, Pain, and Sex

                                        D. Social Motives

                                        E. Theories of Emotion


                            VIII. Developmental Psychology                                        7-9%

                                        A. Life Span Approaches

                                        B. Research Methods

    1.      Longitudinal

    2.      Cross-sectional

    C. Heredity-Environment Issue (Nature vs. Nurture)

    D. Developmental Theories



    E. Dimensions of Development

    1.      Physical

    2.      Cognitive

    3.      Social

    4.      Moral

    F. Sex Roles, Sex Differences, Gender Identity


                            IX. Personality                                                                        7-9%

    A.     Personality Theories and Approaches

    B.      Research Methods (e.g., Nomothetic or Idiographic)

    C.     Assessment Techniques

    D.    Self-concept, Self-esteem

    E.      Growth and Adjustment

    F.      Conflict

    G.     Stress


    X. Testing and Individual Differences                            5-7%

                A. Standardization and Norms

                B. Reliability and Validity

                C. Types of Tests

                D. Ethics and Standards in Testing

                E. Intelligence

                F. Heredity/Environment and Intelligence

    H.    Human Diversity


    XI. Abnormal Psychology                                                  7-9%

    A.     Definitions of Abnormality

    B.      Theories of Psychopathology

    C.     Diagnosis of Psychopathology

    D.    Anxiety Disorders

    E.      Somatoform Disorders

    F.      Mood Disorders

    G.     Schizophrenic Disorders

    H.    Organic Disorders

    I.        Personality Disorders


    XII. Treatment of Psychological Disorders                    6-8%

    A.     Treatment Approaches

    1. Insight Therapies: Psychodynamic/Phenomenological Approaches

    2. Behavioral Approaches

    3. Cognitive Approaches

    4. Biological Therapies

    B.      Modes of Therapy (e.g., individual, group)

    C.     Community and Preventative Approaches


    XIII. Social Psychology                                                          7-9%
    A. Group Dynamics

                B. Attribution Processes

                C. Interpersonal Perception

    D. Conformity, Compliance, and Obedience

    E. Attitudes and Attitude Change

    F. Organizational Behavior

    G. Aggression/Antisocial Behavior


    Tips for Student Success

    ·        Form a Study Group. Once again, this is a college level class. The students in this class, with very few exceptions, have no experience in college. Coming from one who has been in college, the teacher strongly advises st5udents in this course to comply with this directive. If students do not join a study group, and do not work as a team, the chance of success is diminished, and definitely cannot be guaranteed.


    ·        READ!!! Your teacher has developed a reading strategy called the PARATI. It began as a graduate assignment in a reading specialist certification course and has evolved into one of the most effective active reading tools available. It is not a note taking strategy, like “Cornell Notes.” It is a reading strategy that is designed to increase your reading comprehension. In the first part of the course the student will engage in an intensive study of the learning theory on which it is based, a breakdown of its components, and step by step practice in its application.


    ·        WRITE!!! Begin a pre-write (using the appropriate graphic organizers discussed in class) and outline any writing assignments immediately upon hearing the assignment. Getting started when the assignment is fresh and doing the writing assignments in regular, manageable segments will help one to clearly address the essay prompt and avoid procrastination.


    ·         Vocabulary Development. Use and understanding of scientific terminology is imperative to student success. It is strongly recommended that the student keep a pack of 3x5 cards on hand in order to make a set of vocabulary flashcards. One should begin with the bold words in the chapter, and then progress to more complex ideas. Just making the flashcards is the beginning of vocabulary acquisition. The flashcards also provide an excellent means of review.


    ·         Take complete class lecture and discussion notes, and date them. Edit, re-write, revise, and discuss all class notes with the study group. Leave some blank space on each page to make additions and clarifications. The student should also add examples so that difficult concepts will be more relevant, and make more sense when he/she goes back to study them later. The student should avoid blindly writing words on a page that the student does not fully understand. Ask questions. There is a high probability that there is another student in class too shy, or unable to put the question into words, and the student who asks the question is providing a service to his/her classmate. Questions of this nature are the penultimate opportunity for class participation points. It is important to review your class notes each day while they are still fresh in your mind. Before class, look over the notes from the previous discussion or lecture. This is especially important if a topic is presented over multiple days. If the student is absent on class lecture days, it is that student’s responsibility to obtain the notes from members of his/her study group. It is permissible and encouraged that the students download the lecture power points from the teacher’s website.


    ·         Consult additional psychology resources. If the student is having difficulty understanding the approved course text (Myers, 2004), one may wish to consult a more rudimentary, or introductory psychology text. The text used in the college prep level courses offered at Godinez is available and may be a good place to start. Sometimes students find reading a different author’s explanation of a concept aids in understanding the Myers text. However, this is to be done in addition to the Myers text. Do not substitute reading a different text for reading the Myers textbook, as evaluation of student understanding in this class will be based on assignments from the Myers text. In addition to the text, there are various internet sites which are designed to help students who are learning psychology. Some sites include explanations of concepts and even practice tests one may take. URL’s for these sites are available upon request; some links to these sites are currently posted on the teacher’s website.


    Required Text

    (1)   Myers, David G. Psychology. 7th edition. New York: Worth Publishers, 2004.  

    (2)   Hock, Roger R. Forty Studies that Changed Psychology: Explorations into the History of Psychological Research. 5th edition. New York: Prentice Hall, 2004.




    Every activity in this class is designed to prepare the student for the AP Exam. There is no busy work, and there is no time to waste. The student’s grade will be determined through an evaluation of the student’s performance on exams, daily assignments (especially expository and persuasive essays), and class participation. This is a college level course, and although every attempt by the instructor will be made to insure student understanding and success, it will be difficult, and in order to earn top grades in this class, it will be necessary for the student to be actively engaged. It is of the utmost importance therefore that the student (borrowing a term from the airborne infantry) “hits the ground running.”

    As stated in the “Objectives” above, there are many facets to this course. Evaluation of those objectives is as follows:


    • EXAMS: TESTS & QUIZZES (50% of final grade)
        • Students will be tested on material covered in class and in the text. Tests include multiple-choice questions and essay prompts (using the same format as AP Exams).  
        • There will be a unit test, for each of the 13 units covered in this course.
        • There will be a midterm exam at the end of the first 6 units.
        • There will be a final exam at the end of the course.
        • In addition to tests, the student must prepare for daily and/or weekly quizzes.

    There will be no open book, or open note exams in this course (in order to do well on exams, the student must read the text and study class notes.)


        • Students must read at least one book from the approved and published list. Upon completion the student must complete a critical review of the book. This must be done before the midterm.
        • The student will design and carry out an approved experiment of the student’s choice. The abstract, introduction, hypothesis and procedures must be completed before the midterm, and the results and final draft must be turned in prior to the final exam. The paper must be done in APA style, include a discussion of research methodology, consideration of ethical concerns, evaluation of results, and a conclusion.
        • In addition this includes all additional homework assignments, outside reading assignments (including review of the literature), writing assignments, and any other projects assigned.


    • CLASS PARTICIPATION  (20% of final grade)
        • The Students must research the Socratic Method, and understand that there will be strict adherence to its application in this class. Students will be expected to come to class prepared to engage in class discussions and possess all materials necessary to participate in all course activities.



    92-100%    = A

    83-91%      = B

    70-82%      = C

    60-69%      = D


    Setting a high standard has several tangible benefits for students; the student will learn a great deal of psychology, the student will be better prepared for college, and the student will be ready to excel on the AP Psychology Exam in May.


    Classroom Rules

         1.   Be Polite. Everyone – teacher, students, and guests – will be treated with respect.

         2.   Stay in your seat (unless otherwise instructed).

         3.   Keep your hands to yourself. Do not touch other people or their belongings.

         4.   Stay on task.


    Class Expectations

         1.   Come to class on time and be prepared to learn everyday;

         2.   Be organized and meet all deadlines;

         3.   Accept the consequences of the choices you make;

         4.   Take responsibility for your own learning (do not be afraid to ask for help or clarification).

         5.   Put your best effort into all work and classroom activities.

         6.   Follow all Godinez Fundamental High School rules and policies.


    Homework & Make-up Work/Test Policy

    Students should expect to have a minimum of 30 minutes of psychology homework every night. Homework is to be done at home, and should be completed before the beginning of the next class period. The teacher will NOT accept late homework, unless there is an excused absence. Any test or quiz missed due to an excused absence must be made up on the day that the student returns. In the event of an extended absence, other arrangements can be made, but it must be discussed via e-mail, or at the latest, in person, on the first day back in school, and the responsibility lies with the student to approach the teacher. When missing class due to a prearranged absence (field trip, athletic event, personal necessity, etc), students are responsible for turning in the work on the day it is due, or before.


    Getting Help

    The student is highly encouraged to get help if he/she does not understand something. The ultimate responsibility to learn psychology lies with the student, but the teacher is committed to student success and willing to help in any way possible. To get help one may:

                1.   Consult the study group

    2.   Ask questions before, during and/or after class.

                3.   Arrange a tutoring session with the teacher.

                4.   Email the teacher at erin.sloan@sausd.us



    If the student attends class every day (if possible), completes and turns in all assignments on time, studies (with the study group), asks for help when needed, and actually makes a sincere effort to learn, the student should be successful in this class and on the AP exam!




     Parent’s Signature: _____________________________Date: _________________



    Student’s Signature: ____________________________Date: _________________



    Teacher’s Signature: ____________________________Date: _________________
Last Modified on August 25, 2021