AP Psychology Syllabus

AP™ Psychology 2017- 2018

Mrs. Douglas

Room 211


Fall 2017

Course Title:


Course Goal:

AP® Psychology


To learn about the field of psychology through in-depth study, discussion, and hands-on activities; to be prepared to be successful on the APtm Psychology exam.



Meyers Psychology for AP™, 2nd edition, Worth Publishers, New York, 2014

Supplemental- Strive for a 5, BFW/Worth Publishers, New York, 2014

Forty studies that changed Psychology, Hock,

Recommended Supplies

Large Three-ring binder

Three-ring binder dividers (at least 14 dividers—one for each unit)


Writing utensils

Colored pencils

Description: Percentage of

Grading Proportions


Tests and Major Projects 55%

Quizzes 25%

Homework/Classwork 20%



• I teach a dedicated unit on research methods as the second unit in the course. Then, throughout the course, we will refer back to the terminology as we discuss studies that are highlighted in each unit. In addition, you will read relevant sections of Roger Hock’s Forty Studies that Changed Psychology: 7th Edition, 2013 for each unit. You will summarize the article and correctly identify the research methodology used in the study 

  • Extra Credit Extra credit can be earned by reading an article from a psychology journal or magazine and writing a summary and critique of the article. Only two articles per nine weeks can be completed for extra credit. Points for extra credit are yours to use on a quiz or a test, only one per, and must be applied when the test is taken.

For 10 Points: Read a full-page article from the APA’s Monitor on Psychology. Write a one-page summary and a one-page critique.

For 20 Points: Read a full journal article from American Psychologist, the Journal of Educational Psychology, or the Journal of Social Issues. Write a two-page summary and a one-page critique of the article.

  • Additional outside reading and/or review books may be required at teacher discretion
  • Ample notice will be given for any assignment, quiz, or exam. The amount of work depends on the unit being covered in class. There are assigned pages to read in the textbook every night.
  • Vocabulary terms are also given for each unit. Quizzes are administered frequently, at least once a unit. The quizzes use fill-in-the-blank, short-answer, and multiple-choice questions.
  • Exams will be given at the end of each unit and will consist of 45 multiple choice questions and one free-response question (simulating the AP Exam).
  • Other assignments given to students are class presentations, group projects, and papers. These assignments vary with the unit being covered.

Unit One- History and Approaches of Psychology  (Module 1-3)   2-4% of exam/ 2 days

Essential Questions:

What ways does psychology approach the study of human and animal behavior? How has psychology changed the study of human and animal behavior? How do the different perspectives in psychology compare and contrast? Who were the movers and shakers in the evolution of psychology as a science?

Unit 1 Objectives

• Trace the historical and philosophical development of psychology as a science.

• Describe how the different perspectives explore and explain human behavior.

• Identify famous psychologists and describe their contributions to the discipline.

• Explore different career options for people who earn degrees in psychology.



Unit Two—Research Methodology (Modula 4-8)                8-10% of exam/ 4 days

Essential Questions:

How do psychologists use the scientific method to study behavior and mental processes? Which methods of research are appropriate for the study of different behaviors? How do psychologists draw appropriate conclusions about behavior from research? How do psychologists make ethical decisions about researching behavior with human and animal subjects?

Unit 2 Objectives

• Discuss the advantage of research over other ways of knowing.

• Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of case study research.

• Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of naturalistic observations.

• Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of survey research.

• Evaluate why correlational research does not yield causal conclusions.

• Identify the elements of an experiment.

• Apply elements of an experiment to different situations.

• Evaluate the importance of ethics in research.

• Evaluate the importance of statistics in research.

Unit Three- Biological basis of behavior (Modula 9-15)     8-10% of exam/ 7 days

Essential Questions:

How do biological processes relate to behavior? How do the biological processes work to create and sustain behavior? How does damage to a biological process or part affect behavior?

Unit 3 Objectives

• Explain the process of neural communication.

• Explain how neurotransmitters work.

• Delineate the different steps of the neural chain.

• Analyze the difference between the neural and hormonal systems.

• Identify the parts of the brain and the functions of each.

• Describe the different types of brain scans.

• Determine the role of genetics in influencing human behavior.


Unit Four- Sensation and perception (Modules 16-21)      6-8% of exam/ 6 days

Essential Questions:

How do the five senses receive and translate signals to the brain for processing? How does each of the senses affect behavior? What are the limitations of each sense and how do those limitations affect behavior? How do sensation and perception differ? How does the brain process sensory signals accurately? Inaccurately?

Unit 4 Objectives

• Determine the significance of signal detection theory in modern psychology.

• Identify the major components of the visual system and the function of each.

• Identify the major components of the auditory system and the function of each.

• Identify the four basic tastes.

• Discuss the differences among the senses of taste, smell, and flavor.

• Identify the two body senses and contrast one with the other.

• Identify the views of the Gestalt psychologists related to perceptual phenomena.

• Understand how depth perception influences behavior.

• Appreciate the effect of constancy and context on daily life.

• Analyze the effect of perceptual set on everyday sensory experience.


Unit Five- States of Consciousness (Modules 22-25)          2-4% of exam/ 2 days

Essential Questions:

How do psychologists define consciousness? What happens during the sleep cycle? What roles do REM and NREM sleep play in behavior? How does lack of sleep affect behavior? How do psychoactive drugs affect behavior? How do we know whether hypnosis is a real psychological phenomenon?

Unit 5 Objectives

• Define consciousness.

• Describe the different stages of sleep.

• Analyze the different theories of dreaming.

• Determine the common sleep disorders and their consequences.

• Differentiate between the different theories of hypnosis. Analyze why psychologists are suspicious of hypnotically enhanced memories.

• Describe psychoactive drugs and their effects.

• Differentiate among the different types of psychoactive drugs and their effects.

• Analyze the consequences of addiction, tolerance, and withdrawal.


Unit Six- Learning (Modules 26-30)           7-9% of exam/ 5 days

Essential Questions:

How do psychologists define learning? How do principles of classical conditioning work to create learning? In what ways does classical conditioning work in human contexts? How do principles of operant conditioning work to create learning? In what ways does operant conditioning work in human contexts? How do principles of observational learning work to create learning? In what ways does observational learning work in human contexts? How are the various principles discussed different and similar?

Unit 6 Objectives

• Describe the elements of classical conditioning. • Apply classical conditioning to different situations.

• Describe the elements of operant conditioning. • Differentiate among the various forms of reinforcement and punishment.

• Apply elements of operant conditioning to different situations.

• Describe observational learning.

• Describe how biology influences learning.

• Describe how cognition influences learning.


Unit Seven- Cognition (Modules 31-36)  8-10% of exam/ 7 days

Essential Questions:

How do humans encode, store, and retrieve information from memory? How can humans enhance memory encoding, storage, and retrieval? How do humans think? In what ways is thinking flawed or constrained? How can people avoid falling for these errors in thinking? How do humans acquire language? How do humans use language to communicate ideas? How is language flawed or constrained? How can people avoid falling for these errors in using language?

Unit 7 Objectives

• Analyze how humans encode, store, and retrieve information in memory.

• Apply memory enhancement techniques to everyday life.

• Describe the characteristics of language and evaluate the importance of language.

• Define a concept, explaining why it is useful to problem solving.

• Differentiate between algorithms and heuristics.

• Analyze how fixation, confirmation bias, heuristics, overconfidence, framing, and belief perseverance influence the ability to solve problems


Unit Eight A- Motivation and Emotion (modules 37-42)    6-8% of exam/ 5 days

Essential Questions:

In what ways are humans motivated to behave? What methods of motivation are more effective than others? How can one increase his or her motivation to behave in various ways? What is the role of hunger in motivating behavior? How do maladaptive eating patterns affect behavior? What role do emotions play in behavior? How do cognitions affect emotions?

Unit 8 A Objectives

• Discuss the similarities of instinct and drive theories.

• Discuss the difference between drive theory and homeostasis.

• Explain the reasons why intrinsic motivation is more beneficial than extrinsic motivation.

• Determine how psychologists measure achievement motivation.

• Identify ways we can motivate others to give their best efforts.

• Analyze how the body regulates weight so effectively.

• Differentiate between historical and modern cognitive theories of emotion.

• Identify the physiological changes that occur when people experience different emotions.

• Determine the criteria for assessing gender differences in emotional expression.


Unit Eight B- Stress and Health (Modules 43-44)                 included in Unit 8A

Essential Questions:

How does stress influence health and behavior? How can people reduce stress? In what ways can stress be beneficial? How do social factors affect the influence of stress on health and behavior?

Unit 8 B Objectives

• Define stress, identifying the emotional and physiological responses to stress.

• Evaluate how outlook and feelings of control influence health.

• Evaluate how social support and positive emotional experiences contribute to health and well-being.


Unit Nine- Developmental Psychology (modules 45-54)   7-9% of exam/ 5 days

Essential Questions

: How do people grow and develop physically throughout the life span? How do people grow and develop intellectually throughout the life span? How do people grow and develop socially throughout the life span? How do people grow and develop morally throughout the life span? How do people grow and develop personality throughout the life span?

Unit 9 Objectives

• Describe the physical development of infants and children from conception to puberty.

• Analyze the cognitive development of infants and children.

• Evaluate the importance of social development in infants and children.

• Define adolescence and evaluate how adolescence has changed over the last century.

• Summarize the physical changes that occur during adolescence.

• Analyze how the reasoning ability of adolescents differs from that of children.

• Describe and analyze Kohlberg’s theory of moral reasoning.

• Describe how nature and nurture affect behavior.

• Describe how developmental psychologists research development over the life span.

• Analyze how sex roles influence individual and social behavior throughout the life span.


Unit Ten- Personality (Modules 55-59)    5-7% of exam/ 5 days

Essential Questions:

How do psychologists define and study personality? What advantages and limitations exist for each theory’s description of personality? How do psychologists reliably measure personality and interpret personality’s role in behavior?

Unit 10 Objectives

• Explain how the different perspectives—psychodynamic, humanistic, trait, and social-cultural—approach the study of personality.

• Evaluate the advantages and drawbacks of each theory of personality.

• Determine how psychologists assess personality according to the various perspectives.


Unit Eleven- Testing and individual differences (Modules 60 – 64 )

Essential Questions:

How do psychologists define and study intelligence? How did the use of intelligence tests evolve throughout the last two centuries? How do testing scores differ between group administrations and individual administrations of intelligence tests? Between genders? Races? Socioeconomic groups? How do psychologists know whether a test is reliable and/or valid? Why are these qualities of tests important?

Unit 11 Objectives

• Compare and contrast Gardner’s and Sternberg’s theories of intelligence.

• Evaluate Alfred Binet’s contribution to intelligence testing.

• Evaluate Lewis Therman’s role in the development of intelligence testing.

• Describe David Weschler’s contribution to intelligence testing.

• Explain how group tests of intelligence differ from individual tests.

• Differentiate between an aptitude test and an achievement test.

• Explain the difference between reliability and validity.

• Analyze the reasons for the differences in test scores among people of different genders, races, and ethnic groups.


Unit Twelve- Abnormal Behavior and treatment  (Modules 65-73 ) 

Essential Questions:

How do psychologists measure and define abnormal behavior? How are the various psychological disorders identified and studied? What impact do these psychological disorders have on individuals, families, communities, and society?

Unit 12 Objectives

• Identify the criteria psychologists use to diagnose psychological disorders.

• Differentiate among the different perspectives psychologists take to understand psychological disorders.

• Describe the characteristics of mood disorders. • Describe the characteristics of anxiety disorders.

• Describe the characteristics of somatoform disorders.

• Describe the characteristics of dissociative disorders.

• Describe the characteristics of schizophrenia.

• Describe the characteristics of personality disorders.

• Describe the characteristics of brain-based disorders.

• Describe the different treatment options for the various types of psychological disorders.


Unit Thirteen- Social Psychology (Modules 74-80 )

Essential Questions:

How do people explain (or attribute) the behavior of others? What impact do these attributions have on individuals and society as a whole? How are individuals affected by groups? Under what conditions do people obey, conform, make friendships, find love, and help others? How do attitudes and actions influence individual and group behavior? How do psychologists define culture? What influence does culture have on individuals and groups?

Unit 13 Objectives

•.Differentiate between situational and dispositional attribution.

• Identify the conditions in which people are more likely to conform and obey. • Determine how the presence of others influences actions.

• Evaluate why people are attracted to each other.

• Describe the conditions under which people are more likely to help others

• Differentiate among the terms prejudice, stereotype, and discrimination.

• Determine the biological and social contributors to aggressive behavior.

• Define culture and how it develops.