Psychology Courses – Undergraduate
- PSY 105 – Introduction to Psychology (previous syllabus): This course is an introduction to the scientific study of human behavior and mental processes. It prepares students for pursuing more advanced coursework in psychology and provides a basic understanding of psychology for those entering other fields. The course introduces the problems, methods, and findings of modern psychology. Students are exposed to the breadth of topics studied by psychologists, with an emphasis on major research findings and applications to personal and professional situations.
- PSY 201 – Research Methods (previous syllabus): The purpose of this course is to provide an overview of research methods and presentation of results used in the field of psychology. Students gain first-hand experience conducting research by developing research questions, designing a study, securing IRB approval, collecting data, analyzing results, writing a research report, and presenting their results to their classmates. The course focuses on issues such as searching for empirical literature, critiquing published research, principals of measurement, ethical research, and improving academic writing skills. Students are taught APA Style guidelines and are often invited to submit their finished projects to regional psychology conferences.
- PSY 205 – Career Seminar (previous syllabus): This required, 1-credit course for sophomore psychology majors explores the various sub-fields of psychology to help students identify career paths at the bachelor’s and graduate level. Course activities include informational interviews, resume creation, professional networking, and mock interviews with Career Services.
- PSY 250 – Psychopathology (previous syllabus): The focus of the class is learning diagnostic criteria for use in psychology and related helping fields. The course starts by considering the possible definitions of “abnormal” and tracing historical ways of thinking about mental illness, up to and including our present standards as defined in The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition (also known as the DSM). The majority of the course focuses on covering the spectrum of diagnoses in the DSM, including criteria, prevalence, cultural and special population considerations, and how disorders are portrayed in the media. Students also apply their new skills to real case studies via diagnostic labs.
- PSY 282 – Psychotherapy & Assessment (previous syllabus): This course guides students through the clinical responsibilities of mental health practitioners. The major focus of this course is the varied models (e.g., humanistic, psychodynamic, cognitive-behavioral) and modalities (e.g., individual, group, couples) of psychotherapy. The secondary focus is the clinical assessment methods clinicians use to diagnose, treat, and track outcomes in their clients (e.g., MMPI, projective tests, Beck Depression Inventory). Students compose a treatment plan, critically assess the strengths and limitations of various therapies, and obtain valuable insight into the primary roles of applied work in mental health.
- PSY 350 – Foundations of Clinical Practice (previous syllabus): This course provides an introduction to the foundational skills needed for a career as a mental health service provider. Familiarity with these skills will help you determine if this a career path for you, and be of service in a number of other human service professions (e.g., medicine, teaching, case management). The first segment of the course focuses on therapeutic microskills, the basic skills of interacting with clients. This section of the course includes skill development via simulated counseling session role plays. The second segment of the course focuses on specific skills used by mental health practitioners to promote stress and anxiety management, healthy relationships, and overall wellness. The final segment of the class focuses on broader issues such as ethical practice and counselor self-care.
- PSY 455 – Clinical Practicum (previous syllabus): The course is a blend of practical experience in a clinical setting and rigorous evaluation of the state of empirical research in clinical psychology. Students spend 5 hours per week at a clinical site observing how professional mental health services are delivered, and one class session per week is dedicated to group supervision of those experiences. The other class session per week explores empirical evidence of effectiveness for clinical interventions and processes.
- PSY 475 – Internship in Psychology (previous syllabus): This course consists of students spending time in an applied psychological setting to get a sense of how psychological principles are used in a variety of ways to help individuals and society. Class sessions involve group processing of experiences and professional development exercises. The course is for variable credits, with time at site determining number of credits (40 hours per semester per credit).
- PSY 485 – Advanced Psychological Research (previous syllabus): In this course, students refine a research proposal completed for a previous class, get IRB approval for their study, gather and analyze their data, and prepare an APA-style manuscript. Student present their research in the form of a research talk, as well as a poster session open to the public. Over the course of the semester, students refine their data analysis skills with practice labs and gain exposure to advanced methods such as factor analysis and structural equation modeling.
- PSY 100A – Cinematic Depictions of Mental Health (2015 syllabus): Mental illness is a topic which has been shrouded with secrecy, stigma, and fear for much of human existence. This is changing slowly, as American culture is becoming more accepting of mental health issues and more people are willing to share their struggles openly. Hollywood has a long history of including prominent characters with mental illness, but with varying levels of accuracy. This course explores a broad range of examples of mental illness in movies while guiding students toward critical evaluation of the portrayal of affected characters and the impact of these portrayals on those with mental illness, those who treat mental illness, and society at large. The central question of this course is “Do movies promote awareness of mental health issues or propagate stereotypes?”
- PSY 100A – Eastern vs. Western Approaches to Mental Health (2017 syllabus): Japan is the setting for this exploration of the interplay between traditional Asian approaches to health and Westernized medicine. Japan poses an excellent case study for this investigation, as it has a rich history and has been rapidly Westernized. In terms of mental health care, Japan is in the process of reforming its systems and approach to treatment to face an overcrowded institutionalized population; a dilemma the US faced in the past. How did the US navigate this issue? What can Japan and other countries learn from American successes and failures? How does Japan balance traditional beliefs and healthcare practices with modern medical advances? We will seek to answer these questions during our 17-day travel course in Japan.
First Year Seminar
- CI 100F – Who or What is Normal, and Why Should I Care? (2015 syllabus):
C/I is an unique course which serves to orient students to both academics and life at Austin College. The academic orientation is through the exploration of what it means to be “normal.” “Normal” is a deceptively complex term. It has a simple definition according to Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary: “usual or ordinary; not strange” and most of us would say we can identify what’s normal fairly easily. It turns out, however, “normal” is incredibly difficult to understand when it comes to human behavior. Philosophers, statisticians, physicians, psychologists, and many others have struggled to determine just what is “normal” for our species. While this may seem a trivial issue, the definition of normality impacts who is prescribed medication, who gets accommodations in school, governmental regulation, public health programming, legal cases, social acceptance, and many other areas. Throughout this course we examine the many ways to approach the definition of “normal,” from empirical research to moral arguments to “knowing it when we see it,” using the controversy surrounding the release of the 5th edition of the Diagnostic & Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (or DSM-5) in 2013 as the backdrop.The orientation to life at Austin College is conducted through several series of activities and assignments which go on throughout the course. We visit a variety of important offices on campus through our Campus Resources series so students know what resources are available and how to make use of them. Students have campus participation assignments which help push them out of their comfort zone and explore the variety of opportunities Austin College has to offer. Another part of life at Austin College is adjusting to the academic expectations of the faculty. To this end, we have a series of classes on Monday nights called Toolkit for Success, where we cover research-based strategies for taking better notes, studying effectively for exams, and writing well-structured papers.