Course: PSY 252
Instructor: Diana Tamir
S 2019

Description of Course Goals and Curriculum

Students learn about and evaluate the subjective experience of being human by emphasizing studies that break down five “common false assumptions” about the human mind: I am in control of my actions, I know why I do the things I do, I know why others do what they do, I know myself and what’s going on in my mind, I am in control of reality. She also wants to students to gain the ability to understand how to conduct and produce their own experiment in small groups, which was emphasized in weekly precepts (“labs”) and very short precept assignments. Professor Tamir also invited guest lecturers that had conducted key research and implemented their findings overseas. As in all psychology courses students are required to have four hours of experiments in the psychology study pool or opt-out and do writing assignments. Synthesizing and memorizing studies under such themes is imperative and quite challenging to be able to use these to apply to similar situations which would show up on exams where the wording often determined if the answer was correct, which made it challenging but rewarding once figured out. Grading:
  • Labs/precepts (20%), didn’t overlap with material in book or lecture
  • Project (25%), create own research study for final paper!
  • Read a source book for inspiration
  • Read and write two-page commentary within first 3 weeks
  • Write 2-page research project proposal
  • Propose project to other lab people, work in a small group to conduct during 2.5-week period
  • Conduct experiment
  • Report on findings
  • Present report
  • Weekly post assignments (10%) to make you ask/answer questions about the class on piazza
  • Write a thoughtful comment on a finding in textbook or in class-- conflicting studies? Find an article that supports/conflicts/emphasizes
  • Midterm (20%)
  • Final (25%)

Learning From Classroom Instruction

The class is lecture-based and would have 1-2 chapters of reading per lecture. I did not find my preceptor to be helpful at all—oftentimes when I asked her specific questions, she instructed me to review the book and other people’s lecture notes which were uploaded onto our class Google Drive. However, Professor Tamir’s office hour schedule is time-slot-based and she is very engaging and understanding. When she was sick and I had an office hour scheduled, she went out of her way to Skype me for the office hour so I could ask all of the questions that I had. Weekly precept assignments seemed to aim for students to understand the method of studies, the independent and dependent variables, the testing method, results, and interpretation. You also learn how to set up and evaluate experiments which is helpful for your project.
It is imperative to thoroughly understand the studies in each section and how they relate to the greater “themes” in the course. I synthesized through repetition as I “roughly” typed up notes on Google Docs during class and uploaded each study as an individual flashcard to Quizlet each week. I would quiz myself on them for about 10-20 minutes every night and add material after every lecture. I would emphasize study topics, independent and dependent variables, testing method, results, and interpretations. I handwrote book notes following the same method and uploaded them to a second Quizlet that I tested myself more heavily on because the material was covered less. I also typed up my book notes before exams following this same method, which I found to help me learn more efficiently and without unnecessary commentary.

Learning For and From Assignments

For the research project aspect of the course, everyone in the precept gives a brief discussion of their research project proposal and people pick studies and groups to join. Once we had done so, I met with my research group every week for 1-2 hours to expand upon our topic, narrow down our area of focus, and practice before the project presentation. This was very helpful because some of the precept assignments are done with a partner, so the entire group had a set time to meet and work together and it was easy to add this onto the agenda. Make friends. The test format was 30 questions on the midterm (1 hour) and 60 on the final (2 hours), I believe. They were heavily study-focused and very specific, oftentimes scenario-based and “select all that apply.” However, out of the questions where multiple answers were required, partial credit was given. A practice midterm (10-15 questions) and final (30-40 questions) were uploaded to blackboard for students to take if they chose or not. Many students were unprepared for the exams but the study method I used helped me do well. There are an incredible amount of psychology studies and it is very easy to get lost in having a “general idea” of the studies without actually knowing the material comprehensibly and able to reproduce details of the course. In the beginning, the lecture and textbook material overlap, so it is very helpful to read the book before class; however, they become less related as the class progresses and you delve deeper into your own experiment. The final exam covers information covered before and after the midterm. Thus, I created another Quizlet for both the readings and lectures after the midterm. In total, I had four Quizlets so that I was able to understand what section of the course I needed to study more and had access to the syllabus and area covered in the sections.

External Resources

Although the professor uploaded her slideshows to the class Google Drive, oftentimes she would discuss significantly more than what was on the screen and the important implications for the contextualized area of focus. However, students also submit lecture notes in the class Google Drive, so it was helpful to look over others’ notes before the exam to make sure that my notes were accurate and covered everything.

What Students Should Know About This Course For Purposes Of Course Selection

Most learning takes place outside of class, but if you are committed, this class is so rewarding and fun to bring up psych terms in conversation.  Professor Tamir covers a lot of material during class periods, so make sure to attend every lecture and be actively listening. About 20-30% of the first half of the course was covered in AP Psychology, though in significantly less depth. Professor Tamir is committed to students’ learning and she sent out a survey for us to take post-midterm and truly implemented our suggestions. She also has block time-based office hours and near the midterm, I had scheduled a time, but she said she was sick and offered to do a Skype office hour which was so helpful and considerate.
Social Psychology

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