Advanced Placement Psychology

Pigeon Forge High School                        Spring 2018                            Dr. Karen Kelley

Class Wiki: 

Course Description:

Advanced Placement Psychology is a one semester course. It is intended to provide the scope and level of academic accomplishment expected in a college introductory course. The purpose of this course is to introduce students to the systematic and scientific study of behavior and mental processes of humans and other animals. Students will be exposed to the psychological facts, principles, and phenomena associated with

each of the major subfields within psychology.

You will be acting as a college student, forging ahead on your own, and seeking and internalizing knowledge. You MUST be the main agent in this educational process. My job is to facilitate your drive and accomplishment by structuring learning situations and selecting learning tools and opportunities that will help you attain your goals: a successful score on the AP exam (Your AP Exam is on May 7, 2018 @ 12 noon).    

Course Materials:

You will need a 2 to 3 inch three ring binder with pockets

A LOT of index cards (about 30 – 50 per chapter/module). There are 14 chapters/ modules.

Loose leaf paper

Blue or Black pens

Several Highlighters

Textbook: Myers' Psychology for AP* by David Myers ©2011 | First Edition
ISBN-13: 9781429244367

Practice AP book: AP Psychology by Barron’s

You MAY NOT write or highlight anything in your textbook, unless you want to pay for a book at the end of the year. The cost is $130

AP Psychology National Exam

The Advanced Placement Program of the College Board affords students the opportunity to receive college credit for AP classes by successfully passing a national examination (a passing score is a 3 or better). For 90% of colleges, a grade of “3” would qualify for credit in the course. The exam is given in May. Your exam is on May 7, 2018.

The AP Psychology exam consists of 100 multiple choice questions which you have a 70 minute time limit to complete and two FRQ Essays which you have a 50 minute time limit to answer. There is a 10 minute break in between each section.

Classroom Expectations

Keep in mind that you are expected to behave as if you are in a college class.

All assignments will be posted on the class wiki; therefore if you miss class for any reason, you will be expected to keep up with the work.  If school is cancelled due to snow, flood, etc., assignments will be posted on the wiki.  You will be directed to download or locate class material from the wiki. Failure to download materials, complete handouts, or read the information posted will result in a zero on any and all assignments. These cannot be made up. Whether we miss school for weather or students miss for illness, the AP Exam date will not change.  It is imperative that we stay on schedule.

Students will have assigned reading each night from the text and will be quizzed over vocabulary and reading.  Keep in mind:  Failure to read assigned readings…usually results in a failing grade and failure on the AP exam.  

* Late work will receive a significant grade deduction.

  1. Showing respect to all staff, students and visitors.
  2. Paying attention to what is going on in the classroom.
  3. Obeying all school rules and policies.
  4. Speaking at appropriate times using appropriate language.

* Individual issues will not be discussed in an open forum, please hold those questions until after class.

  1. Being on time.
  2. Coming to class prepared.
  3. Obeying the Code of Conduct.

* Plagiarism & cheating will result in a zero on any and all assignments. No exceptions!

Grading Policy

Since our objective will be to prepare you for the national AP Exam, your grade for each grading period will consist of college-level multiple choice exams, discussion (FRQ) exams, and daily grades, such as quizzes, projects, homework, and class work.

Extra credit points will be awarded normally by completing the vocabulary words accompanying each chapter to be turned in at the latest by the date of the exam.  Points will be awarded on the following scale: 1-9 words: 1 point, 10-19 words: 2 points, 20-29 words: 3 points; 30-39 words: 4 points; 40-49 words: 5 points; etc . These points will be added to the test grade of the chapter in which the words are included.  The words must be HANDWRITTEN IN INK on note cards.

Award Opportunities: 1. Any student with a 97 average or higher will receive a prize at the end of the semester.  2. The student with the highest overall average will be recognized at Pigeon Forge High School’s Awards Night ceremony.  3. Student of the Semester: On each exam I will recognize the top 3 students on an “Honors List”.  Depending on how often you make the list, you may be recognized as the “Student of the Semester”.

Online Grade Program:  Students’ grades can be accessed in Skyward gradebook. There is a link on the school website. Parents, please ask your child for the login information.


Tests will generally consist of multiple-choice and FRQ/Essay questions. Each test will cover a significant volume of material that many students have not previously experienced. These tests emphasize information from the text and lecture. Each test has a significant impact on the final six weeks grade.

Assignments & Absenteeism

All assignments are due on the due date. You have 5 days to make-up any missed assignments due to an absence once you return to school. Failure to make up work in the given amount of time will result in a zero on any and all assignments.

IF YOU are absent, it is YOUR responsibility to get the work that YOU missed.

Note: If a test, quiz, project, or written assignment was announced (see calendar) and given to you before your absence and you return on the day of the activity, you are responsible for that assignment. If you have a special situation, please talk to me.

Instructor’s Additional Resources

Bernstein, Douglas A., Louis A. Penner, Alison Clarke-Stewart, and Edward J. Roy. Psychology. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.

Ciccarelli, Saundra K., J. Noland White. Psychology, AP Edition (2nd ed). Prentice Hall, 2011.

Gazzaniga, Michael S., Todd F. Heatherton, and Diane Halpern. Psychological Science, 4th ed. New York: W. W. Norton.

Myers, David G. Psychology. New York: Worth.

TED Talks

Discovering Psychology video series

Course Content/Evaluation Materials

The course outline, from the AP Psychology Course Description shows the major content area covered by the AP exam, as well as the approximate percentage of the exam that is devoted to each area. The outline is intended to be a basic guide and not to be an all-inclusive list of topics.

                                        Approximate Percentage                Approximate Days 

Content Area                                   on AP Psych Exam                                on Topic*

I. History & Approaches                        2 – 4 %                                2 days

Psychology has evolved markedly since its inception as a discipline in 1879. There have been significant changes in the theories that psychologists use to explain behavior and mental processes. In addition, the methodology of psychological research has expanded to include a diversity of approaches to data gathering.

A . History of Psychology

B . Approaches

1 . Biological

2 . Behavioral

3 . Cognitive

4 . Humanistic

5 . Psychodynamic

6 . Sociocultural

7 . Evolutionary

8 . Biopsychosocial

C . Subfields in Psychology


• Recognize how philosophical and physiological perspectives shaped the development of psychological thought.

• Describe and compare different theoretical approaches in explaining behavior:

— structuralism, functionalism, and behaviorism in the early years;

— Gestalt, psychoanalytic/psychodynamic, and humanism emerging later;

— evolutionary, biological, cognitive, and biopsychosocial as more contemporary approaches.

• Recognize the strengths and limitations of applying theories to explain behavior.

• Distinguish the different domains of psychology (e.g., biological, clinical, cognitive, counseling, developmental, educational, experimental, human factors, industrial–organizational, personality, psychometric, social).

• Identify major historical figures in psychology (e.g., Mary Whiton Calkins, Charles Darwin, Dorothea Dix, Sigmund Freud, G. Stanley Hall, William James, Ivan Pavlov, Jean Piaget, Carl Rogers, B. F. Skinner, Margaret Floy Washburn, John B. Watson, Wilhelm Wundt).

II. Research Methods                        8 – 10%                                6 days

Psychology is an empirical discipline. Psychologists develop knowledge by doing research. Research provides guidance for psychologists who develop theories to explain behavior and who apply theories to solve problems in behavior.

A . Experimental, Correlational, and Clinical Research

B . Statistics

1 . Descriptive

2 . Inferential

C . Ethics in Research


• Differentiate types of research (e.g., experiments, correlational studies, survey research, naturalistic observations, case studies) with regard to purpose, strengths, and weaknesses.

• Describe how research design drives the reasonable conclusions that can be drawn (e.g., experiments are useful for determining cause and effect; the use of experimental controls reduces alternative explanations).

• Identify independent, dependent, confounding, and control variables in experimental designs.

• Distinguish between random assignment of participants to conditions in experiments and random selection of participants, primarily in correlational studies and surveys.

• Predict the validity of behavioral explanations based on the quality of research design (e.g., confounding variables limit confidence in research conclusions).

• Distinguish the purposes of descriptive statistics and inferential statistics.

• Apply basic descriptive statistical concepts, including interpreting and constructing graphs and calculating simple descriptive statistics (e.g., measures of central tendency, standard deviation).

• Discuss the value of reliance on operational definitions and measurement in behavioral research.

• Identify how ethical issues inform and constrain research practices.

• Describe how ethical and legal guidelines (e.g., those provided by the American Psychological Association, federal regulations, local institutional review boards) protect research participants and promote sound ethical practice.

III. Biological Bases of Behavior                8 – 10%                                6 days

An effective introduction to the relationship between physiological processes and behavior — including the influence of neural function, the nervous system and the brain, and genetic contributions to behavior — is an important element in the AP course.

A . Physiological Techniques (e.g., imaging, surgical)

B . Neuroanatomy

C . Functional Organization of Nervous System

D . Neural Transmission

E . Neuroplasticity

F . Endocrine System

G . Genetics

H . Evolutionary Psychology


• Identify basic processes and systems in the biological bases of behavior, including parts of the neuron and the process of transmission of a signal between neurons.

• Discuss the influence of drugs on neurotransmitters (e.g., reuptake mechanisms, agonists, antagonists).

• Discuss the effect of the endocrine system on behavior.

• Describe the nervous system and its subdivisions and functions:

— central and peripheral nervous systems;

— major brain regions, lobes, and cortical areas;

— brain lateralization and hemispheric specialization.

• Discuss the role of neuroplasticity in traumatic brain injury.

• Recount historic and contemporary research strategies and technologies that support research (e.g., case studies, split-brain research, imaging techniques).

• Discuss psychology’s abiding interest in how heredity, environment, and evolution work together to shape behavior.

• Predict how traits and behavior can be selected for their adaptive value.

• Identify key contributors (e.g., Paul Broca, Charles Darwin, Michael Gazzaniga, Roger Sperry, Carl Wernicke).

IV. Sensation & Perception                        6 – 8 %                                5 days

Everything that organisms know about the world is first encountered when stimuli in the environment activate sensory organs, initiating awareness of the external world. Perception involves the interpretation of the sensory inputs as a cognitive process.

A . Thresholds and Signal Detection Theory

B . Sensory Mechanisms

C . Attention

D . Perceptual Processes


• Discuss basic principles of sensory transduction, including absolute threshold, difference threshold, signal detection, and sensory adaptation.

• Describe sensory processes (e.g., hearing, vision, touch, taste, smell, vestibular, kinesthesis, pain), including the specific nature of energy transduction, relevant anatomical structures, and specialized pathways in the brain for each of the senses.

• Explain common sensory disorders (e.g., visual and hearing impairments).

• Describe general principles of organizing and integrating sensation to promote stable awareness of the external world (e.g., Gestalt principles, depth perception).

• Discuss how experience and culture can influence perceptual processes (e.g., perceptual set, context effects).

• Explain the role of top-down processing in producing vulnerability to illusion.

• Discuss the role of attention in behavior.

• Challenge common beliefs in parapsychological phenomena.

• Identify the major historical figures in sensation and perception (e.g., Gustav Fechner, David Hubel, Ernst Weber, Torsten Wiesel).

V. States of Consciousness                        2 – 4 %                                2 days

Understanding consciousness and what it encompasses is critical to an appreciation of what is meant by a given state of consciousness. The study of variations in consciousness includes an examination of the sleep cycle, dreams, hypnosis, circadian rhythms, and the effects of psychoactive drugs.

A . Sleep and Dreaming

B . Hypnosis

C . Psychoactive Drug Effects


• Describe various states of consciousness and their impact on behavior.

• Discuss aspects of sleep and dreaming:

— stages and characteristics of the sleep cycle;

— theories of sleep and dreaming;

— symptoms and treatments of sleep disorders.

• Describe historic and contemporary uses of hypnosis (e.g., pain control, psychotherapy).

• Explain hypnotic phenomena (e.g., suggestibility, dissociation).

• Identify the major psychoactive drug categories (e.g., depressants, stimulants) and classify specific drugs, including their psychological and physiological effects.

• Discuss drug dependence, addiction, tolerance, and withdrawal.

• Identify the major figures in consciousness research (e.g., William James, Sigmund Freud, Ernest Hilgard).

VI. Learning                                        7 – 9 %                                5 days

This section of the course introduces students to differences between learned and unlearned behavior. The primary focus is exploration of different kinds of learning, including classical conditioning, operant conditioning, and observational learning. The biological bases of behavior illustrate predispositions for learning.

A . Classical Conditioning

B . Operant Conditioning

C . Cognitive Processes

D . Biological Factors

E . Social Learning


• Distinguish general differences between principles of classical conditioning, operant conditioning, and observational learning (e.g., contingencies).

• Describe basic classical conditioning phenomena, such as acquisition, extinction, spontaneous recovery, generalization, discrimination, and higher-order learning.

• Predict the effects of operant conditioning (e.g., positive reinforcement, negative reinforcement, punishment).

• Predict how practice, schedules of reinforcement, and motivation will influence quality of learning.

• Interpret graphs that exhibit the results of learning experiments.

• Provide examples of how biological constraints create learning predispositions.

• Describe the essential characteristics of insight learning, latent learning, and social learning.

• Apply learning principles to explain emotional learning, taste aversion, superstitious behavior, and learned helplessness.

• Suggest how behavior modification, biofeedback, coping strategies, and self-control can be used to address behavioral problems.

• Identify key contributors in the psychology of learning (e.g., Albert Bandura, John Garcia, Ivan Pavlov, Robert Rescorla, B. F. Skinner, Edward Thorndike, Edward Tolman, John B. Watson).

VII. Cognition                                8 – 10 %                                6 days

In this unit students learn how humans convert sensory input into kinds of information. They examine how humans learn, remember, and retrieve information. This part of the course also addresses problem solving, language, and creativity.

A . Memory

B . Language

C . Thinking

D . Problem Solving and Creativity


• Compare and contrast various cognitive processes:

— effortful versus automatic processing;

— deep versus shallow processing;

— focused versus divided attention.

• Describe and differentiate psychological and physiological systems of memory (e.g., short-term memory, procedural memory).

• Outline the principles that underlie effective encoding, storage, and construction of memories.

• Describe strategies for memory improvement.

• Synthesize how biological, cognitive, and cultural factors converge to facilitate acquisition, development, and use of language.

• Identify problem-solving strategies as well as factors that influence their effectiveness.

• List the characteristics of creative thought and creative thinkers.

• Identify key contributors in cognitive psychology (e.g., Noam Chomsky, Hermann Ebbinghaus, Wolfgang Köhler, Elizabeth Loftus, George A. Miller).

VIII. Motivation & Emotion                6 – 8 %                                5 days

In this part of the course, students explore biological and social factors that motivate behavior and biological and cultural factors that influence emotion.

A . Biological Bases

B . Theories of Motivation

C . Hunger, Thirst, Sex, and Pain

D . Social Motives

E . Theories of Emotion

F . Stress


• Identify and apply basic motivational concepts to understand the behavior of humans and other animals (e.g., instincts, incentives, intrinsic versus extrinsic motivation).

• Discuss the biological underpinnings of motivation, including needs, drives, and homeostasis.

• Compare and contrast motivational theories (e.g., drive reduction theory, arousal theory, general adaptation theory), including the strengths and weaknesses of each.

• Describe classic research findings in specific motivation systems (e.g., eating, sex, social).

• Discuss theories of stress and the effects of stress on psychological and physical well-being.

• Compare and contrast major theories of emotion (e.g., James–Lange, Cannon–Bard, Schachter two-factor theory).

• Describe how cultural influences shape emotional expression, including variations in body language.

• Identify key contributors in the psychology of motivation and emotion (e.g., William James, Alfred Kinsey, Abraham Maslow, Stanley Schachter, Hans Selye).

IX. Developmental Psychology                7 – 9 %                                5 days

Developmental psychology deals with the behavior of organisms from conception to death and examines the processes that contribute to behavioral change throughout the lifespan. The major areas of emphasis in the course are prenatal development, motor development, socialization, cognitive development, adolescence, and adulthood.

A . Life-Span Approach

B . Research Methods (e.g., longitudinal, cross-sectional)

C . Heredity–Environment Issues

D . Developmental Theories

E . Dimensions of Development

1 . Physical

2 . Cognitive

3 . Social

4 . Moral

F . Sex and Gender Development


• Discuss the interaction of nature and nurture (including cultural variations) in the determination of behavior.

• Explain the process of conception and gestation, including factors that influence successful fetal development (e.g., nutrition, illness, substance abuse).

• Discuss maturation of motor skills.

• Describe the influence of temperament and other social factors on attachment and appropriate socialization.

• Explain the maturation of cognitive abilities (e.g., Piaget’s stages, information processing).

• Compare and contrast models of moral development (e.g., Kohlberg, Gilligan).

• Discuss maturational challenges in adolescence, including related family conflicts.

• Explain how parenting styles influence development.

• Characterize the development of decisions related to intimacy as people mature.

• Predict the physical and cognitive changes that emerge as people age, including steps that can be taken to maximize function.

• Describe how sex and gender influence socialization and other aspects of development.

• Identify key contributors in developmental psychology (e.g., Mary Ainsworth, Albert Bandura, Diana Baumrind, Erik Erikson, Sigmund Freud, Carol Gilligan, Harry Harlow, Lawrence Kohlberg, Konrad Lorenz, Jean Piaget, Lev Vygotsky).

X. Personality                                 5 – 7 %                                4 days

In this section of the course, students explore major theories of how humans develop enduring patterns of behavior and personal characteristics that influence how others relate to them. The unit also addresses research methods used to assess personality.

A . Personality Theories and Approaches

B . Assessment Techniques

C . Growth and Adjustment


• Compare and contrast the major theories and approaches to explaining personality (e.g., psychoanalytic, humanist, cognitive, trait, social cognition, behavioral).

• Describe and compare research methods (e.g., case studies and surveys) that psychologists use to investigate personality.

• Identify frequently used assessment strategies (e.g., the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory [MMPI], the Thematic Apperception Test [TAT]), and evaluate relative test quality based on reliability and validity of the instruments.

• Speculate how cultural context can facilitate or constrain personality development, especially as it relates to self-concept (e.g., collectivistic versus individualistic cultures).

• Identify key contributors to personality theory (e.g., Alfred Adler, Albert Bandura, Paul Costa and Robert McCrae, Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung, Abraham Maslow, Carl Rogers).

XI. Testing & Individual Differences        5 – 7 %                                4 days

An understanding of intelligence and assessment of individual differences is highlighted in this portion of the course. Students must understand issues related to test construction and fair use.

A . Standardization and Norms

B . Reliability and Validity

C . Types of Tests

D . Ethics and Standards in Testing

E . Intelligence


• Define intelligence and list characteristics of how psychologists measure intelligence:

— abstract versus verbal measures;

— speed of processing.

• Discuss how culture influences the definition of intelligence.

• Compare and contrast historic and contemporary theories of intelligence (e.g., Charles Spearman, Howard Gardner, Robert Sternberg).

• Explain how psychologists design tests, including standardization strategies and other techniques to establish reliability and validity.

• Interpret the meaning of scores in terms of the normal curve.

• Describe relevant labels related to intelligence testing (e.g., gifted, cognitively disabled).

• Debate the appropriate testing practices, particularly in relation to culture-fair test uses.

• Identify key contributors in intelligence research and testing (e.g., Alfred Binet, Francis Galton, Howard Gardner, Charles Spearman, Robert Sternberg, Louis Terman, David Wechsler).

XII. Abnormal Behavior                        7 – 9 %                                5 days

In this portion of the course, students examine the nature of common challenges to adaptive functioning. This section emphasizes formal conventions that guide psychologists’ judgments about diagnosis and problem severity.

A . Definitions of Abnormality

B . Theories of Psychopathology

C . Diagnosis of Psychopathology

D . Types of Disorders

        1 . Anxiety

        2 . Somatoform

        3 . Mood

        4 . Schizophrenic        

        5 . Organic

        6 . Personality

        7 . Dissociative


• Describe contemporary and historical conceptions of what constitutes psychological disorders.

• Recognize the use of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) published by the American Psychiatric Association as the primary reference for making diagnostic judgments.

• Discuss the major diagnostic categories, including anxiety and somatoform disorders, mood disorders, schizophrenia, organic disturbance, personality disorders, and dissociative disorders, and their corresponding symptoms.

• Evaluate the strengths and limitations of various approaches to explaining psychological disorders: medical model, psychoanalytic, humanistic, cognitive, biological, and sociocultural.

• Identify the positive and negative consequences of diagnostic labels (e.g., the Rosenhan study).

• Discuss the intersection between psychology and the legal system (e.g., confidentiality, insanity defense).

XIII. Treatment of Abnormal Behavior          5 – 7 %                                4 days

This section of the course provides students with an understanding of empirically based treatments of psychological disorders. The topic emphasizes descriptions of treatment modalities based on various orientations in psychology.

A . Treatment Approaches

1 . Psychodynamic

2 . Humanistic

3 . Behavioral

4 . Cognitive

5 . Biological

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

C . Community and Preventive Approaches


• Describe the central characteristics of psychotherapeutic intervention.

• Describe major treatment orientations used in therapy (e.g., behavioral, cognitive, humanistic) and how those orientations influence therapeutic planning.

• Compare and contrast different treatment formats (e.g., individual, group).

• Summarize effectiveness of specific treatments used to address specific problems.

• Discuss how cultural and ethnic context influence choice and success of treatment (e.g., factors that lead to premature termination of treatment).

• Describe prevention strategies that build resilience and promote competence.

• Identify major figures in psychological treatment (e.g., Aaron Beck, Albert Ellis, Sigmund Freud, Mary Cover Jones, Carl Rogers, B. F. Skinner, Joseph Wolpe).

XIV. Social Psychology                        8 – 10 %                                6 days

This part of the course focuses on how individuals relate to one another in social situations. Social psychologists study social attitudes, social influence, and other social phenomena.

A . Group Dynamics

B . Attribution Processes

C . Interpersonal Perception

D . Conformity, Compliance, Obedience

E . Attitudes and Attitude Change

F . Organizational Behavior

G . Aggression/Antisocial Behavior

H . Cultural Influences


• Apply attribution theory to explain motives (e.g., fundamental attribution error, self-serving bias).

• Describe the structure and function of different kinds of group behavior (e.g., deindividuation, group polarization).

• Explain how individuals respond to expectations of others, including groupthink, conformity, and obedience to authority.

• Discuss attitudes and how they change (e.g., central route to persuasion).

• Predict the impact of the presence of others on individual behavior (e.g., bystander effect, social facilitation).

• Describe processes that contribute to differential treatment of group members (e.g., in-group/out-group dynamics, ethnocentrism, prejudice).

• Articulate the impact of social and cultural categories (e.g., gender, race, ethnicity) on self-concept and relations with others.

• Anticipate the impact of behavior on a self-fulfilling prophecy.

• Describe the variables that contribute to altruism, aggression, and attraction.

• Discuss attitude formation and change, including persuasion strategies and cognitive dissonance.

• Identify important figures in social psychology (e.g., Solomon Asch, Leon Festinger, Stanley Milgram, Philip Zimbardo).

* Time is included in the semester schedule to provide for review before the AP Exam.

The AP Central Psychology Web page address is listed below:


Students: Please come by and talk to me before or after school (or during break), or email me if you have any questions or concerns.  

Parents/Guardians: Please call and schedule a conference with me if you have any questions or concerns. If you would like to schedule a conference with me, please send me an email or call me at school. Email is the best way to get in touch with me. My email address is  The school number is 865-774-5790. My classroom extension is 124. Pigeon Forge High School web site:

Thank you,

Dr. Karen Kelley

Keys for Success in AP Psychology

  1. 3/4th of the battle is vocabulary.  I suggest you make vocabulary flashcards on 3x5” index cards for the terms at the end of each chapter.  As you make the cards, you are already beginning to learn the vocabulary.  The flashcards provide an excellent means of review.  These can be turned in for extra credit as noted earlier; they will be returned to you.  They must be handwritten in ink. (Hint: DO NOT wait until the night before the test to complete these.)
  2. Take notes & date them. Put them in your own words. Leave some blank space on each page to make some additions and clarification. It is very important to review your notes each day while they are fresh in your mind. Expand them, clarify them, and add examples so they will make sense when you go back to study from them later.
  3. Learn to read more effectively. You can read more effectively by doing the following:
  1. Form a study group. Your group will ensure that each member will be able to master the material covered in class and in the text. Each group’s ultimate goal is for each member to earn a successful score in the AP exam.
  2. Use the Barron’s book to review.