• AP Psychology – Mr. Small

    Forest High School – 202-2021

    Bldg. 1 Rm. B-251


    FHS – 352-671-4700

    Office Hours: 8:20-8:40

    DISTANCE LEARNING: You will be required to follow all MCPS / Forest High School policies and procedures

    Course Overview

    The purpose of the Advanced Placement course in Psychology is to introduce students to the systematic study of behavior and mental processes of human beings and other animals. Students are exposed to the empirically-supported psychological facts, research findings, terminology, major figures, principles, and phenomena associated with each of the major subfields within psychology. They learn about the methods psychologist use in their science and practice. The aim of this course is to provide the student with a learning experience equivalent to that obtained in most college introductory psychology courses.


    AP Psychology is a highly structured, very demanding course. Students are required to thoroughly read college level text and prepare text-notes, which usually take an outline form, prior to attending the lecture on the assigned reading. One of the primary objectives of this course is to expose students to all areas of information covered on the AP Examination. This is accomplished through lecture, class discussion, video clips, select outside readings as appropriate, guest-lectures, demonstrations and projects. These teaching methods are discussed throughout this syllabus. A daily schedule of study is required to meet the expectations of this course and will typically require 1-2 hours of preparation per class meeting.

    Text: Myers, David G., Myers’ Psychology For AP, Worth Publishing, 2011

    Course Planner/Map

    Course Progression/Time allocated:


    First Quarter:

    History and Approaches: (UNIT 1 in Myers) 1 block

    ◦Philosophical roots, emergence as a science, subfields of psych, current perspectives/approaches

    Research Methods, Statistics, and Ethics: (UNIT 2 in Myers) 2 blocks + TEST DAY w/Essay

    ◦Basic and applied research, scientific method, case studies, surveys, naturalistic observation, correlation, ex-post facto, the experiment, human and animal ethics, APA Guidelines for ethical experimentation

     Biological Bases of Behavior: (UNIT 3A-3C) 7 blocks + 3 TEST DAYS w/Essay Workshop

    ◦Neural communication, the nervous system, brain structures and functions, endocrine system, genetics, brain neural communication, the nervous system, brain structures and functions, endocrine system, genetics, brain imaging techniques

    Sensation: (UNIT 4) 2 blocks + TEST DAY w/Essay

    ◦Thresholds, sensory adaptation, vision, hearing, touch, taste, smell


    Second Quarter:

    Perception: (UNIT 4) 2 blocks + TEST DAY w/Essay Workshop

    ◦Perceptual illusions, perceptual constancies, depth perception, perceptual set, extra sensory perception

    States of Consciousness: (UNIT 5) 3 blocks + TEST DAY w/Essay

    ◦Biorhythms, sleep, sleep disorders, dream therapy, hypnosis, drugs, classifications and mechanisms

    Learning: (UNIT 6) 3 blocks + TEST DAY w/Essay Workshop

    ◦Classical conditioning (Pavlov), operant conditioning (Skinner, Thorndike), observational learning (Bandura)


    Memory: (UNIT 7A) 3 blocks + TEST DAY w/Essay

    ◦Encoding, storing, retrieving, forgetting, constructing, eyewitness reports, Alzheimer’s

    Language, Thought, and Creativity: (UNIT 7B) 2 blocks + TEST DAY w/Essay Workshop

    ◦Concepts and prototypes, heuristics and algorithms, theories, language structure and development theories (Chomsky, Whorf), animals and language

    Motivation and Emotion: (UNIT 8A, 8B) 3 blocks + TEST DAY w/Essay

    ◦Theories (Hull), hunger, sex, aggression, affiliation, emotional theories (James-Lange, Cannon-Bard, Schachter and Singer), culture and emotional expression

    Personality: (UNIT 10) 3 blocks + TEST DAY w/Essay Workshop

    ◦Theories of psychoanalysts (Freud, Jung, Adler, Horney, Chodorow), behaviorists (Skinner), Humanists (Maslow, Rogers), Cognitivist (Kelly), Biologist (Sheldon), Trait theory, Big 5



    Third Quarter:

    Personality Portfolio project completed during this quarter

    Testing and individual Differences: (UNIT 11) 2 blocks + TEST DAY w/Essay

    ◦Intelligence theories (Guilford, Gardner, Thurstone, Spearman, Sternberg), origins of intelligence testing (Binet), gifted and retarded populations, types of test (MMPI, Rorschach, et al)

    Developmental Psychology: (UNIT 9) 3 blocks + TEST DAY w/Essay

    ◦Prenatal development and the newborn, infancy and childhood, adolescence, adulthood, elder hood, stage theory: cognitive (Piaget), physical, moral (Kohlberg, Gilligan) and emotional (Erikson)

    Social Psychology: (UNIT 14) 5 blocks + TEST DAY w/Essay

    ◦Norms/roles, attribution theory, the big four studies (Milgram, Zimbardo, Asch, Rosenhan), Kitty Genovese, juries, prejudice and stereotypes, racism

    Abnormal Psychology: (UNIT 12) 4 blocks (Lecture) + 2 blocks (Case Study lab) + TEST DAY w/ Essay

    ◦Anxiety, somatoform and dissociative disorders, mood/affective disorders, the schizophrenias and personality disorders, case study labs


    Fourth Quarter:

    Treatment of Psychological Disorders: (UNIT 13) 3 blocks + TEST DAY w/Essay

    ◦Psychotherapy, biomedical treatments



    Students are assessed daily on the reading by means of a quiz, homework check or text- notes check. Students are assessed daily in class by means of verbal questioning and interactions during the lecture. Students are assessed after each unit with a possible 100-question multiple-choice test and an essay. Two-three projects/papers may also be assigned during the course.


    Course grades are determined on a percentage basis.

    50%: Tests and Projects

    50%: Assignments, Quizzes, Essay Writings(FRQ’s), Outline Checks, Essay Workshops, Vocabulary cards

    Most TESTS are 100-question, multiple-choice exams given in a timed 60-minute session.

    Tests are usually returned to students the day following the administration and time is scheduled in class for each student to review their exam, analyze their performance in each of the categories or on each of the topics, and prepare a study guide on the material they need to review.


    Each subsequent test in the course is usually cumulative. For example, the UNIT 5 TEST (States of Consciousness) may include 50-60 questions on the current material and any combination of material from the previous chapters. Typically the review material from previous chapters assesses the topics that proved most troublesome in earlier tests.

    No semester tests or final exam are given.

    During the first semester, the “learning semester”, essays are given during every other testing block. One released AP psychology essay is given in a 25-minute time period following the multiple choice exam. The essays are collected and held until the next test date. On that date, the essays are returned to the students and in a workshop-format, sample essays and rubrics are reviewed and students assess their own work on the essay. Course credit is given to the students for participating in this process.

    During the second semester, the “proving semester”, essays are usually given during every testing block. One released AP psychology essay is given in a 25-minute time period following the multiple choice exam. Each essay is graded according to the released rubric and the grade is entered in the grade book for course credit.


    Teaching Strategies

    Daily Accountability: reading quizzes, test-notes check and homework checks (vocabulary cards, study questions, etc) are given at random each day. A variable-ratio schedule of reinforcement is utilized to encourage students to perform all the study behaviors essential to success in the course.

    Students are required to bring their textbooks to class and will frequently be asked to turn to specific pages to review a chart, graph, diagram or illustration.

    Students are verbally quizzed throughout the lecture. Open-ended questions are utilized frequently during a class meeting to allow students to “fill-in-the-blank” and demonstrate their preparation for class. Class participation could be given here, although I do not.

    Modeling the Testing Environment on the AP exam: all tests are 100-question multiple choice in a timed 60-minute session in order to mirror the length and timing of the actual exam in May. The extra 15 minutes they receive in the actual exam will seem excessive after the year of training. All essays given in class are actual released AP Free Response Essays and given in a 25-minute timed session in order to mirror the time allotted for the essays on the actual AP exam.


    Cumulative Chapter Test: tests are cumulative to negate the serial position effect. “Old” information retains the freshness and accessibility of “new” information through this strategy and retrieval of the entire course information on the May AP Exam is more effective. Cumulative testing eliminates the need for intensive review sessions in April and allows more course time to explore and learn new information.


    Video Clips: short 5-25 minute clips covering specific topics (split brain, Broca’s area, Dissociative Identity Disorder, etc.) are embedded within the lecture either introducing or summarizing points made in the lecture. A lecture/discussion may incorporate several starts and stops to interject an appropriate and useful clip.

    Hollywood feature films, ripe with artistic and sensational alterations of the psychological processes, are not used in the course.


    Assignment/Test Makeup Policy:

    Students who miss class will need to make-up the test and/or assignment missed. Students have two class days to hand in make-up work or take make-up test. Students that are taking a make-up test must do so during CAT period. See me before school (office hours) for a CAT pass.

    After school make-up test are by appointment only. All make-up work will be turned in to the proper red tray on the side work table.

    NOTE In order to make-up any missed work or tests, students must have the attendance office enter an excused absence for those days missed.



    ◦3 Ring Notebook, with notebook paper, where you will maintain all chapter notes and class activities that you do during the year. All items (lecture notes, assignments, and activities) should be filed sequentially and in the order of the particular theme/chapter that we are studying.

    ◦Bring a pencil or pen for completing all necessary class work.


    Yours truly,


    Richard Small