Introduction to Psychology -- PSYC 1101 (Summer 2006)

Home Page & Syllabus


Bruce Walker


Room 230, Psychology Building (Coon Building)


(404) 894-8265


Course web page:

Office Hours:

After class and by appointment



Teaching Assistant:

TBD (likely none)

Required Textbook:

Gleitman, H., Fridlund, A.J., and Reisberg, D. (2004). Psychology (6th ed.). New York: W. W. Norton & Co. (ISBN: 0-393-97767-6)

Note: Several additional readings will be required. They will be made available for copying or printing out. It is the student's responsibility to obtain and read all required readings before the class in which they are discussed.

Course Description

This course is intended to provide a broad overview of concepts, theories, and research in the science of psychology. The subject matter spans several levels of analysis. We begin with a consideration how we can ask questions about how the mind words. We then look at the chemical, physiological, and neural substrates of thought and behavior. We then move up a level of analyses to consider how biological systems process information and exhibit intelligent behavior. Because intelligent behavior takes place in the presence of other behaving organisms we also consider social influences on thought and behavior. Running throughout all topics is consideration of how these processes change as a result of development and the causes and results of pathological states. There will be quizzes, exams, and a final exam. Class participation will also be important in the grading.

Educational Philosophy for this Course

I believe that most courses in psychology should focus on discussion and integration with daily experience, and with information gathered in other courses in the university. However, in order to have a meaningful discussion in this topic area, there are a lot of facts to learn first: historical dates; the parts and functioning of the perceptual systems; neural pathways and brain regions; theories; processes; functions; etc. Students will be left to learn many of the more straightforward facts through the required reading, private study groups, or discussion outside of class. You may be tested on material that is not covered in class. Where necessary, more complex material will be taught, and examples worked, in class. As much time as possible will be reserved for demonstrations, examples, and discussion, much of it led by students. However, there is a lot to learn, so in order to get the chance to discuss, we may move quickly through basic material. You are expected to have read the required material before class, and be prepared to contribute to an integrative and meaningful discussion.


Students are expected to do their own work at all times and to follow the university's codes of academic conduct and honor code. Cases of suspected inappropriate collaboration or cheating will be immediately forwarded to the Dean of Student Affairs, and will be pursued to resolution. This is an unpleasant process for all involved, so please do not put yourself in this situation.

Students are expected to conduct themselves in a professional manner--this entails handing assignments in on time (if applicable) and showing up for exams at the appointed time. Late assignments will not be accepted, and make-up exams will not be given. If some form of prior commitment prevents a student from taking an exam at the given time, PRIOR arrangements (including documentation where appropriate) should be made with the instructor.

Extra work, after the semester, is not allowed to "bring up" a grade. A student's grade shall be earned from their performance solely on the semester's work.

Grading is determined by a semester-long accumulation of points, weighed in percentage as summarized below. Determinations of the individual category breakdowns will be determined by looking for gaps or clumps in the final averages. A straight grading scale is the default scale (e.g., 90-100, 80-89, 70-79...) I reserve the right to adjust the grades up depending on the distribution of scores (i.e., curve). Grades will never be adjusted downward.

Midterm Exam I - 50 points
Midterm Exam II - 50 points
Final Exam - 75 points
Other quizzes may be given at any time during the course (including by surprise), and may be included in the grading scheme.
Research Experience (see below) - up to 5 percentage points of extra credit may be earned, and will be added to your final percentage (which is derived from the exam scores).

Midterms and Final Exam

There will be two midterms and one final exam, intended to assess learning on mostly (but not exclusively) factual information. The midterms will be held during a class period, and the final will be in the regularly scheduled Final Exam time period, as determined by the registrar. The material covered in the exams may include any of the assigned reading, in addition to anything presented or discussed in class. Note that just because it is not covered in class does not mean it will not be on a midterm or the final! As stated above, there will be no make-up exams. The format of the exams will be mixed: multiple choice and some short answers. All class meetings and all exams (including the final) may be videotaped.

Research Experience.

Everything discussed in this class is based on research findings of scientists in some area of psychological science. While research in psychology is similar to research in many other disciplines, the nature of the topic (e.g., thought processes, social behavior, attitudes) also poses special challenges to carrying out rigorous scientific study. I think it is extremely important that students in this course get some exposure to how research is conducted. This exposure may be obtained in two ways, and will be rewarded through the assignment of extra credit points.


I recommend attending class as there will often be material presented in class that is not presented equivalently in the book. I do not teach out of the book and the book is not a substitute for lecture. That said, the decision to attend class or not is entirely up to you, and attendance will not be recorded. To help you prepare for class, and to help your note taking during class, I will usually (but not always) post an outline on the class web site before the class. You can download and print that handout, and take notes right on it, if you wish. It will often contain the figures and diagrams from the slides, so you will not need to try to copy those down during the lecture.

Respect and Consideration:

Please, above all, be respectful and considerate of others in the class. It should go without saying, but this includes showing up on time for classes, meetings, exams, etc. Please turn your cell phone, pager, PDA, or any other alarms and ringers off while you are in class. If you disturb the class, including incoming phone calls and messages, you may be asked to leave.

Students with Disabilities

Students must provide me with the Georgia Tech ADAPTS accommodation letter by the end of the first week of class. No guarantee of accommodations can be made for students presenting this letter after this time. Absolutely no accommodations will be made for students without this letter. I also ask students to email me and the TA one week prior to the midterms and final if they plan on using testing facilities at the ADAPTS office. Further information can be obtained from the ADAPTS office (894-2564).

Academic Integrity

All students are assumed to have read the Honor Code and consented to be bound by it. Violations of the Honor Code are taken extremely seriously and will result in a failing grade for the course and referral to the Dean of Students for further action. Specific violations include (but are not limited to):

All exams administered in this course are to be taken without the use of notes, books, ancillary materials and without the assistance of any other person or group, in the class or outside of the class. Use of electronic devices such as PDAs, cell phones, or audio devices during the exams is prohibited. Use of these devices during exams is viewed as a violation. If you have any questions, please ask. I will assume that all students enrolled in the course know and understand what constitutes academic misconduct and agree to be bound by these rules.

Additional Required Reading

Additional readings, typically research articles and book chapters, will be required. Those readings will be made available for copying. Students will be responsible for obtaining and reading all materials before the class in which they are to be discussed. Many demos and examples will also be made available via the class website. I recommend that you view all that material as well.