General Psychology CU Boulder OReilly

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General Psychology (Psych 1001), Fall 2017

  • Professor: Randall O'Reilly, Muen D-251C, 303-492-0054, Office Hours Mon 3-4 or by appointment
  • TA's:

Overview and Goals

  • You may think you know yourself (or maybe you don't..) -- in any case, after this course, you will know a lot more about how your brain and mind work, and the forces that shape your thoughts and behavior, from the basic biology of your brain up to the social interactions that shape you in myriad powerful ways, and everything in between. In short, this will be the most important class you'll ever take, because knowing how the human mind works underlies almost everything of importance in our world. We will seek to avoid the traditional pitfall of Psychology: "labeling the obvious" (e.g., the tip-of-the-tongue phenomenon or the I-knew-it-all-along effect), and focus on the truly challenging problem of figuring out how something so complex as the human brain actually works, using the CCC principles (the three C's or C^3): Compression, Contrast, and Control, we can understand a wide range of human cognition and behavior using these three core concepts.
  • The Textbook provides comprehensive coverage of the foundations of Psychology and Neuroscience -- you must read the textbook, and chapter-level quiz questions will provide extra incentive to do so. The class lectures focus on two goals: synthetically reviewing the textbook material (using the three C's), and bringing this knowledge to life, using it to address the big and important questions, through interactive discussions. This is extremely challenging in a course of this size, but we will leverage clickers and D2L. You can learn the basic information anywhere, anytime, but the in-class discussions provide a unique and dynamic opportunity to develop a rich and deep understanding of the major issues, in a highly memorable way. For each chapter, you will submit a clicker question on D2L, and I will select among these to present to the class, to drive discussion, and to learn about the Psychology of your peers.
  • The actual conduct of research in Psychology and Neuroscience raises a number of important issues in critical thinking, and how the methods of science can be applied to test hypotheses about how the brain/mind works. These lessons apply broadly across many disciplines, and provide an important broad foundation for the rest of your college career and beyond.


Your grade will be based on four components in the following proportions, adding up to 996 points total (think of it as 1,000 -- close enough and % is computed anyway):

  • Midterm Exams: 30% (300 points) Two multiple-choice midterms, conducted online through D2L (150 points each)
  • Final Exam: 30% (300 points) Includes some cumulative questions, multiple-choice, conducted online through D2L
  • Both midterms and final are avail for multiple days (midterms are open Thurs 2pm - Sat 9pm) on D2L, but must be completed IN ONE SESSION of 90 minutes -- they cannot be started and stopped multiple times. Please plan accordingly. They have 50 multiple choice questions, similar to what you see on the quizzes. The questions appear one at a time in random order (with random order of answer options), and you cannot go back to earlier questions. As these are tests of what you’ve learned in the course, obviously, you are not allowed to use notes or the book for the midterms and final. In case the above was not sufficiently clear, you do not need to take the final at the date/time assigned for this class -- you have a range of days as listed in the schedule.
  • Chapter quizzes: 21% (210 points, 14 points per each of the 15 chapters) Due on Tuesdays by 12pm (NOON) before class (recommend doing earlier on Sun or Mon eve), through D2L -- open book, untimed -- this is a major place where a little bit of diligence can really improve your grade! -- everyone should be able to get high scores on this by reading the book and carefully answering each question. You are even allowed 2 attempts and the highest of these two is counted. Answers to quizzes are avail for study on the Thursday after the quiz, at 2pm -- see below for more info about how to access and study!
  • Participation and attendance: 19% (190 points):
  • QOTD: 140 points: 10 points for 14 (out of 15 chapters -- 1 can be dropped/excused) clicker question-of-the-day (QOTD) submissions for each chapter -- these are submitted in the D2L Discussion forum system and used to drive in-class discussion (see below for detailed instructions on how to do this). They can be any kind of interesting question, from a survey about the behaviors or beliefs of your peers, review of key points in the class, or other novel questions related to the topic of the week, or a link and brief summary to news stories about scientific findings relevant to the topic of the week. Try to think of what would make the discussion the most interesting to you, while also being highly relevant to the topic. They are due Weds by 9pm every week, and will be used to drive discussion in the thursday lecture section. These submissions cannot be graded within D2L and thus grades for these items will not be updated frequently. You can adjust your notification settings to enable reminders about when the Discussion forum is open for QOTD submissions:
  • Attendance: 46 points: daily attendance is measured by clicker (you must have and bring a clicker to every class!) -- 2 points per 23 days (out of 28 total after the first week of class -- we don't start counting until the 2nd week) -- this means you can miss up to 5 days of class after the first week as an excused absence -- I do not want to be in the business of managing excused absences -- unless you have a really extreme situation that causes you to miss more than 5 days of class, please do not email me about this. Also, you must click on 75% or more of the questions for a given day to be counted as present -- this is unfortunately necessary to prevent people from leaving after a single click, which is disruptive to the class.
  • D2L "dropped" grades: The way to get D2L to count 25 out of 30 days total attendance is that it automatically drops the lowest grades (indicated with a grey ! next to the grade item). This means that your first 5 attendance grades will be automatically dropped. Don't panic -- this is just how it works!

Grades are based on standard brackets:

 97-100 A+*    87-89 B+   77-79 C+   67-69 D+    (* A+ not recorded in CU official grades)
 93-96  A      83-86 B    73-76 C    63-66 D
 90-92  A-     80-82 B-   70-72 C-   60-62 D-

In addition, you cannot pass the course without completing the Research Participation Requirement described in the next section. You can also earn extra credit of 3% (30 points) added to your final grade percentage by completing this requirement by Oct 27, 2017.

Finally, please do not email me asking for extra credit etc -- the only extra credit avail comes from the research requirement, and again the best extra credit you can give yourself is doing well on the quizzes which you should be able to ace with appropriate effort and diligence.

Research Participation Requirement

IMPORTANT: email for ALL questions related to sona and experiments! If you email me, I will just forward it to hrcoord anyway, so save us both the extra step!

All students enrolled in Psychology 1001 at the University of Colorado at Boulder are required to gain experience with the scientific and experimental aspects of psychology. This requirement may be filled in one of two ways: by participating in laboratory experiments in psychology (Option I) or by writing a summary and critical review of published experiments in psychology (Option II). These two options require approximately equal amounts of work (roughly 6 hours), which is assessed by counting up 12 credits (1 credit per 30 min of experiment or paper writing). Students who do not complete either Option I or Option II will receive a grade of "IF" for the course. If Option I requirements are completed within one year, the "IF" will be changed to the grade earned on the basis of exam scores and recitation grade (inform Dr. O'Reilly when you have completed the requirement if it is after the semester in which you were originally enrolled). If you do not finish the requirements within a year, your “IF” grade will turn to an “F.”

Important dates:

  • 8/30/2017 -- should have received login to Sona system by this time -- if not, email
  • 8/30/2017 -- 9/5/2017 -- Prescreening Period: conducted online, takes about 1hr, gives more choices in experiments.
  • 9/11/2017 --12/15/2017 (extra credit if done by 10/27/2017) -- Experiment Period: can participate in experiments and/or complete papers during this time, to achieve full 12 credits required.

Experiment signup website: -- You must have a login provided by the Department of Psychology to use this website.

Your participation is automatically processed -- you don't need to do anything extra to get credit for the experiments you have completed. Please keep your yellow cards, however, because they are only used if there is a discrepancy in your credits. If any recordkeeping errors occur, the yellow cards will verify that you’ve received your credits.

Paper options, in lieu of participating in experiments:

  • Where to submit: Submit these papers to D2L in the DropBox
  • How to access: you generally need to be on campus to access the papers, as the CU internet domain is used to restrict access. Easiest way to get to the PDF of the paper is to click on the little "All ## versions" link under the reference, and then look for a link that shows the PDF. Can also try the "Find it at CU" link. Whatever you do, do not pay for an article!! -- try a different article if you can't access the first one you selected for any reason!
  • 12 credits - 1200 word essay on any of these publications in American Psychologist (choose one from those listed on the page of search results linked there)
  • 6 credits - 600 word essay on any of these publications in Trends in Cognitive Science (choose one from those listed on the page of search results linked there)
  • 2 credits - 250 word essay on any of these publications in Psychology Today (chose one from those listed on the page of search results linked there)

All Essays should generally follow the APA (American Psychological Association) format, but you do not need to include an abstract, or worry about formatting too strictly -- we are mainly interested in the content.

For any article-based essay, make sure that you:

  1. identify any important independent (predictor) variables
  2. identify any important dependent (measured) variables
  3. describe the primary argument that the author(s) is making
  4. describe whether you agree or disagree with the author's primary argument and why
  5. describe any other thoughts the experiment led to for you, including other strengths and/or weakness of the article you chose

Any student can complete the paper option instead of participating in experiments, or do any combination of experiments and papers. Students can also write any number of lower-credit papers to contribute to the total 12 credits. If a student completes 12 experiment participation credits in papers, or finishes some combination of papers and experiment participation, before the extra credit deadline, that student earns extra credit as if they participated in 12 credits of experiments.

See handout: pdf icon.png gen_psych_res_req_2017_handout.pdf (PDF) from class for more information.


Typical weekly schedule:

  • Sunday or Monday: read textbook, take quiz. Quiz always due latest Tues at 12pm noon (1/2 hr before class).
  • Tues or Weds: submit clicker question-of-the-day (QOTD) on D2L. Due by 9pm Weds -- shown in schedule as Thurs but it is due the day before so we can use the submissions to drive discussion!

Updated slides are indicated by Up: -- if it doesn't have that, then they are last year's slides -- will likely be updated slightly.

Date Chapter in Book, Topic Due Lecture Slides
29 Aug Introduction, Syllabus Sign on to Sona Up: Media:oreilly_genpsych_intro.pptx
31 Aug Chapter 1: Psychology as a Science Up: Media:oreilly_genpsych_ch1_science.pptx
5 Sep Chapter 1: Research methods and stats Ch 1 quiz (open till Fri) Up: Media:oreilly_genpsych_ch1_methods.pptx
7 Sep Chapter 2: The Brain, The Body, and Behavior Ch 1 QOTD Up: Media:oreilly_genpsych_ch2_neuron.pptx
12 Sep Ch 2 cont'd Ch 2 quiz Up: Media:oreilly_genpsych_ch2_brain.pptx
14 Sep Ch 2 cont'd Ch 2 QOTD
19 Sep Ch 3: The Nature and Nurture of Behavior Ch 3 & 4 quiz Up: Media:oreilly_genpsych_ch3_nature_nurture.pptx
21 Sep Ch 3: cont'd and Ch 4: Human Lifespan Development Ch 3&4 QOTD Up: Media:oreilly_genpsych_ch4_development.pptx
26 Sep Ch 4: cont'd Ch 5 quiz
28 Sep Ch 5: Perception and the Senses Ch 5 QOTD Up: Media:oreilly_genpsych_ch5_percept.pptx
3 Oct Ch 5: cont'd and Ch 6: Varieties of Consciousness Ch 6 quiz Up: Media:oreilly_genpsych_ch6_consciousness.pptx
5 Oct Ch 6 cont'd Ch 6 QOTD
Midterm on Ch 1-5
(Thu 2pm - Sat 9pm)
10 Oct Ch 7: Learning Ch 7 quiz Up: Media:oreilly_genpsych_ch7_learning.pptx
12 Oct Ch 7 cont'd Ch 7 QOTD
17 Oct Ch 8: Memory Ch 8 quiz Up: Media:oreilly_genpsych_ch8_memory.pptx
19 Oct Ch 8 cont'd Ch 8 QOTD
24 Oct Ch 9: Thinking Language & Intelligence Ch 9 quiz Up: Media:oreilly_genpsych_ch9_thinking.pptx
26 Oct Ch 9 cont'd Ch 9 QOTD
31 Oct Ch 10: Motivation Ch 10 quiz Up: Media:oreilly_genpsych_ch10_motivation_jm.pptx
2 Nov Ch 10: cont'd Ch 10 QOTD
7 Nov Ch 11: Emotion & Health Ch 11 quiz Up: Media:oreilly_genpsych_ch11_emotion.pptx
9 Nov Ch 11 cont'd Ch 11 QOTD
Midterm on Ch 6-10
(Thu 2pm - Sat 9pm)
14 Nov Ch 12: Personality Ch 12 quiz Up: Media:oreilly_genpsych_ch12_personality.pptx
16 Nov Ch 12 cont'd Ch 12 QOTD
21 Nov Fall Break
23 Nov Fall Break
28 Nov Ch 13: Psychological Disorders Ch 13 quiz Up: Media:oreilly_genpsych_ch13_disorders.pptx
30 Nov Ch 13 cont'd Ch 13 QOTD
5 Dec Ch 14: Treatment Ch 14 quiz Up: Media:oreilly_genpsych_ch14_treatment.pptx
7 Dec Ch 14: cont'd Ch 14 QOTD
12 Dec Ch 15: Social Psychology Ch 15 quiz Up: Media:oreilly_genpsych_ch15_social.pptx
14 Dec Ch 15: cont'd Ch 15 QOTD
15 - 19 Dec Final Exam, on D2L On Ch 11-15 and cumulative
(Thu 14th 2pm - Tue 19th 9pm)

D2L Tips for QOTD, Quizzes

QOTD in D2L Discussions system

To submit your clicker question-of-the-day (QOTD) submissions (due Weds 9pm every week!) go to the Discussions system under the Communication menu at the top of the page (can also find via Calendar -- will show due date coming up and you click on that).

Then click on the link for the current chapter that is due, then click Start a New Thread, and you will see a window with a Subject field and a Post text box for you to fill in. Please enter a subject -- just something short of relevance to your question -- this makes it easier to click on your entry in the list view. Then, you type your entry into the Post section: This can be any kind of interesting question, from a survey about the behaviors or beliefs of your peers, review of key points in the class, or other novel questions related to the topic of the week, or a link and brief summary to news stories about scientific findings relevant to the topic of the week. Try to think of what would make the discussion the most interesting to you, while also being highly relevant to the topic. Just hit the Post button at the bottom to submit it.

Here is an example:

genpsych qotd example.png

You are also encouraged to go through the posts by other students, and hit the + button to up-vote those that you find interesting and would like to see discussed. Randy will be doing that Weds eve after the due date, so you can also stop back through there to see the other questions etc that your peers submitted (many of which will not be selected for discussion in class due to time constraints, but can provide good study questions and perspectives on the topic). You can sort the list of posts by votes by just clicking on the Votes column, to see the most highly-voted posts first.

IMPORTANT: the D2L grade items for these QOTD items will only be updated periodically -- there is no way to do this within D2L itself, so I have to do an external process. Don't panic -- your submissions will be recorded!

Viewing Quiz Answers and General Studying Tips

The items on the midterms and final exams will be generally similar to the items on the quizzes, covering the same range of topics. Thus, it is a good idea to use the quizzes as a study guide -- re-read the textbook and the lecture slides (particularly the summary sections that highlight key points) and make sure you understand those central concepts. The textbook has a lot of information, but the subset that shows up in the quizzes and the lecture slides represents the core ideas that will be the focus of the tests.

The answers to the quiz questions will be available on D2L on the Thursday in the week when the quiz was due, at 2pm (after class) and stay visible until the end of the semester. Here are the steps to view the answers on D2L:

  • click on Assessments / Quizzes from top yellow bar
  • do NOT click on the blue link with the quiz name — that would be WAY TOO OBVIOUS and is thus clearly wrong..
  • instead, click on the little triangle thingie to the right of the Quiz link (the "context menu" in D2L speak), and select Submissions— that will bring you to a page like the one shown below.
  • Click on the Attempt 1 (or 2) link to see all the questions and the correct responses where you made errors. This will NOT show up prior to the week-after-quiz-was-due Tuesday at 2pm time!

genpsych quiz view.png

University Policies

Therapy, Counseling, etc

There are several important resources on campus -- strongly recommend reaching out if you or someone you know is suffering from a psychological disorder or other such condition:

Academic Assistance, etc

These are resources for those who might be falling behind in their classes and otherwise experiencing academic difficulties:


If you qualify for accommodations because of a disability, please submit to me a letter from Disability Services in a timely manner so that your needs can be addressed. Disability Services determines accommodations based on documented disabilities. Contact: 303-492-8671, Center for Community N200, and

If you have a temporary medical condition or injury, see guidelines at

Disability Services' letters for students with disabilities indicate legally mandated reasonable accommodations. The syllabus statements and answers to Frequently Asked Questions can be found at

Religious Observances

Campus policy regarding religious observances requires that faculty make every effort to deal reasonably and fairly with all students who, because of religious obligations, have conflicts with scheduled exams, assignments or required attendance. Please notify me in advance, preferably at the start of the semester, of any cases where this will affect you in this class, and appropriate accommodations will be made. See full details at

A comprehensive calendar of the religious holidays most commonly observed by CU-Boulder students is at

Classroom Behavior

Students and faculty each have responsibility for maintaining an appropriate learning environment. Those who fail to adhere to such behavioral standards may be subject to discipline. Professional courtesy and sensitivity are especially important with respect to individuals and topics dealing with differences of race, color, culture, religion, creed, politics, veteran's status, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity and gender expression, age, disability, and nationalities. Class rosters are provided to the instructor with the student's legal name. I will gladly honor your request to address you by an alternate name or gender pronoun. Please advise me of this preference early in the semester so that I may make appropriate changes to my records. See policies at and at

Discrimination and Harassment

The University of Colorado at Boulder Discrimination and Harassment Policy and Procedures, the University of Colorado Sexual Harassment Policy and Procedures, and the University of Colorado Conflict of Interest in Cases of Amorous Relationships policy apply to all students, staff, and faculty. Any student, staff, or faculty member who believes s/he has been the subject of sexual harassment or discrimination or harassment based upon race, color, national origin, sex, age, disability, creed, religion, sexual orientation, or veteran status should contact the Office of Discrimination and Harassment (ODH) at 303-492-2127 or the Office of Student Conduct (OSC) at 303-492-5550. Information about the ODH, the above referenced policies, and the campus resources available to assist individuals regarding discrimination or harassment can be obtained at

Honor Code

All students of the University of Colorado at Boulder are responsible for knowing and adhering to the academic integrity policy of this institution. Violations of this policy may include: cheating, plagiarism, aid of academic dishonesty, fabrication, lying, bribery, and threatening behavior. All incidents of academic misconduct shall be reported to the Honor Code Council (; 303-735-2273). Students who are found to be in violation of the academic integrity policy will be subject to both academic sanctions from the faculty member and non-academic sanctions (including but not limited to university probation, suspension, or expulsion). Other information on the Honor Code can be found at