Grades for the course Psychology of Personality will be based on four equally weighted components:
I. One of the following kinds of paper (13 pages):
A. an original theory on a topic in personality,

B. a critical review of the literature on a personality research program.

II. Peer feedback of the following kinds:

A. two peer reviews of submitted student papers (1 page each),

B. two peer commentaries on accepted student papers (2 pages each).

C. participation in the student discussion forum (at least one post per week).

III. A midterm exam on the book Three Psychologies: Perspectives From Freud, Skinner, and Rogers.

IV. A group project comprising 20 web pages per person on two topics (40 web pages total) linked together into an ASK system.

V. A final exam that is required ONLY for students who have missed more than two class periods.

VI. Optional: A book review of a textbook on personality not used in the course (2 pages each, extra-credit).



This course is meant to help you think critically and creatively about the science of personality. As discussed in the prospectus, one method of doing this is for you to capture your ideas in writing. You will write not only for yourself, the instructor, and your peers, but also for persons worldwide with an interest in personality. The Great Ideas in Personality website (visited over 13,000 times per month) provides a publication outlet for high quality contributions by you and your peers. This opportunity for disseminating your ideas is meant to add motivation: your thoughts about personality can now become the focus of likeminded persons around the world.

Theory Paper. A theory paper is meant to emphasize the creative aspect of the course. You are to create an original theory of personality that (a) takes account of existing research and (b) has testable consequences. The paper should be at least 13 double-spaced pages in length and should be in APA style, including a title page, abstract, headings, and references.

Your paper will be subjected to peer review by other students, after which you will have a chance to revise it. When you turn it in, the instructor will grade it and will select the best papers for publication. Published papers will be raised by one third of a letter (typically from A to A+). They will then become the focus of peer commentaries by students in the class, and possibly also by contributors outside of class. The author of each published paper will then write an author response. Submission guidelines and several exemplary papers are available.

Review Paper. Whereas a theory paper emphasizes the creative aspect of the course, a review paper emphasizes the critical aspect. You are to write a critical review of the literature on a theory that has been the subject of vigorous scientific research. If you wish to write about a theory not discussed in class, you must obtain permission of the instructor, which will require that you show that a substantial amount of scientific research has already gone into testing the theory.

Your paper will be subjected to peer review with the possibility of publication. Published papers will be raised by one third of a letter (typically from A to A+). They will be subjected to peer commentary, and the author will write a response. Papers must follow APA style and must be at least 13 double-spaced pages in length. Writing advice is available.

Late papers will be accepted on the following basis. For each class period after the paper is due, one third of a letter will be deducted from the final paper grade. For example, if the paper is turned in on the first class period after it is due, and if the paper would have received a B, then the final paper grade will be a B-.


Peer Feedback

Peer feedback is an important source of mutual correction. Therefore, on the rough draft of the papers, you will provide peer review and (for papers accepted for publication) peer commentary on the papers of your peers. Posts to the student discussion forum should occur at least once per week and should be on the topic of individual differeces (i.e., either personality or abnormal psychology) rather than procedural questions about the course (e.g., when a particular assignment is due).


Midterm Exam

The midterm exam is meant to be a straightforward assessment of your knowledge of the book Three Psychologies: Perspectives From Freud, Skinner, and Rogers. This book was chosen because it provides a brief yet relatively thorough presentation of three personality psychologists who are typically considered important. In addition, this book was chosen because questions about these three psychologists regularly appear on the Graduate Record Exam subject test in Psychology.


Group Project

On the first week of class, the instructor will ask students what they would like to learn from a course on personality. Based in part on responses to this question, topics of study will be chosen. For example, some possible topics are personality development, biology of personality, relationships, emotion, and heredity versus environment. After the midterm exam, the class will be divided into groups. Each person in the home group will be responsible for developing 20 web pages on each of two topics (40 total), on which that person will be considered an expert.

The group project will be graded as follows. First, each individual will be graded on the number of "acceptable" web pages produced. An acceptable web page is one that the instructor has agreed has sufficient merit to warrant putting up on the web; each page will be graded on a pass/fail basis, and most unaccetable pages can be improved so that they will be acceptable. The production of web pages will comprise 80% of the group project grade, 2% per page. Second, the whole group will be graded on the quality of indexing, or linking to other web pages, in the manner of an ASK system. The concept of an ASK system was developed, explained, and illustrated in the on-line book, Engines for Education (by Roger Schank), with which students should make themselves familiar. In addition, the instructor has made available an example ASK system as well as many example questions that might be included in an ASK system. The linking of pages will be graded by group and will comprise 20% of the group project grade.

Students will be shown how to design web pages--no prior knowledge is necessary. The assignment is designed to be broad enough to permit considerable flexibility in exactly what students choose to produce. The resulting ASK system will comprise a "hypertextbook" that is free for students, professionals, and laypersons alike to view, in the tradition of giving away psychology in the public interest.


Book Review

For extra credit, you may choose to check out one of the many textbooks on personality owned by the instructor and write a book review of it. The book review should be at least two double-spaced pages in length and should summarize the approach taken in the book and some of the book's salient strengths and weaknesses. You are not expected to read the entire book. Instead, pretend you are an instructor who sees the book at a psychology convention and is trying to decide whether to use the book during the following quarter. You should flip though the book, noting the topics that are covered and reading a few salient sections that interest you. Then you should write your review so that it will help other instructors in a similar position. In fact, your review may well be helpful to other instructors, because if it is good, it will be accepted for publication in the Great Ideas in Personality website section on textbooks, where many instructors may read it, and you will be rewarded with a one-third-letter increase in your lowest grade for the course (for example, if you made a B on the midterm, then you will receive a B+). This assignment is not meant to be difficult, but you should try to be fair and to find something to say that other students or instructors might find useful. This assignment can be repeated up to three times for credit--that is, you can review up to three different textbooks.



I would appreciate hearing from anyone in this class who has a disability or any other kind of situation or problem that might require some special accommodations. I will make ever effor to work with you to find a solutionn that is reasonable and that satisfies your needs. You can see me after class or during my office hours or can contact me by email (whatever makes you most comfortable). Please contact me as soon as you can.


Last modified August 2003
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