Course Syllabus May 23 - June 24
Instructor Information
Name: Tabitha R. Holmes
Contact: E-mail:
Our Goals
  • To understand the current diagnostic system used to categorize, classify and conceptualize abnormality.
  • To explore contemporary theories of abnormal behavior, considering biological, psychological, sociocultural and evolutionary approaches.
  • To understand abnormal behavior in context, looking at developmental, cultural and social determinants.
  • To investigate current and historical treatments of abnormality.
  • To explore major controversies in the field.
  • To think critically about issues related to abnormal psychology.
  • To consider the reliability and validity of web resources.
Required Readings
  • Nevid, J. S., Rathus, A. A., & Greene, B. (2006). Abnormal psychology in a changing world (6th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

  • Oltmanns, T. F., Neale, J. M., Davison, G. C. (2003). Case studies in abnormal psychology (6th ed.)Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.

  • Additional reading assignments will be available through on-line library reserves or as links to web-based articles or websites.

A comment on reading assignments…

This class requires you to read a tremendous amount of material in a short amount of time. When you look over the reading assignments try to keep a few things in mind… First, this is obviously a summer class, so a semester's worth of information is crunched into six weeks. Secondly, given the obvious nature of an on-line class, you have no "live" instruction; everything depends on what you read. As with anything, you will get out of the reading what you put into it. That said, try to read for "the gist" rather than for small details. For the purpose of this class, you do not need to memorize or learn through rote repetition. Instead, try to focus on large, conceptual ideas and "take home messages" rather than specific particulars. For example, it is not important that you be able to recite from memory the diagnostic criteria for a clinical diagnosis of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). It is important, however, that you understand basic principles thought to contribute to such a problem, how GAD is different from "adaptive" anxiety, and ways that different theorists explain and treat individuals experiencing symptoms of GAD. Again, try to focus on the big picture.

How the Class Works
Overall, the course is broken down into 11 modules. A module is a concentrated topic area that typically revolves around a specific chapter in your text. For example, one module deals with assessments used in the diagnostic process; others focus on specific disorders such as schizophrenia and post-traumatic stress disorder.

For each module, there is a brief summary of course content that I have prepared to introduce you to the topic. This is followed by an assignment that will include readings from the textbook and case study book, library reserve articles (available on-line) and Internet websites and articles. At the end of the module, you are required to respond to a series of discussion questions. Each module has a corresponding discussion board that you should use to post your responses. Discussion questions are critical to your success in the course!

Participation is two-fold.

  • First, you must contribute an original posting that answers the question(s) posed to the class. Response length will vary, however, initial posts should be a minimum of two solid paragraphs. This posting should be based on class readings and academic sources, as well as personal experiences and anecdotes.

  • In addition, for each discussion question, you are required to read the postings of your classmates, selecting two posts to which you will respond. These responses should be well thought out and relevant to the original post. This is the minimal assignment. You are encouraged to dialogue back and forth with one another, discussing topics relevant to the course. I will be reading all postings, joining in on many of the discussions. While these postings are somewhat informal, they should be well written and grammatically correct. No one wants to muddle through misspelled and careless contributions (see the section entitled "Web Etiquette.")

Important:To make the reading load manageable, the class will be broken down into two groups (Group A and Group B). On the first day of class, you should go to the discussion board labeled "Announcements" where there will be a list of group assignments. Once you have been assigned to a group, you should post all of your initial discussion posts and two required responses to the discussion board labeled for your group. You are not required to answer or respond to the second group, however, you should feel to read and respond to everyone in the class.

You should strive to complete original posts and responses BEFORE midnight on the day that the next module begins. For example, Module 1 is assigned on May 23th ; Module 2 is assigned on May 25th. You should complete the reading, discussion assignment, and responses for Module 1 by midnight on May 25th. The majority of class "processing" occurs through your participation in discussions. As such, everyone must work at a similar pace to facilitate dialogue back and forth while the topic is "fresh". If someone is several days behind, the class has moved on to a new topic and it is difficult to backtrack.

Instructions for posting written assignments

Be sure to post your responses under the correct topic in the "discussion" tool which is found on the "communication" page.  It is recommended that you compose your response offline in Word. When you're finished, you'll need to highlight and copy your text, then be sure to open the correct assignmnent topic in the discussion tool, choose "Compose Discussion Message" and paste. This way, you can save your work offline and develop reflective responses before posting. To make reading easier for us all, leave one or two blank lines between your paragraphs, rather than indent the new paragraphs.

Grading Criteria

25%   Participation in class discussions (description)
25%   Conceptual Exam (description)
40%   Case Analysis #1 (description)
10%   Personal Reflection (description)

Some Thoughts on Web Etiquette
    1. Always be respectful of each other.
    2. Using capital letter is like SHOUTING. (Use sparingly).
    3. Asterisks around a word can be used to make a stronger point.
    4. Be careful when using sarcasm and humor. Without face-to-face communications, your joke may be interpreted as criticism.
    5. Your messages reflect on you—be proud of them.
    6. Stay on topic.
    7. Try not to repeat what you have already said (“Yup” and “I agree” don’t add much).
    8. Please refrain from using profanity.
    9. Try to dialogue back and forth as if you are conversing.
    10. Read over your messages BEFORE you send them.
    11. Ask others to clarify if you don’t understand something.
    12. Civility is important... all ideas are equally valued in this interchange. If youdisagree, do so with good temper.
    13. Have an adventurous spirit!

Course Syllabus