Psy 440
For My Students | Admin/Research | Psychology | WKU 

Abnormal Psychology-Psy 440/440G

3 credit hours.
Sections 750, VU1: On-line
Western Kentucky University, Fall 2003

Web Site Syllabus: All course information located on the websites, including policies, is subject to being changed until the first day of the semester. Check the date at the bottom of this webpage for currency.

Instructor Contact Information

Instructor. Sally L. Kuhlenschmidt, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology

E-Mail. (I respond quickly to E-mail. It is probably the fastest means of reaching me. When E-mailing me, in the subject line type "Psy 440/G" and then a brief description of the topic, e.g., "project", for fastest response. I answer your e-mail before anyone else's. You are my top priority-- if I see your note. I typically respond within 24 hours during the week. I'm in at least one day on most weekends. If you haven't heard from me in 3 days, email again with Psy 440 in the subject line.

Phone. (270)745-6508; Please please please leave a phone number if you call and cannot reach me immediately.
Fax. (270)745-6145
Address. Center for Teaching & Learning, Cravens Ground Floor, Western Kentucky University, 1 Big Red Way, Bowling Green, KY 42101. Regular postal mail works well as long as you use the full address.

Campus Mail
. Deliver any items you want me to have to the Center for Teaching & Learning during regular working hours (8-4:30), not my Psych box. Do NOT put them in campus mail. Do NOT leave them at the library. (We are totally separate units. You might as well leave it on the street.) Until they are in my hands or my secretaries, they don't exist. Save backup copies. I have a mailbox in Psychology (Tate Page Hall) but I only check it about once/week. It is not a good way of getting things to me.

Finding me. I enjoy meeting my online students when possible for them. My office is on the ground floor of Cravens Graduate Center. It is easier to find if you walk up into Cravens from Normal Drive. We are on the right side of the stairs. If you enter from the skybridge into the library-- don't ask at the front desk or go through the turnstiles but make an immediate left, as if you were going to the drinking fountain. Take the stairs or elevator down to floor one, then you have to walk down the hallway and down the next set of stairs to the ground floor. Look over your shoulder to the left and there we are! Don't be misdirected to The Learning Center in Helm, another building. The library desk often confuses us with them.

Whenever I mention a time assume it is Central Time Zone.

Office Hours. Monday 9-11 and Thursday 10-11:30 but I'm frequently around at other times. I often work in the early evenings as opposed to mornings. You can usually catch me in around 4:00-5:00. A meeting can be held face-to-face, using the phone, or via chat room (arrange latter in advance). Appointments outside of office hours are welcome. I am more than happy to make appointments. My position at the CTL sometimes prevents me from keeping designated hours as someone with a bigger title than mine may schedule a meeting for me.

Web Pages. My home page (
Blackboard Portal. (


Course Information

How do I start on an equal footing with other students? Meet the pre existing expectations:

What does the course cover?

Catalog description. An introductory course in the field of abnormal psychology with emphasis upon forms of abnormal behavior, etiology, developmental course, interpretations, behavior manifestations, and treatment programs.

3 Hours University Credit is earned upon completion. I don't permit Auditing nor do I permit Incompletes for the course. Withdrawals are permissable within University constraints.

The course fulfills a Group C requirement for the psychology major at WKU.

What will I learn in the course?

Course Objectives. Upon completion of this course you will

  1. be able to explain current scientific approaches to the understanding and treatment of abnormal behavior.
  2. appreciate the range of human behavior and the biological, psychological and social context of maladaptive functioning.
  3. be able to evaluate professional and popular press articles concerning human behavior.

How can I succeed in this course?

    Check off as completed:

  1. complete the prerequisites (see above) before beginning.
  2. have a sympathy for and an interest in understanding the lives of those experiencing maladaptive functioning.
  3. Create a 3 ring binder for course materials
  4. Create an electronic folder on your computer or designate a specific floppy (with backup copy) for course materials.
  5. Be wise and arrange now a back up plan for Internet access in case your primary computer fails. Libraries may offer a terminal, for example. WKU tends to do maintenance tasks on the weekends so you may experience periodic outages. I'll tell you as soon as they tell me, typically Friday morning.
  6. Schedule with yourself 3 to 4 times weekly when you will work on the course. There is heavy demand on the servers starting about 2 and until supper time, say 5:00. (This is especially true the first week of school.) Try other times.
  7. Do your reading and participate in course activities, especially the discussion board.

What if I have a disability?

Students with disabilities who require accommodations (academic adjustments and/or auxiliary aids or services) for this course must contact the Office for Student Disability Services, Garrett 101. The OFSDS telephone number is (270)745-5004 V/TDD.

Please DO NOT request accommodations directly from the instructor without a letter of accommodation from the Office for Student Disability Services.

For additional advising regarding this course, please contact me.

Why is this material important?

You will be more successful and happier in the course if you find a personally meaningful reason for the course material (as opposed to course completion) to be important to you. Some commonly stated reasons include,

What materials do I need to succeed?

Required Text and Materials

  1. Nolen-Hoeksma, Susan. (2004). Abnormal Psychology, 3rd Edition. New York: McGraw Hill. ISBN: 0-07-256246-3.

    Your text is the primary means of content delivery. Without reading it you cannot pass the course. The 3rd edition comes with a CD with required videos and an access code for on-line resources.

    Available at the WKU bookstore ( Or call 1-800-444-5155 or 270-745-2466. There is a shipping/handling charge per book. You can buy with MasterCard or Visa. You can also order COD but there is an additional fee. Books are shipped UPS, usually within 2 days of placing the order.

  2. Reliable and frequent Internet access is necessary as is a computer that can read CD's. Your browser version should be within 1 or 2 steps of the latest release (not including Beta versions). You will need Flash (a free download) installed to play the CD. It will direct you through the steps the first time you try to play it.

    Please do not buy your equipment shortly before the term begins. Avoid making dramatic changes in equipment or software during the term, especially right before assignments are due.

    I usually work in Netscape and on PC's so I tend to report directions for that environment. You need to be able to use E-mail. Beginning this term WKU and Blackboard will assume you are using WKU email ( The wise thing is to start checking it daily. Forwarding WKU mail to another email account is possible, but uncertain, especially in the first term. You remain responsible for any missed email.

    American OnLine Users: you may encounter some problems using the AOL browser and should use Netscape Navigator or Internet Explorer. Please determine how long you can work in NN or IE before you are "timed out" by AOL. This will be important for exam taking. There is a first week activity (a survey) which will give you an idea of how well your browser is functioning.
  3. Our course management software is Blackboard (BB) which lets us share information, talk to one another, check grades, etc. If this is your first time in Blackboard, spend some time exploring and experimenting. Then in 2 weeks, explore again-- you'll be surprised at what you missed the first time. Be sure to ask me if you have any questions about BB.
  4. The course format for any text documents (from me or from you) is rtf. Most word processors (Mac and PC) can read and save in the rtf format. You will have to save the file before opening it with some programs configurations.

Course Policies

All activities are designed to satisfy the learning objectives of the course.

Before preceding with the rules/grading for the course, let me sincerely thank the many students who are conscientious and courteous while endeavoring to meet course obligations. Your efforts are noticed. It is these students that make the work rewarding. Thank you for being there.

Rules are to establish an even experience for everyone in the class. Occasional individuals need more assistance in understanding rules.

I begin with the assumption that students are responsible for their own learning. It is of no benefit to you if the experiences are in my head and not yours. While I will make a reasonable effort to notify students in advance (e.g., in the course schedule), I assume students will periodically review the syllabus without my having to remind them. Students are also expected to actually be the person they represent themselves as being on all work.

What are the instructional methods for the course?

Students will have a textbook to read and we will discuss the content in the Discussion Forum. Regular participation in Forum activities is necessary to learn the material in appropriate depth and will be graded. Think of the discussion forum as your face-to-face class meeting time. Activities in the forum will range from introductory tasks to considering a popular news article in light of the chapter, examining ethical concerns, discussing audio and video presentations of persons with a disorder, and more. For each chapter you'll be able to take a non-credit quiz to test your understanding. You will find those quizzes on the CD. There will be 5 graded exams.

Knowledge is cumulative and integrated. Once material is covered, a student is expected to retain the information for later assignments, including exams.

What happens if bad weather, server outages, or the like interrupts the usual class activities?

In the event of an emergency local to you (but not to me or vice versa) that results in loss of connection (a technology breakdown, typhoon, dust storm, hurricane, earthquake, war, etc.) do your best to contact me by any means once it is reasonable to do so (phones, fax, postal mail). Continue to make reasonable independent efforts toward course completion as per the syllabus. I do watch for news of the places in which my students are so I may be aware of the problem.

What are the Grading Policies for the course?

How many points is each assignment worth?

Grades are calculated from point totals for the course using 10% cutoffs (e.g., 90% and above is an A). (Grading is NOT done on a curve. Everyone in the class could earn an A. Everyone could earn a C.) The instructor reserves the right to lower the point requirements for a more equitable distribution of grades.

Exam 1 100 points
Exam 2 100 points
Exam 3 100 points
Exam 4 100 points
Comprehensive Final 100 points
Discussion Board Participation 100 points
Total 600 points

Those enrolled in 440G (Graduate Students) in addition to the tasks for the course shall also complete a minimum of 8 page paper using 4 psychology journals (NOT popular media) exploring in more depth a particular issue in abnormal psychology. Turn in the articles with the paper. This shall be worth 100 points. Their grade shall be calculated on a 700 point basis. For more information see Week 1 Activities: Graduate Student Information.

What are the course assignments?

Assignments are devised to aid you in learning the key material and concepts, including application principles.

A. Participation.

1. Meet the Instructor. See week one assignments for more information.

2. Participate in a substantial and meaningful manner that is respectful of your classmates.

Class participation provides the practice needed to learn any new behavior. If you ask questions, then ambiguous information is clarified for you and your classmates. If you are anxious about writing in the discussion board, talk with me and perhaps I can reassure you. The more you share and discuss on-line, the more you will enjoy the class.

My judgement of "substantial" includes consideration of the depth of those contributions as well as the number of times you contribute and whether you contribute throughout the week. If you are demonstrating thoughtfulness about the material and genuine, respectful interaction with classmates on repeated occasions, then you will earn the points. I want to know, are you learning or are you helping others learn (which is the best way to learn)? See Course Documents...Ways to Use the Discussion Board for examples and scoring.

In addition, some essay items on the exams will be taken from class discussion as an additional reward to those who participate thoughtfully.

Most weeks I will provide a particular on-line topic or activity to help you get started but you shouldn't feel constrained by that-- you may have some other issue pertinent to that chapter you want to bring up or you want to follow a thread of thought that another student has raised or you may want to comment on a video or audio on the CD. Ask your questions anytime on the discussion boards.

Consider this an academic conversation lasting the whole term. If you are genuinely engaged (or genuinely puzzled) with the material, and post your issues/concerns or reply helpfully to others with issues, then you'll do okay. If you barely appear, are cursory, simply agreeing, or don't seem to have read anyone else's postings, then you won't earn credit. See Course Documents for helps in how to be successful in the discussion board.

Special Discussion Assignments

Once during the term, as a substitute for that week's discussion topic, you are to critique a website pertinent to the content for that week. See Assignments for more details. Your website must be different from any other students'.

Also, once during the term, as a substitute for that week's discussion topic, you are to visit a mental health agency website and make a short report to the discussion board. (you may go in person if you wish). See Assignments for more details. Your agency must be different from any other students'.

Each week begins Monday morning 12:01 am Central time and ends the following Sunday at midnight.


There are 15 weeks in the term (not counting Thanksgiving Break or Finals week). Each week you have a chance to earn 10 points for discussion board activity. This cannot be "made up." Once time passes, you have lost the opportunity for those points. 100 points is allocated to Discussion board activity. Any points earned in excess represent extra credit. The Blackboard gradebook won't be able to show this exactly. I'll have to set the last few weeks to be equal 0 points. You will, however, receive the points marked in your grade for that week.

See Course Documents...Ways to Use the Discussion Board for examples and scoring.

Scoring of the special assignments will be on completeness of answering the assigned questions and quality of the responses. You should consider them formal writing and use complete sentences. Failure to do the special assignments at some point during the term will result in loss of 10 points each. A good strategy is to prepare these in advance, and then use them during a week you are very busy.


This is a course for the intellectual exploration of abnormal psychology. It is normal to learn about your own mental health and that of your family as a side effect of taking this course. I would caution you against trying to make a diagnosis or asking me to make a diagnosis as your knowledge is only partial and I'm not in a position to be a therapist to you.

Sometimes students in this class develop "med students disease" in which they feel they fall in every diagnostic category they read about. Rest assured that is common for this type of course and it probably isn't the case. Remember that even abnormal human behavior falls on a continuum and you may be experiencing the "normal" end. It is only an issue if it is creating significant life difficulties for you. We'll learn more about that during the course.

On occasion there is someone in the class who has a true and significant mental health challenge, such as bulemia or a major depression. Just so you know up front, ethically, I cannot provide therapy, and must refer you to a mental health practioner. Otherwise it would be a dual relationship, and in some instances, practicing across state lines.

B. Exams.

Exam Type: Five examinations will be given and will include multiple choice and essay questions. The final exam will cover the last few chapters as well as including comprehensive questions.

Students are responsible for all material associated with an exam and the course, that includes information presented in the text as well as discussion and other sources.

Exam Process: Your work on your exams is to be your own. Exams will be given on-line but must be proctored.

I require that you schedule in advance your exam taking time. It is up to you to arrange that time. Be aware that resources are tight for exam taking and last minute doesn't work. We will discuss this further next week after enrollment settles down.

For each student on each exam, the items will be randomly pulled from a larger set. No two persons will have an identical test.

You will have a two and a half day period in which to take the exam. That period during the week is mostly early in the week...however one had to be late in the week. See the course schedule for details on exam dates.

What if there's a power outage while I'm taking the exam?

This hasn't happened very often to my students. But if it does I can authorize you to start the test over if I'm available at the time you are taking the test (which is why I want you to schedule it.) However, because I use a randomly pulled set of items, your 2nd test will not be identical with your first. Another reason I want you to use the testing center is because it reduces the risk of power loss.

If you are at a distance and having bad weather, contact me. Scheduling in advance enables me to be around to assist in the event of a problem, particularly on the first exam.

What about missed exams?

Drive carefully, don't open any mysterious emails from friends (viruses), beg grandparents to stay healthy, get medicine at the first signs of ill health, set two alarm clocks but don't miss the exam dates. I don't give make-up exams. I sometimes hear complaints about this, that it isn't "fair."

However, providing a make-up exam is not fair to those who are ready on time and prepared and are tested under common conditions (e.g., the same point in the term). Each term there are students who forge ahead through terrible burdens without asking for special dispensation. If someone asks for special treatment I owe it to the others in the class to expect a certain standard of life difficulty and a particular level of documentation. It is not a sign of distrust of an individual but of maintaining trust with the entire class.

There are some circumstances (see below) in which it is unreasonable to expect a person to take an exam and I make accommodation for missing an exam. What are those very special circumstances?

1. A personally life-threatening emergency (includes fever over 100 or being shipped off by military). I expect appropriate documentation. The following are NOT life-threatening emergencies: Your best friend's relative dies; a cold (no fever); a hangover; a trip to Bermuda; a wedding; a computer virus. (See note above about having backup computer plans). Life is about making choices. They are not always easy choices. Having to make a difficult choice is part of being an adult, it is not a sign of being mistreated. I hope no one has to make these types of choices in this class.

Business accepts as an excuse the deaths of grandparents, parents (includes step), children, or spouse with documentation so I'll follow the same model. Although I am very sympathetic I am not flexible about deaths in the immediate family unless you can bring me a newspaper obituary and funeral home card or confirmation from an established citizen, such as the minister, giving the date and time of the funeral and the relationship to you. The death of cousins, aunts, uncles, etc. are not considered acceptable excuses. It would be impossible for me to judge the depth of relationships/trauma across all the students for those not listed above.

I regret the inconvenience for those truly experiencing such a loss, but it is too commonly used as an excuse by a segment of the student population without a genuine funeral. This is fulfilling my obligation to your classmates to provide as level a playing field as possible. Once upon a time in small communities everyone knew everyone else and could judge the impact of a loss. Today I have students all over the country and thus need separate confirmation to be at peace with the other students.

2. The university chooses to approve certain types of absences.

Grade accommodation. If you meet one of the above 2 conditions your grade on the missed test will be the average of your grades on the other exams. You must take the final exam and the other 3 tests to receive course credit. If you do not meet one of the above two conditions, your grade on the missed exam will be zero.

I have experimented with a variety of methods. I have found offering an alternative test to be unsatisfactory as the person is so distressed by the life stressor that they typically do very badly, compounding their pain. It works better for the student to put their effort into a later exam after they've had a chance to adjust to the trying circumstances.


How do I recognize and avoid academically dishonest behavior?

Plagiarism. You'll be posting a lot on the discussion board. Copying another person's work (in any form, including images, web pages, textbooks, etc., without giving credit is plagiarism. Copying the exact words and giving credit is still plagiarism unless you indicate which words are yours and which words are the other persons' by means of quotation marks. As a rule of thumb, do not copy more than three consecutive words. Rephrase any ideas into your own words. A copy machine can duplicate material. You are a scholar who must think about (rephrase) an idea to own it. Plagiarism will result in 0 points on the product. I check for plagiarism. I most often find copying the author's words (e.g., the textbook) without using quotation marks. The most common reason is that "the author expresses it better than I can." However, you are writing to learn how to express yourself well, not to copy. Rephrase, rephrase, rephrase.

All students are to read the Internet Policies and consider them part of the syllabus

Most students are conscientious and responsible. Thank you, I do appreciate and notice your effort and courtesies to me and to your classmates. I try to return the favor by providing a structure for course events. For the lawyers in the class, I get to decide the outcome of any loopholes in these rules.

Just in Case....

Special functions or Off-Campus Sites: Although I do not currently anticipate any trips, students may need or choose to make trips to off-campus sites in partial fulfillment of the requirements of this course in order to meet program accreditation standards.

"The above schedule and procedures in this course are subject to change in the event of extenuating circumstances" (Altman, 1989).

Psy 440
For My Students | Admin/Research | Psychology | WKU 

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All contents © since 1996 by Sally Kuhlenschmidt. Copy only with permission.
Website created: June 1996. Page Created: July 24, 2003; Last Modified: August 17, 2003.