Psy 444: Positive Psychology Course Description



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Course: PSY 444: Positive Psychology

Course Description: The scientific study of human strengths. Topics include optimism, creativity, well-being, and resilience.
Instructor: Dr. Douglas Engwall WEB page is www.psychology.ccsu.edu/engwall
Prerequisites: Six credits in psychology
Office: Marcus White 217 Phone:832-3124 Email:EngwallD@CCSU.EDU
Office Hours: see attached schedule
Required Texts: Positive Psychology by Snyder and Lopez (ISBN 0-7619-2633-X)

Pursuing Human Strengths
by Bolt (ISBN 0-7167-0112-X)

Optional Text: Learned Optimism by Seligman (ISBN 0-671-01911-2)
Evaluative Procedures: Three exams (100 points each) . . . . . . . . 300

Two short papers (35 pts each) 70

Class attendance and participation . . . . . . 30

Course Total . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 400


Graduate Students: In addition to the short papers, grad students must make an in-class presentation to earn participation points.
Grades: Grades will be based on the total number of points earned during the semester. The following can be used as a general guide.

90% or 360 points . . . . A

80% or 320 points . . . . B

70% or 280 points . . . . C

60% or 240 points . . . . D

Attendance is expected for all sessions and class participation is encouraged and sometimes required (ex: reading strength story). These factors will play a part in grades.
Students will be held responsible for all announcements and information given during class and for the completion of all work.
Make-up exams will be given only in cases of emergency. Incompletes can only be given in rare situations and only to students who have completed 75% of the course work.
Questions are welcome at any time during class. I appreciate the feedback. Your positive contributions to class are appreciated.
Use of cell phones for any purpose during class is prohibited. Please power down your cell phones before class begins. Use of cell phones greatly annoys the instructor and distracts other students.

Positive Psychology Outline Spring 2009

S&L= Snyder and Lopez
1/26 Introduction to positive psychology S&L Ch. 1-3

1/28-2/2 A short history of well-being S&L Ch. 1-3


2/4-9 Competence, relatedness, autonomy Bolt intro, 5

2/12 The pursuit of happiness S&L Ch. 7

2/16 President's day (No Class)
2/18 Laughter is good medicine Bolt 6
2/23 Positive emotion S&L Ch. 8
2/25 Stress reduction Bolt 3, 4 (Emot. Intel.)
3/2 Exam 1
3/4-9 Spirituality & Flow S&L Ch. 11

3/11-16 Human strengths S&L Ch. 4, pp 19-22

Strength Stories Bolt 4 (Wisdom)

3/19 Love and belongingness S&L Ch. 13

3/23-25 Spring Break (No Class)


3/30 Sternberg Triangle Bolt 1, 9
4/1-6 Empathy, Gratitude and Forgiveness S&L Ch. 12

Bolt 2


4/8 Exam 2
4/13-15 Resilience S&L Ch. 6, 15

4/20 Developing stakeholders


4/22-27 Enhancing mental health S&L Ch. 14

Learned optimism Seligman book
4/29-5/4 Creativity

5/6-11 Future of positive psychology S&L Ch. 19

5/13 Course evaluation
5/18 Exam 3


Short paper 1: Strength Story
Write a 2-3 typed paper describing a historical figure (or any real person) that you believe illustrates one or more of the signature strengths we discussed. Please refer to website presentation to find the specific strengths. The strengths are grouped under the following virtues. Be sure to list your sources for the story from print media, online resources, or film. Bring your story to class on days we discuss strength stories. You will read it to the class.



The virtues

1. Wisdom and knowledge 2. Courage 3. Humanity 4. Justice 5. Temperance

6. Transcendence

Short paper 2: Resilience themes in Akeelah and the Bee (2006)
Please type your essay (2-3 pages)
“Akeelah Anderson’s love of words leads her to enter of number of spelling contests. Tutored by many and opposed by some, Akeelah unwittingly unites a neighborhood in her daring attempt to compete in the Scripps National Spelling Bee.” -- From DVD cover.
Characters: Akeelah, an 11 year old middle school student

Tanya, her mother (father deceased) Kiana, older sister with baby

Devon, older brother in the Airforce

Terrance, brother/gangster wannabe

Georgia, friend Mr. Welch, principal

Dr. Larabee, professor/coach

Javier, spelling bee friend Dylan, spelling bee rival
Please incorporate the following into your essay:
What risk factors (individual, family neighborhood) work against Akeelah’s success?
What protective factors (individual, family neighborhood) work to support her success?
In what ways does Akeelah match the profile of the resilient child described in class?

(social competence, problem-solving skills, autonomy, sense of purpose and future)


How does the family, school, and community become stakeholders in Akeelah’s success?
Does her success have any impact on the community?

First hour of the movie will be shown in class. You may want to rent the movie to see the second part, although the first hour should give you enough information to complete the assignment.







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