Psychology Curriculum

Students studying Psychology at New College are required to complete eight specific courses within the discipline, as well as at least two advanced-level courses in psychology and the psychology senior seminar. A senior thesis is also required.

Required courses:
Introductory Psychology
Research Methods

Four of the following five courses must be taken:
Developmental Psychology
Biological Psychology
Social Psychology
Cognitive Psychology

A laboratory course in one of the following areas:
Cognitive, Development, and Social Psychology
Animal Behavior
Sensation and Perception
(Laboratories in the Natural Sciences Division are offered in conjunction with Neurobiology, Neuroanatomy, and Brain, Behavior, and Evolution)

2 Advanced Psychology Electives
Psychology Senior Seminar

Other Recommended Courses:
In order to provide breadth and perspective, Psychology students are also encouraged to take courses in other disciplines that will complement their areas of interest. Recommended courses include those from the general areas of philosophy, mathematics, computer science, biology, physics, anthropology, sociology, political science and religion.

For detailed requirements, check out our General Catalog and the Psychology Academic Learning Compact.

Here’s a list of recent course offerings in Psychology, arranged by subfields:

General Interest
Introductory Psychology Seminars
An Introductory Psychology modular seminar is a foundation course. Each course serves as a prerequisite for more advanced psychology courses. All of the courses will introduce students to the basic methods employed in psychology. Students will collect and analyze data, write reports in American Psychological Association format, and give oral presentations. First year students have priority for these seminars.

Introductory Psychology Seminar: Animal Thinking and Communication
Animals learn, remember, reason, and communicate. For example, honeybees dance to indicate the location of food sources. Clark’s nutcrackers remember thousands of locations in which they stored nuts. In this course we will explore the methods and results from studies of animal cognition with specific emphasis on communication.

Introductory Psychology Seminar: Behavior in Social Context
Social Psychology deals with the ways in which individuals think about, feel and act in social situations. This course will provide a basic introduction to theories and methods in the field, and applications in the real world. An important objective of this course is to help students develop critical and integrated modes of thinking about theories and empirical research in Social Psychology.

Introductory Psychology Seminar: Memory Development
Can a 2 ½-year-old toddler accurately recall details about a trip taken to Disney World when she was 2 years old? Probably. Can a 6-month-old baby remember what he learned when he was 2 months old about operating a mobile? Probably, or at least under certain circumstances. Can a 5-year-old child remember three items out of seven after a 15 second delay? Probably not. This course will introduce students to findings like these, investigating the development of memory during infancy and childhood. We will examine a variety of methods used to measure memory skills (e.g., how do you test memory of a 6-month-old?), explore explanations for different memory skills at various points in development (e.g., why does that 5-year-old forget something after 15 seconds, but that 6-month-old baby can remember something from 4 months ago?), and compare children’s memories to those of adults (e.g., how much can you remember of a trip taken 6 months ago?).

Introductory Psychology Seminar: The Sensory World of Animals
Animals sense worlds that are very different from our own. For example, honeybees detect polarized light and homing pigeons navigate using the earth’s magnetic field. Whales hear very low frequencies that may allow them to hear other whales an ocean away. Bottlenose dolphins recognize objects by reflected sound. Students will be introduced to the behavioral and physiological evidence that provides a glimpse of the other worlds of animals.

Introductory Psychology Seminar: Social Influence
We are frequently confronted with requests from others, including those to buy the newest gadgets, support political candidates, or make charitable donations. How do these requestors convince us to say “yes”? How can we convince others to say “yes” to our requests? How can we protect ourselves from unscrupulous requestors? This module length introductory course will address these questions by examining common strategies of social influence. We will learn about these strategies by reading and discussing primary and secondary literature on these topics and gaining hands-on experience with psychological research. 

Introduction to Statistics
This course will introduce students to applied statistics in the behavioral and social sciences. The course will employ a conceptual approach to using descriptive and inferential statistics. Topics will include frequency distributions, central tendency and variability, probability, confidence intervals, hypothesis testing, inferences about means, analysis of variance, correlation, regression, power, and chi-square analysis. Students will be introduced to computer programs for statistical analyses.

Advanced Statistics
This course will cover advanced topics in applied statistics for the social and behavioral sciences. We will begin with in-depth considerations of analysis of variance and multiple regression. Additional topics may include structural equation modeling, factor analysis, and meta-analysis. Students will gain hands-on experience with conducting each analysis in relevant computer programs.

Research Methods in Psychology
This course will survey the range of research methods available to psychologists. Students will become familiar with each phase of the research process through readings, lectures, class discussions, field observations, surveys, interviews, and laboratory measurement. The advantages and limitations of each method will be emphasized. In addition, students will practice using appropriate statistical analyses to interpret data.

Psychology Senior Seminar
All students who plan to graduate with an area of concentration in psychology must enroll in the Psychology Senior Seminar Tutorial. Students will meet weekly to discuss various aspects of the thesis process, including the literature review, hypothesis generation, research design, and data analysis.

Biological Psychology

Biological Psychology
This course introduces the student to the biological bases of behavior and mind. We will address physiological, evolutionary, and ecological explanations for various psychological phenomena. Topics will include neural transmission, nervous system organization, lateralization and language, sensory processes, movement, biological rhythms, thirst and hunger, sexual behavior, emotional behavior, learning and memory, psychopathology, personality, and consciousness.

Animal Learning
This course considers the mechanisms and processes of learning. We will discuss the basic issues in traditional learning theory including habituation, sensitization, classical conditioning, instrumental conditioning, and discrimination learning.

Animal Behavior Processes Laboratory
In this advanced laboratory seminar students will participate in studies of animal learning, cognition, and sensory processes. Students will design experiments, analyze data, and write reports. Although credit for only one module is offered, we will meet one day a week throughout the term to discuss relevant literature and experimental design. Species to be studied will include honeybees and manatees.

Sensation and Perception
This course explores the sensory and perceptual processes involved in determining the properties of physical stimuli. Initially, we will discuss psychophysics, the study of the relationship between psychological phenomena and physical events. We will continue with reviews of vision and audition. A specific emphasis will be placed on applications of psychological and biological knowledge to perceptual analysis of two-dimensional visual images and music.

Cognitive Psychology

Cognitive Psychology
Neisser (1967) defined cognitive psychology as the study of the processes by which sensory input is transformed, reduced, elaborated, stored, recovered, and used. This course will focus on the models and experiments that address these cognitive processes. A major goal of the course is to help students develop their abilities to read and understand cognitive experiments and to use experimental data to support hypotheses.

Comparative Cognition
Animals learn, remember, solve problems, communicate, and deceive. They engage in complex interactions with their social and nonsocial environment. In order to engage in these activities, animals must form mental representations. This course will provide an overview of research investigating how animals process information and represent their world. We will discuss evidence derived from both laboratory experimentation and naturalistic field observations.

Advanced Seminar in Experimental Psychology: Dolphin Behavior, Cognition, and Communication
In this seminar we will read and discuss journal articles by leading authors studying dolphin behavior, cognition, and communication. We will also apply some of our knowledge to on-going studies of dolphins.

Laboratory in Comparative Cognition
The focus of this course is to improve students’ skills in methods typically used to answer questions generated by comparative psychologists. Students will gain this knowledge through readings, discussions, planning sessions, materials preparation, data collection and production of A.P.A. lab reports. Data collection will occur with people and other species.

Developmental Psychology

Developmental Psychology
This course will survey topics in social, personality, and cognitive development from infancy through adolescence. We will discuss major theoretical perspectives, methodologies, and both past and present research in the field. Projects in the course will include the opportunity to observe child behavior, and to assess a variety of real world issues of developmental psychology that have direct impact on children’s lives.

Cross-Cultural Perspectives in Child Development
This seminar will explore the issue of how culture impacts theories of developmental psychology. Much of developmental theory has been based on research with Euro-American samples, yet to what extent are these principles appropriately applied to other cultural groups? The goal of the class will be to examine how our perspectives and theories of development are shaped by culture, and to what extent those theories are limited to the cultural samples studied. We will discuss research on parental and cultural values as they bear on childrearing practices and developmental theory. We will explore research examples from a variety of cultures, from within the United States and from other countries.

Special Topics in Language Development
A 12-month-old hears someone say: FIMSOGFIMFIMTUP. How does s/he figure out which parts are words? Or if it’s a grammatical string? Through innate constraints? Through constructing grammatical strings in the patterns s/he hears in speech? How about VOTPELPELJIC? These examples were generated for an artificial language to which 12-month-olds were exposed. They learned the grammar! Studies like this one will be the focus of this seminar which will explore language processing and development through various theoretical perspectives and current debates in the field. Also included will be topics in language learning in special populations (e.g., hearing impaired, blind, etc.) and animal language learning. Students will also get experience using the CHILDES computerized transcription, analysis and database system via their own special projects.

Laboratory in Developmental Psychology
This course is designed to give students exposure to some of the research questions and methods used with infants, preschoolers, and young school-age children. Current research papers will serve as examples for discussion and critique. Students will develop skills with various aspects of developmental research from data collection, to data coding and analysis, to writing formal research reports.

Social Psychology

Social Psychology
This course will provide an introduction to theory and research in social psychology. We will focus on several core themes in the discipline, including the subjective construction of social reality, the shortcomings of social inference, the influence of social setting on individual and group behavior, and interpersonal and group processes. In short, we will explore how we think about, influence, and relate to one another.

Social Cognition
Many years ago, Kurt Lewin made the point that in order to understand social behavior, it is important to understand how people construe or think about their social environments. Social cognition refers to the set of processes by which people perceive, think about, and remember aspects of their social world. Specific processes include person perception, attitude formation, stereotyping, and prejudice. In this class, we will cover social cognitive topics by reading classic and contemporary primary literature rather than secondary sources.

Lab in Social Psychology
The primary goal of this semester-length lab course is to acquaint students with the wide range of methods and procedures used in social psychological research. This semester our research efforts will focus on questions related to conflict resolution and perceptions of justice.

Close Relationships
This advanced seminar will cover classic and contemporary research and theory on the psychology of close relationships. We will learn about these topics in several ways: by reading and discussing primary and secondary literature in these areas, by applying course topics to our own everyday lives, and importantly, by gaining hands-on experience with psychological research. We will learn about psychological research through class readings, discussions, and through participating in and conducting psychological research.

Psychology of Religion
This course covers theory and empirical research on the psychology of religion. We will learn about the psychology of religion by reading and discussing primary and secondary literature in this area, by completing several writing assignments, and, importantly, by gaining hands-on experience with the conduct of psychological research. Topics covered will include the foundations of religious belief, the interrelations between religion and emotion, and the complex associations between religiosity and physical and mental health.

Self and Identity
This advanced seminar will cover classic and contemporary research and theory on the psychology of self and identity. We will learn about these topics in several ways: by reading and discussing primary and secondary literature in these areas, by applying course topics to our own everyday lives, and importantly, by gaining hands-on experience with psychological research. We will learn about psychological research through class readings, discussions, and through participating in and conducting psychological research.

Stigma and Prejudice
This advanced seminar will cover classic and contemporary research and theory on the social psychology of stereotyping, prejudice, discrimination, and stigma. We will cover a broad range of related topics, including how to define and measure these phenomena, the motivations that underlie them, their material and psychological consequences, the acquisition and functions of prejudices and stereotypes, and the reduction of prejudices and stereotypes. We will learn about these topics by reading and discussing primary and secondary literature in these areas, by writing papers that apply course topics to our social world, and by gaining hands-on experience with psychological research.

Lab in Social and Personality Psychology
This class will provide students with knowledge of and experience with the methods used by social and personality psychologists to gain scientific understanding of psychological phenomena. In addition to regular class meetings, students will get hands-on experience with all phases of the research process including conducting literature searches and reviews, designing studies, collecting and analyzing data, and preparing reports of findings. Limited to Psychology AOCs.

Impression Management
This advanced seminar will cover classic and contemporary research and theory on impression management (or self-presentation) from a social psychological perspective. We will learn about this topic by reading and discussing primary and secondary literature in this area, by writing papers that apply course topics to our social world, and by gaining hands-on experience with psychological research.

For a complete list of courses, click here.

[Did you know?]

Between 1998 and 2010, more than 90 percent of psychology students who applied to professional schools (Med, Vet, Law, MSW) were accepted. And many others received awards such as the National Science Foundation Doctoral Fellowship and Fulbrights to Germany and Spain.

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