2014/2015, Semester 2
Arts & Social Sciences (Psychology)
Modular Credits: 5
Positive Psychology is the study of how people thrive despite external obstacles and their own human frailties. The aim of this course is to address questions such as: What are the positive psychological mind-states and action sequences that promote flourishing lives, and how can we live life well? What are the behaviours and cognitions that undermine wellbeing? This course will introduce students to the scientific research and issues in positive psychology, and will explore the meaning and implications of positive psychology towards a global understanding of wellbeing.
Cohort 2011 and before: Completed 80 MCs of which student must have passed PL1101E, PL2131, PL2132 and 4 out of the 5 core modules (PL3232 - PL3236), in which one must be PL3235, with a minimum CAP of 3.50 or be on the Honours track. Cohort 2012 onwards: Completed 80 MCs of which student must have passed PL1101E, PL2131, PL2132 and 4 out of the 5 core modules (PL3232 - PL3236), in which one must be PL3235, with a minimum CAP of 3.20 or be on the Honours track.
Introduction and Overview of Positive Psychology
Wellbeing and Subjective Wellbeing
Money / Hedonics
Positive Emotions (e.g., gratitude, altruism)
Culture & Self-Esteem
Resilience, Mindfulness, Meditation
About this course:
Don't be fooled by the seemingly-simple subject matter of this course: This is a labor-intensive course. There is a considerable amount of reading, writing, presenting, and other work to be done on a weekly basis—you need to keep up.
The seminars supplement the readings. As such, you can expect my presentations to cover ideas that are not necessarily covered in the readings. You are expected to know the material covered in all aspects of the course: readings, lectures, films, assignments, presentations, and discussions.
Your success in this course depends on attending class, participating in class, taking thorough notes, developing articulate and thought-provoking essays and questions, and presenting well-researched, lucid, organized presentations.
Students are strongly encouraged to complete the assigned readings
coming to class, as we will be discussing concepts in class.
A skeleton version of my PowerPoint slides for each topic will be available on the day of class. You can access the slides through IVLE. You will need an NUS UserID and password, as well as access to PowerPoint.
Students are responsible for checking their email account and IVLE frequently and consistently to remain current with University communications. They are expected to monitor and manage their email storage quota to insure that their mailboxes are not saturated and are able to receive new messages.
: Although attendance is not taken during the semester (with the exception of research presentation days), your attendance is expected for at least 3 reasons. (1) Missing class will put you at a serious disadvantage for the exams since some of the course material you will be tested on is not found in the readings. (2) You may not make up missed in-class assignments if you are absent. (3) You’ll miss out on the educational experience and we’ll miss out on your contribution to the class.
Please turn off handphones, and do everything in your power to show up for class on time. Ringing phones, latecomers, and other distractions make the learning (and teaching) process difficult for those around you.
This module includes the following components:
Thought Questions (10)
The purpose of the essays is to critically analyze and express what you think of the reading(s). Each essay should be a thoughtful reflection and genuine engagement with one or more of the week’s required readings. Each essay should comprise two clearly delineated parts:
(a) a short (less than 1-page) summary of the course material (i.e., readings, my presentation, class discussion) as it applies to the essay topic
(b) (this is the more important part of your essay) a 1½ to 2-page critical / personal reflection of the essay topic, drawing on relevant theories covered. The essay should be a critical analysis, but this does not necessarily mean you simply criticize the reading. Rather you should use the materials that you have learned in class to evaluate the concepts and theories in the readings, and demonstrate your understanding by explaining how it applies (can apply) in your life.
General Instructions for Part (b) of the essay:
Introduce and develop
original argument that is not found in the course readings. An argument should be your own original point/theory/belief that you are presenting and defending in your essay (i.e., your own idea; don't summarize arguments the research provides, although you can use the research to support your own argument). Then support your argument with evidence (i.e., your observations, illustrations/examples, and research—how it applies/does not apply). These essays should be written after you’ve done the readings and the homework activities for the week so you have a chance to reflect before writing.
Essay word limit: 750 words.
(Note: Good writing ability is very helpful in this course since writing will make up a good proportion of the course grade, in the form of essays and thought questions. An interest in the course material is essential as well; otherwise, the writing assisnments will be painful.)
Create a thought-provoking or controversial question that the reading(s) raised for you, or a question you think would provide good material for discussion. Practice brevity: keep your thought questions short! Maximum 50-word limit.
A good question demonstrates an understanding of course material applied to a realm that you may not fully understand (yet).
A fair (but not great) question might be one that has been answered by course material already, but still shows some thought.
A poor reflection question shows no original thinking, is superficial, or paraphrases an existing reflection question that has appeared in the course readings or has already been raised in class.
In-Class and Homework Assignments
During class period, there will be a series of unannounced assignments. These assignments will be completed in class only. Examples of in-class assignments are small group activities, short papers, pop quizzes. NO make-ups if you are absent for an in-class assignment. Homework assignments may be assigned, as well.
Each student will work in the same group of about five students on a topic in the field of positive psychology. This project is meant to be a fun learning experience but academic standards will still be upheld. You must do some research-- that is, consult academic resources (e.g., journal articles, book chapters) outside of class material. Spend a little time choosing a topic that interests you, and make sure the topic relates back to positive psychology. (Suggestions are listed below but feel free to come up with your own topic.) For example, if your topic is motivation, don't simply give a general social psychology presentation on motivation; instead, make sure you demonstrate how your presentation on motivation fits into the framework of positive psychology.
Try to make your presentation interactive and fun. Keep in mind that some activities take more time than you think, so allocate enough time for them. You will present your findings in class, including some prescriptive tips for the class regarding how to increase wellbeing based on your research. Visual aids (PowerPoint slides, video clips, posters, handouts, etc.) are recommended.
Group presentations should be 20 minutes, and will be held during the last weeks of class.
Do not exceed the 25-minute time limit
Attendance will be taken during each class on research presentation dates.
Absence or tardiness may result in point deductions off your final grade.
This group presentation will cover highlights of the material from a previous class. It should be a thought-provoking presentation highlighting material already presented with the purpose of inspiring greater thought and reflection of the topic.
In-class closed-book final exam. The exam will include essay, short-answer, and multiple-choice questions.
Workload Components : A-B-C-D-E
A: no. of lecture hours per week
B: no. of tutorial hours per week
C: no. of lab hours per week
D: no. of hours for projects, assignments, fieldwork etc per week
E: no. of hours for preparatory work by a student per week