Course Information

Course Description:

This course is designed to provide students with a critical overview of personality theory, research, assessment, disorders, and therapy. The course will take a scientific approach to the study of personality. This means that we will devote a good deal of attention to current theoretical and research approaches. Classic theories of personality will also be covered. This is primarily a course on the varieties of "normal" personality functioning rather than aspects of abnormal psychology. Students will have several opportunities to complete examples of personality measures during the course.

Course Objectives:

The major objective of this course is to give students a detailed understanding of the nature and dynamics of human personality. Upon successful completion of this course, students  should be able to:

  • Think analytically and critically about personality.
  • Define the basic units of personality and understand the basic processes associated with these.
  • Evaluate and understand research pertaining to personality and personality processes.
  • Understand the role of personality in thinking and behavior.
  • Understand their own personality and other people's personalities.
  • Understand the relative effects of "nature" (innate or inborn influences) and "nurture" (socialization and learning influences) on personality.
  • Apply their learning to cope better with stressful situations.

Prerequisites and Corequisites:

Introductory Psychology is recommended but not required.

Course Topics:

Major course topics include the Basic Units of Personality (traits, cognitions, & motives); Personality Development & Change; the Unconscious and Unconscious Processes; the Development & Nature of the Self; Personal Goals and Life Tasks; Emotions, Stress, & Coping; Personality Disorders, Change, & Therapy; and Personality Research & Assessment Approaches.

Specific Course Requirements:

Students will need to know how to use a word processor (preferably Microsoft Word or WordPerfect) and an Internet browser (Microsoft Explorer) in order to access and complete course materials and requirements.

Textbooks, Supplementary Materials, Hardware and Software Requirements

Required Textbooks:

The text may be obtained through the Virtual Bookstore at

Supplementary Materials:


Hardware Requirements:

The minimum requirements can be found at

Software Requirements:

The minimum requirements can be found at

Instructor Information

Please see the separate page inside the course to find instructor contact information as well as a statement of virtual office hours and other communication information.

Assessment and Grading

Testing Procedures:


There will be five examinations, each covering a different portion of the course. The final exam will be comprehensive, covering all material in the course. All five exams will be similar in format, difficulty, and length. Exams will be an approximately equal mix of multiple-choice and longer essay questions. Each exam will be worth 60 points. The maximum number of points with the exams is 300.

Case-Study Analyses

For each of the first 4 exams, students must complete a case-study analysis pertaining to the topics from that exam. Each case study involves an analysis of one's own (or another person's) personality as it relates to the material we covered in that section of the course. In particular, the student's task is to describe and explain oneself (or another person) according to the major approaches we covered in that section. Students will need to bring in relevant concepts/ideas and describe what these approaches have to say about their target "personality." Each of these (5-7 page) case studies is worth 20 points. The maximum number of points possible with the case-study analyses is 80.

Class Discussions

Students are required to participate actively in 10 class discussions. Every week during the semester, the instructor will post questions concerning a specific topic. Students will have the opportunity to respond to these topics and to other students' responses. Students may also begin their own discussions. They will receive up to 10 points for each discussion that they actively participate in. "Active" participation is defined as providing reasonably intelligent responses or comments (as determined by the instructor) or as starting a new discussion that is interesting and worthwhile (as determined by the instructor). There will be at least 12 discussion topics posted by the instructor, meaning that students will not need to participate in all discussions. Of course, students are encouraged to participate in all discussions. The maximum number of points possible with the class discussions is 100.

Grading Procedure:

Grading will be based on a straightforward point system. Course grades will depend on students' total scores on the 5 exams (300 possible pts), 4 case analyses (80 pts), and 10 class discussions (100 pts). Note the scheduled dates for exams and assignments and plan now to complete them.

Grading Scale:

The following scale will be used to calculate final grades:

Total Points  (%)               Final Grade

432-480 (90-100%)                   A

384-431 (80-89%)                     B

336-383 (70-79%)                     C

288-335 (60-69%)                     D

287 or lower (59% or lower)        F

Assignments and Participation

Assignments and Projects:

Students must read the assigned text chapters and the class notes located in the Course Content page. The Course Calendar and the Assignments pages list the exact exam dates as well as the due dates for the case-study analysis assignments. Note also that there will be weekly discussion topics. Be sure to check your email and the Course Calendar every day or two!!

Class Participation:

Students are required to participate in the class discussions. Even if students do not actively participate in all discussions, they are expected to read all of them and be familiar with their contents, as exam questions may be drawn from the discussions. Students are also expected to communicate with the instructor as a learning resource and check the course bulletin board frequently for announcements.


It is very important that students consult the Course Calendar for the readings, exam, assignment and other due dates.

Course Ground Rules

The following are recommendations for students taking this class:

  • Learn how to navigate in WebCT as soon as possible (this is very important!).
  • Consult the Course Calendar for dates for readings, exams, and assignments.
  • Check the Discussion Board 2-3 times a week to see if the instructor or another student has introduced a new topic for discussion.
  • Manage your time wisely. Give yourself enough time to read the assigned text chapters and lessons before an exam.
  • See the Course Calendar for suggested due dates for completion of reading assignments. Take advantage of the practice exams.
  • Keep abreast of course announcements.
  • Keep in contact with the instructor on a regular basis.
  • Use the assigned college or university WebCT e-mail address as opposed a personal e-mail address.
  • Address technical problems immediately.
  • Observe course netiquette at all times.

Guidelines for Communications


  • Always include a subject line.
  • Remember without facial expressions some comments may be taken the wrong way. Be careful in wording your emails. Use of emoticons might be helpful in some cases.
  • Use standard fonts.
  • Do not send large attachments without permission.
  • Special formatting such as centering, audio messages, tables, html, etc. should be avoided unless necessary to complete an assignment or other communication.
  • Respect the privacy of other class members

Discussion Groups:

  • Review the discussion threads thoroughly before entering the discussion. Be a lurker then a discussant.
  • Try to maintain threads by using the "Reply" button rather starting a new topic.
  • Do not make insulting or inflammatory statements to other members of the discussion group. Be respectful of other's ideas.
  • Be patient and read the comments of other group members thoroughly before entering your remarks.
  • Respond in a thoughtful and timely manner.

Web Resources: 


The Tennessee Virtual Library is available to all students enrolled in the Regents Degree Program. Links to library materials (such as electronic journals, databases, interlibrary loans, digital reserves, dictionaries, encyclopedias, maps, and librarian support) and Internet resources needed by learners to complete online assignments and as background reading must be included in all courses. 

Students With Disabilities

Qualified students with disabilities will be provided reasonable and necessary academic accommodations if determined eligible by the appropriate disability services staff at their home institution. Prior to granting disability accommodations in this course, the instructor must receive written verification of a student's eligibility for specific accommodations from the disability services staff at the home institution. It is the student's responsibility to initiate contact with their home institution's disability services staff and to follow the established procedures for having the accommodation notice sent to the instructor.

Syllabus Changes

The instructor reserves the left to make changes as necessary to this syllabus. If changes are necessitated during the term of the course, the instructor will immediately notify students of such changes both by individual email communication and posting both notification and nature of change(s) on the course bulletin board.

Technical Support

Telephone Support:

For HELP with:

  • TECHNICAL PROBLEMS please visit the AskRODP Customer Support web page at or call the AskRODP Help Desk at 1-866-550-RODP (1-866-550-7637)
  • REGISTRATION PROBLEMS contact your home school RODP Campus Contact
  • TBR-RODP RELATED ISSUES contact RODP Help Desk at 1-888-223-0023