Dr. William Tooke
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Psychology 304 – Religion and Psychology

Fall, 2013

Instructor: Dr. William Tooke

Office: 212 Beaumont Hall

Phone: x3380

E-Mail: william.tooke@plattsburgh.edu

Website: http://faculty.plattsburgh.edu/william.tooke/

Office Hours: M 2-3; TR 11-12

Required Reading: Thomson, J. A. (2011). Why we believe in god(s). Additional readings TBA



1.   Development of writing skills.  This course fulfills the advanced writing requirement.

2.   Development of analytic and problem solving skills.

3.   Foster a critical point of view.

4.   Improve abilities of integration and synthesis of conceptual and empirical materials.

5.   Develop library and reading skills.

Course Overview

This seminar will focus on the relationship between religion and various aspects of human psychology. We will discuss religion in terms of its diversity (different religious traditions), universality (what these diverse traditions have in common), and their psychology (what religious beliefs tell us about the nature of the human mind). As this seminar meets the “Writing Across the Curriculum” requirement of the university, student activity will focus on oral presentation and written work.

Course Requirements:

Written Work 


Research Paper. This is the major requirement of the course. You must write a research paper 25-30 pages in length that combines primary and secondary sources to produce a clear, original and well-supported argument. All papers must be double-spaced, with regular margins and documented in APA format. All topics must be discussed with me and approved in advance. Final Papers are due December 5. No exceptions.


Annotated Bibliography. In order to encourage early research, I want you to submit a list of your most important sources (articles, books, various primary materials (NOT websites, blogs, etc.) by September 19. This will obviously be a beginning bibliography and so you should aim for around 20 different items. Each source should be followed by two-three sentences explaining how the source helps you with your planned project. This is not simply a short description of the source but rather a description of how the source contributes to your project.


Prospectus: This is a two-three page outline of your paper that describes the problem or question you are dealing with, the methodology and sources you plan to use and your tentative thesis. It should loosely follow standard outlining format. The prospectus is due October 3.  


Draft. A rough draft of the paper should be turned in to me by October 31. Please submit two copies, one blind for a classmate who will read and comment on your work.   


Critical evaluation of draft: You will turn in a critical evaluation of one of your colleague’s papers by November 14. This will be a “blind” review meaning you will not know who they are and they will not know you (this is a typical method of evaluation in the world of scholarship). You will write a response dealing with the following questions: Does the author make good use of evidence? Is the paper documented properly? What are the major strength’s and weaknesses? What are some specific recommendations you could make for improving the paper? This critical evaluation should be between 7 – 10 pages in length.


Final paper: 30%

Annotated Bibliography: 5%

Prospectus: 5%

Draft: 15%

Peer Evaluation: 10%

Oral Presentations


Major Presentation: Beginning TBA, each class period will be devoted to a student presentation based on your particular paper topic. You will be responsible for preparing and presenting a PowerPoint presentation that will be approximately one hour in length. Additional time will be spent for Q and A following the presentation.


Class participation: You will also be expected to contribute significantly to class discussion during other students’ presentations and during other class meetings


Major Presentation: 20%

Class Participation: 15%

Course Topics and Readings

During the course, I will periodically make specific readings available to you, either electronically or hard-copy. These will provide the basis for class discussion and, perhaps, give you some ideas for your research topic. You will be expected to have read these materials before the class meetings when they will be discussed. Your class participation evaluations will be particularly based on your preparation and ability to comment intelligently on the topic. Materials will be made available to you so as to provide sufficient time for you to read them before class.

APA Format

All of your writing assignments are expected to conform to the format established by the American Psychological Association (APA format). M. Plonsky's website at the University of Wisconsin - Steven's Point: http://www.uwsp.edu/psych/apa4b.htm gives you all the information that you will need to meet this requirement. Go to the "Research Reviews" portion of this site, as you will not be writing actual reports of research that you have conducted or proposed. All your format questions can be quickly addressed through your consultation of this material. Please do so…

Academic Dishonesty and Plagiarism

What can be said about this that you don't already know? Copying the language used by other researchers or students without appropriate referencing (see APA format regarding referencing) or claiming someone else's work as your own is plagiarism and is grounds for 1) failing the assignment, 2) dismissal from and failure of the course, and/or 3) dismissal from the university (see the PSU Undergraduate Handbook re: academic dishonesty). As I have been personally involved in implementing two of these three consequences for plagiarism in previous semesters, I assure you that I will not hesitate to do so again should the unfortunate situation arise. As a very wise professor of mine in graduate school was fond of saying, "You put down your own nickel and you take your own chances."

General Comments

Sometimes religion can be a rather sensitive issue. I can assure you that, while I will sometimes ask that you support your own personal beliefs with a coherent argument, it is never my intention to belittle your beliefs or demand that you believe (or, disbelieve) anything in particular. I am assuming that, because you decided to sign up for this seminar, you are comfortable discussing these issues. I look forward to what I hope will be an interesting and intellectually rewarding semester.