Preparing Professionals for Changing Educational Contexts

Department of Educational Psychology

University of Nevada, Las Vegas


EPY 303:  EDUCATIONAL PSYCHOLOGY (Distance Education)

Fall, 2003

Dr. Michael Nussbaum




This course applies psychological principles to issues that teachers encounter in the classroom, specifically issues related to student learning, development, motivation, and behavior management.  The course is primarily intended for individuals who are preparing to be teachers.  It is a 4-credit course.  Prerequisites:  PSY 101 (preferable), SOC 101, or ANT 101, and completion of at least 45 credits.


This is a distance education course that will use a combination of lectures and discussions.  Because both of these (as well as exams) will be delivered over the Web, you will need to use a computer on a daily basis with access to the Internet. The computer should contain Internet Explorer (version 6.0 or later) or Netscape (version 6.2.3 or later) and, for viewing certain videoclips, RealPlayer (basic) version 8.  Possession of Acrobat Reader 4.0. is optional but desirable.  Free downloads of these tools and an explanation of the technical requirements of the course are further explained at 


To complete this course, you will need a WEB-CT account.  The University is using a new edition of WEB-CT (“campus edition”) and the new procedure is that all registered students will automatically be given an account (the distance education office will distribute details of how to access WEB-CT.  The new Web address is  Make sure this course appears on your list of WEB-CT courses:  EPY 303 210 (or EPY 303 290 for out-of-state students).  We will also use WEB-CT to deliver lectures, distribute some supplementary materials, and conduct small- and large-group discussions.




Technical problems with WEB-CT:                        895-0761 (student help desk)



General information on distance education:               Instructor's phone:                                                                                                              895-2665.


For instructional questions, you may contact the instructor.  The best way to reach me is through WEB-CT private mail.  (Click on private mail, compose, browse, instructor.)  If this does not work, I may also be contacted by phone (895-2665).

Office hours:  Th 3-5 pm.  You may also set up a phone appointment or WEB-CT chat appointment if you cannot make it to campus.

TIMELINESS:  Taking a distance education course is a lot different than taking a regular face-to-face course.  There are no class sessions to attend where I will tell you what to do next; instead, the directions are all in the syllabus.   It is therefore important to follow the syllabus religiously, completing each task by the assigned due date.  For you convenience, these tasks are also listed in the course content section of WEB-CT.  Please make a concerted effort to keep up; if you fall behind, it will be difficult to catch up.  It is in fact a good idea to view lectures, complete reading, etc., early if at all possible.  Exams should be completed by the appropriate due date.  You will also need to set aside time before each exam to study.






Textbook:  Eggen, P., & Kauchak, D. (1999).  Educational psychology:  Windows on classrooms (6th ed, with CD-ROM).  Available from the UNLV bookstore.


Course reader (collection of articles).  Available from the UNLV bookstore.  Additional materials will be distributed over WEB-CT.


Recommended:  PowerPoint slides (contains slides from lectures), will soon be available from the WEB-CT bulletin board if you have PowerPoint.  (I recommend printing them out in “handout mode.”)  For all students (including those without access to PowerPoint), lecture outlines are available in the course content section of WEB-CT.



By the end of the course, you should have acquired the following knowledge, skills, and dispositions.


Knowledge of….

1.      development, including (a) the major milestones in human development, and (b) different explanations for these milestones (as applied to cognitive, psychosocial, and moral development).

  1. major parenting styles and the role of parents in child development.
  2. the major principles of cognitive, social cognitive, and behavioral psychology and the relevance to teaching and learning.
  3. approaches for teaching concepts and learning strategies.
  4. the factors that contribute to the transfer of learning.
  5. different approaches for motivating students, including those related to intrinsic motivation, self-efficacy, attributions, and self-worth.
  6. the various dimensions of students’ self-concept and methods for enhancing it.
  7. various instructional delivery systems and the underlying psychological principles.


Prerequisite knowledge for the following skills:

  1. Classroom management.
  2. Lectures and direct instruction.
  3. Conducting classroom and electronic discussions.


1.      The ability to participate effectively in small-group and large-group electronic discussions.

2.      Ability to apply psychological concepts to practical situations through, for example, case analysis skills and analysis of lesson plans.

3.      Ability to use study skills in teaching and learning.



1.      Dispositions to think critically, consider different points of view, and an appreciation of the complex and uncertain nature of knowledge.

2.      A desire to understand complex issues and ideas in-depth.



Students will demonstrate their knowledge, skills, and dispositions in the following ways:

1.   Engaging in thoughtful bulletin board discussions regarding issues of professional practice and the role of parents and effective parenting;

2.   Responding to application questions requiring comprehension of course concepts;

3.   Preparing written analyses of teaching cases regarding motivation and pedagogy.



This course covers a large amount of material in a short amount of time.  It is therefore very important that you keep up with the assigned readings, lectures, and activities.  Please follow strictly the due dates outlines in the courses schedule.  The major requirements for the course are:


1.      Timely completion of assigned readings, lectures, and activities.  Follow the syllabus carefully.  (The course content section in WEB-CT is organized just like the syllabus, so if you go through the course content section step-by-step, observing the due dates carefully, you should do fine.)

2.      Participation in electronic discussions.  You will periodically be asked to participate in an electronic discussion.  Some discussions will involve the whole class; others will involve a small-discussion group.  (You will be assigned to a small group with three other students).

a.      For small-group discussions, go to the small-group forum on the bulletin board.  For each discussion, you must write at least two notes (one should be a response to someone else’s note).  You are also encouraged to bring-up new issues and questions.  Groups may be required to produce a final product (for example, answers to a series of questions).

You must volunteer to summarize your small-group’s answers at least once.

b.      For whole-class discussion, you should make at least two contributions during the course (your initial introduction does not count).  The contributions should add-on to the discussion in a meaningful and coherent way, typically by responding to what the last couple of students have said.  It is okay to “second” and add-on to someone else point, but it is not useful to have participants repeat the same point over and over again.  You are also encouraged to respectfully disagree with your classmates or the instructor, if you provide reasons for your disagreement.

c.      At the end of the course, you will be asked to provide the instructor with three examples of “good” contributions to a small-group or whole-class discussion.  A good contribution would be an insightful comment, idea, or question you raised.


4.      Submission of exercises on moral development from the textbook’s CD-ROM, and two individually written case analyses (on "Tim" & "Judy Holmquist”).


5.      Completion of 4 multiple-choice exams over WEB-CT and one quiz.  The exams will not be cumulative (the final will, however, cover motivation as well as effective teaching).


ASSESSMENT/EVALUATION:  Grades will be based on the following:

Exams (13% each)                        52%

Quiz (10%)                        10%

Completion of learning activities:

Minimum participation in discussions       10%*

Completion of small-group and CD-Rom assignments        5%*

Performance assessments:

Quality participation in discussions assignment                        15%

Individual case analyses (4% each)                   8%

*Generally graded credit-no-credit.  Full points will be awarded unless there is a serious deficiency.  A penalty of up to 10% may be assessed for failure to complete all work in a timely manner.


STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES:  If you have a documented disability that may require assistance, you need to go to the Disability Resource Center (DRC) for coordination of your academic accommodations.  The DRC is located in the Reynolds Student Services Complex, Rm. 1387.  The DRC phone is 895-0866 or TDD 895-0652.

USE OF WORK SAMPLES:  Assignments completed for this course may be used as evidence of candidate

learning in national, regional and state accreditation reports of COE programs.  Names and other identifying elements of all assignments will be removed before being included in any report.  Students who do not wish their work to be used for accreditation purposes must inform the instructor in writing by the end of late registration.  Your participation and cooperation in the review of COE programs is appreciated.  Thank you.





This assignment will be completed at the end of the course, but you should keep the scoring criteria in mind when writing the discussion notes (both for your small group and during the whole-class discussions).


For the assignment, you will need to select three really good discussion notes that you wrote during the course.  You will also need to write a page of text explaining why you consider these notes “good,” especially in regards to moving the discussions forward and making the discussions more productive.


A strong note will have many if not most of the following characteristics:


·        Original, bringing up a point that was not brought up before.

·        Insightful.

·        Brings in concepts from the readings or lectures.

·        Responds to one of the last few notes posted by students, helping to develop a “discussion thread” in some depth (rather than just responding to the initial question).

·        Indicates points of disagreement with a previous note, in addition to points of agreement.

·        Makes a well-reasoned argument.

·        Is well organized.  If several points are made, they are put in separate paragraphs.

·        Raises an important question for further discussion.




Exceeds Target.  Three exceptionally strong notes, having most of the characteristics listed above.  The text accompanying the notes explains in detail why each note is strong.

Target.  One strong note, and one moderately strong note (making a good point, and having at least one of the characteristics noted above).  The third note is not strong, but makes a solid point.

Unsatisfactory.   Writing is unclear and not to the point; tends to ramble.  The point of several of the notes is unclear and vague.  The assignment is incomplete (only two notes are included, or there is no accompanying text explaining why the note is good).



1.   Stages:  Piaget & Erikson

On or before August 27th (Wednesday):

Familiarize yourself with how to use WEB-CT.  (It's pretty easy to figure out, but if you desire, you may request a videotape on WEB-CT from the distance ed. office.)

Read syllabus, welcome letter, & the introductions section in WEB-CT course content.  Place note introducing yourself in introductions topic of bulletin board.

Get head start on lectures and readings for 8/31 if you plan to be gone for Labor Day.


On or before August 31st (Sunday):

Lecture:  View lecture #1 on stage theories (in WEB-CT, video lectures).

Reading:  Read textbook pp. 33-55:  Piaget’s stages.

View case page, “Piaget & Conservation” (in course content section of WEB-CT).

View case page, “Erikson’s Stages of Development” (in course content section).

Textbook pp. 89-95 Erikson.


2.   Moral Development/Nonstage concepts

On or before September 3 (Wednesday)

Reading:  Read textbook pp. 101-112:  Development of morality.

Assignment:  View textbook CD:  Assessing moral development (slides 1-25, ignore rest).  To start, click on simswiln.exe.  Save answers, send to me as a text file by Thursday, noon, in private mail.  If it doesn’t work, see me for a different assig.


On or before September 7 (Sunday):

Lecture:  View lecture #2 nonstage concepts (in WEB-CT, video lectures)

Reading:  Read Karen Johnson case in textbook, pp. 74-76. 

View case pages, “Example of Assimilation” and “Scaffolding”

Textbook, pp. 55-63…Vygotsky

Recommended reading:  textbook pp. 37-39 assimilation/accommodation.


3.      Parenting/EXAM

On or before September 9 (Tuesday)

Reading:  Read textbook, pp. 79-89 Personal & social development/parenting

Read Shure (in reader), “Kids who behave differently, think differently/4 styles of parenting” Raising a thinking preteen.

Discussion:  Start small-group discussion notes (on parenting):  Think about either Baumrind’s or Shure’s list of parenting styles.  As a child, which parenting styles did your experience the most, and how do you think it affected you?  (Write at least one note and place on the bulletin board.)


On or before September 10 (Wednesday):   Finish small-group discussion (write at least a second note reacting to anything others have written).

On or before Sept. 11 (Thursday)-start studying for next exam.


Exam #1 available Friday  9 am – Saturday 4 pm.


4.  Individual Differences (Ch 4)


On or before Sept. 17 (Wednesday)

Reading:  Read textbook, Ch 4 (pp. 117-157).

Read case page in WEB-CT on multiple intelligences

Read Multiple intelligences:


On or before Sept. 18 (Thursday)

Start small-group discussion:  Should students be grouped by "learning style"?  See course content for full question.  (Write at least one note). 


On or before Sept. 19 (Friday).

--Finish small-group discussion on grouping students.  (Write at least a second note reacting to anything others have written.)  One member of the group should volunteer to summarize your conclusions and to place a summary note on the small-group bulletin board by Saturday, midnight.  (Remember, everyone must volunteer to summarize at least once, and there are a limited number of opportunities, so don’t be shy about volunteering.)

--Whole-Class Discussion:  What are the characteristics of an ideal family environment that supports learning?  What does the research on SES suggest (pp. 130-132)?



5.  Behaviorism & Social Cognitive (Ch 6)


On or before Sept. 22 (Monday)

Lecture #3, “Behaviorism & Social Cognitive Theory” (in video lectures)

Reading: Textbook, pp. 200-207.


On or before Sept. 23 (Tuesday)

Readings:   behavior modification (WEB-CT)

Also read textbook, pp. 207-11, 221-227.


On or before Sept. 24 (Wednesday)

Individual assignment:  Prepare written answers to the questions I placed in the course content section regarding the Tim case (p. 195 of text)--send to me by Wednesday, midnight, through private mail (paste into a private mail note).


6.  Behaviorism/Social Cognitive Cont./EXAM


On or before Sept. 25 (Thursday)

Reading:  Read case page on token economies

Read page on Bobo doll (

Small-group discussion:  Does TV viewing make children more violent (post minimum of one note by Thursday, midnight).  Post second note reacting to at least one other note by Saturday, midnight.  One person should volunteer to summarize the main points of the discussion and post to the small-group bulletin board by Sunday, midnight.


On or before Sept. 28 (Sunday)

Videoclip:  View videoclip on token economies.

Reading on classical conditioning (WEB-CT)

Textbook, pp. 196-199.

Additional recommended reading:  Textbook (Ch 6)


Small-Group Discussion:  Exercise on discussing science problems and constructing understanding.  Directions will be posted in WEB-CT.  It is important that you follow the directions carefully.  (The exercise is not directly related to behaviorism, but more related to cognitive views of learning, which we will study next.)


On or before Oct. 1 (Wednesay)—start studying for next exam.


Exam #2 available Friday 9 am – Saturday 4 pm.

7.  Cognitive Views of Learning (Ch 7)

On or before Oct. 7 (Tuesday)

Obtain the information-processing handout (in WEB-CT course content section)

Lecture:  #4 information processing (in WEB-CT, video lectures)

Reading:  Human memory:  recall.  Go to:

Textbook, David Shelton case (pp. 235-36, plus 243-45, 251-54)

Reader:  Understanding cognitive views of learning, part 1.

Textbook pp. 237-273…information processing.

Additional reading (optional but recommended):

      check out

      All of Chapter 7 (textbook)


On or before Oct. 8 (Wednesday)

Small-group discussion and assignment, Sue Southham case (answer questions 1-4 on p. 275).  Jot down your individual answers on a piece of paper.

Everyone should post their answers to one of these questions to their small-group discussion forum.  Take one someone else hasn't answered. (due Wed, 12pm)

Write a second note adding onto the responses of your other group members by Friday, midnight.

One member of group should volunteer to summarize group’s answers and post to their small-group discussion area.  (Everyone must volunteer to summarize at least once during the course).


On or before Oct. 9 (Thursday).  Practice for “quality participation” assignment.  Review the scoring rubric on page 5 of the syllabus.  Also review the discussion notes that you have written so far (use the search function on the bulletin board, set filter to name, and enter your name).  Write me a private mail note explaining why it’s strong (with the discussion note attached).  Also explain where you could improve in making the discussions more productive (set a short-term goal for yourself).


On or before Oct. 12 (Sunday)

Read textbook, on constructivism (Ch 8, pp. 279-309.)

Whole-class discussion on constructivism (specific question is in the course content section of WEB-CT).

Small-group discussion:  to be announced.


8.  Complex Cognitive Processes (Ch 9)

On or before Oct. 15 (Wednesday):

Reading:  textbook on problem solving (pps. 311-312, 319-330).

Small-group discussion exercise:  (questions on above reading to be posted).

      Post first note by Wed. Oct. 15th (midnight)

      Post second note by Thursday, Oct. 16th (midnight)

On or before Fri.  Oct. 17 (or Sunday, Oct. 19)

Lecture:  #5 on transfer and learning strategies (in WEB-CT, video lectures)

Reading:  View case page on situated cognition

View videoclip on anchored instruction (Jasper program) (and text pps. 328-29)


On or before Oct. 19 (Sunday)

Reading:   “teaching concepts, skills, and strategies” (in WEB-CT course content)

Read textbook (…concept learning…mapping, pp. 312-319).

View case page, “concept mapping”

Reader, article #1, part 2 of “Understanding cognitive views of learning”

Textbook pp. 338-343…transfer.

Additional reading (optional but recommended):  Creative minds (reader).


9.  Strategy Instruction (Ch 8)/EXAM

On or before Oct. 21 (Tuesday)

Reading:   textbook (strategy instruction, pps. 330-338)

Read textbook (reading instruction, pps. 362-370)


Whole-class discussion:  Is there much strategy instruction in schools?  How come?


On or before Oct. 22 (Wed.)—start studying for next exam.


Exam #3 available friday 9 am – Saturday 4 pm.




10.  Increasing Learner Motivation (Ch 10)

On or before Oct. 28 (Tuesday)

Lecture #6 motivation (in WEB-CT, video lectures)

Reading:  Read Kathy Brewster case, textbook, pp. 349, 356, 369-71, 

Whole-class discussion:  Can you identify each of the “3 Cs” in this case?


On or before Oct. 29 (Wednesday)

Reading:  View case page, “Self-efficacy and positive self-talk”

Read Praise that doesn't demean, criticism that doesn't wound (in reader)

Read "Developing motivation and self-confidence in art" (in reader).

On or before Nov. 1 (Saturday)

Reading:  Textbook (pps. 361-373 attribution and goal theory)

Read "profiles of motivational problems" (in reader).

Start small-group assignment on reading—questions to be posted.

      --post a note on your assigned student by Saturday, midnight.

      --post a note with your ideas on the summary questions by Monday, midnight.

      --1 person should write final summary, post to small group by Tuesday, midnight.

11.  Motivation (cont.)/QUIZ

On or before Nov. 4 (Tuesday)


Read textbook, (Ch 11,  pp. 387-423)…motivation model

Videoclip:  View videoclip on school climate--Why These Kids Love School?

Whole-class discussion:  How should schools improve self-esteem and/or self-concept?  Is competition healthy or detrimental? 


On or before November 5th (Wednesday):

Small-group discussion:  Lampkin case.  Work through the questions on p. 422, and post an answer to one of the questions (one no one else has answered)
 by Wednesday, midnight.  Write second, follow-up note, adding to at least one other note, by Thursday, midnight.

Videoclip: View videoclip, “self-concept” (in WEB-CT)

Reading:  textbook, pp. 95-100 on self-concept, pp. 378-79 on self-worth.


On or before November 6th (Thursday)—finish small-group discussion (see 11/6).

Start studying for quiz.


quiz available Friday 9 am – saturday 4 pm.




12.  Instructional Planning & Effective Teaching Skills (Ch 13)

On or before Nov. 12th (Wednesday)

Lecture:   #7 direct instruction and lecturing (in WEB-CT video lectures)

Reading:   Ch 13 (pp. 461-486); review pp. 263-272.


On or before Nov. 16 (Sunday)

Reading:  Read the Judy Holmquist case (pp. 487-489).

Individual assignment:  answer questions 1, 2, 3, & 4 in textbook, p. 489.  Due Sunday, midnight..  Send to me through private mail.

13.  Discussion as a Teaching Technique      


On or before Nov. 18th (Tuesday)

Reading:  Read Ken Kelly case (in reader, case 10).

Start small-group discussion:  Reflect on the Ken Kelly case.  Which approach (teacher- or learner-centered) is best for motivating students and teaching critical thinking?  Which points of Ken’s do you agree with?  Which of Sybil’s?

--At least one note from each person should be made by Tuesday, midnight.

--A second note—responding to any comments made by others—should be placed on bulletin board by Wednesday, midnight.

(One person in group should volunteer to summarize the group’s main conclusions in a short paragraph and place on the WEB-CT bulletin board.)  Due Thursday midnight.

On or before Nov. 20th (Thursday)

Lecture:  #8 on discussions

Reading:  textbook, pps. 296-98.

Whole-class discussion:  Reflecting on the nature of our WEB-CT discussions.

Major Assignment:  Start discussion note assignment.  Due Sunday, midnight. Send to me (via private mail) 3 examples of “good” contributions you made to small-group or whole-class discussions.  Please explain (with one page of text) why you consider these contributions to be “good” in making the discussions more productive.  (Refer to the characteristics of a strong note on the scoring rubric on page 5 of this syllabus.)  Attach copies of the 3 notes to your submission.

On or before Nov. 23rd (Sunday)--discussion note assignment due.


14.  Cooperative Learning        


On or before Nov. 26th (Wednesday, or do the reading over the break):

Reading:  Read textbook, pp. 298-304.

Read "Complex instruction: equity in coop. learning classrooms" (reader)

Read "Principles of a principled curriculum" (reader)


Thanksgiving break (Th Nov 27 - Sun. Nov. 30)


15.  Final Assignment and Review

On or before December 1 (Monday):

Assignment:  Start lesson plan assignment (given in course content section)

      Post assignment to your small-group discussion area by Wednesday, midnight.

      Post a second note, reacting and elaborating on the other notes, by Friday, midnight.


Between December 1 (Monday) and December 7 (Sunday)

Due December 7 (midnight)-- Complete course evaluation--required of all students.  Click on the course evaluation icon on the course home page.

Start studying for final exam!!




Available Tuesday, Dec. 9 (9 am) -- Wednesday Dec. 10 (midnight).

Emphasizes Unit 4, but will also sample Unit 3.