PS390 Selected Topics in Psychology:

for S1F 2013

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PS 390 Selected Topics in Psychology:


S1F 2013 QU


Mason, Teresa L.


Associate Professor


PhD in Developmental Psychology from George Mason University

Office Location


Office Hours

By Appointment

Daytime Phone


Other Phone



Semester Dates

January 14 - March 10

Class Days


Class Time

5:30 - 10:50 PM


PS101 or permission of the instructor

Credit Hours


Hickey, E.W. (2013). Serial murderers and their victims (6th ed.).  Belmont, CA: Cengage Learning ISBN:9781133049708 

Textbooks can be purchased through the MBS bookstore

Additional Resources:

McAfee Memorial Library - Online information, links, electronic databases and the Online catalog. Contact the library for further assistance via email or at 800-270-4347.
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Course Description:
PS 390 Selected Topics in Psychology: Intensive study of an area of psychology selected by the instructor on the basis of student need or current interest.  Prerequisite: PS 101 or permission of the instructor.

Educational Philosophy:
I believe the ideal classroom is one where students add their own ideas to discussions, debate and challenge their fellow students, and actively think through the concepts being discussed. I learn so much from my students and I know they learn a lot from each other as well.

  Instructor Learning Outcomes

  1. Students will demonstrate an understanding of the major psychological constructs that are important to serial killing and mass murder
  2. Students will develop an appreciation for the psychological disorders that serial killers/mass murderers often present with
  3. Identify and label psychological themes as they appear in relation to serial killers/mass murderers
  4. Explain the impact that serial killing/mass murder can have on a person and their family
  5. Understand the course of treatment that applies to serial killers/mass murderers as well as assessment procedures
  6. Demonstrate high quality written and/oral communication skills through interaction with other students and the instructor utilizing correct psychological terms and concepts
Class Assessment:
1. Paper on Serial Murderer.
Each student will select 1 serial killer or mass murderer and will write a paper that analyzes the person in terms of the information presented in class.  Inclue a history of the person's crimes and punishment; describe likely psychological disorder; the development of their propensity to kill. Finally, discuss the possibility of preventing these crimes(often times there are a series of warning signs before killing commences) including any psychological treatment; note any potential shortcomings with possible treatment plans.

Possible selections include, but are not limited to:

Columbine High School Massacre
Mark Barton
irginia Tech
he Green River Killer
Josef Mengele
Jeffrey Dahmer
Ted Bundy
Westley Allan Dodd
Aileen Wuornos

These people have been selected because there is a great deal of video and written material regarding their crimes available as well as numerous other written documents and interviews.  You may seek permission to study a person who is not on the list, as there are many more that could be worthy subjects. 

Papers should be double-spaced, 12-point font, and in APA style. The paper will be a minimum of 6-8 pages.  The paper should include at least six references. The paper is worth 20% of your overall grade. 

2. Mid-term and Final Exams: Students will complete two examinations.

3. In-class assignments: These will be designed to provide you with the opportunity to work in groups and apply the concepts we are learning about.  An example is the use of case studies to understand a theoretical approach.
4. Out-of-class assignments: Throughout the term you will be asked to complete short written exercises that will help you learn the concepts and prepare for the exams.

5. Modules:You must complete 4 modules.  Any additional modules completed will be worth 2 points that will be added onto your mid-term or final exam point total (not percentage) for a maximum of 4 points.

The final course grade will be determined by the following measurements:

1. Paper on Serial Murderer = 20%

2. Midterm and Final Examination = 55%

3. In-class Assignments, Participation, and Group Work = 10%

4. Out-of-class Assignments = 10%

5. Modules = 5%

Final course grading scale: 90-100 = A,  80-89 = B,  70-79 = C, 60-69 = D, 60 and below = F


Late Submission of Course Materials:
If an assignment is due on a night that the student is not present, it is the student's responsibility to get the assignment to the instructor on the due date. Five points will be deducted each day an assignment is late. Assignments will not be accepted after three days past the due date without prior approval from the instructor.

Classroom Rules of Conduct:

  • Computers are now an integral part of our educational experience; you will be required to have access to the Internet on a regular basis. Use of eCompanion at is required for this course.
  • Class participation is expected and will form a part of the final grade.
  • Students are expected to attend all classes and be on time.
  • Students are required to read all material assigned prior to class and apply the material during class discussions, activities, and exercises.
  • Students are responsible for providing the instructor with justification for an excused absence, either prior to or immediately after the absence.
  • Students are responsible for planning ahead and meeting deadlines.
  • Students will conduct themselves in a professional manner at all times.
  • Students are expected to respect other students' opinions and values, even if they disagree with those opinions and values.
  • There should only be one person talking at a time. Side bar conversations will not be tolerated.
  • Cell phone use during class is not permitted. If you must have your cell phone, please put it on vibrate and take calls in the hallway. No texting during class.

Course Topic/Dates/Assignments:

Class Meeting Schedule



Assignments Due and Exams


Meeting 1 
16 Jan

Ch. 1&2: Intro and Development of Monsters


Meeting 2 
23 Jan

Ch. 3&4: Psycho-Genetics and Social Construction


Serial Killer must be chosen for paper

Module 1: TBD

Meeting 3 
30 Jan

Ch. 5: Sexual Predators

Lecture and Group Work

Assignment 1

Module 2: TBD

Meeting 4 
 6 Feb

Ch. 6&7: Healthcare and Male Murderers

Lecture and Group Work


Module 3: TBD

Meeting 5 
13 Feb

Ch. 8&9: Team and Female Murderers

Lecture and Group Work

Assignment 2

Module 4: TBD

Meeting 6 
20 Feb

Ch. 10&11: Victims and Global

Lecture and Group Work

Assignment 3

Module 5: TBD

Meeting 7 
27 Feb

Ch. 12: Responding to Serial Killers

Lecture and Group Work

Paper Due

Module 6: TBD

Meeting 8 
 06 March


Module 7: TBD

Academic Honesty:
Academic integrity is the foundation of the academic community. Because each student has the primary responsibility for being academically honest, students are advised to read and understand all sections of this policy relating to standards of conduct and academic life. Park University students and faculty members are encouraged to take advantage of the University resources available for learning about academic honesty ( or Park University 2011-2012 Undergraduate Catalog Page 95-96

Plagiarism involves the use of quotations without quotation marks, the use of quotations without indication of the source, the use of another's idea without acknowledging the source, the submission of a paper, laboratory report, project, or class assignment (any portion of such) prepared by another person, or incorrect paraphrasing. from Park University 2011-2012 Undergraduate Catalog Page 95

Attendance Policy:
Instructors are required to maintain attendance records and to report absences via the online attendance reporting system.

  1. The instructor may excuse absences for valid reasons, but missed work must be made up within the semester/term of enrollment.
  2. Work missed through unexcused absences must also be made up within the semester/term of enrollment, but unexcused absences may carry further penalties.
  3. In the event of two consecutive weeks of unexcused absences in a semester/term of enrollment, the student will be administratively withdrawn, resulting in a grade of "F".
  4. A "Contract for Incomplete" will not be issued to a student who has unexcused or excessive absences recorded for a course.
  5. Students receiving Military Tuition Assistance or Veterans Administration educational benefits must not exceed three unexcused absences in the semester/term of enrollment. Excessive absences will be reported to the appropriate agency and may result in a monetary penalty to the student.
  6. Report of a "F" grade (attendance or academic) resulting from excessive absence for those students who are receiving financial assistance from agencies not mentioned in item 5 above will be reported to the appropriate agency.

Park University 2011-2012 Undergraduate Catalog Page 98

Disability Guidelines:
Park University is committed to meeting the needs of all students that meet the criteria for special assistance. These guidelines are designed to supply directions to students concerning the information necessary to accomplish this goal. It is Park University's policy to comply fully with federal and state law, including Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, regarding students with disabilities. In the case of any inconsistency between these guidelines and federal and/or state law, the provisions of the law will apply. Additional information concerning Park University's policies and procedures related to disability can be found on the Park University web page: .


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Last Updated:1/3/2013 2:32:59 PM