PSYCHOLOGY OF CONSCIOUSNESS
Psychology 358
Summer 2002


Download a Microsoft Word file of this syllabus

Instructor:  Victor A. Shamas, Ph.D.
Telephone:  520-621-7447 (message phone only)
e-mail:         vas@u.arizona.edu

Required:    Consciousness and Behavior by Benjamin Wallace & Leslie E. Fisher
                    Four Meditations, audio CD
                    Hypnosis, Relaxation, Biofeedback, audio CD

Course Overview

Psychology began as the study of human consciousness, but with the advent of behaviorism in the Twentieth Century, psychologists distanced themselves from the subject of consciousness.  Since the 1960’s, however, interest in consciousness research has slowly increased, largely because of the influence of consciousness-altering drugs and Eastern practices such as meditation and yoga.  Today, psychologists who study consciousness focus primarily on the distinction between conscious and unconscious phenomena, the relationship of brain and mind, and altered conditions of consciousness.

In this course, we will cover the following topics, drawing primarily on the Consciousness and Behavior textbook:

Unit 1:  Consciousness, Drugs & the Brain

This unit will begin with an overview of current theories of consciousness (Chapter 1).  We will then explore the physiological foundations of consciousness (Chapter 2) and the effects of consciousness-altering drugs (Chapter 3).

Unit 2:  Hypnosis, Biofeedback, and Meditation

In this unit, we will consider three common methods for altering consciousness:  hypnosis (Chapters 4), biofeedback (Chapter 5), and meditation (Chapter 6).

Unit 3:  Sleep, Sensory Deprivation and Parapsychology

This unit will examine the alterations of consciousness associated with sleep and dreams (Chapter 7) and with sensory deprivation (Chapter 8).  We will conclude the course with an overview of parapsychology and its implications for the study of consciousness (Chapter 9).

Course Structure

In the classroom, you have the following advantages:
1. You can ask the instructor questions and benefit from hearing what other students are asking.
2. You can discuss issues related to the course topic with the instructor as well as with your fellow students.
3. You can get immediate feedback from the instructor.
4. You can approach the instructor after class to clarify points of confusion.
5. You can meet with other students to study or socialize.

Correspondence courses offer a different set of benefits:
1. You can take these courses from anywhere in the world.
2. You have a detailed outline of the course material with clearly-defined lessons.
3. You can count on the tests being consistent with the material in the book.

Here is how I have chosen to integrate these benefits into our online course:

1. There are two online forums you will be using in this course, and you can find them all by clicking on the Forums link on the Psychology of Consciousness home page (http://www.webct.arizona.edu).  These are:  a) the Bulletin Board, where I will post announcements on a daily basis and where you can post anything related to the course, including questions about the material; and b) the Seminar, where you will be expected to post your contributions to the Focus Topic discussions each week (see Item 6 below).
2. Most of the assigned readings for the course are from the textbook, although a few are from online articles.  On most days, you will be expected to work through an assigned reading and to complete the lessons corresponding to that reading (The lessons can be found in the Study Guide, which is described in Item 5 below).  If you have questions about the material, post them in the Bulletin Board or send them to me via course e-mail (which you can access through the Mail  feature of the course site).  Either way, I will post my answers in the Bulletin Board for the benefit of all class members.  My policy is to treat all questions with respect and consideration; please feel free to ask about anything that is unclear to you.
3. To make the course material easier for you to learn, I have broken it down into three units and each of those units into 16 lessons.  There are usually about five lessons per chapter of material in the textbook.  Each of the three units includes a practice test after every five lessons.  The practice tests consist of five items that reflect the kinds of questions you will be asked on the actual exams.  You will find the correct answer for each question in an answer key at the bottom of the Study Guide.  These practice tests are purely for your benefit; you are not required to do them and I don’t want you to hand them in.

4. The sixteenth lesson in each unit will be taken from the Focus Topic readings (see Item 6 below) rather than the textbook.  Although I have assigned the Focus Topic readings primarily to stimulate discussion in the Seminar, you will also be expected to know specific material from these readings on the exams.  You can find these materialss by clicking on the Focus Topic Readings link, which is on the course homepage

5. Every lesson in this course consists of a set of Objectives and Key Terms (click on the Study Guide link from the course home page).  The exams will consist ONLY of questions that relate to these Objectives and Key Terms.  Here is my promise to you:  If you find a question on any of the exams that deals with material other than what you are expected to know through the Objectives and Key Terms, I will throw out that question.

6. In the Seminar, we will be discussing three Focus Topics central to the study of consciousness.  These are:  FOCUS TOPIC 1- The Concept of Consciousness; FOCUS TOPIC 2- The Psychological Unconscious; and FOCUS TOPIC 3-Alternative Theories of Consciousness.  Each Focus Topic will include readings which can be found online (click on the Focus Topics Readings link located on the course homepage).  Besides the readings, you will be expected to work through a series of interactive exercises contained on two audio CDs:  Four Meditations and Biofeedback, Hypnosis, & Progressive Relaxation.  You can buy these CDs by sending in a check for $23 ($20 for the CDs plus $3 for shipping) made out to the publisher, a local company called Visionary Tools.   I will collect these checks and make sure that the CDs are mailed out to you.  Please send your checks to:

Dr. Victor Shamas
Department of Psychology
University of Arizona
Tucson, AZ  85721.

If you are taking your exams in Tucson, you can also purchase the CDs for $20 on the date of the first midterm.

7. I will post a set of questions and seed comments for each Focus Topic on the following dates:

Focus Topic 1—6/1
Focus Topic 2—6/15
Focus Topic 3—6/22

You can access each of these seminar discussions by clicking on the Forums link located on the course homepage.  The discussions will be closed at 5pm on the following dates:

Focus Topic 1—6/14
Focus Topic 2—6/21
Focus Topic 3—6/28

You will be required to make at least two posting to each discussion, although I prefer that you get much more involved than that.  PLEASE NOTE:  ANY POSTINGS MADE AFTER 5PM ON THE DATES LISTED ABOVE WILL NOT COUNT TOWARDS YOUR GRADE.  Also note that these discussions are threaded, which means that you can reply to other people’s comments or generate new threads (i.e., raise new issues).  The last time I taught an online course, the seminar discussions were lively and informative.  Students engaged each other in a fascinating dialogue, asking questions and challenging each other in respectful and scholarly discussions.

8. From the course homepage, you can follow links that will let you check your course grades and your private mail from other members of the class, including myself.  Make sure you familiarize yourself with both of these features of the course website as soon as possible.

9. You will be taking three exams in this course.  If you are taking the exams outside of Tucson, you will need to make arrangements to find a proctor in your local area.  I will need to know the name and contact information for your proctor NO LATER THAN 5PM ON FRIDAY, MAY 31.  The proctor will be expected to administer each exam in an appropriate and fair manner and to send the exam back to me promptly.  After I have graded the exams, I will post the grades confidentially on the course website so that only you can access your grade online.  If you will be in Tucson for Summer Session, you may take the exams locally.  The TA for this course will proctor the exams at 12pm on the scheduled exam dates.  The exact location of these proctored exams will be announced before the beginning of Summer Session.

Grading Policy

Your grade will be based on the three multiple-choice exams and on your participation in the Seminar. Besides the textbook readings, you will be assigned a set of online readings related to each of the three Focus Topics. These readings can be found by following the Focus Topic Readings link on the course homepage.

You are required to make two postings to each of the three Seminar discussions.  These discussions will address important and controversial topics that are central to the study of consciousness; you should have little or no difficulty finding issues that interest you.  Make sure that you do the pertinent Focus Topic readings and work through the exercises on the CDs before you post to the Seminar.   This will raise the quality of the postings and will help you understand the issues being addressed.

You are required to take the three exams on the following dates:

Midterm 1:    Monday, June 10
Midterm 2:    Monday, June 17
Final Exam:  Friday, June 28

You can take the exams anytime on these test dates, depending on your schedule and the availability of a qualified proctor.  Only certain people are qualified to act as your proctor.  To locate a suitable proctor, contact one of the following offices:

School Superintendent
School Principal
School Counselor
Base Education Officer
Commanding Officer
College Testing Center
Independent Study Office
Library
County Extension Director

Besides getting written consent from the proctor, you must obtain the following information and submit it to me NO LATER THAN 5PM ON FRIDAY, MAY 31:

Proctor’s Name:
Proctor’s Title:
Proctor’s Business Address:(Including City, State and Zip Code)
Proctor’s Business Phone:
Proctor’s Fax Number:  (Optional)
Proctor’s E-mail Address: (Optional)

All completed exams should be sent to me:

Victor Shamas, Ph.D.
Department of Psychology
University of Arizona
Tucson, AZ  85721

There are a total of 150 points for this course, which are distributed as follows:

Midterm 1:   30 points
Midterm 2:   30 points
Final exam:   60 points
Seminar participation:  30 points
TOTAL   150 points

The exams are multiple-choice and each question has four choices.  Because the tests are computer-graded, you will need to bring a Number 2 pencil to the exams and to make sure that you fill in the accompanying bubble sheet according to the instructions that will be provided.  One point will be deducted for any bubble sheets that are filled out incorrectly. Each question is worth one point, and you can earn a possible 120 points on the exams.  On the final, 40 questions will cover new material (Unit 3) and the other 20 will be review  (Units 1 and 2).

Your grade will be based on the grade cutoffs shown below:

Grade   Score
   A        125
   B        100
   C         75
   D         50
   F       below 50

All of the exams are closed-book and closed-notes tests.  You will have one hour to complete each midterm and two hours for the final.  There are no make-up exams in this course.  If you fail to show up for an exam on a scheduled test date, you will be awarded zero points.  That is why you should drop this course if you are planning on taking your summer vacation before the end of the session.

There is no extra credit, and no grade of "incomplete" will be awarded.

You can earn up to 10 points for your two contributions to each of the three seminar discussions  (3weeks x 10points/week = 30 points).  You will be graded not only on the number of postings you make, but also on the quality of those postings.  Each of your postings should indicate that you have done the assigned readings and/or exercises related to the discussion and that you have given some thought to the issues being addressed. Your seminar postings must be made by 5pm on the following dates to count towards your grade:

Focus Topic 1:  Friday, June 14
Focus Topic 2:  Friday, June 21
Focus Topic 3:  Friday, June 28

Focus Topics

The Focus Topics are intended to stimulate your thoughts and opinions about issues related to the psychology of consciousness.  Below is a list of the Focus Topic readings for each week:

FOCUS TOPIC 1:  The Concept of Consciousness
 
“The Concept of Consciousness” by G. William Farthing
http://www.u.arizona.edu/~vas/concept.pdf

“The Stream of Consciousness” by William James
http://www.yorku.ca/dept/psych/classics/James/jimmy11.htm

“Mind and Body:  Rene Descartes to William James” by Robert Wozniak
http://serendip.brynmawr.edu/Mind/Table.html
 

FOCUS TOPIC 2:  The Psychological Unconscious

“The Psychological Unconscious” by John Kihlstrom
http://www.u.arizona.edu/~vas/psycunc.htm
 

FOCUS TOPIC 3:  Alternative Theories of Consciousness

“Does Psi Exist?” by Daryl Bem & Charles Honorton
http://www.u.arizona.edu/~vas/doespsi.pdf

“Lucidity Research, Past and Future” by Stephen LaBerge
  http://www.spiritweb.org/spirit/lucid-research.html

  “The Real Source of Creative Power” by Victor Shamas
  http://www.u.arizona.edu/~vas/source.htm

 

Course Schedule

Because this is an intensive course, you need to read about a chapter per day of your textbook.  I strongly encourage you to keep up with the readings so that you can understand the questions and issues being raised by your classmates and so that you can have enough time to digest the material prior to each exam.  At the same time, I want to emphasize that you can post any question dealing with any reading on any day of the session.  Your questions and thoughts about the material are always welcome.  But we all will get more out of the course if everyone keeps to the following schedule.

6/3-6/14: FOCUS TOPIC 1
6/3- Introduction/Course Logistics
6/4- CH.1
6/5- CH.2
6/6- CH.3
6/7- REVIEW

6/10- UNIT 1 MIDTERM
6/11- CH.4
6/12- CH.5
6/13- CH.6
6/14- REVIEW
 FOCUS TOPIC 1 DISCUSSION CLOSES AT 5PM

6/15-6/21: FOCUS TOPIC 2
6/17- UNIT 2 MIDTERM
6/18- No New Material
6/19- No New Material
6/20- No New Material
6/21- FOCUS TOPIC 2 DISCUSSION CLOSES AT 5PM

6/22-6/28: FOCUS TOPIC 2
6/24- CH.7
6/25- CH.8
6/26- CH.9
6/27- REVIEW
6/28- FINAL EXAM
FOCUS TOPIC 3 DISCUSSION CLOSES AT 5PM
 
 

Discussion Guidelines

Here are five guidelines that will help make the Seminar discussions a productive and enjoyable learning experience:

1.  Always treat the other discussion participants with complete respect.  It’s easy to be a little rude to someone over the Internet, but I want you to avoid letting that happen.  Consider the perspectives of other people without judging, advising or critiquing their comments.  And never attack someone personally or mock them, no matter how much you may disagree with what they have to say.

2.  Be prepared.  Make sure you do the readings and exercises for each Focus Topic discussion before you post anything to the Seminar.

3.  Don't censor yourself.  If you have ideas, express them in a respectful manner.  The more people we have participating actively in the Seminar, the more interesting it will be.

4.  Cultivate the discussion.  Ask questions of other people and genuinely try to understand their position.  Also, use a light touch to keep the discussion on-track.  Don't feel that you have to answer every question yourself or to give unsolicited advice to the other group members about their personal problems.  Nothing kills a discussion faster.

5.  Treat each person in the discussion as your teacher.  You can always benefit from the experience and the insight gained by your peers.  Take the time to understand what they're saying.
 

Your Instructor

Victor Shamas received his Ph.D. in Cognitive Psychology from the University of Arizona in 1994 and his MS in Chemistry from the University of California, Santa Cruz in 1984.  He has taught Introduction to Psychology, Psychological Measurement and Statistics, Child Development, Psychology of Love and Spirituality, Research Methods, Biopsychology, Cognitive Psychology, Sensation and Perception, Cognitive Development, Personality, Psychology of Consciousness, Social Psychology, Industrial-Organizational Psychology,  Abnormal Psychology, Health Psychology, Psychology of Death and Loss, Adult Development and Aging, Thinking Reasoning and Problem-Solving, and Sleep and Sleep Disorders.  He has been a member of the faculty at The Evergreen State College, St. Martin’s College, Green River Community College, and the University of Arizona.

Dr. Shamas has a strong commitment to interdisciplinary education and has taught courses in the fields of psychology, chemistry, natural history, counseling, and communications.  In 1986, he was named the first Master Learner in the State of Washington as part of a program coordinated by the Washington Center for the Advancement of Undergraduate Education.  He has been the recipient of research fellowships from the National Science Foundation and the McDonnell-Pew Foundation.  His research focuses on the role of consciousness in the creative process.

Besides his empirical work, he has recently co-authored theoretical papers in Behavioral and Brain Sciences and in the following edited volumes:  Implicit Memory and Metacognition by Lynne Reder (1996), Implicit Cognition by Geoffrey Underwood (1996), and Contemporary Hypnosis Research by Erika Fromm and Michael Nash (1992).  Dr. Shamas is currently completing his first book, entitled The Hidden Creator.  He is also the Director of Visualizing Addiction, an educational project sponsored by a grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
 

Your Textbook

The textbook for this course is Consciousness and Behavior by Benjamin Wallace & Leslie E. Fisher, published in 1999 by Allyn & Bacon (ISBN 0-205-27701-2).  All readings listed in the course outline are either from this book or from one of the online readings described in the “Focus Topics” section above.

Also required are the two audio CDs: Four Meditations and Hypnosis, Relaxation, Biofeedback.  To obtain these CDs, bring a $20 check to the first midterm or send your check to:  Dr. Victor Shamas, Department of Psychology, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ  85721.  All checks should be payable to “Visionary Tools.”  If you want your CDs mailed to you, add $3 for postage.

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