Critical Thinking in Psychology

Course Details

Course Number
PSYC 4303
Section Number
PSYC 4303
Fall 2014
Prothro-Yeager Hall
Classroom Number
Days & Times


Critical Thinking in Psychology

PSYC 4303-101

Fall, 2014


Professor:  Paul C. Guthrie, Ph.D.

Office:  O-113

Office Hours: 10:00 – 12:00, 1:00 – 2:30, MW; 9:00 – 11:00, 1:00 – 2:30, TR

Phone:  397-4178


Class Time:  9:00 – 9:50, MWF                                            

Location:  PY 101




There is no text for this class. I will send you readings as needed.


Course Objectives: This course in intended to be an introduction to the process of critical thinking, and the application of this method to some of the more interesting and controversial topics in psychology.


Course Description:  Material will be presented in the form of class lectures and discussion, as well as reading assignments. The first part of the semester will undoubtedly be weighted toward lecture, but it is my hope that class discussion will occur throughout the semester. We are going to spend some time learning about the definition and process of critical thinking, then we are going to apply those processes to increasingly complex topics. Throughout the semester, there will be a focus on applying critical thinking to a number of controversial issues relevant to contemporary psychology.

A major portion of your grade in this class will be based on your semester project, which will consist of creating and presenting a poster demonstrating application of critical thinking skills. Projects have to be approved by Dr. Guthrie.

In addition to the project, students are required to keep a journal, in which newspaper, magazine, or journal articles are to be analyzed critically. Journals are to be brought to class, where they may serve as sources of discussion. Journals will be turned in for grading on the last Friday of every month (9/26, 10/31, and 12/5).


There will be four exams, including the final. Exams may include some multiple-choice questions, but will primarily consist of essay questions.



Tentative Reading and Exam Schedule


(8/25 – 9/15) Introduction to Critical Thinking

            No class on 9/1

            Exam I on 9/15


(9/17 – 10/10) Natural Barriers to Critical Thinking

            Journal Assignment #1 due 9/26

            Exam II on 10/10


(10/13 – 11/7) External Barriers to Critical Thinking

            Journal Assignment #2 due 10/31

            Exam III on 11/7


(11/10 – 12/5) Critical Thinking in Science (and Psychology, in particular)

            No class on 11/14 or

            Journal Assignment #3 due 12/5


Final Exam: Monday, 12/8 at 8:00 – 10:00


Grades:  Exams                                   (4 @ 100 points each)             A = 562 - 625  points                 Journal                                 (3 @ 25 points each)               B = 500 - 561 points

               Project                                  (100 points)                             C = 437 - 499 points

               Class Participation               (50 points)                               D = 375 - 436 points                                                                                                               F = < 375 points                     

Attendance Policy:  Students are allowed three (3) absences. Once you exceed this limit, whether the absences are excused or not, you may be dropped from the course with a grade of “F”. I will not be responsible for recording attendance for students who are tardy.


Ten (10) points extra credit may be obtained by maintaining perfect attendance, defined as having no unexcused absences. Absences are excused only under the following circumstances:


            1.         the student provides a written excuse from a medical practitioner stating     

                        that the student was unable to attend class on the day(s) of the absence;

            2.         the student provides a written excuse from a medical practitioner stating     

                        that the student’s dependent child was ill on the day(s) of the absence;

            3.         the student provides a written excuse from an official of Midwestern State

                        University stating that the student was in attendance at a mandatory

                        university function on the day(s) of the absence.


In order for an absence to be excused, the written excuse must be provided within one week of the absence.


Funerals, employment-related absences, illnesses not requiring medical attention, job interviews, family emergencies, automobile problems, court appearances, etc. do not constitute excused absences.


Make-up Policy:  You may make up one (1) missed exam: if you miss more than one exam, you should drop the course. A mass make-up for exams will be administered on Monday, 12/8, following the final exam. No other make-ups will be allowed; if you miss an exam during this semester, you must attend this session. Failure to do so will result in a grade of “0” on the missed exam.


Cheating Policy:  Any evidence of cheating on exams or plagiarism will result in dismissal from this class with a grade of “F”.


Note:  Individuals requiring special accommodation may contact me after class or during office hours.


Also note: Pagers and cell phones are to be turned off during class. If you have a situation that requires you to receive calls, you need to contact me ahead of time, have your device on vibration mode, and take the call outside the classroom.

Dr. Paul C. Guthrie (view Profile)

Course Attachments


Submission Format Policy

Note: You may not submit a paper for a grade in this class that already has been (or will be) submitted for a grade in another course, unless you obtain the explicit written permission of me and the other instructor involved in advance.

Plagiarism Policy

Plagiarism is the use of someone else's thoughts, words, ideas, or lines of argument in your own work without appropriate documentation (a parenthetical citation at the end and a listing in "Works Cited")-whether you use that material in a quote, paraphrase, or summary. It is a theft of intellectual property and will not be tolerated, whether intentional or not.

Student Honor Creed

As an MSU Student, I pledge not to lie, cheat, steal, or help anyone else do so."

As students at MSU, we recognize that any great society must be composed of empowered, responsible citizens. We also recognize universities play an important role in helping mold these responsible citizens. We believe students themselves play an important part in developing responsible citizenship by maintaining a community where integrity and honorable character are the norm, not the exception.

Thus, We, the Students of Midwestern State University, resolve to uphold the honor of the University by affirming our commitment to complete academic honesty. We resolve not only to be honest but also to hold our peers accountable for complete honesty in all university matters.

We consider it dishonest to ask for, give, or receive help in examinations or quizzes, to use any unauthorized material in examinations, or to present, as one's own, work or ideas which are not entirely one's own. We recognize that any instructor has the right to expect that all student work is honest, original work. We accept and acknowledge that responsibility for lying, cheating, stealing, plagiarism, and other forms of academic dishonesty fundamentally rests within each individual student.

We expect of ourselves academic integrity, personal professionalism, and ethical character. We appreciate steps taken by University officials to protect the honor of the University against any who would disgrace the MSU student body by violating the spirit of this creed.

Written and adopted by the 2002-2003 MSU Student Senate.

Students with Disabilities

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal anti-discrimination statute that provides comprehensive civil rights protection for persons with disabilities. Among other things, this legislation requires that all students with disabilities be guaranteed a learning environment that provides for reasonable accommodation of their disabilities. If you believe you have a disability requiring an accommodation, please contact the Disability Support Services in Room 168 of the Clark Student Center, (940) 397-4140.

Safe Zones Statement

The professor considers this classroom to be a place where you will be treated with respect as a human being - regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, national origin, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, political beliefs, age, or ability. Additionally, diversity of thought is appreciated and encouraged, provided you can agree to disagree. It is the professor's expectation that ALL students consider the classroom a safe environment.

Contacting your Instructor

All instructors in the Department have voicemail in their offices and MWSU e-mail addresses. Make sure you add your instructor's phone number and e-mail address to both email and cell phone lists of contacts.

Writing Proficiency Requirement

All students seeking a Bachelor's degree from Midwestern State University must satisfy a writing proficiency requirement once they've 1) passed the 6 hours of Communication Core and and 2) earned 60 hours. You may meet this requirement by passing either the Writing Proficiency Exam or English 2113. Please keep in mind that, once you've earned over 90 hours, you lose the opportunity to take the $25 exam and have no option but to enroll in the three-credit hour course. If you have any questions about the exam, visit the Writing Proficiency Office website at, or call 397-4131.

Campus Carry

Senate Bill 11 passed by the 84th Texas Legislature allows licensed handgun holders to carry concealed handguns on campus, effective August 1, 2016. Areas excluded from concealed carry are appropriately marked, in accordance with state law. For more information regarding campus carry, please refer to the University’s webpage at

If you have questions or concerns, please contact MSU Chief of Police Patrick Coggins at