Murder, Mystery and Mayhem
|Instructor||Patrick E. McKnight, Ph.D.|
|Office||David King 2064/2065|
|Office Hours||Tues 10:30am-12:00pm and by appointment|
|Class Location||Ngyen Engineering Building 1110|
|Class Date/Time||Tuesday/Thursday 9:00am-10:15am|
|Course syllabus||PDF version|
|Important Dates||Please see GMU academic calendar|
Course Overview: Psychology 405 is a synthesis course designed to allow upper-level undergraduates to practice critical thinking by engaging in conversations and debates on a variety of current, interdisciplinary topics with far-reaching social and ethical implications. Assigned readings and the independent research required for engaged participation utilizes and expands on research, communication, and writing skills acquired in other courses.
Course Objectives: The purpose of this course is to consolidate your previous coursework and extend your verbal and critical thinking skills. By requiring reading, writing, presentation, and argumentation, our aim is to produce well-rounded and thoughtful students who can engage others in reasonable discussions. You will learn and be graded on your ability to:
- read critically
- write carefully
- present clearly
- argue persuasively
Required Reading: All course readings are available online, either directly or through the university libraries’ research databases. Reading should be completed by the dates indicated on the schedule. Students are responsible for all of the readings, including those associated with the debates. Reading the material in advance will help you to get the most out of lectures, discussions, and debates.
Optional Textbooks: Sometimes additional reading may help you improve your skills. Students who struggle with general writing may benefit from Zinsser’s book `On writing well. Presentation skills rarely get taught explicitly, however, I intend to provide you with a general overview. My overview comes from Tim Koegel’s wonderful book `The exceptional presenter. I recommend interested students purchase Koegel’s book and hold onto it for a lifetime. Finally, argumentation is a difficult skill to master and one that could be greatly enhanced just by reading one excellent book - `The elements of reasoning’‘ by Edward Corbett. I want to emphasize that these books are optional but most of you will find them to be greatly beneficial.
- Zinsser, W. (2006). On writing well, 30th Anniversary Edition:
The classic guide to writing nonfiction. Colllins: New York.
- Koegel, T.J. (2007). The exceptional presenter: A proven
formula to open up! and own the room. Greenleaf Book Group Press: Austin, Texas.
- Corbett, E.P.J. (1991). The elements of reasoning. Macmillan:
Additional Reading: At times I will post additional readings that are optional (and free) for all students. Many of these readings provide excellent examples of the topics we discuss in class. Please see the course website for links to the electronic versions of these readings.
Grading Criteria: Final grades come from following weighted parts:
- Practice Debates: 30\%
- Main Debate - Presentation: 50\%
- Main Debate - Audience Reviews and Notes: 20\%
Each part gets assigned a point total ranging from 0 to 100. You will receive your points at the conclusion of each part so you can easily compute your expected grade by using the fol- lowing guide:
- A: 90–100 points
- B: 80–89 points
- C: 70–79 points
- D: 60–69 points
- F: fewer than 60 points
Debates: Students will participate in one practice debate and one concluding debate, with performance graded by the instructor.
The practice debates will allow you to experience presenting and serving as an active audience member. Practice debate grades will be composed of five, equally-weighted parts. As a debater, you will be graded on written preparation, instructor score (the rubric will be discussed in class and available online), and written notes (flow). As an audience member, you will be graded on debate scoring and written notes.
LOOKING FOR YOUR PRACTICE DEBATE TOPIC?
CLICK LINK BELOW THIS LINE
Practice Debate Assignments
PRACTICE DEBATE RATING FORM
Click here to go to the live rating form
MY PRACTICE DEBATE NOTES
Here they are!! Use them for a reference
MAIN DEBATE ASSIGNMENTS
Main Debate Assignments
MAIN DEBATE RATING FORM
Main Debate Rating Form
Each student will take a primary role as a presenter in one of the six main debates, which will require independent research and written work, due at the beginning of class on the day of the debate. The main debate presentation grade will be composed of your written preparation (30\%), instructor score of debate performance (20\%), reference list in APA format (20\%), supporting arguments using all three methods of persuasion (20\%), and cross-examination prep (10\%).
For the remainder of the six main debates, students will serve as audience members, taking careful notes and evaluating the debaters. A scoring rubric will be discussed in class and available online.
It is always important to arrive on time, but it is critical on debate days. With just a few minutes to present an opening argument, a classmate’s late arrival could disrupt a debater’s presentation and affect his or her grade.
Cheating and the Honor Code: I expect all students to abide by the GMU Honor Code whereby “Student members of the George Mason University community pledge not to cheat, plagiarize, steal, or lie in matters related to academic work. Specifically, I expect all exams and assignments to be individual efforts unless otherwise noted in writing. GMU honor code violations can result in failure of an assignment or exam, depending on the severity of violation. I report all violations to the Honor Committee without exception.
Disability Accomodations: If you are a student with a disability and you need academic accommodations, please see me and contact the Disability Resource Center (DRC) at 703–993–2474. All academic accommodations must be arranged through that office. Note that this provision includes the range of disabilities, including physical, psychiatric, and learning disabilities.
Tentative Schedule: The following is an ordered list of the topics I intend to cover, the associated readings with each topic, and the approximate date I intend to cover the material.
|2/1||Perspective Taking/Forms of Persuasion||1, 2, 3|
|2/8||The 60-second hook||6|
|2/8||LAST DAY TO ADD COURSE|
|2/10||(In)Effective Arguments||7, 8|
|2/15||Logic and Reason||9, 10|
|2/17||Practice Debate Intro||11,12|
|2/25||LAST DAY TO DROP COURSE|
|3/3||P3||The Decline of Music||15|
|3/24||MAIN DEBATE INTRO|