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PSY 3590 Syllabus

Course Syllabus

PSY 3590 - Psychology of Personality

3 Credit Hours

Course Information

Course Description:

This course is designed to provide students with a critical overview of personality theory, research, assessment, disorders, and therapy. The course will take a scientific approach to the study of personality. This means that we will devote a good deal of attention to current theoretical and research approaches. Classic theories of personality will also be covered. This is primarily a course on the varieties of "normal" personality functioning rather than aspects of abnormal psychology. Students will have several opportunities to complete examples of personality measures during the course.

Course Outcomes:

The major objective of this course is to give students a detailed understanding of the nature and dynamics of human personality. Upon successful completion of this course, students will be able to:

  • Think analytically and critically about personality.
  • Define the basic units of personality and understand the basic processes associated with these.
  • Evaluate and understand research pertaining to personality and personality processes.
  • Understand the role of personality in thinking and behavior.
  • Understand one’s personality and other people's personalities.
  • Understand the relative effects of "nature" (innate or inborn influences) and "nurture" (socialization and learning influences) on personality.
  • Apply their learning to cope better with stressful situations.
Prerequisites & Co-requisites:

Introductory psychology is recommended but not required.

Course Topics:
  • Basic Sources of Personality Data
  • Research Methods
  • Personality Traits
  • Personality Assessment and Testing
  • Personality Judgment
  • Anatomy and Physiology of Personality
  • Behavioral Genetics and Evolutionary Theory
  • Psychoanalysis
  • Humanistic Psychology
  • Culture and Personality
  • Personality Processes
  • The Self
  • Personality Disorders
Specific Course Requirements:

Students will need to know how to use a word processor and an Internet browser in order to access and complete course materials and requirements.

Textbooks, Supplementary Materials, Hardware and Software Requirements

Required Textbooks:

Please visit the Virtual Bookstore to obtain textbook information for this course. Move your cursor over the "Books" link in the navigation bar and select "Textbooks & Course Materials." Select your Program, Term, Department, and Course; then select "Submit."

Supplementary Materials:


Hardware and Software Requirements:

Minimum hardware requirements can be found here.

Minimum software requirements can be found here.

Common applications you might need:

Web Resources:

Purdue OWL Online Writing Lab (for APA, MLA, or Chicago style)

The Writing Center Online Writer's Handbook

Student Resources:
  • Technical support information can be found on the TN eCampus Help Desk page.
  • Smarthinking virtual tutoring is available FREE of charge. to access Smarthinking, visit the course homepage and select Smarthinking under Course Resources. You also view sample sessions to see what Smarthinking offers and how it works.
  • Information on other student issues or concerns can be located on the TN eCampus Student Resources page.

Instructor Information

Please see "Instructor Information" in the Getting Started Module for instructor contact information, virtual office hours, and other communication information. You can expect to receive a response from the instructor within 24-48 hours unless notified of extenuating circumstances.

Participation, Assessments, & Grading

Testing Procedures:


There will be five examinations; each covering a different portion of the course. The final exam will be comprehensive, covering all material in the course. All five exams will be similar in format, difficulty, and length. Exams will be an approximately equal mix of multiple-choice and longer essay questions. Both parts will be open-book, but timed. Each exam will be worth 50 points. The maximum number of points with the exams is 250.

Case-Study Analyses

For each of the first 4 exams, students must complete a case-study analysis pertaining to the topics from that exam. Each case study involves an analysis of one's own (or another person's) personality as it relates to the material we covered in that section of the course. In particular, the student's task is to describe and explain oneself (or another person) according to the major approaches we covered in that section. Students will need to bring in relevant concepts/ideas and describe what these approaches have to say about their target "personality." Each of these (5-7 page) case studies is worth 20 points. The maximum number of points possible with the case-study analyses is 80.

Class Discussions

Students are required to participate actively in 15 class discussions. Every week during the semester, the instructor will post questions concerning a specific topic. Students will have the opportunity to respond to these topics and to other students' responses. Students may also begin their own discussions. They will receive up to 10 points for each discussion that they actively participate in. "Active" participation is defined as providing reasonably intelligent responses or comments (as determined by the instructor) or as starting a new discussion that is interesting and worthwhile (as determined by the instructor).The maximum number of points possible with the 15 class discussions is 150.

Grading Procedures:

Grading will be based on a straightforward point system. Course grades will depend on students' total scores on the 5 exams (250 possible pts.), 4 case analyses (80 pts.), and 15 class discussions (150 pts.). Note the scheduled dates for exams and assignments in the course Calendar located in Course Tools area and plan and schedule them NOW. Letter grades for this course will be assigned based on the following scale:



Grading Scale:
Point RangeAssigned Grade
432 - 480 (90 - 100%A
384 - 431 (80 - 89%)B
336 - 383 (70 - 79%)C
288 - 335 (60 - 69%)D
287 or lower (59% or lower)F

Graded Items

15 Discussions @ 10 points each150
4 Case Analyses @ 20 points each80
5 Exams @ 50 points each250
Total points480


Assignments and Projects:

Evaluation Procedures:
There will be 5 multiple-choice examinations, each covering a different set of chapters from the course. All five exams will be similar in format, difficulty, and length. Each exam will be open-book, but timed. You will have 90 minutes (1 and 1/2 hours) to complete each exam. Each exam will be worth 50 points. The maximum number of points possible is 250.  Exams will not be proctored.

Remember to save each answer to online test questions as you answer them, in case a computer crashes or loses internet connectivity. You may reboot your computer or wait for internet connectivity to access the test again, and D2L will allow you to continue taking the test using the time left and the question answers you have saved. If you have a technical problem during an exam, you are responsible for contacting the instructor, as well as TNeCampus Support to verify you have had technical difficulty completing the exam, as soon as is possible.

Case Study Analyses:
Students must complete 4 case study analyses pertaining to different sections of the course. Each case study involves an analysis of one's own (or another person's) personality as it relates to the material we covered in that section of the course. In particular, the student's task is to describe and explain oneself (or another person) according to the major approaches we've covered in that section. Students will need to provide relevant concepts/ideas and describe what these approaches have to say about their target "personality." Material used in the course (e.g., personality inventories in the modules) may be helpful in writing the case studies.  Each of these (5-7 page) case studies is worth 20 points. The maximum number of points possible for all four case study analyses is 80.

Class Discussions:
Students are required to participate actively in 15 class discussions. Discussions are designed to assess understanding of the topic, as well as invite personal opinion about the subject. Every week during the semester, the instructor will post questions concerning 1-2 specific topics. Students will have the opportunity to respond to these topics and to other students' responses. They will receive up to 10 points for each discussion in which they actively participate. "Active" participation is defined as providing relevant responses to the subject matter, original responses, responses to classmates. Students are only required to make one post, but replies to other classmates are encouraged. Replies to others' posts are not sufficient to earn full credit. The maximum number of points possible with the 15 class discussions is 150.  Expect weekly discussions.  Grading criteria for discussions can be found in the Discussion section of the course.

Course Content Responsibility:
Students must read the assigned text chapters and complete the class notes and activities located in the Content area.   Most modules will have extra activities in the form of personality inventories or assessments.  While these activities are not submitted or graded, thereby keeping your answers anonymous, participation in the activities will be crucial to understanding the module content and preparing you for the required exams, case studies, and discussions.  In fact, students are encouraged to utilize their results from these activities in class discussions and their case studies, depending on their comfort level.
Class Participation:

Students are required to participate in the class discussions.  Students are expected to read all of the discussions and be familiar with their contents, as exam questions may be drawn from them.  Students may communicate with the instructor as a learning resource through alway-open course discussion boards and email.  Important class information will be put on the course homepage announcement section, an always-open study discussion forum, or group class email.

Late Policy:

The Calendar lists the exact exam dates as well as the due dates for the case study analysis assignments and the class discussions.  Students are responsible for checking the Course Calendar for all course due dates.  There is a lot of material in this course and students who fall behind will have great difficulty catching up.  Look ahead at the due dates of all assignments and exams.  If you know in advance you will have a conflict, notify the instructor as soon as possible.  In case of an emergency resulting in prevents a student from missing a deadline or exam, notify the instructor immediately.

Course Ground Rules

The following two statements (1., 2.) were derived from the TBR System-wide Student Rules document, released January 2012:


Read the document in its entirety here.

1. Standards of Conduct:

  • Students are required to adhere to the same professional, legal and ethical standards of conduct online as on campus. In addition, students should conform to generally accepted standards of "netiquette" while sending e-mail, posting comments to the discussion board, and while participating in other means of communicating online. Specifically, students should refrain from inappropriate and/or offensive language, comments and actions.

2. Review the TN eCampus Academic Integrity/Academic Honesty Policy:

  • In their academic activities, students are expected to maintain high standards of honesty and integrity. Academic dishonesty is prohibited.

Such conduct includes, but is not limited to:

  • an attempt by one or more students to use unauthorized information in the taking of an exam
  • to submit as one's own work, themes, reports, drawings, laboratory notes, computer programs, or other products prepared by another person,
  • or to knowingly assist another student in obtaining or using unauthorized materials.

Plagiarism, cheating, and other forms of academic dishonesty are prohibited.

Students guilty of academic misconduct, either directly or indirectly through participation or assistance, are subject to disciplinary action through the regular procedures of the student’s home institution.  Refer to the student handbook provided by your home institution to review the student conduct policy.

In addition to other possible disciplinary sanctions that may be imposed, the instructor has the authority to assign an "F" or zero for an activity or to assign an "F" for the course.

Other Course Rules:

Students are expected to:

  • Participate in all aspects of the course
  • Communicate with other students
  • Learn how to navigate in Brightspace
  • Keep abreast of course announcements
  • Use the assigned course management (Brightspace) email address rather than a personal email address
  • Address technical problems immediately:
  • Observe course netiquette at all times.

Guidelines for Communications


  • Always include a subject line.
  • Remember without facial expressions some comments may be taken the wrong way. Be careful in wording your emails. Use of emoticons might be helpful in some cases.
  • Use standard fonts.
  • Do not send large attachments without permission.
  • Special formatting such as centering, audio messages, tables, html, etc. should be avoided unless necessary to complete an assignment or other communication.
  • Respect the privacy of other class members


  • Review the discussion threads thoroughly before entering the discussion. Be a lurker then a discussant.
  • Try to maintain threads by using the "Reply" button rather starting a new topic.
  • Do not make insulting or inflammatory statements to other members of the discussion group. Be respectful of other’s ideas.
  • Be patient and read the comments of other group members thoroughly before entering your remarks.
  • Be cooperative with group leaders in completing assigned tasks.
  • Be positive and constructive in group discussions.
  • Respond in a thoughtful and timely manner.


The Tennessee Virtual Library is available to all students enrolled in TN eCampus programs and courses. Links to library materials (such as electronic journals, databases, interlibrary loans, digital reserves, dictionaries, encyclopedias, maps, and librarian support) and Internet resources needed by learners to complete online assignments and as background reading will be included within the course modules. To access the Virtual Library, go to the course homepage and select the Virtual Library link under Course Resources.

Students with Disabilities

Qualified students with disabilities will be provided reasonable and necessary academic accommodations if determined eligible by the appropriate disability services staff at their home institution. Prior to granting disability accommodations in this course, the instructor must receive written verification of a student's eligibility for specific accommodations from the disability services staff at the home institution. It is the student's responsibility to initiate contact with their home institution's disability services staff and to follow the established procedures for having the accommodation notice sent to the instructor.

Syllabus Changes

The instructor reserves the right to make changes as necessary to this syllabus. If changes are necessitated during the term of the course, the instructor will immediately notify students of such changes both by individual email communication and posting both notification and nature of change(s) on the course bulletin board.


The information contained in this syllabus is for general information purposes only. While we endeavor to keep this information up-to-date and accurate, there may be some discrepancies between this syllabus and the one found in your online course. The syllabus of record is the one found in your online course. Please make sure you read the syllabus in your course at the beginning of the semester. Questions regarding course content should be directed to your instructor.

Last Revised on September 10, 2018