380 Journal Information - Section 005

    One of your requirements for the 380 discussion section is to keep a journal throughout the semester.  The purposes of this journal are:
    * to stimulate thought about the material during days when you are not in class
    * to point out the relevance of social psychology to everyday life
    * to provide a starting point for discussion section each week
    You are required to write one journal entry each week from 9/20 until 11/29, for a total of 11 entries by the end of the term.

     Every week before discussion section meets, you should look at the list of topics.  For each week there is listed a general topic based on the readings from the syllabus.  Your assignment is to choose a specific aspect of that general topic and to write about how it relates to a recent event in your life.  For example, Week #5 has the topic heading of attribution, so you might decide to write about gender differences in attributional style, the Fundamental Attribution Error, etc.  Specific topic suggestions for each week are listed to help you, but you are by no means limited by them.  You may select any process, phenomenon, theory, or psychological tendency that is relevant to the general topic (attribution in this case).  The textbook and material covered in lecture will be helpful in generating ideas for you to write about.
     The body of each entry should begin with a description of an event or interaction in your life in four or five sentences.  A page-long story about how you spent your weekend is too long, and one line reading, "I went out with my friends" is insufficient.  You should pick a specific event or interaction and describe it in enough detail so that your subsequent discussion will make sense to someone who was not there.   Next you should describe how the specific topic you have chosen is relevant to this event.  Sample Entry 1 provides a good example of an interaction summary followed by a discussion of its relevance to the Fundamental Attribution Error.  Your discussion should address some (but not necessarily all) of the following questions:

    * How can the psychological phenomenon you have chosen be seen in this interaction?
    * How does your current awareness of this psychological phenomenon change the way you interpret what happened during this event?
    * If you (or others) had been aware of social psychological research about this phenomenon during the event, how might the outcome of the interaction have been changed?
    * How will your learning about this phenomenon influence your attitudes/behavior/perceptions in the future?
    * What questions do you now have after considering the event in light of psychological theory?
    * What type of experiment(s) might help address these issues?
     You can also discuss an event that seems to be inconsistent with the topic you have chosen to write about.  Sample Entry 2 provides a good example of a discussion of a situation that seems like it could have led to the Fundamental Attribution Error, but didnít.  In such cases, you might also want to consider the following questions:

    * How was this interaction inconsistent with the theory or phenomenon you have chosen?
    * Why do you think the outcome of this interaction seems to be inconsistent with the phenomenon you chose?
    * What aspects of the situation, if changed, would have resulted in a less surprising outcome?
    * What type of experiment(s) might help answer these questions?
     Each entry should have the last 6 digits of your Social Security number on it, as well as your section number and the week number.  The top of your entry should list the general topic for the week and the specific phenomenon you have chosen.  Entries should be typed or written legibly, spellchecked, and absolutely no more than one page each.  One shorter paragraph summarizing the event and one longer paragraph of discussion is a good model to follow.  Each entry should be on its own page, and you need to store the pages in a folder or binder.  Bring this binder with you to discussion section every week.

     Your journal will contribute to your grade for section participation (10% of your total grade) in two ways.  First, you might be asked to share a journal entry with other students in a small group, or you might be asked to choose an entry to read aloud to the whole section.  Second, your journals will be collected near the end of the term on 11/29.  At that point, journals with less than 11 entries will be penalized a full grade (e.g., from A- to B-) for each entry that is missing, and the late penalties outlined in the syllabus will also apply to journals turned in after the end of section on 11/29.  Your complete journal will then be given a letter grade based on the following criteria:
     * how well you demonstrate comprehension of the psychological concepts you discuss
     * your ability to analyze theories and phenomena by answering the questions on this handout (or other relevant and interesting questions)
     * the effort and creativity used in relating personal events to what we are studying

NOTE: Your journals will also be collected on 9/27, when I will read your first two entries and return written comments and suggestions to you.  They will not be graded at this point.

Final Remarks
    * "Nothing relevant happened to me this week" is not an excuse for not writing.  You can always write about something that happened to you previously or about something that happened to someone you know.  If all else fails, watch any TV sitcom for a half-hour and youíre bound to find good material to write about.  My personal recommendation is Seinfeld.
    * Try to write about events that you are comfortable discussing.  If asked to read an entry aloud, you can always choose not to because it is personal, but sharing these events with others is an important part of the assignment.  And keep in mind that you need to turn in all 11 entries at the end of the term to be graded, so even though you use an ID# instead of your name, at least one person (me) will be reading them at some point.
     * You must keep your entries in order in a folder or binder.  Do not plan on stapling them together at the last minute-- they need to be easily accessible during discussion section.
     * Make sure the topic you choose is specific and interesting enough to be useful to you and to others.  Something like "this interaction is relevant because I made an attribution" is not informative or very sophisticated.  Writing "in this interaction I made a self-serving attribution that allowed me to maintain high self-esteem" conveys more information, deals with a more specific phenomenon, and is more interesting to read.

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