Montgomery Community College – West Campus

Positive Psychology

Instructor:                Mr. Francis P. O’Neill M.A.

Office:                        To be announced  

Phone:                      610-718-1842

Email:               (best method of communication)

Office Hours:           Friday by appointment or after class

Class Room:            TBA

Prerequisite:            Psychology 101



·                                 A. Required Text:                                       Authentic Happiness: Using the New Positive Psychology to Realize Your Potential for Lasting Fulfillment, by Martin E.P. Seligman ISBN-10: 0743222989 ISBN-13: 978-0743222983 (paperback is fine)

Positive Psychology by Steve Baumgardner  & Marie Crothers ISBN-10: 0205700136 ISBN-13: 978-0205700134 (paperback is fine)


B. Supplementary Reading Material:    Provided by instructor

C. In Class Video:                                       Films and video tapes provided by instructor


Positive Psychology is the scientific study of the strengths and virtues that enable individuals and communities to thrive and not just survive. This field is founded on the belief that people want to lead meaningful and fulfilling lives, to cultivate what is best within themselves, and to enhance their experiences of love, work, and play.


This course is designed to foster knowledge and attitudes which will assist the student in understanding and to know the scholarship developed within the discipline.

Students are Responsible for the Following:

Course Competencies & Learning Objectives
Upon completion of this course, the student should be able to:

A.   Explain the current and historical perspectives of Positive Psychology.

  1. Understanding positive emotions entails the study of contentment with the past, happiness in the present, and hope for the future.
  2. Understanding positive individual traits consists of the study of the strengths and virtues, such as the capacity for love and work, courage, compassion, resilience, creativity, curiosity, integrity, self-knowledge, moderation, self-control, and wisdom.
  3. Identify the various therapies or interventions used to treat mental disorders.
  4. Understanding positive institutions entails the study of the strengths that foster better communities, such as justice, responsibility, civility, parenting, nurturance, work ethic, leadership, teamwork, purpose, and tolerance.


F.    Critical and Creative Inquiry: Students will demonstrate an understanding of and an ability to use critical analysis to develop innovative and imaginative methods of inquiry and problem-solving. Students will be encouraged to use critical thinking skills as a guide to multiple modes of inquiry, challenging conventional wisdom and stereotypes.

G.    Information Literacy: Students will demonstrate the ability to access, organize, interpret, evaluate and utilize information from a variety of sources in an ethically appropriate manner.

H.   Communication: Students will demonstrate effective communication in a variety of modes in and out of the classroom, specifically the ability to read, write, speak, listen and employ various media effectively. Students will be encouraged to use critical and creative forms of expression.

I.      Ethical Responsibility: Students will be provided with opportunities to develop ethical awareness of societal issues, to exercise moral, intellectual and personal responsibility and to recognize that ethical decision making and reflection on various consequences are the elements of an on-going discernment process. Students will demonstrate ethical reasoning skills based on critical analysis that is grounded in reason and governed by diverse values.

J.    Knowledge of Self and Others: Students will be provided with opportunities to reflect on their strengths, explore their assumptions, develop their athletic/physical potential and foster an understanding of their complex identities (connecting habits of mind, heart and body). They will be encouraged to explore diverse experiences so that they may grow in empathy and respect for the values of others. Students will demonstrate knowledge of the breadth of human diversity as well as the ability to suspend and examine their own beliefs when confronted with the views of others.

K.   Intentional Learning: Students will be provided with opportunities to cultivate intellectual agility and creativity, purposeful learning, self-assessment, health awareness, self-confidence and the ability to manage change.  Students will be encouraged to continue holistic development personally, professionally, aesthetically and physically through self-reflection, feedback from others and new learning experiences.

* All items that are in bold are Learning outcome emphasis

Participation and Attendance: So that you can get the most out of the class you need to be present for the majority of the sessions. It is also important to interact in the classroom discussions and exercises. Most formal learning will come from the classroom interaction. All extra credit test questions will be taken from classroom lecture material!

After 2 absences you will drop one letter grade 2 more absences (total 4 absences) and you will receive an “F” grade for this class. (Talk to the instructor if you are having problems in this area)

Excessive lateness/tardiness is to be avoided, but it’s better to be late than absent. If you are late, after roll is taken, you need to see the instructor immediately after class to be counted as being present for class. 3 times late equals one absence.

Official Withdraw from Class:

1.    Last day to withdraw from class is October 28th, 2008.

2.    Failure to attend a class may lead to a grade of an “F”, it will not constitute an automatic withdraw from class.


 Grading will be as follows: 

A   = 93 – 100+

A-  = 90 – 92

B+ = 87 – 89

B   = 80 – 89

B-  = 80 – 82             

C+ = 77 – 79

C   = 73 – 76

C-  = 70 – 72

D+ = 67 – 69

D   = 60 – 66

F   =  0 – 59

Grades will be based on the final grade breakdown. There will NOT BE A CLASS CURVE. This means that everyone can get an "A".

No “I" (incomplete) grades will be submitted for this course. It is paramount that all test and assignments be completed before the course ending date. No exceptions unless there is a medical emergency or death in the famliy!

Exams: There will be 3 major exams and 1 final exam each exam will consist of multiple choice, true false and possibly essay questions with the possibility of extra credit questions added at the end of the test. If a student misses an exam the possibility of a make-up is strictly on the basis of a medical or other serious reason at the discretion of the instructor. This makeup will be in my Pottstown office. A test can not be taken after a week from the original testing date, if at all. The final must be taken on the day of the final or before, no make up test will be granted for the final exam. You must be present on the day of testing or make plans to take the exam before it is given in class!

Exams are returned to you, the student, if you have a discrepancy with a grade or you wish to contest a grade you must be able to produce the tests I will not be responsible to retain grading sheets or prior tests taken. This is the responsibility of the student.


  1. 3 exams worth 100 points each (extra credit poss.)             300+pts
  2. Class Participation & Attendance                                              50 pts
  3. Postings on Blackboard                                                              50 pts
  4. Gratitude Dinner                                                                             50 pts
  5. Gratitude paper                                                                               50 pts
  6. VIA  Assignment & presentation                                                100 pts
  7. Tasks assignments (done when needed for class)              50 pts
  8. Paper and presentation 2 utilizing PP                                      50 pts
  9. Final Exam                                                                                       100 pts

 All points will be added up and divided by 8

 Class Participation & Attendance: 

You will get points throughout the semester for several reasons:


bullet 12.5 points - A clear presentation (prepared, informative and thoughtful)
bullet 12.5 points - Questions relevant to class discussions
bullet 50 points - Posts on Blackboard
bullet 12.5 points - Coming to class on time
bullet 12.5 points - Handing in papers on time and being ready to present on your scheduled day
bullet These points will be summed up in two categories and are approximate. Totals above are maximums for area breakdown.


Grades will be based on the final grade breakdown. There will NOT BE A CURVE. This means that everyone has the possibility of getting an "A".


It is paramount that all test and assignments be completed before the course ending date. No exceptions unless there is a medical emergency!


Other Information

Reading: Yes we will use the books in this course! It is VERY important that you complete the reading for each day on the course schedule BEFORE you come to class that day. The most important goal for the class is for you to have fun while learning about psychology. But to do this, you’ll have to stay on top of the reading (and there’s a lot). Take note that class lectures will not reiterate the text book, but will be used to enhance the selections read. Listing is at the end of syllabus.


Student Conduct:

1.    Academic integrity is expected. Cheating in any form is unacceptable, and will be dealt with per college policy. Which could include but, is not limited to, expulsion from class with a failing grade (F) and possible dismissal from the college? There will be no individual or group warnings.

2.    Plagiarism (taking false claim for work that you did not generate) of any type is unacceptable and will be dealt with per college policy. Which could include but, is not limited to, expulsion from class with a failing grade (F) and possible dismissal from the college? There will be no individual or group warnings.

3.    Classroom behaviors that are encouraged: Asking questions, answering instructor’s questions, discussion of topics between students before the entire class, and the participation in structured learning activities.

4.    Classroom behaviors that are discouraged: Two way conversation between students during lectures or class discussions and leaving the classroom before the instructor dismisses the class.

5.    Respect for all the class is paramount. Anything less is unacceptable.

Class Cancellation Policy:

If there is inclement weather please check the college web site, my Blackboard site for the class and  listen to the radio the school codes for KYW New Radio are 126 for day and 2126 for the evening division. Also please refer to the campus calendar for days off and breaks in the class schedule.

Students with Disabilities Policy:

Students with disabilities may be eligible for accommodations in this course. Contact the Academic Advising Office for more information. web site information.

Assignment Submission Guide Lines:

All paper assignments submitted must be typed with a cover page and submitted through Blackboards assignment section!

Spelling, grammar and sentence structure must be correct.

Page layout should be 12 pitch font, Times New Roman or Arial, double spaced with a one inch margin on the top and bottom and on the sides. You are to hand in a digital copy ONLY of the assignment to the blackboard web site in the assignments section by midnight on the day you do your presentation. Do not use the digital drop box!!!


The teacher is not responsible for improper uploading of files, corruption of data, the digital disappearance of file (i.e. the digital dog ate my electronic file), the power went out, etc. You are solely responsible for getting the final draft of your paper in to the instructor through Blackboard. If you need assistance ask the instructor (not the digital dog as he has a tendency of eating your work:-)


Format: Information on the cover page should include your name, The assignment (“Presentation Assignment – Schizophrenia The Life of Syd Hoff” etc.), date the paper is handed in, class (Psy 217 Fall 2009), instructor’s name (Francis O’Neill), movie chosen (or other needed info). Centered under this should be a title of the assignment ex. Schizophrenia The Life of Syd Hoff or The Ups and Downs of a Bi-Polar Life – Carrie Fisher, etc. Have fun with this assignment!


All citations are to be APA, MLA or another accepted style, there must be a reference page with at least 3 references used as well as the text book (4+ total)!!! Internet citations are allowed. No Wiki references!

Missed Deadlines:
Any material turned in late will subject to a reduction in points. 5 point reduction for every class late. Items not turned in by the last day of class will be counted as a zero.

Online Help:

You can access the text books information, this syllabus and the class schedule through BlackBoard:  All grades and info pertaining to the course will be posted on Blackboard. Slides used in class are also posted in the documents sections of Blackboard. Blackboard is a necessary part of this class.

The text Books web site is:  

Assignment and Presentation 1: Using the VIA Survey of Character Strengths write how you can utilizes your top five strengths in your life:


Look at your life work, home and school how can you start using the best of you in more effective ways right now! This is to be a medium length paper about 5-10 pages in length. Take some time and think about this and make a short presentation to the class.

 Presentation and paper: 

  1. You may (encouraged) use PowerPoint slides (must be turned into me before the day of the presentation for review and set up), movies, clips, articles boards with pictures and info, almost anything within reason. 
  2. Convey something unique about yourself and your positive qualities.
  3. Presentation is to be a maximum of 10 minutes!

Paper and presentation 2: How can you utilize positive traits guideposts and preventive measures in a clinical setting?

1. From what you have learned tell the class and write in a paper how you can make a change in people's lives. Pick a topic such as depression or use at a case study and relate how you would shift things for the better for this person if your only tools were positive psychology 

2. Short paper about 3 -5 pages.

Paper 3: reflection on your experience at the gratitude dinner. Short reflection paper of 3-5 pages.
Positive Psychology 481

Class Schedule* – Fall 2009 –

Readings and Tasks:

First week

AH = Authentic Happiness by Seligman (Do exercises along the way in this book)
PP = Positive Psychology by Baumgardner & Crothers

9/4 First class review syllabus and finish chapter 1 in PP and review AH book chapter 1

9/11 Week 1 : AH chapters 1-3 (pg. 3 - 44) & PP Chapter 1 & 2 What is Positive Psychology & Meaning and Measure of Happiness (pg. 1 - 36). 

Task 1: Finish the VIA Survey of Character Strengths and bring it to class and be ready to talk about it. Web site is:  You must long in and register.

Task 2: Finish the Brief Strengths Test and bring it to class and be ready to talk about it. Web site is:  You must long in and register.

9/18 Week 2: PP Chapter 3 Positive Emotions (pg. 38 - 56) AH Chapter 4 (pg. 45 - 61) (side focus Flow)

9/25 Week 3: AH Chapter 5 (pg. 62 - 82), PP Chapter 4 Resilience (pg. 57 - 73). (Side focus forgiveness)

Test Chapters 1-3 PP and Chapters 1-3 AH

10/2 Week 4: AH Chapter 7, Chapter 11  (pg. 102 - 121,  185 - 208),  PP Chapter 5 (pg. 74 - 97).

(Assignment and Presentation 1: paper due on your character strengths from both VIA & BST All presentation this day.

10/ 9 Week 5: PP Chapter 6 Money Happiness and Culture (pg. 98 - 123)

10/16 Week 6: AH Chapter 6 (pg. 83 - 101), PP Chapter 7 Personal Goals and Wisdom to Well Being (pg. 74 - 97). 

10/23 PP Chapter 8 Self Regulation and control (pg. 153 - 175) (side focus on Gratitude)

Gratitude dinner night (pot luck dinner, date, time and location to be announced)

Test Chapters 4-6 PP & Chapters 4, 5 & 6)

10/30 PP Chapter 9 Positive traits (pg. 176 - 206)

11/6 PP Chapter 10 Virtues and Strengths of Character (pg. 207 - 238), AH Chapter 8 & 9 (pg. 125 - 165)

11/13 PP Chapter 11 Close relationships and Well Being (pg. 239 - 268)

(paper due on your character strengths from both VIA & BST)

Test Chapters 7-9 PP & Chapters AH 8 & 9

11/20 PP Chapter 12 Life Above Zero (pg. 269 - 293) 

11/27 Thanksgiving no class

12/4 Religion, forgiveness and gratitude revisited

Reflection paper on the Gratitude Dinner due

12/11Final Exam Chapters 10 - 12 PP

12/18 Finals week Class meeting

*The instructor has the right to alter or adjust the schedule