PSYC 435 (Abnormal Psychology) is a three-credit, upper-level psychology course that examines human behaviors and mental phenomena that diverge widely from the normal. This course has no prerequisites, however, PSYC 289 (Psychology as a Natural Science), PSYC 290 (General Psychology), and PSYC 356 (Introduction to Personality Theories and Issues) are strongly recommended.
Students should note that PSYC 435 cannot be taken for credit if credit has already been obtained for PSYC 335. This course has a challenge for credit option if interested.
Abnormal Psychology is made up of seventeen units, with five quizzes weighing five percent each, a term paper worth thirty-five percent, and a final examination for forty percent. This course covers several interesting topics such as anxiety, personality disorders, schizophrenia, mental health, abuse, eating disorders, mood disorders, and neurocognitive disorders. To receive credit for PSYC 435, students must complete all of the course assignments and achieve a composite course grade of at least a “D” or fifty percent, and a grade of at least fifty percent on the final examination.
Heather Guerette is a forty-one-year-old living in Sarnia, Ontario with her three children and husband. She enrolled at AU in 2013 and plans to graduate in June of 2020. She is currently enrolled in the three-year Bachelor of Arts program with a concentration in psychology and has taken PSYC 435.
She provides a bit about herself, stating “I have been married for nearly twenty-two years. I am from Sarnia, Ontario and have lived here all of my life except for the four years my husband was in school near Chicago, Illinois. My first attempt at college was an accounting diploma, but the school cancelled my program while I was on medical leave in my second year. I decided to stay home and raise my babies instead of starting a new program. Over the years, I have volunteered with several non-profits, and I am currently the treasurer of our local pregnancy center. I also work part-time doing accounting for my husband’s business.”
When asked if she likes her program, she explains “I really like the structure of most of the courses, and the content is very interesting for the most part. I do not like some of the required courses. History of Psychology is probably the driest course I have ever endured. Research Methods seemed pretty redundant after taking several senior level psychology classes and the assignments should be more aligned with tutor expectations to prevent frustration and confusion. I’m not really a fan of required humanities courses either.”
She explains that PSYC 435’s “focus is on what makes thoughts and behaviors normal or abnormal. It discusses mood disorders, anxiety disorders, deviant behaviors, diseases such as schizophrenia, eating disorders, and many others. It is a senior level course, so there is some assumption that you know basic psychology, however, you do not need a background in biology in order to understand the content.”
As for the overall structure of the course, she states “This course has five unit quizzes, a major research paper, and a final exam. The quizzes are timed and have fifteen multiple choice questions that you have access to beforehand, and then three to five short answer questions. The research topic is pretty open, and the paper needs to be between 3500 and 4500 words. The exam is fifty multiple choice, some definitions, short answer and long answer. The written questions all allow you to choose a certain number to answer which is helpful if you can’t remember a topic. The textbook is necessary to complete the course; however, you don’t necessarily have to read it word for word.”
Heather recommends PSYC 435, stating “The content was very interesting. I did find the textbook choice to be unfortunate. The editing was poor, and it used the DSM IV instead of version five even though version five was available two years before the text was published. It continually referred to possible changes to the DSM, which made the text bulky and difficult to follow. I do not think the course was difficult, but the textbook makes it more difficult than it had to be.”
As for any tips and tricks to completing this course, Heather explains that “It is helpful to not get lost in the text. Stick to the keywords, summaries, and look up psychology videos on YouTube. It took me half the course before I decided to switch study methods and it helped so much.”
When asked how communications with her tutor was, she states that “My tutor was very friendly and interactive. She frequently emailed just to see how things were going. We did not always see things the same, but I feel we had a productive and respectful relationship. She always marked things on time and feedback provided was always very thorough.”