Lois J. Mc Dermott
Broad survey of biological, psychological, and social determinants of human sexuality and sexual behavior. Topics include cultural diversity, sexual development (physical and psychological), sexual health, reproduction (pregnancy, contraception, abortion), development of sex, gender and orientation, adult sexual bonding, sexual abuse and assault.
Psychology is both a natural and social science and is rooted in the study of biology. This course will focus equally on the biological underpinnings of sexuality as well as the behavioral aspects of sexuality. The study of human sexuality draws from research in many academic disciplines - biology, psychology, sociology, history, political science, zoology, endocrinology, neuroscience, embryology, etc. The course represents an introduction to the Western, scientific approach to the study of sexuality. The course satisfies the "person and society" breadth requirement. There is a special emphasis on cross cultural data from around the world and down through history.
Student learning goals
1) Knowledge of Human Sexuality: Psych 210 should increase studentsí understanding of knowledge in the field of human sexuality research. This goal includes enhancing studentsí knowledge and understanding of: a) the major approaches to the study of sexuality; b) the major issues in the field of sexual science; c) the basic concepts, terminology, findings, and applications of research.
2) Scientific Values and Critical Thinking: Psych 210 should stimulate studentsí intellectual curiosity about human sexuality and prompt you to evaluate your current ideas about human sexuality. This goal includes enhancing studentsí: a) appreciation of the various research approaches and the diversity of fields of study involved in the science of sexuality and b) ability to critically evaluate scientific information.
3) Applications to Everyday Life: Psych 210 should increase studentsí understanding of how information learned through human sexuality research applies to everyday life. This goal includes helping students appreciate how the science of sexuality: a) enhances human welfare; b) enables people to better understand their own and othersí sexual behavior; c) promotes an awareness of the complexity of human sexual behavior; and d) promotes an intelligent skepticism about the "facts" and "truths" about sexuality that are presented in the mass media.
4) Diversity: Psych 210 should increase awareness of the diversity of human sexuality. This goal includes exposing students to: a) the broad range of sexual behaviors observed in humans; b) the diversities of sexualities and sexual identities; and c) differences in cultural approaches to sexuality and historical perspectives on sexual diversity.
General method of instruction
The course has an enrollment of 500+ students. The course is conducted primarily in a lecture format. Interactive slides and student response devices are used during lecture to poll student attitudes and experience, and to assess understanding of lecture material. Videos, slides, transparencies and computer generated images are used throughout the course to introduce material through a visual format. Panels of guests from the transgendered, kink and gay/lesbian community visit class to share their life experiences.
A general education which includes exposure to and comfort with some of the biological and social sciences is strongly recommended. A good reading knowledge of English is essential due to the large amount of assigned reading.
Class assignments and grading
Reading material from a lecture outline/study guide, textbook and collection of articles is the student's main task to prepare for 3 multiple-choice exams.
Grades are assigned based on the student's performance on 3 midterm exams. During finals week students have the opportunity to take missed exams and/or be retested on some of the material with the aim to improve scores. Grade points are assigned based on the percentage of the total possible points. Student receive participation credit during class. Students can earn extra credit by participating as research subjects in deparmental research projects.