Assignments - Psychology of Helping



In this seminar, you are expected not only to attend class having done the reading, but also to participate in discussions and online activities.  Your attendance and participation will be vital for your grade and your success in this class.  Participation can come in many forms, including asking clarification questions.  If you do not speak up and actively participate in class on a regular basis (even if you attend), you will fail this portion of your grade.  For each week, your participation grades can range from 0 to 10. You will receive a 0 for the week if you miss multiple classes, arrive to class inordinately late, or make no contribution to discussion.  You will receive a 10 for the week if you attend and participate fully in discussion and make substantive contributions that indicate you understood and thought about the assigned readings. 

Please Note: You can lose participation points for arriving late to class, texting during class, being disrespectful to myself or others in class, falling asleep during class, etc.  Please be attentive, punctual, and respectful!

Here is a sample of some of the things I will be taking into account when grading participation:

7-10 = Student has substantial comments to say in class and is an active participant; student makes highly meaningful comments that advance the course discussion and are reflective; student’s comments are informed by assigned readings; student does not interrupt others and is respectful of others’ comments; student does not rely solely on personal stories when making comments.
4-6 = Student participates but does not typically draw connections to assigned readings and comments and may not necessarily advance the discussion; comments may be more opinion and feeling-based as opposed to intellectually based or linked to assigned readings; student does not interrupt others and is respectful of others’ comments.
0-3 = Student present but either makes very minimal contributions to discussion or does not contribute at all, or student interrupts others and is not respectful of others’ comments; Student absent.

It is highly recommended that you attend class regularly as involvement in in-person discussions. If you cannot attend the in-class discussion you will have to contact me and we will work together to find alternative assignments to help you learn and engage with the class material.

We are facing a challenging public health crisis in which all of us are called on to make a good faith effort to be flexible and to make decisions in the best interest of our North Central community. Lack of attendance as the direct result of the CoVID pandemic (including feeling ill, being symptomatic, being at-risk, being in medical quarantine, etc.) will not adversely affect your grade. However, if you must miss class, it is your responsibility to communicate with your faculty—if possible, in advance of your absence. Students should also:

  • Keep up with classwork if they are able to do so
  • Submit assignments digitally
  • Work with me to try to reschedule exams and other critical academic activities.

Stay a few days to a week ahead of assignments so if you get sick you won’t miss assignments that you wait to do at the last minute. Events such as internet outages/computer issues do not constitute emergency situations, so plan ahead to complete assignments.

[Note: This section is adapted from similar instructions in Dr. Schacht's seminar. Thank you, Dr. Schacht!]


Short Papers

Over the course of the semester, you will be assigned five short papers worth 20 points each. 

These papers should be 500 words or less, and should clearly state a thesis and support this thesis.  In scientific journals, psychology included, writing is necessarily concise. Specific page restrictions are enforced. Redundancy, flowery writing, and ambiguity are to be edited out. This is a difficult exercise, so give some thought to what you want to say and how you will say it. You can rewrite 2 of the papers one time each. You can partner with another student on up to 2 of the 5 papers. Thus, you must complete at least 3 of the papers on your own.


Literature Review Paper

The primary purpose of this paper is for you to demonstrate how to answer an empirical question through appropriate use of existing evidence.

You can choose to integrate research discussed in class with new research you uncover to answer a research question. For example, you might want to know how empathy develops in children. Or, you might want to know what types of approaches or programs to increase helping towards particular groups or causes are most likely to be successful. Or, you might wonder if conscious or unconscious processes are more powerful in the promotion or inhibition of helping behavior. Or, you might ask why some people are more likely to help than others. In your paper, you would thoroughly explore the research on the question you choose to determine what the answer currently appears to be for that question. To complete a thorough review of research on your question, it is likely that you will need at least 15-20 references.

Your paper should be approximately 8-15 typed, double-spaced pages. Additionally, citing of sources in the paper should follow APA format including a list of cited works. Quoting should be extremely limited or, preferably, non-existent. The final paper is worth 100 points.

There are many possible questions. To make sure that you are on the right track with your question and paper you will need to have your question approved by me. In the spirit of a writing intensive course, I will also ask you to provide an outline and a draft of your paper along the way. You will also provide some peer review towards the end of the process. Failure to turn in an outline or a draft or providing peer review will result in a loss of points.



Thursday, February 25 -- Submit 3 possible research questions, including at least one question that comes from a topic later in the course.

Thursday, March 4 -- Send Dr. Mueller your chosen research question.

Thursday, March 25 -- Send Dr. Mueller and an assigned peer a detailed outline of your literature review paper.

Tuesday, March 30 -- Peer sends the author and me feedback on the outline.

Tuesday, April 13 -- Turn in a complete draft of your paper to Dr. Mueller and an assigned peer. Your peer will use the rubric to provide feedback on the paper.

Tuesday, April 20 -- Peer sends the author and me the feedback on the paper.

Thursday, April 29 -- Final paper is due.


Send your detailed outline (and eventually your complete draft) to me and the student below whose name follows yours.










Possible Exam Questions

Midterm Exam Questions Final Version

Final Exam Questions Final Version


Reading Assignments

Assignment 1
Assignment 2

Assignment 3
Assignment 4
Assignment 5

Assignment 6
Assignment 7
Assignment 8
Assignment 9

Assignment 10
Assignment 11
Assignment 12