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Essential Objectives

Course Syllabus

Revision Date: 13-Nov-22

Spring 2023 | PSY-2280-VO02 - Positive Psychology

Online Class

Online courses take place 100% online via Canvas, without required in-person or Zoom meetings.

Location: Online
Credits: 3 (45 hours)
Day/Times: Meets online
Semester Dates: 01-24-2023 to 05-08-2023
Last day to drop without a grade: 02-12-2023 - Refund Policy
Last day to withdraw (W grade): 03-26-2023 - Refund Policy
This course has started, please contact the offering academic center about registration


Jennifer Stefani
View Faculty Credentials
View Faculty Statement
Hiring Coordinator for this course: Kate Hughes

General Education Requirements

This section meets the following VSC General Education Requirement(s) for Catalog Year 21-22 and later:
Social Sciences
  1. Many degree programs have specific general education recommendations. In order to avoid taking unnecessary classes, please consult with additional resources like your program evaluation, your academic program catalog year page, and your academic advisor.
  2. Courses may only be used to meet one General Education Requirement.

Course Description

This course examines factors under which humans are best able to thrive, providing tools and practices for healthy living. Positive psychology focuses on helping people understand and enhance their strengths and virtues so that they may lead fulfilling lives. Rather than emphasizing mental disorders and problems, positive psychology focuses on how individuals cultivate grounded optimism. Students will research, explore, and demonstrate how positive psychology correlates with increased academic achievement, goal setting, creativity, leadership, resilience, and overall wellness of individuals and communities.

Essential Objectives

1. Understand the aim and scope of positive psychology, including the distinction between principles of positive psychology and other theoretical principles of psychology.
2. Illustrate an understanding of positive psychology research, including findings from psychiatry, neuroscience, and behavioral research.
3. Demonstrate understanding of the physiology of positive emotion including neural circuitry, neurotransmitters, and chemical substances (natural and foreign).
4. Examine the value of work, family and community relationships and their impact on resilience, motivation and wellbeing.
5. Utilize teachings of positive psychology to better understand the importance of optimism, gratitude, and altruism.
6. Explore how positive psychology can contribute to the art and science of leadership and bring lasting change to individuals and organizations.
7. Apply interventions and/or techniques proven to enhance wellbeing, including recognizing and utilizing personal strengths.
8. Integrate and apply new learning to create a project aiming to improve mental health awareness.
9. Demonstrate proficiency in understanding the scientific method and evaluating quantitative data as applied to human behavior.

Required Technology

More information on general computer and internet recommendations is available on the CCV IT Support page. https://support.ccv.edu/general/computer-recommendations/

Please see CCV's Digital Equity Statement (pg. 45) to learn more about CCV's commitment to supporting all students access the technology they need to successfully finish their courses.

Required Textbooks and Resources

This course uses one or more textbooks/books/simulations, along with free Open Educational Resources (OER) and/or library materials.

Spring 2023 textbook/book details will be available on 2022-11-14. On that date a link will be available below that will take you to eCampus, CCV's bookstore. The information provided there will be specific to this class. Please see this page for more information regarding the purchase of textbooks/books.

For Open Educational Resources (OER) and/or library materials details, see the Canvas Site for this class.

The last day to use a Financial Aid Advance to purchase textbooks/books is the 3rd Tuesday of the semester. See your financial aid counselor at your academic center if you have any questions.


  • Textbook readings

    The textbook is Positive Psychology in a Nutshell by Ilona Boniwell.Other readings will be provided during class.

    This textbook is available for free as an e-book at the Hartness Library so you do not HAVE to purchase it. If you're like me, you might want to purchase a copy to make it easier to read and take notes. I bought my copy for $20 online.

  • Videos/Audio
  • Writing assignments (journals reflecting on activities, quiz/glossary responses to readings, and one project/poster)
  • Discussion Forum assignments
  • Presentation (a short 3-5 minute presentation on your poster topic)

Evaluation Criteria

  • Discussion Forums: 30%
  • Journal Assignments 30%
  • Quiz/glossary Responses 20%
  • Paper 15%
  • Presentation 5%

Discussion Forums: 30% of your grade

I would like to see lively discussions between students. Interesting discussions start with questions. Your posts will not have contain full academic citations, but they should point back to specific sources and page numbers where appropriate, and should be full of references to the readings that prompt questions, ideas, and inspiration for each other. As we move through the semester, some of the forum prompts will ask you for scholarly responses to help you come up with ideas and sources for your project/paper. For all discussion posts, to be counted as present in class for the week, you will need to write an initial response by Friday or engage with the class in some way. There is a big difference between presence and participation. To get a good grade in the Discussion section of the class, you will have to do more than just be present. Please try to savor the process rather than just posting to get it over with! Ask and seek to answer big questions.

Do not post before having read the weekly readings, please.

Journals: 30% of your grade

Your journal entries will be the place to reflect on your responses to various exercises and readings that will be required throughout the semester. While discussion posts can be seen by the class, journal entries will only be read by your instructor. Journal entries will be graded for having been done and for evidence of care and attention going into them. Your journals should contain evidence of connecting to the readings, videos, and/or class discussions. They should raise questions and they need to be reflective (critical, analytical, thoughtful--going deeper), not just reporting what you did.

Responses/Quizzes on Readings: 20% of your grade

Quiz questions are there to help you process your readings and weekly course video assignments. You may look at the quiz before doing the readings so you know what you should be looking for when watching and reading. Refer to the talks by name or to your textbooks in your answers, and informally cite your sources, including textbook page numbers. These quiz references do not have to be presented in a formal citation format as long as you provide enough information for me to quickly find the content you are referring to.

Project--Reflection Poster/Presentation: 20% of your grade (15% Poster, 5% Presentation)

For your final poster and video, I'll be asking you to look back on what you've learned in this class and create an informational and inspirational poster (8.5 X 11) that presents at least one key idea and practice from this class with others.

On the poster, identify and discuss at least one idea, question, activity, or practice from Positive Psychology that has made a difference to you and that you want to remember, use, and teach to others.

Find and explore the work of a research group, writer, or thinker who is actively focused on exploring your topic. To find this, you can use resources at the Hartness Library or use the bibliographies and works presented and cited within class.

Then, in your poster, discuss some of the work that has been done and how others can connect and apply those findings to everyday life so that all can more effectively live 'the good life' every day.

In Week 15, we will create a Gallery of Inspiration where you will present a reflection about your poster to the class. This should be a 3-5 minute video or audio presentation. You will need to describe your chosen idea and practice, discuss a few key points from the research that's been done on that topic, and talk about why you chose this topic, how it works for you, and how it can help us.

The video or audio presentation should be different from the poster--that is, it should not just be you reading your poster out loud. Both can be creative, but the presentation can be less formal, and more personal, as you wish.

Grading Criteria

CCV Letter Grades as outlined in the Evaluation System Policy are assigned according to the following chart:

A Less than 9893
A-Less than 9390
B+Less than 9088
B Less than 8883
B-Less than 8380
C+Less than 8078
C Less than 7873
C-Less than 7370
D+Less than 7068
D Less than 6863
D-Less than 6360
FLess than 60 
NPLess than 600

Attendance Policy

Regular attendance and participation in classes are essential for success in and are completion requirements for courses at CCV. A student's failure to meet attendance requirements as specified in course descriptions will normally result in a non-satisfactory grade.

  • In general, missing more than 20% of a course due to absences, lateness or early departures may jeopardize a student's ability to earn a satisfactory final grade.
  • Attending an on-ground or synchronous course means a student appeared in the live classroom for at least a meaningful portion of a given class meeting. Attending an online course means a student posted a discussion forum response, completed a quiz or attempted some other academically required activity. Simply viewing a course item or module does not count as attendance.
  • Meeting the minimum attendance requirement for a course does not mean a student has satisfied the academic requirements for participation, which require students to go above and beyond simply attending a portion of the class. Faculty members will individually determine what constitutes participation in each course they teach and explain in their course descriptions how participation factors into a student's final grade.

Participation Expectations

I will mark you as 'present' for the week if you participate in the Talking Stick discussion forum by Friday of that week.

Missing & Late Work Policy

Please contact me by email at jennifer.stefani@ccv.edu if you are going to be late turning things in or if you anticipate some difficulty in completing any of the work. Write to me in advance if possible, but please reach out at any time if you have concerns about your work.

WEEK 1: Overview--Roots of Positive Psychology in Science and Philosophy

WEEK 2: Growth Mindset, Creativity, and Flow

WEEK 3: Values and Character Strengths

WEEK 4: Meaning, Life Stories and Purpose, Motivation

WEEK 5: Mindfulness

WEEK 6: Mindsets

WEEK 7:Happiness and Positive Emotion

WEEK 8: Decision Making and Choice

WEEK 9: Giving, Gratitude, Money and Materialism

WEEK 10: Love and Relationships

WEEK 11: Physicality and Health

WEEK 12: Mortality, Environment, and Awe

WEEK 13: Religion and Spirituality

WEEK 14:Adversity and Resilience

WEEK 15: Presentations

Accessibility Services for Students with Disabilities:

CCV strives to mitigate barriers to course access for students with documented disabilities. To request accommodations, please
  1. Provide disability documentation to the Accessibility Coordinator at your academic center. https://ccv.edu/discover-resources/students-with-disabilities/
  2. Request an appointment to meet with accessibility coordinator to discuss your request and create an accommodation plan.
  3. Once created, students will share the accommodation plan with faculty. Please note, faculty cannot make disability accommodations outside of this process.

Academic Integrity

CCV has a commitment to honesty and excellence in academic work and expects the same from all students. Academic dishonesty, or cheating, can occur whenever you present -as your own work- something that you did not do. You can also be guilty of cheating if you help someone else cheat. Being unaware of what constitutes academic dishonesty (such as knowing what plagiarism is) does not absolve a student of the responsibility to be honest in his/her academic work. Academic dishonesty is taken very seriously and may lead to dismissal from the College.