PSY 355
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PSY 355-01 Psychology and Media in the Digital Age

Spring 2023• Mon & Wed 2:30 - 3:45 pm



(revised 20230124)

Summary of Syllabus

Instructor: Fr. Vincent W. Hevern, S.J., Ph.D.

E-mail:  hevern @ lemoyne.edu

Personal Homepage: www.hevern.com

Course Format

The course will be conducted in person in Grewen Hall 207. As I have already explained in an email, I do not use Canvas and, unless the college decides to go online completely because of some upsurge in the pandemic, I will not be using it at all.

Office Hours

I will hold office hours in Reilly Hall 222 on Mo n from 3:45 to 4:50 pm and Tues 2:00-3:30 pm, either in person or via Zoom. Students can also request to meet with me via Zoom at other times and days.


Course Webpage:

Everything related to this course will be found at the course webpage that can be accessed via my homepage


Schedule & Assignments are all at this link. Readings are due on the day they are scheduled.

Assignments for Course (% value of final grade)

  1. The Media World: Then and Now (10%; Report and Reflection due Mon. Feb 27 [revised date])
  2. 12-Hour Digital Media Abstinence Project [DMAP] (15%; Report/Reflection due Mon, May 08)
  3. Take Home Test (20%; distributed Wed Feb 22; due Wed Mar 08). There is no final exam in this course
  4. Comments on Alter's Irresistible (5%; due at each class in which we discuss Alter's book). • For each chapter, one paragraph on what you most learned from the chapter and one question that the chapter raised for you. Pass/Fail for each submission. Grade on this is the sum of P/Fs.
  5. Group Presentation to Class (15%) Common work in group of 5 or so on topic. Choice made by Mon Jan 30. Presentations begin on Mon, March 20 after the Spring Break
  6. Final Written Reflections on Group Presentation (15%) Due by Friday, May 12
  7. Class & Discussion Participation (10%) Attendance without active participation is equal to a participation grade of B

Class Attendance. 3 cut limit. Extra credit for perfect attendance or only absence. Athletes should send me the schedule from a coach of any absences for games (these are not covered by limit).

Covid-19 College Guidelines

At the end of this syllabus, I have provided a copy of the two-page official college policy statement about dealing with COVID-19 for the Spring, 2023 semester. Please read through those guidelines.

NOTE: Our best hope to avoid unsafe health will be for all of us jointly to follow the guidelines. I will ask any student in class who is not properly wearing his or her mask to adjust it.

Now, read the rest of the syllabus below

Detailed Syllabus

Required Texts

The course webpage is located at this link and is always available via Fr. Hevern's personal homepage.

Catalog Course Description

Contemporary life increasingly challenges us to cope with many different and quickly emerging forms of communication and information media. Since the advent of the “Digital Revolution” of the late 20th century, the penetration of these new forms of media into daily life has spawned profound questions about the relationship of human beings and the technologies represented by communications, information, and entertainment media. We will explore various psychological theories (such as phenomenological/sensory-perceptual, narrative/cultural, & social network/systems approaches) that address how and why we engage with digital media and its products. This course will put these psychological insights into dialogue with traditions of media analysis, particularly the media ecology approach of figures such as McLuhan, Ong, and others. In doing so, we will consider a wide range of issues such as media-based violence, the media's impact on personal relationships and identity, problematic Internet use, online sexuality, and others. We will raise questions regarding the ethical and psycho-developmental implications of media consumption. Students will be invited to examine their own uses of media and how these may be affecting their current lives. Prerequisite: PSY 101 or permission of the instructor.

Course Overview

This course will involve a broad mixture of lectures by the instructor, student presentations, and small- and class-wide group discussions.

Note: This semester PSY 355 is being taught in two 75-minute periods each week. Each of these class periods will normally be divided roughly into two halves with a short break of up to 5 minutes between each half. Students needing to attend to personal needs might keep in mind that such a break will be available.


Learning Objectives

At the end of this course, you should be able

1.    To understand the origins, scope and nature of contemporary forms of media

2.    To describe and reflect upon your own uses of contemporary media as these affect your daily life

3.    To analyze important forms of contemporary digital media and their effects on major aspects of personal and interpersonal functioning from several psychological perspectives

4.    To employ media ecological approaches in the analysis of emerging and differing forms of contemporary media


The Media World: Then and Now. In the first several weeks of the course, each student will interview someone who graduated from high school before 1977 or college before 1980 about how they led their lives with the media available to them when they were young. Students will summarize their findings and compare what they learned from their interview with their own lives today: what is the same and what is different? I will distribute instructions for the interview and review by Monday, January 23. HERE IS A COPY OF THE INSTRUCTIONS. The Report and Reflection will be due on Monday, February 27.

12-Hour Digital Media Abstinence Project (DMAP): Report & Reflection. Students will choose a 12-hour period [beginning no later than 8 am and ending no earlier than 8 pm] during the first 12 weeks of the course during which you will refrain from using any digital media whatsoever (with the exception of what you have to do to attend classes online, job-related demands, and any emergency issues involving your family or self). Using guidelines prepared by the instructor, you will compose a descriptive report on the experience and respond to a series of reflection questions about the experience. The report should be 4 to 8 pages in length. You will be expected to talk about your experience when we treat the topic at the end of the semester. The report and reflection will be due on Wednesday, May 04


Take Home Test. There will be a single "take-home" test in this course which will be given out on Wed, Feb 22 and due back on Wed, March 08. This exam will challenge you to summarize and integrate the materials found in the first half of the course. There will be no final exam in this course.

Comments on Alter's Irresistible. For each chapter, you should prepare one paragraph on what you most learned from the chapter and one question that the chapter raised for you. Your comments/questions should be handed into me in typed form (multiple pages must be stapled together) with your name on the top of the submission. They are due on the day we discuss that chapter. Pass/Fail for each chapter submission. Grade on this is the sum of P/Fs.


Group Presentation: Oral Presentation & Summary (handout, PPT, or similar). Working in groups of 4 or 5 students per group, students will prepare a report for class on one of seven topics to be covered in the syllabus. In preparing the group presentation, students will link the focus of their presentations as far as possible to include the psychological and/or media ecology perspectives discussed earlier in the course. The group will be expected to present their report in any manner they choose (e.g., using PowerPoint [PPT], videos, or the like) and provide a summary handout of their findings for the rest of the class. They will also be expected to help lead small group discussions about issues raised by their topic. The presentations will begin on Monday, March 20 and continue to  Wednesday, April 26. Students will be asked to indicate their choice of group topic Monday, Jan 30. The same grade will be given to all members of each group.

Final Written Reflections on Group Presentation. Each student will choose to provide 5-8 pages of reflections on the personal impact and ethical dimensions of any of the group presentations that they either delivered themselves or heard from their classmates. This report will be due by 5 pm on Friday, May 12 (during Final Exam week).

Class & Discussion Participation: What do I mean by participation? You demonstrate participation in ways such as the following:

In general, a participation grade of A- or A is given to students who make contributions (asking questions, making observations, etc.) in at least half the classes. A participation grade of B+ is given to students who make contributions at least once in every 5 to 6 classes. 

A Note on Issues of Sexuality and Violence. At some points in this course, we will discuss matters involving sexuality, violence and other potentially offensive matters which are encountered online or through various digital media. I do not expect that we will (or need to) be viewing any sexually-explicit or grossly-violent images in doing so. We will, however, hear verbal descriptions of and be discussing matters of sexuality and violence (including possibly pornography and the exploitation of children). Treating such issues in this course may be personally upsetting to some individuals and/or evoke strong moral objections. Students in this course will be asked to affirm in writing their understanding of and agreement to deal with these issues in this academic context. I will hand out a form for you to indicate your consent to treating these issues on Monday, Jan 30 and ask you to return the form on the following class.

Evaluation and Grading

Course Grade. Your final course grade will consist of the sum of each component listed below with a total of 500 possible points which can be earned across all components:

Calculating Final Grade. Your final grade will be calculated on the basis of the following conversion criteria out of the total of 500 points offered in the course:

A =      450-500 points (90%+) C+ =    365-389 points (73-77%)
A- =     440-449 points (88-89%) C =      350-364 points (70-72%)
B+ =    415-439 points (83-87%) C- =     340-349 points (68-69%)
B =      400-414 points (80-82%) D =      315-339 points (63-67%)
B- =      390-399 points (78-79%) F =       below 315 points (< 63%)

Because the actual work of a course sometimes changes or deviates from an original plan, I reserve the right to change, add, or drop, within reasonable bounds, any weight or grading component listed above. Such a change, addition, or elimination will apply to all members of a class section, not just to an individual.

Extra Credit. The only two circumstances in which I offer “extra credit” in this class are the following:

(1) In order to encourage attendance in class, I will give extra points (out of 500) to

    •    Students who have no absences on record = 9 points

    •    Students who have 1 absence on record = 5 points

(2) From time to time I may offer a limited number of “extra credit” points for participation in research projects sponsored by the Psychology Department. No more than two opportunities per student will be eligible for extra credit purposes. Each such opportunity will gain a student 5 points. I will announce when and if such projects are eligible for these points as they occur in the semester.

Early Exams. I never give a test before or in anticipation of its scheduled date. Be sure your travel plans are made accordingly.

Class Attendance. You are expected to participate in class by joining in both of the weekly classes.

What about absences, that is, your not participating in the class lecture?  Normally I require students to miss no more than 3 classes (3 "cuts") without a serious or compelling reason. Examples of a serious & compelling reason for additional absences would be a documented visit to a physician's office or participation at a funeral. If you are absent from school to attend a funeral, you must file a notice with either the Dean's Office or the Campus Ministry Office.

If you become sick and expect to be out of class for 3 or more days or if you are required to quarantine yourself, you are supposed to contact the Student Health Services office: (315) 445-4440  Email: healthservices@lemoyne.edu. Note, because of HIPPA rules, the college will notify your professors if you are absent BUT THEY ARE NOT ALLOWED TO TELL YOUR INSTRUCTORS WHY YOU ARE ABSENT. So, please send me (and your other teachers) an email to explain any extended absences, particularly if they relate to quarantine.

I will try to be understanding about absences. The pandemic has been a difficult experience for many of us. However, if you do consistently miss many of your classes, I reserve the right to lower your final grade. I will deduct up to 5 points for each excessive absence. If you are not in class, you are clearly not participating.

Observance of Religious Holidays. As provided in New York State Education Law Section 224-a, any student who is unable to register for class, attend class, or participate in any examination, study or classwork requirements on a particular day because of his or her religious beliefs is eligible for an equivalent opportunity to register for classes or make up any missed examination, study, or classwork requirements, without penalties or additional fees. Students who require such an opportunity must contact the registrar (for registration) or their instructor (for examination, study, or classwork requirements) at least two weeks in advance. A full copy of the College's policy on the observance of religious holidays can fe found at either dean's office.

Students with Personal Problems. Students who encounter personal problems of any kind, especially  problems that might affect their academic performance, are encouraged to contact the Wellness Center for Health  and Counseling (https://www.lemoyne.edu/Student-Life/Student-Services/Wellness-Center). The Center is  located in Romero Hall; appointments may be arranged by phone at 445-4195. The Center provides both individual and group counseling on a strictly confidential basis. The professional staff is also available on an emergency basis. When the Wellness Center is closed, for example, at night, the Le Moyne Security office (315-445-4444 or ext. 4444 on campus) can contact the professional staff for an emergency.

Le Moyne subscribes to the My SSP online 24/7 service. You can contact My SSP at this link, or download the My SSP app, or call 1-866-743-7732. As their site explains: "Call. Chat. Anytime. Anywhere. My SSP connects students with free, confidential emotional health and wellbeing support conveniently available 24/7 via the app, telephone and web."

Student Athletes and Absences. Students representing Le Moyne College as members of interscholastic sports teams will not be penalized for missing classes. You should give me a listing of your team's schedule from your coach at the beginning of the semester so that I know when you are scheduled to be away.

Other Guidelines

Academic Honesty. Students are expected to observe at all times the highest ethical standards as members of the academic community.  Any form of dishonesty makes a student liable to severe sanctions, including expulsion from the College. If I have any questions about academic dishonesty or plagiarism (see further below), I reserve the right to submit your paper to various online testing agencies or engines such as www.turnitin.com or to employ software testing procedures (such as the Cloze technique) to determine if your paper as a whole or in part is originally written by you. Students should recall that any deliberate plagiarism in an academic course results in a mandatory Failure (F) grade for the course on the first instance and dismissal from the College on a second instance. Instructors are required to submit the name of any student who cheats or commits plagiarism to the Academic Dean.


Cheating and Plagiarism. Cheating and lying are unacceptable at Le Moyne as stated clearly in the Student Handbook. The "Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct" (especially General Principle C [Integrity] and Ethical Standard 8.11 [Plagiarism]; http://www.apa.org/ethics/code/index.aspx) remind you of the importance of honesty in psychology. Plagiarism or cheating in any form is simply wrong. Please reread the section on "Academic Standards" in the Student Handbook to review what is meant by these terms. Recall that plagiarism involves the submission of any thoughts or formulations of other people without their being cited or given credit for those thoughts/formulations. For this reason, in any written materials submitted to me:


•       You must put quote marks (" ") around any direct quotation of another person's writings and you must cite the source and page number.

•       You must cite the source for any thoughts or even, for ways of expression which you have changed "into your own words".


Special Needs. If you have a disability and need accommodations, please meet with me withing the first two weeks of the semester to review your accommodation sheet. You should meet with someone from the Office of Disability Support Services each semester to review your documentation. The Office is located in the Library (1st floor; 445-4118; dss@lemoyne.edu).


Privacy and Copyright.  Both other students and I have an expectation that classroom discussions and presentations are meant only for class participants. We also have a reasonable expectation that students and the instructor will respect each others' privacy including, as noted earlier, maintaining confidentiality about personal matters discussed in class.

The college's policy is that students must receive written permission from an instructor before sharing or posting in any other location any recording of class lectures or distributing comments or discussion materials involving the instructor or any students in the class. The penalties for unauthorized recording, sharing, distribution or retention of materials may range up to expulsion from the college. Note that this policy is college-wide, that all my own class lectures and presentations are Copyright © 2023 by me, and that violation of this policy allows me to penalize an offender with a failing mark in the course.

Please Note... Students have the right to voice opinions contrary to those offered by the instructor and/or other students. Equally, a faculty member has the right - and the responsibility - to ensure that all academic discourse occurs in a context characterized by respect and civility. The accepted level of civility would not include attacks of a personal nature or statements denigrating another on the basis of race, sex, religion, sexual orientation, age, national/regional origin or other such factors. Students who are not respectful, not civil, or disruptive in any way may be asked to leave the class.

Bias-Related Incidents.
Le Moyne College defines a bias-related incident as behavior that constitutes  an expression of hostility against the person or property of another because of the targeted person’s race, religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity, national origin, gender, age, or disability. Bias-related incidents include, but are not limited to, non-threatening name calling and using degrading language or slurs that are directed  toward a person because of his or her membership or perceived membership in a protected class and that create a hostile environment for that person.

Students who believe they have experienced bias or discrimination are encouraged to report the incident. Please refer to Le Moyne’s Bias-Related Incident Reporting webpage to submit a report and for further information.

Title IX. Students who believe they have been harassed, discrimination against, or involved in sexual  violence should contact the Title IX Coordinator (315-445-4278) for information about campus resources and  support services, including confidential counseling services.
Le Moyne faculty are concerned about the well-being and development of our students and we are available to discuss your concerns.  As faculty, we are obligated to share information with the College’s Title IX coordinator to help ensure that the student’s safety and welfare are being addressed, consistent with the requirements of the law.  These disclosures include, but are not limited to, reports of sexual assault, dating violence, domestic violence, and stalking.
Please refer to Le Moyne's Sexual Misconduct Resources webpage for contact information and further details.


Letters of Recommendation. If you choose to ask me for a letter of recommendation, please give me at least three weeks' notice before the letter is due. I have a form I ask all students to fill out before I will write a letter. See me in the office for the form. You should also sign up to see me for an interview after turning in the form before I write anything in order to brief me about your graduate school plans, goals, etc. In these ways, I can fashion a letter which is both personal and focused.

Behavioral Expectations


Note that you are expected to behave politely and in a manner which fosters the overall academic atmosphere and quality of the class. Some students don't seem to have a good sense of what kinds of behaviors are inappropriate in a college classroom. So, let me list the sorts of behaviors you should avoid:

Official College Policies regarding COVID-19 and the Pandemic for 2023

Overview. The following information describes the health and safety guidelines for in-person classes and classrooms, which are subject to change1. The College may adjust health and safety protocols pending prevalence of the COVID-19 virus and its transmissibility on campus, in Onondaga County, and/or the State of New York. Please note, given the dynamic nature of the coronavirus, all students, faculty, and staff are expected to monitor campus email announcements for policy updates.

Summary of Key Classroom Health and Safety Protocols:

1.     Instructors may require that appropriate face coverings (defined below) be worn properly by all persons in their classrooms or labs. Face coverings are optional in classes and labs if not explicitly required by the instructor.

2.     All eligible undergraduate and graduate students were required to have received a COVID-19 vaccination by the start of fall classes. Boosters are highly encouraged and recommended.

3.     No one should attend class if feeling ill.

4.     Members of the campus community should continue to carry their face covering with them should they need to put it on.

Viral Transmission Levels. The NYS Department of Health has adopted and implemented guidelines provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC monitors levels of community viral transmission of the coronavirus by tracking case numbers for each county and state as well as measures the impact of COVID-19 illness on health and healthcare systems. Community levels are classified as low, medium, or high. The CDC provides guidance for the implementation of COVID-19 prevention strategies for each community level and within the context of each community’s vaccination coverage. For example, when the COVID-19 community level is low, members of the Le Moyne community may not be required to wear a face covering indoors. However, when the COVID-19 community level is high, CDC guidance prevention steps indicate that individuals wear a face covering in public indoor settings regardless of vaccination status. Additionally, the CDC recommends that fully vaccinated individuals may choose to wear a face covering regardless of the level of transmission, particularly if they are immunocompromised or at increased risk for severe disease from COVID-19, or if they have someone in their household who is immunocompromised, at increased risk of severe disease or not fully vaccinated. As a caring community, the College respects and supports individuals who choose to wear face coverings.

College Face Covering Requirement. As we enter deeper into the winter months, transmission levels and hospitalizations are relatively stable in our local community and on campus. And, vaccination rates are high among members of the campus community. Within the aforementioned context, the face covering requirement for the college community is as follows. At this time, with the exception of the following spaces and circumstances, face coverings will continue to not be required to be worn in most areas of the campus. However, appropriate2 face coverings are required to be properly worn (i.e., covering both mouth and nose) by all persons, regardless of vaccination status, until further notice, in the following spaces:

a.     In the Wellness Center for Health and Counseling;

b.     In all College office, recreational, and residential spaces that request face coverings be worn;

c.     In all instructional spaces (including classrooms and labs) where an instructor requests that face coverings be worn;

d.     When holding meetings in tight spaces; and,  

e.     When required by event organizers for specific talks, lectures, performances, services, and similar events.

Therefore, instructors may require that face coverings be worn properly by all persons in their classrooms or labs. At this time, face coverings are optional in classes and labs if not explicitly required by the instructor.

In the following circumstances:

a.     Any individual who is experiencing new or different symptoms.

b.     Any individual who was exposed to someone with COVID-19 in the last 10 days should wear an appropriate2 and well-fitting mask around others on campus, at home and in public for 10 days (where day 0 is the last day of exposure).

c.     Any individual who has tested positive for COVID-19, who has completed five days of isolation and has been fever-free for at least 24 hours should wear an appropriate2 and well-fitting mask around others on campus, at home and in public for 10 days (where day 0 is the day symptoms started or the day when tested positive if asymptomatic).

Additionally, members of the campus community should continue to carry their face covering with them should they need to put one on.

Covid-19 Vaccine and Boosters. All undergraduate and graduate students (together with faculty, staff, and administrators) were required to have the COVID-19 vaccine by the start of fall semester classes As part of the College’s strategy to reduce the risk of transmission and serious illness, Le Moyne highly recommends that all eligible undergraduate and graduate students remain up to date on their COVID-19 booster vaccinations as well.

Medical or Religious Exemption. Students may request a medical or religious exemption from vaccination. Please contact the Office of Student Development at studentdevelopment@lemoyne.edu for an application.

Approved Student Absences from Class. Students are expected to attend classes in-person as scheduled and require appropriate approval to be excused from in-person classes. Students may be excused from attending in-person classes for short-term absences due to illness such as colds or the flu, accidents, or quarantine/isolation from a confirmed COVID infection. Students who must miss class for illness should follow the Policy on Student Absenteeism in the Event of Illness or Accident, which stipulates that, “It is the student’s responsibility to contact his or her instructors, as soon as possible, to explain the absence and make arrangements for the completion of missed work or tests.” If illness or injury requires more than three consecutive days of hospital or home care, Health Services needs to be informed [(315) 445-4440]. If the student has been treated by a doctor off campus, some documentation from that office will be expected. Health Services will then notify the Registrar who will inform the student’s instructors, advisor, and the appropriate academic dean.

COVID-19 Symptoms. Regardless of vaccination status, students who are experiencing COVID-19-related symptoms must not attend class and are encouraged to contact the Student Health Center [healthservices@lemoyne.edu, (315) 445-4440] or their primary medical provider. COVID-19-related symptoms may include one or some combination of the following:

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

Finally, in keeping with our values as a Jesuit college, each member of the community is expected to act honestly and ethically regarding both their vaccination status and any experienced COVID-19-related symptoms. Further, each member of the community is expected to take care of not only their own health, but to be mindful of the health of others and to avoid actions that may jeopardize the health and welfare of those we learn, work and live with at the College. A well-vaccinated and attentive community better protects the vulnerable among us and loved ones at home. 


[1] For example, should the CDC determine that Onondaga County’s COVID-19 community level is medium, and the medium community level is sustained, then the College at a minimum may require face coverings in all academic and event spaces. Additionally, should the CDC determine that Onondaga County’s COVID-19 community level is high, and the high community level is sustained, then the College at a minimum may require face coverings in all public indoor settings and/or require screening testing. Additionally, the College’s policies remain subject to public health orders issued by the Onondaga County Health Department and New York State Department of Health, and will be adjusted if directed by public health authorities.

[2] Appropriate and recommended face coverings include N95, KN95 or KF94 respirators, surgical masks, and face coverings made of at least two layers of cloth. Above all else, a snug fit (no gaps, wired nose bridge, adjustable ear loops), offers the best protection to the user and the community. Most importantly, face coverings with an exhalation/release valve, single-layer gaiter-style neck fleeces, and bandanas should NOT be worn on campus.