PSY 355 Course Icon

PSY 355-01 Psychology and Media in the Digital Age

Spring 2021 • Mon & Wed 2:30 - 3:45 pm



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 offered "at a distance" online via live Zoom sessions. The Zoom link for each class section can be found within the course's CANVAS page.

I will NOT require that you have your video on during Zoom. But, I strongly urge you to do so. Why? Three reasons: (1) teachers are better in doing their jobs when they can see the non-verbal cues in the faces of their students and can adjust their presentations accordingly; (2) there is research that shows that students learn better when there is a greater interaction between themselves and the teacher; and (3) by being visible to your classmates, students build up a greater sense of personal relationship with other students.

Indeed, in this course, there will be a LOT of interaction between students, e.g., holding discussions in Zoom Breakout Rooms and making presentations to the class as a whole. The quality of your experience in the course will be higher if you do have your video enabled.

I WILL require that you use your actual name on the screen (and not your telephone number or some other ID).

Office Hours

Direct contact with students outside of class time on Canvas/Zoom will be either (a) via email if you wish to send me questions or concerns or (b) through face-to-face online meetings either in Zoom or, as I actually prefer, by FaceTime (FT). In general, I will be available after lunch on Tuesdays and Thursday and, after 3:50 pm, on Mondays and Wednesdays.


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

Classes Online: Teaching at a Distance During the Pandemic

As I've previously told you in an email, this course is being offered at a distance (that is, online) but in real time (synchronously). As someone who is above 70 years old and lives with many other Jesuit priests even older, I am being as cautious as possible during this pandemic.


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

Assignments for Course (% value of final grade)

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

Though this course is being taught at a distance online, we faculty have been asked to alert students to the College's COVID-19 policies, particularly regarding behavior on campus, in buildings and classes. Here is a link to the formal College guidelines regarding COVID-19.

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


Digital User Survey and Reflection. In the first week of the course, each student will monitor his or her own use of digital media over a 3-day period. They will then complete a standardized survey on their use and prepare a reflection on what they observed. These data, both individually and collectively, will be used in class as the basis for discussions. The survey will be due by Monday, February 15, and the reflection by Monday, March 08.

24-Hour Digital Media Abstinence Project (DMAP): Report & Reflection. Students will choose any 24-hour period 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 toward the end of the semester. The report and reflection will be due on Wednesday, May 05.


Take Home Test. There will be a single "take-home" test in this course which will be given out on Wednesday, March 17 and due back on Wednesday, March 24. 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.

Quizzes. I will give a number of 10-point quizzes during the semester to be sure that you are keeping up with the readings and have examined the notes for classes. I will normally alert you beforehand that there will be a quiz.

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 29 and continue to  Wednesday, April 28. Students will be asked to indicate their choice of group topic by the end of the 2nd week of the course, that is, by Wednesday, February 17. 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 21 (during Final Exam week).

Class & Discussion Participation. Students will be graded for their engagement in the ongoing work of the course. Expectations associated with good participation include:

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.

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 attend all classes in this course. However, because you may have other obligations arising on a particular day, you are allowed up to a total of 3 absences ("cuts") for this course. I will use attendance records as a partial guide to your participation grade. Note that in all matters of “class attendance” I make no distinction between “excused” and “unexcused” absences. All absences up to 3 for whatever reason are absences (except for student athletes, see below). Only after 3 absences must you give me a compelling justification for missing class (e.g., significant illness, death in family, etc.). For each absence in excess of 3 (without a compelling justification), I reserve the right to subtract 10 points from your final grade calculation. 

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. 

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 CopyrightBoth 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.

This course is being administered online. 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 © 2021 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: