This page was last updated:

August 25, 2022

Clio - Muse of
PSY 444 Story in Psychology: Narrative Perspectives on Human Behavior

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

MWF 2:30-3:20 PM  GH 404

Fall, 2022

Course Syllabus


Office Hours
Email Address
Telephone Number

I will generally be available in my office, Reilly Hall 222, on Mondays, 3:30-4:45 pm and Tuesdays, 2:30-4:00 pm.

You can also make an appointment for another day/time OR we can meet via Zoom. Send me an email to arrange either of these options.

see http://web.lemoyne.edu/~hevern/ for all my contact data

Required Text

Cover of Tha Art and Scilence of Personality
                DevelopmentIn addition to various readings which I will assign during the course, we will also read and discuss this text:

McAdams, Dan P. (2015). The Art and Science of Personality Development. New York, NY: Guilford Press.

Paperback version:
  • ISBN-13: 978-1462529322
  • ISBN-10: 1462529321

For those students who cannot get their own copy of the book, a copy of this text will be on reserve for reading in the Falcone Library.


Catalog Course Description 

Employing a pro-seminar format, we will explore how stories and story construction serve as an increasingly influential and integrating paradigm by which to understand human behavior. We will look at the historical and conceptual foundations of the narrative perspective and compare this approach with more traditional models of human psychological functioning. We will pay particular attention to autobiographical memory, self-narrative and identity development in the contemporary world as well as narrative approaches to psychotherapy and health care as examples of the perspectiveís score. We will consider recent advances in narrative research methodologies, particularly those qualitative approaches which focus upon interview and other autobiographical sources of data. Students will be expected to prepare an individual presentation on a topic of their choosing and personal interest. Prerequisites: PSY 101 or permission of the instructor. Limited to juniors and seniors.

Course Approach

As a "pro-seminar" the course is divided into five general parts, each of which build upon the previous one(s). These parts include

  • Narrative Today: The Contemporary World and Narrative in Psychology
    • For two weeks, we will look at how our actual lives and the world around us is "storied" and begin to explore how these stories influence who we are and how we act. We will identify many different kinds of stories which are part of our day-to-day lives and what their psychological significance may be. We will also spend some time talking about how the contemporary media (television, movies, videos, and the Internet) are saturated with narratives of many types.
  • Historical Origins: Where Does Narrative Psychology Come From?
    • For about three weeks, we'll examine the foundations of the narrative perspective in psychology during the 19th & 20th Centuries. We'll look at the origins of many of the concepts which underlie the "narrative perspective" in psychology. We'll be contrasting classical and standard models of story and psychology with other models and other ways of thinking about how human beings are psychologically formed.
  • Narrative Inquiry: Methods of Research & Application
    • In contrast to the very strict experimental models of research employed by many psychologists, narrative researchers employ a wide range of approaches to analyzing the functions and effects of stories. Some of these are experimental and some are more qualitative. A fundamental distinction will be made between the kind of "big stories" examined by psychologists like Dan McAdams and "small stories" of researchers like Michael Bamberg. We will explore different approaches to how narrative research takes place across that dividing line. Students will be carrying out a small research analysis of their own.
  • Narrative Identity: Autobiography & Memory
    • Personality, developmental, and clinical psychologists are particularly interested in how stories serve to provide each of us with our own identities. For a couple of weeks we will explore what happens when human beings put together their own stories, that is, their autobiographies, and how our memories of ourselves and others reflect the impact of narrative shaping and construction. We will raise questions about topics such as psychological disorders as narrative failures, the role of false memories, and the developmental function of narrative in adolescence and adulthood.
  • Student Presentations and Special Topics
    • As we draw to the end of the course, each student will report to the seminar about the results of his or her research into some topic of interest from a narrative perspective. If we have any classes in which students are not making presentations, the instructor will lead the class into discussions of some special topics.
  • McAdams' Model.
    • Throughout the course, we will explore in depth the three-tiered personality model of Dan P. McAdams (Northwestern University) which argues that, after our growth as infants, children, and adolescents, we all construct or author a "narrative identity" as adults. We will devote eight (8) classes to reviewing and discussing his book. In order to foster our discussion, students in the course will be expected to bring to each class devoted to the book a printed page for each chapter in which, on only one side of the page, students will provide (1) their name, (2) the chapter under review, (3) at least one or two questions that the chapter raised for them in reading, and (4) at least one example of how something in that chapter could be applied to understanding how people behave.
Course Objectives
At the end of this course,
  • students will have an understanding of how narrative serves as a fundamental means by which human beings employ story and story-like discourse or constructions as a primary strategy for achieving four essential goals: (1) construing the meaning of their ongoing experience, (2) predicting how intentional agents will act in the future, (3) negotiating social worlds, and (4) establishing personal identity for themselves and others.
  • students will show an appreciation for research approaches in studying narrative that employ qualitative and other non-experimental means of data collection and analysis
  • students will be able to discuss the role that narrative plays in human memory and autobiographical functions
  • students will have employed narrative as the focus of both an in-class presentation and the foundation of a research paper following APA-Style guidelines

 Requirements & Guidelines

Class Attendance and Absence 

You are expected to attend all classes in this course. Attendance in seminar-format courses constitutes an academic requirement. Because of different circumstances and demands on time, however, students are permitted to be absent for up to 5 classes without academic penalty. Absences in excess of 5 classes (without a serious and compelling reason in the eyes of the instructors) may result in a loss of up to one grade level from the student's course grade for each class missed (e.g., B+ becomes a B). 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.

I do not make a distinction between "excused" and "unexcused" absences (see below for student athlete exception).

Permitted absence from class does not excuse a student from any assignments given in that class nor from the responsibility to learn all materials covered or discussed in the missed class. You should also be sure to maintain your reading assignments concurrently with the class for which such assignments are due.
Student Athletes and Absence Students representing Le Moyne College as members of interscholastic sports teams will not be penalized for missing classes in excess of the 5-cut limit (team activities do count toward that limit, but not for the attendance extra credit below). This means, for example, that student athletes cannot miss 9 classes because they have 4 game/travel dates and an additional 5 cuts on top of those missed classes. However, you must document your absence(s) formally. I will expect you to provide me with a copy of your team's travel schedule with all missing dates circled, your coach's name and telephone extension, and your own name somewhere on the document.


You are expected to be on time for all classes. Chronic or habitual lateness (5 or more late arrivals in class) may result in a deduction of one grade level from your final grade calculation.
Reading Assignments When you come to class, I expect that you will be prepared. This means that you will have completed the readings assigned for the class. Assignments are due on the first date indicated for each topic on the "Schedule of Classes and Assignments".
 Class Participation

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

  • regular attending class (which, by itself, is only equal to a participation grade of C+)
  • giving attention to me and other students when we are making presentations
  • coming to class prepared (having read the assignment for the day)
  • asking questions of me and/or other students regarding the material of a class
  • making comments, raising objections, or giving observations about topics in the course, particularly those which tie in the classroom material to "real world" problems, link current with past topics, or otherwise try to integrate the content of the course
  • providing examples to support or challenge the issues talked about in class
  • contributing to small discussion groups
  • dealing with other students and/or me in a respectful fashion
This is a pro-seminar. Thus, it is especially important that you understand that students who do not speak in class cannot expect to earn a strong grade for participation. As the course moves into its second half, students will be more and more expected to carry the prime weight of class activity. I can not recall ever penalizing students for incorrect or even silly answers which were volunteered (I made some myself over the years), but I have entered lower grades for students who remain silent. Note that all students begin with an average class participation mark of C+ and must demonstrate some of the more active behaviors listed above (besides class attendance) to raise that grade.
Format for Reports, etc.  Anything you turn in to me in this class should be typewritten (preferably) on a clean sheet of paper. Please do NOT tear a page out of a spiral notebook. Two or more pages must be stapled together or paper-clipped. All pages after the first should have a page number.

I will give you some guidelines later for the final paper you will write for the course.

College COVID-19 Guidelines Here is a link to the full statement of all the guidelines and regulations for the Fall 2022 semester that Le Moyne College will be following in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. You are expected to read through and follow these guidelines this semester, subject as the statement notes, to changes the College may make as the health situation may change.

Summary of Key Classroom Health and Safety Protocols:
  • Instructors may require that appropriate face coverings 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.
  • I will not generally require students to use a face covering in PSY 101 except for those students (1) who have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 in the past 10 days or (2) who have tested positive for COVID-19 in the past 10 days. In either of these cases, students must follow the guidelines in the statement linked to above.
  • All eligible undergraduate and graduate students are required to have received a COVID-19 vaccination by the start of fall classes. Boosters are highly encouraged and recommended.
  • No one should attend class if feeling ill.
  • Members of the campus community should continue to carry their face covering with them should they need to put it on.


Evaluation and Grading 
Components of Final Grade
Grades in this course will be determined as a weighted average calculated from performance on the following evaluative components:
  • In-class participation & activities (100 points; = 20% of grade) including single-page responses to each chapter of McAdams' book (= 50 points or 10% of grade).
  • Mid-term "Take-Home" Examination (100 points; = 20% of grade)
  • Contemporary Narrative Reflective Exercise (50 points = 10 % of grade)
  • Student Presentation (In class/verbal = 75 points [15% of final grade] & final written form = 125 points [25% of final grade])

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, grading component or weighting listed above. Such a change, addition, or elimination will apply to all members of a class section, not just to an individual.

Grade Equivalents
In evaluating your performance in class, I will use the percentage equivalents below for each letter grade:

A = 90 to 100%     C+ = 75%
A- = 88%              C = 70%
B+ = 83%             C- = 68%
B = 80%               D = 65%
b- = 78%              F = below 65%
Final Course Grade
Final course grades will then be assigned on the basis of the weighted average derived from the sum of all quality-point equivalents of each component according to the follow scheme:

A  = 450-500 points         C+ = 365-389 points
A- = 440-449 points         C  =  350-364 points
B+ = 415-439 points        C- =  340-349 points
B  = 400-414 points         D  =  315-339 points
B- = 390-399 points         F  =  below 315 points

Contemporary Narrative Reflective Exercise Narrative influences surround us and affect the ways in which we act and judge the world. Each student in this class will be asked to undertake a reflective exercise to gain an understanding of such influences in contemporary culture. Alternatives will be given students to sort through narrative currents which affect their lives. Possible ways in which students might complete this exercise include the following choices; students must complete one of these choices.

A)  Film Series

During the course of the semester, at least 19 films--both features and documentaries--will be available for your viewing in the LMC Library. Students will be expected to view at least two (2) of these films and prepare a narrative analysis of each film according to the guidelines distributed in class.
Here is a link to the listing of those films and a short description of each:  Film and Autobiographical Writing Options

Students may suggest to the instructor other films for possible review. These films and documentaries often echo or reflect important themes currently discussed in narrative psychology as well as standing as distinguished works in their own right.

B) Autobiographical Writing [
Film and Autobiographical Writing Option]

Students may complete an autobiographical narrative involving some important aspect of their lives in written or some other format. They will be invited to share the results of this compilation or composition in a conversational setting with the instructor, any other faculty member, or some other person outside their immediate family. Following a discussion of their narratives, students will complete a short reflection paper on the experience. That reflection paper and the autobiographical statement will be submitted to the instructor. More complete instructions about completing this exercise will be distributed in class.

C) Individual Reflective Project

Students who believe there may be a different and more desirable format by which to complete this assignment are encouraged to talk over their ideas or suggestions with the instructor. Any project may be considered if it provides students with an opportunity to investigate some contemporary expression of narrative and to reflect upon their responses or personal engagement in some tangible (e.g., written) way

Extra Credit

In order to encourage attendance in class, the only extra credit in this course will be given for the following three situations:

  • Students who have no absences on record will receive an extra 9 points
  • Students who have 1 absence on record will receive an extra 5  points
  • Students who have 2 absences on record will receive an extra 3 points

I will begin counting absences on Wednesday, September 7, 2022. Recall that I do not make a distinction between excused and unexcused absences. For the purposes of "extra credit" you are either in the class or not in the class. Please do not ask me to take "extenuating circumstances" into account in calculating your absences for purposes of extra credit.

No other "extra credit" will be given.

Please Note... Students are encouraged to speak up, be engaged, and participate in class. Classes will represent a diversity of individual beliefs, backgrounds, and experiences. We may not share the same views on some topics, but we converse in a respectful manner. Le Moyne College is a zero-tolerance campus.

As noted above, 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.

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. This is a seminar for advanced upper class students. Please cooperate in making this a great experience.

Some students don't seem to have a sense of what kinds of behaviors annoy teachers (including me). So, let me list the sorts of behaviors you should avoid:

  • Regularly coming late to class -- entering the class after its scheduled beginning. If a student is regularly being delayed by another professor, that student should discuss the matter with me to plan how to stop it.
  • Leaving the class before the end of the class period without mentioning the reason for leaving to me before the start of the class. Note, however, that if a student feels sick or needs to excuse herself or himself for a medical reason, the student should do so without waiting to get my permission. The student should leave quietly.
  • Using any cordless or cellular telephone or the like during a class except for students who are emergency service workers on call, parents of sick children, or caretakers of sick adults on call. These individuals should mention their need to monitor a call during the class to me before the start of that class. Turn off your cell phone before coming to class.
  • Texting. Other than to check for the time, there is no reason why a cell phone should be used in class. So put away your cell phone.
  • Talking to others or making audible remarks during class lectures by me or while another student is talking.
  • Eating food (e.g., bagels, donuts, pastries, sandwiches) during class or drinking beverages during class which are not in containers with a lid or can be closed by a screw top. Students with a medical condition requiring the consumption on food or beverages should see me.
  • Creating an environmental mess by leaving garbage on the classroom floor rather than by putting debris in an appropriate trash container.


Other Issues
Recommendations If you do choose to ask me for a letter of recommendation, I would normally be happy to complete one. However, 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.
Academic Standards 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.  For details see the Community Standards section of the Student Handbook.

Students should recall that any deliberate plagiarism (see description below) 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 & 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/code2002.html#8_11) 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".
Students with Personal / Mental Health Concerns 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 on the 2nd floor of Seton Hall; appointments may be arranged by phone at 445-4195 or e-mail at <counselingservices@lemoyne.edu>. The Center provides both individual and group counseling on a strictly confidential basis. The Counseling staff is also available on an emergency basis.
 Disabilities or
Special Needs
Your access in this course is important.  Any student who feels s/he may need an accommodation based on the impact of a disability should contact the instructor privately to discuss your specific needs.  You should also meet with someone from Disability Support Services (DSS) about your disability and accommodation needs.  The DSS office is located on the first floor of the library (315-445-4118; dss@lemoyne.edu).  This should take place within the first 2 weeks of the semester.
Tutoring Tutoring is located in the Student Success Center on the first floor of the library, to the right of the art gallery.  It is open M-Th 10am-9pm, F 10am-4pm, and Sun 3pm-9pm.  Peer tutors are available for most subjects.  To sign up, go to the Student Success Center webpage to create an account and log in to select the current semesterís schedule.  If you need tutoring for a subject not listed, please email tutoring@lemoyne.edu.  Tutoring is free for all students and is available from the second week of classes through the last day of classes.
Privacy & 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. Further, as the course website notes in several places, all class lectures and presentations by the instructor are copyright © 2022 by Fr. Hevern. As a result, students who wish to film, tape record, or otherwise permanently record the activities of the class (for example, by cell phone or other recording device) must ask Fr. Hevern for permission to do so ahead of time. If you need to record this course as an accommodation for a disability, permission will be given, but you must first ask. Note, though, that posting videos or other recordings of class lectures to public websites will be considered a significant violation of the rights of both the instructor and other students. The instructor reserves the rights to give a student a failing grade in the course or otherwise seek legal remedies for such a violation.
Recording Policy
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.
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 personís 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 Moyneís Bias-Related Incident Reporting webpage to submit a report and for further information.
Title IX Students who believe they have been harassed, discriminated 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 Collegeís Title IX coordinator to help ensure that the studentís 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.