PSYC 4400 Self-Esteem and Positive Psychology (General Seminar) and 5860 (when applicable)

Dr. Chris Mruk, Professor of Psychology, Bowling Green State University: Summer, 2016

Phone: 419-433-5560 (Ext: 20612). E-mail address:

Note that office hours and biographic information are posted at my general web site which is


Mruk, C. (2013). Self-Esteem and positive psychology: Research, theory, and practice (4e). New York: Springer. You may also be required to read an additional article on self-esteem and self-esteem and/or positive psychology.


This class is designed to be taken during a five or six-week period in the summer. Our goals are to become familiar with the psychology of self-esteem, to understand the problems involved in researching self-esteem, learn how to enhance self-esteem, and understand the relationship between the psychology of self-esteem and positive psychology. The course is based on the 4th edition of an upper-level book on self-esteem that was written by the instructor which gives you the opportunity to interact with the author of your text. However, I also feel that there is an ethical issue involved in an instructor requiring students to purchase a copy of his or her own book. Thus, although you can buy the book from the college bookstore or online, I will make PDF copies of chapters available as needed in the course and you can also order if from various libraries. The text is divided into seven chapters but includes readings. Thus, the class is structured so that you simply follow a series of steps that roughly correspond to the class readings on after the others until you are done. The course involves reading, researching on the Internet, "talking" with your classmates through discussion boards, and using e-mail to send in assignments. The class is run on an "asynchronous" basis which means that you may work at your own pace as long as you keep within the deadlines for assignments. This format was chosen because it provides a maximum degree of flexibility in terms of meeting individual needs, transportation issues, work schedules, family obligations, and so forth. In theory, you could even take the course while vacationing at the beach! However, taking such a class does require a certain degree of self-discipline as there is no set time for anything other than deadlines. I will attempt to contact you via e-mail just before course begins to let you know how to enter its web pages, which are on the university's Blackboard system. In order to reach these goals, the course is broken down into 10 learning objectives. They are:

1. Becoming familiar with how to learn on the Internet

2. Understanding the importance of defining self-esteem and of defining it in terms of competence and worthiness.

3. Appreciating the research issues and difficulties that arise in trying to understand self-esteem scientifically.

4. Reviewing what researchers seem to have found about self-esteem and its relationship to behavior over the last 25 years or so.

5. Identifying the major theories of self-esteem and enhancing it.

6. Developing a comprehensive, integrated theory of self-esteem.

7. Seeing how it is possible to help people enhance self-esteem

8. Understanding the relationship between self-esteem and the field of positive psychology that is emerging today.

9. Demonstrating your mastery of the material.

Not so coincidentally, objectives 2-8 are tied to chapter readings in the course. This arrangement makes it easier to develop a sense of where we are as we move through the topics and the course!


By the end of this course you should be able to do the following: define self-esteem; recognize the kinds of research issues and problems that exist in this field; summarize several major important findings about self-esteem; describe the major theoretical approaches to understanding self-esteem, identify some practical techniques that can be used to enhance self-esteem, appreciates the field of positive psychology and, perhaps, find yourself better prepared for the modern distance educational technologies of the 21st century. In order to assess your progress toward these goals, the topics will be the subject of readings, investigations, and reflections that you turn in to me at a steady rate throughout the course. I will respond to them in ways that I feel are appropriate toward helping you reach the goals and objectives mentioned above, especially if I think you are having difficulties.


The course is designed as a step-by-step learning experience. You can access the steps using the Course Schedule Page on Blackboard through your MyBGSU account. The first step is introductory involves simple exercises to make sure you have or learn all the computer skills necessary to complete the course. The next set of steps follow the book's chapters and additional readings. The steps include an online take-at-home exam. Most of the steps consists of three parts. Part A usually involves a reading assignment and one page reaction paper, Part B is a one page Internet research activity called a "glyph" which I will teach you how to write. Part C concerns two discussion board postings. Of course, I am "reachable" 24 hours per day via email and am always willing to set up an appointment with you to discuss something in person or by phone.


The course requirements and grading scales for both versions of the course are presented below. Simply scroll down to the one that interests you. In all versions, you will need to have access to a computer that is hooked up to the Internet, a web browser that is compatible with BGSU's interface, and the ability to send email over the Internet. All of these things are usually available at a public library, so you can work on the course even while on vacation. For this course, all communication with me and other students, including your email homework assignments, must take place through your account. Access to it is provided to you when you enroll at BGSU, but you need to make sure they are up and running. You will need your student ID number and password to enter either account. All written material must be compatible with Microsoft Word for Windows doc or docx files. If you think there may be a problem reading your files, then send a sample to me and I will check it out. A solution is usually possible. Similarly, if you have trouble with any of the activities in the course because of a low level of computer skills, feel free to call, email, or stop in to see me. The course is easier if you know how to use the Internet, but I have taken people through the course who were first time computer users and they did just fine, providing they stuck at it! 4400 Undergraduate and 5860 Graduate Versions of the Course

1. Steps: Step 1-4 and 6-10 in the course are worth 6 points each for a total of 56 points. In order to receive points, the material must be received BY THE DUE DATE AND TIME! The number of points assigned will depend on whether or not you have the two one page papers done and two substantial postings to the board. In all cases, a page is defined as at least 22 double spaced lines of Microsoft Word New Times Roman 12 point font with 1 inch margins. A substantial posting is defined as one that involves an original thought or reflection that makes a contribution to the discussion and is at least 5 full sentences long. You are also encouraged to make shorter, supportive comments such as "I agree with that" or "Nice post!" as they are part of everyday discussions too and let people know they are being "listened" too. However, such conversational prompts may not receive points. Step 10 involves a short paper, so you may want to look at its requirements earlier in the course. Always keep a copy of your work in case an electronic version of the dog "eats it."

2. Steps 5 and 11 are two multiple choice exams that you will have during the semester. They will be worth 23 points each points and are tied mostly to the readings.

3. Participation in this course is important. Although minimum postings are required for points, at the end of the course I will review your discussion board contributions. Your rate of participation will receive additional points. The participation rate, as determined by quality and quantity of board postings, will be divided into 4 groups. The upper one will receive 4 extra participation points, the next group 3, the following 2, and the bottom quarter 1.

4. Total points (56 + 46 + 4) = 106. Canvas, as limited and clunky as it is, is geared toward using a standard percentage 90, 80, 70, 60 percent score to assess grades, so we will use that system. Graduate students may regard the exam as optional if taking the course for 1 credit. COURSE POLICIES

My hope is to make this a unique, exciting learning experience. Please talk to me if you have any difficulties with the course or activities because I want to be flexible and do not like surprises. Remember, one of the nice things about this format is that you can e-mail me at any time! Cheating in any form cannot be tolerated and students are referred to the "Academic Honesty" section of the current Student Code/Affairs Handbook for specific information concerning definitions of cheating, plagiarism, other offenses, and their respective penalties beyond the one for violating class policies. All violations will be reported. Students with documented special needs must notify the instructor of them well in advance of when such needs could present a difficulty, if the individual wishes to receive reasonable accommodation. Students are expected to

Return to Undergraduate Courses Page