A Seminar in Positive Psychology
This chapter describes an upper level, undergraduate, writing-intensive seminar in positive psychology. A true seminar format is employed in which the instructor and students share coequally in responsibilities for teaching and learning. This format is most successful when 20 or fewer students are enrolled, and when an uninterrupted 3-h segment of time can be set aside, usually during evening hours. Introductory lecture material reviews the history of positive psychology and sets the stage for subsequent topics and assignments. Correlative chapters in the textbook supplement weekly topical content and discussion. Three films are presented to exemplify various attributes of individuation, personal responsibility, courage, redemption, resilience, perseverance, and the importance of sharing vulnerabilities within the context of relationships. Several movies have been employed; these include, but are not limited to: The Fountainhead, Gandhi, Schindler’s List, Good Will Hunting, The Full Monty, and Rainman. Students write 5–7 page reaction papers for each of the three selected films. At the beginning of the term, each student selects a research paper topic which culminates in a 20-page manuscript. Only primary sources from the literature may be employed. Each student selects two others to read and write 2–3 page critiques of the research paper. Toward the end of the semester, each student prepares and presents a PowerPoint summary of their work, and the two critics present their analyses immediately afterwards. Copies of all research papers and critiques are distributed to all members of the seminar. This seminar format reinforces productive, independent scholarship, critical thinking, assessment of the primary literature, and the preparation of a concise oral presentation. The student is further encouraged to appraise the cinematic arts and contemporary literature through the “lens” of a positive psychological perspective.
KeywordsPositive psychology Pedagogy Seminar PowerPoint Cinema
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