Psychology in the Media

Welcome to Psychology in the Media Capstone with Dr. Leigh Shaw


I am Dr. Leigh Shaw. I am a professor and Adviser in Psychological Science and the Director of General Education at Weber State. I earned my BS with Honors in Psychology from the University of Wyoming, and my MS and PhD in Psychology from the University of Utah. I am a Developmental Psychologist with training, expertise, and decades of teaching experience in child and adolescent development. I also have two kids, so I am living what I am teaching. I developed and have taught this capstone since 2017. We are going to have so much fun connecting psychology to our everyday lives through media!

What will I learn in Psychology in the Media?

This capstone will address how psychological concepts, principles, and theories are depicted in the popular media, specifically film and documentary. In this seminar, you will watch psychologically-relevant films and documentaries, read classic and contemporary research connected to the concepts depicted in the films and documentaries, and synthesize what you have learned from these sources in oral and written formats. You will understand how the discipline of psychology provides you with a framework for understanding your world as depicted in film. By means of reading, analyzing, writing, and participating in class, you will develop a knowledge base in psychology and apply that knowledge to media, ethical and social responsibility in a diverse world, professional communication skills, as a professional in the field of psychological science, and hone your scientific thinking and critical thinking skills. 

What is a capstone course?

In an architectural context, a capstone is the top stone placed at the top of a wall or other structure. In an academic context, a capstone is a final course that completes a student's major. A capstone course provides students with the opportunity to integrate, apply, and reflect on many aspects of the psychological science major in one course experience and to demontrate comprehensive learning in the major through some type of product or performance. Capstone courses should emphasize context by embedding psychology in a broader social, cultural, and historic framework and by helping students understand the place for psychology in our interconnected world.

The capstone course serves two main purposes: 1) to all psychological science majors a final opportunity to practice and demonstrate the critical thinking, reflection, and integrative learning skills they will need to succeed after graduation, and 2) to allow the department a final opportunity to assess whether it has been successful in its mission to train students to be psychologically literate citizens who can engage in scientifically- and ethically-informed judgments, decision-making, and actions.

What is a virtual course?

All instruction in this (and student hours for) a virtual course is provided synchronously via Zoom. We will meet on Tuesday afternoons at our scheduled time on Zoom. Our class sessions are critical for learning together, so please plan to attend all Zoom class meetings on-time and with your camera on. You will receive instructions on Zoom and how to access the Zoom invitation on the first day of the semester via a course announcement (also see Zoom tab in Canvas). All course assignments will be available and submitted via Canvas. 

What is my textbook?

There isn't one! The required readings will be provided in Canvas. You are required to view the films outside of class prior to our discussion. The films are available from a variety of free (e.g., WSU Library) and subscription streaming services.

Our Learning Pact
What you can expect from me: What I will expect from you:
1. I will provide you with a clear, organized course designed to ensure you meet our course outcomes in a meaningful way. 1. You will strive to be an active participant in this course and strive to meet due dates.                                                                                                                         
2. I will provide a variety of assignments to ensure your learning needs are met. 2. You will maintain an open line of communication with me so I understand how to support you.
3. I will be actively present in your learning. 3. You will contact me if you have a concern with meeting a deadline.
4. I will provide a supportive and safe environment for you to share and discuss ideas with your peers.               4. You will strive to regularly contribute to collaborative activities to ensure your peers have opportunity to read/listen, reflect, and respond to your ideas.
5. I will reach out to you when I sense that you need support. 5. You will treat your peers with dignity and respect.                                               
6. I will treat you with dignity and respect and be flexible to support your individual needs. 6. You will do your best to have patience with technology. There will be hiccups, expect them. We will get through them together.
7. I won't be perfect. I am human and will make mistakes at times. I will view mistakes as an opportunity to learn and grow.  7. You won't be perfect. You are human, you will be stressed, and will make mistakes at times. You will give yourself grace and view mistakes as an opportunity to learn and grow.