Time Management

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Time Management

  • For PSYC 251
  • Substance Abuse


  • Step 1: survey the work required
  • Step 2: assess the schedule of assignments
  • Step 3: make a plan

Initial Survey of Work

  • 2 books
  • 2 NIDA publications
  • Videos
  • Recommended reading
  • 2 Weekly Writing Assignments
  • 2 3-4pp. Papers
  • 1 Final Exam (8pp. Paper)

Weekly Assignment 1

  • Critical Reading Portfolio (5 total): Once per week, students write a critical analysis of the reading assigned for that week; to do this, they identify one or two issues they want to focus on and demonstrate the ability to take a position, devise an effective argument, etc.

Weekly Assignment 1 Description

  • After a critical review of the assigned reading, identify at least two theories, concepts, or research ideas that you find important.  For each theory, concept, or research idea described, you should:
    • Briefly summarize the concepts and principles you find important, providing support for your claims, and
    • Critique those that you find adequate or limited
  • Remember to support you position with logical arguments and evidence (personal experience, other research, etc.).  Supporting your position is the most important aspect of your entries and the aspect on which most of your grade will be based, since this will reflect your ability to engage in critical and integrative analysis of the reading.  

Weekly Assignment 2

  • Discussion Forum Entries (5 total): A problem-based question or case study will be posted each week. Students will post an individually derived response to the class-wide forum.

Weekly Assignment 2 Description

  • Search the literature and course readings for at least 2 arguments advocating your position in the Discussion Forum.   For each argument identified, you should:
  • Briefly summarize two arguments you find important, providing support for your claims, and critique those that you find adequate or limited
  • Then, respond to two other entries from your classmates, preferably ones that argue the other side of the issue.

Paper 1

  • Self-Help Meeting Attendance & Paper: Students will write a reaction paper after attending 1 self-help meeting. Each student will attend either an open AA, NA, or AL-ANON meeting. Then you will write a reaction paper of 3-4 pages reflecting on the questions outlined.

Paper 1 Questions

  • Was the meeting what you expected? Did anything surprise or concern you?
  • Did the meetings change how you viewed or understand substance abuse? How so or not so?
  • What qualities of the meetings that you attended do you think would be helpful for a person in recovery?
  • What qualities of the meetings might be barriers to recovery?

Paper Rubric

  • Are your ideas clearly stated, organized into paragraphs with linking statements, and grammatically correct? Do we as readers struggle to understand what you’re saying because we can’t follow your sentences or comprehend your meaning?
  • When you describe concepts central to the course, are these clearly and accurately elucidated? Do you illustrate your understanding of these central ideas by providing frequent examples connected to the vignette?
  • Are you making claims regarding the ideas of the authors you are summarizing in your essay responses? Are these claims and assertions fully supported by references to specific elements in their work? Do you give at least one quote or citation, as well as specific page references, to support each of your responses to the authors’ ideas? Is the bibliography accurate?

Paper 2

  • Reaction Paper to Beautiful Boy: Students will read the book Beautiful Boy and write a reaction paper. This assignment will measure your competence in understanding the difference between substance use, abuse, and dependence; the roles commonly assumed by families affected by substance abuse; view substance abuse from a Biopsychosocial perspective; and social work values and ethics, writing skills, and critical thinking.

Paper 2 Questions

  • The paper should be a minimum of 4 pages and a maximum of 6 pages. Paper should adhere to APA style. Quotes from the text should be used to support your responses.
  • At what point in the book did you feel like the substance user’s use went from normal use to abuse, and then from abuse to addiction? Explain and give examples from the book.
  • Describe the substance abuse experience you chose from the book from a social context. How would each of the four theoretical perspectives we reviewed in class view the situation?
  • How did the narrative that you chose help you better understand the experience of a family dealing with substance abuse? What risk and protective factors that were discussed in class could you identify in the book?
  • What surprised or concerned you the most in how the family described their experience with substance abuse?
  • Describe the substance abuser’s experience from a Bio-Psycho-Social perspective. Make the connection between the person’s story and the concepts discussed in class.

Final Exam

  • 5. Students will complete a comprehensive exam based on a case study. Students will be expected to apply knowledge acquired over the course to a vignette.

Final Exam Description

  • Answer a list of questions regarding a hypothetical narrative, keeping in mind all the topics covered during the semester. Support your answers with examples from the narrative as well as course readings. Also, feel free to add to the narrative to flesh out concepts in the questions. This paper should be written in accordance with APA style and is limited to 8 pages in length.

Time Available

  • Sunday
  • Monday
  • Tuesday
  • Wednesday
  • Thursday
  • Friday
  • Saturday
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
  • Watch Welcome Video on Moodle
  • 10
  • 1st Learning Portfolio Entry Due
  • 11
  • Debate Position Paper (Is addiction a disease?) Due
  • 12
  • 13
  • 14
  • 15
  • 2nd Learning Portfolio Entry Due
  • 16
  • 18
  • Debate Position Paper (Is self-medication a viable hypothesis?) Due
  • 19
  • 20
  • 21
  • 22
  • 3rd Learning Portfolio Entry Due
  • 23
  • 24
  • 25
  • Debate Position Paper (Should marijuana be legal?) Due
  • 26
  • 27
  • 28
  • 29
  • 4th Learning Portfolio Entry Due
  • 30
  • 31
  • Beautiful Boy Book Reaction Paper Due

Budgeting Time

  • Most experts recommend that students spend 2-3 hours per hour of class time, per week, working to learn on their own. Note that I didn’t call it “studying”; for this class you won’t really “study” anything, although you will have plenty of work to do.
  • For a 4-credit course, you should assume 4 hours per week of class time. So:

Some Basic Multiplication

  • 4 x 2 = 8 hours working to learn
  • 4 x 2.5 = 10 hours working to learn
  • 4 x 3 = 12 hours working to learn
  • So, for this course, you should allow yourself 8-12 hours per week working to learn, on average (note that some weeks you’ll need to spend more time, and some you’ll need less).

Breakdown for Assignments

  • Starting Plan:
  • set aside 5 hours/week for reading
  • set aside 3 hours/week for weekly writing tasks
  • set aside 2-4 hours/week for larger paper tasks
  • Adjust as necessary.

Reading (Sample from Week 2)

  • NIDA Publication: Drugs, brains, and behavior: The science of addiction (~30 slides; 1h.)
  • Miller & Carroll, Chapters 7 & 12 (37pp.; 2h.)
  • of Beautiful Boy (112 pp.; 1.5h.)
  • Video: The House I Live In (108 min.)

Reading Strategy

  • Miller & Carroll
    • Read first, separating chapters, if possible; make copious notes (esp. of issues & arguments, for weekly writing assignments, but also looking ahead to the final).
  • NIDA pub.
    • Run through 1 time to get gist; run through again, making notes on issues & arguments, but also &tc.
  • Beautiful Boy
    • Read, making notes with Paper 2 in mind.
  • The House I Live In
    • Watch, making notes on issues & arguments, &tc.

Writing (Sample from Week 2)

  • 2nd Critical Reading Portfolio (2pp.; 1h.)
  • 2nd Discussion forum (2pp.; 1h.)
  • Paper 1 (3-4pp.; 2h.)
  • Final Exam

Writing Strategy

  • For weekly writing, sit with notes & texts to construct issues & arguments; draft, proofread, edit, & submit.
  • For short papers, draft, proofread, edit, & set aside; reread, redraft, proofread, edit, & submit (allows for 2 drafts over 2 weeks).
  • Try to spend at least 1 hour/week (weeks 1-3) applying issues & arguments to the vignette for the final exam (notes & draft paragraphs).

Using Time

  • Try to break reading & weekly writing work into 1-1.5 hour chunks; never less than 1 hour.
  • Alternate between assignments.
  • Try to break writing work for Papers 1 & 2, & the Final, into 2-hour chunks (draft notes in shorter chunks).
  • Take no breaks during an established time.

Finding Space

  • Retreat to a quiet corner; no music or TV.
  • No family or friends
  • No phone (give to someone to keep for you).
  • No internet; print assignments beforehand, so you won’t need to open Moodle.
  • Complain loudly if interrupted.
  • Questions?

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