Marriage Syllabus

Textbooks (2 Required)

  1. Gottman, J.M., & Silver, N. (2015). The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work (Revised). New York: Harmony Books. (ISBN: 9780553447712)
    Note: This is available as an E-Book through the University Store.
  2. Goddard, H.W. (2007). Drawing Heaven Into Your Marriage. Fairfax, VA: Meridian Publishing. (ISBN: 9781441486547)
    Note: This is available digitally for free through the link above.

Compare prices for your textbooks through the University Store Price Comparison Site. They will show you all of the options from the University Store plus several online options to help you find the best price.

Note

A selection of articles for the course are posted on I-Learn in the Student Resources module.

Learning Objectives

Students will:

  1. Articulate historical trends, cultural influences, and current challenges affecting marriage in America.
  2. Understand the significance of healthy marriages to the well-being of children, families, and society.
  3. Deepen your conviction of the importance of marriage in God's eternal plan for you.
  4. As identified by family research and gospel principles, understand and where possible, demonstrate how to apply to your marriage or relationships effective skills and principles associated with marital stability and satisfaction.
  5. Understand principles to help one successfully adjust to common transitions in marriage.

Learning Model Architecture

This online course is structured using the learning model at BYU-Idaho. Students will prepare by reading and reflecting on the assigned reading material and by completing other assignments. Students will be assigned to a group and will teach one another on a weekly basis by sharing their thoughts and insights through a group discussion board and other learning activities. Students will have opportunities to ponder and reflect on reading material and insights of others and will share their insights at the end of the semester in a paper. Students will prove what they learned through online quizzes and other learning activities.

Course Expectations

Time Requirement

This course requires approximately 9–12 hours of work each week. While BYU-Idaho online courses offer increased flexibility, you will still be required to complete assignments with specific weekly deadlines.

Honesty

Above all else, your integrity is most important and is certainly more important than a few points or an entire grade. In a course such as this, there are many ways a student could be dishonest. You are trusted to be honest. Remember, honesty is a foundational requirement for enrollment at BYU-Idaho.

Assignment to a Group

You will be assigned to a group and will work with them for the first half of the semester. Near the midterm, you will be assigned to a different group so that you have an opportunity to work with other class members. Most of the interaction with group members will take place within the discussion board, as explained below. Your contribution to the group will be evaluated by yourself, the instructor, and other group members two times during the semester.

Deadlines

There are three deadlines to meet per week.

If you are in the Mountain Time Zone, these dates/times are:

All postings to discussions, quizzes, activities, blog posts, etc. are due at one of these three times.

 

Assignments and Activities

Reading Points

The assigned reading material and video clips are carefully selected to help students enrich their learning. Students have an obligation to read the assigned material and to view video clips before the due date and will receive points for doing so.

If you have thoroughly read all of the assigned reading for the week and have completed it by the deadline, you will earn 5 points. These points are received by declaring in the "Reading Accounting" quiz whether or not you completed all of the reading for the week. These points cannot be made-up. In addition, partial credit cannot be received for only reading a portion of the assigned reading, therefore make sure you give yourself plenty of time to complete the assigned reading and to watch the video clips before the due date. You are trusted to be honest when assigning yourself points. (Worth 5 points per week)

Quizzes

Once a week students will take a quiz regarding reading materials and assignments. The quiz must be taken by the due date. Quizzes are closed book, meaning no course material may be used while completing the quiz, including other students, reading material, or notes. As with other aspects of the course, you are trusted to be honest.

Quizzes may include questions that are true/false, multiple-choice, matching, fill in the blank, and short essay questions. Quizzes will cover assigned reading and other learning material for that week. You will have 8 minutes to complete each quiz, which should be more than enough time. (Worth 5 points per quiz; 60 total points.)

Individual and/or Group Activities:

Each week, there will be individual and/or group activities to facilitate active learning and to help students make connections between course material and their personal lives. Some of the activities will be in the form of a reaction paper. Activities must be completed by the due date. (Worth 5-10 points per activity)

Note: Many of the interactions and activities with group members will be done using  the discussion board at times during the week that are convenient for you. However, there are some activities requiring students to have discussions with one another, which means there are specific times when you will be expected to be available for group discussions.

Online Marriage Blog

A few of the primary objectives of the major in Marriage and Family Studies at BYU-Idaho is to help students acquire necessary skills to successfully interact within today's world and to play a significant role in strengthening marriages and families. In this course, you will work toward these goals by using technology and persuasive communication skills to proclaim sound principles about marriage by creating an online blog. This learning activity is consistent with counsel from the General Authorities to Latter-day Saints to use social networks to proclaim the gospel, but keep in mind that the focus on this online blog is focused on the heart of the gospel: marriage and the family.

Through this online blog, you will have opportunities to think deeply about things you learn from the course and to share the principles and insights you believe will make the biggest difference in strengthening marriages. If you take this learning activity to heart and follow the quiet impressions that come through the Spirit, you will have opportunities to touch individual lives in personal ways.

  • Preparation: It is evident that the student studied the assigned preparation material and was fully prepared to contribute to the learning of others and did not "wing it."
  • Consistency: This group member consistently posted his/her initial thoughts by Wednesday evening. In addition, this group member consistently reacted to at least two group members’ posts per week and did so by Friday evening.
  • Depth of Insights and Counsel: This member played an important role in furthering the learning of others by sharing insightful and in-depth thoughts and provided wise and inspired counsel to other group members.
  • Charity and Helpfulness: This group member demonstrated charity by being genuinely interested in helping others learn and develop inspired insight to improve their marriage blogs. This member was patient, positive, friendly, and demonstrated charity through a willingness to go the extra mile to help other group members.

Discussion Posts

After completing the reading and other learning material for each week, you will interact with other assigned group members by posting your thoughts on a discussion board.

There are two purposes for the discussion board: 

  1. Receive greater understanding of the reading material. As students within each group diligently and prayerfully study the reading material for the week, reflect or ponder on what they studied, and learn from and teach one another by sharing their insights, the Spirit will bring about true understanding by touching the hearts and enlightening the minds of group members.
  2. To enable students in the class to proclaim important principles about marriage to others by improving the quality of the online marriage blogs. Drawing upon what Elder Ballard taught in his book, Counseling With Our Councils, the discussion board becomes a setting to counsel together to increase spiritual insight and learning. As we have learned through modern prophets, “revelation is scattered among us.” When we counsel together, our blogs will improve through the increased insight and inspiration of each other. 

Discussions are one of the primary learning tools for this course. It is with great hope that students will take the discussions seriously by preparing themselves by studying the reading assignments and by interacting in meaningful ways with group members.

At the beginning of Week 02, students will be assigned to a group of approximately five students. Near the midterm of the semester, the old groups will be dissolved and students will be assigned to a new group at the beginning of Week 08. This will provide an opportunity for students to work with two different groups during the course of the semester.

After prayerfully studying the learning material for the week, you are to teach and counsel with other students within your assigned group by making two separate posts to the discussion board.

Initial Post: Due Wednesday before 11:59 PM (Mountain Time): Based on the learning/preparation material for the week, what thoughts do you want to share with group members? Your goal should be to have true charity and humility and to teach with the Spirit so that others may develop spiritual insights and impressions that they would not have otherwise received.

Second Post: Due Friday before 11:59 PM (Mountain Time): After the initial post, you are to read the comments from other group members and respond to at least two of their initial posts. You are encouraged to respond by: posting questions that further learning, sharing thoughts from a different perspective, building upon the comments of others, sharing examples that illustrates principles or concepts discussed by other members, sharing thoughts on how a principle could be applied, or by linking the comments of other group members to class readings or ideas learned in other classes.

Both posts must be equivalent of at least one-half to a full page of typed, single-spaced text (approximately 350 to 600 words). The second post is due on Friday so that students can reflect on the comments of others and have time to weave the counsel and suggestions into their marriage blog before publishing it on Saturday.

Evaluation of Discussion Board Posts

Twice during the semester your discussion board posts will be anonymously evaluated by peers in your group, yourself, and by the instructor. You are entrusted to be honest in your evaluations. Assigning a student higher marks than what a student has earned is dishonest. Moreover, inflated peer evaluations that are obviously out of touch with the quality of work of peers will negatively affect an evaluator’s grade. In short, you are expected to be honest in your evaluations of peers. Peer evaluations will be based on the following criteria: (Worth 24 points each; 48 points total)

  • Preparation: It is evident that the student studied the assigned preparation material and was fully prepared to contribute to the learning of others and did not "wing it."
  • Consistency: This group member consistently posted his/her initial thoughts by Wednesday evening. In addition, this group member consistently reacted to at least two group members’ posts per week and did so by Friday evening.
  • Depth of Insights and Counsel: This member played an important role in furthering the learning of others by sharing insightful and in-depth thoughts and provided wise and inspired counsel to other group members.
  • Charity and Helpfulness: This group member demonstrated charity by being genuinely interested in helping others learn and develop inspired insight to improve their marriage blogs. This member was patient, positive, friendly, and demonstrated charity through a willingness to go the extra mile to help other group members.

    Evaluation

    The assessment of posts to discussion board will be completed by peers within one's group, the individual student, and the instructor two times during the semester using the Discussion Grading Rubric. You can see the rubric in Weeks 02 and 08. (Worth 48 total points, 24 points for each assessment)

    Genogram and Paper

    1. Genogram: A genogram is a visual diagram showing how each member of the family is connected to one another and uses symbols to represent patterns in family structure. You will complete a three-generation genogram starting with your paternal grandparents and extending to your maternal grandparents. This will help you understand how marital patterns within your ancestral family compare with societal patterns and learn how marital relationships within your family may influence your own marital relationship.

      To create your genogram, designate a symbol, such as a square, to represent males and another symbol, such as a circle, to represent females. Start the genogram by using the designated symbols to represent your paternal grandparents and create other symbols to show their relationship to one another (i.e., married civilly, sealed in the temple, divorced, cohabitated, widowed, etc.). Next, beneath the symbols representing your paternal grandparents, include all of their children (second-generation), which would be your father/mother, aunts, and uncles. Then add their spouses and symbols indicating their relationship to one another. Moving downward, list all of their children (third generation), which would include you, your siblings, and all of your cousins. Then add all of their spouses and/or other significant relationships. You do not need to include your children, nieces, nephews, or the children of cousins since they would be of the fourth generation. After completing this for your paternal grandparents, do it for your maternal grandparents. Be sure the genogram shows how the two family lines come together with your parents.

      Each ancestral family has unique behavioral patterns and environmental influences that have helped shape marriages and families in the family line. You have to decide which patterns are relevant to track within your family. Patterns to consider tracking may include civil marriages, temple marriages, cohabitation, divorce, addictions, abuse, marriage at young ages, health problems that may affect marriages, missionary service, strong activity in the church, members/nonmembers of the church, etc. What is it you need to track to better understand marriages within your family lines? To complete this assignment, you may need to interview a few family members to learn more about marital relationships within your family and to collect needed information for the genogram.
      A genogram could be constructed using a single sheet of paper, a large poster, or a computer program such as PowerPoint. Fortunately, BYU-Idaho recently purchased a site license for students to access GenoPro, which is an online genogram program. It is simple to use and can be accessed by following the directions that are listed in the Genogram Assignment found in Week 02. Given that you will need to submit your genogram online, it may be easiest if every student completes their genogram using GenoPro; however, this is optional as long as you are able to submit a copy of your genogram.

      Make sure a legend is included in the corner of your genogram, indicating what each symbol represents. The chapter by McGoldrick and Gerson on genograms may be a useful tool for generating ideas for your genogram. Points for this project will be awarded based on neatness, usefulness, and thoroughness in describing lessons learned from this project.

    2. Paper: In addition to the genogram, write a three page paper (double spaced) discussing what you learned from the genogram. Specifically, share themes and patterns you identified after studying the genogram. Moreover, what did you learn from the themes and patterns that you want to be cautious of, or that may help you in your marriage or family? Are there specific lessons that are apparent? Points will be subtracted if there are problems in spelling, punctuation, sentence structure, or if sentences or paragraphs are confusing or awkwardly written. Make sure each paragraph contains only one main idea. (Worth 25 points total, 15 points for genogram and 10 points for paper).

    Marriage Improvement Plan

    As you complete the course readings and learning activities, you may want to consider recording what you learn about yourself in a journal. It is especially important to record impressions that come through the Spirit. If you are honestly seeking, the Holy Ghost will teach you specific things that will help you to build a stronger marriage. When these impressions come, you may want to record them in a personal journal and use these journal entries as the building blocks for a marriage improvement plan. Keeping a journal is not required but will certainly increase the learning and meaningfulness of this activity and learning within the course.

    For this personal project you are to reflect on the principles taught throughout the course and to assess your strengths and weaknesses. In a paper, summarize your assessment and include a plan for self-improvement. Your plan does not need to address all of your weaknesses/limitations. What do you want to focus on to help you establish a strong marriage? You decide what is most meaningful to concentrate on in your plan, including the steps or things needed to make the improvements. Be sure to integrate course material into your paper, along with meaningful insights you learned about yourself throughout the course. Be thorough and specific. Make sure the paper is personalized and focused on you, rather than marriage in general. Record important lessons learned, meaningful insights, personal strengths and weaknesses, efforts to improve, and specific future plans to build a strong marriage.

    Guidelines: Write a formal paper, but feel free to use bullet points where needed. Your paper must contain evidence of deep reflection and insight. Points will be deducted if the paper is “shallow.” In addition, be sure to integrate course material.

    The paper should be 4-5 pages (double-spaced, 12 point font size, Times New Roman font, with one-inch margins on all sides of each page). Structure the different sections of the paper using headings. Points will be subtracted if there are problems in spelling, punctuation, sentence structure, or if sentences or paragraphs are confusing or awkwardly written. Make sure each paragraph contains only one main idea. In short, the paper must be well written. Be sure to reference the ideas and quotes in the body of the paper and cite all sources in the referenced section at the end of the paper.

    Summary of Guidelines for Marriage Improvement Plan

    1. Give a brief introduction and state the purpose of the paper.
    2. Relative to the principles and skills studied in this course, share important lessons you learned about yourself, including an assessment of your strengths and weaknesses or limitations. The assessment should contain evidence of in-depth reflection and insight and is personalized focused on meaningful insights about yourself.
    3. Share your plan for self-improvement. This may include future goals. Be specific in terms of steps you can/will take to make identified changes.
    4. In your paper, be sure to integrate and link your learning back to specific material you studied during the semester.
    5. Your paper must be well written and organized. It should be 4-5 pages in length. Be sure to structure the different sections of your paper with headings.

    Guidelines for Creating a Blog

    Grading Criteria for Blog

    Your blog will be evaluated at the end of Week 07 and Week 13 by the instructor using the following criteria. Each assessment is worth 25 points, for a total of 50 points. The requirements for this blog are:

    Grading

    Grades will be based on the following points.

    Reading points (12 @ 5 points each) 60 points
    Individual/Group Activities (5-10 points each) 95 points
    Genogram & Paper 25 points
    Marriage Improvement Plan 40 points
    Discussions 48 points
    Quizzes (13 @ 5 points each) 65 points
    Presentation on marriage (blog) 50 points
    Total 383 points

     

    A 93% - 100%
    A- 90% - 92%
    B+ 87% - 89%
    B 83% - 86%
    B- 80% - 82%
    C+ 77% - 79%
    C 73% - 76%
    C- 70% - 72%
    D+ 67% - 69%
    D 63% - 66%
    D- 60% - 62%
    F 59% and below

     

    Academic Support Centers

    Go to http://www.byui.edu/AcademicLearning, or come to the McKay Library, room 272 for information about how the writing, reading, math, and study skills centers can help you increase success in all of your classes. To schedule a tutor for a specific class, log on to Tutor Request under Student Services and follow the instructions.

    Code of Honor

    It is expected that you will observe the Honor Code: specifically be honest, refrain from plagiarizing or any form of cheating, obey all rules and regulations, comply with the college dress and grooming standards, and help others in class to also fulfill their responsibilities to the Honor Code.

    Department Policy Regarding Intellectual Property and Course Materials

    All of the materials in this course are covered by fair use and copyright law and are proprietary (intellectual property). Students are not permitted to sell, post, trade, share, distribute, or send any information contained in this course (including outlines, handouts, syllabi, exams, quizzes, PowerPoint presentations, lectures, audio and video recordings, or images of the same, etc., including your own work for this course) to any parties outside of this course (i.e., Course Hero, Quizlet, Google Docs, etc.) by any means without the expressed written permission from the creator of these works and the department chair. Any of these actions violate the Academic Honesty Policies of Brigham Young University-Idaho and will be dealt with as such.

    The materials in this course are also intellectual property and taking any materials from the course and posting them outside of this course in any manner will be construed as theft and distribution of intellectual property. If you engage in any of these actions, or use any of these materials without authorization, the instructor has the right to impose an appropriate academic sanction (e.g., give you a failing grade for the assignment and/or fail you from the course). Additionally, the respective Course Lead, Program Lead, and/or department chair also reserve the right to impose appropriate academic sanctions regardless of any imposed by the instructor.

    University Policies

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