Psychology | Laboratory in Human Learning and Cognition
P435 | 3406 | Goldstone R.


This course is designed to provide an intensive introduction to laboratory
methods in cognitive psychology.  The course is grounded in a "learning by
doing philosophy."  There will be very few general lectures.  The majority
of our time will be spent discussing research issues as they relate to
particular experiments.  You will learn about experimental control,
statistical analysis, research writing, and analysis techniques, but you
will learn about these topics while investigating real issues in cognitive
psychology.  Rather than try to give a broad overview of all of the major
areas in cognitive psychology, I have chosen to select four specific
research areas that are within the mainstream of cognitive psychology.
Although you will not get a general survey of cognitive psychology, you
will acquire a depth of understanding about some areas. Quite a bit of
work is expected of students in this course.  As you will see from the
syllabus, there are many reading assignments, and many required written
assignments. It is vital that you keep up with the class work (late
assignments will be accepted, but you lose one half of a letter grade for
every late day).
Policies:  Labs.  Your principle activity in this class will be to conduct
experiments in cognitive psychology, and prepare written reports of the
experiment outcomes.  The goal of this class is to give you hands-on
experience with what it is like to conduct actual experiments.  All of
your labs will be written up in APA style.  Your labs will be evaluated on
the following criteria: completeness of introduction, thoroughness and
accuracy of procedure and result sections, appropriateness of discussion,
interest and creativity, grammaticality and style of manuscript, and
general coherency and comprehensibility.  There may be associated
worksheets or assignments associated with the lab report. Students have
the option of revising their lab reports.  After the reports have been
graded and handed back, students will be given one week to rewrite the
report.  Only the last grade on the report will be permanently recorded.
Independent Final Project.  The class will culminate in each students'
preparation of an individual project.  The student will do background
reading on a topic related to Influences of Experience, Thoughts,
Knowledge and Cognition on Perception,
design an experiment, conduct the experiment, analyze the results, and
prepare a written APA-style report.  The research question for the
individual project must be approved by me, and must deal with this fairly
broad topic.  Creativity and
originality are encouraged.  Students are to be discouraged from pursuing
cliche, non-original, or atheoretic projects (e.g. effects of music, or
caffeine, on perceptual discrimination).  The research should directly
address theories of perception and knowledge.  To get a feel for what
mainstream cognitive psychology research involves, look through articles
in the following journals: Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning,
Memory, & Cognition, Cognitive Psychology, Journal of Experimental
Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, Memory & Cognition,
Psychological Review, Journal of Memory and
Language, and Psychonomics Bulletin and Review.  The subjects for your
independent study should be friends, or other students in the class.  You
can use the lab software (from labs 2-4) for running your independent
project, but you should not feel constrained by these labs.  You do not
have to use computers for running your subjects. Talk on Independent
Project.  After the independent project has been completed,  students will
prepare a short 15 minute presentation on their topic.  Students should
prepare overhead slides to describe their ideas, methods, results, and
conclusion.  In general, you should try to make your talk a genuine
learning experience for your peers.  Your talk should probably follow the
same rough organization as your final written report.
Computer use.  Research in cognitive psychology has been revolutionized by
computer technology.  Computers are now involved in every facet of
research (running subjects, analyzing the results, displaying the results,
and writing the article).  For this class, you will need to buy at least
five 5 3/4"
floppies for Macintosh computers.  You will need to learn how to use
several Macintosh programs:  Statview, Microsoft Word, Telnet, Chooser,
and Macdraw.  Although we will spend some class time demonstrating these
programs, it will also be necessary for you to spend some class time
outside of class learning how to use these programs.  Many of the lab
experiments will also involve the use of Macintosh programs written by
myself.  You will have to modify these experiments in order to create
original studies or to address assigned questions.