Cognitive Psychology Spring 2015

PSYC Cognitive Psychology JayhawkHello, everyone. It’s the Spring 2015 semester and you’ve enrolled in PSYC 318 Cognitive Psychology! Please download the syllabus and read it carefully. Let me know if you have any questions.

This website will feature course-related material, as well as the most up-to-date version of the syllabus. More important, I will post relevant lecture highlights, responses to common student questions (with answers!), and exclamation marks!!—all available on your desktop, laptop, or mobile device. Because who can get enough cognitive psychology? So scroll down and check it out!

Do you have a question regarding the content of the course lectures or textbook? Please feel free to email it to your course TA (or me) with a correspondingly informative subject line. I’ll then post answers to your anonymized question right here on the website.

Example question: I don’t understand concept x. Help?

Answer: Let me explain it for you! [Then I do!]

Example bad question: What is on the exam?

Answer […] How about this? Propose what you think is fair game and what you think is not fair game for the exam, having carefully reviewed lecture notes and textbook highlights. I will then let you know what you need to revisit.

You: That is totally fair.

Me: Excellent.

More material to come!

Questions & Answers from lecture: January 20 (syllabus), 22, 27, 29

In lecture, you said something along these lines: ‘Therefore, it (learning) could be cognitive; it could be non-cognitive, also.’ If it is, I’m a little confused about it. Why could “Learning” be also non-cognitive? Does this also relate to the behavioral perspective?

Although we often use the terms “learning” and “memory” as if both are necessary for an explanation of something in psychology (e.g., to ‘learn’ something you store what you learn in your ‘memory’), not all psychologists use the terms in this way. “Memory” is a decidedly ‘cognitive’ term. When you use it, you are talking about the mind and mental processes, something ‘in your head’. The term “learning”, however, has a different history. I can discuss learning purely behaviorally: Learning is demonstrated when there is a change in behavior over time as a consequence of exposure to some stimulus. Nothing in what I just wrote requires there to be anything ‘in the head’. If I witness you ‘get used to’ or ‘habituate’ to something (you used to love Katy Perry but the same songs are now meh), then I’ve documented you’ve changed. You’ve learned, or developed better taste. I kid. She’s a national treasure. The point is that “learning” can be demonstrated in simple organisms that do not require a scientist to consider the existence of any hypothetical internal minds with concepts and thoughts and ‘memories’, etc.

About our exams, is there a distribution of how much is from our lectures and how much is from the textbook? In the situation, for example, for the third exam, if I am busy with preparing all my finals and don’t read much of the book, but still learn the lectures very well, is it possible to get a good grade on the exam?

No. (I’m answering the first sentence/question.) There is no specific breakdown of percentage contribution to an exam of lecture, class discussion, and the textbook. All material is equally relevant. That said, as we approach an exam and before it is printed I always ask students for their input as to what is fair game and what is not fair game. Depending on student response, I then massage the coverage of material on the exam.

I would like to make flash cards for the terms in our textbook to help me memorize them and I wanted to see if memorizing the terms would be beneficial for studying for Exam 1. Do you plan to test us on our knowledge of the terms in chapters 1, 2, and 3?

I certainly recommend flash cards or anything with which you feel comfortable. Definitions are always important, and getting a good handle on them is a good idea. Keep in mind, though, that I will not often test directly knowledge of a definition. Multiple-choice questions would seldom be of the form: Bold face term is ____… and then list four possibilities. I take it for granted that you know the definitions of key terms and then use those terms in some scenario. In other words, in a 50 question exam, I won’t test 50 definitions. I’ll use several terms in a scenario and question and then several more in each multiple choice response. Thus, there could easily be 250 (let’s say) definitions that are required to get through the exam. I test that you know a concept by your ability to (a) identify what is the answer to a question and (b) identify what are definitely not the answers to the question, thus discovering the actual answer by process of elimination. When you study, try to make connections between and among concepts. That’s how you’ll be tested. Take your flash cards and randomly choose two or three terms (across chapters, lectures, etc.) and try to see what they have in common and how they’re different. Importantly, that will test you beyond simply memorizing definitions.

Questions & Answers from lecture: February 3 & 5, 10 & 12, 17 & 19, 24 & 26

What format is the exam?

Exam 1 (and likely Exams 2 and 3) is all multiple-choice. There will be between 55-70 questions.

How do I study for a multiple-choice exam?

First note that it’s not free response so there is no real benefit to memorizing verbatim any definition, as you will not have to produce it on your own. (I suppose it doesn’t hurt.) The next thing to recognize is that I do not generally test by asking for simple definitions of terms. That is, you’re not likely to have questions that take the form: What is bold-face term? A, B, C, or D. I will test you in two different ways: (1) Do you know the answer to this question? A, B, C, or D. (2) Do you know that all of the possible responses (but one) are not the answer to the question, thus giving you the answer by process of elimination. The second way of testing is a bit more complicated, but a valuable assessment tool. Each multiple-choice question is really testing multiple terms (i.e., the terms in the question and all the terms mentioned in all of the A, B, C, and D answers). Sometimes you will have to be able to select the correct answer to a question by demonstrating what you know about the answers, instead of selecting the correct answer because you know how it relates to the question directly. Here’s another way to say this: It’s sometimes too easy to get a question right because all of the answers (but one) are clearly false statements. So, what I will do is ask questions and provide possible answers, some of those answers being true statements, but just not the answer the question in particular. Hope that helps!

In the textbook (chapter 1), there is a preview of topics that will be covered later in the book. Are we responsible for these terms?

Only to the extent to which they are covered in the textbook in that chapter (for Exam 1, just chapters 1-3) and lecture.

Will there be any questions on the exam related to the guest lecture from our TA?

Absolutely, yes.

If something is covered in the textbook but not mentioned in class, is it fair game for the exam?

Absolutely, yes. Lecture and the textbook complement one another in terms of coverage. I don’t lecture the book and the book is not a transcript of my lectures. Hopefully some happy mix of the two illuminates what cognitive psychologists study.

Any chance I can see the lecture slides again in case I missed something?

Absolutely, yes. Click here for a PDF of lecture slides [link deactivated] relevant to exam 1 (it’s a biggish file). Click here for an additional PDF of slides from Sabrina’s lecture on attention (also relevant for exam 1).

Additional questions and answers after Spring Break and the first exam will be posted should any questions be emailed. Thanks!

Questions & Answers for Exam 2

When is exam 2 again?

Exam 2 is scheduled for Tuesday April 14th during normal class time.

The font for Exam 1 was a bit small for my taste. Could you make the font bigger for exam 2.

Absolutely. Thanks for asking.

Is there a review session for the exam and when/where is it?

A review session is being offered by your TA, Sabrina, on Monday from 6-7pm in Fraser 547. Please email questions you’d like addressed directly to Sabrina before the review session to make sure your question gets addressed. All are free to attend, though.

Any chance I can see the lecture slides again in case I missed something?

Absolutely. Click here for a PDF of lecture slides relevant to exam 2. Let me know if you encounter any problems.

Questions & Answers for Exam 3

When is exam 3 again?

Exam 3 is scheduled for the Wednesday of Finals Week at 1:30pm-4pm.

Is the final exam cumulative?

No. The final exam is the ‘last’ exam, covering the final unit of the course. It is only ‘cumulative’ in the loose sense that understanding previous lectures and reading previous chapters no doubt facilitates in understanding these last lectures and chapters

Is there a review session for the exam and when/where is it?

Please be on the look out for an email from the course TA, Sabrina.

Any chance I can see the lecture slides again in case I missed something?

Yes! Here is part 1 and here is part 2.