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Module Guide: PSYC201 Cognitive Psychology 2017-18

Academic staff/tutors and contact details


The teaching staff on PSYC201 are:
Dr Sally Linkenauger (module Coordinator) (s.linkenauger@lancaster.ac.uk, Fylde D8);
Dr Tom Beesley (t.beesley@lancaster.ac.uk)

Outline Syllabus
The module runs in Term 1 and there are two lectures per week for 10 weeks (lectures have been
centrally timetabled to take place at 12 on Thursday and Friday). You will also attend four seminars
(these have been timetabled for Friday afternoon). Seminars start in week 1, and you attend
fortnightly thereafter. Seminars last for one hour each and are held on Friday afternoons. Please
check MOODLE for details of your seminar group and where this will be held, etc.

This module will cover four important topics within cognitive psychology: perception, attention,
working memory, long term memory, and when cognition breaks down. Each of the four module
topics will have its own space within the Moodle page where you can ask questions, find resources
and obtain key information. The module syllabus looks like this:

Week Date Lecture Seminar Assignment Due


1 13/10 The Eye (Overview; SL)
1 13/10 Object Perception (SL) Seminar 1
2 20/10 Motion Perception (SL)
2 20/10 Perception and Action (SL)
3 27/10 Sounds and Space(SL)
3 27/10 Touch and Pain(SL) Seminar 2 WBA 1
4 3/11 The Vestibular System (SL)
4 3/11 Multisensory Integration (SL)
5 10/11 Effects of Emotions and
Anxiety on Perception (SL)
5 10/11 Revision (SL) Seminar 3
6 17/11 Selective Attention (SL)
6 17/11 Divided Attention (TB) WBA 2
7 24/11 Visual Search (TB)
7 24/11 Learning in Visual Search Seminar 4
(TB)
8 1/12 Contingency Learning (TB)
8 1/12 Learning and Attention (TB) Critical Review
9 8/12 Models of Human Learning
(TB)
9 8/12 Learning and Awareness 1 WBA 3
(TB)
10 15/12 Learning and Awareness 2
(TB)
10 15/12 Revision (TB) Class Test

Seminar 1: Deconstructing a journal article: Introduction and Methods


Seminar 2: Deconstructing a journal article: Results and Discussion
Seminar 3: Constructing a Theoretical Argument using Evidence
Seminar 4: Presenting and Defending a Theoretical Argument

You will be assigned to a seminar group, which will meet with one of the seminar tutors on a
fortnightly basis. Seminars are designed to contain structured exercises and will be equivalent across
groups; in broad terms all students will cover the same material. Seminars provide the opportunity
for focused discussions and activities and the consolidation of knowledge. They are not a
supplementary lecture. You will be given preparatory material for seminars, and it is important that
you prepare the material that has been set for you. Thus, your seminar tutor will expect you to have
read the material that has been set, and do not be surprised if you are asked questions about the
material!

Learning Outcomes
General
 Access and interpret sources outside of that provided by the given material;
 Independently read and effectively interpret research papers and journal articles;
 Use empirical research to support scientific theory;
 Effectively manage your time to prepare for coursework and exam deadlines.
Subject Specific
 Demonstrate knowledge of key concepts, evidence, and theory covered in the
module (whether by lectures or selected reading materials);
 Appreciate and explain how empirical enquiry contributes to the understanding of
cognition;
 Present and discuss research findings from cognitive psychology in an informed and
grounded way.

Assessment details, deadlines and return dates


Your final mark for this module is derived from your performance on a review essay, web-based
assessments (WBAs), a class test, and the examination in the summer term 2018.

In line with University policy, we aim to return marks and feedback on all coursework within 4
working weeks of it being submitted (excluding University closures). Where we can we will return
marks and feedback sooner. If, for any reason, it looks like the 4-week deadline will not be met then
we will keep you informed as to why and when you can expect your marks.

Review essay. The main coursework assessment (a review essay) will be the study of a specific
research paper in cognition. This will provide an invitation for you to place the work in context,
distinguish hypotheses from data, show your understanding of the contribution of method to the
assessment of hypotheses and data, and evaluate experimental research.
Deadline: 01/12/2017 Return Date: 08/01/2018

WBAs. The WBAs involve cue words where students are asked to show that they have an
understanding of the relevant concepts (each cue word answer is worth 2 marks). Answers should
be informative and concise: 3-4 sentences should be sufficient in most cases. This exercise should
act as way for you to consolidate your knowledge of key concepts discussed in lecture.
WBA1 Deadline: 27/10/2017 Return Date: 24/11/2017
WBA2 Deadline: 17/11/2017 Return Date: 15/12/2017
WBA3 Deadline: 08/12/2017 Return Date: 15/1/2018

The review essay and WBAs together count for 33% of the final mark for this module. Each WBA
contributes up to 10% of the 33% and the critical review contributes 70% to the 33%.

Class test. At the end of term, all students will be asked to complete a class test under exam
conditions. The test will comprise 40 multiple-choice questions. The questions will be based on a
combination of lecture content, course text readings and key reading identified by staff. The
questions are compulsory, in that there is no choice over which elements to answer THIS EXAM IS
ON THE LAST DAY OF TERM 1. DO NOT SCHEDULE YOUR TRIP HOME PRIOR TO THIS EXAM. IF YOU
ARE ABSENT, WE WILL BE FORCED TO GIVE YOU A ZERO.

Examination. The examination for this course will take place in the summer of 2018. The exam is
one hour long and you are required to answer a single essay (from a choice of 3) about one of the
core topics covered in course.

The exam mark comprises the examination essay and the class test, and counts for 67% of the final
mark with the class test contributing 33% to the 67% and the main exam essay contributing 67% to
the 67%.

Assessment Criteria
This is a year 2 module and we expect more of you than we did in first year. This means we will place
greater emphasis on such assessment criteria as your ability to critically assess theories and
methodology, formulate arguments and integrate evidence into those arguments, the breadth of
your independent research and the depth of your understanding.

Assessment criteria
The review essay is of a slightly different nature from some of the department coursework and
accordingly, the assessment is based on different criteria. The following issues represent some of the
dimensions of your work that will be considered in determining your mark. These are not meant to
be interpreted in a linear way (ie. they may not be given equal weighting)

• Clarity and accuracy of expression (including presentation, spelling and grammar)


• Depth of knowledge and understanding of source paper and its context
• Clarity and narrative structure of argument
• Critical interrogation and appreciation of source article
• Addressing the orienting questions (including originality of expressed ideas)
• Appropriate use of evidence
• Appropriate interpretation of source data
• Integration of theory and evidence
• Identification of the implications of the source paper for related or applied work
• Referencing

We realize that this type of coursework is new to you. We know when setting a paper, drawing up
the accompanying questions, and setting marking procedures, that this – focusing on a single
research paper - is a slightly different student exercise. Analysing and critiquing a paper is an
important skill for psychology undergraduates to master, and you need to start somewhere. Marking
standards will reflect that this is a somewhat new exercise for you. Also, bear in mind if we gave you
more advice about what to write, we would need to develop a correspondingly higher quality
threshold for marking.

We want to know what you can make of a paper; to do this, we set the target article and look
forward to seeing what you can do with it. At the same time, bear in mind we are providing
assistance in many ways. The review is based on a cognition topic that is taught in the course, so
you'll learn about the research background. Seminars will cover the critical review coursework, so
you have a chance to think about how to provide good quality material.

Select Bibliography
Please note that we have made the collective staff decision not to identify a single, core textbook.
You were not expected to buy a textbook in Part I, and we do not expect you to buy a book just for
this module this year.

Our rationale is as follows. Most textbooks cost £40-60. That's a lot of money! We do not feel that
there is any book currently out there that provides good value for money. There would be several
sections of the textbook that we do not cover and there will be topics that we cover that are
essential but are not covered in any available textbook.

Our approach is to cover key areas in cognition and to try and bring them to life through the material
we discuss. In doing so, we will identify accessible readings and materials that are specific and
relevant to these topics, either available in the public domain or through our University library
subscriptions.

We also note: the library contains multiple copies of some of the module texts used in previous
years (Sternberg & Sternberg, or Robinson-Riegler & Robinson-Reigler). You are very welcome to
read these or others as background to the ideas we will be covering.

Tips for Succeeding the PSYC201


Reading
Great emphasis is placed on reading to supplement and enrich the material presented in lectures
and seminars. Lectures and seminars provide only a guide to the key ideas and material, and
background reading is necessary to achieve a thorough understanding of a topic. In assessment,
examiners will pay particular attention to the evidence for breadth of reading and independent
work. Thus, credit will be given for the appropriate discussion of information that goes beyond the
given material.
To reiterate: reliance on lectures, seminars, and reading alone will almost certainly not be sufficient
to obtain a good course mark.

Indeed, this is true not just for PSYC201 but also holds throughout part II. You are expected to build
up your knowledge of a subject from various sources including your own reading. University-level
expectations are that all half-unit courses (such as
PSYC201) will involve 150 hours student commitment. Given the lecture and seminar content, and
having accounted for time to prepare and write the coursework and prepare for seminar material
etc., it should be clear that you are expected to spend considerable time undertaking independent
learning. This can take many forms, including work on reinforcing and developing lecture notes as
well as additional reading.

In order to assist you in this, the course lectures and seminars will direct you to important or
interesting sources relevant to issues covered on the module. This does not mean that you are
expected to read absolutely everything on reading lists but neither can you rely on a simple (and
perhaps superficial) topic summary. If your reading for this module remains solely based on provided
sources then you are unlikely to achieve a high standard of marks. It is also important that you learn
to read, as a matter of course, primary material, usually, research papers usually in journals. To this
end, the seminar programme will concentrate on a consideration of primary material. In addition,
the coursework assessment is intended to encourage you to read widely and think deeply.

Keeping up
The above comments on reading, along with the module assessments and the general aims of the
course (to provide breadth without sacrificing thoughtfulness) all lead to the conclusion that you
should read beyond the lecture material. To ensure you understand the key issues as far as possible
as you go along, it is strongly recommended that you set aside time each week for background
reading, making notes or reworking them, and preparing coursework. It is often a big mistake to
leave these tasks until the summer examination period – you should aim to build up your
understanding of the material as the term proceeds.
Note taking
Keeping good notes from lectures and from further reading is essential. The risk of discovering that
your notes are incomprehensible is lessened if you check the clarity of the notes soon after they are
taken and if you supplement them with notes from further reading. Creating good notes can extend
your knowledge base, test your understanding and help to consolidate what you know.

Changes to PSYC201 and the Importance of your Constructive Input


We want you to enjoy this module and to benefit from the experience of taking it. This module has
evolved over many years to try and reflect student opinion and to offer a good student experience.

Here are some of the ways that we are changing/have changed:


a) We have requested that the University allow us to modify the weightings of the review essay and
the WBAs for your coursework mark. Students have told us that they invest a lot of time in the
WBAs, and we have suggested the weighting should improve as a consequence.

b) The staff team have met before the start of the module to discuss how best to select
complementary topics and to develop student knowledge and thinking beyond what is covered at
Part 1. We have developed a coherent syllabus for PSYC201 and we discussed how to make it work
for you.

c) We have made the decision not to adopt a module textbook, to save you the expense of buying a
text just for this module. We have designed our teaching to ensure that you can access the material
you need without a textbook

d) Students can be anxious about the review essay (see FAQ section as well for comments on this).
We have developed the seminar series so that you will to get some practice and experience in
handling a review essay and the elements within it, and you can then submit your best work for the
assessment.

FAQs for PSYC201

What is the word limit for the coursework?


This year, the word limit has been set as 1600 words. This can vary from year to year, depending on
the article to be reviewed.
Am I allowed to write up to 10% more or less than the word limit?
To be clear, we have set of word limit to identify what we think students can produce in a concise
and yet informative way. It is a maximum allowance. So there is no 10% excess. The word limit is
what it is. But there is no minimum word count. If you can write a good account in few words, then
this is fine.

What counts for the word count?


All the text in the submission, up to the start of the reference section, should be included.

Can I find examples of coursework?


Coursework from previous years is used in some seminars, to discuss what is involved in a review
essay and to discuss the topics involved. You are encouraged to think about both the psychological
topic and the ways that questions could be addressed.

Can I use quotes in the review?


Where appropriate, you can quote the target article in order to make a point. This is fine. However,
your work should be a reflection of your understanding of the paper, so “hiding behind” many
quotations is unlikely to be a good strategy. Markers will give credit to students who find their own
voice in their writing and find ways to summarise and explain the paper.

Do I need a reference list?


Yes, you should prepare a reference list. You are asked to review a target paper, but in order to do
so, you are likely to draw on ideas and data from other, related work, and this should be referenced
in the normal way. Bear in mind that markers will give credit to students who can show they
understand the broader picture from the target article, and not exclusively the paper alone.

What is the title?


You are encouraged to create a title for your submission, based on the material studied and the
points of view in what you write.

Can I find examples of exam questions?


The student registry holds copies of past exam papers and these can be accessed on line. Although
the exam structure has changed, you can find question examples. Staff may provide example
questions along with reading list materials too.