Psychology 253: Introduction to Cognitive Psychology

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Psychology 253: Introduction to Cognitive Psychology

Winter, 2002

Instructors: Karen Litke and Thamarai Moorthy Office: Arts 25 and 26

Phone: 966-2528 or 966-2527 Office hours: by request


Text: Ashcraft, M.H. (2002). Cognition (3rd Ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Other readings: Journal articles for class discussion can be found outside of Arts 26 or downloaded from the course web page.

Course Web Page:

Text Web Page:
General Course Introduction: Have you every wondered how or why we are conscious? Or how it is that we are able to focus our attention on some parts of our environment while ignoring distractions? Maybe you have considered the question of memory; how we take in (i.e., encode) information, store, and, at a later date, reactivate that stored information? Maybe you have wondered about whether hypnosis improves people’s access to lost memories, or whether someone can have a memory of something that never happened. Perhaps you are interested in child development and are curious to know if children are truly born as “blanks slates”. This course is designed to introduce you to a selection of the many fascinating topics that cognitive psychologists study. This will provide you with a general understanding of the area as well as provide you with a foundation for other psychology courses that focus on a specific area of cognition such as Memory or Psycholinguistics. I hope that you enjoy your Introduction to Cognition experience and go on to enjoy more specialized courses in the area of cognitive psychology.
Course Objectives: The objectives of this course are to introduce the student to important concepts, phenomena, experimental techniques, and theoretical issues in the field of cognitive psychology. As cognitive psychology is the study of how people come to know about their world, this course will cover how people attend, encode, represent, and understand that world, as well as solve problems, make decisions, and communicate their thoughts. The course will involve an assessment of current theoretical issues and experimental methodology, and whenever possible, links to real-life situations will be considered. Practical objectives of this course will be to help students improve their academic writing skills, enhance critical thinking skills, and to evaluate and critique published research.
Evaluation: Because not all students learn new material in the same manner, or are able to demonstrate the material they have learned in the same manner (e.g., multiple choice tests), your evaluation will be based upon several types of assessments. Note that because writing is a critical skill both in academia and in your everyday life, the evaluation components are designed to facilitate critical thinking about issues in cognitive psychology and effective communication. The quizzes, midterm and final include several different types of exam questions.
1) Paper: An integrative thought paper based on your assessment of Artificial Intelligence in a movie/TV show/book of your choice. You will be expected to use the content of this course and three supplementary journal articles to critique how AI is presented. A detailed instruction sheet and marking guide will be provided. The paper will be worth 30% of the final grade. Late papers will be penalized 5% per day (weekends are counted as 1 day) in the absence of medical documentation.

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