Cognitive Psychology

Spring - 2018

PSYC 3450-A
Tues/Thurs 2:00 - 3:15 pm
Hale Center 303

ZAPS 2.0
ID 45965
Account sign-up

  Instructor: Stephen T. Paul, Ph.D.                          Office Hours: M/W: 1:00 - 3:30
Office:    471 Nicholson   and by appointment.
Phone:    (412) 397-5416. E-mail:

Most people would die sooner than think; in fact they do.
-- Bertrand Russell

Overview: Cognitive psychology may be defined as the study of people's ability to gather, organize, store, retrieve and use knowledge to direct their behavior. In short, it is the study of the mind. Cognitive psychologists develop and test theories (models) about the mental processes that direct observable behavior. This course will sample focal areas and classic studies in cognitive psychology as well as recent research of particular interest.
  1. Have a command of the research methodology and approaches appropriate to addressing issues in cognitive psychology.
  2. Introduce you to a variety of models covering different aspects of human thinking.
  3. Be able to engage in critical analysis of all ideas presented.
  4. Have a basic ability to conceptualize, present, and defend theories of attention, memory, problem solving, and language use.
  5. Be able to generate and recognize applications of cognitive psychology to real world problems and settings.
Text:Reisberg, D. (2016). Cognition: Exploring the Science of the mind, 6th Ed. New York, W. W. Norton (with access to ZAPS 2.0).
IMPORTANT: Our ZAPS Class ID# is 45965. Access the online activities at:

NOTE: Your access to ZAPS assignments for this class will END on Friday, April 20, 2018.

Students are expected to have their textbooks and other required course materials (lab books, digital media, etc.) at the start of the course. Failure to have required course materials will not be accepted as justification for failure to be prepared for class, missed or incomplete assignments, failure to prepare for exams, quizzes and other course evaluations or inability to complete other course requirements. The only exception to this policy will be situations in which the textbooks and/or other course materials are not available from the publisher as determined by availability in the RMU Bookstore.

Web Site:
Grade Scale: The following breakdown will be used to determine final grades (based on overall percentage score earned by the end of the semester):

A93.0 - 100.0B-80.0 - 82.9
A-90.0 - 92.9C+75.0 - 79.9
B+87.0 - 89.9C70.0 - 74.9
B83.0 - 86.9D60.0 - 69.9

  1. Lectures & Readings:: I expect that you will have read each chapter before we meet in class to discuss it. When you read, take note of portions that you don't understand well, or that you might have questions about. In this way you will arrive prepared for class to discuss the material like a true scholar.
  2. Accommodation: Accommodation: Students who may be eligible to receive learning support or physical accommodations must contact the Center for Student Success at 412-397-6862 to schedule an appointment with a counselor and to learn more about accommodation procedures. To receive accommodations in this course, arrangements must be made through the Center for Student Success.
  3. Test-Taking:: Be on time! I do not subscribe to the notion of make-up exams, but, should the need for such a thing arguably arise, it will take the form of a challenging essay test.
  4. Grading: Three semester exams of equal (15 percent) weight (45 percent total). Final exam (25 percent) will be cumulative. Also, 0 to 10 pop-quizzes and ZAPS 2.0 homework (worth 20 percent total). The remaining 10 percent of your final grade will be based on in-class lab assignments.
  5. Academic Integrity:: The fundamentals of Academic Integrity are valued within the Robert Morris University community of scholars. All students are expected to understand and adhere to the standards of Academic Integrity as stated in the RMU Academic Integrity Policy, which can be found on the RMU website at . Any student who violates the Academic Integrity Policy is subject to possible judicial proceedings which may result in sanctions as outlined in the policy (depending upon the severity of the violation, sanctions may range from receiving a zero on an assignment to being dismissed from the university or from the program). If you have any questions about the policy, please consult the course instructor.
  6. Use of Personal Technologies During Class Time: The use of laptops, cell phones, MP3 players, or any technology that distracts you (and/or your neighbors) from course content and delivery are prohibited. If the instructor deems your electronic addiction to be disruptive you may be asked (or required) to leave.
  7. Missed Assignments: In the event that you miss an in-class graded assignment, you have one week from the date of the missed assignment to make arrangements with me to complete that missed assignment (or, in cases where the original assignment cannot be completed, a replacement assignment). Failure to make arrangements with me by the 1-week deadline will result in a zero for that assignment.
  8. Failing: Tips on how best to fail this course include (but are not limited to): not showing up for class; falling behind on readings; not becoming actively involved in lectures; spending less than 1-hour per day (outside of class) studying.

Schedule: This is provided as a general outline and ordering of what will be covered throughout the semester. I've indicated approximate dates for tests but exact dates will be announced in class about one-week prior to each exam (the final-exam date, of course, is already known and cannot be changed).

  Meeting Date Lecture Topic Labs Reading ZAPS 2.0 Online Quiz
1 January 8 The Science of the Mind Mindset-Release Task
Dragon/Hollow Face Illusion (R) (G) (B)
BONUS: Cat/Dog/Skull/Robo-Dog Hollow Face Illusions!
Chapter 1 Create Account Quiz 1
2 January 15 Recognizing Objects TD vs. BU Chapter 4 Face Perception Quiz 2
3 January 22 Paying Attention Overload & Overlap Chapter 5 Attentional Blink
Stroop Effect
Quiz 3
4 January 29 EXAM 1 Visual Search
5 February 5 Acquisition of Memories & Working Memory System Levels of Processing Chapter 6 Sensory Memory
Serial Position
Quiz 4
6 February 12 Interconnections Between Acquisition and Retrieval Priming Chapter 7 Memory Bias Quiz 5
7 February 19 Remembering Complex Events Reconstruction Chapter 8 False Memory Quiz 6
8 February 26 EXAM 2
  March 5 (T R) Spring Break (no classes this week)
9 March 12 Concepts and Generic Knowledge TBA Chapter 9 Sentence Verification Quiz 7
10 March 19 Language Ambiguity Chapter 10 Word Frequency
Lexical Decision
Quiz 8
11 March 26
12 April 2 EXAM 3
13 April 9 Judgment & Reasoning Anchor/Adjust Chapter 12 Decision Making Quiz 9
14 April 16 Problem Solving and Intelligence Puzzle Tasks Chapter 13 Sudden Insight Quiz 10
Final Exam Tuesday, April 24, 2018: 1:30 pm to 3:30 pm. Review all chapters covered in class.