Learning has been defined as a relatively permanent change in behavior brought about by experience. Learning theories have
been developed and tested widely in psychology. Clinical, educational, school and developmental psychologists draw heavily
from learning theories, as does any area dealing with animals. Actually, it would be difficult to come up with many fields
that, whether it's realized or not, do not rely to some degree on learning theory. So, basically this class represents a
core of knowledge serving as part of the foundation of many areas in psychology. This course will emphasize classic
studies as well as applications. I hope that you come away from this class with, (1) a broader understanding of psychology
in general, (2) a respectable grasp of the issues reviewed and, (3) an appreciation of the influence of learning theory
across the fields of psychology as well as its applications to daily life.|
 Chance, P. (2014). Learning and Behavior, 7th ed. New York: Cengage.|
 Alloway, T., Wilson, G., & Graham, J. (2012). Sniffy the Virtual Rat Lite, 3rd ed. New York: Cengage.
 Morell, V. (2013). Animal Wise: The Thoughts and Emotions of our Fellow Creatures. New York: Crown.
- To develop an understanding and appreciation of the major themes, issues and methods recognized within this foundation area of psychology.
- To be familiar with research techniques and findings that illustrate fundamental learning concepts.
- To be able to understand and differentiate among the core theories of learning.
- To demonstrate an ability to apply learning concepts to everyday behavior.
- To gain a deeper understanding of how humans learn.
- To be able to list significant theoretical and empirical developments that focused and stimulated interest in the history of human learning research.
- To be able to describe basic operant and classical conditioning procedures, including the significance of both positive and aversive techniques.
- Accomodation: Students who may be eligible to receive learning support or physical accommodations must contact the
Center for Student Success at 412-397-4342 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.
- 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.
- Attendance: My policy is that students should not be expected to attend any more lectures than the professor shows up to
teach. If you miss a class that I showed up to teach, you will lose points toward your final grade. You should also be aware that if you
arrive to class AFTER attendance has been taken, or, if you leave BEFORE attendance has been taken, YOU WILL BE MARKED AS ABSENT FOR THAT DAY.
- Missed Assignments: In the event that you miss a graded assignment (exam, activity, etc.) you have one week from the
date of the missed assignment to make arrangements with me to complete that missed assignment (or, if the original assignment cannot be completed, a
replacement assignment). If you fail to make arrangements with me to make up missed assignments by the one week deadline, you will receive a zero for
- Academic Integrity: Academic Integrity is valued at Robert Morris University. 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
http://www.rmu.edu/academicintegrity. Any student who violates the Academic Integrity
Policy is subject to possible judicial proceedings which may result in sanctions as outlined in the Policy. All academic integrity violations will also
be reviewed by the SESS Academic Integrity Committee. Depending upon the severity of the violation, and as a result of their recommendations, penalties
can range from receiving a zero on an assignment to permanent removal from the psychology degree program. If you have any questions about the policy,
please consult your course instructor.
- Grading: The four exams will constitute 60 percent of your final grade (12 percent for each of the first three exams
and 24 percent for the final -cumulative- exam). Sniffy assignments will be worth 20 percent of your grade (10 points for each
assignment). A class presentation will be worth 10 percent of your final grade. Class participation and pop-quizzes will contribute
the remaining 10 percent of your grade.
Project Cricket: I will be bringing my relatively untrained pet dog Cricket to classes. She will be available for demonstrating that you can
effectively apply the operant techniques we will be covering in this course. This optional assignment can be used as extra credit, or to replace
any class exam (including the final exam), graded assignment, or graded activity. Note, however, that not all training goals are equal or of equal value.
You must work with the professor to identify the training goals you or your group wish to undertake and their potential course value.
The breakdown below will be used to determine final grades (based on overall percentage earned by semester's end):
|A = 93.0 - 100||B = 83.0 - 86.9||C = 70.0 - 74.9|
|A- = 90.0 - 92.9||B- = 80.0 - 82.9||D = 60.0 - 69.9|
|B+ = 87.0 - 89.9||C+ = 75.0 - 79.9||F = 0 - 59.9|
- Use of Personal Technologies During Classtime: The use of laptops, cell phones, MP3 players, or any other technology that serves to distract
you and/or others from course content and delivery are prohibited. If you are caught using ANY of the above technologies during class time, you will be marked
absent for that class.
||The Study of Learning and Behavior
||Introduction (Morell) & Handout
||Operant Learning: Reinforcement
The Ant Teachers (Morell)
||Reinforcement: Beyond Habit
Among Fish (Morell)
||Schedules of Reinforcement
Birds With Brains (Morell)
||Sniffy Assignment I Due |
||Operant Learning: Punishment
Parrots in Translation (Morell)
The Laughter of Rats (Morell)
Elephant Memories (Morell)
The Educated Dolphin (Morell)
The Wild Minds of Dolphins (Morell)
||What it Means to be a Chimpanzee (Morell)
Of Dogs and Wolves (Morell)
|November 20-24 (
|T/Th) |Fall Break (no classes)
||Generalization, Discrimination, & Stimulus Control or
PROJECT CRICKET Demos
From Wolf to Dog (Morell)
How Orcas Work Together (Morell)
PROJECT CRICKET Demos
Sniffy Assignment II Due
|The Message in the Song (Morell)
Mournful Creatures (Morell)
||Friday - December 15, 2017 (1:30 pm to 3:30 pm).|