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Cognitive Psychology

Welcome to the Spring 2008 edition of

Psyc325/525: Cognitive Psychology

parts are still under construction - final changes will be made by 1/9/08


This course introduces students to the fascinating topic of human cognition. Cognitive psychology deals with the way humans (and sometimes other organisms) acquire, store, and process information. While the main emphasis of cognitive psychology is on the human mind and abstract concepts, such as mental representations, processing models, etc., new advances in the neurosciences are now linking many behavioral phenomena to particular structures of the brain. Topics will range from basic studies in perception and memory to studies of language, decision making, and even applied problems, such as the validity of eye-witness testimony.

New Students Start Here

Before you begin this course, please take a few minutes to complete the required course survey by pressing the Start Here button to the left. This survey lets us know a little bit about you and allows you to run through a series of tests to verify that your computer meets the technical requirements necessary for you to successfully complete this course.


Steffen Werner
Associate Professor
Department of Psychology and Communication Studies
Office: Student Health Services, room 008A (basement)
Postal code: 83844-3043
Phone: (208) 885-9241
(please use email - I don't check my phone messages often)
Fax: (208) 885-7710
Email for this course:
Personal email address:
Please use the address for any communication that has to do with the course (even if you are taking it at the graduate level). These emails are filtered directly into a separate mailbox and are thus nicely organized and harder for me to miss. They are also forwarded to the TA of the course so that we are both up to date. For other questions (e.g., general advising) you can also use the address.

Please use PSYC325 WEB or PSYC325 CAMPUS somewhere in your message header (the subject header) in your emails to me. In addition to using the course email address, it might also help to make sure that I notice your emails.

How best to get in touch with me...
I am going to have office hours on-campus and for the online course on Tuesdays from 10:00 am to 11:00 am and Thursdays from 2:00 pm to 2:45 pm. During this time, I will be in my office and will be available through email. I will also answer course related emails during this time. Please do not expect me to go through all of your emails immediately after you send them - this might work some of the times, but I have usually set aside my office hours for this purpose. One of the common misperceptions about online courses seems to be that because you are flexible to arrange your coursework within any time period 24/7 each week, the instructor also should be available at any time. Unfortunately I cannot guarantee this, so the next best thing is to ensure you that you will receive answers at the latest during these designated times.

Getting feedback on assignments...
The main assignment that you will get feedback on from me or the course's TA, Rob Bastholm (emails to also get forwarded to Rob!), aside from the exams, is going to be the main writing assignment. I have posted the deadlines for the paper assignment in the schedule. You can submit your assignments at any point in time before the assignments are due, but we will usually grade all of the assignment in one large pile after the due date. So - please don't get upset if you hand in your paper two weeks early if you don't receive any feedback for a while (this doesn't happen that often anyways ;-). After the deadline, you can usually expect feedback from us within 10 days. The same rules apply to grading of the exams.

Submitting your assignments...
Please submit your assignments through web-CT. We will post each assignment in web-CT and you can upload your file(s) into the assignment. This will allow us to track your assignments much better than if you sent them through email, and it also allows us to post comments together with your assignments. If you are in doubt whether web-CT has accepted your assignment, you can always email an additional copy to me or Rob as well.


Robert Sternberg
Cognitive Psychology (4th edition)
CHANGE! Unlike previous semesters you do not need to have access to the online version of CogLab! Buying the textbook used is thus not a problem.
Publisher: Wadsworth
ISBN 0-534-51421-9


Online demos

Note: Starting this semester, you will not need to have access to the online version of CogLab through the book's publisher. If you do, then that is great and there are many interesting experiments in there that will be fun to try. However, because the inclusion of CogLab increased the total cost of the materials by about $30, we decided to try something new this time around. We will develop our own demos for some tasks, and will try to point you to other interesting demos for other tasks that should all be free of charge. I will announce in class and via web-CT which demos you are expected to participate in and how they will factor in your total grade.


Assigned Readings
Readings for each lesson are given in the class schedule and in the lecture page (accessible by clicking onto the lecture title in the schedule) and are mainly taken out of the course textbook. You will be asked to read an additional book or three additional research articles for your main writing assignment.

Weekly assignments
Throughout the semester, you will have to work on a number of smaller assignments. The assignments consist of your participation in online demos and in discussions related to the course topic. The purpose of these assignments will be to deepen the understanding of the materials covered in class. I will also post / mention a few additional "tiny" assignments (each one only 5-15 minutes) for you to work on.

Discussion forums
Within web-ct, you will find a separate discussion section. During the second week of classes, we will divide up the course into groups of approximately 10 students each. The purpose of the discussion groups in this class is to engage you in an exchange of ideas about the material and to enable you to connect to other students in the course. We will provide you with general themes and questions for each discussion topic. As indicated in the schedule, you are expected to participate in your group's discussion on each lecture topic while the lectures are going on. The dates for the six discussions are given in the schedule. You will have to enter one original contribution for each discussion topic and respond to two other contributions. We will thus have two separate deadlines for the discussions which will allow you to read and comment on other studentsí contributions. We will grade both your frequency and quality of your contributions by sampling different discussion threads. We will grade your top 5 discussion performances.

There will be at least one quiz for each lesson (some lessons have more than one quiz associated with them. The questions on each quiz will be directly related to either the lecture, the assigned reading, or the demonstrations in that section. We will enter your top-10 quizzes into your final grade - you will therefore have a couple more quizzes than you need. This should give you enough of a buffer in case that you have to skip or miss one or two of them. For on-campus students the quizzes will be given in class. For off-campus students / web-students, the quizzes will be available for one week - ending at the due date for each quiz listed in the schedule. Web-students can take each quiz at any point within this period. Throughout the semester, a practice "quiz" is available online to help you get acquainted with taking web-ct based multiple choice quizzes. This quiz will stay up for the remainder of the semester and you can always use it to check whether everything is working allright on your computer before going into the actual quiz. The quizzes will also serve as a way (together with the journal/discussion entries) to evaluate your participation regardless of the points you score on them.

There will be three exams throughout the semester (see schedule).  We will only count the best of the first two exams towards your course grade – you thus can drop one of the first two exams.  You will have to take the comprehensive final at the end of the semester.  Exams will be presented via the web-CT interface and will be done outside of class.  We have allotted a 3-day time window for each one.  Exams will consist of a mixture of multiple choice and short answer questions.

Main writing assignment
Your task is to write a paper (between 1200 – 1600 words, APA style) on one book (or at least 3 journal articles) that is related to the topic of cognitive psychology. The writing assignment will comprise three phases: An initial proposal, a first version, and the final version of your paper. The dates for each of the parts of this assignment, as well as examples of successful papers from students in previous courses, are available through the schedule. I will post a few sample papers that I liked at the beginning of the semester. I will make available a list of books that you can choose from for the paper. Please stick to this list - if you feel strongly about using another source, please make sure that I approve of it first, before you put too much work into it.

Working as a team
It is encouraged that students work together in study groups and that students help each other out in trying to understand difficult or abstract concepts. Although discussion about class material is thus encouraged, each assignment has to clearly be identifiable as an individual effort.

Taking this course for graduate credit (PSYC 525)
When taking this course for graduate credit, the expectations for class performance are slightly different from the undergraduate version of this course. Please contact me directly if you are taking this course for graduate credit.


  • Each quiz comprises 10 questions (multiple choice) and is worth 10 points. There are a total of 10 quizzes that will be summed for your grade. Three more quizzes than needed will be given. A perfect grade equals 100 points from the quizzes.
  • Quizzes will also factor into your participation points, regardless of how well (or poorly) you might have done on it. The more quizzes you do, the better.
  • Exams 1 and 2: The exams are worth 100 points each - Of the first two exams the worst one will be dropped for a total of 100 points.
  • Final exam: The final exam is worth 100 points. Unlike exams 1 and 2 there is no substitute for the final exam.
  • The main writing assignment is worth 100 points (10 points for the proposal, 50 points for the first version, 40 points for the final version)
  • Participation in the discussions (through web-CT) is worth 40 points. We will grade your five [out of 6] best discussion contributions (each one worth 8 points). The points are based on your original contribution (6 points) and your responses to other people's contributions (each one 1 point.) You will be assigned a particular discussion group - please post your contributions there!
  • Small assignments (50 points) will pop up during the semester. This includes both online demos and other activities. They will be posted in web-ct and you will usually have to provide a short answer to a specific question (demos) or provide some form of data from an activity. There will be at least 16 different opportunities to participate in these activities. Activities are worth between 3-6 points. If your total amount of points in this category exceeds 50 (the maximum) additional points will be counted in the extra credit category (see below).
  • The final part of your participation grade is based on the number of quizzes you have completed (regardless on how well you have done on them, 10 points.)
  • You can gain up to 2.5% (12.5 points) of extra credit by participating in qualified experiments at the Department of Psychology and Communication Studies. We hope to offer at least one study through my lab that is also available for off-campus students via the internet (ask me for details in a few weeks). If you don't like to participate in these kind of studies but you would like to get extra credit anyway, you can receive points in this category by participating in more than the required small assignments.
  • Total amount of points: 500 (A > 449, B > 399, C > 349, D > 299, F < 300.) Because you have the opportunity to boost your grade by 2.5% (12.5 points) through extra credit opportunities these are hard cut-offs. Please make sure you take advantage of this 2.5% cushion!


© 2004-2007 Dr. Steffen Werner
All rights reserved.



University of Idaho