Introduction to Cognitive Psychology

University of Toronto St. George

An introduction to research and theory on the neural and cognitive architecture of attention, memory, language, thinking and reasoning.

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Christine Millicent Burton

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PSY270H1 Syllabus for Christine Millicent Burton — Spring 2019

Spring 2019 - Department of Psychology Page 1
PSY270H1F Introduction to Cognitive Psychology
Wednesedays 6-9pm in SS2117
Contact Information
Course Instructor:
Dr. Christine Burton
Teaching Assistants:
Tess Forest (
Grace Gabriel (
Stephanie Yung (
The TAs will hold office hours after the distribution of graded
tests and papers. Dates and times will be posted on Quercus.
Office hours:
Wednesdays 3-5pm, or by appointment in
Course Description
Cognitive psychology is the study of the building blocks of how we think and reason. We need to be able to pay
attention, create mental representations, remember information, manipulate knowledge and express thoughts. Thus, in
this course we will discuss the fundamentals of attention, memory, problem solving, decision making and language.
Course Objective
My goal for this course is to familiarize you with the leading theories in cognitive psychology so that you are able to
discuss the fundamental topics in the field, create hypotheses using this knowledge and apply this to everyday
situations. Assigned textbook readings explain important concepts and will help lay a foundation on which you can build
your knowledge. In lectures we will elaborate on the material in the text and highlight connections between the various
topics, experiments that have been conducted in the area, and real life situations.
Experimentation is an important part of cognitive psychology so I have included assignments specifically designed to let
you participate in cognitive psychology research and use your new knowledge.
By the end of this course, you should be able to:
Describe the major terms, concepts and theories in cognitive psychology
Understand how unconscious cognitive processes influence our everyday behaviour
Understand how the historical development of cognitive psychology has shaped the questions researchers in
cognitive psychology ask today
Explain how empirical findings can support or refute psychological theories
Identify key variables in empirical research and infer evidence-based conclusions
Analyse and critique published research in cognitive psychology
Communicate scientific data in the form of written reports
Spring 2019 - Department of Psychology Page 2
Reading Material
Cognitive Psychology by Elan Barenholtz. This textbook is only available through the Top Hat platform. This allows
significant savings for students and integration of all course materials into one platform.
In addition to the Top Hat textbook, we will be using Top Hat for participation this term. You will receive an email
invitation to join our class on Top Hat. You can either follow the link provided in the email or register yourself at by entering our unique class Join Code available on Quercus. You only need one account for all your
courses that are using TopHat, so if you already have an account for another class, you can follow the registration
instructions for our class in the email, but you won’t need to set up another account.
Course Evaluation
Unit 1 test
February 6
120 minutes
Lab reports
March 6 and April 3
2 @ 10% each =
Unit 2 test
March 13
120 minutes
In class lab
See class schedule
Final Exam
participation bonus
I intend the assignments to give you an opportunity to participate in both classic and recent cognitive psychology
experiments and encourage you to use the information in the course to think beyond the course material. During class
you will participate in replications of classic cognitive psychology experiments using TopHat. The point of the
assignments is to give you hands on experience both participating in experiments and acting as an experimenter. TopHat
allows you to participate in psychology replications in class and send real-time data to me using your laptop or cell
phone. I will perform simple statistical analyses based on the class data and present it the following class. You will then
be expected to write lab reports based on the class data from 2 of the experiments we will complete throughout the
term. Detailed instructions about the lab reports are available on Quercus.
We will complete 6 in-class experiments throughout the term. In order to receive the full 4% participation, you will need
to participate in at 4 of 6 experiments.
Lab report tutorials: The TAs will hold a series of optional tutorials about how to write a good lab report. The tutorials
will cover a step-by-step guide about how to write a good lab report. The dates and times of the sessions will be posted
online where you will be able to sign up for a session.
Bonus Experiment Participation
You have the opportunity to receive 1% bonus credit by participating in a psychology experiment in the Cognitive
Neuroscience Lab. Participating in an experiment is an excellent way to experience how research is conducted in
psychology and it is vital to the ongoing research in the field. To sign up for an experiment go to and register as a new user with your UTOR email. If you do not want to participate in an
experiment there is still an opportunity for you to receive a bonus point. Please email your instructor for instructions
about an alternate assignment.
Spring 2019 - Department of Psychology Page 3
Course Webpage
The website associated with this course is accessible via
Note: You don't need to create a new login for Canvas; it already knows who you are. You just need your UTORid and
password. This is the same login that gets you onto the wireless network with your laptop, and the same one that you
use to check your email. If you're confused about your UTORid or don't remember your password, go to:
Green Policy
This is a paperless course! All documents and assignments will be in electronic format only. This includes the written
assignments you are to complete for class. Make sure you submit your assignments before class. All grading will be done
electronically. Please avoid printing excessively when you can and try to print double-sided whenever possible!
The main source of communication in the course will be email. You can also send an email directly to me from your
Inbox in Quercus/Canvas. Please include the course number (PSY270) in the subject line in all your emails about the
Make sure you check your notification settings in Quercus to ensure you will receive email and announcement
notifications. There have been some issues with accounts sending Quercus notifications to junk mail.
Please make sure you check your junk folder regularly until the migration team fixes the problem.
I will do my best to answer your emails, but if I think your questions can be better answered in person, I will suggest that
we set up an appointment. The same policy applies to emails sent to the TA.
Requests for Re-grading
Any requests to re-grade tests or experiment reports should be made in a timely fashion. Requests to re-grade term
tests must be made before the next scheduled test or exam. Requests to re-grade experiment reports must be made
within 1 week of the return of the graded report. Please direct all requests for re-grading directly to the TA who
marked your work. If you are dissatisfied after meeting with the TA you may submit your work to the instructor. Keep in
mind that if you submit your work to be re-graded, your grade could go up or down. This policy applies to work
submitted to the instructor or the TAs.
Missed Test Special Consideration Request Process
Students who miss a test due to circumstances beyond their control (e.g. illness or an accident) can request special
consideration from the instructor. Students are to submit original supporting documentation (e.g., The Verification of
Student Illness or Injury form) within 1 week of missing the test.
If you missed your test/assignment deadline for a reason connected to your registered disability, please be advised that
the department will accept documentation supplied by Accessibility Services.
There may be times when you are unable to complete course work on time due to non-medical reasons. If you have
concerns, speak to me. It is also a very good idea to speak with an advisor in your College Registrar’s office; they can
support you in requesting extensions or accommodations, and importantly, connect you with other resources on
campus for help with your situation.
If your request if approved, the value of the test will be redistributed to any remaining tests and final examination.
Students who miss final examinations should file a petition for a deferred exam with their College Registrars Office.
Spring 2019 - Department of Psychology Page 4
Penalties for Lateness
The penalty for lateness is 10% per calendar day.
Students who seek to be granted more time to complete their term work beyond the due date without penalty, owing
to circumstances beyond their control (e.g., illness, or an accident), must do so by submitting a request directly to the
Instructor for the period up to and including the last day of the exam period. Students requesting to submit late work
without penalty must submit any supporting documentation (e.g., The Verification of Student Illness or Injury form) at
the same time as the request.
Any term work that will be handed in after the final exam period is subject to a petition for extension of term work. This
petition should be filed with the student’s College Registrar’s Office.
For extensions of time beyond the examination period you must submit a petition through the Office of the Registrar.
Academic Resources
Accessibility Needs:
Students with diverse learning styles and needs are welcome in this course. If you have an ongoing disability issue or
accommodation need, you should register with Accessibility Services (AS) ( at the beginning of
the academic year. Without registration, you will not be able to verify your situation with your instructors, and
instructors will not be advised about your accommodation needs. AS will then assess your medical situation, develop an
accommodation plan with you, and support you in requesting accommodation for your course work. Remember that the
process of accommodation is private: AS will not share details of your condition with any instructor, and your instructors
will not reveal that you are registered with AS.
As a student here at the University of Toronto, you are expected to write well. The university provides its students with
a number of resources to help them achieve this. For more information on campus writing centres and writing courses,
please visit
Academic Integrity and Plagiarism:
Academic integrity is essential to the pursuit of learning and scholarship in a university, and to ensuring that a degree
from the University of Toronto is a strong signal of each student’s individual academic achievement. As a result, the
University treats cases of cheating and plagiarism very seriously. The University of Toronto’s Code of Behaviour on
Academic Matters ( outlines the behaviours that constitute
academic dishonesty and the processes for addressing academic offences.
All suspected cases of academic dishonesty will be investigated following procedures outlined in the Code of Behaviour
on Academic Matters. If you have questions or concerns about what constitutes appropriate academic behaviour or
appropriate research and citation methods, you are expected to seek out additional information on academic integrity
from your instructor or from other institutional resources (see
Spring 2019 - Department of Psychology Page 5
Course Outline
*Please note that the content of chapter 3 (The Brain) will not explicitly be covered or tested, however, we will refer to some brain
areas and functions throughout the course so it is your responsibility to ensure you are familiar with the basic ideas covered in the
Unit 1
January 9
Introduction, themes and research methods
Chapters 1 and 2
January 16
Chapter 4
January 23
Attention and short-term storage
In class experiment
Chapters 5 and 6
January 30
Attention and short-term storage
In class experiment
Chapters 5 and 6
February 6
Unit 1 test
Unit 2
February 13
Long-term memory: Systems and processes
In class experiment
Chapter 7
February 20
Reading Week No class
February 27
Long-term memory in practice
In class experiment
Chapter 8
March 6
Knowledge I
In class experiment
Chapter 9
March 13
Unit 2 test
Unit 3
March 20
Knowledge II
In class experiment
March 27
Chapters 10
April 3
Decision Making
Chapter 11

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