Psychology 315H: Cognitive Psychology

Spring, 2019

Tuesday & Thursday
1:00 - 2:15 pm

Elm 230


Instructor: Kyle Cave

office: 432 Tobin
phone: 413-545-2787

Office hours: Wednesday 2:00-3:00 pm or by appointment

Undergrad TA: James McNamara


(This page last updated 24 Jan 2019)

This course will cover the study of human cognition. We will work our way up from lower-level perceptual aspects of cognition, such as vision and object recognition, through a discussion of memory, and then on to higher-level cognitive abilities including language and decision making. At the end we will discuss the philosophical questions that underlie consciousness.


The textbook for this course is Cognition (6th edition) by Daniel Reisberg. It is available from eCampus, and also from other sources. There are multiple copies on reserve in the library.

I recommend that you use the 6th edition rather than the earlier editions. Other readings may be added later.

The reading assigned for each class will be listed on Moodle.

Communicating Outside of Class:

You are encouraged to contact me with questions and comments about any aspect of the class. You can reach me at the email address or at the phone number at the top of this page. You can also come by my office at 432 Tobin. The chance of catching me in my office will be higher if you come during the posted office hours. If you want to be sure that I will be in my office and ready to talk with you outside of office hours, then you can make an appointment in advance.

If I need to reach you in between classes, I will send you e-mail. There is also a Moodle site for this class with this syllabus, class notes, and other materials. If there are notes available for a particular class beforehand, you may want to print them out and bring them to class.

Quizzes on the Readings:

For many of the readings, there will be a quiz on Moodle. Be sure to complete the quiz before the class for which the reading is assigned.


Read this carefully. Ask me if there is any part you do not understand.

There will be two exams during the semester and a final exam at the end. It is possible that we may skip the second exam.

The exams will cover both material from class and material from the reading.

Each exam will cover all the material that has been presented up to that point, including material that may have been on previous exams.

The exams may include multiple choice, fill-in-the-blank, and matching questions, along with short answer/essay questions requiring answers between one sentence and half a page.

Any missed exams can be made up with a paper.


You will write a paper on some topic within Cognitive Psychology. Your paper must show a good deal of research and thought. Consult with me about appropriate topics before you start. It should be no more than 2400 words. Turn in a written description of your paper topic by Mar 4. Papers can be turned in at any time before Apr 29.

You have the option to write a double-length paper. If you do, your paper will replace either Exam 1 or Exam 2. If you select this option, be sure to inform me that you are doing so before you hand in your paper.

See the Guide to Writing the Paper.


Many of the classes will include a student presentation. You will sign up to give one of the presentations. Each presentation will be given by a pair of students working together.

Your presentation should be based on sources beyond the required course readings. There are some suggestions for relevant sources on Moodle.

You should send me a list of your sources two weeks before your presentation. If you find other sources after you send me the list, you are free to include them as well.

Your presentation will be graded on its informativeness and its organization. Be sure to give careful thought as to how to structure your presentation so that it is clear and easy to understand.

Each presentation should be about 20 minutes long.

You should create a set of slides to use with your presentation. After your presentation, you should upload a file with the slides you displayed during your presentation to the discussion board on Moodle.

Sign up for your presentation on Moodle between 7:00 am on Jan 25 and 11:55 pm on Jan 30. If you would like to do a presentation on a topic that is not on the list. speak to me.

Other Assignments:

There may be other assignments throughout the class. They will include your written thoughts and questions about one of the readings or a class discussion, other short written assignments, and perhaps an occasional short quiz. I may encourage you to discuss these assignments with other students (except, of course, the quizzes). However, unless I specifically say otherwise, the work you turn in for the assignments must be entirely your own.

Experimental Participation:

By participating in experiments done within the Psychology Department, you can learn first hand how experimental psychology is done, you can contribute to the advancement of the field, and you can improve your grade through extra credit.

You will receive one credit for each half-hour of experimental participation. Each credit will add one-half of one percent to your total number of points.

The total amount of extra credit you can receive is 6 credits, which will take 3 hours, and will add 3% to your point total.

If you sign up for an experiment, be sure to show up at the appointed time. If an emergency arises that prevents you from showing up, contact the experimenter as soon as you can. If you fail to show up for three different expreiments, you will lose your privelege to earn extra credit.

Extra credit cannot make a failing grade into a passing grade.

If you want to earn extra credit but do not want to participate in experiments, see me about an alternative.

Instructions for signing up for experiments can be found at

Academic Honesty:

All students are expected to adhere scrupulously to the University policy concerning academic honesty. If you fail to follow these rules, you could receive a failing grade for the class and be reported to the Academic Honesty Office. Everything that you turn in for this class should be written entirely in your own words. For guidelines about plagiarism, see If you are ever in doubt about when and how to give credit for the ideas and experimental results you include in your written assignments and presentations, consult me.

Final grade:

Exams 1 and 2: 30%
paper: 20%
presentation: 20%
reading quizzes and other assignments: 10%
final exam: 20%

extra credit is available through experimental participation. See above.  

An updated version of syllabus is available on the World Wide Web at:

Psych 315H: Cognitive Psychology Kyle Cave Dept. of Psychological and Brain Sciences U. Mass.