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Master Syllabus

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Administrative Unit: Psychology and Sociology
Course Prefix and Number: PSYC 420
Course Title: Cognitive Psychology
Number of:
Credit Hours 3
Lecture Hours 3
Lab Hours 0
Catalog Description:

A study of human mental processes. The course covers concepts such as neurocognition, pattern recognition and attention, the function (and malfunction) of memory in its various forms, language, decision making and problem solving. Prerequisites: Six hours of PSYC courses and junior standing.

Prerequisite(s) / Corequisite(s):

Six hours of PSYC courses and junior standing.

Course Rotation for Day Program:

Offered odd Fall.

Text(s): Most current editions of the following:

Cognitive Psychology and Its Implications
By Anderson, J. P. (Worth)
By Ashcraft, M. H., and Radvansky, G. A. (Pearson)
By Matlin, M. W. (Wiley)
Cognition: Theory and Applications
By Reed, S. K. (Cengage)
Cognitive Psychology: Mind and Brain
By Smith, E. E. and Kosslyn, S. M. (Prentice Hall)
Cognitive Psychology
By Sternberg, R. J. (Cengage)
Course Objectives
  • To understand and differentiate between different theories of human cognition.
  • To understand the strengths and limitations of different types of memory.
  • To understand the cognitive basis of language, decision-making and problem-solving.
  • To gain familiarity with cognitive research methods via participation in and administration of basic experiments.
Measurable Learning
  • Explain and describe the differences between information processing theory, connectionism and neurocognition in their approach to understanding human cognition.
  • Describe how humans recognize patterns in visual and auditory stimuli and how that recognition leads to the subjective experiences of sight and hearing.
  • Describe attention's role in the processing of information.
  • Describe and explain the strengths, limitations, and theoretical structure of memory systems.
  • Describe memory processes, such as memory reconstruction and semantic integration, and memory strategies and metacognition.
  • Describe and explain the cognitive processes underlying language acquisition, comprehension, and production.
  • Describe and explain the cognitive processes underlying problem solving (e.g.; expertise, strategy choice, creativity).
  • Describe and explain the cognitive processes underlying decision making (e.g.; reasoning, heuristics).
Topical Outline:
  • History and theoretical approaches in Cognitive Psychology
  • Perceptual processes - visual and auditory recognition
  • Perceptual processes - attention and consciousness
  • Short-term/working memory
  • Long-term memory - levels of processing
  • Memory strategies and metacognition
  • Structure of knowledge
  • Language acquisition and comprehension
  • Language production
  • Problem-solving
  • Reasoning
  • Decision-making
  • Long-term memory - encoding and retrieval

Recommended maximum class size for this course: 20

Library Resources:

Online databases are available at You may access them from off-campus using your CougarTrack login and password when prompted.

Prepared by: Chris Mazurek Date: October 21, 2009
NOTE: The intention of this master course syllabus is to provide an outline of the contents of this course, as specified by the faculty of Columbia College, regardless of who teaches the course, when it is taught, or where it is taught. Faculty members teaching this course for Columbia College are expected to facilitate learning pursuant to the course objectives and cover the subjects listed in the topical outline. However, instructors are also encouraged to cover additional topics of interest so long as those topics are relevant to the course's subject. The master syllabus is, therefore, prescriptive in nature but also allows for a diversity of individual approaches to course material.

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