PY3ACT-Adaptive Control of Thought

Module Provider: Psychology
Number of credits: 10 [5 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Spring term module
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Module version for: 2016/7

Module Convenor: Prof Philip Beaman


Summary module description:
Adaptive Control of Thought

This module will give students the opportunity to consider the relationship between mind and world, and to provide a theoretical framework for considering how much of intelligent behaviour is dependent upon the mind-world interaction, and how the structure and contents of the cognitive system might reflect the strucure of the environment within which it is embedded.

Assessable learning outcomes:
By the end of the module students will be able to:
1. Critically evaluate claims that human cognition (especially decision-making, memory and meta-memory) has developed to meet specific environmental problems and is most effective within such domains.
2. Demonstrate a systematic understanding of theoretical frameworks such as distributed cognition which regard cognitive competence as emergent from interactions between the human agent and the external world.
3. Accurately employ human factors principles to critically analyse cognitive artefacts as supports for human cognition/behaviour.
4. Communicate the ideas behind these principles to specialist and non-specialist audiences.

Additional outcomes:
Students will gain experience from participating in evaluative discussions of research and theory in large and small groups.

Outline content:
The module comprises seven two-hour seminars.
Traditional psychological theories, especially cognitive theories, place all of the explanation for people's mental abilities in their mind/brain. This module will look at the idea that human abilities are actually based upon the distribution of cognition across people and things (cognitive artefacts) that are used to support cognition and behaviour. We will examine: How human cognition might be adapted to, or take advantage of, particular environmental settings; how cognitive ability might be underestimated when tested inappropriately; how putting knowledge "in the world" increases human abilities.

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:
Seminars involve lectures and interactive critical discussions on research and theory.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Seminars 14
Guided independent study 86
Total hours by term 100.00
Total hours for module 100.00

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written exam 75
Written assignment including essay 25

Other information on summative assessment:
This module is assessed through coursework (25%) and a final exam (75%).
The 1.5-hour Summer Exam will require students to answer 1 essay question on topics covered in the module.
Coursework will comprise a 2000-word written report.

Formative assessment methods:
Students have the opportunity to provide the module convenor with up to two essay plans for comment and feedback in preparation for the exam.

Penalties for late submission:
The Module Convenor will apply the following penalties for work submitted late, in accordance with the University policy.

  • where the piece of work is submitted up to one calendar week after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): 10% of the total marks available for the piece of work will be deducted from the mark for each working day (or part thereof) following the deadline up to a total of five working days;
  • where the piece of work is submitted more than five working days after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): a mark of zero will be recorded.

  • The University policy statement on penalties for late submission can be found at:
    You are strongly advised to ensure that coursework is submitted by the relevant deadline. You should note that it is advisable to submit work in an unfinished state rather than to fail to submit any work.

    Length of examination:
    1.5 hours

    Requirements for a pass:
    A mark of at least 40% overall

    Reassessment arrangements:
    Reassessment is by re-examination in August/September

    Additional Costs (specified where applicable):
    1) Required text books:
    2) Specialist equipment or materials:
    3) Specialist clothing, footwear or headgear:
    4) Printing and binding:
    5) Computers and devices with a particular specification:
    6) Travel, accommodation and subsistence:

    Last updated: 21 December 2016

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