PSYCHOLOGY 235  CONDITIONING & LEARNING     SPRING 2008


DR. RON MEHIEL

OFFICE : FSC 125    PHONE: 1515   

OFFICE HOURS:  TUE AND THUR 11-12 AND WEDNESDAY:  10 - 1 
                                AND BY APPOINTMENT

TEXT:
Lutz, J. (2005).  Learning and Memory, 2nd Edition.  Long Grove:  Waveland Press

SUGGESTED READINGS:

    Boakes, R.  (1984).  From Darwin to Behaviorism.  Cambridge Univ. Press.

    Bolles, R. C. (1979).  Learning Theory, 2nd Edition.  Holt, Rinehart and Winston.

    Dickenson, A. (1989). Contemporary Animal Learning Theory.  Cambirdge Univ. Press.

    Schwartz, B. and Steven J. Robbins (1995).  Psychology of Learning and Behavior, 4th Ed.  Norton.

    Any other textbook on associative learning mechanisms in the library.
    Journals:
        Journal of Experimental Psychology:  Animal Behavioral Processes
        Animal Learning and Behavior
        Learning and Motivation
        Physiology and Behavior
        

study guide 1 - 3


COURSE DESCRIPTION:

This course will be an examination of the basic principles of conditioning and learning that have been discovered by psychologists in the past 120 years.  Many philosophers of science have argued that intelligence is the ability to profit from experience (learn), thus there has always been interest in how learning occurs.
The goal of psychology has always been to understand the mind.  In the early years of our science, it was believed that the mind could be studied directly.  This proved to be problematical, and psychology changed over the years in an attempt to find a way to understand what we mean by “the mind.”  What we will see in this course is that an understanding of the process of learning goes a long way toward an understanding of the mind.  Therefore, we will look closely at the major theories of learning that have developed over the years, and hopefully begin to answer that old nagging question about the nature of “mind.”

LECTURE:  will be designed to augment, not replicate, the text material.  You should read the assigned chapter before class so that meaningful discussion can take place.  

GRADES:  will be based on test scores (FOUR TESTS). Additionally, class participation and enthusiasm will be part of your semester grade. Extra Credit can be earned by doing a project as described below.

TESTS:  will be short answer format.  Usually a few sentences or a paragraph will suffice as an answer.  Material will be taken from the text and from lecture.

EXTRA CREDIT:    You may present one research article from the psychological literature to the class. Presentations will begin sometime around the 5th week, as those willing to do the project begin to become prepared.  You will be required to meet with me and have the article approved prior to its presentation, and to reserve a date for the class presentation.  Presentations should only take you about 10 minutes. The article should in some way be relevant to the course material.  That is, it should be some sort of an investigation of learning.  Ideally, the article will contain a discussion about how the particular behavior investigated is best explained by some associative or non-associative learning mechanism.  Become thoroughly familiar with your article before you present it to the class and be ready to answer questions about it.


                            
                            
                            
DAY    DATE    CHAPTER        TOPIC               
TUE         1.15        1        Theoretical background               
THUR      1.17                  From S-R to Cognitive Neuroscience               
                               
TUE         1.22        2        Habituation and sensitization               
THUR      1.24        2        Habituation and sensitization               
                               
TUE         1.29                  First test on chapters 1 & 2               
THUR      1.31        3        Pavlov               
                               
TUE         2.5          3        What influences conditioning?               
THUR      2.7          3        Higher order conditioning               
                               
TUE         2.12        3        Rescorla/Wagner model               
THUR      2.14                 Test 2 on Chapter 3               
                               
TUE         2.19        4        Psychological Hedonism               
THUR      2.21        4        Thorndike               
                               
TUE         2.26        4        Skinner's legacy               
THUR      2.28        5        Punishment               
                               
TUE         3.4          5        The mystery of avoidance               
THUR      3.6                    SPRING BREAK               
TUE         3.11                  SPRING BREAK               
THUR      3.13                  SPRING BREAK               
                               
TUE         3.18        6        What is being learned in reinforcement               
THUR      3.2          6        Drive reduction                
                                 
TUE         3.25                  Test 3 on Chapters 4, 5 & 6               
THUR      3.27        7        Generalization               
                               
TUE         4.1          7        Discrimination               
THUR      4.3                    No class today               
                               
TUE         4.8          8        Comparing Classical and Operant                
THUR      4.1          8        Comparing Classical and Operant                
                               
TUE         4.15                  MINI BREAK               
THUR      4.17        9        The Context of Learning               
                               
TUE         4.22        9        Animal Cognition               
THUR      4.24                  Hunger               
                                 
TUE         4.29                  Hedonism revisited               
THUR      5.1                    Test 4: Chapters 7, 8, 9