Cognition Practical II

Module titleCognition Practical II
Module codePSY2212
Academic year2015/6
Module staff

Dr Fraser Milton (Convenor)

Dr Chris Dodds (Lecturer)

Professor Celia Morgan (Lecturer)

Dr Nicolas Dumay (Lecturer)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Description - summary of the module content

Module description

This module gives you experience of actually doing research in experimental cognitive psychology. In groups of around five you will: come up with a research question to ask (under a heading such as “category learning”); devise a novel experiment to answer it; design, programme and run the experiment; analyse the data; and report on the research in a short presentation and a written report. This experience develops not only the skills you need for your third year project, but also a much better understanding of the process that creates the evidence you read about in papers and books.

Module aims - intentions of the module

The module will provide training in research methodology in human experimental psychology, especially the psychology of cognition. The module aims to provide you with a critical understanding of the design and conduct of empirical research and data analysis by requiring groups of students, following training, to go through the full process of designing, running, analysing and reporting a novel experiment. With the help of a supervisor and tutorial sessions on designing and implementing an experiment and how to analyse the data from it, each group of students develops an experiment that addresses a theoretical question of their own choice under one of several broad topic headings, with guidance from a supervisor with appropriate expertise in the research topic. For this reason, the specific research topics available vary from year to year depending on the expertise of the available staff. As well as what it teaches about how psychological science generates the evidence that you read and hear about, the practical develops key skills for the world of employment: working effectively in a group, rapidly exploring the literature in a domain of research and come up with new ideas, implementing a project with computational and statistical resources, and presenting the research effectively.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 1. Describe critically experimental design, conduct of research and data analysis in human experimental psychology (including principles that generalise to other areas of research)
  • 2. Put these principles into practical effect through the design, implementation, running, and analysis of one experiment
  • 3. Report experimental research, building on Stage 1 skills
  • 4. Explain one current area of cognitive research
  • 5. Give examples of computational resources for stimulus preparation, experimental control and data analysis

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 6. Illustrate detailed factual and conceptual knowledge of the subject and identify a variety of ideas, contexts and frameworks
  • 7. Review and critically evaluate published work and identify the strengths and weaknesses of this work, and at a well-developed level structure this literature to present logical and coherent arguments
  • 8. Apply essential principles in designing research and critically evaluate and analyse empirical evidence and assess its reliability using appropriate statistical techniques taught at Stage 1 and in the Stage 2 statistics module
  • 9. Report research in Psychology using standard journal format

ILO: Personal and key skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 10. Solve complex problems systematically, think critically and creatively
  • 11. Manage and select information and data from a range of sources and develop appropriate information finding strategies
  • 12. Interact effectively within a learning group, giving and receiving information and ideas and modifying responses where appropriate and cooperating in the service of group goals
  • 13. Take responsibility for your own learning with minimum direction and to seek and make use of feedback
  • 14. Manage time effectively to meet deadlines
  • 15. Communicate effectively in writing
  • 16. Communicate research in an oral presentation

Syllabus plan

Syllabus plan

The term begins with three classes that (i) provide some background to the various research topics available for investigation, and (ii) use a sample experiment to illustrate principles of experimental design, and to provide a tutorial on the software used to run experiments and the data analysis tools available. In parallel, over those first three weeks, each group of students also explores the literature on their topic and devises a specific experiment under the heading of one of several broad research topics, with guidance from their supervisor. Each group submits a research proposal, receives feedback from the supervisor, and then implements and runs their agreed experiment and analyses the data, working independently but with advice and assistance available on a regular basis. In the last week of the term, each group gives a 10 minute presentation on their experiment and findings.

[In addition to the above eleven sessions specific to this module there are also “generic” practical classes timetabled under the  PSY 2206 heading each term introducing a wide range of methods across various domains of psychology. These four sessions are compulsory and will run in parallel with your chosen practical sessions during weeks 2 - 4 and week 9 of Term 1 and weeks to be confirmed, of Term 2.]

Learning and teaching

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning and Teaching20Tutorial lectures and laboratory sessions (10 x 2 hours)
Scheduled Learning and Teaching3Student groups give oral presentations on their experiments and results (1 x 3 hours)
Guided Independent Study127Private study and group work: reading the literature, group work to write research proposal, design and program the experiment, analyse the data and prepare presentation; meetings with supervisor in office hours; individual writing of project reports


Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Group presentation10 minutes (with slides)1-8, 10-14,16Oral

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Individual project report in journal article format853000 words1-15Written
Group proposal for experiment154 x A4 pages1,2,4,6-8,10-15Written and oral


Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Individual project reportIndividual project report1-15August Ref/Def
Group proposal for experimentGroup proposal for experiment1, 2, 4, 6-8, 10-15August Ref/Def

Re-assessment notes

Two assessments are required for this module. Where you have been referred/deferred in the individual project report you will be required to resubmit the report. Where you have been referred/deferred in the group proposal for experiment you will be required to resubmit the proposal. If you are successful on referral, your overall module mark will be capped at 40%; deferred marks are not capped.


Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Most of the reading will be from the primary literature relevant to the particular research topic addressed.An introduction and reading list for each topics will be will be provided on ELE.

The following may be useful on experimental design and how to read and write research reports:

Kantowitz, B.H., Roediger, Henry L. III, Elmes, D.G. (2009, 9th Ed) Experimental Psychology. Chs 3

(Research Techniques: Experiments), 5 (How to Read and Write Research Reports) and 8 (Attention and

Reaction Times). Wadsworth/Cengage Learning. From their web site you can download individual chapters for £2.99, or

buy the book at a 20% discount using the coupon code EUEXETER20

Sternberg R.J. (1993, 3rd Ed) The Psychologist’s Companion: A guide to scientific writing for students

and researchers. Cambridge UP. Chs. 3-7

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

A “how-to” manual will become available cumulatively on ELE during the tutorial classes, and various resources for the conduct of the experiments and data analysis will be made available either or ELE or on the Psychology computer cluster’s P: drive.

Module has an active ELE page

Key words search

Psychology, cognition, experiment, experimental design, research, methods, data, reaction time, DMDX

Credit value15
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites

PSY1201, PSY1205, PSY 1206 or equivalent

Module co-requisites


NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date