PSYC 370: Principles of Learning

PSYC 370: Principles of Learning will introduce students to how “learning” is defined, studied, and understood from the perspective of psychological science.  We will discuss research and theory on a wide range of learning phenomena, including simple, associative, and observational learning.  A particular emphasis will be placed on classical (or “Pavlovian”) conditioning and operant (or “instrumental”) conditioning.

In-class and at-home activities will provide students with firsthand exposure to learning principles and give students the opportunity to apply or recognize these principles in their everyday lives.  Readings will include original material from influential figures in learning theory (such as John Watson, B.F. Skinner, and Albert Bandura) as well as current empirical research articles.

As a capstone project for this course, students will design an experiment that explores a question of interest in learning research.  The last few weeks of the semester will be reserved for in-class presentations of these experiments.  In addition to providing students with valuable experience in critical thinking and public speaking, this exercise will also aim to foster thoughtful discussion among classmates.

If you are interested in how experience affects mind and behavior, then you are interested in “learning” as the psychologist views it.  The primary goal of the course will be to deliver an overview of the most fundamental and intriguing aspects of this process, without assuming any previous knowledge of psychological theory or research—PSYC 150 (“Introduction to Psychology”) is recommended, but it is not required.

This course meets the General Education Requirements for Social Awareness.

Prof. D. Boyll, TR 9:30-10:45

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