Instructor: Dr. David E. Hogan
Office hours: BEP 365, Monday through Thursday 2:00-2:50 pm and by appointment.
Home page: http://www.nku.edu/~hogan
(For materials related specifically to this course follow links to Animal Learning from HoganÕs Home Page, or go directly to http://www.nku.edu/~hogan/psy337.htmlx)
Required text: Domjan, Michael. (2005). The Essentials of Conditioning and Learning (3rd ed.). Brooks/Cole Publishing Company. ISBN 0-534-57434-3.
Learning and instinct are fundamental behavior processes that have been studied in animals and humans for over a century. This course will attempt to show (a) how the experimental methods of Pavlovian and operant conditioning are used to study learning and instinct, (b) the evolutionary advantage of those behavior processes and (c) the relevance of animal learning research for understanding human behavior. The course will cover the pioneering research of Watson, Thorndike, Skinner, Guthrie, Tolman, Hull, Spence, and Kohler. The contributions of Darwin, Romanes, Tinbergen, Von Frisch and Lorenz will also be reviewed to illustrate the interdisciplinary nature of psychology and biology in understanding behavior.
Course grades will be based on examinations, quizzes and a writing assignment. Exams will include roughly 45-50 questions drawn from lecture material and reading assignments from the text. The exam questions will be mostly of the multiple-choice and matching type. Exams will be held during the week specified on the calendar of lecture topics (see below). I will specify the exact day of an exam approximately one week before the test day. It is the student's responsibility to be aware of changes in exam dates or chapters covered on exams. If an exam is missed without informing the instructor in advance of the test date, the instructor may issue a score of zero on that exam. Make-up exams may be permitted when extraordinary circumstances interfere with the student's ability to take the exam with the rest of the class. Quizzes will involve short identify and describe items, fill-in-the-blank or multiple choice items. At the end of each chapter is a section named TECHNICAL TERMS. The section includes definitions of concepts covered in the chapter. Some of the quiz items may be involve writing the definition of those terms, so know them well. Other items on the quiz may include terms and concepts covered in class, so study the notes carefully. Quizzes will usually be held at the beginning of the class meeting and will take about 10 minutes-12 minutes to complete. If youÕre late for class or miss the entire quiz because you didnÕt come to class on the day of the quiz, youÕll get either partial or no credit at all. IÕll stop the quiz at the same time for everyone, so if youÕre late in getting it started, you may not have time to finish it. I wonÕt hold up the rest of the class for late-comers, so arrive on time everyday. I'll announce the quiz date at least one class meeting ahead of time.
The Writing Assignment (valued at 20 points) is based on journal articles from a reading list which the instructor generated. The studentÕs task is to select an article, then read, summarize, and critically discuss it. The reading list contains empirical studies involving behavior, ethical issues concerning the use of animals in research, and theoretical controversies of long-standing interest in the field. The articles can be obtained through inter- library loan, or from the holdings in Steely Library, Langsom Library (at the University of Cincinnati) or other academic libraries in the area. A limited number of the articles may be available on the internet. Students must read two articles (10 points per article) from the reading list and write an Abstract (valued at 5 points per article) and a Critical Analysis (also valued at 5 points per article) of each article. The Abstract should be approximately 100-500 words long and must summarize the main point of the article. The Critical Analysis also should be approximately 100-500 words long. In the Critical Analysis section I want your personal reaction to the article - tell me what you learned from the article, what you found interesting or perhaps objectionable about the article; if the article was a research study, you might wish to comment on the ethics of the research, or the rigor and strength/weakness of the methodology and appropriateness of the authorÕs conclusion. All papers must be composed on a word processor; late papers will not be accepted or may be down-graded. The reading list is available on the web at http://www.nku.edu/~hogan/writingassignment.htmlx
The assignment will be graded on how clearly you express your ideas, how closely the assignment conforms to style and length requirements, and your apparent level of understanding of the article. Punctuation, grammar, and proofreading for effective communication will also be taken into consideration in grading the assignment.
Letter grades will be based on the percentage of total course points earned:
90-100% = A; 80-89% = B; 70-79% = C; 60-69% = D; 59% & below= F
Failure to take all of the exams and quizzes or to complete a writing assignment may result in a failing grade for the course.
Student Learning Outcomes
This course will provide students with a foundation to achieve several, if not all, of the following educational objectives by attending lectures, reading course material and completing assignments:
1. Understand how behavioral scientists use experimental methodology to identify principles of learning in animals and humans
2. Understand the distinction between operant behavior and respondent behavior; identify and describe the differences between classical and operant (or instrumental) conditioning at methodological and behavioral levels; understand the role of contiguity and contingency in classical and operant conditioning; understand how classical and operant conditioning interact
3. Identify and describe the learning phenomena of acquisition, extinction, spontaneous recovery, generalization, and discrimination; distinguish between positive and negative reinforcement and various forms of punishment; understand the diverse theories of reinforcement
3. Understand the ethical regulations governing the care and treatment of laboratory animals; the role of the Animal Care and Use Committee in approving research protocols and overseeing behavioral research conducted within the institution
4. Understand the relevance of animal research to understanding human behavior; appreciate the learned underpinnings of clinically relevant behaviors, such as phobias, helplessness, and addiction
5. Understand the interaction between instinctive dispositions and learned behavior; species similarities and differences in learning
6. Appreciate how learned behavior is explained from environmental (S-R),
cognitive and physiological perspectives (S-O-R)
Assessment of Outcomes
The educational achievements of students will be assessed by examinations and written assignments described above.
Honor Code and Attendance
Students are personally responsible for understanding their rights and obligations as set forth in the Code of Student Rights and Responsibilities. All students should understand that instances of disruptive behavior in the classroom and dishonest behaviors, such as plagiarism or cheating on exams and assignments, are subject to disciplinary action as set forth in the Code. Students should also understand that regular attendance in this course is required. Absence from class due to a serious illness or a personal emergency or the like is certainly excusable, but everyone is expected to attend at least 95% of the class meetings. In the event that your instructor must cancel class due to an illness or emergency, it's expected that students will use that time to work on the writing assignment outside of class. But, of course, students should not gamble on the instructor missing class because unexpected absences are rare. Therefore, it is in the student's best interest to work on the writing assignment whenever their schedule permits.
Brief history & research methodology
The organization of innate behavior
For supplementary reading visit this tutorial on ethology and animal behavior: http://www.flyfishingdevon.co.uk/salmon/year1/psy128animal_behaviour/animbeha.htm
Habituation & sensitization
Probable week of Exam 1 (5th week): Sept 22-26
Modern procedures, phenomena, theories and applications
Ch. 4, 5, & 10 (p. 153-158)
For supplementary reading visit this tutorial on classical conditioning:
Writing Assignment 1 (Abstract and Analysis of 1 article): Nov 11
Probable week of Exam 2 (12th week): Nov 10-14
Procedures, phenomena, theories and applications
Ch. 7, 8, 9, & 10 (p.164-171)
For supplementary reading visit this tutorial on instrumental and operant conditioning: http://www.biozentrum.uni-wuerzburg.de/genetics/behavior/learning/behaviorism.html
Stimulus control and Memory mechanisms
Ch. 13, 14
Writing Assignment 2 (resubmit Assignment 1 also): Dec 11
Probable date of Exam 3: Dec 18 @ 10:10am