FAQ

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Contents

The wiki

I can't log on to the wiki

You either aren't typing in your username (e.g pca10aa) and password right (your date of birth in the form dd/mm/year, e.g. 01/01/1991), or you haven't been registered. Capitalisation is important, use lower case.

If this doesn't work please email t.stafford@shef.ac.uk - saying which details you are using to try to log in - and he will register you

We have edited the wiki the information isn't saving. What do we do?!

This can happen if many people are editing the same wiki page at the same time. Please wait and try again later


Is the Wiki being checked for errors on the part of students who are uploading answers in order to ensure that all students who may use the Wiki as a revision tool are revising correct information?

No. You should be thinking about what you read - especially on a wiki - and checking this against other sources. This is why referencing is important: it allows easy checking of whether what has been written is correct or not. The wiki cannot and should not be the sole source of information for your studies (but neither should a single textbook).


"I am not sure if my contribution appeared correctly"

The point about contributions is that they are all mixed together, so please don't worry about this. The purpose of the wiki is to provide you, the students, with a place to practice writing --- it is not a place where your individual contributions are assessed


"I am waiting until I have something valuable to add" or "I felt I didn't have anything to contribute"

You will learn by forcing yourself to add something (or change something), not by waiting until you are certain you have something valuable to contribute


"I cannot find the correct place"

There is no correct place! Part of the exercise is in deciding for yourself where to contribute


"We made a contribution as a group"

Group contributions are good, but the greatest benefit will come to those who also make individual contributions at some point

"How can I add images to the wiki?"

File uploading is disabled at the moment, sorry.

What's the point?

The point is you will understand the PSY241 material best if you practice writing, or editing writing, about the material. It is not enough to try to passively remember the information, you have to relate it to what you already know and what you want the reading audience to know. Many people say they only really understand things when they try to tell someone else. Practicing writing is essential, especially since the course is assessed by a written exam!

Seminars

I was not allocated to a seminar group and I was wondering what i should do?

Sorry! Your registration probably didn't come through in time for the system to pass it to me. Please find your PSY259 group and add yourself on the Groups page. If you do not have a PSY259 group, please add yourself to any group.

Other course questions

What is the course reading/textbook needed for PSY241?

The module textbook is Andrade & May 'Instant Notes in Cognitive Psychology'. This is the core supporting reading for the module, but the ultimate guide as to what topics to cover is the content of the lectures.


What textbooks would you advise us to purchase for the course, if any?

The recommended textbook (Andrade and May) is discussed in the course overview document. However, this is recommended because it is a short introduction to many topics in Cognitive Psychology, not because it is the only textbook worth reading. Most cognitive psychology textbooks covered similar material in a similar way. Many are available in the library. The choice of which, or if, to buy is yours!

Is the Andrade and May book sufficient enough reading or is there another book that covers the lecture notes better?

The ultimate guide as to what topics to cover is the content of the lectures (see the course overview document for a list of topics). No textbook is a complete guide to the course, any (cognitive psychology) textbook can help you start to understand the topics covered. Andrade and May is recommended because it is short. If you want to read a longer one, try Eysenck and Keane

Is there a preferred edition of the Andrade and May textbook I should purchase?

No. The edition doesn't matter (and as far as I know, there is only one edition). Please also see my answers regarding textbooks above.


I can't get hold of one of the readings

If you can't get hold of it because it is checked out of the library, then the module MO can ask for a digital copy to be make of key readings. Contact t.stafford to arrange this.


If we can't find extra info on a study mentioned in a lecture in the recommended textbook, is it recommended to use WoK/Google Scholar to find the original paper?

Yes, reading original paper is great habit to establish. To get a first class mark you can read beyond the lecture notes in the sense of reading things not directly recommended, or you can take details not mentioned in the lectures from references which are mentioned in them


How optional is the optional reading? Do I have to do it?

The information given in the course booklet is correct. Optional reading is optional. Essential reading is essential. One meaning of "optional" is that you will still be able to understand and answer the exam questions without having read this material. Of course, though, to get the best grades you will need to read optional material and material you find yourself.

To get first class marks you need to show evidence of independent study. This is stated in the undergraduate handbook. The standard for seen exams is higher than for unseen exams (such as this one for PSY241). It is perfectly possible to get an pass mark without references and information outside of the lectures. However, it is also easy to misunderstand the material if you do not read anything apart from the lecture material. This is why we recommend independent further study for all students on all courses.


Where can I find advice and information on Jim Stone's vision lectures?

There is a link on MOLE under JVStone's lectures slides to a file that contains advice on the vision part of the exam. (The link is here but is most trustworthy via MOLE): https://docs.google.com/Doc?docid=0AVZSI0ZAEF-7ZDkzeDY0Yl85OGd2OWYzbmN6&hl=en_GB

The exam

For those of us sitting the exam in August, is it possible to access the questions/feedback from January 2014? Or does anybody have a copy of them?

They are on MOLE

How many references would you expect to see in an ideal exam answer (or one that could achieve a First)?

There is no ideal number of references, and the right number varies depending on the question you are answering.

What are the names of the three sections the exam is divided into, so I can organise my notes accordingly?

The sections names are A, B and C. The topics are roughly those of the A memory, B language and thought C perception lectures - BUT see the answer to the question below about what topics can be asked about in each section.

Looking at the past paper for this module I can see that there are three sections (A,B and C) where you have to pick one question to answer from each. Could there be two questions relating to the same topic, for example visual perception, in just one of the sections?

Yes, there could be two questions on the same topic in one section. Also, there could be questions in any section which ask you to draw on topics from across the whole course.

Will we be receiving any example or past paper questions for the module?

Past papers for the last three years are available on MOLE.

there is some material on the previous exam paper which is to do with reasoning, however there are not any lecture slides on this, I was wondering if we need to know about it or if its based on old material?

Your best guide to what may be on the exam is the course outline document, and recommended reading. Each year the course content can change, so previous exam questions are not a guide to what topic can be asked this year

in the exam, do you need to reference with the date e.g. Atkinson and Shiffrin (1968), or will just the authors names suffice?

Name and date is preferable

is it likely that a question will need information from the lectures by Megan Freeth (cognitive neuroscience) or Maria Panagiotidi (prospective memory)? or is this just background?

Everything taught can be examined

Are examples from reading that lecturers have given and form text books that have been advised still counted as independent study. Also I found a video that features Kahneman talking about the experiencing self and remembering self. Neither of these theories are actually in any text book or in any journal atricle that I can find. If I wanted to mention them would I reference it with Kahneman 2010 in an essay or would it not be valid to put in an essay answer???

Independent study is assessed by you mentioning ideas, with references, which are not taught. In this sense, a video of a Nobel laureate (whose work is taught on the course) would definitely count as something you could cite. In general, however, you should be careful because people are generally more free and easy in videos than in papers, even nobel laureates. Kahneman talks about the experiencing and the remembering self, but is this an idea he had in the pub? Or based on a body of research? We don't know. Also, any idiot can record a video, so they are inherently less reliable than a peer-reviewed academic paper.

I have been looking at the past papers and each questions generic feedback for revision. There seems to be no generic feedback on the psychology departmental website for section A in last years paper (cocktail party problem and spreading activation). Has it just not been put online or is there no available feedback for these questions?

I am sorry to say that, yes, feedback for section A of last year's exam is not available


Can we use diagrams in the exam?

Yes. Properly labelled diagrams are a great thing to include in your answer.

I was just wondering how to correctly draw and label diagrams within an essay? I've never done it before and I've asked around but nobody seems confident on it. Is there a correct procedure to follow?

There is no right or wrong way - as long as the diagram makes sense. I suggest you consult textbooks and papers for examples of useful diagrams. The most common mistake students make is to copy the vague shape of diagrams without properly labelling them.

There is some confusion about the mark scheme for the PSY 241 Cognitive exam. Do we need a minimum of 40 marks on each question to pass overall?

You are probably confused because you have been listening to rumours! The suggestion that you need to pass each section is not in the course document nor in the UG handbook, so you shouldn't believe it. You pass the exam if your average mark over 3 questions is 40 or above

From what year is a source considered to be recent?

There is no agreed definition of "recent". Different people use it in different ways and it doesn't matter too much. Use your own judgement

Bear in mind that some theories from as early as the 1940's are still relevant today.

In the exam are we allowed to write on the question paper?

Yes, although the question paper doesn't get seen by the markers, so it doesn't matter what you do with it.

I have found the pastpaper link on mole. But after clicking into it, it says the page no longer exists. What should I do?

Try this link [1]

Questions on course material

Is the most/the entire cortex made of maps?

On the handout for the causality lecture, i don't understand what question 4 is asking?

the question is "Shank, Pearson and Dickinson 1989 showed that judgement of self causation are highly sensitive to delay, just like direct perception of causation in experiments using Michottes launching paradigm. in what ways is inference of self causation different from direct perception of causation?" is this asking the difference between self causation and perception of causation between others? or is it asking about the difference between inference and perception of causation?

Both! A clear answer would make highlight both distinctions and say that both are relevant

Is Chapman 1967 (from the causation lectures) not just an example of increased availability, not necessarily illusory correlation?

No. The availability heuristic, strictly, concerns judgements of probability. Illusory correlation concerns judgements of correlation. Therefore, they cannot be the same thing by definition. There is, however, a potential argument to be made that the phenomenon of illusory correlation is due to the availability heuristic. As I mentioned in the lecture, there tend to be 'families' of heuristics which are similar to each other. Which particular naming scheme you prefer is, to some extent, a matter of taste.

Does Flaherty and Senghas (2011) study provide evidence for Pinker or Vygotsky?

This kind of question is hard to answer on a the wiki, because the most useful answer to give depends on exactly what you think Flaherty & Sengas (2011) shows, and what Pinker claims and what Vygotsky claimed. If you emailed me (Tom Stafford) this question I would response by asking you what your answers to these three questions are

Can you simplify this question: "What is the cocktail party problem? Explain how the distinction between automatic and controlled processing may be involved in its resolution."

If you are stuck with a question, such as this one, try splitting it down into parts. What is the cocktail party problem? What do you know about it, and why does it happen? I am confident that once you have answered this first part of the question you will know how to approach the second part

Where can I find more information about causation? My notes are very brief and I am struggling to understand it with just the lecture notes.

The course outline gives recommended and suggested reading

I am struggling to download the lectures on vision, could you please check that the link hasn't corrupted in some way?

They work fine for me- just take a long time

Would you agree it is possible to argue that causal inference is similar to the associative learning processes found in non-human animals shown in classical conditioning?

It is certainly possible, even reasonable, to argue this. The key to doing so in an exam would be (1) ensure it is relevant to the question (2) being specific about what you mean exactly, i.e. in what way(s) is causal inference similar to associative learning and (3) make crystal clear why you believe this to be the case by citing the relevant evidence. These are general rules for constructing academic arguments, so apply beyond this topic.

Your question touches on two important general points A). The attempt to 'group' phenomenon, finding general laws (in this case to show that casual inference is a specific instance of more general associatve learning). This is a widely pursued strategy in science (see Darwin's idea of Lumpers vs Splitters). B) There is a long debate in cognitive psychology over the nature of the mind. Is it made up of rules, or something more continuous (associations)? By making the argument that causal inference is an instance of associative learning you are taking the site of the associationists; others would argue that there is something special about causal inference that relies on propositional logic (i.e rules) rather than simple associations.

While the past papers are no guide to what will be on the exam this year, much of the vision information concerns illusions that, while explained by some of the principles we have learned, are complex and have not been specifically discussed in our work or reading (EG The Chevreul Illusion.) Should we be committing time to learning these or can it be taken that such topics will not form the basis of an exam question?

See the answer to this question, above. I appreciate that you would like reassurance that can be examined. The best strategy is to believe that the relevant topics are those in the course outline document. We are not trying to trick you!

I know we are expected to make a coherent argument in our answers to get top marks, but I'm struggling to do this. Is it necessary to take a specific stance on questions such as 'evaluate evidence' and 'describe', or can we just criticise/support evidence and describe studies without explicitly stating our own viewpoint?

A good evaluation or description can be an argument. The important thing is to link evidence to theory. If you just describe what experiments were done without saying what they mean, that is bad. If you do, then you are making an argument. Making an argument doesn't need to involve your personal opinion (as you seem to suggest), just an evaluation (i.e. is the evidence strong, or weak? Are the conclusions drawn reasonable? etc)

And finally...

Q The answer to my question isn't on this FAQ

Please add it, then let Tom Stafford know you have added it, and he will answer it

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