Learning by the book

With class on Tuesday, Feb. 9, we were largely done with our focused review of research methodology. For the remainder of the course, we’ll be applying what we learned to explore the major sub-domains of the field: biopsychology; learning, memory, and cognition; development; social psychology; and abnormal behavior. But we’re not done learning about methods.

Rather, as we keep going, you’ll see that we will encounter studies that use the tools and techniques we’ve already covered. In addition, we’ll be reading about interesting variations on those methods and models. For this reason, it will pay off all semester to really have a handle on what we’ve covered to date. Another thing that will pay off is for you to visit the PSYC 001 office and review exams. That’s how you can get important clues to your performance.

In addition to in-person consultations, let me just remind you of the materials available to you. I’m going to highlight the ones that may not have gotten a lot of your attention. For reasons you’ll see, I’m going to end with the textbook. Here are some things you’ll find in each Chapter’s folder in Blackboard. We call them modules because sometimes it won’t be a textbook chapter.

Slide Shows: Otherwise known as the PowerPoint ™ presentations you see in class. There may be some differences as I often find things at the last minute that are just irresistible.

Online Lectures: These are written to support the online version of this course. But in addition to having some more verbiage, you should also find links to videos, most of which we will view in class.

Textbook: hopefully this has gotten a lot of your attention. But now let me pose a challenge that is a good idea now and a really good idea later in the term.

* For the rest of the term, note that the survey chapters are assigned for each class day where we’ll be discussing one (or more) of the focused research chapters. As you read them, you should use the tools and techniques that have been effective for you in the past.

* But pay special attention to this: as you read, are you really understanding the material? Chances are pretty good that you will make only one pass through the chapter, so it is probably going to be most effective if you do so slowly, taking notes, thinking as you go, and confirming your understanding.

*Unless you have unusual mental stamina, you should probably consider doing this in 2 or more sessions of about 30 minutes each.

* As you are studying and writing about each of the focused research chapters, look for linkages back to that unit’s survey chapter. Note these linkages and connections, literally. The goal is this: when you are done with all the assigned chapters in that unit, you have marked up the survey chapter and noted those places where you discerned overlap.

* Having done all that, notice what parts of Chapter 1 did not get covered in the other chapters — the lack of overlap. As you read about each of these topics think back: did we talk about this in class? If so, think: do I understand this?

* What you’ll now see are the topics that weren’t elsewhere in the textbook and weren’t covered in class. You may want to also look for linkages to other assets (like the online lectures). But this material may be on exams, and it’s probably the stuff that you’re least likely to learn. Why? Because even if you read it carefully, your brain hasn’t had the chance to relate it to other concepts. And it’s those linkages that are likely to be most useful when it comes to full meaningful retention (and accurate recall).

In addition to all that neat stuff on the web, don’t forget about in-person support via the PSYC 001 office.

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