Survey of Psychology: Perception (320)

Syllabus (Fall 2007)

Writing Assignment Information and aNote about writing assignments 

Tentative Semester Schedule


How do I check my grades onBlackboard?

Instructions for forwardingyour titan email to anotheremail account.

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Syllabus for Perception (PSY 320)

Fall 2007

Instructor: Dr. Scharff
EDU 215f
EDU 117c
TEC Office:
Steen Library 202H
Office Hours:
M 10-11, 1-2 T 11-12:30, W 1-2, TH 11-12:30, or byappointment

TA: Richard Sylvester
ED 104A
TR 8:00 - 9:30, 10:45 - 12:30, 1:45 - 4:00 and byappointment

Required Texts: Sensation and Perception by Wolfe,Kluender, & Levi

There will also be articles / readings handed out in class andpossibly some articles on reserve in the library or placed on my webpage. Some class announcements and assignments will be sent to youvia email. I will use your titan account that you are assignedthrough SFASU. It will be your responsibility to check your emailregularly. It is possible to forward your titan account email toanother account if you prefer (e.g. a hotmail account). I will alsosend Psychology news updates; these are optional readings unlessotherwise noted.

Prerequisites: Psy 133 or consent of the instructor.

Objectives: The objectives of this course are to provideyou with a general background of psychophysical and physiologicalperception research and how perception applies to many areas outsideof academia (e.g. communications, marketing, art, heath services,everyday happenings). Developmental perception topics will also beincorporated throughout the semester. This course will place anemphasis on vision, and secondarily, on audition; however, all fivesenses will be covered.

Although this course will primarily be lecture-based, as part ofthe course you will also participate in perceptual demonstrations andclass discussions regarding the application of the material toeveryday life. My assessment of your understanding of the materialwill be based on exams and short writing assignments. I expect you tocome to class prepared to discuss the material and to treat everyonein the classroom with respect (i.e. turn of cell phones, and refrainfrom personal discussions while others are presentinginformation).

Chapter Exams: There will be 6 exams plus a comprehensivefinal. All of the exams will consist of some multiple-choicequestions and some short answer questions. Questions on the examswill be drawn from the assigned chapters in the text, as well as fromthe lectures. Chapter exams are scheduled to last 50 minutes at thebeginning of class. Following the exam there will be an introductionto the next topic that will incorporate an activity.

Each exam and the final will be worth 100 points. I will use yourtop 6 exam grades when calculating your final course grade (i.e. thecumulative final can replace one regular exam grade; if you are happywith your grade without taking the final, then it is notrequired).

The semester schedule (see the final page of the syllabus) showsthe highly probable topic and exam schedule. I will hand out blank(unlined) paper for the exams. If you prefer to write on lined paper,please bring blank sheets and show them to me prior to the start ofthe exam.

If you require special arrangements for taking exams, and you areregistered with Disability Services, please see me as soon aspossible to discuss this.

NO make-ups will be given except for a DOCUMENTED emergency. (Inother words, weddings, vacations, oversleeping etc. will not qualifyas a legitimate excuse.) In order to qualify for a make-up, you mustcontact me as soon as your emergency allows, and you must take themake-up within one week of returning to class. If you know ahead oftime that you have a university-related conflict, give medocumentation prior to missing the exam.

Reflection writing Assignments: One of themain objectives of this course is to help you explore how perceptionapplies to everyday life and to other areas beyond perceptionresearch in the lab. Therefore, 7 times this semester (see thesemester schedule below) you will submit a reflection paper thatanswers three of the following five questions. For each paper, youcan choose which of the three questions you prefer to answer. Write aseparate paragraph (5-6 sentences on average) for each question sothat it is clear which questions you are answering.

Questions for reflection papers:

  1. 1. What was the most interesting new thing you learned in class or through the readings this week? Why?

    2. What was something you learned in class that you shared with a friend or family member outside of class? Why? How did they respond?

    3. What happened outside of class that reminded you of something you learned in class(anytime this semester)? Explain. [You may include information from the optional readings that I send via email or information you learn from other media sources for this question.]

    4. What happened outside of class that you were better able to understand or handle because of something you learned in class (anytime this semester)? Explain.

    5. What is something in class that you are having the most troubling understanding? What have you done so far to try to understand that material?

Each reflection paper will be worth 15 points. There will be 7papers due, and they will be collected at the beginning of class. Inorder to give you more flexibility with your course load, I will dropone paper grade. I will accept late papers without documentation, butthere will be a 2-point-per-day (including weekend days) penalty forlate papers. Late papers on the due date (i.e. turned in later thanthe beginning of class) will be given a 1-point penalty.

The evaluation of your writing assignments will be based primarilyon how fully and effectively you answer the questions. However, Iwill expect all writing to use the conventions of standard writtenEnglish, which includes usage, punctuation, and mechanics (especiallyspelling). Assignments should be turned in typed, using Times NewRoman font and double spacing. See the "note about the writingassignments" below for an explanation of point deductions.

Attendance/Lateness: Class attendance and participation arevital to your learning experience. Attendance will not be recordedeveryday; however, there will be 10 attendance points given at randomthroughout the semester. THESE ARE REQUIRED POINTS, not extra creditpoints. If you come but do not participate (e.g. contribute toactivities), I reserve the right to take away your attendancepoint.

Finally, I expect you to be professional and courteous in yourbehavior. Although I realize that occasional tardiness cannot beavoided, late arrivals disrupt the lecture, which is not fair tothose students who do arrive on time. If you must arrive late orleave early for some reason, please let me know, and sit by the doorso as to minimize the interruption. Other examples of professionalbehavior include turning off your cell phone, not holding sideconversations, and when we are in the computer lab, not using thecomputers for personal tasks such as checking email. Thank you.

Extra Credit: The will be several opportunities for extracredit throughout the semester. Opportunities will include popquizzes, activities, short assignments. The maximum number of extracredit points allowed is 2% of the possible course points (departmentpolicy).

Academic Dishonesty: THE NEW POLICY STATES: "After adetermination of dishonesty, the faculty member shall notify theOffice of the Dean of the student's major by submitting a Report ofAcademic Dishonesty form, along with supporting documentation asnoted on the form. This report shall be made part of the student'srecord and shall remain on file with the Dean's office for at leastfour years. The Dean shall refer second or subsequent offenses to theUniversity Committee on Academic Integrity established under thispolicy. The faculty member shall also inform the student of theappeals process available to all SFA students (Policy A-2)."

Blackboard: All your grades will be posted on Blackboard.To access Blackboard, you will use your mySFA ID and password. Thereare further instructions on the class web page. You will also haveall your assignments returned to you in class after they have beengraded.

Note: If you have any questions over the course material,please come discuss them with me or with the teaching assistant. (Ithelps to do this before the tests rather than after...) You may alsoemail me at any time.

Course Grading:

The final course grade will be determined using the followingpoints:

Exams & Comprehensive Final (100 points each; top 6 taken)


Reflection papers (top 6 of 7; 15 pts each)






Individuals receiving at least 90% of the points will receive anA, 80 &endash; 89.9% a B, etc.

A Note about the Writing Assignments PSY 320

Good writing skills are among the most important and fundamentalthat you should develop as a student of higher education (and priorto that). No matter what field you decide to explore, writtencommunication skills will allow other people to clearly understandyou, and they will often open doors that would remain closed if youdid not have such skills. For example, many companies routinelydiscard any resumes that contain even a single spelling mistake orgrammatical error.* That's it &endash; no chance for a secondimpression to overcome the first, negative one. Whether you want towork for someone else or be your own boss, to be successful in thisworld, you will generally need to make a favorable impression onothers: they will need to believe that you are competent andprofessional.

So, in this class writing assignments will be taken seriously ontwo levels. The most obvious will be that of content. You should taketime to think about the questions and write complete, reflectiveanswers. Make sure you answer all questions, and all parts of eachquestion. Incomplete or superficial answers will not receive fullcredit. The questions, however, will generally not have a "right" or"wrong" answer; they will be personal (but not intimate!)reflections.

The second level upon which your writing assignments will begraded will be for correct spelling and grammar. All misspellingswill receive a 0.50 point deduction, even if they are a correctlyspelled word out of context (e.g. if you use the word "there" insteadof "their"). In this age of spell checks on computers, there is noexcuse for most misspellings (if you don't have spell check, use adictionary!). Proofreading is essential to find misused words andgrammatical problems. Major grammatical problems (e.g. run-onsentences, sentence fragments, subject-verb disagreements) willreceive a 0.50 point deduction, and minor ones (e.g. awkwardsentences, transitions, paragraph structure), a 0.25 point deduction.Remember, each paper is worth a total of 15 points.

I realize that this is not an English class. However, good writingskills are fundamental and transcend course topic. Therefore, takethe time to write and proofread your work. These papers cansignificantly help your course grade (especially if you are a poortest taker), or they can hurt it if you do not take them seriously.There are many free resources if you do not feel confident about yourwriting: make an appointment to have me review a paper draft, make anappointment to meet with the TA, go to the AARC in the library, orhave a friend give you feedback.


* Here is a quote from an interview published in the WashingtonPost, June 2003. The person being interviewed is an assistantdirector of a company who is answering questions about hiringpractices at her company.

"You do have to be able to speak intelligently about what youknow. If you're well-spoken, and can explain it back to me -- I'llrespect that," she says. When Van Loon sees a typo on resume, sheknocks an applicant out of the running. Her reasoning: if a candidatecan't handle the details of his own job search, he probably can'tmeet the meticulous standards of the lab team.

"You need very high attention to detail ... I need to know ifsomething is going wrong," she says.

Tentative Semester Schedule

August 27


Intro / Syllabus

August 29


Ch 1

September 3


Labor Day Holiday

September 5


Ch 1 / Ch 2

Paper 1 due

September 10


Ch 2 + vision problems

September 12


Into / Activity: Visual Acuity

Exam 1

September 17


Ch 3

September 19


Ch 3 / Ch 4

Paper 2 due

September 24


Ch 4

September 26


Intro / Activity: Color Vision

Exam 2

October 1


Ch 5

October 3


Ch 5 / Ch 6

Paper 3 due

October 8


Ch 6

October 10


Ch 6 / Ch 7 (highlights)

October 15


Intro / Activity: Visual Attention

Exam 3

October 17


Ch 8

Paper 4 due

October 22


Ch 8

October 24


Ch 12

October 29


Ch 12

Paper 5 due

October 31


Into / Activity: Hearing

Exam 4

November 5


Ch 9

November 7


Ch 9 / Ch 10

November 12


Ch 10 / Ch 11 (Highlights)

Paper 6 due

November 14


Intro / Activity: Smell

Exam 5

November 19


Ch 13

November 21


Thanksgiving Holiday

November 26


Ch 13 / Ch 14

November 28


Ch 14

Paper 7 due

December 3


No activity

Exam 6

December 5


Review for Final

December 14


10:30 &endash; 12:30

Final Exam

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