This is a proposed addition of one credit hour to the core courses required for the graduate program in Experimental Psychology, which are currently two credit hours each. Currently we offer core courses in neuroscience, cognitive psychology, developmental psychology, learning and motivation, and experimental design (PSYC 702A,B,C,D and E, respectively) and integrative courses that bridge these areas of psychology (PSYC 703A,B,C, and D).
Following program assessment, and feedback from students who have taken these courses, as well as from faculty who have taught them, we have determined that the two credit hour format results in suboptimal achievement of the program’s learning objectives in terms of both breadth and depth. The proposed 3 hours expanded format would allow better coverage of the critical topics in each field as well as more in-depth discussion of themes in each area, both of which will likely result in better retaining of information and skills by the students. Note that no change is needed or requested to the graduate bulletin as student will still be required to take 12 hours of these courses as is currently described in the bulletin. Students will simply have to choose 4 instead of 6 out of these courses and we intend to adapt our offering of these courses to match this change such that two rather than three of these courses are offered each semester.
Following are the specific aims of adding one credit hour to each of these courses:
PSYC 702A - Basics of Neuroscience
The extra credit hour will be used to expand on psychopharmacology the discussion of clinical cases, both of which are critical for understanding the translational aspects of neuroscience.
PSYC 702B - Basics of Cognitive Psychology
The extra credit hour will be used to include in-depth discussion of higher level areas of cognition, most importantly problem solving, judgment and decision making and language.
PSYC 702C - Basics of Developmental Psychology
The extra credit hour will be used to include in-depth discussion of neurodevelopment, neurodevelopmental disorders, and cognitive approaches to development.
PSYC 702D - Basics of Learning and Motivation
The addition of 1 credit will allow for sections of Animal Cognition and Behavioral Economics to be incorporated into the course. This is important because it captures the more contemporary research being conducted in the field and this added material will also provide points of interest for graduate students in cognitive psychology and economics.
PSYC 702E - Experimental Design
Adding one credit hour will allow incorporating the latest federal requirements regarding rigor and reproducibility as they continue to evolve. Rigor and reproducibility are the two cornerstones of science advancement and such enhancement of the course will be most valuable.
PSYC 703A - Integration across Cognitive Psychology and Neuroscience
Adding one credit hour will allow greater coverage of both historical research so as to better understand the theoretical context of modern approaches as well as greater in-depth coverage of current cutting-edge methods.
PSYC 703B - Integration across Developmental Psychology, Cognitive Psychology, and Neuroscience
Adding the extra hour would allow greater coverage of neuroimaging methods in the study of development as well as more in depth coverage of neurodevelopmental disorders.
PSYC 703C - Integration across Developmental and Cognitive Psychology
This class has not been offered recently and the 1 credit extension is requested in order to keep this course compatible with the other courses.
PSYC 703D - Integration across Areas of Psychology
Adding the extra hour will allow incorporating contemporary translational issue of high relevance and urgency such as HIV-1-associated Neurocognitive Disorders and current efforts in diagnosis, treatment, and potential cures for that disease, cognitive and behavioral consequences of maternal smoking for the fetus and their subsequent life, and childhood obesity, a multifactorial issue that is predicted to severely compromise our health care system in the next few decades.