BCSC 172: Syllabus

Spring 2024

Time & Location

Tuesdays & Thursdays 3:25 – 4:40 PM
Morey Hall 321


Instructor: Daniel W. Mruzek, PhD
Office: Meliora Hall Room 323
Office Hours: 9:00 – 10:30 AM on Thursdays and by appointment

Required Textbook

Galotti, K. M. (2017). Cognitive development: Infancy through adolescence. SAGE
I recommend that you purchase the e-book version.

Recommended if you plan to publish psychological research:
American Psychological Association. (2020). Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (7th ed.). Mountain View, CA: Mayfield Publishing Company. ISBN-13: 978-1433832161

Additional readings will be added over the course of the semester. These will be posted on Blackboard.

Library Research Help

The research guide for Psychology may be useful and can be accessed online.

If you need research help for this course/assignments, River Campus Librarians may be able to help.

Help accessing library resources off-campus. You can also ask for help at the Q&i Desk in any of our campus libraries or chat with a librarian online via the “Online Chat” link on the library website.

Purdue University maintains an excellent resource for writing in general and formal writing in psychology more specifically.

Course Content

In this course we will focus on human development with a special focus on cognition, including perception, reasoning, attention, memory, and language acquisition. Our work together will include investigation of the neural basis for cognition and those factors, environmental and genetic, that impact neural development. A special emphasis will be placed on appreciating developmental differences (e.g., intellectual and developmental disabilities), as well as applications of cognitive science in everyday life. Along the way, we will practice the discipline of scientific inquiry, including maintenance of scientific skepticism in considering content presented by others (e.g., peer reviewed journals, popular media) and analysis of data.

General Goals and Expectations

Through your participation in this course, you can expect to learn a tremendous amount regarding the cognitive development of humans. Human cognitive development is a fascinating, exciting topic!

Our goal for you is for you to, at the end of this course, acquire knowledge about cognitive development that is valuable to you professionally and personally. To achieve this goal, we expect you to come to class prepared to discuss, critique, and analyze material presented in class and in our reading assignments. The topics subsumed under the heading of “cognitive development”, like many topics of scholarly inquiry, are often fertile grounds for debate and, quite possibly, disagreement. Our ground rule for those times that we are engaged in class discussion is that we all respect each other and each other’s point of view. We hope that we can all make every effort to listen to each other’s comments courteously without interrupting, and to respond to each other in a mature and thoughtful manner. This will help us all get the most out of the course.

Finally, we expect for each of you to make every effort throughout the course to make your needs, concerns, and any other feedback that you might have known to us. Most importantly, we need to know if you have special needs or circumstances that are impacting your performance or completion of work for the course. We are willing to be flexible and accommodating of special circumstances but can only reasonably do so if you keep us informed about what it is that you need.

Laptop/Electronic Devices Policy: We understand that many scholars prefer to take notes on their laptops during class, however, I have found that the use of laptops in class can be distracting for other class members, as well as the scholar using the laptop. Laptop use often takes away from active participation in class – especially with respect to class discussions. For this reason, we ask that you limit your use of laptops and other electronic devices to class content during class time. If we find that members of the class are using their laptops or other electronic devices inappropriately (e.g., social media), we will restrict the use of those devices altogether.

What you can expect of us: We are committed to making this course not only an educational experience, but a fun and positive experience as well. We really enjoy the topics discussed in this class, and we want to share that enjoyment with you! To that end, just as we expect for each of you to make efforts over the course of the term to communicate your needs and concerns to us, we will endeavor to give you regular feedback and make ourselves available to you. In addition to the time that we spend together in class, we will do our best to make ourselves available to you for help and consultation outside of class time, and we hope you will avail yourself of our office hours.

We will make great use of the Blackboard website throughout the semester (e.g., class announcements, additional reading, and other assignments). Please check the Blackboard website frequently for updates, announcements, and information about the course.

Course Requirements and Assignments

  1. Discussion Posts. (10% of your grade). We will have five opportunities for you to respond to a question that we pose about some aspect of cognitive development. You can anticipate that each of these questions will require (a) an opinion regarding a particular topic; and (b) a grounding of your opinion in course content (e.g., reading of text) or other, brief scholarly research. We will discuss responses to each question in class through an aggregate analysis of each response. Late submissions will not be accepted for grading
  2. Exams (75% of your grade). We will have three noncumulative exams, with each exam constituting 25% of your grade. Each exam will cover content presented in class, as well as in our Galotti text. Format will vary, but each exam will contain opportunity to provide short, written answers (i.e., brief essays).
  3. Cognitive Development Investigation (15% of your grade). You will have the opportunity to investigate a specific topic related to cognitive development and write a brief reflection of your findings. If class time is available, you may have the opportunity to briefly present your findings to the class for extra credit. A separate handout will describe this assignment in detail.
  4. Extra Credit. Opportunities for extra credit toward your final grade may be available throughout the semester. We will discuss these opportunities in class.

Overall Grading Scale

  • A = 93 – 100%
  • A- = 90 – 92%
  • B+ = 87 – 89%
  • B = 83 – 86%
  • B- = 80 – 82%
  • C+ = 77 – 79%
  • C = 73 – 76%
  • C- = 70 – 72%
  • D = 60 – 69%
  • F= <60%

Ethics of being a Student in the Departments of BCS and Psychology

The members of the faculty of the Department of Psychology and the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences at the University of Rochester uphold the highest ethical standards of teaching and research. They expect their students to uphold the same standards of ethical conduct. By registering for this course, you are implicitly agreeing to conduct yourself with the utmost integrity throughout the semester.

In both departments, acts of academic misconduct are taken very seriously. Such acts diminish the educational experience for all involved – students who commit the acts, classmates who would never consider engaging in such behaviors, and instructors. Academic misconduct includes, but is not limited to, cheating on assignments and exams, stealing exams, sabotaging the work of classmates, submitting fraudulent data, plagiarizing the work of classmates or published and/or online sources (e.g., ChatGPT), acquiring previously written papers and submitting them (altered or unaltered) for course assignments, collaborating with classmates when such collaboration is not authorized, and assisting fellow students in acts of misconduct. Students who have knowledge that classmates have engaged in academic misconduct should report this to the instructor.

Accommodations Policy

The University of Rochester supports the right of all enrolled students to a full and equal educational opportunity. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) require that students with disabilities be reasonably accommodated in instruction and campus life. Reasonable accommodations for students with disabilities is a shared faculty and student responsibility. Students are expected to inform faculty [me] of their need for instructional accommodations by the end of the first week of the semester, or as soon as possible after a disability has been incurred or recognized. Disability information, including instructional accommodations, as part of a student’s educational record is confidential and protected under FERPA.