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Unit information: Cognition and Learning in 2013/14

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Unit name Cognition and Learning
Unit code EDUCM5401
Credit points 20
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Academic Year (weeks 1 - 52)
Unit director Dr. Tim Jay
Open unit status Not open




School/department School of Education
Faculty Faculty of Social Sciences and Law

Description including Unit Aims

This unit presents students with fundamental principles and knowledge in the domain of cognitive psychology including: attention; comprehension; conceptual knowledge; learning; skill acquisition and expertise; memory: encoding and retrieval processes, working memory, autobiographical memory, episodic and semantic memory, implicit and explicit memory, memory improvement; thinking and reasoning, problem solving and decision making; language: structure, comprehension, production, reading; information processing and connectionist models of cognition. Students will learn about research methods appropriate to the study of cognition and cognitive development. They will also study key issues in the development of cognition, such as the development of language, number and drawing, cognitive change in the school years, and the role of cognition in educational attainment.


  • To develop an understanding of cognitive psychological processes.
  • To examine how such cognitive processes underpin behaviour in children and adults.
  • To examine factors associated with the cognitive development during childhood.
  • To review research in cognitive psychology, including the methods by which data are collected, analysed and interpreted.
  • To develop a critical awareness of theories and models of cognitive processes and the evidence that supports them.
  • To gain practical experience of carrying out experimental research, both as experimenter and participant.
  • To develop skills in reading and writing cognitive psychological research.
  • To make links between the brain, cognition and behaviour.
  • To apply knowledge of cognitive processes to success and failure in educational domains.

Intended Learning Outcomes

Students will demonstrate that they:

  • understand current approaches to studying cognition and cognitive development.
  • have practical experience of carrying out research in cognition and preparing a research report.
  • are able to critique current theoretical models and theories in cognition and the evidence that supports them.
  • are skilled in reading, summarising, critiquing, and writing literature in the area of cognitive psychology.
  • are able to reflect on the role of cognition in performance across a range of educational domains.

Teaching Information

Each session will combine a number of teaching methods including tutor dissemination of key ideas, discussion between students, reviewing relevant literature, plus activities designed to foster skills relevant to cognitive psychology, such as carrying out a research practical.

The needs of a wide range of students, including those with disabilities, international students and those from ethnic minority backgrounds have been considered. It is not anticipated that the teaching and assessment methods used will cause disadvantage to any person taking the unit. The Graduate School of Education is happy to address individual support requests as necessary.

Assessment Information

A research report of 4000 words. Students will write up the research practical carried out during the unit. This assignment will give students the opportunity to follow the basic format of the experimental psychological journal paper and will include: an abstract, introduction, method, results and discussion section. Students will carry out relevant statistical analyses with tutor support, and interpret the outcomes of these analyses. They will be expected to develop a relevant and parsimonious background literature for the study and to combine this literature with their data in order to produce a considered interpretation of the findings. In negotiation with tutors, students will be expected to analyse relevant texts and synthesise concepts from cognitive psychology, make links/connections and recognise associations/relationships between these concepts, and draw upon current understanding of cognitive psychology. They will be expected to develop balanced arguments that reflect a multidisciplinary awareness and an ability to contextualise concepts, and draw appropriately upon a wide range of psychological evidence. They will develop research skills appropriate to the area.

Reading and References

Baddeley, A.D. (1996). Human memory: Theory and practice. London: Erlbaum. ISBN: 0-86377-431-8.

Eysenck, M.W. & Keane, M.T. (2000). Cognitive psychology: A student's handbook (4th Edition). Hove: Erlbaum. ISBN: 0-86377-374-5.

Garnham, A. & Oakhill, J. (1994). Thinking and reasoning. Oxford: Basil Blackwell. ISBN: 0-631-17002-2.

Goswami, U. (Ed.) (2002). Blackwell handbook of childhood cognitive development. Oxford: Blackwell. ISBN: 0-631-21841-6.

Meadows, S. (2005). Child as thinker: Development and acquisition of cognition in childhood. London: Routledge. ISBN: 0-415-01143-4.

Oates, J. & Grayson, A. (2004). Cognitive and language development in children. The Open University. ISBN: 1-4051-1045-7.