THOUGHT AND LANGUAGE - 2019/0

Module code: PSY3081

Module Overview

This course gives an advanced overview of topics connected with language, thinking and learning. The course will draw on relevant experimental studies and familiarise students with a range of research approaches. The course is largely cognitive and developmental in focus but students will be encouraged to think about the significance of other aspects of psychology to these topics together with wider theoretical and philosophical implications of relevant theories and debates.

Module provider

Psychology

Module Leader

GRANDISON Alexandra (Psychology)

Number of Credits: 15

ECTS Credits: 7.5

Framework: FHEQ Level 6

JACs code: C890

Module cap (Maximum number of students): N/A

Module Availability

Semester 1

Prerequisites / Co-requisites

All Level 2 Psychology modules are pre-requisites. This module has a capped number and may not be available to ERASMUS and other international exchange students. Please check with the departmental exchange coordinator.

Module content

The course will cover theories and findings related to the following general topic areas:


  • Human language vs. animal communication

  • The relationship between language and thought

  • Concepts and categories

  • Thought before language

  • Language acquisition

  • Speech perception

  • Reading

  • Written language

  • Language comprehension


Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Coursework ONE 6 PAGE COURSEWORK ESSAY 50
Examination ONE 60 MINUTE EXAM 50

Alternative Assessment

N/A

Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy is designed to provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate that:


  • They can systematically describe research into and key theoretical accounts of human vs. animal language, the relationship between thought and language, categorisation as a testing ground for this relationship, thought before language, language acquisition and specific language faculties including speech, reading and comprehension and writing.

  • They can critically evaluate these theoretical perspectives and the empirical evidence that tests them.

  • They are able to critically discuss the implications of key findings relating to language and thought.

  • They possess the relevant skills and knowledge to be able to synthesise different perspectives to provide a broader understanding of various aspects of language and thought.

  • They can demonstrate and apply research skills to design experiments, taking into account important theoretical models, philosophical issues and methodological considerations within this area of psychology. 



Learning Outcomes 1-5 will be assessed in an exam. Learning Outcomes 1-4 will be assessed by an essay.

Thus, the summative assessment for this module consists of:


  • One 60 minute unseen essay format examination to be sat during the formal semester exam period (50%)

  • One 6 page essay to be submitted after delivery of content in weeks 1-5 (50%)



Formative assessment and feedback

Students will participate in regular interactive discussions within lecture sessions that involve group-level or individual formative feedback (e.g., on their understanding of a topic or their ability to critically evaluate a theory).

Individual essay surgery sessions will be held in weeks 3, 4 and 5, prior to the essay deadline. This will allow students to receive personalised, individual feedback on their chosen definition of language and their essay plan.  

Module aims

  • This module aims to: provide students with an advanced understanding of topics connected with language, thinking and learning. A key objective of this module is to develop students’ ability to evaluate psychological research within this context. Students will be encouraged to think about the interplay between theoretical and philosophical standpoints and interpret and evaluate empirical evidence.

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
001 Systematically describe research into and key theoretical accounts of: human vs. animal language; the relationship between thought and language; categorisation as a testing ground for the relationship between thought and language; thought before language; language acquisition; and specific language faculties including speech, reading and comprehension and writing. K
002 Critically evaluate these theoretical perspectives and the empirical evidence that tests them. C
003 Critically discuss the implications of key findings relating to language and thought. C
004 Synthesise different perspectives to provide a broader understanding of various aspects of language and thought. C
005 Demonstrate and apply research skills to design experiments, taking into account important theoretical models, philosophical issues and methodological considerations within this area of psychology. P

Attributes Developed

C - Cognitive/analytical

K - Subject knowledge

T - Transferable skills

P - Professional/Practical skills

Overall student workload

Independent Study Hours: 128

Lecture Hours: 22

Methods of Teaching / Learning

The learning and teaching strategy is designed to:


  • Provide students with the foundational knowledge to enable them to systematically describe research into and key theoretical accounts of human vs. animal language, the relationship between thought and language, categorisation as a testing ground for this relationship, thought before language, language acquisition and specific language faculties.




  • Give students the skills to critically evaluate these theoretical perspectives and the empirical evidence that tests them.

  • Provide students with the skills to critically discuss the implications of key findings relating to language and thought.

  • Create links between different theories and topics that enable students to synthesise different perspectives. 

  • Enable students to develop, demonstrate and apply research skills by engaging with research questions, formulating hypotheses, describing appropriate methodologies and using relevant research to provide a rationale for such designs. 



 

The learning and teaching methods include:


  • Lectures (2 hour lecture per week x 11 weeks).

  • Lectures will include class discussion, debate, demonstrations, videos and group work.

  • A dedicated SurreyLearn site, where the reading list, materials from the lectures, relevant links and workshop materials will be available.



Readings will be set each week, focusing on journals articles with minimal reference to text books for supporting background information. The essential readings will ensure a thorough understanding of the topic, and the recommended readings will provide further detail using specific examples.

Indicated Lecture Hours (which may also include seminars, tutorials, workshops and other contact time) are approximate and may include in-class tests where one or more of these are an assessment on the module. In-class tests are scheduled/organised separately to taught content and will be published on to student personal timetables, where they apply to taken modules, as soon as they are finalised by central administration. This will usually be after the initial publication of the teaching timetable for the relevant semester.

Other information

Reading and relevant tasks will be set each week. The following sources are examples of essential and recommended reading / viewing:

Required purchase

N/A

Essential reading

Boroditsky, L. (2003). Linguistic Relativity. In Nadel, L. (Ed.) Encyclopedia of Cognitive Science. MacMillan Press, London, UK, pages 917-921.

Chapman, R.S. (2000). Children's Language Learning: An Interactionist Perspective. Journal of Psychology and Psychiatry, 41, 33-54.

Christiansen, M.H., & Kirby, S. (2003). Language evolution: consensus and controversies. Trends in Cognitive Sciences 7 (7), 300-307.

Cleary, M., & Pisoni, D.B. (2001). Speech perception and spoken word recognition: Research and theory. In E.B. Goldstein (Ed.), Blackwell handbook of perception. pp. 499-534. Malden, MA: Blackwell.

Davies, I.R.L. (1998). A study of colour grouping in three languages: A test of the linguistic relativity hypothesis. British Journal of Psychology, 89, 433-452.

Franklin, A. & Davies, I.R.L. (2004). New evidence for infant colour categories. British Journal of Developmental Psychology, 22, 349-377.

Horizon: Why do we talk? (2009). Broadcast on 10/11/2009 Retrievable from http://bob.surrey.ac.uk  This is a 1 hour television programme that can be accessed online.

Mandler, J.M. (2004). Thought before language. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 8, 508-513.

Pickering, M.J., & Garrod, S. (2007). Do people use language production to make predictions during comprehension? Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 11 (3), 105-110.

Regier, T., & Kay, P. (2009). Language, thought and color: Whorf was half right. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 13 (10), 439-446.

 

Recommended reading

Clifford, A., Franklin, A., Davies, I. R. L., & Holmes, A. (2009). Electrophysiological markers of categorical perception of color in 7-month old infants. Brain and Cognition, 71, 165-172.

Davies, I.R.L. (1998). A study of colour grouping in three languages: A test of the linguistic relativity hypothesis. British Journal of Psychology, 89, 433-452.

Dehaene-Lambertz, G., Hertz-Pannier, L., & Dubois, J. (2006). Nature and nurture in language acquisition: Anatomical and functional brain-imaging studies in infants. Trends in Neurosciences, 29 (7), 367-373.

Franklin, A. & Davies, I.R.L. (2004). New evidence for infant colour categories. British Journal of Developmental Psychology, 22, 349-377.

Gilbert, A. L., Regier, T., Kay, P., & Ivry, R. B. (2006). Whorf hypothesis is supported in the right visual field but not the left. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 103(2), 489-494.

Roberson, D., Davies, I.R.L, & Davidoff, J. (2000). Color Categories Are Not Universal: Replications and New Evidence From a Stone-Age Culture. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 129, 369-398.

Rose, S.A., Feldman, J.F., & Jankowski, J.J. (2009). A cognitive approach to the development of early language. Child Development, 80 (1), 134-150.

Winawer, J., Witthoft, N., Frank, M., Wu, L., Wade, A., & Boroditsky, L. (2007). Russian blues reveal effects of language on color discrimination. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 104, 7780-7785.

 

Background reading

Quinlan, P., & Dyson, B. (2008). Cognitive Psychology. Harlow: Pearson Education Ltd. pp 544-556.

Programmes this module appears in

Programme Semester Classification Qualifying conditions
Psychology BSc (Hons) 1 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module

Please note that the information detailed within this record is accurate at the time of publishing and may be subject to change. This record contains information for the most up to date version of the programme / module for the 2019/0 academic year.