Psyc 443:  Thinking and Problem Solving

Instructor:  Dr. Kent L. Norman

   Office hours: 

     Tuesday  1:00 - 2:00 pm

     Wednesday  11:00 - 12:00 am

     BPS 3123F, 

  phone:  (301) 405-5924



1.  Course Description


This course will focus on a number of topics in human thinking and problem solving.  First we will review the historical development of research on problem solving in psychology.  This will include a discussion of the philosophical and psychological representations of problem solving in humans as well as a survey of the research literature.  Second, we will look at the formal theory of problem solving and discuss the current status of artificial intelligence in computer science and its application to human thinking and problem solving.  Finally and most importantly, we will look at our own thinking and problem solving abilities and explore ways of improving both through the use of memory mnemonics, problem solving strategies, and computers.


This semester we have the opportunity to meet in the Plant Sciences Electronic Teaching Theater.  This facility is a prototype of the multimedia classroom of the future.  The classroom has 36 high performance workstations for the students, high resolution large screen video displays for  video, computer monitor switching, and computer networking for collaborative work.


We will be exploring the use of the classroom during the semester in conjunction with the standard topics that we cover in the course.  Students will be expected to take an active part in the learning process, to help design the learning environment, and to work together on collaborative projects.  No prior experience with computers is required.  However, students should have an interest and an enthusiasm in new technology and should not be afraid to break out of the mold and try new things. 


2.  Course Requirements:


A.  Two exams and a final exam will be given.  The two exams will each contribute 20% and the final exam 25% to the course grade.  All exams will consist of multiple choice and short answer questions and will be on-line.

B.  Students should attend as many lectures as possible and should obtain notes if absent.  Attendence will be monitored. Participation in class discussion is important.

C.  Reading assignments are listed in the course outline.  These should be read before class on the first day assigned.

D.  Projects and assignments will contribute the last 35% of the grade.  These will consist of short written assignments and exercises to be handed in as well as a course project.

3.  Textbook:


Mayer, R. E.  (1992).  Thinking, problem solving, cognition (2nd ed).  New York:  W. H. Freeman.


4. Syllabus


1/30/2001 Introduction to the Teaching Theater        biodesc

2/1/2001 Overview of  Issues                      Ch1  pssurvey

2/6/2001 Historical Trends:  Associationism       Ch2 psdesc

2/8/2001      continued                           dialog1

2/13/2001 Historical Trends:  Gestalt Psychology   Ch3           probdesc

2/15/2001      continued                          

2/20/2001 Inductive Reasoning:  Hypothesis Testing Ch4           dialog2

2/22/2001      continued                           probcrit

2/27/2001 Deductive Reasoning: "Psycho-logic"  Ch5  

3/1/2001      continued                          

3/6/2001 *** First Exam ***                      

3/8/2001 Computer Simulation of Problem Solving      Ch6           dialog3

3/13/2001      continued                           mainproj1

3/15/2001      continued                           exameval

3/20/2001 *** Spring Break ***                    

3/22/2001 *** Spring Break ***                    

3/27/2001 Mental Chrononmetry: Cognitive Processing   Ch7    

3/29/2001      continued                          

4/3/2001 Schema Theory:  Search for Meaning   Ch8   schema

4/5/2001 Question Answering:  Accessing Knowledge Ch9

4/10/2001 Cognitive Development of Thinking    Ch10          childprob

4/12/2001      continued                          

4/17/2001 *** Second Exam ***                     

4/19/2001 Intelligence:  What is it and how much? Ch11 dialog4

4/24/2001 Creativity Training                  Ch12 cognitron

4/26/2001 Expert Problem Solving               Ch13 interview

5/1/2001 Analogical Reasoning:  Metaphors     Ch14

5/3/2001      continued                          

5/8/2001 Mathematical Problem Solving         Ch15 psdesc2

5/10/2001 Projects                                 mainproj2

5/15/2001 Projects                                

5/22/2001 *** Final Exam (1:30 - 3:30) ***