Skip Course Information

Course Information

Instructor Info:Joanna Morris
Office Extension x5462
TA Info:Ethan Ludwin-Peery
Term: 2013S
Meeting Info: Tuesday Thursday
10:30 AM - 11:50 AM Adele Simmons Hall (ASH) 221
10:30 AM - 11:50 AM Adele Simmons Hall (ASH) 221

Language is paramount among the capacities that characterize humans. We hold language as a marker of our humanity, and by understanding language we assume that we will understand something important about ourselves. In this course we will ask, and try to answer questions such as the following: What's so special about language? How do we produce sentences? How do we understand them? What might cause us to fail at either task? What is meaning, and how does language express it? Is our capacity for language a biological endowment unique to the human species?

Course Objectives:

The overall objective of the course if to teach you how to do the things that a psycholinguist does every day, i.e. to uncover and disseminate knowledge about how languages work and what characteristics of the human mind enable people to speak and understand each other.  

In this course, I want to teach you to discover information about how languages work for yourself.  The goal is to get you to become producers as opposed to mere consumers of knowledge.  

Learning to produce nevertheless must begin with some consumption, hence the first course objective is that you learn some of the basics of linguistic theory.

You will also learn how to read and critically evaluate the scholarly literature on pyscholinguistics.  This involves, (1) becoming familiar with the scientific method, (2) understanding the ways in which use of the scientific method can advance our understanding of the human mind and human behavior, ( and (3) becoming conversant in the unique language used by psycholinguistic researchers.  

Once you have learned how to read and evaluate the literature, you will learn how to ask appropriate questions, i.e. (a) questions that are answerable using the scientific method,  and (b) questions that are theoretically motivated, in that they drive the field forward and contribute to a deeper understanding and explanation of the phenomena in question. 

Evaluation Criteria:

Students are required to attend class, participate in discussions, take notes when necessary, do assigned readings, and complete all assignments.  The required assignments MUST be submitted in order to receive an evaluation in this course.  Any student who does not turn all assignments in a timely fashion, will not receive an evaluation for the course. 

All work should be submitted via the course website (instructions will be provided).  Except in exceptional circumstances, I will not accept e-mailed work.

Weekly Assignments

You will have one short answer assignment due each week.  This assignment will  be based on the reading, and it is designed to allow me to evaluate your mastery of the material.  


You are required to write a research proposal that consists of two parts.   The first part is a 5-page literature review on any topic of your choice as long as it is related to the subject matter of the course.  Your review should be  be organized around, and related directly to the thesis or research question you are developing.  You should (a) synthesize results into a summary of what is and is not known (b) identify areas of controversy in the literature and (c) formulate questions that need further research.  

The second part is an experimental design.  You will choose one of the questions that you previously identified as needing further research and then design a study to examine that particular question.  In this part you will formulate a  specific hypothesis, and discuss how the data you might collect would support or disprove your hypothesis.  The research proposal is thus a rewrite of your mid-semester paper, plus the experimental design/

The literature review is due on March 14 and the final proposal, consisting of a rewrite of the literature review plus the experimental design is due on the day of classes, May 2.

Grade Weighting Scheme

Research Proposal 50%

Short Answer Assignments 35%

Lab write ups 10%

Attendance and participation 5%

Additional Info:

Course Textbook 

Harley, Trevor, A.  (2008).  The Psychology of Language: From Data to Theory, Third Edition.  Psychology Press: New York, NY.