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All study sheets and lectures are now available July 27, 2006

Posted by Ron in 3790 Administrivia, Midterm.
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I’ve added this week’s lectures and the Ch 10 and 12 study sheets. These should be enough to guide you as you study for the final.

Just a reminder about the final:

  • It will be from 8-10 am on Tuesday in our usual classroom.
  • The test will be 70% multiple-choice (or similar “short answer” questions) and 30% short essay
  • There will be 3-5 essay questions, but you will only have to answer 2-4 of them (i.e., you can skip the essay question that looks the hardest).

Also, for those who are doing extra credit: the HCI study has closed for the semester (I apologize for the false lead) but the EEG experiment is going forward. Note that the slots for that experiment are limited, so you should have a backup plan.

Good luck in your studying!

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Extra credit assignments, study sheets July 25, 2006

Posted by Ron in 3790 Administrivia.
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The extra credit assignments are now up. You have the choice of two “Minds-on” exercise from the text, or one of two experimental studies. Only one extra credit assignment is allowed for each student.

The study sheets for the last two chapters will be up tomorrow.

Notes about midterm 2 July 14, 2006

Posted by Ron in 3790 Administrivia, Midterm.
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Midterm 2 will be this Thursday at 10 am. It will be similar in format to the first midterm and will cover chapters 5-9.

To prepare, I suggest you go through the study sheets and lecture notes (in the reading list), which are now all posted (with the exception of the evolutionary cognition linguistics lecture, which will be posted soon).

I’ve also decided to only have the test on Thursday, so we will not have an additional lecture on that day. The test will still be 60 minutes, however.

If you currently have an excused absence for this Thursday, please let me know by this Monday so we can set up an alternative testing time.

Is your writing process chaotic? Good!! July 13, 2006

Posted by Ron in Language.
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Writing is often an odd juggling process, where you’re attempting to put across a set of ideas in logical order while still obeying low-level rules about grammar and sentence composition. The process can often feel frustratingly unstructured, even for experienced writers, which is why many — including me — often turn to other conceptual tools such as outlines and mind-maps.

An article in this month’s Monitor on Psychology suggests that we might be better off simply getting used to the chaos. Students who were asked to compose an essay using an outline-based technique scored significantly lower than those who were taught to use an “all-at-once” technique where they would plan, write, and revise at the same time.

Why did the all-at-once students do better? There are two possibilities. First, because writing involves obeying both high and low-level constraints, an opportunistic all-at-once approach may simply allow small problems to be resolved as they are encountered. Second, it is possible that the all-at-once approach may have encouraged greater self-monitoring during the writing process.

How did I write this entry? All-at-once, of course.

The broken link in Homework 5 is now fixed. July 11, 2006

Posted by Ron in 3790 Administrivia.
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Kanzi July 9, 2006

Posted by Ron in Animal cognition, Language.
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Some of the most interesting work on primate language research is being done right here in Atlanta. Kanzi (who you read about for this week) is a bonobo chimpanzee trained by Sue Savage-Rumbaugh,a professor of biology at Georgia State. Savage-Rumbaugh has a unique take on the language problem. Since language is socially-driven (both in humans and from an evolutionary perspective) Savage-Rumbaugh has worked hard to provide a social context for the primates she trains. Kanzi isn’t simply giving a symbol for a stimulus, he’s placed in a social context with friends and activities, which provides the motivation for the use of language.

NPR’s Morning Edition Saturday just broadcast an extended interview with Prof. Savage-Rumbaugh and (of course!) Kanzi himself. It’s a fascinating story and a must-hear.

But do I tell my wife about this…? July 7, 2006

Posted by Ron in Animal cognition, Cognitive Science News.
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The New York Times‘ most frequently-emailed article for over a week now has been a paean to operant conditioning. An animal trainer takes what works at the local marine park, and successfully applies it to. . .her husband.

Skinner would be proud.

Article: What Shamu Taught Me About a Happy Marriage (free registration required)

Homework 5 is up! July 7, 2006

Posted by Ron in 3790 Administrivia.
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In this homework, you’ll explore some of the key problems of automated language translation. The first part of the homework asks you to consider how grammar functions in a sentence. The second part asks you to evaluate how good current machine translation algorithms are.