Psychology of Learning

EXP 4404 Spring 2014


Instructor: Dr. Steve Kass, Professor of Psychology

Office: Pensacola Campus, Bldg 41/ room 253

Class Meets: Tuesdays & Thursdays 4:00 pm to 5:15 pm.

Classroom: Bldg 41, Room 134

Office Hours: Tuesdays & Thursdays 1:30 pm to 3:30 pm

Contact info: 474-2107 or

Credits: 3 Hours

Prerequisite: PSY 2012; Experimental Psychology (EXP 3082) is highly recommended

Textbook: Learning and Behavior, 6th edition, by Paul Chance.

Sniffy the Rat, Lite Version is optional, software is available in computer lab.


Course Description:

This course covers the principles and applications of learning theories, including conditioning and extinction, reinforcement and punishment, attention, memory, cognitive processes and physiological correlates of memory and cognition. Students will be expected to demonstrate proficiency in the use of these principles through exams, workbook assignments and laboratory reports.


Student Learning Outcomes:

Students who successfully complete this course should be able to:

-          Describe the classical conditioning paradigm and provide examples of its use

-          Describe the operant conditioning paradigm and provide examples of its use

-          Apply the principles of learning to modify behavior

-          Explain the role of learning as an adaptive mechanism.

-          Describe and distinguish between the behavioral and cognitive approaches to understanding learning and memory.

-          Describe the constraints imposed by biology on the nature of learning


Exams: There will be 3 exams during the semester, with the third one being a cumulative final given during finals week. Each exam will emphasize the application of text and lecture material (including movies, demos, etc.), rather than merely memorization of facts. The format of each will be multiple- choice. Half of the final exam questions will cover previously tested material and half will cover new material. The final exam will be worth twice as much as either of the previous two exams. There will be absolutely no makeup exams without prior arrangements!


Lab Exercises: Students will be expected to complete, and write lab reports about, two projects. The lab reports must be typed (except where raw data has been written into a table). Students may work in pairs, but keep in mind that both students will receive the same grade.

Project #1: Basics of Classical Conditioning Students will conduct a classical conditioning demonstration using Sniffy the Virtual Rat. Directions for completing the exercise and a list of questions will be provided.  See Sniffy Manual.

Project #2: Basics of Operant Conditioning - Students will conduct an operant conditioning demonstration using Sniffy the Virtual Rat. Directions for completing the exercise and a list of questions will be provided


Workbook Exercises: Students will complete 10 of the assigned workbook exercises; each completed exercise is worth up to 10 points (100 pts total). Students will only need to complete 10 exercises. Exercises must be turned in by the end of the class period that they are due. Late assignments will NOT be accepted under ANY circumstances (automatic 0). Electronic submissions will NOT be accepted. These exercises are designed to encourage students to read the chapter material before the class in which it is discussed and to attend class every day. The exercises are to be completed in class (time permitting). If an exercise cannot be assigned in class due to time limitations, then it may be assigned as homework (due the next class period). The workbook items to be completed will be selected by me on the day that it is assigned and will correspond to the chapter that is covered that day. In-class activities may be used instead of the workbook.


Grading: Grades will be based on the total points earned among students in the class. That is, the most total points earned by any one student will be considered 100%. For you to receive an "A" your total points will need to be at least 93% of the highest total score. Bonus points may become available throughout the semester via the Psychology Research Pool. You may receive up to 10 extra credit points (1 pt for each ArgoPoint awarded) through the SPBS Research Participation Pool and no more than 10 total extra credit points. Please see ArgoPoints Rules document for complete details and visit the PRP website for more information on how to sign up to participate in research ( Grades will not be provided via email or phone, you must meet me in person to receive your grades.


Exam #1 100

Exam #2 100

Final Exam 200

Report 1 100

Report 2 100

Workbook 100

Approx Total 700 pts






> 93


90 - 92


87- 89


83 - 86


80 - 82


77 - 79


73 - 76


70 - 72


67 - 69


60 - 66


< 60



Class Rules: 1. No spitting; 2. Turn off cell phones before entering class, no sending or receiving calls or text messages during class (automatic F if it occurs during an exam or class exercise); 3. Be on time to exams, you will be docked 1 pt for every 1 minute late and will not be permitted to take the test (automatic 0) if you are 10 minutes late; 4. If you do have to leave early for any reason, please minimize disruption to the class; 5. This is NOT an online class. Although attendance is not taken, it is mandatory to attend and participate in class (which includes completion of workbook assignments). All assignments must be turned in to me during the class period in which it is due.

Assistance:  If you have a need for any in-class accommodations, or special test-taking arrangements because of physical and/or perceptual limitations, please contact the instructor or the Psychology Office before class begins or as soon as possible.

Tentative Schedule




Jan 7

Class Introduction

Jan 9

Learning to Change

Chapter 1

Jan 14



Jan 16

The Study of Learning and Behavior

Chapter 2

Jan 21



Jan 23

Pavlovian (Classical) Conditioning  

Chapter 3

Jan 28

ICE STORM Class Cancelled


Jan 30

ICE STORM Class Cancelled


Feb 4



Feb 6

Pavlovian Applications  

Chapter 4

Feb 11

Sniffy Classical Conditioning Demonstration and Lab Activity


Feb 13

Exam #1

Chapters 1- 4

Feb 18


Chapter 5

Feb 20

Feb 25

Schedules of Reinforcement

Chapter 6

Feb 27

Mar 4


Chapter 7

Mar 6

Sniffy Operant Conditioning Demonstration and Lab Activity

Lab Report #1 Due Basics of Classical Conditioning

Mar 11

Spring Break - No Class


Mar 13

Spring Break - No Class

Mar 18

Mar 20

Other Applications & Interpretations  

(withdrawal deadline 3/21)

Chapter 8

Mar 25

Mar 27

Exam #2

Chapters 5 - 8

Apr 1

Observational Learning

Chapter 9

Apr 3

Lab Report #2 Due Basics of Operant Conditioning

Apr 8

Generalization and Discrimination   

Chapter 10

Apr 10

Apr 15

Memory and Forgetting

Chapter 11

Apr 17

Apr 22

The Limits of Learning

Chapter 12

Apr 24

Review for Final

May 1

Cumulative Final Exam (Note: Final Exam at 2 pm)

Chapters 1- 12



Note: Schedule subject to change at instructor's discretion.