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LINGUIST 2PS3 Psycholinguistics

Academic Year: Winter 2017

Term: Winter

Day/Evening: D

Instructor: Dr. Catherine Anderson


Office: Togo Salmon Hall 503

Phone: 905-525-9140 x 26241


Office Hours: Tuesdays, 10:30-11:15 in MDCL 1305 or Fridays 1:00-2:00 in TSH-624

Course Objectives:

By the end of the course, students will be able to:

  • understand the elements of the principal theories of language comprehension
  • evaluate the key research findings that inform these theories
  • consider methods for asking research questions about language comprehension
  • interpret experimental data to answer research questions about language comprehension
  • communicate scientific findings to a variety of audiences 

Textbooks, Materials & Fees:

Sedivy, Julie. (2014). Language in Mind: An Introduction to Psycholinguistics. Sinauer Associates
ISBN 978-0-87893-598-7

(This textbook is available at the Campus Store, is on reserve at Mills, or may be rented for the semester from the publisher. See Avenue for details. This textbook is also used for Ling 3C03 Child Language Acquisition.) 

It is also recommended that each student purchase 2-4 white-board markers to bring to class.

Method of Assessment:

This class takes place in the Active Learning Classroom and involves many team-based, active-learning exercises and projects. Regular attendance is vital for teams to function well. 

Three team assignments 9% each for a total of 27%

Each team assignment takes place in class across two days. The first day, students complete a preparation quiz individually, then the same quiz in their teams. Your quiz score is based on a combination of the individual + team quiz scores. Beginning of the first day and concluding on the second day, teams work together to solve a problem and submit a short report of their solution. Assignments are submitted on Avenue.

Team assignments take place in Week 3 (Jan 19 & 20), Week 5 (Feb 2 & 3), and Week 9 (March 9 & 10)

One class notes assignment 3% You will be assigned one day of class where you, along with 1 or 2 other students, will be responsible for taking the day's notes, compiling them, and providing them to the rest of the class.  See Avenue for details.
One individual test 20% A 45-minute test written in class on Thursday Feb 16
One team project 20% The team works together to create a short (5-8 minute) audio or video presentation that teaches a topic in psycholinguistics to the rest of the class.  Team topics are assigned in Week 8 and audios/videos are presented to the class in Week 12.
Individual final exam 30% A 2.5-hour final exam scheduled by the Registrar. The final exam includes material from the whole semester. You have the option to reduce the weight of the final exam to either 28% or 26% by participating in experiments for credit.

Policy on Missed Work, Extensions, and Late Penalties:

Team Assignments: If you are absent on the days of a team assignment and you submit an MSAF or other approved document (via the office of the Dean of your faculty), the assignment is excused and its weight is redistributed across the other components of the course. Without an MSAF or a note from your Dean's office, you earn 0 for that team assignment. 

Tests: If you submit an MSAF or other approved document (via the office of the Dean of your faculty) for the midterm test, you have the option of writing an alternate test scheduled by the instructor, or of adding the 20% weight of the test to the final exam.

Please Note the Following Policies and Statements:

Academic Dishonesty

You are expected to exhibit honesty and use ethical behaviour in all aspects of the learning process. Academic credentials you earn are rooted in principles of honesty and academic integrity.

Academic dishonesty is to knowingly act or fail to act in a way that results or could result in unearned academic credit or advantage. This behaviour can result in serious consequences, e.g. the grade of zero on an assignment, loss of credit with a notation on the transcript (notation reads: "Grade of F assigned for academic dishonesty"), and/or suspension or expulsion from the university.

It is your responsibility to understand what constitutes academic dishonesty. For information on the various types of academic dishonesty please refer to the Academic Integrity Policy, located at

The following illustrates only three forms of academic dishonesty:

  1. Plagiarism, e.g. the submission of work that is not one’s own or for which other credit has been obtained.
  2. Improper collaboration in group work.
  3. Copying or using unauthorized aids in tests and examinations.

Email correspondence policy

It is the policy of the Faculty of Humanities that all email communication sent from students to instructors (including TAs), and from students to staff, must originate from each student’s own McMaster University email account. This policy protects confidentiality and confirms the identity of the student.  Instructors will delete emails that do not originate from a McMaster email account.

Modification of course outlines

The University reserves the right to change dates and/or deadlines etc. for any or all courses in the case of an emergency situation or labour disruption or civil unrest/disobedience, etc. If a modification becomes necessary, reasonable notice and communication with the students will be given with an explanation and the opportunity to comment on changes. Any significant changes should be made in consultation with the Department Chair.

McMaster Student Absence Form (MSAF)

In the event of an absence for medical or other reasons, students should review and follow the Academic Regulation in the Undergraduate Calendar Requests for Relief for Missed Academic Term Work. Please note these regulations have changed beginning Fall 2015. You can find information at If you have any questions about the MSAF, please contact your Associate Dean's office.

Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities

Students who require academic accommodation must contact Student Accessibility Services (SAS) to make arrangements with a Program Coordinator. Academic accommodations must be arranged for each term of study. Student Accessibility Services can be contacted by phone 905-525-9140 ext. 28652 or e-mail For further information, consult McMaster University's Policy for Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities.

Academic Accommodation for Religious, Indigenous and Spiritual Observances

Students requiring academic accommodation based on religion and spiritual observances should follow the procedures set out in the Course Calendar or by their respective Faculty. In most cases, the student should contact his or her professor or academic advisor as soon as possible to arrange accommodations for classes, assignments, tests and examinations that might be affected by a religious holiday or spiritual observance.

Topics and Readings:

These dates are an estimate. Any changes that arise will be announced in class.

Week 1: Intro & Background

Weeks 2-4: The Nature of Speech, Modularity in Speech Perception -- Section 4.3

Weeks 5-7: The Role of Experience in Speech Perception -- Sections 7.3 & 7.4

Weeks 8-9: Auditory & Visual Word Recognition -- Sections 7.1, 7.2, 7.5

Weeks 10-12: Sentence Processing & Other Topics -- Chapter 8

Other Course Information:

In this course we will be using Avenue2Learn. Students should be aware that, when they access the electronic components of this course, private information such as first and last names, user names for the McMaster e-mail accounts, and program affiliation may become apparent to all other students in the same course. The available information is dependent on the technology used. Continuation in this course will be deemed consent to this disclosure. If you have any questions or concerns about such disclosure please discuss this with the course instructor.