University of Missouri Courses

I took “Perception” (a Psychology course) and “Cognitive Psychology” from the University of Missouri because no other college to my knowledge offered these subjects to students who seek non-attendance methods.  (These subjects are also absent from traditional college's offerings.)  I was glad to have the opportunity.  The textbook brought out much of the intellectual basis of this school of psychology which recognizes the rational nature of mankind.  There are some quirks in the course, however.

Quoting from the textbook of the university's “Cognitive Psychology” course:

“A special slot in each schema is its superset schema. Basically, unless contradicted, a concept inherits the features of its superset.  Thus, stored with the schema for building, the superset of house, we would have features such as that it has a roof and walls and is found on the ground.  This information is not represented in the above schema for house because it can be inferred from building (actually other information such as materials could probably also be inferred from building).  These supersets are basically the isa hierarchies that we saw with semantic networks.  In the case of schemas, they are sometimes called generalization hierarchies.

“Schemas have another type of hierarchy, called a part hierarchy.  Thus, parts of houses, such as walls and rooms, have their own schema definitions.  Stored with schemas for walls and rooms we find that these have windows and ceilings.  Thus, using the part relationships, we would be able to infer that houses have windows and ceilings.

“Schemas are designed to facilitate making inferences about the concepts.  If we know something is a house, we can use the schema definition to infer that it is probably made of wood or brick, and that it has walls, windows, and the like.  However, the inferential processes for schemas must be able to deal with exceptions.  So, we can still understand what a house without a roof is.  Also, it is necessary to understand the constraints between the slots of a schema.  So, if we hear of a house that is underground, we can infer that it will not have windows.”

(from “Cognitive Psychology and its Implications,” Third Edition, by John R. Anderson (New York: W.H. Freeman and Company, 1990), pg. 135)

Unfortunately, in this course, the course guide and homework assignments, credited to David C. Geary, Ph.D., Department of Psychology, University of Missouri-Columbia, presents and tests students on some nonsense. The author of the course guide takes exception to some of what is in the textbook:

“The textbook, however, does not mention that many scientists [how many? -- or how few? -- DH] now view the brain as primarily a 'social organ.'  That is, scientists think that many areas of the cortex seem to have evolved to provide humans with the skills necessary for living in social groups.  Language is a good example of one of these social skills [!!--as if it was strictly social!! -- DH].”

Fortunately for the student, although the open-book-permitted homework does quiz the student on this social-organ view, the exams themselves do not.

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