Sample Proposal - Correct Format

Western Connecticut State University

(Cover sheet not attached)

Psychology Department

Course Title: Advanced Cognitive Psychology

Course Level: 4XX

Course Credits: 3 semester hour credits

Prerequisites: Psy 251, Psy 324, either Psy 230 or Psy 250, plus three additional hours of psychology.

For much of the 20th century, the phrase “Experimental Psychology” was an umbrella term used by psychologists to refer to the non-clinical areas of psychology.  It is also the name of a standard undergraduate psychology course. This proposal focuses on the former meaning. An “experimental psychologist” was, essentially, anyone who was not a clinical psychologist.  The field of psychology has grown dramatically in the last 50 years.  Those psychologists who used to be labeled “Experimental Psychologists” are now identified as cognitive psychologists, developmental psychologists, social psychologists, personality psychologists, etc.  Each of these subdisciplines has its own scientific journals, textbooks, societies and conferences devoted to that particular subdiscipline.  With the passage of time, the concept of an “Experimental Psychologist” has lost meaning.  The department already offers advanced seminars in developmental psychology, in social/personality psychology, and in community psychology.  Offering an advanced seminar in cognitive psychology will align the program more closely with the field of psychology as it currently is. Second, a course in Advanced Cognitive Psychology will allow students to delve more deeply into one of the most rapidly expanding areas of psychology.  Finally, a course in Advanced Cognitive Psychology will allow the instructor to focus the experiences of the course in a manner that is more coherent than currently possible with Advanced Experimental Psychology.

Course description:
This course will address selected theories, methods of research, and important literature in the area of cognitive psychology.  Specific topics may vary from year to year but will focus on topical research in this field.  Each student will design and carry out an original experiment, submit an APA-style report, and present their findings, when possible, at appropriate scientific conferences.

Student learning outcomes:
a. Understand the topics, theories, researchers and methods that define cognitive psychology
b. Understand where cognitive psychology belongs in the larger domain of psychology
c. Understand how the subject matter of cognitive psychology connects to the “real world”
d. Develop independent research skills
e. Refine written and oral communication skills

Assessment plan:
The Department employs exams to assess proficiency in content areas of Psychology and proficiency in experimental and statistical methods. The assessment plan may also include evaluation of portfolios and presentations.


  • Staffing.  The department currently offers PSY 425: Advanced Experimental Psychology every other year.  The personnel qualified to teach Advanced Experimental Psychology would be qualified to teach Advanced Cognitive Psychology.  Advanced Cognitive Psychology will be inserted into the course rotation in place of Advanced Experimental Psychology.  Hence, no additional staffing needs are expected.
  • Equipment.  The department already possesses the computers and software necessary to conduct the typical cognitive psychology experiments.  Additional equipment is not necessary at this time.
  • Facilities.  PSY 425: Advanced Experimental Psychology required classrooms with individual workstations.  Advanced Cognitive Psychology will require the same.  Additional facilities will be unnecessary at this time.
  • Library.  The library holdings are adequate for this course.
  • Impact on students.  Students choose which advanced seminar or research course to take.  In the past, the numbers of students enrolling in Advanced Experimental, Advanced Developmental, Advanced Social, and Community Psychology have been roughly equal.  The subject matter of Advanced Experimental Psychology is nearly the same as Advanced Cognitive Psychology.  Dropping Advanced Experimental from course rotation and inserting Advanced Cognitive in its place should not have a negative impact on our students.  A positive effect is that the transcripts for those who take Advanced Cognitive Psychology will more accurately reflect their educational journey in the Psychology Department.

Course outline:

  1. Overview of Cognitive Psychology
    1. History and issues
    2. Competing approaches to learning and cognition
  2. Learning
    1. Fundamentals of conditioning
    2. Behavioral Theories
  3. Perception and Memory
    1. Recognition
    2. Attention
    3. Working Memory
    4. Long-Term Memory
  4. Higher Mental Processes
    1. Language and comprehension
    2. Thinking: Problem solving, reasoning, and decision making
    3. Creativity
    4. Intelligence
  5. Cognitive Neuroscience
    1. Neurophysiology of learning and memory
    2. Neurophysiology of language

PSY 425: Advanced Simulated Psychology will be offered every other year in the even numbered spring semesters.

Standard grading

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