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Are babies statistical experts? Will I ever be good at calculus? What are we born with and what do we learn? Before children are ever taught formal mathematics in a classroom, they are confronted with situations where they must use their informal understanding of geometry, space, and number to successfully navigate their environments. In this course we read and discuss both foundational and cutting-edge articles from neuroscience, cognitive science, education, and psychology to understand how humans bridge this gap between the informal and formal mathematical worlds. We will also tackle questions such as: How do culture and language affect numerical understanding? What are the sources of children’s mathematical misconceptions? What are the effects of early environmental input or input deprivation on mathematical development? What do we know about gender differences in math achievement? How do stereotypes, prejudice, and math anxiety affect math performance? For your laboratory component, you will work with a small group of other students to develop an original research project that tests a specific hypothesis about children’s mathematical thinking and learning. Data will be collected in community schools, with the permission of parents, teachers, and children. Your results will be written-up in for your final paper, which will be in the style of an empirical journal article.
Format: seminar/laboratory; community-based data collection in local schools
Grading: no pass/fail option,
no fifth course option
class participation, discussion leader, weekly open-notes reading quizzes, individual 12- to 15-page final paper based on empirical group research project
PSYC 201 and PSYC 232 or permission of the instructor
Psychology majors, upperclassmen, students with a demonstrated interest in the course material
PSYC Area 3 - Developmental Psychology
PSYC Empirical Lab Course
TEAC Teaching Sequence Courses