NSCS 344 — Class mechanics

How will this class work?

This class is in person, but with lectures live-streamed on zoom, and all materials posted online. How will it work? In teaching jargon, the class will be a flipped and active-learning class with frequent low-stakes assignments.


Flipped means that instead of Lectures in class time and Assignments at home, instead you’ll be viewing Lectures (and reading other online material) at home and doing Assignments in class.

Active learning

Active learning means you will be actively doing things in class time. For this class this means coding. The research on active learning suggests that you will learn more from this active learning than if I taught the class in a passive way.

For example, in this study from Louis Deslauriers and colleagues in 2019 the authors taught the same Physics class in either a traditional passive form or an new fangled active form. Students judged the passive class as being better on a bunch of measures including: enjoyment, how much they felt they had learned, how effective the instructor was. They also wished that all course were taught this way. However, their feelings did not match reality (at least for learning), because when they were tested on their knowledge they learned more in the active version of the class.

active learning

Frequent low stakes Assignments (80% of your grade)

There will be a Coding Assignment most weeks, this means any individual assignment only carries a low weight. In addition, if you hand something in and your not happy with your grade we are happy to have you try it again.

What will an average week in this class look like?

Every week I will post course material on D2L - if it’s not there already. This will comprise

  1. A webpage with videos giving an overview of the material
  2. A webpage going over the key material
  3. A webpage providing more background / help with Matlab concepts introduced that week.
  4. An Assignment question

Occasionally there will be some other information such as data for you to download to complete an assignment.

It will be your job to review course material before class.

Wednesday class

In Wednesday’s class (on Zoom) I will split you into breakout rooms where you will work together on the Assignments. The three instructors in the class (me, TA and preceptor) will jump between these rooms to answer questions as they arise.

Because this whole year is so crazy, you are not required to attend class, but I strongly encourage it as the best way to keep up with the material. This is especially true if you are new to coding.

Office hours

All three instructors will have office hours once per week.

Final Project

Towards the end of the semester we will switch from weekly assignments to a project. Within reason, what you do for this is entirely up to you, so long as it involves some coding and has some relationship to cognitive science or neuroscience. This final project will account for 20% of your final grade.