Perception (.doc)

Fall and Winter 2003-2004
Fall 2003 Syllabus
Faculty and Staff:
Nancy Murray (Program Coordinator) – Lab 2, 2269; 867-5497;
Thad Curtz – LAB 2, 3274; 867-6731;
Charles Pailthorp – LAB 2, 2266; 867-6158;
Sara Rucker-Theissen (Academic Advising) – LIB 1401; 867-6909;
Office Hours: TBA
Administrative introduction:
Please read this carefully and ask about any sections of it you don't understand or don't feel
comfortable with now. We’re handing it out and discussing it with you at the beginning because we
want to proceed on a common ground with you about the expectations and procedures of this
program. Unless we hear otherwise, we'll assume that you’re willing to live with these policies. We
want to be as clear as we can to start with about our expectations, but this doesn't mean we intend to
be closed minded about proposed changes in the future; you’re responsible for raising any questions
you may have about the program or its content as we go along. We will all need to reflect on our
experiences as we go along, and talk about whether any changes might improve the program.
Our program theme is “Learning From Our Mistakes.” We think it applies to what we’ll be studying
together (and will sometimes apply to how were studying it as well). How and why it is the program
theme will get clearer as we go along, and we hope that by the end of our work together in March
this simple phrase will seem a lot richer and more meaningful to you than it does now.
Weekly Schedule:
Our weekly schedule, how to contact us, the writing assignments, some of the reading handouts, and
much of the rest of the important week-to-week information about our work will be posted on the
program’s website at
If you want to, you can print out your own copies of pages you want to carry around with you
everywhere, but we will also be adding to this site and probably sometimes adjusting the schedule as
we go along. You need to bookmark these pages and check them regularly, at least before you start
the work for each week, to see if there are any announcements or updates and to find out what you’re
supposed to be doing and reading in the next few days.
Some assignments will require you to be at school at other times besides these, to use the library or
the computer lab. Please note that if you're also enrolled in Beginning the Journey this quarter,
you'll need to be going to the Wednesday sessions, not the Monday ones. You're all invited to a
dessert potluck at Thad's house this Wednesday evening, October 1st at 7:30; it isn't mandatory, but
we hope you'll all come. We’ll be going on a field trip to Fort Flagler for two nights next week,
leaving Tuesday morning October 6th and coming back Thursday afternoon October 9th. (Please
consult us right away if this is going to complicate your life seriously.)
Remember that evaluation week is part of the quarter; we will be doing evaluation conferences for
most of that week. Please don't plan to leave early in that week before you consult with your seminar
leader about when you can do your evaluation conference.
Book List:
The books for the quarter are on the syllabus page on the web site – they are available in the campus
bookstore (or will be soon – a couple of the ones for the end of the quarter haven’t arrived yet. There
will also be some xerox and digital handouts.
The bookstore will send back all the books left on the shelf shortly after the middle of the quarter.
Make sure you have them all before they vanish.
There will be a number of different kinds of writing in the program this quarter.
For each Tuesday seminar, you'll write a short piece on the reading for the day, due at the beginning
of the class. These are to help you deepen your understanding of the readings in preparation for the
discussion. Until further notice, the assignment for these is to formulate the main points of the
reading as clearly as you can, and then to list three questions that you would like to discuss. (These
should not be small questions of fact - though it's fine to ask those in discussion. Nor should they be
huge, vague, sweeping, unanswerable questions. They should be questions that you aren't sure how
to answer, that you think our group might be able to throw some light on, and that are actually
interesting or important to you.) Figuring out questions like this is actually not too easy most of the
time - try to do the reading early enough so that you can think about your list for a couple of days;
talk to other students about the book or exchange e-mail with them; try to make your questions as
good as you can...
For each Thursday seminar, you'll write a paper on the reading for the week, due at the beginning of
the class. These will mostly be short expository papers (three to five pages long), although we may
occasionally ask you to do some other sort of writing for this piece. In these, you'll be working on
developing some idea or insight of your own about the reading - interpreting, explaining, or
criticizing something about the text. Each of these papers should have a thesis, some central point
that you are trying to make, and develop an argument with evidence to support that thesis.
Lab notebooks:
The laboratory notebook is the primary tool of scientific documentation. There are many different
philosophies of lab notebooks. Many of you had to write up labs in high school: they were very
scripted and formal and neat. They taught you want should be in a lab report, but they didn't give
very valid insight into how scientists really work. The experimental method isn't about not making
mistakes or following an exact form. It's about documentation: explaining what you're trying to do,
outlining (and drawing) how you're going to do it, recording your observations, hypothesizing what
they might mean, working out your calculations in a way that you can spot mistakes, and so on. It's
your proof of what you've done, both for yourself and for the world. The ability to create a good lab
notebook is one of the most important and useful laboratory skills you can develop; we will help
develop this skill during the program.
A well-maintained lab notebook is important and useful for several reasons:
 It is your contribution to the continuation of the process of science; your successes and
mistakes are lessons from which others can learn.
It is a vehicle for you to learn from your own previous work and ideas, to make
improvements and develop new insights.
 It serves as documentation and proof that you have actually done the work you claim to have
You may argue that your memory is just fine-that you'll remember to write it down later. But I doubt
it. We live in an age of written reminders, and a level of background distraction that works against
memory. Besides, the one really great idea or insight will always be the one you lose or forget.
How formal should your note taking be? That you have to answer for yourself. At a bare minimum it
should contains the following information:
Date: date each page when you put something on it
Title: a good experimental title goes a long way toward clarifying your thinking and helps keep
things focussed.
Description/Goal: generally resembles a statement of purpose, what you are testing and why
Procedure: an outline of how you will proceed
Data: numbers, observations and calculations
Summary/Conclusions: what you learned
School journals:
You’ll be working with kids in a classroom or day care for half a day each week – on Wednesday
morning or afternoon or Friday morning. In the first part of the quarter you’ll be getting used to the
kids and the teacher’s ways of working, and working on deepening your own perceptions of the
situation - trying to learn to see and hear and understand what’s going on better. In the second half of
the quarter, you’ll be spending a little of your time each week exploring some sensory experiences
with the kids and talking with them about how they think the senses work. In addition to being fun,
we hope these explorations will help you think more about the issues we’ll be studying in the
program’s work about epistemology and developmental psychology, where we’ll be concentrating
on Piaget’s theories about how kids perceive, understand and learn more about the world.
Each day that you’re in the schools you’ll write one journal entry. It’s intended to help you practice
seeing what’s going on in your room and thinking about your experiences. You should pick one
moment that you thought was puzzling, interesting or complicated. It should be a moment that
somehow involves issues about learning and knowledge (or failing to learn and not understanding
something.) It can involve one or more people learning from a mistake, but it doesn’t have to. You
can focus on trying to understand an experience of your own or an experience of other peoples’. You
should jot down as many quick notes about it as you can as soon as you’re able to – get yourself a
little pad to keep with you for doing this. You should write it up as soon as you can after you leave
the room.
First, your entry should just describe what happened as clearly and carefully as you can. Try to keep
interpretations out of this first account. Go on to them in the second part of the entry, and try to think
in that about what might have been going on, exploring possible ways of understanding or
explaining what you saw and heard.
There will also be a five page paper for the individual project, and the collaborative mid-term exam
will include various essay questions.
Individual Projects:
We're asking each student to study some unusual kind of perceptual experience of his or her choice
during this quarter. This can be an experimental phenomenon like sensory deprivation, a cultural
phenomenon like trance states, a psychological phenomenon like synesthesia, an artistic
phenomenon like color field painting, and so on. (Next quarter these individual projects will be
about the life and work of some particular poet, painter, musician or other artist of your choice,
focusing on how he or she structures and uses sense experience artistically.) You should plan to
spend roughly five hours each week on this project.
At the end of fall quarter, you'll be responsible for a fifteen minute presentation in which you do
your best to convey the quality of the experience you’ve been studying to some of the rest of us. You
can read out loud, show images, do performance art, lecture – whatever you think will have the best
chance of helping us personally register the quality of this sort of perception to the rest of us. This
presentation should also help us think about and better understand the psychological and cultural and
biological processes involved in experiences of this kind. Each of you will also write a short paper
(five pages or so) about this second question – discussing current ideas about this kind of perception,
the current evidence and support for those ideas, and any problems with them.
Time Budget:
As the handouts for the program have said, it is designed as the equivalent of a standard 16 credit
class load. That is, you should expect it to take about 45 hours a week altogether. We will try hard to
avoid piling on any more work than that, and would like to hear from you if you find that the
program is demanding more of your time. On the other hand, you should not expect to be able to
participate well in much less time than that, unless you are a phenomenally quick study. We think
that meeting deadlines is an important skill to acquire; we won't be accepting late work or giving
incompletes (except in truly amazing circumstances, such as personally witnessing you being
abducted by aliens with your last paper clutched in your hands.) If you do not have 45 hours a week
available, and can't rearrange your life to obtain them at this particular point, we recommend
choosing a different program.
We assume that you have well-rounded beginning college skills. If you’re shaky about basic skills
in some way, we’ll expect you to work hard on them with us, and/or the Learning Resource Center,
the Quantitative Reasoning Center and tutors. We really hope you’ll consult with us right away if
you start to feel as if you’re in over your head – it will be a lot more pleasant and useful for both you
and us to talk about it and start working together on improving the situation than for you to go along
feeling badly and hoping things will magically get better. We don’t assume that you’ll know
anything particular about the psychology or biology or film or the other subjects we’re studying at
the beginning. If you do the work, by the end of the program your skills will have improved, you’ll
know more about the content and specialized language of each of these disciplines, and you’ll will
have improved your ability to participate in the collaborative intellectual activity of the seminar.
Your seminar leader will be talking individually with each of you during the second, fifth and final
week of this quarter about how things are going and how you're doing. You should also be getting
regular feedback about your progress through the routine functioning of the program - comments
from us and from fellow students, both written and spoken, on your work, both written and spoken.
However, you should feel free at any time to make an appointment with your seminar leader to talk
if you feel like it, or feel unsure about how you are doing.
At the end of the program, in March, we'll write a formal evaluation of your work and you'll write a
formal self-evaluation; we'll share and discuss those at your final evaluation conference, then revise
them if it seems needed. These go in your transcript. At this conference, you’ll also turn in a final
formal evaluation of each of the faculty. (If you’d rather, you can give these to the program
secretary, who won’t give them to us until our final evaluations of you have been filed with the
Registrar, but usually faculty and students talk about these along with the other evaluations at final
We will do our best to be supportive - but also frank, detailed, and honest - in all our evaluations of
your work. We’ll base them on your writing your comments in discussion, the projects you present,
your completed quizzes and exams, and the strength of their self-evaluation. We will discuss your
work’s quality, the level of your understanding, the consistency and usefulness of your participation,
and the extent of your improvement. (If you haven't done any significant pieces of the work, we will
say so.) The central bread and butter things you should be focusing on are:
l. Informed and prepared participation in seminars, workshops, peer study groups, and other assigned
2. Timely completion of all assignments.
3. Demonstrated competence in the subject matter.
4. Improvement of your academic skills.
5. Active participation in meetings.
6. Sensitivity to the needs of fellow students.
7. Completion of both informal and formal self-evaluations, evaluations of faculty, and program
8. Willingness to work as a member of the program community.
This isn't an exhaustive list by any means, and we will try to pay full attention in our conversations
and evaluations to the particular character of your own interests, talents and progress as well as to
these pretty generic standard college student virtues. We expect that almost everyone will participate
fully, actively, and successfully in the program and that as a consequence, almost everyone will find
the evaluation process satisfying and pleasant. If a student repeatedly disrupts other people’s
attempts to learn by harassing them, coming to class drunk, or engaging in whatever other sort of
disreputable behavior you can imagine, one or more of us will warn the student that continuing this
behavior will result in his or her dismissal from the program. If it doesn’t stop, we’ll make the
person leave the program at whatever point the three of us agree that we’re tired of putting up with
Full participation means regular attendance. We expect you to be here on time; set your alarm clock
early, get a friend down the hall to wake you up; go to bed early enough – be here when we start. We
expect you to attend all the classes, unless you are sick, or your child is, or you're called away by an
emergency. In such cases, please be sure to ask someone what you missed. You are responsible for
knowing what went on. We will place any left over copies of handouts in a folder on the table in the
lounge down the hall from Nancy’s office; please check there if you have to be gone and discover
you missed getting something.
This is a full time 16 credit program. If you do all the work and come to all the classes you'll get 16
credits; if you don't do all the work or miss classes you're likely to receive less than 16 credits. If you
miss more than four classes during the quarter (that's roughly eight percent), or fail to turn in more
than two pieces of the assigned work (that's roughly eight percent, too), we'll think that you haven't
gotten enough of the basic work of the program done to justify getting full credit. (If some
extraordinary circumstances arise, like a serious medical problem or a death in the family, we'll try
to work out some way for you to make up the work you've missed. Please let your seminar leader
know right away if something comes up that's interfering with your work.) The requirements for
credit are the same in all seminars; we will be checking with each other to apply them uniformly.
Academic honesty:
In an academic community, sharing and taking responsibility for our own ideas is vital.
Acknowledging our use of other people's ideas is equally important. Work that you submit has to
reflect your own ideas. When we’re incorporating the views of others, whether published authors or
other faculty and students, we have to acknowledge our sources. Since some of the work in this
program will be collaborative and the ensuing ideas may reflect the contributions of more than one
person, you need to get in the habit of acknowledging the people and ideas that have influenced you.
There will be times when you’ll be asked to take individual positions - in essays, research projects
and seminar discussions-and when you’ll need to assert your own distinctive interpretations and
judgments. The final work you do needs to reflect your own judgment and analysis while also
recognizing the contributions of people who have influenced your learning.
Presenting the work of others as your own or failing to acknowledge your use of other people's ideas
is plagiarism. If we find out that you’re doing this, we won’t want to keep working with you. We’ll
make you leave the program and you may be required to leave the college.
Grievance procedures:
If you have a serious problem of some kind with somebody else in the program (which we certainly
hope won’t happen and don’t expect), Evergreen’s grievance procedures involve taking the
following steps in this order:
1. Take up the concern with the parties involved in the grievance (unless the nature of the problem
clearly makes that inappropriate.) If not resolved:
2. Meet with the seminar leader. If still not resolved:
3. Meet with the faculty team. If still not resolved:
4. Meet with the academic dean.
Civility and Nerve:
We expect to be talking about a number of complicated issues about which people will feel and think
quite differently. We hope that you will all work at listening carefully to each other's ideas and
feelings, as well as at trying to understand what they are and the reasons for them, especially when
you don't share them. We also hope that you will all work at telling the rest of us what you feel and
think about the things we're reading and making and discussing, and why, even if you think that
other people may not share your feelings and ideas. (We'll be happy to talk about and try to help
with either of these things, in the life of the program as a whole or in your own work, if you ask us.)
We expect you to promote a cooperative and supportive atmosphere within our program, helping to
ensure that all people have the opportunity and encouragement to speak freely; to treat each person
with respect, especially when disagreeing with his or her ideas, attitudes or assumptions; and to
remain sensitive to any issues of racism, classism, sexism, homophobia or other forms of
discrimination within the program context.
Program Portfolio:
Keep track of all your work; we will want to see it again to prepare for evaluation conferences. Buy
a notebook, a binder, or a portfolio immediately in which you can keep all program handouts and all
program work. Don't throw anything away until the program is over. There will be no basis for
writing your evaluations unless you can resubmit all your work in an organized fashion. If you start
being organized right from the start, you won't lose anything, and you will have no scrambles or
frantic searches when evaluation week arrives.
As we work together, we hope to help you form a community of inquiry. We expect to work hard, to
learn a lot, and to have a terrific time together in the process.
We think that a passage from John Cage, a famous modern composer, may offer the best general
advice we can think of about how to do well in the program, at the college, and in getting welleducated anywhere. You might put these maxims on your refrigerator or over your work table and
check them out once in a while....
Some Rules and Hints for Students and Teachers by John Cage
Rule 1: Find a place you can trust, and then try trusting it for a while. Always be around. Come or go
to everything; always go to classes, reading anything you can get your hands on; look carefully and
often. Save everything: it might come in handy later.
Rule 2: General duties of a teacher: Pull everything out of your students. General duties of a student:
Pull everything out of your teacher and your fellow students.
Rule 3: Consider everything an experiment.
Rule 4: Be self-disciplined. This means finding someone wise or smart and choosing to follow them.
To be disciplined is to follow in a good way. To be self-disciplined is to follow in a better way.
Rule 5: Nothing is a mistake. There is no win and there is no fail...there is only make.
Rule 6: The only rule is work. If you work it will lead to something. It is the people who do all of the
work all of the time who eventually catch on to things.
Rule 7: Don't try to create and analyze at the same time. They are different processes.
Rule 8: Be happy whenever you can manage it. (Enjoy yourself. It is lighter than you think.)
Rule 9: "We're breakin' all of the rules...even our own; and how do we do it? By leaving plenty of
room for the 'X' factors!"