Fall 2020 Syllabus
Tuesdays & Thursdays 10:30am-12pm Online
Dr. Kathryn Schuler | Instructor
likes to be called: Professor Schuler or Dr. Schuler
remote from Philadelphia, PA (Neighborhood: Mt. Airy)
Office Hours TBD
Yiran Chen | Teaching Assistant
likes to be called: Yiran
Office Hours TBD
Welcome to LING104, an introduction to Language and the Brain! Due to the global pandemic, LING104 will be fully remote this semester. I know you probably have lots of questions about how this will work, so please ask. The best way to ask questions is to join the class discussion board (sign yourself up with access code: 8248). You are welcome to join and ask questions even if you are just considering the class. You can ask question about anything you like, as early as you like – if you are reading this, the discussion board it open for questions! You can even do so anonymously.
This course offers an introduction to the brain basis of language. Our goal is to introduce you to the study of the brain and language by combining basic concepts from linguistics, psychology, cognitive science, and neuroscience. Through lectures, readings, and group work, we’ll consider a number of questions: What areas of the brain underlie language processing and acquisition? What are the fundamental functions of these brain areas and how do these functions overlap with other cognitive processes? How is language impacted when one of these areas is damaged? What are the methods and approaches researchers use to examine these questions? This is an introductory course and no specific background is assumed or required. Freshmen are very welcome!
- Exams (75%) - There are four take-home exams, but the lowest exam score is dropped.
- Moonshot group project (25%) - You’ll work in groups of 3 to find a solution to a big question in language and the brain. Your group will write 6 blog posts on your progress (25 points each), and present a poster (virtually!) on the final day of class (100 points).
- Community engagement: For each moonshot assignment, earn 5 points by making kind, constructive comments on other teams’ blog posts.
- Research bonus: Earn 10 bonus points for attending (live or later) any MINDCore seminar this semester and writing a short paper on how it connects to what you’ve learned in class.
- Comment on google docs & slides: Each week you’ll be given links to lecture slides, notes, and assignments (see Schedule). One way to get help from instructors or classmates is to ask questions right on those documents.
- Campuswire: The best way to get help anytime is to ask a question on the Campuswire discussion board. Instructors will typically respond within 24 hours. You’ll often get a response from a classmate even sooner!
- Office Hours: If you prefer chatting with a person, you can join one of us for video Office Hours on Zoom. If our posted hours don’t work, email Professor Schuler or Yiran to set up an appointment for another time.
Each week we’ll do two things (on Zoom): (1) explore a particular topic in language the the brain and (2) attempt to make progress on your Moonshot project.
- Tuesdays - On Tuesdays, I’ll give a short lecture on our topic for the week and we’ll usually do an activity (like a brain anatomy lab or learning how to read an academic journal article).
- Thursdays - On Thursdays, we’ll finish up our activity and summarise what we learned. Then, we’ll turn to working on our group Moonshot projects. Yiran and I will drop in to your breakout rooms to help answer your questions and move your project forward.
- Fridays - Friday is deadline day! Usually you’ll either have a group blog post or an exam due.
Schedule is subject to change. All lectures will be recorded and posted here after each class. Links to readings, lecture notes, and other resources will be posted here as the week approaches.
||Sep 1: Course Overview
Sep 3: CNS Overview
||Group Interest Survey
Notes on the CNS
||Sep 8: Neurons
Sep 10: Moonshot Project Kickoff
||Notes on Neurons
||Sep 15: Cortical Networks
Sep 17: Moonshot 1: Pitch
||Sep 22: Methods
Sep 24: Big Question Pitch
||Blog 1 due
||Sep 29: Sounds & Phonemes
Oct 1: Moonshot 2: Solutions
||Exam 1 due
||Oct 6: Words
Oct 8: Moonshot 3: Moonshot 3: Peer Review
||Blog 2 due
||Oct 13: Syntax I
Oct 15: Moonshot 4: Expert Review
||Blog 3 due
||Oct 20: Syntax II
Oct 22: Review or rest
||Exam 2 due
||Oct 27: Semantics
Oct 29: Moonshot 5: Prototype
||Blog 4 due
||Nov 3: Acquisition
Nov 5: Article Summary Challenge
||Article Summary (due Nov 5)
||Nov 10: Sign Language
Nov 12: Moonshot 6: Poster draft
||Blog 5 due
||Nov 17: Bilingualism
Nov 19: Review or rest
||Exam 3 due
||Nov 24: No Class
Nov 26: Thanksgiving Break
||Dec 1: Evolution
Dec 3: Poster Feedback
||Blog 6 due
||Dec 8: Cerebellum
Dec 10: Poster Session!
||Final Poster due
||Dec 15: Finals Week
||Exam 4 due
- Attendance: There is no formal attendance policy, but participation is highly correlated with class performance.
- Rescheduling or make-up exams: Because we drop your lowest exam, we do not offer retakes or make-up exams. But please contact us if something extreme happens - a family or medical emergency, for example - and we can discuss some options provided you have documentation.
- Late assignments: Late blog posts will be accepted with a 1 point per day late penalty. Exams have a 3 day grace period (meaning you can turn your exam in up to 3 days late with no penalty) and a 25 point per day late penalty after that.
- Re-grade requests: If you notice a grading error, we’d be happy to look at your exam again. To request a re-grade, please fill out the re-grade request form within one week of receiving your graded exam or assignment. We want to be fair to everyone, so if you ask about grading in person or via email, you’ll be directed to make a formal request via the regrade request form.
- Accommodations and non-discrimination: We are happy to provide accommodations to anyone with documentation from Student Disability Services and to make alternate arrangements when class conflicts with a religious holiday. Please notify Professor Schuler or Yiran as soon as possible to make these arrangements.
- Academic Integrity: We will follow the rules of the University and the Code of Academic Integrity. It is your responsibility to be familiar with these policies.
- Support: Asking for help is a sign of strength! We hope you’ll reach out to us if you need help. We also want you to be aware of Penn’s Academic & Wellness Resources
Minimum score before rounding.
Can I skip the fourth exam if I am happy with my grade on the first three?
Yes! You can skip the fourth exam and it will be dropped. Your grade will be based on the first three exams.
I noticed a mistake in the grading of my exam. How do I get this fixed?
We will look at your exam again if you make a formal re-grade request via Canvas within one week of getting your exam back.
I missed or failed an exam. What can I do to make it up?
Nothing. We don’t allow make-up exams or retakes. However, we drop your lowest exam score, so you can still do well in the class. Just make sure it doesn’t happen more than once!
Can my team turn in our blog post late?
Yes, but there is a 1 point per day late penalty.
I commented on blog posts (or did the research bonus). When will I get my bonus points?
To receive bonus points, you must (1) make a bonus points declaration on Canvas and (2) submit any required supporting materials. Your bonus points will be awarded as soon as you make your declaration, but we will check your supporting materials to confirm these points at the end of the semester.
How do I join the lectures live?
I’ll send a Zoom link just before our usual class time via Campuswire for those who want to join live. I’ll pause periodically for questions, and sometimes we will make use of breakout rooms for group work or class activities.
Do I have to turn on my camera or microphone?
Nope. I understand that there are many circumstances beyond our control at the moment. If you prefer to listen with your camera and/or microphone off, you are welcome to do that. I’ll never ask you to turn on your camera or microphone, and you never have to explan why.
I’m in a different time zone, will I miss anything?
No, definitely not! The lectures will be recorded so you can watch them any time you like. Class discussions will take place on Campuswire, so you can read through quesitons and discussions any time, and also add your own comments and questions whenever you can.