Psycholinguistic Text Analysis Essay

Psycholinguistics is interdisciplinary field combining aspects of psychology, cognitive science, neurobiology and linguistics in order to arrive at a scientific understanding of the cognitive processes that enable human language acquisition, production and comprehension. Essays in psycholinguistics should aim to combine the qualities of clarity, concision, coherence and critical thinking which exemplify scientific writing at its best.

Content

A psycholinguistics essay must do more than regurgitate or summarise information from textbooks, lecture notes and readings. Minimally, it must integrate information from various readings and provide critical discussions of the material. It is important that your discussion is contextualised with relation to previous research rather than written as if in theoretical vacuum. Reading beyond the basic reading list is recommended, but always make sure that any additional material is relevant to the essay question

Clarity

In order to learn how to write a psycholinguistics essay you should familiarise yourself with journal articles in the field. Read published articles both for content and as examples of good scientific practice; that is, as models for the general approach, formulation, structure and style you should be aiming to emulate. 

Write as simply and clearly as possible so that the reader can easily follow what you are saying. Use technical terms when it is economical to do so, and always be sure of their precise meaning. Never strive to sound “clever” or “academic”; the goal should be clear, direct communication, not fancy words or elaborate sentences. Avoid rambling and strive for economy of expression

Focus

Always keep the question in mind and never lose sight of the specific goal of your paper. This applies to your reading and note-taking as much as to your writing. Beware of getting lost in aspects of the literature which are not immediately relevant to your essay. Never include tangential material, no matter how interesting it may be.

Structure

A clear, coherent essay structure is crucial. The organisation of the paper should reflect your line of argumentation. The introduction should provide relevant theoretical background and state the hypothesis to be discussed, and each claim should be supported by appropriate evidence and argumentation.

It is advisable to divide your essay up into numbered sections and subsections which reflect the structure of your argument. Within each section and subsection the discussion should be divided into paragraphs, with each paragraph devoted to a single claim that builds upon that which preceded it. Likewise, each sentence should be relevant to the immediately preceding one. Your argumentation and evidence should support the claim of each paragraph, and each paragraph should support the overall thesis. Padding out your essay with tangential or redundant information will not earn you marks.  

Methods

In a research paper the methods section should include details of the data collection process. Ideally, you should include all and only those details that would be needed for another researcher to replicate your research or compare it with related studies. 

Results

In psycholinguistics you will deal with both quantitative and qualitative results. The quantitative should be presented in the results section, but qualitative results might be better suited to the discussion section. However you organise them, the main statistical findings should be reported first, and qualitative data should be discussed only after you have presented the numerical data. 

Tables & Figures

Tables and figures should be carefully integrated within the structure of your essay. Always explicitly direct the reader as to what to look for and explain what they are supposed to show. Never simply assume that they are self-evident or speak for themselves. 

Discussion

This is where you analyse and interpret your results in depth. Your strongest, most interesting findings should be introduced first, explicitly relating them to the  argument or hypothesis set forth in your introduction. Discuss whether and how your results support or fail to support your hypotheses and identify the implications and limitations of your study. 

Conclusion

Your conclusion should restate the research question or hypothesis and summarise how the evidence and analysis presented in the body of the discussion support or falsify it. It may also indicate potential areas of future research that follow from your findings. 

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Final Papers Due Tuesday, March 20 at 12:00 noon.
 

Course Requirements and Grading:     433         533
Participation and Discussion Notes     15%         15%
Exams and Essays                             45%         40%
Speech Error Journal                         15%         15%
Project/term paper                             25%         20%
Presentation on Applications of Psycholinguistics 10%

Students with special needs: Please see me if you have a disability that may require some modification of the seating, testing or other class requirements, so that appropriate arrangements may be made.
 

ParticipationDuring the quarter, you will be regularly asked to contribute to the group as a whole and to small roup discussions. In small group discussions, I will ask you summarize your discussions, reflect on issues, apply data to a theory and discuss with the class. You will be asked to provide a short written summary after the small group work. All of this will, of course, require you to come to class prepared.

Quizzes and Exams: There will be two in-class quizzes covering basic vocabulary and concepts, each followed by a take-home exams involving short-answer questions. In addition, there will be a third take-home quiz/exam the final week of the quarter. The purpose of the quizzes is to make sure that you have mastered the basic vocabulary needed for discussing concepts in class. The purpose of the take-home exams is to examine in depth models and theories of psycholinguistics. Graduate students (533) will receive extra questions on the exams. Work on exams/quizzes must of course be entirely individual. If there is clear evidence that it is not, those involved will receive a zero for the exam.
 

Graduate Student Presentations Graduate Students will be asked to make a short (ca. 15 -20 minute) presentation applying some of the concepts in one of the unit to the class. These presentations will take place at the end of one of the units. These presentations should focus on one or possibly two applications of the information covered in the unit. Details and schedule to be provided in class.
 

Speech Error Journal (Due March 7, 2001) At the end of the Speech Production section of the course, students will be required to hand in a "journal" of speech errors that they have recorded throughout the quarter. This project will consist of three parts: recording speech errors, analyzing the type of planning unit and discussing what these errors tell us about the organization of language in the mind. We will spend time discussing both of the latter points in class.

Preliminary: Due February 26, 2001 Students should record 20-30 speech errors for this project. Begin early: Good contexts are lectures, conversations, radio call-in shows. For each error, give the error, the intended utterance and the context. Note other relevant aspects of the speaker (e.g., age, native language) if needed. Errors need not be in English, but can be in any language you happen to speak/understand. (Non-English errors should be translated for the in-class discussion and final write-up.)

Write-up: Due March 7, 2001

Part 1: Each speech error should be classified according to the type of planning unit (e.g., phonemic feature, phonetic segment, syllable, morpheme, word, phrase) and the type of error (addition, deletion, anticipation, perseveration, blend, exchange, shift, substitution). Group errors by planning unit or type of error, don't just give me a random list!

Part 2: Discuss how speech errors provide evidence for the following points (cf. pp 322 - 327 in book).
- speech is planned in advance
- how the lexicon is organized semantically and/or phonologically
- whether morphologically complex words are assembled or stored as wholes
- differences between content words and affixes/functors
- knowledge of rules of language

Use the errors you have recorded as examples to support your discussion points. Include as many of these points as you can. Due to the small size of your speech error corpus, it is unlikely that you will find evidence for all of these points.

Final PaperDue March 20, 2001

The final paper/project for this course will be a proposal for a psycholinguistic experiment. (See Page 5 for outline of what the proposal should include.) The topic may be any topic related to psycholinguistics. The purpose of this paper is to (a) research one area of psycholinguistics in detail, (b) help you apply your knowledge of psycholinguistics to one very specific question, (c) help you understand at least one method for collecting psycholinguistic data and (d) help you link one very specific question to larger questions in the field.

Good places to get ideas for term papers:

  • Questions that you have as you read the chapters that aren't answered.
  • Questions that are raised in class as unanswerable.
  • Extending existing studies to new populations or new situations.
  • Browsing through journals in the library. Try Applied Psycholinguistics, Language, Speech and Language, Cognition, Journal of Experimental Psychology (there are several different ones, including Human Perception and Performance, Learning, Memory & Cognition), Journal of Child Language
  • If second language learners are part of the proposal, the proposal must focus on a topic related to how second language learners process or perceive language. The topic may not be related to how best to teach second languages.

    The project will consist of several parts:

    1. Topic choice - Due Feb 12th

    This is a short description of your project and should include: the general area to be studied, several possible questions that you'd like to ask (you will choose only one for your final paper) and one or two possible methodologies you would consider using in your proposal.
     

    2. Abstract - Due March 12th

    This is a 1-2 page summary of your project and must be typed. It should include:
    1. The general area to be studied and why it's important to the area of psycholinguistics.
    2. The one specific question you are pursuing.
    3. The methodology you will use in your proposal
    4. The kind of stimuli you would propose to use.
    5. A list of journal articles that you've found about your topic, and a two - four sentence summary of each article.

    3. The Final Proposal - Due March 20th

    A handout will be given that covers organization and information required. Be sure to include headings for each section and make links between ideas and sections clear. Assume your reader is intelligent, has some basic background in basic linguistic or psycholinguistic terminology, but no prior knowledge of this particular topic. You will need to explain any unfamiliar areas or terms and you will need to support any hypothesis, conclusion, etc. that you draw. The proposal should be as long as it takes to adequately cover all of these points. Graduate students (533) will be expected to provide more depth in both background, hypotheses and analysis in their papers.
     

    Grading Criteria
    Participation will be graded on how well prepared you are for the discussion, appropriate contributions to both small and large group discussion, and ability to respond appropriately to classmates' comments and discussion. Regular attendance and contribution to only small groups will result in a "C". Regular attendance and contribution to both large and small groups will result in a "B". Superior participation in both large and small groups will warrant an "A". Irregular attendance and/or failure to participate in discussions will result in a "D" or lower.

    Discussion Notes will be graded on how well you represent and synthesize information from the group, and will be graded on an A-F scale. "C" summaries will provide a general summary of content of the discussion. "B" summaries will also find common threads in the discussion and will provide clarification where needed . "A" summaries will also provide an evaluation or reflection on the discussion.

    Quizzes will be graded on a point scale. An A or A- will fall between 91-100% of the points, a B+, B, or B- will fall between 90-81% of the points, a C, C+, or C- will fall between 80% and 71% .

    Essays will be graded on an A-F scale. "C" exams will contain an accurate description of concepts, will illustrate concepts with examples and describe how illustrations relate to the concept. "B" exams will also draw on information from more than one source and relate facts to larger acquisition issues or perspectives. "A" exams will also synthesize information and include theoretical  perspectives.

    Speech Error Journals: will be graded on an A-F scale. "C" journals will document the minimum number of speech errors, classify these speech errors and describe how the study of speech errors is used as evidence for the planning speech. "B" journals will also contain more than the minimum number of errors and discuss in detail how the data provide evidence for the planning of language at different levels of representation. "A" journals will also relate the data to broader theories and models of language production and representation.

    Final Projects: will be graded on an A-F scale. A "C" project will contain background information on a subdomain of psycholinguistics, an idea for an experiment with that subdomain and will describe how that experiment would relate to that area of psycholinguistics . A "B" project will contain more comprehensive background information, an idea for an experiment and will relate data to both issue under discussion and larger issues of psycholinguistics. An "A" project will contain a review of the representative literature and place that literature in theoretical perspectives, a new idea for an experiment, and will relate the experiment to the issue under discussion, larger issues and theoretical or outside perspectives.

    Presentations (Graduate Students): will be graded on an A-F scale and will be graded on how well they introduce information about a new domain, relate and integrate that information with the class content and theories. "C" presentations will coherently introduce a topic in applied psycholinguistics and demonstrate how it relates to the field of psycholinguistics. "B" presentations will also discuss how the applied area relates to hypotheses and models in psycholinguistics. "A" presentations will also contain some critical assessment of the area or suggest new extensions or applications of this information.
     
     

    Reserve Readings for Psycholinguistics

    These books are on overnight reserve at the library. Note these are a selection of books that I think might be useful. There are other useful books in the catalog and on the shelves. For your final papers you must also consult journal articles, found via the journal indexes, e.g., PsycLit, MLA or ERIC.

    Psycholinguistics: General and Applied

    Aitchison, J. (1977). The articulate mammal: an introduction to psycholinguistics. New York: Universe Books. P37 .A37 1977.

    Berko Gleason, J. & Bernstein Ratner, N. (1993). Psycholinguistics. Harcourt Brace College Publishers. PN37 .P759 1993. (Note this is the first edition of our textbook!)

    Garman, M. (1990). Psycholinguistics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. P37 .G33 1990.

    Gernsbacher, M.A.. (1994). Handbook of psycholinguistics. San Diego: Academic Press. P37 .H335 1994.

    Harley, T. (1995). The psychology of language : from data to theory. Taylor & Francis. P37 .H337 1995.

    Kess, J.F. (199). Psycholinguistics : psychology, linguistics, and the study of natural language. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. P37 .K48 1992.

    Gleitman, L. & Liberman, M. (1995). An Invitation to Cognitive Science V. 1. Language. (Check also under Osherson, Daniel (series editor). MIT Press. BF311 .I68 1995

    Rosenberg, S. (1982). Handbook of applied psycholinguistics: major thrusts of research and theory. Hillsdale NJ: Erlbaum. P37 .H3 1982.

    Titone, R. & Danesi, M. (1985). Applied psycholinguistics: an introduction to the psychology of language learning and teaching. Toronto: University of Toronto Press. P53.7 .T58 1985.

    Language and the brain

    Honjo, I. (1999). Language viewed from the brain. New York: Karger. QP399 .H66 1999.

    Jensen, E.. (1998). Teaching with the brain in mind. Alexandria, Va. : Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. LB1060 .J46 1998.

    Obler, L. & Gjerlow, K. (1999). Language and the brain. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. P132 .O25 1999.

    Paradis, M. (1995). Appects of Bilingual Aphasia. Oxford: Pergamon. RC425.A84 1995

    Speech Perception

    Borden, G., Harris, K.S., & Raphael, L.J. (1994). Speech science primer: physiology, acoustics, and perception of speech. Baltimore: Williams & Wilkins. P95 .B65 1994

    Hollien, H. (1990). The acoustics of crime : the new science of forensic phonetics. New York: Plenum Press. HV8073 .H624 1990.

    Pickett, J.M. (1999). The acoustics of speech communication : fundamentals, speech perception theory, and technology. Boston: Allyn & Bacon. BF463 .S64 P5 1999

    Lexicon

    MacDonald, M.. (1997). Lexical representations and sentence processing. Hove, East Sussex, UK: Psychology Press. P37.L45 1997.

    Schreuder, R. & Weltens, B. (1993). The bilingual lexicon. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. P118.B535 1993.

    Singleton, D. (1999). Exploring the second language mental lexicon. Cambrdige: Cambridge University Press. P118.2 .S556 1999.

    Sentence Processing

    Clifton, C. Jr., Frazier, L., & Rayner, K. (1994). Perspectives on sentence processing. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum. P37 .P475 1994.

    MacWhinney, Brain & Bates, Elizabeth. (1989). The crosslinguistic study of sentence processing. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. P295 .C76 1989

    Discourse

    Singer, Murray. (1990). Psychology of language : an introduction to sentence and discourse processes. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum. P37 .S46 1990.

    Feedle, R. O. (1977). Discourse production and comprehension. Norwood, NJ: Ablex. P302 .D56.

    Speech Production

    Poulisse, N. (1999). Slips of the tongue: speech errors in first and second language production. Amsterdam, John Benjamins. P118 .P646 1999

    Levelt, W. (1993). Lexical access in speech production. Cambridge, MA: Blackwell. P326.L3 78 1993.

    Reading

    Henderson, J., Singer, M., Ferreira, F. (1995). Reading and language processing. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum. BF456.R2 R337 1995

    Taylor, I. & Olson, D. (1995). Scripts and literacy: Reading and learning to read alphabets, syllabaries and characters. Dordrecht, Netherlands: Kluwer. P211 .S42 1995

    Language Acquisition and Loss

    Bialystok, E. & Hakuta, K. (1994). In other words: the science and psychology of second-language acquisition. New York : BasicBooks. P118.2 .B52 1994.

    Bloom, P. (1994). Language Acquisition: Core Readings. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. P118 .L2536 1994

    Fletcher, P. & MacWhinney, B. (1995). The handbook of child language. Cambridge, MA: Blackwell. P118 .H347 1995

    Seliger, H. & Vago, R. (1991). First Language Attrition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. P40.5 .L28 F57 1991

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