Assignment guide

Music Cognition (PSYC 4541), CU–Boulder, Summer 2016

Following are written and/or video descriptions of the activities that will be assessed during this course. Where applicable, examples are also provided.

Some of my assessment practices may be unfamiliar to you. For more information on why I grade the way that I do, please see my blog post, “Why Grade?”. I am glad to answer any questions you have (the earlier the better) and to entertain proposals for changes or exceptions (again, the earlier the better).

Introductions

At the beginning of the course (due on Wednesday, June 1), there will be three introductory activities to help you get oriented to the course and the technological environment. These are each worth one assessment point.

  • join the class discussion forum, Slack
  • make a personal introduction video and upload it to Slack
  • watch each other’s introductory videos and comment on at least two of them

See Getting started for details.

Reading/video quizzes

There will be two reading/video assignments each week, with reading quizzes due to be completed by 8am on Monday and Wednesday of each week (Wednesday and Friday of Week 1). Each quiz will contain approximately 10 questions, most of which involve the raw regurgitation of information, and one or two of which require higher-level thinking to arrive at an answer not made explicitly in the reading/video. You are strongly encouraged to collaborate on answering these questions accurately. Use Slack to work together towards a joint solution — in small groups or as a whole class.

Quizzes will be graded on a percentage basis.

Conceptual videos

In Weeks 2–4, create two videos each week explaining core concepts from that unit or a preceding unit. These videos should be no more than 90 seconds, and in them you should explain the concept in your own words and present at least one example from a piece of music to elucidate that explanation. For example, in explaining the concept of interference, you can present a song in which the melody for each verse is almost, but not quite, identical, making it more difficult to memorize or perform upon first encounter. Videos that explain the concept accurately and coherently with a relevant example will receive full assessment credit. Students will be able to revise and resubmit one video the following week to regain full credit.

For each concept, one of the students who produced a clear and engaging video will be given the opportunity to share it with the class and the public on the course Vimeo channel and on our collaborative Prezi. Throughout the course, and especially at the end of our core concept study, this channel will provide a high-quality set of concise explanations for student review and public consumption.

Each video will be worth three points: one point for the attempt, one point for the definition/explanation, one point for the example of musical application.

I’ve created two sample videos that you can use as models: Habituation and Learned Auditory Grouping.

You are welcome — indeed encouraged — to discuss these videos and share example ideas with each other in Slack. That will help you solidify the concepts in your own mind. However, be sure that any examples you borrow from others really are correct before you submit, and be sure that all definitions and explanations are in your own words. In contrast to the reading quizzes, any “joint solutions” on the videos will be considered an honor code violation. Use each other to sharpen your understanding, but be sure that these videos reflect your own thoughts expressed in your own words.

Conceptual paragraphs

At the end of each week (starting in Week 2), you will choose two of the core concepts – for which you did not also make a video – and write two paragraphs (approx. 100–200 words each), one per concept, explaining that concept in your own words. Each paragraph should include three key elements:

  • an accurate definition of the concept in your own words (not a quote from the textbook or other source)
  • reference to a specific piece or passage of music that exemplifies that concept
  • an explanation of how the specific musical example relates to the concept

These paragraphs will be assessed on a three point scale. Each of the above three elements that is present will earn one point.

You are welcome — indeed encouraged — to discuss these paragraphs and share example ideas with each other in Slack. That will help you solidify the concepts in your own mind. However, be sure that any examples you borrow from others really are correct before you submit, and be sure that all definitions and explanations are in your own words. In contrast to the reading quizzes, any “joint solutions” on the paragraphs will be considered an honor code violation. Use each other to sharpen your understanding, but be sure that these paragraphs reflect your own thoughts expressed in your own words.

Conceptual mapping

We will collaboratively create a visual diagram that maps out our core concepts and their relationships, using the Prezi platform. This diagram will include each of the core concepts for each unit, with lines drawn between concepts that are related, and a written or verbal explanation of each relationship (between one sentence and one paragraph per relationship). I will build one master concept map over the entirety of the course, based on your submissions. Each Wednesday, you will watch the public videos from your colleagues from the previous week’s study, and submit explanations for relationships between three pairs those concepts. All correct explanations will receive credit, and I will post samples or combinations of your explanations to the collaborative concept map.

You are strongly encouraged to collaborate on answering these questions accurately. Use Slack to work together towards a joint solution — in small groups or as a whole class. If the same answer is submitted by more than one person, only those who provide evidence of their collaborative participation on Slack will receive credit. (Note: this is different from the quizzes.)

Each conceptual relationship contribution will be worth a single assignment grade.

Example submission:

Echoic memory – pitch:
Echoic memory is responsible for the segmenting of sound into discrete pitches. Echoic memory analyzes the auditory sensory data to find regularities in vibration and then bind together those regularities that begin/end at the same time and have frequencies that can all be multiples of the same fundamental. These bound perceptions are pitches.

Please note that you do not have to build your own map, simply submit your written explanations via D2L. I will build one master map for the class (below). Also, note that you do not need to include any examples of application, though you certainly may if it will help clarify your explanation.

Final project

If you wish to obtain an A in the class, you will construct a final project that applies course concepts in a domain not discussed in class, or critiques some presentation of material in class. You and I will negotiate the details of these projects one-on-one, with the goals of 1) finding a project in line with your interests, 2) adding to public human knowledge/understanding, and 3) moving beyond the memorization, understanding, and synthesis of course concepts into the realm of application and critique. Shortly after midterm, you will have an opportunity to propose project ideas, and our negotiations will be completed before the beginning of Week 5, with a clear contract of expectations laid out. You may only pursue the final project if you have met the appropriate threshold (see below).

See Week 5 Guide for details and a sample project contract.

Assessments & grades (from the syllabus)

The most important and interesting aspects of learning are things that are difficult to assess fairly and reductively (i.e., with a single letter). As a result, heavy emphasis on grades tends to undermine alternative perspectives—the exact opposite of what a liberal education should do.

My goal in grading is three-fold: to diminish their significance and the negative impact they can have on the learning environment, to direct your studies clearly (but flexibly), and to make sure that they do carry some meaningful representation of the knowledge and skills you possess and gain by the end of the course.

With that in mind, assessment will be oriented around specific concepts and skills, all of which will be assessed pass/fail — no partial credit. In order to facilitate learning, the bulk of the assessments will either allow collaboration or reassessment, if not passed on the first attempt.

Following are assessment types and points towards the final grade:

  • Introductory activities (Slack setup, video, and video comments): 1 assignment credit each, total of 3 credits.
  • Quizzes: 1 assignment credit each, 8 quizzes total. These will be graded by percentage of answers correct. Collaboration encouraged (see specific quiz instructions). No reassessments allowed.
  • Conceptual videos: 3 assignment credits each, 6 videos required, worth 18 assignment credits total. Collaboration not allowed. Reassessments encouraged for a single video each week.
  • Conceptual paragraphs: 3 assignment credits each, 6 paragraphs required, worth 18 assignment credits total. Collaboration not allowed. No reassessments allowed.
  • Concept map contributions: 1 assignment credit each, 9 contributions required (3 per week). Collaboration encouraged (see instructions). No reassessments allowed.
  • Final project: 8 assignment credits (rubric negotiated between student and instructor). Students must have earned 42 points by the beginning of Week 5 (Monday, June 27) in order to pursue a final project. Collaboration permitted if approved by the instructor in the contract for the project. Since they are due on the last day of class, there is no reassessment opportunity, but the contract should make the grade clear to students when they submit.
  • Final reassessments: Students who do not qualify for the final project may submit up to 8 credits worth of new or reattempted videos and/or concept map contributions during the final week. No collaboration allowed, no further reassessments allowed.

These assignments total a possible 64 points. Final letter grades will be determined by the percentage of points passed according to the usual 90/80/70/60 scale.

Technical support (from the syllabus)

Students can obtain technical support for the technologies used in class by consulting Lynda.com (accessible via MyCUInfo), the CU OIT student help desk, and/or the instructor.