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Unit information: Cognitive Psychology and Special Education in 2019/20

Please note: Due to alternative arrangements for teaching and assessment in place from 18 March 2020 to mitigate against the restrictions in place due to COVID-19, information shown for 2019/20 may not always be accurate.

Please note: you are viewing unit and programme information for a past academic year. Please see the current academic year for up to date information.

Unit name Cognitive Psychology and Special Education
Unit code EDUC20006
Credit points 20
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Howard
Open unit status Not open

Introduction to Psychology in Education



School/department School of Education
Faculty Faculty of Social Sciences and Law


This unit will develop students’ scientific knowledge and understanding of the study of cognition and how cognitive psychology can contribute to the understanding of education, particularly special education. We will introduce students to approaches to the study of cognition and how to apply theory and research to key topics in special education. Indicative topics include memory, language, literacy development, and attention.

Students will develop a thorough understanding of the role of empirical evidence in the formulation of theory and how to interpret empirical data. This unit will help students to understand the conceptual and historical issues in the subject area, and will help students acquire a wide range of transferable skills. Throughout, students will be required to consider ethical issues in the field.

Intended learning outcomes

Upon successful completion of the unit, students will be able to demonstrate that they:

1. Understand key concepts in the current study of cognitive psychology;

2. Understand how cognitive psychology contributes to the study of special education;

3. Can critically interrogate claims about cognitive psychology in the educational literature;

4. Have developed an awareness of the ethical issues and practices of the field;

5. Can understand quantitative and qualitative methods for studying cognitive psychology and special education.

Teaching details

This unit will consist of 1 x two-hour weekly lectures and 1 x one-hour practical class. Classes will involve a combination of lectures, class discussion, and group presentations. Weekly sessions will introduce a new core area of psychology through a lecture with class participation and exercises where appropriate. The practical class will focus on quantitative and qualitative methodology and statistics related to evaluating cognitive research. Students will also learn how to analyse secondary data. They will be expected to engage with readings and actively participate in class.

Assessment Details

Formative Assessment:

ILO 1-5 Group Oral Presentation

Students will create and deliver a presentation applying cognitive psychology to special education.

Summative Assessment:

ILO 1-5 Individual abstract (50%, equiv 1000 words)

Students will write an individual abstract summarizing the presentation and implications of the research.

ILO 1-5 Pamphlet (50% equiv 2000 words)

Students will be asked to create a visually attractive brochure summarising a cognitive based intervention that addresses a particular special educational need.

Reading and References

Armstrong, D., & Squires, G. (eds) (2012) Contemporary Issues in Special Educational Needs: Considering the Whole Child. Maidenhead: Open University Press.

Elliott, J., & Grigorenko, E.L. (2014) The Dyslexia Debate. Cambridge University Press.

Florian, L. (Ed.) (2007). The Sage Handbook of Special Education. London: Sage.

Frederickson, N, & Cline, T. (2009). Special Educational Needs, Inclusion and Diversity 2nd Ed. Berkshire: Open University Press

Hodkinson, A. (2016). Key Issues in Special Educational Needs and Inclusion (2nd ed) London: Sage

Mackintosh, N. J. (2011). IQ and Human Intelligence (2nd ed). Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.

Meadows, S. (2006). The Child As Thinker. London: Routledge.

Stone, C.A., Silliman, E.R., Ehren, B. J., & Apel, K. (2004). Handbook of Language and Literacy: Development and Disorders. London: Guilford.