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Unit information: Cognitive Psychology and Special Education in 2020/21

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Unit name Cognitive Psychology and Special Education
Unit code EDUC20006
Credit points 20
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
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. Have developed an awareness of the ethical issues and practices of the field;

4. Can communicate research effectively to a range of audiences;

5. Can analyse behavioural data and interpret how this relates to cognition.

Teaching details

This unit will be taught using a blended approach consisting of a mixture of synchronous and asynchronous activities including lectures, seminars, and group presentations. Each week will introduce a new core area of psychology and there will be a focus on quantitative methodology and statistics related to evaluating cognitive research. Students will also learn how to analyse data. They will be expected to engage with readings and actively participate in all activities.

Assessment Details

Formative Assessment:

Group Oral Presentation (Formative)

Summative Assessment:

2000-word Quantitative Research Report (60%) - ILO 1-5 1000-word Blog Post (40%) - ILO 1-4

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.