Unit 01

Unit 1:
How to Think Critically about Life
NOTE: Prior to beginning any of the Assignments, you MUST have completed the Pre-Course Essay, the link for which was sent to you via email from Professor Gernsbacher. If you have not yet completed the Pre-Course Essay, DO NOT begin this Unit’s Assignments. Instead, first complete the Pre-Course Essay.

Unit 1: Assignment #1 (due before 11:59 pm Central on MON JUN 20):

  1. First, read How to Email a Professor.
    1. To appreciate the value of students proofreading the email they send to their professors, see this Tweet by a University of Illinois professor (reporting an email he received from a student — and a follow-up with a happy ending about proofreading!).
    2. Related, but not required, to appreciate the statistical reason to not email your professor to ask for a grade bump, watch Andrews’ (2020) lecture video “When Continuous Measurements Become Discrete.” [a transcript of the video is available here].
  2. Second, and definitely required, read closely (and thoroughly) the Course Syllabus.
  3. Third, copy and paste the text of the Course Contract into the body of an email message.
    1. Fill in the blanks of your email message with the information you learned from the Course Syllabus.
    2. Email your completed Course Contract, which should be in the body of your email message, not attached as an attachment, to Professor Gernsbacher. Title the subject of your email message, PSY 225: Course Contract
  4. Fourth, Professor Gernsbacher will reply to your PSY 225: Course Contract email message.
    • In Professor Gernsbacher’s reply email message to you, she will tell you how to complete the last part of Unit 1: Assignment #1, which you must complete.

Unit 1: Assignment #2 (due before 11:59 pm Central on MON JUN 20):

  1. From the Course Syllabus, learn how to take advantage of the Flexibility Accommodation that is built into this course.
    1. First, learn that it is unnecessary to ask for an extension on any assignment because all students have a one-week reasonable extension on every assignment.
    2. Second, learn that it’s important that you NOT treat the end of the one-week reasonable extension as a due date. It’s not a due date. Each assignment’s due date is its due date; the one-week reasonable extension is the extension.
    3. Third, learn that for pedagogical and practical reasons, the one-week reasonable extension is the ONLY possible extension.
  2. From the Course How To:
    1. First, learn “How To Control the Size of the Display on Your Screen.”
      • Practice adjusting the size of the display on your screen with the Course Website’s Homepage.
      • You’ll probably want to adjust the size of the display on your screen until the Course Website’s Homepage looks like this image.
    2. Second, learn “How to Access the Course Website” (and learn that you should bookmark the Course Website’s URL and that you should NOT try to access the Discussion Boards, Assignments, or Gradebook directly through Canvas; always access the Discussion Boards, Assignments, or Gradebook through the links provided for you on the Course Website).
    3. Third, if you plan to work on the course using a mobile device, learn “How To Work on the Course Using a Mobile Device” (and learn that you should NOT use the Canvas Mobile app on your mobile device).
  3. From the Course How To:
    1. First, learn “How To Upload a Photo to Your Discussion Board Profile” and upload a picture of yourself to your Discussion Board profile.
      • Be sure to learn that you MUST crop your photo to show as much of your face as possible and ONLY your face (no pets or friends, because they’re not taking this course; you are!; not a lot of background scenery; ONLY your face rather than any other parts of your body).
    2. Second, learn “How To Turn On or Off Discussion Board Notifications” and set both your Submission Comments (which are comments sent to you by your TAs or instructor) and your Discussion Board notifications to your desired frequency.
  4. Read Professor Gernsbacher’s (2014) article, “Why Internet-Based Education?
    • Of the five fundamental principles of learning on which Internet-based higher education capitalizes, identify the one principle that resonates the most with you.
  5. From the Course How To:
    1. First, learn “How To Make a New Discussion Board Post.”
      • Learn that if you compose your post elsewhere and copy/paste it into the text box, you might see extra blank lines (meaning more than one blank line) between your paragraphs. You’ll need to delete those extra blank lines (extra means more than one blank line) before you click “Post.”
      • Learn why it’s important to break each of your Discussion Board posts into multiple paragraphs, by skipping a blank line in between paragraphs (but only one blank line). Learn that a good rule of thumb is no more than three or four sentences per paragraph.
      • Learn that you should always check to make sure that your Discussion Board post appears on the correct Discussion Board. Learn that it is YOUR responsibility to ensure that ALL of your posts appear on the correct Discussion Board.
    2. Second, make sure you learn the following from “How To Make a New Discussion Board Post”:
      • If two assignments are combined on the Canvas Discussion Board (e.g., Unit 1: Assignment #2 and Assignment #4), the due date on the Canvas Discussion Board will list only the second of the two assignments. It’s YOUR responsibility to attend and adhere to the due date for the first of two combined assignments, which you can find on the Course Website.
    3. Third, learn “How To Edit Your Discussion Board Post.”
      • Learn that in this course you cannot directly edit or delete a previous Discussion Board post.
      • Therefore, learn that BEFORE you click “Post” to submit any assignment you MUST check and double-check your assignment against the requirements.
      • Learn how to check the URLs you embed in your Discussion Board posts before you click “Post Response” (by right-clicking on the link and selecting “Open in New Tab” or “Open in a New Window”).
      • Learn that if you submit only one part of a multi-part assignment, the part you submit initially is the part that will be considered your initially submitted assignment, even if you submitted the initial part before the due date or you submitted a second part before your assignment was graded.
      • Learn that if you re-post an assignment, add to, or otherwise correct an assignment (by making a repeated, corrected, or additional post for any assignment), your self-corrected post will be considered a correction (eligible to earn 2 points, but not eligible to earn 3 points) even if you made the correction before the due date or before your assignment was graded.
    4. Fourth, decide on an Internet-backup plan. As you remember from the Course Syllabus and your signed Course Contract, our course is a completely online course. Not having access to the Internet will NOT be a valid excuse for not completing your work. Therefore, you need to decide, right now, on a backup plan for the, we hope, rare occasion of your Internet going out. Your backup plan might be one or more of the following (other options are possible):
      • I will create a personal hotspot on my mobile device, and I already know how to do this (e.g., I’ve followed these directions or these directions).
      • I will go to campus and use the university’s Internet, which I know I can use from outside any building (therefore, I can use the university’s Internet even if the buildings are locked).
      • I will go to a public library and use the public library’s Internet.
  6. Go to the Unit 1: Assignment #2 and #4 Discussion Board and make a new Discussion Board post of at least 200 words. In your post, tell us the following:
    1. First, tell us your preferred first name.
    2. Second, tell us a mnemonic to remember your preferred first name (to create a name mnemonic, you’ll need to read this handout).
    3. Third, tell us which specific four hours on which specific six days a week you are planning to work on our course during the coming term (e.g., 10 am – 2 pm on Mondays, 11 am – 2 pm and 5 pm – 6 pm on Tuesdays, and so forth for six specific days).
    4. Fourth, tell us why you chose those specific four hours on those specific six days to work on the course during the coming term.
    5. Fifth, tell us your Internet-backup plan.
    6. Sixth, tell us which one of the five fundamental principles of learning (on which Internet-based higher education capitalizes) resonates the most to you – and why.
  7. From the Course How To, learn how to find out which section you are in and find out which section you are in.

Unit 1: Assignment #3 (due before 11:59 pm Central on TUE JUN 21):

  1. To learn how to separate opinion from evidence:
    1. First, read Philosophy Professor Stokes’ (2017) article, “No, You’re Not Entitled to Your Opinion.”
      • Make sure you understand the distinction Professor Stokes’ draws between two common uses of the term “my opinion.”
      • Make sure you understand what type of opinion Professor Stokes proposes that people are “entitled” to.
    2. Second, read Brown’s (2016) article, “Actually, You’re Not Entitled to Your Opinion.”
      • Again, make sure you understand the distinction Professor Stokes draws between two categories of opinions.
      • Again, make sure you understand the type of opinion Professor Stokes proposes that people are “entitled” to.
    3. Third, read Rathi’s (2016) article, “A Philosophy Professor Explains Why You’re Not Entitled to Your Opinion.”
      • Make sure you understand why someone saying “I’m entitled to my opinion,” when they are discussing something beyond their preferences or tastes is considered a logical fallacy (i.e., faulty reasoning).
    4. Fourth, read Rouner’s (2015) article, “No, It’s Not Your Opinion.”
      • Make sure you understand that “we are not entitled to an opinion unless the opinion is merely our preference.”
    5. Fifth, read former U.S. Senator and Sociology Professor Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s (no date) quote.
    6. Sixth, read the excerpt from Braithwaite’s (2005) article, “Seven Fallacies of Thought and Reason.”
      • At this point, you should have a good understanding of the difference between the two common uses of the term “my opinion” (one is a preference or taste, and the other is a judgment that should be based on fact, evidence, or expertise).
      • At this point, you should also have a good understanding of when someone is justified in saying that they are “entitled to their opinion” and when they are not.
  2. From the Course How To:
    1. First, learn “How To Embed a URL into a Discussion Board Post.”
    2. Second, learn “How To Embed a YouTube video or Vimeo video into a Discussion Board Post.”
  3. Learn how to access the transcript of any YouTube video and how to adjust the speed of any YouTube video or any Vimeo video.
  4. Find three NON-POLITICAL situations on the Internet (that no other student in your section has yet posted) in which someone has claimed that something is their opinion.
    1. By non-political, we mean NOT “pertaining to the government or the public affairs of a country,” meaning not about government, government officials, such as Congress members, or candidates (past or present) for political office.”
    2. For each of the three situations, you have found and based on all the reading you’ve done, identify each situation as either the first or second use of “opinion.”
    3. For each of the three situations, you have found and based on all the reading you’ve done, identify whether the person in each situation is justified in saying that they’re “entitled to their opinion.”
  5. Go to the Unit 1: Assignment #3 Discussion Board and make a new Discussion Board post of at least 200 words in which you write at least three paragraphs (with at least one paragraph presenting each of the three situations you identified). For each of the three situations:
    1. First: Describe the context of the situation you identified.
    2. Second:
      • explain which of the two uses of “opinion” the situation exemplifies;
        • explain why you think the situation is either the first or second use of “opinion”;
      • explain whether the person, in this situation, is justified in saying that they are “entitled to their opinion”; and
        • explain why you deem the person to be justified or unjustified in being “entitled to their opinion.”
    3. Third: Embed EITHER
      • the URL to that situation (using the technique you learned from Course How To so that your link shows up as actual text, rather than only a URL) OR
      • the YouTube video or Vimeo video (using the technique you learned from the Course How To).

Unit 1: Assignment #4 (due before 11:59 pm Central on TUE JUN 21):

  1. From the Course How To, learn “How To Make a Reply to a Discussion Board Post.”
  2. From the Course Syllabus, review “What’s the best way to respond to another student’s Discussion Board post?” Remember that your responses to other students should always include at least two of the four recommended components.
  3. Go to the Unit 1: Assignment #2 and #4 Discussion Board and read your Instructor’s and TAs’ posts and then read ALL the other students’ posts. Then, make a response (a reply) to three other students’ posts.
    1. Each of your three responses must be at least 200 words.
    2. One response must be to a student who chose the same fundamental learning principle as you did; another response must be to a student who chose a different learning principle than you did; your third response can be to a student who chose either the same or a different principle than you.
    3. If three other students in your section have not yet posted to the Discussion Board (or another student hasn’t chosen the same or a different principle than you chose), you will need to wait until they do OR until the due date for Unit 1: Assignment #2 has passed.
      • While you wait, you can (and should) work ahead to further assignments.
      • If the due date for Unit 1: Assignment #2 has passed, and another student has still not chosen the same or a different principle than you chose, you will not be held responsible for making a response post to a response that doesn’t exist.

Unit 1: Assignment #5 (due before 11:59 pm Central on WED JUN 22):

  1. Watch Professor Gernsbacher’s lecture video, “Four Cognitive Biases.” (A transcript of the video is available here.)
  2. Teach the four Cognitive Biases to three separate people you know (friends, family members, roommates, and the like).
    1. You can teach each person via email, phone, text, Zoom, in person, or any other communication medium. But you must teach all four Cognitive Biases to three separate people at three separate times.
    2. When you are teaching the four Cognitive Biases to three separate people, be sure to provide examples of each bias.
    3. To make sure that each of the three people learned the four Cognitive Biases, ask each person to tell you another example (one that you did not tell them) of each of the four Cognitive Biases.
  3. Go to the Unit 1: Assignment #5 Discussion Board and make a new Discussion Board post of at least 200 words in which you do the following:
    1. First, identify the medium (text message, email, Zoom, phone call, in-person, etc) you used to teach each of the three persons about the four Cognitive Biases.
    2. Second, state each of the three persons’ initials (e.g., MAG) and their approximate age.
    3. Third, report the examples that each of the three persons told you of each of the four Cognitive Biases.

Unit 1: Assignment #6 (due before 11:59 pm Central on WED JUN 22):

  1. Read, then download and save to your own computer, the Course Journal Instructions.
    1. For the current Unit (Unit 1), in addition to making a typical Unit entry in your own Course Journal, you must also make a Goals Setting entry. Thus, you will be making two Course Journal entries for Unit 1:
      1. a typical Course Journal entry, like the entries you will make for each of the 14 Units in this course, AND
      2. a Goals Setting Course Journal entry.
  2. To find out which skills employers want you to acquire during college, do the following:
    1. First, read Ward’s (2017) article, “Google Exec, Mark Cuban Agree that these College [Skills] Are the Most Robot-Resistant.”
    2. Second, read the excerpt from Coplin’s (2012) book, 10 Things Employers Want You to Learn in College.
    3. Third, read Brooklyn College’s handout (summary) of Coplin’s (2012) book.
    4. Finally, identify three “What Employers Want” skills, as mentioned in Ward’s article or Coplin’s book excerpt (or the summary of Coplin’s book), that YOU want to develop further in this course.
  3. To find out which skills are considered 21st Century Skills, do the following:
    1. First, read through Karbach’s (no date) infographic, “Learning and Thinking Skills of the 21st Century Students.”
    2. Second, read through the Center for Teaching Quality’s (no date) infographic, “Paths to 21st Century Success.”
    3. Third, assess yourself on the excerpt from the “21st Century Skills Self-Assessment.”
    4. Finally, identify three “21st Century Skills,” as mentioned in the Karbach’s infographic, the Center for Teaching Quality’s Infographic, or the 21st Century Skills Self-Assessment that YOU want to develop further in this course.
  4. To understand why certain aspects of our course are constructed the way they are, do the following:
    1. First, read through the graph provided by the Pew Research Center (2016) on “The State of American Jobs” to understand why this course emphasizes using Internet-based technology correctly (e.g., by learning how to embed URLs, videos, and images).
    2. Second, read an excerpt from the Collegiate Employment Research Institute’s (2007) report, “Moving Up or Moving Out of the Company? Factors that Influence the Firing of New College Hires,” to understand why this course emphasizes “following instructions” and “meeting deadlines.”
    3. Third, read Berman’s (2016) article, “The Deadline Made Me Do It,” to understand why it is to your advantage in this course that after two weeks of lead time and one week of a no-penalty extension, the opportunity to complete an assignment will no longer be available.
    4. Fourth, read a segment of Teach Thought’s (no date) infographic, “9 Ways to Help Students,” to understand why it is your advantage in this course that we, the instructor and TAs, will require you to identify how your initial assignments didn’t fulfill all the requirements, rather than simply tell you.
    5. Finally, from the Pew Research Center graph, the Collegiate Employment Research Institute’s report, Berman’s article, and Teach Thought’s infographic, identify three reasons why certain aspects of our course are structured the way they are — and how YOU will take advantage of that structure.
  5. To better understand how to succeed in this course, do the following:
    1. First, review from the Course Syllabus the section on “How Can I Do Well in this Course?”
    2. Second, read Professor Gernsbacher’s handout on “Why and How to Pay Attention to Details in this Course.”
    3. Finally, identify three “How to Succeed in This Course” strategies, as mentioned in either the Course Syllabus or the “Why and How Pay Attention” handout that YOU will follow so that you can succeed in this course.
  6. In your Course Journal, make a Goals Setting entry. Your entry should express, in at least 200 words, ALL of the following:
    1. First, the three “What Employers Want” skills you want to develop further during this course (from b. above).
    2. Second, the three “21st Century Skills” you want to develop further during this course (from c. above).
    3. Third, the three reasons why certain aspects of our course are structured the way they are — and how you will take advantage of that structure (from d. above).
    4. Fourth, the three “How to Succeed in This Course” strategies you will follow to succeed in this course (from e. above).
    5. Fifth, take a screenshot of your Goals Setting entry in your Course Journal.
      • Make sure your screenshot is of only your Goals Setting entry, not your entire screen.
      • If you do not know how to take a screenshot from your laptop or tablet, this website will help you. It provides instructions for Mac, Windows, and other operating systems.
  7. In your Course Journal, ALSO make a standard entry for Unit 1, expressing, in at least 200 words:
    1. First, what you have learned in this Unit;
    2. Second, why you have learned what you have learned in this Unit; and
    3. Third, how you’ll apply what you have learned in this Unit to other courses and to your life.
    4. You do not need to take a screenshot or photo of your standard Course Journal entry for Unit 1; just be sure to save your Course Journal so that you can add onto it for future Units (you do, as mentioned above, need to take a screenshot or photo of your Goals Setting entry).
  8. From the Course How To, learn “How To Embed an Image into a Discussion Board Post.”
  9. Go to the Unit 1: Assignment #6 Discussion Board and
    1. embed the image that you made of your Goals Setting Course Journal entry.
    2. Remember to size the image correctly (no wider than 500 pixels and no taller than 500 pixels, as explained in the Course How To) and be sure to embed the image, not “Attach” it.

Congratulations, you have finished Unit 1! Onward to Unit 2!