Fall 2014
ICS Research Practicum
CSCI 7412/7422 | EDUC 6506/6516 | LING 7415/7425 | PHIL 7415/7425 | PSYC 7415/7425

Wed 12:00-13:45
Muenzinger D430


Professor Michael Mozer
Department of Computer Science
Engineering Center Office Tower 7-41
(303) 492-4103
Office Hours

Course Objectives

The goal of this course is to support Ph.D. students in Cognitive Science as you develop the skills you need to conduct interdisciplinary research. I want to emphasize the word support. This course is intended to help you along your research trajectory, not to impose arbitrary hurdles or busy work. The course will give you the opportunity to talk about your research to other cognitive scientists, to help crystalize the specific hypotheses you want to explore and the methodology you will use to pursue your goals. The course will also emphasize the difficult challenge of communicating with an interdisciplinary audience--in writing journal articles, conference papers, extended abstracts, thesis proposals, grant proposals, and speaking at professional meetings. You can think of the course as a sort of lab meeting, but a meeting with more intellectual diversity than the folks who attend your advisor's lab meeting.

Research goal

In order to best advance your graduate career, it is your responsibility to come into the class with some notion of a research goal for the semester. Students may have distinct goals for Practicum I and II, or they may declare a year-long goal with milestones for each semester. The expectation is that achieving this research goal will help you move forward toward your Ph.D. degree. Typical goals chosen by students are:
  • formulating a research project: stating a hypothesis, proposing a methodology, doing background research on relevant literature and past approaches
  • writing a journal article (or a substantial refereed conference paper)
  • completing a written prelim that requires a survey or review of literature in a field
  • putting together a grant proposal, which includes: stating a problem, identifying relevant literature, proposing experiments or a sequence of research activities

What is cognitive science research?

I have a pretty loose notion of what constitutes cognitive science research.  A significant step toward becoming a cognitive scientist comes from the mere fact that you are in a class with students from quite diverse intellectual backgrounds, that you will need to explain your ideas and work to these students, and that they will undoubtably suggest relevant ideas from other fields to explore. My expectation is that each student's goal will include the exploration of methodologies from a discipline other than their main discipline. For students in LING, PSYC, PHIL, and SLHS, a key aspect of cognitive science research is taking a computational, mathematical, or mechanistic perspective on your problems. For students in CSCI, PHIL, and LING, understanding experimental data and methodology is often critical to interdisciplinary research.

Course requirements

The course will be graded on the following criteria:
  1. articulating and achieving a research goal
  2. writing a brief article about your research or proposed research area for a general cognitive science audience, for possible inclusion in the ICS newsletter
  3. presenting a poster at the ICS poster session at the end of the academic year
  4. participating in class and engaging with other students.
In the fall, the grading breakdown will be 60/20/0/20.

Class schedule

Date Activity Presenters
8/27 course overview, student introductions all
9/3 student presentations I: overview of problem, outline of approach (30-45 min per student) Kate, Brett
9/10 Wani, Sam
9/17 Daniel, JamesF
9/24 Nicole, JamesG
10/1 student presentations II: brief progress reports Brett/Mike; JamesF models; Kate pilot data?
10/8 research narratives all
10/15 all
10/22 all
10/29 student presentations II: brief progress reports
Dan, Nicole
11/5 Wani
11/12 practice talk Nicole
11/19 student presentations II: brief progress reports JamesG, Brett, JamesF
12/3 discussion of paper on bias in academia
discussion of Memrize prize and optimal scheduling
12/10 NO CLASS -- Mike at NIPS (may have make up during finals)


Milestone 1 (draft due 10/1)

Additional information for students (click to read)