Critical Thinking: Psychology of Intelligence

PSYCH 4521-038

Fall 2003
W 3:00-5:30PM -- Muenzinger E411A

People Course Goals Coursework

fallacy & note-taker assignments

see your grades
Other Information Schedule

this week

NEW:Some topic suggestions for the final paper

Instructor: Eliana Colunga
Office: Muenzinger Room D447-B
Office Phone: 303-492-4282
Office Hours: T 11-12 and by appointment
Email everyone in class


Course Goals

The main goal of this course is to learn about intelligence. What does it mean to be intelligent? Is being able to play chess? find the classroom for your next class? write poetry? decide which berries you are going to eat? talk? wonder about what it means to be intelligent? To examine this issue we will read about intelligence from two very different perspectives: one is strikingly non-human, based on the study of embodied cognitive science and artificial intelligence; the other is remarkably human, based the study of psychology and education. One of them emphasizes physical bodies and environments; the other desires, motivations and intentions. We will try to make sense of all this using skills of critical thinking. Critical thinking has been defined as "reasonable, reflective thinking that is focused on what to believe or do." Being able to critically evalute ideas requires some fundamental skills. Among the skills we will be practicing in this class are:


This class will follow a graduate seminar model. Most of the class time will involve your participation in discussions and presentations. Your preparation and participation is essential for this format to work. You are expected to read the assigned readings the week they are assigned and to come to class prepared to ask questions and actively participate in discussion. Your participation and ideas will be crucial to our evaluation of the ideas in the field.

To facilitate discussions and encourage doing the readings, you will email me three discussion questions inspired by the assigned reading by noon of the day we are due to discuss it. These questions can range from somewhat "superficial" questions about the content of the reading to truly "deep" questions about the implications of the reading, integrating other sources from your own life, introspection, experiences, or plain speculation. To help you understand what kind of questions I'm talking about, for the first three weeks I will supply the questions and your job will be to email me the answers by the regular deadline and to be ready to discuss, defend, and perhaps even relinquish your answers in class.

To keep in mind the issue of critical thinking and expand our vocabulary, we will begin each class by explaining and discussing common logical fallacies. During the semester, each of you will be responsible for choosing and explaining one common fallacy. You can choose one from this fabulous website. Soon we will be able to acuse one another of committing the falacy of converse accident or whatnot. (Note: Using obscure terminology is not a sanctioned way of arguing a point in this class, but go ahead and use it at cocktail parties.)

In addition, once during the semester, each of you will be responsible for taking notes about what we discuss in class. These notes should be typed and emailed to me, and I will post them on the course webpage for the benefit of all. They should come handy when you're working on your final paper.

The final paper (8-12 typed, double-spaced pages) will either (1) argue for the intelligence or lack-there-of of some entity (e.g. behive, city sewer system, computer game) using the elements discussed in class, or (2) integrate ideas from the two disparate perspectives discussed over the semester within a specific context. We will discuss this in more detail later in the course. The following timeline is designed to ensure that you make progress on your paper (4 of the 40 points for the paper will come from simply making each of the 4 deadlines before the final due date) and that you receive feedback on it before turning in the final version.

Deadline Assignment
Oct 15 Paper topic
Oct 22 Outline and references
Nov 5 Paper draft
late Nov Oral presentations
Dec 12 Final paper
The final paper is due on the last day of classes. NOTE: for each day that the final paper is late, 5% will be deducted from your final paper grade.


The total possible number of points you can earn is:
Discussion Questions 33 (11 assignments @ 3 points each)
Fallacy & Summary 10
Presentation 17
Final Paper 40
Total 100

Letter grades will be assigned as follows.

A+ = 98-100 B+ = 88-89 C+ = 78-79 D+ = 68-69
A = 92-97 B = 82-87 C = 72-77 D = 62-67
A- = 90-91 B- = 80-81 C- = 70-71 D- = 60-61
F < 60

Other information


A grade of incomplete will be given only if (1) all completed work is satisfactory (i.e., C- or better) and (2) there is a valid reason that you cannot complete the course. If you would like to be considered for an incomplete, contact me as soon as you know.

Statement about disabilities

If you qualify for accommodations because of a disability, please submit to me a letter from Disability Services (DS) early in the semester so that your needs may be addressed. DS determines accommodations based on documented disabilities (303-492-8671, Willard 322,

Academic dishonesty

Students are expected to adhere to the University of Colorado Student Honor Code for every assignment and exam in this class. Honor code information is at

Classroom behavior policy

The information on classroom behavior policy can be found at However, in addition to not being incredibly disruptive and obnoxious in class, I expect you to be on time for class meetings, not read newspapers or magazines in the classroom, not disrupt the class with conversation, interact with fellow students in a respectful manner during class discussions, ask questions when you don't understand the material, and communicate complaints, criticisms and suggestions either personally or anonymously to the instructor and/or teaching assistant.


Aug 27
Week 1 What is Intelligence? Smith's notes
Week 2
Sep 3
Characterizing Intelligence UI Ch. 1, pp 1-21 Smith's notes
Week 3
Sep 10
The Synthetic Approach, Thinking Styles UI Ch. 1, pp 21-34; TS Ch. 1 Dan's notes, Angi's notes
Week 4
Sep 17
AI and Cognitive Science UI Ch. 2 Brandon's notes, Chelsea's notes
Week 5
Sep 24
Fundamental Problems, Intro to Embodied Cognition UI Ch. 3, Ch. 4, pp 81-94 Jennifer's notes, Kara's notes
Week 6
Oct 1
Understanding Creativity The Creative Mind, Ch. 4 Karen's notes, Brad's notes
Week 7
Oct 8
Design Principles for Autonomous Agents UI Ch. 10 Beth's notes, Lindsay's notes
Week 8
Oct 15
A Case Study: Human Memory UI Ch. 15
Paper topic due
Jada's notes, Jackie's notes
Week 9
Oct 22
Evaluating Intelligence - UI UI Ch. 17
Outline & References due
Sheri's notes
Week 10
Oct 29
Evaluating Intelligence - TS Ashleigh's notes
Week 11
Nov 5
"What is Intelligence?" revisted Paper draft due Ryan's notes
Week 12
Nov 12
Presentations Donenfeld - Analog Robots
Luca - Learning and Intelligence
Pemberton - Autism
Muir - Dyslexia
Richardson - Manic Depressive Illness and Creativity
Eshelman - Development of Motivation
Kalina - Bounded rationality
Week 13
Nov 19
Presentations Golub - Empathy following brain damage
Cahill - Emotion and Consciousness
Sanborn - Standardized tests of intelligence
Fahrenholtz - Kismet and Emotions
Heisler - Development of fear and Kismet
Wegher - Communication and Cooperation in Multi-agent Robotic Colonies
Francis - Language and Intelligence
Desmarteau - Gifted Children
Week 14
Nov 26
Thanksgiving - No Class
Week 15
Dec 3
Presentations Larson - Development of joint attention and Kismet
Smith - Memory and Alcohol
Wells - Sensory motor coordination
Niznik - Antisocial Personality Disorder and Intelligence
Uttley - Memory Development
Seone - Kismet
Trinka - Bipedal locomotion and intelligence
Week 16
Dec 10
Presentations Dec. 12 - Final paper due