Experimental Linguistics Module – Autumn 2011

Tuesday 2-4pm, Bancroft Building room 102.6

  • Module Description

    The goal of this module is to take students with no prior training in the methods or tools of experimental psychological science and provide them with the theoretical and practical training required to be able to critically engage with the Psycholinguistics literature and to undertake experimental linguistics research themselves. The module will include hands-on training in inferential statistics and hypothesis testing, experimental design, data collection (including training in ethical human subjects research protocols), and data analysis. The module will also engage students in considering strengths and limitations of various kinds of linguistics data, and how multiple sources of data and methods of data collection can be combined to enhance understanding. Students will develop their critical reading skills and gain practice in presenting primary source literature to their peers.


Students taking this course for credit will be assessed on the following three elements:

  1. [50%]We will be conducting a forced-choice discrimination experiment investigating cross-language speech perception. All students will participate in collecting and collating data for this experiment. This will include: setting up a laptop with experiment running software, piloting the experiment on yourself, recruiting participants who meet the subject criteria, following human subjects research ethics protocols, collecting data, backing up data, maintaining a log book and formatting data for analysis. On December 6th, students will bring their data to class and we will conduct a workshop on analysing the data. Students are highly encouraged to work together on all or some of the stages of running the experiment.
  2. [30%]Students will each write up their own summary of the experiment results and offer an analysis of those results in a 2000 word report. Further details provided later in the term.
  3. [20%]Working in trios, students will select one of the assigned topics and prepare to lead the class discussion on that topic. Each student will also prepare their own 1000 word synopsis of the planned discussion. The marks for this assignment will be based on the written synopsis, not on the oral group work. Students are encouraged to meet with the instructor well in advance of the class during which they will present in order to discuss the reading and how they might best lead the discussion.

Students are expected to be active and engaged participants during the presentations of other students.

A paper copy of all work to be assessed needs to be turned in with orange cover in class (or in the relevant pigeonhole in the ArtsOne 1st floor gallery). A pdf copy also needs to be uploaded to Blackboard. The Blackboard timestamp will count as definitive. No .doc or .docx files will be accepted for any reason. There are many many ways to convert .doc files to .pdf files.

Updated November 29, 2011

Instructions for submitting components of the Experiment as assessed course work are in experiment assessment instructions

To prepare your data for the analysis workshop, do the following:

  1. open Excel
  2. select cell A1. Under the ‘data’ menu, chose ‘get external data/import text file’
  3. Toggle ‘enable’ to ‘all files’
  4. navigate to the location of ‘yourlastname_consonants.azk’ and select this file (‘get data’)
  5. chose the ‘fixed width’ file type and click <next>
  6. follow the instructions to set field widths to match this screen shot: (i.e. one column for Item, one for RT)
  7. click <finish>, and ‘exisiting sheet’ in the next dialog box, and click ok
  8. save your spreadsheet as ‘consonants.xls’ (make sure you save as .xls, not .xlsx to ensure compatibility with the lab machines)
  9. copy this file to a thumb drive or upload it to email or another server
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