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.

Archive for the ‘organisation’ Category

week 12: wrap up slides

Posted by Linnaea on December 13, 2011

Due to a lingering illness, the last two weeks of the semester have been rather less full of data analysis and progress than I had hoped. The disappointing news is that due to my basically being entirely out of commission for a week, students won’t have an opportunity to analyse their own data. Everyone will have to content themselves with reporting the results of the aggregate analysis. But perhaps this comes as a relief to some students, who might feel like they’ve already spent as much time with excel as they ever want to spend.

Today’s class was very short (I still can’t really speak), and mainly consisted of my going through the requirements for the final assignment. As promised, I’ve uploaded the slides that accompanied this exciting ‘lecture’.

Within a day or two, I’ll also upload the summary statistics on the participant data, and the summary statistics for the data analysis. These will be in the format of tables that can be imported into excel or numbers or pasted into online data visualisation tools like IBM’s many eyes tool. Student’s will have to decide how best to visually represent the results through a combination of tables and graphs.

Thanks to everyone for a great semester – I really enjoyed working with you all on this project.


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Experiment Assessment Instructions

Posted by Linnaea on November 29, 2011

I’ve added the relevant slides from today, and some instructions on how to prepare an excel workbook for class next week, to the assessments page.

Use this post to ask any questions you have about data formats, file types, etc. Assume that if you’re confused someone else probably is too. 🙂

Posted in experiment, organisation | 4 Comments »

hindi and urdu speakers – share your secrets for finding people

Posted by Linnaea on November 23, 2011

I know several of you have successfully found Hindi and Urdu native speakers to participate in the class experiment. It would be great if you could share your methods with the rest of the class, since I know some students are finding it difficult to find people.

One possible option might be to approach the QMUL India Society – either by posting on the facebook wall, or by messaging the group organizers and seeing if they are willing to help recruit a few people. Has anyone tried this?

Any other ideas? If you know speakers of Hindi or Urdu who haven’t already participated and you’d be willing to help your fellow classmates make contact, please let us know.

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Week Two: Vocabulary and Methods

Posted by Linnaea on October 5, 2011

Yesterday we ran through quite a lot of basic vocabulary and terminology, and reviewed the basic foundations of experimental research. It probably won’t rate as the most exciting class of the semester, but the hope is that once we start reading real papers and discussing them, this background will be useful.

We started by situating experimental linguistics within the context of cognitive psychological research/approaches more generally. While we may ultimately be interested in abstract linguistic knowledge, or abstract rules and principles that govern language behaviour, using the tools of psych science requires us to be explicit about our models of how knowledge and use of language relate to and depend on our other cognitive capacities. We specifically talked about memory, and considered some of the different kinds of memory and how they might relate to aspects of the linguistic system. In coming weeks, we’ll focus on other cognitive capacities, such as auditory processing (starting next week) and reading ability and visual processing (after reading week). A big challenge for all of us interested in understanding the human linguistic capacity and human language behaviour, is to understand what aspects of our language knowledge and use are domain general and connected to our other capacities, and which aspects might be specific to the language capacity.

We also whizzed quickly through the basic logic of experimental scientific research – we defined some basic terms like dependent and independent variables and talked about some of the many, many different choices that have to be made when deciding on a research protocol to address a given question. The slides I presented are here. Note that many of the images and figures in these slides are borrowed from published papers, web sites, other people’s slides, etc. Apologies for not including careful citations for all sources.

Finally, we settled on a schedule for which team of students will take charge of which week for the rest of the term. Starting next week (October 11), rather than have a formal lecture on the day’s topic, a team of three students will organise the discussion. They’ll be counting on everyone in the room to have done the reading and have questions and comments to make. I’ll update the schedule later this week to include the names of the students in charge of each week.

Students preparing their presentations are STRONGLY encouraged to come meet with me well in advance of the week they are in charge of so I can share any materials I might have with them and we can make sure all the most important aspects of the topic get covered. Having student lead discussions is not a way for me to get out of doing any work for this module, quite the contrary, so please include me in your planning groups.

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Week One: Intro & Admin

Posted by Linnaea on September 27, 2011

Today we discussed the assessments for this module, and discovered that I had, of course, managed to make a copy/paste error from one side of the syllabus to the other. To confirm my correction in class, the 1000 word presentation synopsis is worth 20% and the 2000 word experiment report is worth 30%. The assessments page has been updated, and a corrected copy of the syllabus is here.

We also reviewed the list of topics and papers that we’ll read and talked about the general themes and goals of the module. I officially anointed all class members as research assistants in the new Experimental Linguistics Lab. I asked everyone to start brainstorming about a name for the new lab. We need a clever and catchy name or acronym, like LIPS or BRAMS. Anyone with any ideas should respond to this post.

For next week, undergraduate students need to start thinking about which topic they would like to work on, and which other two students they would like to work with. We’ll match students and topics next week, and start the presentations on October 11.

Masters students should also start thinking about a possible topic for their lab meeting presentation. As we discussed today, the goal is to find the intersection between the methods of cognitive psychology/cognitive neuroscience and your own research interests in linguistics. Assuming the new lab is ready for us to start using for meetings on October 11 (which may be too optimistic), that gives us 8 lab meetings during which students can present. Since there are 13 students, at least a few of you will need to pair up. We’ll talk more about this next week.

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Posted by Linnaea on August 23, 2011

This site is designed to be useful to all current students in Experimental Linguistics at Queen Mary, University of London. Students, you should check here for updates about changes to the schedule, a complete reading list, links to download the software and tutorials you’ll need to conduct the experiments, and ongoing posts about module content. I’ll also let you know about talks and events that might be of interest, share links to relevant news, opinion, etc around the web, and raise issues to think about.

Please comment on posts, and share any interesting videos, new stories, interactive tools, etc that you find.

Posted in organisation | 1 Comment »