Anatomy of a Lecture: Part 1

I regularly review the lectures in each course I teach. I ask myself, Am I presenting the current state of research and theory? Is it interesting and relevant? Is there something else I could (or should) be talking about?

Sometimes, I look at a lecture and decide that it's past its prime--either I have to revamp it completely or get rid of it. Either option is hard. It's not fun to completely redo a lecture; I've got to immerse myself in the current theories and read a whole bunch of research papers. On the other hand, because I've spent a lot of time developing a lecture, it's hard to retire it (it's one of my babies!).

Last year, I realized that my Advanced Perception lecture on motion perception was not keeping up with the times. (For example, I presented a theory that--although interesting--has been largely abandoned.) Worse, a lot of the lecture repeated the same information from my lower-level Perception course, making it repetitive and potentially even boring. But trying to get up to speed on the complex area of motion perception was daunting. So, out it went.

My motion perception lecture was followed by an extended look at the (controversial) ecological approach to perception. Why did I spend so much time on this one theory? No other theory got such privileged treatment, and I briefly talked about the ecological approach earlier in the course alongside the other major theories. Then I remembered that I originally developed the lecture to complement a chapter on the ecological approach in the assigned textbook for the course. Which I was no longer using. Oops. So, out it went.

This left me with a large hole in the middle of term that I would have to fill with a new lecture. Actually, I wanted to make room in the course so that I could talk about the strange phenomenon known as "synesthesia." Now I had room--lots and lots of room. Just really quite a large bit of room: 3 hours of lecture.

So I was faced with a new problem: Would there be enough known about synesthesia to fill out a whole lecture--and fill all that time? The answer: Yes. Oh, yes, indeed--as you'll see in part 2...

Why aren't you studying?


Michaela said...

Bwahaha. I'm so excited for the Synesthesia lecture! I'm a synesthete, so this topic is quite personally intriguing. :D
Really interested to see what kind of research has been done about it.

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