Clarifying the reading and lecture schedules

Today a few of you asked me about the reading schedule. The reading assignments for this week are Chapters 4 and 5, as listed in the syllabus: (cornellpsych.net/syllabus). 

I realize that by lecturing on the psychology of learning this week (which is not covered until chapter 6 of the textbook), and still assigning chapters 4 and 5, I caused some confusion. I apologize. Let me explain why the readings and lectures won't always overlap:

There's a ton of information in the textbook (as you know). The textbook authors do their best to package the information in the order that they believe represents the field accurately, and is at the same time organized in a way that makes learning the material in the book most effective. Because of this, I prefer to stay true to the order of the chapters chosen by the authors, rather than jump around. 

The lectures, on the other hand, represent my own best attempt to communicate the field of psychology in an entirely different format-- 50-minute chunks of me talking to you. In these lectures, my goal is to give you a big picture understanding of the field of psychology, and I get to impose my own organization based on what works best in this format. I often present studies and anecdotes that would never make it into the textbook, but that I find fascinating and illustrative of a more general point I'm trying to make. And as the semester progresses, I will give entire lectures that have no accompanying chapters in the textbook, but that I think are an important part of psychology.

The upshot of this is that while the reading and lecture schedules will sometimes overlap, they often won't. This is why I keep emphasizing that reading all the assigned materials and attending all lectures (if possible) is the best way to succeed in the course. They are very different sources of information, but when taken together they provide the most accurate representation of the field.