Psychology 134

Psychology 134: Technology Assisted Reading Acquisition

Dom Massaro

Interdisciplinary Course: Linguistics, Psychology, Engineering Sciences, Cognitive Sciences, Infant Development, Language and its Acquisition, Speech, Reading, Literacy, Economics & Business, Technology

Learning Objectives:

The primary learning objective is to achieve an understanding of language and its acquisition.

Grading and Evaluation

Class Participation (20%): Class participation consists of commenting in class, correspondence with the instructor, TA, or other students about the course content.

Quizes and Exercises (40%): Short Learning Modules will be presented in class and students will complete 8 periodic quizzes or short exercises. For example, after relevant readings and lecture material on the differences between a nativist and empiricist account of language acquisition, students will be asked to list two findings and describe why they are consistent with one alternative but not the other.

Paper and Project (40%): One papers (20%) and one projects (20%) will be required. A student might write a paper on three differences between spoken and written language and the implications of these differences for language acquisition in their respective modalities. A small project might involve the design of an automated system that would augment a child’s experience with language.

This is a 5 credit course. Lectures and discussion including quizes and exercises will be 3.5 hours, readings will require about 8 hours, and peer reviewing, project and paper will require an average of 3.5 hours per week, totally 15 hours per week.

Syllabus and Required Readings

Required Readings: Note Topics correspond to weeks

Topic 1:

Massaro, D.W. (1989). Experimental Psychology: An Information Processing Approach. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich. Chapter 5. The Scientific Process.


Topics 2 and 3:

Golinkoff, R., and K. Hirsh-Pasek. 2008. How toddlers learn verbs. Trends in Cognitive Science (12)397–403.

Scholz, B. C., and G. K. Pullum. 2006. Irrational nativist exuberance. In Contemporary Debates in Cognitive Science, ed. Robert Stainton, pp. 59–80. Oxford: Basil Blackwell.

Werker, J. F., Yeung, H. H., & Yoshida, K. A. (2012). How Do Infants Become Experts at Native-Speech Perception? Current Directions in Psychological Science, 21, 221-226.

Sakai, K. L. 2005. Language acquisition and brain development. Science 310(4)815–819.


Topic 4:

Infant Vision: Birth to 24 Months of Age.

Massaro, D. W. (2012). Acquiring Literacy Naturally: Behavioral science and technology could empower preschool children to learn to read naturally without instruction, American Scientist, 100, 324-333.

Massaro, D.W. (1989). Experimental Psychology: An Information Processing Approach. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich. Chapter 20: Reading.

Topics 5, 6, and 7:

Beddinghaus, T. 2010. Top 5 Milestones in Vision Development. http://vision.about. com/od/childrensvision/tp/vision_develop. htm.

Kwon, M-Y., Legge, G.E. & Dubbels, B. (2007). Developmental changes in the visual span for reading. Vision Research, 47, 2889-2900.

Topic 8: (2010). Accessed November 12, 2010.

Heckman, J. J. 2008. Schools, skills and synapses. Economic Inquiry, S46(3):289-324.

Laubach Literacy Statistics (2011). Accessed June 2, 2011.

Topic 9:

Goldin-Meadow, S. & Mayberry, R. I. (2001). How do profoundly deaf children learn to read? Learning Disabilities Research and Practice (Special issues: Emergent and early literacy: Current status and research directions), 16, 221-228.

Topic 10:

HUD (2011). Head Up Display. Accessed November 22, 2011).


No Longer Required Readigs

Massaro, D. W., Cohen, M. M., Tabain, M., Beskow,  J., & Clark, R. (2012). Animated Speech: Research Progress and Applications. In G. Bailly, P. Perrier & E. Vatikiotis-Bateson (Eds.) Audiovisual Speech Processing. (pp. 309-345). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Massaro, D.W. (2006). Embodied Agents in Language Learning for Children with Language Challenges. In K. Miesenberger, J. Klaus, W. Zagler, & A. Karshmer (Eds.), Proceedings of the 10th International Conference on Computers Helping People with Special Needs, ICCHP 2006 (pp.809-816). University of Linz, Austria. Berlin, Germany: Springer

Massaro, D. W., and A. Jesse. 2005. The magic of reading: Too many influences for quick and easy explanations. In From Orthography to Pedagogy: Essays in Honor of Richard L. Venezky, eds. T. Trabasso, J. Sabatini, D. W. Massaro and R. C. Calfee, pp. 37–61. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Massaro, D. W. (2011a). Method And System For Acquisition Of Literacy. Patent Application Number 13/253,335, October 5, 2011.

The Diamond Age: Or, A Young Lady’s Illustrated Primer by Neal Stephenson. Bantam Spectra.