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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Steven L. Buck
GEN ST 162
Seattle Campus

Discovery Seminar in the Natural World

Small intensive seminar focusing on the natural world taught during Early Fall Start led by faculty representing a wide spectrum of academic disciplines and interests. Offered: A.

Class description

Visual illusions are fascinating because they seem to be tricks or errors of perception but they also reveal fundamental features of our perceptions and the neural processing that takes place in the eyes and brain. Our visual system does not simply create a copy of the world in the brain but, instead, constructs a best guess at representing biologically important aspects of our environment. This course explores the features of our visual perceptions and the ways our nervous system constructs these perceptions. This reveals general strategies of human brain processing and suggests reasons why we have evolved this way.

Student learning goals

General method of instruction

The course will be supported by a textbook and in-class lectures and discussions. Students will view and discuss visual illusions and demonstrations, find relevant examples and material outside class, and share them with the class. This course will help improve students skills related to web and book based research, reading scientific papers, discussion and oral presentations, writing, and cross-disciplinary thinking.

Recommended preparation

This course may be most appealing to students interested in psychology, biology, neuroscience, photography, visual design, or other visual arts. Background in high-school psychology or biology will be helpful but isn't necessary.

Class assignments and grading

There will be four two-page writing assignments, three group projects, two short multiple-choice exams, and a take-home essay final exam. Instruction will be provided in how to do your best at college level on each of these forms of evaluation, in order to help prepare you for the courses you'll encounter at UW.

Grades are based on the total number of points earned on all of the assignments and tests, with guidelines available at start of the quarter for points needed to specific UW grades.


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Steven L. Buck
Date: 06/14/2010