First cycle
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Second cycle
degree courses
Single cycle
degree courses
School of Psychology
Course unit
PSP5070539, A.A. 2019/20

Information concerning the students who enrolled in A.Y. 2019/20

Information on the course unit
Degree course Second cycle degree in
PS1978, Degree course structure A.Y. 2017/18, A.Y. 2019/20
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Number of ECTS credits allocated 9.0
Type of assessment Mark
Course unit English denomination ANIMAL COGNITION
Department of reference Department of General Psychology
E-Learning website
Mandatory attendance No
Language of instruction Italian
Single Course unit The Course unit can be attended under the option Single Course unit attendance
Optional Course unit The Course unit can be chosen as Optional Course unit

Teacher in charge LUCIA REGOLIN M-PSI/02

ECTS: details
Type Scientific-Disciplinary Sector Credits allocated
Core courses M-PSI/02 Psychobiology and Physiological Psychology 9.0

Course unit organization
Period Second semester
Year 1st Year
Teaching method frontal

Type of hours Credits Teaching
Hours of
Individual study
Lecture 9.0 63 162.0 No turn

Start of activities 02/03/2020
End of activities 12/06/2020
Show course schedule 2019/20 Reg.2017 course timetable

Examination board
Board From To Members of the board
6 2019 01/10/2019 30/09/2020 REGOLIN LUCIA (Presidente)
BEGLIOMINI CHIARA (Membro Effettivo)
DADDA MARCO (Membro Effettivo)

Prerequisites: All post graduate students (students of Lauree Magistrali - Master Degrees) from any background are welcome to attend this course.
Students should ideally already possess the basic notions of biology, psychobiology, and cognitive psychology as provided by a first degree in Psychology.
The majority of material employed for the lecture (slides, articles, videos, etc.) is in English language.
The lecturer will support comprehension by all students in class, exploiting any diversity coming from students' different cultural and linguistic background to create stimulating interactive debates.
Target skills and knowledge: Students shall become familiar with the topics discussed in the course, and with the most relevant experimental paradigms for the investigation in the field of comparative cognition. Students are also expected to become capable of critical reading and understanding of scientific papers, in particular those investigating experimentally and from a comparative perspective the basic cognitive processes. The two perspectives onto which the course focuses are development (ontogenesis) and evolution (or phylogenesis, i.e. comparison among different species, human included).

The course also aims at fostering some transferrable skills such as critical thinking and personal reasoning. The students will be offered the possibility to engage in public discussions and presentations, this should increase awareness of the effectiveness of self and others’ communicative style.
Examination methods: Upon request, the exam can be taken by the student also in English language.
The final exam is a written examination made of 6 open questions, for answering all 6 questions the student is allowed 45 minutes. Each question is evaluated with a score from 1.00 to 5.00 where: 1=low fail; 2=high fail; 3=satisfactory; 4=discrete; 5=good. Unanswered questions or off-topic answers will be marked with a 0. Outstanding answers will be marked above 5 (i.e., 5.25; 5.50; 5.75; 6.00). The final grade is provided by the sum of marks to all 6 questions. The “lode” is attributed to marks above 30,5.

Attending students will be offered the possibility to sit an exam with questions based on the content of the lectures. Moreover, attending students may choose to be evaluated on the basis of active class participation. In such case the final mark will be scored considering : students’ attendance at lectures; students active participation during the lectures (i.e., at discussions and at presentations of papers, which will be individually scored), and evaluation of home assignments (i.e., essay writing).
A written exam with open questions will be mandatory for attending students who fail to obtain a final mark by the end of the lectures due to lack of any of the information specified above.
Assessment criteria: The written examination will assess:
Understanding of the main experimental paradigms employed for the investigation of comparative cognition, and of the most convincing experimental evidences in the recent literature in the field. Knowledge of some history of the discipline. Critical and analytical thinking are also evaluated, as well as the appropriate use of the terminology of the field of investigation.
Evaluation criteria consider :
1. completeness of answers provided by the student,
2. analytical and logical organisation of answers,
3. presence of critical thinking and personal reasoning,
4. appropriate use of terminology, and of reference to names, dates and bibliography.

NB: Attending students can be evaluated on the basis of class activities (for more details see "modalità di esame").
Course unit contents: Comparative cognition is a discipline closely connected to behavioural biology, evolution and cognitive neuroscience. Its fundamental questions, such as “What makes us uniquely human?” and “What do our minds share with other creatures?” are truly fascinating.
The lectures will highlight some of the most recent and debated issues in the field of comparative cognition (such as social learning, mental time travel, metacognition, symbolic intelligence, tool use, etc.), from a perspective integrating research from laboratory and field, psychology and behavioural ecology/ethology. The results described in the recent literature as well as the methodologies employed for the investigation of such topics will be critically analysed. Animal Ethics and Welfare are also included in the topics of this module.
Planned learning activities and teaching methods: Each topic will be first introduced by the lecturer, by discussing the general and more relevant issues and the most interesting and recent experimental evidences. Thereafter students will be required to actively discuss the topic, and to prepare written or oral presentations on selected papers concerning that same topic.

Guest speakers will be invited to expose students to as many approaches and expertise areas as possible. The aim is to give students direct experience of different perspectives and research activities from this field.

Guided visits to labs and Institutions will be organized, whenever possible.
Additional notes about suggested reading: For students who do not attend the lectures the following reading is recommended:

Animal Cognition Evolution, Behavior and Cognition (2nd edition)
Clive D.L. Wynne, Monique A. R. Udell
2013 Palgrave Macmillan
ISBN 9780230294233

No further reading is necessary to prepare for the examination.

For students who attend the lectures the exam will be based on the material provided during the lectures as well as through Moodle (lecture slides, scientific papers, videos, etc.). Moreover, the following reading is suggested:
Fundamentals of Comparative Cognition, Sara J. Shettleworth, Oxford University Press.
(First Edition): March 15, 2012
ISBN-10: 0195343107 | ISBN-13: 978-0195343106
This is a concise reading that yet conveys the richness and excitement of comparative cognition.
Textbooks (and optional supplementary readings)
  • Valeria A. Sovrano, Paolo Zucca, Lucia Regolin, Il comportamento degli animali. Evoluzione, cognizione e benessere.. --: Carocci, Manuali universitari, 2009. Testo in lingua italiana di riferimento per il corso Cerca nel catalogo
  • Clive D.L. Wynne, Monique A. R. Udell, Animal Cognition Evolution, Behavior and Cognition (2nd edition). --: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013. ISBN = 9780230294233. Testo in lingua inglese consigliato come alternativa più aggiornata del testo in lingua italiana. Cerca nel catalogo
  • Sara J. Shettleworth, Fundamentals of Comparative Cognition (First Edition). --: Oxford University Press, 2012. ISBN-10: 0195343107 | ISBN-13: 978-0195343106. Testo conciso, in lingua inglese, lettura raccomandata per gli studenti frequentanti. Cerca nel catalogo

Innovative teaching methods: Teaching and learning strategies
  • Lecturing
  • Laboratory
  • Problem based learning
  • Working in group
  • Problem solving
  • Flipped classroom
  • Use of online videos
  • Loading of files and pages (web pages, Moodle, ...)
  • Students peer review

Innovative teaching methods: Software or applications used
  • Moodle (files, quizzes, workshops, ...)
  • Top Hat (active quiz, quiz)

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