Fall 2020 - COGS 110 D100

Learning in Everyday Life: The Art and Science of Hacking your Brain (3)

Class Number: 3108

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Mo 2:30 PM – 5:20 PM



An introduction to learning and decision-making in everyday life. Projects in this course piggyback on each student's other coursework or outside interests and so are directly relevant to their personal circumstances. This course gives students the knowledge necessary to make any learning situation easier and more fun. Breadth-Hum/Social Sci/Science.


How can we take academic principles of learning, memory, and decision making and use them for real-life benefit? This course presents basic principles on these topics, and then helps the student to apply and use this information effectively. We’ll delve into questions such as: How can you improve if a topic you need to learn is difficult for you? Why are some decisions so hard to make? Can you increase your self-control, and avoid procrastination and distraction? Scientifically, what is the most effective way to study? What can you do if you experience a mental block? What are some tricks used to aid in memorization? What does it take to become an expert? We will engage in course topics with a focus on understanding and thinking critically about the original research that generated predominant theories, as well as how this information can extend to real life situations. Assignments will relate course theory and techniques to the student’s own real-life situations.


  • Term Paper/Project: 20%
  • Final Exam: 25%
  • Tests (4) will be held online during scheduled meeting times: 40%
  • Weekly Assignments: 15%


There will be 30-60 minutes of synchronous lecture time held weekly in the scheduled meeting time. All lectures will be recorded.



Oakley, B. (2014). A mind for numbers: How to excel at math and science. Toronto, ON: Penguin Random House Canada.  
Here is a link to it online: https://www.penguinrandomhouse.ca/books/314056/a-mind-for-numbers-by-barbara-oakley-phd/9780399165245



Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html


Teaching at SFU in fall 2020 will be conducted primarily through remote methods. There will be in-person course components in a few exceptional cases where this is fundamental to the educational goals of the course. Such course components will be clearly identified at registration, as will course components that will be “live” (synchronous) vs. at your own pace (asynchronous). Enrollment acknowledges that remote study may entail different modes of learning, interaction with your instructor, and ways of getting feedback on your work than may be the case for in-person classes. To ensure you can access all course materials, we recommend you have access to a computer with a microphone and camera, and the internet. In some cases your instructor may use Zoom or other means requiring a camera and microphone to invigilate exams. If proctoring software will be used, this will be confirmed in the first week of class.

Students with hidden or visible disabilities who believe they may need class or exam accommodations, including in the current context of remote learning, are encouraged to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning (caladmin@sfu.ca or 778-782-3112).