Ronald A. Rensink -- Teaching

COGS 303 - Research Methods in Cognitive Systems
(Sep 2017-Dec 2017; Jan 2018-Apr 2018)


This course will teach you the general skills needed to do effective analysis and research in the constituent sciences of Cognitive Systems. It covers the principles common to all forms of investigative analysis and research. It connects these to the more specialized treatments found in specialized courses (e.g. statistics), and to ideas concerning the discovery and organization of knowledge (e.g., philosophy of science). The goal is to show you the process of doing science--to give you a feel for the methodologies used in different areas of research, and to see the commonalities in the ways they are applied. In addition, the course will connect to relevant knowledge of cognition itself, showing how the ways that we perceive and think affect the ways that we do research.


The course also includes development of "meta-skills" such as critical and generative thinking, and the basics of writing and giving presentations. These are important not only in scientific research and analytic investigation of various kinds, but also in many aspects of everyday life in the real world.   The methods and materials used are the topic of a paper in IEEE Computer Graphics and Applications (education section) in March 2015 (pdf).


PSYC 579 - Special Topics in Perception: Visual Display Design
(Jan 2018-Apr 2018)


This course discusses (i) how knowledge of vision science can be applied to the design of visual displays, and (ii) how knowledge of visual design can form the basis of investigations in vision science.


Areas of visual science that are covered include both low- and mid-level processes--e.g., colour perception, motion perception, object recognition, and visually-guided action. Application areas include maps & diagrams, cartoons, information visualization, computer animation, visual interfaces, and graphic design. The approach will show how the disciplines of psychology and computer science can usefully interact via general design constraints and guidelines that are based upon the nature of human perceptual mechanisms.


DIRECTED STUDIES - COGS 402, CPSC 366, CPSC 448, ISCI 448, PYSC 340, PSYC 366, PSYC 448, PSYC 449


The best way to learn to do research is by actually doing it. I am happy to consider supervising students (undergrad and otherwise) taking directed-studies courses who are interested in the projects in the lab. Over the years, more than 50 have students successfully completed projects for the courses listed above. And the vast majority have had a great deal of fun doing so.

If interested, please contact me or the VCL lab manager (manager{a t}



VCL LAB VOLUNTEER - Learn How Research Happens


If you're interested in learning how to do research, or just in finding out whether you'd even like it, you might consider being a co-pilot or volunteer in my lab (Visual Cognition Lab).  Over the years, we've had more than 50 student co-pilots and volunteers.  Many of these stayed on to become research assistants, and a few even ended up as authors on research papers.  It's a great way to learn how to do research, have some fun, and make a few friends.

If interested, please contact me or the VCL lab manager (manager{a t}


VA CHALLENGE PROGRAM - Learn how to Become a Visual Analyst



Visual analytics (VA) is a new, emerging area which combines the intelligence of humans and machines to enable analysts to explore huge datasets in an effective way.  The VA Challenge program is a student-focused branch of VIVA where students are trained in visual analytic techniques and tools using real world data provided by industry or academic partners.  The challenge group is based at UBC/SFU; students can get involved through volunteering, directed studies courses, and internships with industry partners.

If interested, please contact me or the VIVA challenge co-ordinator (vamanager{a t}


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Last updated 12 Jun 2017