Comparative Cognition & Cognitive Ecology in the Classroom

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Description: The scientific study of animal cognition has roots in both experimental psychology and evolutionary biology, with researchers often working in related disciplines such as neuroscience, computing science, or ecology. The interdisciplinary nature of the endeavour is both a strength and a challenge for the field. We begin this review with a brief history of comparative cognition and cognitive ecology, focusing on cognitive processes as a mechanistic link between ethology and behaviourism. We then present a ‘snapshot’ of modern-day undergraduate courses in Canada, the United States of America, and the United Kingdom that focus on animal cognition, highlighting the various course names and host departments. We emphasize the value of keeping (or adding) this subject material within curricula, either as independent courses or as enhanced material in other courses. We also present pedagogical approaches to teaching animal cognition that include techniques in large lecture-based courses and in smaller courses that emphasize hands-on experiential learning.

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