The Integrator for Biological PsychologyMark Schier
School of Biophysical Sciences and Electrical Engineering, Swinburne University of Technology
This package sets out to supplement some second or third year topics as presented in a related textbook, "Biological Psychology" by James Kalat (same publisher as CD-ROM). The function of the software is primarily designed (although not explicitly stated) for teaching concepts, for use in the classroom, and for testing students. The package can be used by students without supervision (ideal), by students in laboratory classes, or by teachers during lecture classes (with the associated lecturemaker package. The material covered is factually correct and probably pitched at the right level for the users at second Year University level. The navigation options allow students to explore the material in any order they choose, or to follow the logical within-chapter order as given. The inclusion of animated explanations and interactive parts of the study enhance the topics considerably. The factual information present in the package is insufficient for a standalone study tool.
The aspect of the package designed for lecturers is easy to use and allows images and animations to be assembled into a lecture/ presentation. This can be managed with the supplied software or can be exported to Microsoft PowerPoint for delivery. The flexibility here is very reasonable, but would be further improved if some of the Microsoft drag and drop attributes were supported.
The documentation is sparse, but the user should not have to consult the user manual or readme files. One annoying feature is for floating descriptions to appear when the mouse hovers over a hyperlink. While the information is welcome, it covers up the other choices in the list.
The major drawback with the package is the assessment/quiz section. The answers have to be exactly as the authors decided the answer should be. For example, critical period was "incorrect"; the "correct" answer given was sensitive period or critical period. This is one example of many.
Overall, fairly impressive, but should be used as an adjunct or teaching aid for a textbook covering the same material - it will probably assist sales of Kalat's text.
UniServe Science News Volume 12 March 1999
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