Syllabus: CSE-PSY 8990 Readings in Depth Perception in Virtual Environments

Dr. J. Edward Swan II <>
Fall 2012
Course Time and Location
Mon, Wed; 2:00 pm–3:15 pm; 102 Butler Hall
Office Hours and Location
Mon, Wed; 4:45 pm–6:00 pm; 100 Butler Hall
Course Prerequisites
Graduate standing.
Course Summary
This course will consist of an intensive study of depth perception, with a particular emphasis on how depth perception has been measured in virtual environments.  We will first examine depth perception generally, and discuss the different methods that have been developed to measure the perception of depth.  We will then study how depth perception has been measured in both virtual and environments.  Generally, we will be interested in two different ranges of depth perception: medium-field (~1.5 to ~20 meters) and near-field (up to ~ 1 meter; reaching to just beyond reaching distance).
Course Objectives
(1) For students to experience deeply and critically reading a series of research papers that center on the research topic of depth perception in virtual environments. 
(2) For students to develop an understanding of the research questions that exist within this research topic, and how each paper fits into field's overall scientific effort.
(3) For students to develop the ability to generalize beyond a particular article and develop their own hypothesis and formulate their own research questions.
Required Text
There is no required text; instead we will read articles that I will place on the MyCourses website.  You are expected to read these articles before coming to class.  This course will require a substantial amount of reading and thinking.

Grading Scale

90% – 100% A
80% – 89% B
70% – 79% C
60% – 69% D
0% – 59% F

Graded Activities

Weekly Readings, Questions, and Class Participation: 30%
Presenting VOD Articles: 20%
Presenting Your Chosen Article: 10%
Midterm Exam: 20%
Final Exam: 20%

Weekly Readings, Questions, and Class Participation

For every class meeting, I expect that every student will have read all of the articles assigned for that day, and will be prepared to critically discuss them.  By critically, I mean that you should be prepared to (1) summarize the theoretical questions that motivated the work in the article, (2) critique the experiments discussed in the article, and (3) evaluate the contribution of the findings and the article's general discussion.  Note that in class, you need to contribute to the discussion of every article, including the articles that you do not present. 

To further motivate you to actually read these articles, we will use the Vat Of Doom (VOD) method to run the class discussions.  VOD has four stages:

I. Reading: You will carefully and critically read each of the articles that are assigned for the class.

II. Be Prepared to Present the Article: For each class, you must be prepared to present a summary of each article.  This summary should take about 10 to 15 minutes for a 10-page paper, but could take longer for a review paper.  Your summary should stimulate class discussion; it should not merely be a blow-by-blow description of the article.  The presenter should be ready to answer the following questions about the article: (1) Why did the authors do what they did?  (2) What were they testing?  (3) What did they do?  (4) What did they find?  (5) What do their results mean?  (6) What is your opinion of the paper?

III. Submit a Question Before Class: You must submit a question for each article.  Your question must be submitted to me by email by 12pm (noon) of the class day when the article will be discussed.  These questions should describe some aspect of the paper, and then pose a thoughtful discussion question about this information.  For each question, aim for a length of about a quarter of a page (single spaced).

IV. The Vat of Doom (VOD): When we meet for class, everyone will have read the papers and submitted discussion questions, and we will be ready to explore each paper in detail.  The power of VOD is that we will draw random names to see who will present each article during the class period.  The vat of doom will be a can that contains everyone's name; as each article is encountered we will draw a name at random, and that person will then present the article (but see below for an exception).  Everyone will have one "get out of presenting for free" card, which you can use if you don't want to present on that day.  However, if you miss class for any reason, your missed class will count as your free card.

Presenting VOD Papers

Through VOD, everyone will lead the classroom discussion approximately the same number of times over the course of the semester.  After you present a VOD paper, I will send you written feedback regarding your presentation, a grade, and suggestions for improvement. 

Presenting Your Chosen Article

Part of the job of conducting science and research is the ability to search the literature and find relevant articles.  Therefore, each of you is required to find an article for a single week at some point during the semester.  You will sign up for your week during the first class period.  When your day comes up, you will present your chosen article.  On that day, your name will not be placed in the vat of doom, and so you will only have to be prepared to present your own article. 

The article that you choose must be relevant to the class, and I must approve your article ahead of time.  When you find an article that you would like to present, send me a PDF version of the article and a short explanation of why you have chosen it (about half a page single-spaced).  If I don't approve it I'll give you some feedback on why, and you will need to choose a different article.  It is your responsibility to find an article and seek approval far enough ahead of your presentation date that the article can be posted and your classmates can have time to read it before class. 

After you present your chosen article, I will send you the same kind of feedback as when you present a VOD paper.

Midterm Exam

The midterm exam will take place outside of class.  I will make the exam available online as a MyCourses assignment.  The exam will consist of essay questions that will require you to analyze multiple articles.  Any text that you copy from any of the articles must be properly cited. 

Final Exam

The final exam will take place during the final exam period, and will be in the same format as the midterm exam.

Academic Honesty / Misconduct and Collaboration

In this course, students are expected to uphold the Mississippi State University Honor Code:

"As a Mississippi State University student I will conduct myself with honor and integrity at all times. I will not lie, cheat, or steal, nor will I accept the actions of those who do."

Upon accepting admission to Mississippi State University, a student immediately assumes a commitment to uphold the Honor Code, to accept responsibility for learning, and to follow the philosophy and rules of the Honor Code.  Students will be required to state their commitment on examinations, research papers, and other academic work.  Ignorance of the rules does not exclude any member of the MSU community from the requirements or the processes of the Honor Code.

Students are expected to maintain the standards of academic honesty that are described in the CSE Department's Graduate Studies Academic Honesty Policy

In this class, plagiarism is your biggest danger in terms of potentially violating the honor code.  At the least, plagiarism, even if unintended, on any class assignment will result in a 0 on the assignment, and could potentially result in failing the class and even getting expelled from the University.  So don't do it!  If you have any doubt, even just a little, about whether something you've written might constitute plagiarism, then talk to me about it.

These are important policies.  As a professor at Mississippi State University, I am required to report all incidents of academic misconduct, and any such incidents will be handled according to the Academic Operating Policy and Procedure of Mississippi State University.

Missed Exams

Occasionally students miss examinations.  Sometimes the student knows about these absences in advance, and sometimes they happen unexpectedly.  If you know in advance that you will be absent and you wish to have the absence considered excused, then you must meet with me before the date of the exam, and I will let you know whether or not the absence will be excused.  If your excused absence will occur during an exam, then I will make arrangements for you to take the exam early.

If you miss an exam unexpectedly and wish to have the absence considered excused, then you must meet with me at the earliest opportunity possible after the absence, and provide documentation to support your claim that the absence should be considered excused.  If the absence is excused, then I will substitute the average number of points of your other exams for the missed exam.

For unexcused absences from examinations you will unfortunately receive a score of zero points.

Additional Policies

Attendance and Audits: Attendance is required in this class, and as indicated above it will affect your grade.  Students who are auditing the course must attend at least 75% of the class meetings in order to receive a passing grade.

Personal Electronic Devices: Students must respect their fellow students and not disrupt class. Therefore, cell phones, pagers, other such alarms, or personal conversations which disturb the lecture are not allowed.  Students may bring laptops to class; however, laptops are not required for this course.

Grade of Incomplete (I): Following MSU policy, incomplete grades will only be given in extreme circumstances, such as illness, death in a student's immediate family, or similar circumstances beyond a student's control.

No Food or Drinks in Class: It is the CSE department's policy that you can't eat or dink in Butler hall classrooms.

Email: When I send class-related email, I will use your email address. 

Drop / Add Policy: This class follows Mississippi State University's Official Drop/Add Policy:

A.   Add/Drop without penalty - A student has through the fifth class day into the semester to drop a course and through the sixth class day to add a course without being assessed a fee or academic penalty.

B.   Drop after the fifth class day through the 30th class day into the semester - A student who elects to drop a course during this period must receive the approval of his/her advisor, will be assigned a W on his/her academic record, and be assessed a fee.  The advisor who permits the drop will specify its effective date. 

C.   Drop after the 30th class day into the semester – A student cannot drop courses after this period except in documented cases of serious illness, extreme hardship, or failure of the instructor to provide significant assessment of his/her performance.   A request to drop a course during this period must be approved by the student’s advisor and academic dean.  The dean who permits the drop will specify its effective date.  A student receiving permission to drop will receive a W on his/her academic record and be assessed a fee.

D.  Faculty are expected to provide a student with significant evidence or assessment of his/her class performance within the first 30 class days of the semester.

Right to Change

I reserve the right to change the course policies or schedule in order to facilitate instruction. Any such changes will be discussed in class and updated on the course web site.

Last modified: August 20, 2012