Psych 401 - Senior Seminar
Dr. David L. Carpenter
Required Materials Contacting Dr. C. Topic Methodology IRB Peer Reviews Review Products
Meeting & Due Dates Grading
This seminar is intended to be a capstone experience for you undergraduate education as a psychology major. You now have the opportunity to demonstrate your grasp of psychology as a behavioral science by doing a small empirical study of your own design and execution, including the analysis of the results and the reporting of your results to me and to our other psychology majors and faculty by means of a paper and a poster.
Passing this course satisfies the department's comprehensive examination requirement, and is required for graduation from St. Bonaventure University with a major in psychology. The purpose of the empirical study is not so much to advance the state of knowledge in psychology, although I won't object if you do, but for you to demonstrate your mastery of the scientific method as it is applied to psychology.
Since your are all seniors, I presume that you have an interest in what comes after graduation. If you would like, I would consider it appropriate to spend some class sessions on preparing for life after Bonaventure. We could have discussions, outside speakers, etc. Topics might include employment, graduate school, interviewing, creating effective resumes, etc. Tell me what you want.
REQUIRED MATERIALS: Top of Page
There are no required texts for this seminar. However, you are expected to know APA Style and use it in your reports and where appropriate in your posters. If you are not familiar with this standard for writing in psychology, it is documented in the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (4th Ed.), which is available in the Bookstore. If you are considering graduate school, you should bite the bullet and buy your own copy of the Publication Manual.
If you are not experienced at writing in APA style, I also recommend Pyrczak, F. & Bruce, R. R. (2000). Writing Empirical Research Reports (3rd ed) as a guide to doing the main points of a write up correctly. Anther good reference is Scott, J. M., Koch, R. E., Scott, G. M., Garrison, S. M. (1999). The Psychology Student Writer's Manual from Prentice Hall. It will be available in the Bookstore at a reasonable cost. Check it out.
I will assume that you have an e-mail account, and know how to use it. I will rely heavily on e-mail for communication in this course, since we won't be meeting every class period. Check it regularly.
This seminar is not your usual psychology class. We will only meet a few times during the semester (see below). When we do not meet, that time is meant for you to design, implement, and prepare a report and poster on your study.
In this course, you are expected to work with minimum supervision. This is to be your project from start to finish. You may consult with other faculty for references or specific questions, but no faculty is to supervise your study or enter into a independent study type of relationship with you.
CONTACTING ME: Top of Page
I think you all know how to contact me, but in case someone hasn't figured it out:
Office: D. LaRoche 13D
My office hours are posted on my home page and on my office door. Leave a note if all else fails.
The topic of your project may be anything within the wide realm of psychology. Most of you should have proposals from your lab course or psychology electives that you can develop into your project. However, if you are searching for a topic, I suggest that you find something related to your career plans, a psychological phenomenon that you have been curious about, or some behavior that has caught your interest and that will be fun to spend some time developing. I recommend against eating disorders (I'm tired of them), and para- psychological phenomenon (extremely hard to do well, and unlikely to produce interesting results). In any case, it should be something that you are interested in, can study with the resources available, and can complete in the time available (allowing for unexpected problems, delays, computer crashes, subject no-shows, difficulty finding subjects, illness, and the general principle that things always take much longer than expected). You may not repeat a project that has already been done, but you may modify one to explore the topic further. You have the option of using simulated data or collecting real data from living subjects. If you are considering graduate school, doing research involving real data strengthens your qualifications, and if well done, could lead to a presentation at a conference; a real enhancement to your graduate school credentials.
Methodology: Top of Page
The primary consideration in choosing a method is that it be appropriate for the question that you are asking, and that it be scientific. I am partial to 2-factor factorial designs with two to three levels of each independent variable. You shouldn't get much more complex than that for a variety of good reasons, and the simpler you get the less interesting it becomes. What ever you choose, be a rigorous as possible and be prepared to defend its appropriateness. Whatever you do, be mindful of the time limits and the limited subject pool that is available. The major purpose for this experience is to demonstrate that you know how to formulate, setup, run and report the results of an experiment. For those reasons we generally run smaller groups in these projects than we would in an independent study, thesis, or faculty research.
Once you have decided on your topic and methodology, you need to decide whether you want to collect real data or have me supply simulated data for your study. All final reports and posters are to be clearly marked to indicate which type of data they have. Your choice depends in part on whether you really want to find something out, or whether you just want to demonstrate that you know how to go about finding something out. Remember again, if you are considering graduate school, doing research involving real data strengthens your qualifications. If you choose simulated data, only the source of the numbers will change. You will still be expected to analyze, interpret and report them as with any other study.
If you chose to use simulated data, you must submit to me a sample of the data you need. This is to make sure that you have thought through exactly what the data should look like and to help me understand what you need.
Ethics and the Institutional Review Board (IRB):
You are expected to conduct your study consistent with the ethical standards of the field. If you are not familiar with them, check a research methods text or Ethical Principles in the Conduct of Research With Human Participants (from APA). You must also conform to department policy on using the subject pool as described in Saint Bonaventure University Department of Psychology: Researcher's Handbook (rev. July, 1995). This will require you to fill out the paperwork and get approval from the Internal Review Board (IRB) before you can run subjects. In most cases, you should apply as a new project requesting expedited review (see the forms), but check with me. With one exception, you must do this whether or not you will be actually running subjects or using simulated data, so plan ahead. The exception is that you do not have to do this if you can document that you personally have had a proposal reviewed in the last year and a half. The IRB forms for studies using simulated data are to be submitted to me, not the IRB.
Peer Reviewers: Top of Page
I will, more or less randomly, assign each of you to two other class members as a peer reviewer group. Each member of the group will have the other two members of the group as peer reviewers. It is the duty of each peer reviewer to review the material submitted to them for accuracy of content, clarity of expression, logical flow, conformity to APA format, grammar, organization, and, of course, typos. Each reviewer is to write their comments on the document and SIGN IT before returning it to the author. These are to be helpful, critical comments meant to improve the study and its report. Simple praise doesn't cut it.
Comments should be returned before the due date, if possible, but NO LATER than the due date. Delivering the document to be reviewed or the feedback comments late is irresponsible and hurts your fellow students. Plan ahead and manage your time so lateness doesn't happen. Lateness will incur a strong penalty.
Three documents will be submitted to the peer review process (see below): 1) a draft of the topic and general approach; 2) a draft of the proposal, and; 3) a draft of the final report. ALL DOCUMENTS ARE TO BE DATED WHEN SUBMITTED FOR REVIEW, AND DATED AND SIGNED AFTER REVIEW BY THE REVIEWER.
When you submit one of the first three following products to a peer reviewer, you are to submit a copy of the title page to me. This will help me track your progress through the process. The poster is not submitted to your peer reviewers. The class as a group will review it.
Products for Review: Top of Page
Topic and General Approach - A brief, general statement about what the question is that you want to study and how you plan on studying it. Examples: I was in an auto accident at night, and it has made me curious about what effect light level has on depth perception. I want to conduct a laboratory experiment in which observers equate the distance of to two rods over several trials under each of several levels of illumination
Proposal - A more detailed statement of what you are doing and where the idea came from that will become part of your final report. It should follow APA style and contain:
1. A working (not final) version of what will be the title page for your final report
2. A preliminary draft of the section that will be expanded into the introduction in your final report. This should explain the origin of the question that you want to study and introduce previous research related to it.
3. A statement of the hypothesis(es) that you are testing (enumerate them -1., 2., etc.).
4. A detailed description of the method you will use, including the number and type of subjects, any equipment or materials, the experimental design including a description of the independent and dependent variables, and the procedure. At the end of this section, indicate whether you will use simulated or real data.
5. A results section describing how you will analyze the data that you get, and how the results that you expect will address the hypothesis(es).
Ideally parts 1 through 4 above will carry over relatively unchanged into your final report.
Research Report - The final report of your complete study consistent with APA style and including:
1. Title page
3. Statement of Hypothesis(es)
6. Conclusions or Discussion
8. Tables and figures
9. An appendix containing the data.
Poster - A poster describing your project (what you did, how you did it, and what you found) in terms that an educated lay-person could follow. We now have the capability to print posters in color on single sheets from files created in PowerPoint. This is the preferred method for creating a poster. Be sure to include the title, the school's name, and your name. In the upper left corner place an uppercase "R" for real data or "S" for simulated data. In the past, some students have included a brief acknowledgement of appreciation for help provided by certain faculty. That is optional. Format is less prescribed than for manuscripts and reports, and you may want to include a combination of text and graphics. Size things to be readable from a few feet away so several people can view it simultaneously. It should look professional. Check the WEB for sites that describe APA type posters. The quality and clarity of your presentation will be key factors.
However the former method is still acceptable. It involves using a posterboard suitable for mounting on the wall, setting on a chalk tray, or standing by itself. Assume that you have about a 4 x 3 foot space to work with. Commercial poster boards are available and are fine, but not required.
Everybody's posters will be presented together at a poster session modeled after the poster sessions held at psychology conferences. The date, time, and place will be announced later, but I will hazard a guess that it will be on the afternoon of reading day in D-19. It will probably last a couple hours, and you should plan on being present the entire time to answer any questions, to check out your classmates' posters, and to join in the general celebration of the senior class's scientific accomplishments. It is a dress up affair for those presenting posters.
Because the posters will be presented at the end of the semester, I am not requiring a formal peer review of the posters, but we will show them at a practice session before the official poster session.
CLASS MEETING AND DUE DATES: Top of Page
The following are official class times. We will meet as an entire class on a few of these days. I may also meet as needed with one or a small group of you on some of these days or at other mutually convenient times. The time when the class does not meet is for you to work on your project. Monitor your e-mail for notices and syllabus updates (and changes in meeting times). When submitting to reviewers, give Dr. C. only the front cover page.
|Aug. 24, 26||All||Course Introduction, Brainstorming Project ideas||Attend class, decide on project|
|Aug. 31||All||Review Ideas, questions, get new ideas (?)||Attend class|
|Sept. 2||Investigator||Submit draft of Topic and General Approach to reviewers and cover to Dr. C.||Review and comment on draft.|
|Sept. 7||Reviewers||Return draft with comments, signature, and date to investigator||Revise Topic and General Approach|
|Sept. 9||Investigator||Submit Topic and General Approach to Dr. C. with drafts containing reviewer's comments||Literature search, preparation of proposal|
|Sept. 16||Dr. C.||Return Topic and General Approach to investigators with comments||Revise and complete proposal based on comments.|
|Sept. 30||Investigator||Submit draft of proposal to reviewers and cover to Dr. C.||Review and comment on proposals|
Doing projects: space, materials, equipment, IRB, Subject Pool, etc.
Return Proposals with comments, signature, and date to investigator.
|Oct. 19||Investigator||Submit Proposal to Dr. C. with comments from reviewers||Setup the project and write introduction|
|Nov. 2||Dr. C.||Return proposals to investigators with comments||Revise Introduction, run the study, write draft of final report|
|Nov. 16||Review and comment on draft or final report.|
|Nov. 18||Investigator||Submit draft of full report to reviewers and cover to Dr. C.||Review and comment on draft or final report.|
|Return draft of full report to investigators with comments, signature,
Present Posters to class.
|Investigators revise report.
Attend class, bring posters, review and critique them
|Dec. 7||Investigator||Submit final report to Dr. C. in class with reviewer's comments. Present Posters to class.||Attend class, bring posters, review and critique them|
|Dec 8||Investigator||Setup Poster Session||Bring poster to poster session Room|
present poster. (dress up)
GRADING To Top of Page
This course is Pass/Fail. If I were to grade it, I would look at things like the following:
Idea - creativity, ingenuity, originality, psychological significance
Introduction & Hypothesis - Sound logical development of idea, clear statement of hypotheses, clear definition of variables
Execution - appropriate methodology, operationalizing of variables, analysis, controls, subject management.
Quality of Discussion - appropriate to results, related to introduction, avoidance of over generalization.
Compliance to APA Style - format, headings, content of sections, citations and references.
Clarity & Conciseness - Efficiency and quality in communicating the question, what was done to get an answer, the results and conclusions.
Professional Format - ease of reading, appropriate size and fonts, clear and appropriate graphics, spatial arrangement and flow.
Quality of comments provided to investigators (completeness, helpfulness, accuracy), timeliness
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since Aug. 17, 2004