PSYC 201 (A01) - Research Methods in Psychology - Polson

PSYC 201 (A01) - Research Methods in Psychology - Polson
PSYC 201 Summer 2015: Course Outline
Research Methods in Psychology
Instructor: David Polson, PhD
Email: [email protected]
Office / Hours: COR A214 / TBA
Phone: 721-7525 (leave message)
Course Website: Accessible through CourseSpaces.
Teaching Assistant: Sheliza Ali <[email protected]>
Lecture Room / Day, Time: COR B111 / MW, 10:30-12:20; R, 10:30-11:20
Lab Instructor: Thomas Ferguson <[email protected]>
Lab Room / Day, Time: COR B107 (will vary) / F, 10:30-11:20 (B01); or F, 11:30-12:20 (B02)
Course Content
This course deals with psychology as a science. You will be introduced to basic research techniques, with an
emphasis on their conceptual rather than statistical rationale. You will be taken through all the stages of
psychological research, from choosing the problem to publishing the results. Along the way you will be exposed
to a wide variety of interesting topics in the psychological literature. I hope to convey to you the idea that
designing and conducting research is an exercise in problem solving that can be exciting and creative.
Course Materials
(1) White, T. L. & McBurney, D. H. (2013). Research methods (9th ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth/Thompson.
(2) THINK FAST computer program (available at course website)
(3) Study Guide (available at course website)
Course Overview
On “lecture” days, I will focus on addressing the answers to selected study questions from the required reading
(see Study Questions section), often supplementing the textbook discussion with my own examples and
perspective. Marks will be assigned for attendance and participation (see Lecture Quizzes / Exercises section).
On “test” days (Thursdays), a THINKFAST assignment is due before class starts (see THINKFAST section). You
will be given the full 50-minute period to complete the test (see Test section).
On “lab” days (Fridays), you will meet with your lab instructor (Thomas) for 50 minutes at an assigned time and
place (see Laboratory section). There will be a separate outline for the lab component of this course detailing
planned activities and when lab assignments are due. While there are two lab sections (B01 and B02), you must
attend only the section for which you are registered.
Course Components
Study Questions. The Study Guide lists study questions for each chapter in this course. The study questions
are important because they are the main focus of the lectures, and thus many of the test items are based on
them. As a means of preparing for both the lectures and the tests, I encourage you to write out the answers to
the study questions. Be sure to use them to direct your reading of the textbook.
Lecture Quizzes / Exercises. Attendance and participation is required on lecture days. Importantly, you will be
submitting some type of written work at the end of class, for credit. With quizzes, you will be asked to answer
multiple choice questions about the lecture content, sprinkled throughout my PowerPoint presentation. With
exercises, you might be asked to plot data, conduct basic statistical analyses, watch and then answer questions
about a video, etc. The protocol is informal in that comparing your answers with other students is fine, even
encouraged. Regardless of the format, a score will be assigned out of 10, partly based on your attendance and
partly based on the written work you submit. Overall, this component counts 70 points toward your final grade.
THINK FAST. In order to think critically about research methods in psychology, you need to be fluent with the
basic facts and concepts. THINK FAST is a computerized flashcard program designed to help you in this regard.
It includes six decks of cards, one deck per unit. Deck size varies from about 20 to 40 cards. In THINK FAST,
after you select a deck, a session begins: the program presents the cards one at a time and gives you two
minutes to provide the answers to as many cards as possible. While there are several response options for
learning the cards, you should work only in the Type Keyword mode. In this mode, flashcards are presented that
are missing either the answer or a keyword or phrase, and you are required to type in the missing word(s). Note
that THINK FAST involves typing; if you cannot type, then you must inform me on the first day of class so that
alternative arrangements can be made.
Marks are assigned for practicing, and bonus marks are awarded for mastery. Specifically, for each deck, you
will earn 10 points for practicing at least 15 sessions, totaling 30 minutes or more; you can also earn 2 bonus
points if you achieve at least 5 sessions of mastery. The mastery criterion is at least 5 correct responses per
minute with less than one incorrect response per minute. There is also an optional seventh deck called
“201Bonus,” which contains all the cards for this course. If you achieve at least 15 sessions of mastery with this
deck, you will earn 18 bonus points. The due dates for meeting the requirements for each deck are listed on
pages 4-5. Overall, this component counts for 60 points toward your final grade. In addition, you can earn up to
30 bonus points.
THINK FAST keeps a record of your scores on the disk. To be graded, you must upload a copy of your progress
report through the appropriate link at the course website prior to the start of class on the day it is due. At the end
of the course you may be asked to submit a file on your disk containing all your data (details to be announced). If
the data in that file do not match the reports you submitted earlier, then this will be investigated further and the
rules and regulations concerning cheating at UVic will apply.
For more detailed information about THINK FAST, including how to prepare a copy of progress report and
submit it, see the document called “Using THINK FAST”, available at the course website.
Research indicates that, relative to students who are traditionally taught, students who are exposed to Precision
Teaching—with an emphasis on developing fluency (high rate correct) with basic terms and facts—write more
succinct and accurate essays (even though they are not specifically trained to do so), participate in more class
discussions, and have better concentration and long-term retention. Students in my classes have reported that
developing fluency also helped them better understand the course readings. Thus, working with THINK FAST
should have positive benefits for you beyond merely memorizing the definitions.
Tests. There are six tests, one for each unit. Each test will consist of ~20-25 multiple choice items (1 mark
each), ~four fill-in-the-blank THINK FAST items (½ mark each), and ~two written items (5 marks each). Test
items are based mostly on material from the current unit, although the odd multiple choice item may address
material from earlier units. Overall, tests count for 680 points toward your final grade.
Laboratory. The labs are designed to give you an opportunity to apply some of the concepts covered in
lectures. Various activities are scheduled. For most labs, you will earn points for attending, participating, and
submitting small assignments, totaling 50 points. Ultimately, in groups, you will design and conduct a research
project. In the last lab, your group will present a poster based on its research. The poster is worth 50 points.
Later, you will submit a report based on the same research. The report is worth 90 points. Guidelines will be
Bonus Points. Up to 30 bonus points of extra credit can be earned by participating in research projects posted
on the Psychology Research Participation System website ( (excluding projects
restricted to PSYC 100 students). You will earn 5 bonus points for each 30 minutes (or portion thereof) of
participation if you have the researcher complete and sign the top portion of the PSYC 201 Research
Participation Form and you complete the lower portion and turn it in to me no later than June 29. To earn all 30
bonus points, you must participate in at least two different studies (i.e., a single 3-hour study is not acceptable).
There is no penalty for not earning extra credit. The rationale for the extra credit policy is that participating gives
you hands-on experience in psychological research, completing the form requires you to practice conceptual and
writing skills relevant to this course, and participating gives you contact with upper-level students engaged in
research. If you sign up to participate in a study, you MUST keep the appointment and be on time, and you
MUST take with you a copy of the PSYC 201 Research Participation Form (available on the course website).
In total (research participation plus THINK FAST), you can earn up to 30 bonus points.
Lecture Quizzes / Exercises (~14)
Tests (6)
Lab assignments (5)
Research report
Bonus up to...
Final Grade / Percentage Equivalents
> 90%
< 50
N grades
Students who have completed the following elements will be considered to have completed the course and will be
assigned a final grade:
4 or more tests attempted
3 or more lab assignments submitted
research report submitted
Failure to complete one or more of these elements will result in a grade of “N” regardless of the cumulative
percentage on other elements of the course. An N is a failing grade, and it factors into a student’s GPA as zero.
The maximum percentage that can accompany an N on a student’s transcript is 49.
The multiple choice section of your tests will not be returned to you, but you can review it with me during my
office hours. The essay section of your test will be returned to you.
Your scores will be frequently updated on the course website. You should check them regularly to ensure that
they have been recorded correctly.
Final grades that end with a decimal point of 0.5 or above will be rounded to the next higher whole number, and
grades that end with a decimal point below 0.5 will be rounded to the next lower whole number. For example, if
a final percentage grade is 89.5 – 89.9, the grade will be rounded to 90. The rounding criteria will only be used
on the final assignment of the letter grade.
Assignments are due, and tests must be taken, on the date indicated in the Class Schedule. It is not fair for
some students to do work later than others, unless there is a valid excuse. Therefore, except in cases meeting
the criteria for an academic concession (see below), there will be zero credit and no make-up for any
assignments or quizzes not turned in on time. Travel plans will not be accepted as an excuse.
Students who do not complete requirements on schedule due to extenuating circumstances (i.e., personal
illness or accident, family affliction, official university activities) must contact me immediately upon their return
to make arrangements for substitute work. Late contact (e.g., after the tentative final grades are posted) is
unacceptable. Typically, I will require documentation of the circumstance.
If, for some reason, you do not meet the deadline for properly submitting your THINK FAST progress report, all
is not lost. If you complete it before the next assignment is due, then you will earn part marks when that next
assignment is scored.
Class Schedule
May 11 (M)
Introduction to course format
UNIT 1: Psychology & Science; Variables; Ethics in Research
Required reading: White & McBurney (2013), Chapter 1
May 13 (W)
Required reading: White & McBurney (2013), Chapters 1, 5
May 14 (Th)
Lecture Quiz / Exercise
Lecture Quiz / Exercise
Required reading: White & McBurney (2013), Chapter 5
Lecture Quiz / Exercise
May 18 (M)
May 20 (W)
Required reading: White & McBurney (2013), Chapter 3
Lecture Quiz / Exercise
May 21 (Th)
 (1) THINK FAST: Unit 1 due;
May 25 (M)
UNIT 2: Validity; Control
(2) Test 1
Required reading: White & McBurney (2013), Chapter 6
 Lecture Quiz / Exercise
May 27 (W)
Required reading: White & McBurney (2013), Chapter 7
 Lecture Quiz / Exercise
May 28 (Th)
 (1) THINK FAST: Unit 2 due;
June 1 (M)
UNIT 3: Description of Data; Inferential Statistics
(2) Test 2
Required reading: White & McBurney (2013), Chapters 14, 15
June 3 (W)
Lecture Quiz / Exercise
Required reading: White & McBurney (2013), Chapters 14, 15
Lecture Quiz / Exercise
June 4 (Th)
 (1) THINK FAST: Unit 3 due; (2) Test 3
June 8 (M)
UNIT 4: Nonexperimental Research
Required reading: White & McBurney (2013), Chapter 8
 Lecture Quiz / Exercise
June 10 (W)
Required reading: White & McBurney (2013), Chapter 9
 Lecture Quiz / Exercise
June 11 (Th)
 (1) THINK FAST: Unit 4 due;
June 15 (M)
UNIT 5: True Experiments
(2) Test 4
Required reading: White & McBurney (2013), Chapter 10
June 17 (W)
Lecture Quiz / Exercise
Required reading: White & McBurney (2013), Chapter 11
Lecture Quiz / Exercise
June 18 (Th)
 (1) THINK FAST: Unit 5 due;
June 22 (M)
UNIT 6: Single-Participant Experiments; Quasi Experiments
(2) Test 5
Required reading: White & McBurney (2013), Chapter 12
 Lecture Quiz / Exercise
June 24 (W)
Required reading: White & McBurney (2013), Chapter 13
 Lecture Quiz / Exercise
June 25 (Th)
 (1) THINK FAST: Unit 6 due;
June 29 (M)
 THINK FAST: 201Bonus due (optional; 15 sessions of mastery required)
(2) Test 6
Department of Psychology
Important Course Policy Information
Summer 2015
Students who remain in courses for which they do not have the prerequisites do so at their own
risk. Students who complete courses without prerequisites ARE NOT exempt from having to
complete the prerequisite course(s) if such courses are required for the degree program.
Program Requirements
For more information see pages 215-217 of the UVic Calendar 2014-15.
Registration Status
Students are responsible for verifying their registration status. Registration status may be
verified using My Page, View Schedule. Course adds and drops will not be processed after the
deadlines set out in the current UVic Calendar.
Commitment to Inclusivity and Diversity
The University of Victoria is committed to promoting, providing and protecting a positive and
supportive and safe learning and working environment for all its members.
In the Event of Illness, Accident or Family Affliction (See UVic Calendar, 2014-15, p. 35)
What to do if you miss the final exam scheduled on the last day of classes
Apply at Records Services for a “Request for Academic Concession”, normally within 10 working
days of the date of the exam. Records Services will forward the form to the instructor. If the
concession is granted, the instructor will determine how to deal with the situation (for example, a
deferred exam). Where a concession is not applied for or where such application is denied, an N
grade will be entered on the student’s academic record.
OR, you can download the Request for Academic Concession form here:
What to do if you miss an exam other than one scheduled on the last day of classes
Do not apply at Records Services for a “Request for Academic Concession”. Instead submit
documentation of the illness, accident or family affliction directly to your course instructor (or
designated teaching assistant).
What to do if you require additional time to complete course requirements
Apply at Records Services for a “Request for Academic Concession”, normally within 10 working
days of the end of the formal examination period. Records Services will forward the form to the
instructor. If the concession is granted the instructor will determine how to deal with the situation.
Where a concession is not applied for or where such application is denied, an N grade will be
entered on the student’s academic record.
OR, you can download the Request for Academic Concession form here:
Policy on Academic Integrity including Plagiarism and Cheating
The Department of Psychology fully endorses and intends to enforce rigorously the Senate Policy on
Academic integrity ( , p. 32-34, UVic
Calendar 2014-15). It is of utmost importance that students who do their work honestly be protected
from those who do not. Because this policy is in place to ensure that students carry out and benefit
from the learning activities assigned in each course, it is expected that students will cooperate in its
The offences defined by the policy can be summarized briefly as follows:
1. Plagiarism. You must make sure that the work you submit is your work and not someone
else’s. There are proper procedures for citing the works of others. The student is responsible
for being aware of and using these procedures.
2. Multiple Submission. Only under exceptional circumstances may a work submitted to fulfill an
academic requirement be used to satisfy another similar requirement. The student is responsible
for clarifying this with the instructor(s) involved.
3. Falsifying Materials Subject to Academic Evaluation. This includes falsification of data,
use of commercially prepared essays, using information from the Internet without proper
citation, citing sources from which material is not actually obtained, etc.
4. Cheating on Assignments, Tests, and Examinations. You may not copy the work of others
in or out of class; you may not give your work to others for the purpose of copying; you may not
use unauthorized material or equipment during examinations or tests; and you may not
impersonate or allow yourself to be impersonated by another at an examination. The
Department of Psychology has a policy of not making old examinations available for study
purposes. Therefore, use of old exams without the express written permission of the instructor
constitutes cheating by the user, and abetting of cheating by the person who provided the exam.
5. Being an Accessory to Offences. This means that helping another student to cheat (for
instance, by showing or communicating to them answers to an assignment, or by allowing them
to view answers on an exam) is an academic offence.
Instructors are expected to make every effort to prevent cheating and plagiarism. This may include the
assignment of seating for examinations, asking students to move during examinations, requests to see
student identification cards, and other measures as appropriate. Instructors also have available to them
a variety of tools and procedures to check for Internet and electronic media-based cheating. In
instances of suspected or actual plagiarism or cheating, instructors, following prescribed procedures, are
authorized to take steps consistent with the degree of the offence. These measures will range from a
zero on the test or assignment or a failing grade for the course, probation within a program to
temporary or even permanent suspension from the University.
Rights of Appeal are described in the Policy on Academic Integrity in the University calendar (on p. 3234 in 2014-15).
The definitive source for information on Academic Integrity is the University Calendar (p. 32-34 in
2014-15) (
Other useful resources on Plagiarism and Cheating include:
1. The Learning Skills program:
2. The Ombudsperson’s office:
3. The English Department:
Dept Syllabus info Summer 2015.rtf
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