NORTHERN VIRGINIA COMMUNITY COLLEGE PSYCHOLOGY RESEARCH METHODOLOGY FOR THE BEHAVIORAL SCIENCES Dr. Rosalyn M.

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1 NORTHERN VIRGINIA COMMUNITY COLLEGE PSYCHOLOGY RESEARCH METHODOLOGY FOR THE BEHAVIORAL SCIENCES Dr. Rosalyn M. King, Professor DETAILED TOPICAL OVERVIEW AND WORKING SYLLABUS CLASS 1: INTRODUCTIONS Organization of Course Review of Course Syllabus What is Research? Why Do Research? Role and Importance of Research Purpose of Research Kuhn s Structure of Scientific Revolutions 1. Review abstract of Thomas Kuhn (1970). The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. (University of Chicago Press). Discuss the following: a. Kuhn argued that science is not the neat, orderly process that outside observers perceive it to be. Why not? b. What is a scientific revolution? How does it differ from normal science? c. Why do researchers need to replicate the results of their studies? 2. Review Chapter 1 in your main text, What is Research? a. Read and discuss what research is.. b. Define the research cycle. Assignments: Begin the Research Idea Notebook This exercise helps you to develop the habit of looking for research possibilities. Begin to put your ideas for research and your research questions in a small notebook or notepad. Keep it with you all the time, including by your bed table at night while you sleep. Jot down every idea that you get. This will be helpful when you meet to brainstorm about research possibilities. You will share these ideas in class. Further, after your individual or team project is underway, the notebooks can be used as a repository for planning details, taking notes, drafting schedules, etc. for the project. Your instructor may want to review your notebook from time to time. Delimit topics to 5 possibilities. Find a Research Study and Evaluate its Quality 1

2 Identify a research study from a scholarly journal or book. Use the checklist in Chapter 1 of your main textbook. Answer the questions. Share with the class in discussion. CLASS 2: TOOLS AND PROCESSES OF RESEARCH - Chapter 2 Habits of Mind of Research Psychologists The Library as a Tool The Internet as a Tool Measurement as a Tool Statistics as a Tool Analysis as a Tool Communication as a Tool 1. Review the guidelines on writing to communicate in your main text. Summarize and discuss the important points. Assignment: Exciting Scholarly Writing 1. Find examples of exciting scholarly writing. Cite full reference, author, title, publication, summary abstract of the article, etc. Indicate what you find so exciting about this scholarly piece writing style, type of research, information conveyed, how data were collected, presentation of findings, etc. Reflect on authors whose writing really excited you. Bring in examples. This could be a paragraph or two that you believe is clear and well-written. You will read these aloud to the class. The class should listen intently and then describe what they hear (see the discussion on say back in your text). You will begin to get a sense of how others hear or interpret the writings you have selected. CLASS 3: GENERATING RESEARCH TOPICS AND QUESTIONS AND DEFINING THE RESEARCH PROJECT - Chapter 3 Report on research ideas and brainstorming for possible research topics Class reactions to ideas of others Critical thinking and reflection about possible topics Final selection of topic Stating the research problem/questions Defining independent and dependent variables Developing Hypothesis Statements Share examples of exciting writing. (See previous class assignment). 2

3 1. Determine whether you will work independently or with team. Designate Research Team. 2. Brainstorm to generate project ideas with peers using research ideas notebook. 3. Share ideas with class for class critique and reactions. 4. Narrow your research idea to 1-2 topics. 5. Review guidelines on stating the research problem/questions. Complete checklist on Evaluating the Research Problem. Share your preliminary problem/question with the class. 6. See guidelines and checklist on Evaluating Your Proposed Research. Answer questions and share with class. 7. Reevaluate your research problem by using the guidelines in the chapter. 8. Define what an independent and dependent variable is. In the following examples, identify the independent and dependent variable(s). a) Two groups of children were given different types of physical fitness programs to see if the programs had an effect on their strength. b) A group of 100 heavy smokers was divided into 5 groups, and each group participated in a different smoking cessation program. After 6 months of program participation, the number of cigarettes each participant smoked each day was counted. c) A university professor was interested in determining the best way to teach introductory psychology and ensure that his students would learn the material. 9. Distinguish between the research hypothesis and the null hypothesis? Why is the null hypothesis always statement of equality? Why can the research hypothesis take on many different forms? 10. Write the null and research hypotheses for the following paragraph: A group of middle-aged men was asked to complete a questionnaire on their attitudes toward work and family. Each of these men are married and have at least two children. Another group of men who have no children also completed the same survey. Assignments: Developing Hypothesis Statements and Literature Reviews 1. Read Chapters 1-4 in supplemental text: Writing Empirical Research Reports. Complete the exercises at the end of each chapter. Chapter 1: Writing Simple Research Hypotheses Chapter 2: A Closer Look at Hypotheses Chapter 3: Writing Research Purposes, Objectives, & Questions Chapter 4: Writing Titles 2. Develop a hypothesis statement of your own. Provide the background leading up to your statement. 3. For the next class, read & review the supplemental reader on Writing Literature Reviews by Jose L. Galvan. Peruse as many chapters as possible to get an idea 3

4 about the steps in the literature review process. Complete exercises at the end of the chapter. Select one sample literature review in the appendix and make a critique for discussion in class. CLASS 4: SEARCHING AND READING THE RELATED LITERATURE - Chapter 4 Role of the Literature Review The Periodical Literature General, Primary & Secondary Sources Searching the Literature: Manually & Online Using Abstracts Developing Critical Reading Skills Reviewing the Literature Evaluating Research Articles or Book Chapters Criteria for Judging a Research Study The Importance of Using and Selecting Sources Effectively Avoiding Plagiarism Using Note Cards/Taking Notes Writing the Literature Review 1. Why are journals so important to research and the field of psychology? 2. Distinguish between primary and secondary sources. Cite examples. 3. What is a literature chain? Why is it helpful to researchers? 4. Name four characteristics of good references in psychology. 5. How can being organized enhance the search and use of the psychological literature? Name several ways researchers can become more organized? 6. In your own words, define plagiarism. Distinguish between two types of plagiarism - accidental (unintentional) and intentional. Is one type worse than the other? Why or why not? 7. What does a research article look like? What are its components? 8. What are the criteria for judging a research study? 9. Read & Review Chapter 5 on writing introductions and literature reviews in your supplemental reader, Writing Empirical Research Reports. (P.41). Complete Part A of the exercise at the end of the chapter. Discuss your answers. 10. Read & review the supplemental reader on Writing Literature Reviews by Jose L.Galvan. Complete exercises at the end of the chapter. Select one sample literature review in the appendix and make a critique for discussion in class. (Note: Instructor may assign specific chapters to several students.) Assignment: Basics of APA Style and Publication Manual 4

5 1. Read and Review the APA Publication Manual. Go online to APA and review style updates and the video tutorials at: and click on the tutorial, The basics of APA Style ( your assessment of the format. [Research Topic, Questions, & Hypothesis Statement Due] [Journal Due-Chaps. 1-4-Submit via ] CLASS 5: SEARCHING AND READING THE RELATED LITERATURE (continued); GETTING FAMILIAR WITH THE APA FORMAT The Role of Effective Communication (Issues) Using the APA Format in Writing Headings and Subheadings Style Errors Developing Outlines Writing Abstracts Drafting & Revisions Receiving Feedback Examples of Good Writing 1. Practice using the APA format. Cite 1 book, 1 journal article and 1 Internet source using the correct APA format. Also cite 1 journal that can also be found in paper copy and online. Assignment: Develop Key Words for Data Searches 1. Develop Key Words for your research topic to prepare for online data searches in the library next class 2. Identify other data sources in preparation. Begin to develop literature chain as you do you library searches. 3. Use this library time wisely, so you can be prepared to move forward with developing your outline for your literature review and begin writing. CLASS 6: USING THE LIBRARY FOR RESEARCH-LIBRARY VISIT Activity: Library Orientation Use Computerized Search Bank. Keep search record printouts. Identify the online data bases you can use for research. 5

6 Search the Internet (Print at least 2 pages). List 5 references on any of the topics you are interested in. Cite shortcomings. Identify available Internet references, journals on line. Conduct physical search of psychological & related journals housed in the library. Locate journals which are: 1) useful, 2) too technical, 3) for specialized audiences. Look for other factors such as the type of editorial board, table of contents, contributors guidelines. Find the Psychological Abstracts and Index - What are they designed to do for you? Begin to identify pertinent articles for your research. Develop list of references for your research topic. Assignment: A Review of Ethics & Writing Mechanics 1. Read Section of Chapter 5 on Ethical Principles and answer discussion questions below for next class. See also the web course online links on ethical principles. Go to Psy 211 Related Learning Links. [Introduction Chapter Due] CLASS 7: PLANNING THE RESEARCH PROJECT AND RESEARCH ETHICS - Chapter 5 Overview of Ethical Standards in Psychology Controversial Research in Psychology that Challenges Ethics Institutional Review Boards. Writing an informed consent form. Developing methodological approach Determining instrumentation Deciding on use of qualitative vs. quantitative methodology Determining method of data collection Judging the feasibility of the research project. 1. Case Scenarios: Serving on an Institutional Review Board. 2. Generate a list of topics that are ethically sensitive 3. What are the most important points in the APA Ethical Guidelines? 4. What ethics will you need to consider in conducting your own research? 5. Develop draft of your informed consent form. 6. Review guidelines for deciding whether to use qualitative or quantitative methods. Determine which you will use. 7. Evaluate your plans and determine whether your research project is realistic and practical, 6

7 using the guidelines and checklist in the chapter. Assignment: Develop First Draft of Research Design 1. Read & Review Supplemental Reader: Writing Empirical Research Reports - Chapters 6, 7, & 8. Writing Definitions; Writing Assumptions, Limitations, and Delimitations; and, Writing Method Sections. Complete exercises at the end of each chapter. Be prepared for class discussion. 2. Write a first draft of your research design. Consult the guidelines in the chapter and the handouts provided by your instructor. CLASS 8: DEVELOPING THE RESEARCH DESIGN - Chapter 6 Characteristics and Components of a Research Design Organization Weaknesses in Research Designs & Proposals Putting Your Design Together 1. Present your first draft of the research design. Get feedback from classmates and instructor. 2. Review the checklist for strengthening your design in the chapter. Share draft design with classmates. Revise design, based on input and checklist. 3. Review and critique research proposal in your chapter.. [Outlines for Literature Review Due] CLASS 9: NON EXPERIMENTAL RESEARCH - QUALITATIVE & HISTORICAL RESEARCH METHODS (Applied and Field Research Approaches) - Chapter 7 &8 Case Studies Observation (Naturalistic & Participant) Ethnography Archival Research Interviewing Phenomenological Study Grounded Theory Study Content Analysis Organizing & Analyzing Data 7

8 Historical Research & Psychohistory Activity: Group Work - Research Teams 1. Read and evaluate one of the qualitative research cases to be distributed by your instructor. 2. Brainstorm and develop a historical study topic. What would be involved in carrying out the study? Discussion Questions: 1. Are field and applied research the same thing? Why or why not? How do they differ from basic research? 2. What is naturalistic observation? How is it similar to but different from participant observation? 3. You are a museum curator, what sorts of unobtrusive measures can help you determine what the public thinks of your exhibits? 4. What is ethnography? How can it be used to explore psychological issues? 5. Why can a given research method employed by a researcher affect the results he or she obtains? Does the method one chooses also affect interpretations of the data? 6. How are interviews conducted and what are are some of the guidelines for developing good interview schedules? 7. How might you evaluate the worth of a qualitative research study? Consult your textbook Assignment: Field Research Visit a shopping mall, museum, library, dormitory, cafeteria, hospital, beach, or some other place where people frequent. Spend at least one hour. Develop several research questions based on your observations in that setting. What specific topics and research questions are good possibilities for study? How might you approach each topic or question methodologically? Identify who will be observed and what sort of behavior or behaviors will be examined.. How will the behavior(s) be coded? What sorts of interpretations can be offered? Be certain to discuss the strengths and limits of naturalistic observation. [Literature Review Due] CLASS 10: DESCRIPTIVE/QUASI-EXPERIMENTAL RESEARCH - Chapter 9 Observation Studies Correlation Research Developmental Designs Survey Research: Developing Good Survey Questions 8

9 Field Testing Questions Sampling Using Checklists and Rating Scales 1. Develop a short survey on a current campus or community issue or controversy. Use guidelines in Chapter 9 on constructing and administering a questionnaire (pl90). Write open-and closed-ended questions. Do this for about 20 minutes. Share your items with the class. Based on feedback from class members and the instructor, revise your questions. After questions are finalized, decide on what demographic data should be included. 2. Name several characteristics of good surveys. 3. Discuss some of the sampling issues and biases that confront researchers in field settings. 4. Review section on sampling. Complete checklist on Analyzing a Population. [Journal Due-Chaps. 5-8-Submit via ] CLASS 11: EXPERIMENTAL & EX POST FACTO RESEARCH DESIGNS Chapter 10 History of Experimentation Problem Identification and Hypotheses Formation Variables Used in Experimentation: Independent and Dependent Variables Assigning Subjects & Control Groups & Sampling Models of Experimental & Ex-Post Facto Designs Activities: Group Discussion 1. Present to class your findings from examination of articles/studies using experimental designs. 2. Answer questions below. Discussion Questions: 1. Why is a balance between external validity and internal validity necessary for acceptable research? 2. A group of children with emotional disorders is placed in a special program to improve the quality of their social interactions based on their extreme test scores. At the end of the program, the average increase in the quality of their interactions is 57%. What threat to internal validity negates the value of this finding, and what can you do to remedy the situation? 3. List the steps you would go through to ensure that two groups participating in a study of attitude toward divorce are equally matched. 4. What are the ethical considerations for assigning first graders to different experimental learning groups? Does it affect your ethical concerns if the assignment is random? 9

10 5. What are some examples of pre-experimental research you see in the real world? 6. What are some benefits of using pretests? 7. What are the threats to external validity? How could each threat affect you as a researcher? 8. Come up with a research example for each threat to external validity. What are some methods to increase external validity? Assignment: Exploring Experimental Psychology Journals 1. Scan the most recent issues of experimental psychological journals. Review at least one current issue of a journal and answer the following questions: -What type of design was used to address what sort of research question? -Does the design use vary by subfield of psychology? For example, do cognitive or developmental psychologists rely on within-subjects designs with greater frequency than social or personality researchers? Why? Present findings to class. [Research Design Plan Due] CLASS 12: DATA COLLECTION & ANALYSIS USING STATISTICS- Chapter - 11 Defining Populations & Samples Methods of Measuring Behavior: Tests & Questionnaires Measurement, Reliability & Validity Getting Ready for Data Collection -Develop Data Collection Plan -Constructing Data Collection Instruments and Forms -10 Steps in Data Collection Developing a Data Analysis Plan Understanding Descriptive & Inferential Statistics -Scales of Measurement (nominal, ordinal, interval, ratio) -Measures of Central Tendency -Variability -Statistical Significance -Parametric & Non parametric Tests Some Common Statistical Tests -Chi Square -Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) -T-Test -Pearson Product Moment Correlation Ways to describe & present statistical & other data Use of statistical software to analyze data Activity: Individual and Research Teams 1. Develop a Data Collection and Analysis plan. 10

11 2. Present overview to class. Assignment: Good vs. Bad Examples of Data Presentation 1. Go to the library, search psychological journals for good and not so good examples of data presentation. Bring to class for presentation and discussion. Discussion Questions: 1. Why should statistical analysis be viewed as a tool for researchers? 2. Why should researchers plan their data analyses in advance of data collection? 3. What is an analysis plan? Why is it an important research tool? 4. How does the statistical technique called meta-analysis help clarify research results? [Research Design Plan Due] CLASS 13: INDIVIDUAL OR TEAM WORK (IN CLASS OR LIBRARY) This is an opportunity for individuals or teams to meet to develop and carry out research. It is encouraged that all class members continue to meet during the designated class period. You may use the classroom or the library. Note: This may change. Being able to have a free class will depend on where we are in class at this time. [Journal Due-Chaps Submit via ] CLASS 14: INDIVIDUAL OR TEAM WORK (IN CLASS OR LIBRARY) This is an opportunity for individuals or teams to meet to develop and carry out research. It is encouraged that all class members continue to meet during the designated class period. You may use the classroom or the library. Note: This may change. Being able to have a free class will depend on where we are in class at this time. CLASS 15: RESEARCH PRESENTATION - Chapter 12 Key elements of good presentation (written & oral) Role of Audience Organizing Student Research Symposium Publishing and Presenting at Conferences Discussion Questions: 1. Why should researchers share their research results through presentations or publications? 11

12 2. Describe 8 rules of thumb used by seasoned speakers. Explain how these techniques could improve a psychologist s presentation. 3. What is a journal s statement of purpose? How does it differ from a journal s submission guidelines? Why should researchers read and follow these two editorial guides before submitting a manuscript to a journal? 4. Why is presentation of research a creative process? Why does a researcher s opinion about a topic or results change across time? Why is psychological knowledge not static? [Final Research Paper Due] CLASS 16: RESEARCH SYMPOSIUM You are required to formally present your research and findings to your peers and to group of professionals. This is a very formal process and you should behave as if you were presenting your findings to a regional or national conference. You are also encouraged to produce your final research for formal submission to a psychological journal for publication. Teams are encouraged to develop presentation materials using computer software, such as Power Point, Harvard Graphics and other presentation packages. The use of slides and the overhead projector also is encouraged and will improve your grade. [Course Reflections Due-Last Page of Journal] rmk:

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