Syllabus

Research Methods and Statistical Analysis: Experimental Approaches
Psychology 303
Winter 2006
MWF 10:00-11:20  OM 330

Instructor:    Ira Hyman, Ph.D.
Office:    MH 342
Phone:   650-3519
Office Hours:  M & W 11:30 - 12:30, T & Th 10:00 - 11:30, and by appointment
E-mail:  hyman@ cc.wwu.edu  (Best way to get a message to me.)
Web Page:  http://www.ac.wwu.edu/~hyman/

TAs:
Alex Roach 
MH 236
Office hours:
W 2-5
Th 11-1

Aaron Van Reenen 
MH 340
Office Hours:
T 12:30 - 3
W 11:30 - 2

Texts:

American Psychological Association.  (2001).  Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (5th ed.).  Washington, DC: Author.

Whatever textbooks you have from 301 and 302 will still be useful.  You will need it to have an alternative source of information and for the tables in the back of the book.  In addition, a set of handouts will be available in class.  These accompany several lectures when I cover examples.

A set of my lecture notes is available on the S-drive under my name (in the Psychology section)..

The Course:
This course is the third in the series examining research methods and statistics.  The class sessions will cover research design, statistics, writing, and other issues involved in conducting and presenting research.

Objectives:
I have several goals for you.  I expect you to be able to translate an interest in a topic into a testable hypothesis.  I expect you to be able to design and conduct a research project.  I expect you to learn to use and understand statistics.  I expect you to learn to use a computer in conducting statistics.  I expect you to be able to understand and evaluate journal articles and other presentations of research.  I expect you to become able to write a paper in a style acceptable to psychologists.  These are my goals with respect to the content of this course and with preparing you for further work in psychology.

I also hope that this course will be of broader use for you.  I expect you to learn to evaluate research presented to you on a daily basis in the mass media.  I expect you to become empiricists and to learn to appreciate observable fact over unsupported opinion.  In general, I hope that you become critical consumers of the information constantly demanding your attention.

Computers:
 I expect all your writing to be done using a word processor.  Please use Word, WordPerfect, or some other major program because such packages will be able to output a manuscript in APA style.  The computer facilities in Miller Hall, and elsewhere on campus, are open to students.  We will also be using the SPSS statistics program as part of the course this quarter.  I also recommend using graphing packages for any figures you make.  Please feel free to contact me via e-mail -- this is the best way to contact me outside of office hours.

 Use my web page and the S-drive.  I have already put some material on the page (syllabus,  lectures) and intend to add more as the quarter progresses (the problem sets, grading guidelines).  This is nice because you can obtain the lecture notes and other materials in the same format in which they will be presented in class.  This should be an easy way for you to get additional course information.  For many materials, such as this syllabus, I will not print copies for you.  You are responsible for obtaining what you need from the web.

Course Requirements:
 
 
Exams Assignments Research Project
Exam 1     10% Problem Set 1   5% Project Discussion
Exam 2     15% Problem Set 2   5% Proposal
Final         15% Problem Set 3   10% Approval


Research Report


Presentation
Total Exams:     40% Total PS:     20% Total Research Project:     40%

Exams
 The exams will include abstracts for you to interpret (to show understanding of research design), problems for you to solve (to demonstrate your understanding of statistical methods), data and results for you to interpret (to demonstrate your understanding of the reasons for computing statistics), short answer questions (generally concerning issues of methods or statistical concepts), and opportunities to critique journal or newspaper accounts of research.  Exams will be open book and open note.

Assignments
 The problem sets will be sets of data that you will be asked to analyze and interpret.  They will require you to use the statistical methods that are being discussed in class.  Generally, you will be expected to perform part of the calculations by hand to show familiarity with the methods and required to perform most using the SPSS statistics package.  You will be asked to write results and discussion sections for each problem set.  These assignments will usually be assigned during one week and due the following week.

Research Project
 The largest single portion of work for this class is an independent research project.  You will decide upon a topic worthy of investigation, conduct a literature review of the issue, select a question to address, decide how to create a research project based on your question, discuss your research ideas with a TA or me, submit a written proposal, obtain approval for your proposal, conduct the experiment, analyze the data, write a report, and present your findings to the class.  This list is presented in the order in which I suggest you proceed.

 Begin by finding an area or a phenomenon within psychology that interests you.  Try to think of some questions that you could ask about that topic.  Be as specific as possible.  Then you should review the theoretical work concerning your topic and investigate what other researchers have been doing with regard to your topic.  Once you are somewhat more familiar with the theories and methods used in researching that topic, you should think about what question you would like to address and try to design a research project.  This project can be an experiment, quasi-experimental, relational, or observational project.  You should write down your ideas for your experiment (particularly in terms of your theoretical justification, and IVs and DVs) and discuss them with a TA or me.  We may suggest further literature review and changes in your design.  At this point you will submit a written proposal for your research project.  This should be the introduction to and methods section for your paper.  You should also append your materials and a debriefing statement.  The TAs will provide feedback on this proposal that should aid in writing the final research project.  You may be asked to make changes, answer questions, or rewrite the proposal before approval to proceed will be granted.  When making these decisions the TAs and I will focus on three issues:  theoretical justification of the project, clear and clean methodology, and no ethical problems.  After your proposal is approved, you should begin collecting data.  (If you are using human subjects, you will have access to the human subjects pool.  Failure to conduct a scheduled experimental session will result a 10% loss on your final project evaluation.)  You will then conduct the appropriate statistics.  Once you have all of this information in hand you should return to the writing process.  Your final report will follow APA guidelines.  During the final week of classes all projects will be presented to the class.  The presentations are not graded, but failure to make a presentation will result in a 10% loss on your project grade.  If you have not turned in your paper, you will not be allowed to make a presentation.

Working with a partner:
You can do this project with another student (only pairs, no groups of three or more).  You must decide whether you will turn in one manuscript for the project or one for each author.  If you decide to turn in one manuscript, both authors will receive the same grade since I have no way of knowing relative contributions.  If you decide to turn in one paper each, the papers and grades will be independent.  Given the size of this project, I recommend doing the research project in pairs.

 In choosing a partner you need to be careful.  Be sure you choose someone with whom you will be able to work.  This does not necessarily mean you should choose your best friend.  Be sure that you have similar course goals (this means aiming for the same grade), work habits, and times when you can get together to work.  Your partner needs to be someone with whom you can talk, share ideas, and be critical.

 Do not simply split the work responsibility, but rather work on tasks together.  It is important that both members of a partnership have a reasonable understanding of the whole project so that the end product is coherent.  Working together is particularly important during writing.  Keep in mind that both sides of partnerships generally think they are contributing more to the final product.

A few useful notes:  The most difficult part of a research project is figuring out how to narrow a fairly broad area of interest into a precise question for investigation.  Start thinking early.  You will not be approved for research that involves serious deception or any illegal activity.  Violation of APA guidelines for the ethical treatment of subjects will automatically result in a zero for this project.  Performing your experiment in a fashion that differs from that approved by the TAs or me will result in a zero for the task.

General Comments

 1.  If you need to take an exam late or turn in an assignment late, please inform me before the date in question.  Failure to do so will result in the loss of a letter grade per day from your evaluation on the assignment. Generally, even when informed, I do not allow late assignments for other than medical reasons.

 2.  Plagiarism will result in a zero on the task.  Tests and problem sets are expected to be your own work.  The paper is also expected to be the work of the authors listed on the manuscript.  Studying together for the tests, discussing paper ideas, and having someone proofread your work are acceptable and advised.  As defined in Western Washington University’s Academic Dishonesty Policy and Procedure, plagiarism “is presenting as one’s own in whole or in part the ideas, language, creations, conclusions, or scientific data of another without explicit acknowledgment.”  As a note for this, the acknowledgment must be accurate as well.  Citing someone indicates that the ideas are from that person while the writing is your own.  Quoting indicates that the ideas and writing belong to someone else. I have provided more explicit information of APA citation style on my web page (http://www.ac.wwu.edu/~hyman/psy303/lplag.html).

 3.  The TAs and I are available for draft reading.  We will read drafts of problem sets and of the major paper.  Good writing requires rewriting and editing.  Please give us a reasonable amount of time to read drafts -- at least one day.  I seldom find that I can read more than three paper drafts in one night.  Please only have one copy of a draft read -- in other words do not give three copies of the same version to each of the TAs and me.  We will generally pick up many of the same problems and thus expend time that could have been spent reading someone else’s draft.  Instead, submit a draft to one of us, use the feedback, and then submit the revised draft to another of us.  Near the due date for the paper, we may not be able to read all drafts submitted to us for review.  In these cases we will prioritize with the goal of providing the most feedback to the most students.

Tentative Schedule
 
 
Dates Topics Assignments and Exams Research Report
Jan 4 & 6 Introduction & Research Methods

Jan 9 - 13 Review means to t-tests
Discuss project by Jan 13
Jan 18 & 20 Proposal Writing
Submit Proposal by Jan 20
Jan 23 - 27 One-way ANOVAs  PS 1: Jan 27 
Jan 30 - Feb 3 Critiquing Research  EXAM 1:  Feb 3 Start Collecting Data
Feb 6 - 10 Two-way ANOVAs  PS 2: Feb 10
Feb 13 - 17 Within-subjects Designs  EXAM 2:  Feb 17 Start Statistics
Feb 22 & 24 Writing the paper  PS 3:  Feb 24  Start Writing Again
Feb 27 - March 3 Catch up
Research Report:  March 3 
March 6 - 10 Presentations









Final
March 13, Mon: 10:30 - 12:30

For statistics readings, find the section of your stat book that matches the course topic.