Course Syllabus

Course Description: This course aims to provide an introduction to the different research methods to undertake empirical research in psychology and other disciplines of the behavioral science. Topics include identifying and conceptualizing potential topics into problem statements, articulating research questions and hypotheses, conducting literature reviews, selecting and designing specific research methods and techniques appropriate for answering key research questions, and develop a viable research proposal.

Course Objectives:

1. Encourage students to think critically about the fundamental concepts of the research process and how psychological research conducted

2. Develope information literacy and technology skills to retrieve and synthesize information and critically evaluate published psychological research

3. Provide understanding of the different research designs and data gathering techniques to bring evidence and find answers to the problem

4. Develop students ability on how to prepare a research proposal based and supported by existing research

Course Learning Outcomes:
At the end of this course, students should be able to:

1. Demonstrate an understanding of the foundations of empirical research in behavioural science.

2. Develop an ability to think critically about research and critically evaluate empirical research reports.

3. Understand and critically evaluate various research methodologies used by psychologist.

4. Design a research proposal with an appropriate research methods and techniques.

5. Develop skills in research proposal writing

Course Stucture

Class activities include interactive lecture presentations and tutorial sessions with online activities via recommended readings that underscore the research process in behavioral sciences. Evaluation of students' performance include assessment methodologies such as annotated list of bibliographies relevant to their topics and reviews of weekly acitivities and online learning portfolio of each group.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Week One: Introduction

Week 1: Introduction
1.  Give reasons why are research methods important?

2.  Explain why psychologists at the turn of the 20th century embraced an empirical approach to
    advance understanding about human behaviour.

3.  Why the need to evaluate a media report of research? Identify two reasons why it is important to
    go to or check the original source (i.e., the research report)
4.   The “scientific method” refers to:
      A.  historical, social-cultural, and ethical contexts in which science takes place.
      B.  the specific procedures, measurements, and instruments used by psychologists.
      C.  an abstract concept that describes the logic and methods used to answer questions.
      D.  the development of psychophysical methods for measuring thought processes.

5.   The most important characteristic of the scientific method is the:
      A.  theoretical perspective of behaviorism.
      B.  empirical approach.
      C.  computer revolution.
      D.  cognitive approach.

6.   Three ways that we can characterize the context in which science occurs include:
      A.  historical, social/cultural, and moral.
      B.  behavioral, cognitive, and neuroscience.
      C.  legal, scientific, and media.
      D. American Psychological Association, hypotheses, and ethnocentrism.

7.   The development of psychophysical methods and reaction time experiments at the end of the 19th century was important to emerging field of psychology because these methods:
      A.  allowed researchers to gain understanding about mental telepathy and clairvoyance.
      B.  were instrumental in the development of behaviorism in the 20th century.
      C.  linked psychology with spiritualism in the public’s mind.
      D.  paved the way for psychology to become a quantifiable, laboratory-based science.

8.   When using an empirical approach, psychologists focus on:
      A.  behaviors and experiences that can be observed directly.
      B.   pseudoscientific topics such as clairvoyance and telepathy.
      C.   using computers and other technology to understand people.
      D.  the “black box” between a stimulus and a response.

9.   In modern-day psychology, the dominant perspective for understanding people’s behavior and mental processes is:
      A.  the psychology of sensation and perception.
      B.   behaviorism.
      C.   cognitive psychology.
      D.  neuropsychology.

10. The broad trend that describes the historical development of scientific psychology may be characterized as:
      A.  a chaotic array of investigations covering a diverse set of topics.
      B.   shifts in theoretical perspectives: from behaviorism, to cognitive perspectives, to neuroscience emphases.
      C.   unchanging; current scientific psychology is much as it was at its inception.
      D.  advances in science due to only one or two people.

11. The social-cultural context in which research takes places influences psychological research by affecting:
      A.  the change in theoretical perspectives from behaviorism to cognitive psychology.
      B.   the resources available for psychological research.
      C.   the moral integrity of individual researchers.
      D.  All of these

12. Scientists’ choice of topics to study, resources available to support their research, and society’s acceptance of their findings is most influenced by:
      A.  their moral integrity.
      B.   the American Psychological Association.
      C.   the number of research articles found in a literature search.
      D.  the social and cultural context in which they work.

13. Public criticism of psychological research seems to occur primarily when:
      A.  the research was poorly conducted.
      B.   the media seeks to make a trivial topic more controversial than it is.
      C.   the research was conducted in a laboratory setting.
      D.  the research findings go against strongly held personal beliefs.

14. A source of bias that may originate when we attempt to understand another culture through the framework or lens of our own culture is called:
      A.  ethnocentrism.
      B.   anthropomorphism.
      C.   nomotheticism.
      D.  egotism.

15. An example of a violation of scientific integrity is:
      A.  using the number of scientific publications authored by a researcher to make decisions about professional advancement.
      B.   using animal subjects in research.
      C.   selectively reporting research findings when making a claim about behavior.
      D.  attending to societal issues when choosing research questions.

16. Data fabrication, plagiarism, and failure to acknowledge individuals who contributed to a research project are examples of:
      A.  the social and cultural context in which scientists conduct their work.
      B.   violations of scientific integrity.
      C.   easy to detect in research reports.
      D.  the lack of a moral context for scientists’ work.

17. Violations of scientific integrity include:
      A.  fabricating data, reporting only the data that support the researcher’s expectations, and failure to acknowledge people who contributed significantly to the research.
      B.  plagiarism, selective reporting of research findings, and using computers to collect data.
      C.  sing animals in research, misusing research funds, and deceiving participants in a research project.
      D.  All of these

18. In order to make decisions about ethical dilemmas in research, psychologists consult:
      A.  their attorneys.
      B.  the psychological literature related to their topic.
      C.  the local, state, and federal agencies most relevant to their work.
      D. the American Psychological Association’s ethical principles.

19. A key factor when “thinking like a researcher” is to be:
      A.  polemic.
      B.  trusting.
      C.  skeptical.
      D. dogmatic.

20. Which of the following statements is false?
      A.  Scientists strive to draw conclusions based on empirical evidence rather than subjective judgments
      B.  Psychological scientists often withhold judgment because they recognize human behavior is complex.
      C.  Scientists recognize that researchers can make mistakes in their research.
      D. Scientists are cautious about accepting claims about behavior until they see the findings published

21. The strongest research evidence for a claim about behavior occurs when:
      A.  findings converge across many replications of an experiment.
      B.  survey findings suggest a high percentage of participants who agree in their response to a particular question.
      C.  a strong relationship is observed among factors or variables.
      D. an experiment allows researchers to identify a cause of people’s behavior.

22. The parallel in attempting to understand truth based on legal evidence and scientific evidence is that in both cases:
      A.  we can make decisions with absolute certainty.
      B.  we make our decisions based on subjective impressions of people.
      C.  the decisions we make depend on the quality and extent of evidence.
      D. decisions are reliable and accurate.

23. A potential problem that arises when evaluating research findings presented in the media (e.g., television, newspapers) is that:
      A.  the findings may be from research studies conducted in other countries.
      B.  important aspects of the research method are likely not reported.
      C.  those reporting the findings have little financial stake in the public’s acceptance of the findings.
      D. All of these

24. An important first step when evaluating psychological research reported in the media is to:
      A.  go to the original source in which the research was reported.
      B.  determine whether the research was reported both on television and in printed material (e.g., newspapers, magazines).
      C.  search the psychological literature for related information.
      D. decide whether the report describes a survey or an experiment.

25. A psychology student watches a television program that mentions research on newborn infants’ ability to recognize their parents’ voices. To learn more about this study, the student should:
      A.  contact the producer of the television program.
      B.  locate and read the original research article that describes the research.
      C.  ask friends if they saw the program too.
      D. ask parents if their children recognized their voices as infants.

Week Two

Week 2: The Scientific Method
1.  Describe how an experiment is used to understand the cause of a phenomenon by describing the  
     three conditions for causal inference an experiment meets.

2. Distinguish between the nomothetic approach and the idiographic approach in descriptions of   
    psychological phenomena.

3.   Which of the following is a characteristic of the scientific method?
      A.  biased reporting
      B.  uncontrolled observation
      C.  testable hypotheses
      D.  unreliable measurement
4.   Which of the following is a cognitive bias that can interfere with our ability to weigh evidence appropriately because we perceive a relationship when none exists?
      A.  perceptual set
      B.  covariation
      C.  spurious relationship
      D.  illusory correlation
5.   The empirical approach used in the scientific method is based on:
      A.  direct observation and experimentation
      B.  intuition and inference
      C.  illusory correlation
      D.  didactic rules of evidence

6.   The primary means that scientists use to establish control in their observations is to:
      A.  train multiple observers
      B.  use many dependent variables
      C.  select individual differences variables to evaluate
      D.  manipulate an independent variable in an experiment
7.   Based on investigations with the horse Clever Hans, an important factor researchers should seek to control when testing whether dogs can sniff cancer in urine samples is:
      A.  whether the dogs can see people who know which samples came from cancer patients while they are tested
      B.  whether the dogs are tested indoors or outdoors
      C.  that the urine samples should all come from one patient
      D. that some samples should come from people and some from horses
8.   The factors that the researcher controls or manipulates in order to determine their effect on behavior are called the:
      A.  independent variables
      B.  dependent variables
      C.  intervening variables
      D.  relevant variables
9.   In a study investigating the effects of two different doses of a drug on students’ test performance, the drug represents the:
      A.  dependent variable
      B.  independent variable
      C.  intervening variable
      D.  criterion variable

10. In an experiment that compares aggressive responses following exposure to media violence in television programming and video games, “aggressive responses” is the __________ and “exposure to media violence” is the __________.
      A.  independent variable; dependent variable
      B.  dependent variable; independent variable
      C.  construct; operational definition
      D.  operational definition; construct

11. In a study examining the number of proofreading errors made when students are tested while reading under bright or dim lighting, the number of proofreading errors represents the:
      A.  independent variable
      B.  dependent variable
      C.  control variable
      D.  individual differences variable

12. If you describe that a small rodent “chewed” an index card and “ate” a cookie when what you observed in these two situations was essentially the same, your report likely includes:
      A.  inferences
      B.  illusory correlations
      C.  distorted behaviors
      D.  contaminated observations

Take home exam for "Final Year Students" due on Tuesday, 15 February 2011. This activity is worth 10 points.

1. Reflect upon various aspects and characteristics of gaining knowledge. Distinguish between the scientific approach and “everyday” approaches to gain knowledge on the following categories:
1.      general approach
2.      observation
3.      reporting
4.      concepts
5.      instruments
6.      measurement
7.      hypotheses
8.      attitude

2. Consider the significance of their influence on controlling behavior which the researcher tries to determine. Differentiate between an independent variable and a dependent variable, and provide an example of each that could be used in an experiment.

Week Three

Week 3: Ethical Issues in the Conduct of Psychological Research

1.   Distinguish between physical injury, psychological injury, and social injury as sources of risk in psychological research.
2    Identify the conditions under which participants are considered to be “at risk.”
3.   Describe how the use of deception can be justified on methodological grounds and describe the conditions under which the use of deception is always unethical.
4.   Identify two ways in which debriefing benefits the participant and one way in which it benefits the researcher.
5.   Describe how the APA ethical standards for research with animals involve both the use and the care of animals.
6.   Identify three risks associated with Internet research and the procedures researchers might follow to lessen the each risk.

7.   Which of the following represents the basic question addressed by the risk/benefit ratio?    
      A.  Are the risks in a study greater than minimal risk?
      B.  Are the benefits gained by individuals greater than the risks posed to society?
      C.  Will the researcher's reputation be enhanced or hurt by the study's findings?
      D.  Are the benefits (to individual participants and society) of a study greater than the risks?

8.   Failure to protect the confidentiality of a participant’s responses may increase the risk in a research study by increasing the possibility of:
      A.  physical injury.
      B.  psychological injury.
      C.  social injury.
      D.  psychosocial injury.

9.   A student conducted a research project in which fake smoke entered the waiting area used by participants. This procedure was used to create a stressful situation and the student then tested participants’ performance on complex reasoning tasks. One student waiting in a wheelchair experienced a panic attack when the smoke appeared. After this incident, the IRB stopped the research. This example demonstrates that:
      A.  IRBs can be unreasonable.
      B.  characteristics of individuals must be considered when determining risk.
      C.  the deception was described fully during the informed consent procedure.
      D.  this research should have been conducted online.

10.   When the probability and magnitude of harm or discomfort anticipated in the research are not greater than those encountered in daily life or during the performance of routine tests, we say that the risk is:
      A.  minor risk.
      B.  minimal risk.
      C.  static risk.
      D.  daily risk.

11.   When there is no way to connect a research participant’s responses with that participant’s identifying information (e.g., name, identification number), the responses are said to be:
      A.  confidential.
      B.  informed.
      C.  anonymous.
      D.  debriefed.

12.   Which of the following is not required of researchers in an informed consent procedure?
      A.  description of the nature of the research
      B.  reasons for why deception is used in the research
      C.  information that might influence participants’ willingness to participate
      D.  All of these are required

13.   Researchers who conduct research with individuals having limited ability to understand the nature of the research and the possible risks:
      A.  must obtain informed consent from the parents or legal guardians and should strive, when feasible, to get assent from the participants themselves.
      B. must obtain informed consent from both the parents or legal gurdian and from the participants themselves.
      C.  must get assent from the participants themselves but need not obtain informed consent from the parents or legal guardians.
      D.  need not obtain informed consent from the parents or legal guardian nor get assent from the participants themselves.

14. Final responsibility for conducting research in an ethical manner rests with the:
      A.  Institutional Review Board (IRB)
      B.  Departmental Review Board
      C.  department chairperson
      D.  investigator

15. In which of the following situations could individuals be vulnerable to excessive inducement or pressure to participate in research?
      A.  paying college students $5 an hour to be in a psychology experiment
      B.  requiring prisoners to participate in a psychology experiment
      C.  asking college students to participate in research to fulfill a class requirement and giving them an alternative method to meet the requirement
      D.  All of these

16. In which of the following situations may it not be necessary for a researcher to obtain informed consent?
      A.  when doing research with children
      B.  when doing research that involves more than minimal risk
      C.  when observing behavior in public settings with no intervention
      D.  when asking participants to complete questionnaires on the Internet

17. Which of the following is not one of the dimensions that Deiner and Crandall suggest a researcher should consider when deciding what information is private and what safeguards should be employed?
      A.  source of the information
      B.  sensitivity of the information
      C.  setting in which behavior is observed
      D.  how the information will be disseminated

18. For a class research project, students conceal themselves in bathroom stalls in order to observe conversational behavior of individuals at sinks in the washroom. They count the number of words spoken by women and men in their respective washrooms. An important ethical issue in this research is:
      A.  debriefing
      B.  deception.
      C.  informed consent.
      D.  privacy.

19. The right of individuals to decide how information about them is to be communicated to others is referred to as:
      A.  confidentiality.
      B.  anonymity.
      C.  self-determination.
      D.  privacy.

20. Which of the following terms describes the ethical issue that arises when information is withheld from research participants or when they are given misinformation?
      A.  plagiarism
      B.  minimal risk
      C.  distortion
      D.  deception

Take home exam for "Final Year Students" due on Friday, 25 February 2011. This activity is worth 10 points.

  1. Why are ethics a concern in psychological research?
  2. What are the criteria that IRB uses to evaluate proposed research?
  3. What limits are put on deception to minimize the contradiction and the principle of informed consent?