Research Methods in Psychology - Psychology 200

Typical syllabus


Instructor:    Paul Atchley, Ph.D.


Office:             Fraser 433

Office phone:  864-9803

Office hours:    Mon, Tue, Thur 11-12  and by appointment



Cozby, P. (2001). Methods in Behavioral Research (8th or 9th or 10th Ed.).



Psychology is the science of human behavior.  As a science, we have a variety of methodological tools for measuring and quantifying human behavior and cognition.  This course is designed to provide you with a working knowledge of those tools.  Though a substantial portion of this course is designed to cover methodology in psychology, one of the main goals is to teach you to apply scientific thinking to the myriad bits of information you are exposed to every day.  In addition to "scientific" claims made on the behalf of products in the popular media, you will undoubtedly be called upon to evaluate claims based upon true scientific experiments for choices regarding, for example, your own health and safety.  Successful completion of this course will provide you with skills to evaluate scientific data and determine what is science and what is pseudoscience.


Disability policy

Any student in this course who has a disability that may prevent you from fully demonstrating your abilities should contact me personally as soon as possible so we can discuss accommodations necessary to ensure full participation and to facilitate the educational opportunity.

Plagiarism, Intellectual Property, and Cheating

Plagiarism is defined as any situation in which the source of intellectual property cannot be clearly assigned, or is claimed as original work by someone other than the original author.  Plagiarism will not be tolerated.  Each student is required to submit their own work.  A student suspected of cheating on an exam will lose all points for that exam.

Intellectual Property

Course materials prepared by the instructor, together with the content of all lectures and review sessions presented by the instructor are the property of the instructor. Video and audio recording of lectures and review sessions without the consent of the instructor is prohibited. On request, the instructor will usually grant permission for students to audio tape lectures, on the condition that these audio tapes are only used as a study aid by the individual making the recording. Unless explicit permission is obtained from the instructor, recordings of lectures and review sessions may not be modified and must not be transferred or transmitted to any other person, whether or not that individual is enrolled in the course.


Course goals


Critical thinking goals include developing the ability to

-      identify the basis for a claim of fact

-      determine the validity of scientific and non-scientific claims and formulate additional explanations

-      identify the limitations of science and other forms of inquiry

-      clearly communicate to others the basis of claims of fact and the validity of claims of fact

-      recognize the basis for ethical reasoning and decision making

Psychology related goals include

-      enhancing professional development though discussion of careers, opportunities in the Department of Psychology for professional advancement, and steps for postgraduate academic progress

-      developing an understanding that psychology is the application of the scientific method to issues of human behavior and cognition

plus developing the ability to

-      identify problems with scientific studies

-      formulate a question to which the scientific method can be applied

-      design a scientific study to answer a properly formulated question

-      interpret the results of a study to produce valid claims of fact



Mastery Points                                                               Effort Points

Midterm examination          80 points                         Research reports (3)          50 points each

Final examination                160 points                       Class exercises      (10)           20 points each

Bb quizzes                            60 points


A (excellent): Demonstrated effort (completing optional points) and concept mastery (exam performance).

      'A' effort: All research reports, 8 class exercises   'A' mastery: 80% of exam points  90% of total points

B (good): Demonstrated a good level of effort and concept mastery.

      'B' effort: 2 research reports, 7 class exercises  'B' mastery: 70% of exam points     80% of total points

C(average): Demonstrated little effort and average concept mastery.

      'C' effort: 1 Research report, 5 class exercises  'C' mastery: 60% of exam points     65% of total points

D (poor): Demonstrated little or no effort and poor concept mastery.

      'D' effort: None required  'D' mastery: 40% of exam points                                  50% of total points

F (fail): No effort and very poor or no concept mastery.                                                  Below 50%



Grading examples


                        Mid.     Final    Mastery      Exercises   Reports            Effort          Final %        Grade

Student 1         65        175            80.0% (A)         8                3          310      (A)       90.1%        A


Student 2         80        180            86.7% (A)         7                2          240      (B)       92.6%        B


Student 3         75        160            78.3% (B)         10              3          350      (A)       90.0%        B




The highest score on the examination will become the 100% mark.  All grades will be calculated based upon that mark.  If the highest score out of 100 points possible is 95, then 95 becomes the 100% point.  All other examinations will receive a 5 point addition.  The examinations are a combination of multiple choice, fill-in, matching and short answer.  A "Key Concepts" sheet is available in the workbook.  The examinations are designed to test the depth of your knowledge and should be considered difficult.


Class Exercises

There will be ten class exercises.  ALL HOMEWORK/REPORTS MUST BE TYPED TO RECEIVE CREDIT. Each exercise will be peer-graded on a pass/fail scale.  Bonus points (5) are available for outstanding effort:

      Pass:  The amount of work/creativity is what was expected.

      Fail:  The assignment was not turned in or with very little effort or not typed


Research Reports and Data Collection

These will be explained in class at the appropriate time.


Late Assignment Policy



However, "things happen", so you have the following options in this class:

-      One "excused late assignment" that you can ONCE use for ANY effort points assignment.  It is suggested you save this for later in the semester, or if you miss an important assignment like a research report.  You are still responsible for completing the assignment.

-      Not all assignments need be completed to receive an above average grade ('A' or 'B').  You can miss 2 homework assignments and receive and 'A' or miss 3 and receive a 'B'.



Midterm                       TBA

Final                            8:30 AM, Tuesday May 12th

All late option work            8:30 AM, Tuesday May 12th

Assignments                 As announced