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Course Objectives:
The Seminar in Psychology course is a capstone course intended to provide you with the opportunity to
integrate the skills that you have acquired as a student in psychology. You will be
required to:
 Identify a topic of interest and conduct a literature
search in your chosen topic
 Summarize and
integrate recent articles from the primary research literature
 Reduce your
topic to a meaningful question or hypothesis that can be empirically tested
 Design an
appropriate experiment for evaluating your hypothesis
 Statistically
analyze and interpret simulated data that are based on your experimental design
 Write an APAStyle research proposal including a literature review, a
description of the methodology and appropriate statistics, and a discussion
of possible outcomes of the study
Each semester the topic area for research proposals is restricted to a central
psychological phenomenon. The topic area for Spring 2002 is:
Behavioral Compulsions
You will read several articles that introduce
this topic and describe the scope of the phenomenon. From this basic
introduction you will be asked to identify a specific problem and formulate a
research question.
What You Are Expected to Do in the Seminar Course:
The Senior Seminar is different from most of the other content courses that you have taken
in psychology. This course is very similar to an independent study course. You are
expected to make use of your knowledge of psychology to develop an experiment and a write
a final research paper. Almost all of your work will be conducted outside of the classroom
and in the library. The weekly meetings serve to analyze and evaluate target
articles and to help you organize and sharpen your work. You (and
I) will be doing quite a bit of reading and rereading as well as writing and rewriting.
Don't fall behind it can be quite painful (for you and ME) if you need to catch up the
last few weeks of the semester. Psychology students preparing to take the senior seminar
should be able to
 Identify a specific problem from a central psychological phenomenon
 Reduce the problem to a meaningful question or hypothesis that can be empirically tested
 Know basic
library skills
 Identify
relevant sources for research in their topic of interest
 Evaluate the
quality of articles and know which to include in their thesis and which to exclude
 Have a
familiarity with the basic rules for writing research reports in APA format
What You Need to Know to Design an
Experiment and Interpret its Results:
In order for students to be able to design an experiment, analyze the data
and interpret the results they should be able to:
 Distinguish
between an experimental group and a control group
 Understand the
importance of operational definitions
 Define the term
variable
 Identify
independent variables and dependent variables
 Understand the
distinction between correlation and causation
 Interpret
correlation coefficients
 Understand the
meaning of confound or a confounded variable
 Identify
randomization and counterbalancing procedures
 Understand main
effects and interactions
 Distinguish
between reliability and validity
 Distinguish
between nonexperimental, experimental, quasiexperimental, and correlational designs
 Understand the
difference among betweensubjects, withinsubjects, and mixed designs
 Understand the
difference between descriptive and inferential statistics
 Understand the
difference between parametric and nonparametric statistical tests
 Understand what
the normal curve implies
 Understand
variance, standard deviation, and standard error
 Compute some
basic statistics (e.g., standard deviation) by heart
 Determine when
to use ttests and ANOVAs
 Use critical
tables for statistics
 Understand
exactly what p means
 Interpret
tratios and F ratios
 Understand the
need for posthoc tests
 Organize raw
data and convert data to line graphs or bar graphs
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This page was last modified January 10, 2002
vigorimi@shu.edu
