RESEARCH METHODS IN PSYCHOLGICAL SCIENCE

PSYCHOLOGY 242

95933 LECT 0900-0950 M W 00C3 LC
link to: schedule | updates | top


Instructor

R. Chris Fraley, Ph.D.
Department of Psychology | Behavioral Sciences Building room 1050 A
Office hours: Mon and Wed 10 - 11 a.m.
E-mail: fraley@uic.edu

Teaching Assistants

Vicky Harmon | vharmon@uic.edu
Jason McAnany | jmcana1@uic.edu
Meg Wardle | mwardl1@uic.edu

Discussion sections:

95944 DISC 1000-1050 M 0211 BSB
95900 DISC 1100-1150 M 0211 BSB
95979 DISC 1200-1250 M 0211 BSB
95966 DISC 1000-1050 W 0211 BSB
95957 DISC 1100-1150 W 0211 BSB
96017 DISC 1200-1250 W 0211 BSB

Textbooks

Stanovich, K. E. (2001). How to think straight about psychology (6th Edition). Boston, MA: Allyn and Bacon.

I will post the chapters that you should read for each exam in the schedule below. I encourage you to read at least one chapter a week so you don't get behind. Occasionally I will ask you to read a specific chapter for discussion in your sections. In those situations, I will make a special announcement for the reading assignments.

link to: schedule | updates | top

Structure and Overview of the Course

The discipline of psychology occupies a peculiar niche in modern universities. Modern psychologists are concerned with basic humanistic issues (e.g., the nature of emotions, the mind, relationships, free will, and consciousness) that have traditionally been studied by philosophers, poets, and historians. However, unlike scholars in these other disciplines, modern psychologists employ the methods of the natural sciences (e.g., measurement, experimentation) in order to understand these phenomena.
The objective of this course is to introduce you to scientific methods, and how they can be used to better understand psychological phenomena.

I will deliver lectures on Mondays and Wednesdays. I expect you to be in class on time, and, if you cannot make it to class for some reason, I strongly encourage you to obtain the lecture notes from one of your classmates as soon as possible. (Do not come to me or one of the TAs for lecture notes.) There will also be weekly discussion sections, led by the TAs, in which you will design studies, collect and analyze psychological data, and expand your critical thinking skills.

The Class Webpage

I will post lecture notes on the class web page immediately after each lecture. I plan to post the notes because I want you to spend your class time listening and thinking carefully about the issues we're discussing rather than worrying about copying everything correctly. If, however, class attendance begins to decline, I will discontinue web notes because I do not want people skipping lectures simply because they can download the notes at their leisure.

You should treat the class web page as your primary syllabus. I will be updating it on a regular basis and it will be your responsibility to keep up-to-date on any changes that are made. For example, the lecture-topical schedule listed below is preliminary and will change as a function of how quickly or slowly we are progressing though the course. Also, practice test questions, answers to exams you've taken, exam grades to date, etc. will be updated as necessary. If you do not have Internet access at home, please visit one of the many student computer facilities on campus on a regular basis.

link to: schedule | updates | top

Grading


There will be four exams over the course of the semester, plus the final exam. Thus, there will be five exams total. The first four exams will not be cumulative in the strict sense of the term, but the subject matter will build on itself, so mastering material for the second exam, for example, may require that you keep yourself refreshed on earlier material. The final exam, however, will be cumulative in the strict sense of the term; I will ask you about anything that has been covered in the course.

Of the five exams, only your four best grades will count. In other words, you can drop your worst exam score. Why do I allow this? I allow this because emergencies (e.g., death in the family, oversleeping on exam day, traffic problems) may occur at some point during the semester, and you might have to miss an exam. I do not give make-up exams under any circumstances; the fact that you can drop your lowest score (which could be a 0) covers all make-up exam situations. Please do not ask me about make up exams because I will simply refer you to the class webpage which explains my policy on this issue (see previous sentence). If you would like to document an absence due to a medical emergency, it is necessary that you bring me a medical billing statement; a simple note from a doctor will not suffice.

In light of this policy, your best strategy is to study hard for each exam, hope nothing bad happens, and then skip the final if you're happy with the grade you would receive based on the first 4 exams. Then, if something bad happens along the way and you have to miss an exam, you'll know that you cannot miss the others. Or, if you bomb exam 1, you'll know you can drop it, but you'll have to do well on the remaining 4 exams. If you oversleep for exam 1 and then a relative dies for exam 2, you will receive a sympathy card, but not a make-up test.

The exam schedule for the semester is posted on the class webpage. It will not be changed, so please determine as soon as possible whether your schedule will prohibit you from making it to certain exams. It might be wise for you to drop the class (or change to another section) if you can foresee possible problems in scheduling from day 1.

At least once a week in lecture (either on Mondays or Wednesdays), I will give you a five-minute pop quiz at the beginning of class. These quizzes will be administered at exactly 9:00 a.m. and will be collected at 9:05 a.m. I strongly encourage you to come to class on time; there will be no make-up pop quiz opportunities. These quizzes will not be difficult; My objective in administering these quizzes to encourage you to keep up with the readings and the lecture material so you don't have to cram at the last minute for the exams.

Of your four highest exam scores, they will be averaged, and that average will account for 60% of your grade. The remaining 40% of your grade will come from lab activities (20%) and weekly quizzes (20%). Attendance is required for the labs.

Note: If you need to know your discussion section grade at any point in the semester, please contact your TA.

Students with disabilities who require accommodations for access and participation in this course must be registered with the Office of Disability Services (ODS). Please contact ODS at 312/413-2103 or 312/413-0123.

Updates

Jan 15, 2003
Several people have asked me if I will add them to the class. Unfortunately, the class is currently full, and we do not have the resources to add new students. Approximately 20 people have asked me if they can add, and there is simply no fair way to go about trying to accommodate some people and not others. What should you do about this? I don't have a good solution to your problem, but you're welcome to "sit in" on the class while space permits and hope that someone drops so you can add the class in their place. This strategy has worked in the past, but, unless 20 people drop, it can't work for everyone. Please keep in mind that there is another section of Psych 242 available, and there may (or may not) be resources available in that section for adding. There will also be a summer section of Psych 242 offered this summer.

Lab sections begin on the third week of the semester: Jan 27th.

Jan 29, 2003
I am not planning on attending class today because of the anticipated birth. The TA's will show you a video that I mentioned in lecture on Monday. Please think carefully about the implications of what we've been discussing in lecture for the way "information" is regulated in the Benny Hinn ministries. Be prepared to discuss these issues next week in discussion section. I will not be in class for the exam on Monday either. Please feel free to e-mail me or the TAs if you have any questions. Depending on how the birth goes, I may not be able to respond quickly, so please be patient.

Jan 29, 2003
The first exam is scheduled for Monday, Feb 3. The exam will consist of approximately 16 multiple choice questions and 4 short answer questions. The majority of the questions stem from the lecture material, but approximately 5 questions were derived from the readings.

How should you study for the exam? I would strongly recommend reviewing your lecture notes. *Think* carefully about what we've been discussing. Although a certain amount of "memorization" is always required for an exam, I'm more interested in assessing your understanding of the basic concepts rather than the terms used to label them. This is especially true for the readings: With respect to the Stanovich chapters, I will ask you questions about some of the basic themes, criticisms, and ideas that he discusses. I will not ask you about detailed trivia, such as names, dates, etc.

Here are a few sample questions to give you a better feel for how I write questions:

Sample question 1: multi-choice
Fox News recently reported that a new study has found that over 66% of pregnant women who ate spicy food during their 9th month went into labor within two days. The Fox reporters concluded that pregnant women who want to initiate labor should eat spicy food. Based on what we discussed in class, why is this conclusion problematic?
(a) the reporters expected spicy food to work before they read the study
(b) spicy food is harmful to the developing baby
(c) there is no baserate/comparison information
(d) Fox News has a bad habit of misreading research studies
[Hint: over 99% of convicted felons eat bread at least twice a week]

Sample question 2: multi-choice
In class we defined psychology as a discipline that
(a) addresses the questions posed by the humanities using the methods of the natural sciences
(b) trains people to use psychotherapy effectively
(c) requires a minimum of 6 years of graduate training to master
(d) focuses on the experiential causes of behavior, thought, and feeling
[Hint: first and second lecture notes]

Sample question 3: short answer
Based on our discussion in lecture, discuss one problem with relying upon testimonial evidence as evidence for a claim.
[Hint: lecture on subliminal tapes]

Sample question 4: short answer
Why is falsifiability an important feature of a "good theory"?
[Hint: Stanovich text]

Feb 11, 2003
The grades for the first exam have been posted. See the link below in the schedule.

March 10, 2003
Big project announced in lecture. See lecture notes for March 10 for more information. The link to the class exercise is http://p032.psch.uic.edu/cgi-bin/psch242/begin.pl.

March 12, 2003
The grades for the second exam have been posted. See the link below in the schedule. We have also posted quiz grades 1 - 5.

April 9, 2003
Based on an in-class vote, the paper grade will count as 25% of your quiz grade instead of your section grade.

April 13, 2003
Assignments have been made for the weather extra-credit assignment that was discussed in Wed's April 9th class. As I mentioned in class, assignments were made on a first-come, first-serve basis. I e-mailed people their assignments. If you did not receive an e-mail from me, then someone else e-mailed me regarding your preferred weather outlet first.

April 16, 2003
By request I have posted the answer key to the quizes. Please use these to study for the final exam. The quizes and answers are available as a PowerPoint file here.

April 21, 2003
I have a few new announcements; I'll discuss these in class on Wed.

1. If you are working on the weather assignment, please send me whatever information you have collected to date. There is no need to collect additional information as of April 21, 2003. If you were given a weather assignment and you did not do it, you will receive "anti-credit" because, by volunteering for the assignment, you took away someone else's opportunity.

2.If you have a final exam conflict with this class (the exam date is Tuesday May 6th 10:30-12:30), please e-mail me before Friday (April 25th) and let me know that you have a conflict. Alternate exams will be given on Tuesday May 6th at 1:00, 2:00, 3:00, and 4:00. I can only allow 4 people per time slot, so please e-mail me and let me know which time slot you would like for me to reserve for you. If you don't e-mail me by Friday, April 25th, I cannot assure you a make up exam; it is your responsibility to contact me as soon as possible and reserve a time slot. Note: You can only schedule a make up for this exam if the class with which it conflicts is alphabetically listed after this one in the Spring 2003 Timetable. For example, if this test conflicts with a biology test, you must take this test and reschedule your biology final. If this test conflicts with a zoology test, you must take the zoology test and reschedule this one.

April 23
As discussed in class today, there is a final homework assignment that is due on Monday April 28th. To learn more about the assignment, please visit the following link: http://p032.psch.uic.edu/cgi-bin/psch242/homework.pl.

April 26
The critical thinking assignment on the war is graded. Please click here for details on the grading, the grades, and how to get your paper back.

May 2
All of the grades to date have been posted here.

May 3
If you're scheduled to take a make-up final exam, please meet me in my office: 1050 "A" BSB at the time that I e-mailed you.

May 6
We will try to post the final grades for the course on-line as soon as possible--hopefully by Wed. at noon.

link to: schedule | updates | top

Schedule and Web Notes

Note: You can access web versions of the class overheads by clicking on the links below. This schedule is tentative, and will be revised online as we progress through the semester.

Part I

Introduction to Psychological Science

How do we commonly draw inferences about the world? What are the limitations of these methods? What is the scientific method? Can the scientific method be applied to understand psychological processes?

Lecture 1 (Jan 13, 2003): Introduction to Psychological Science
PowerPoint Download (right-click link and select "save target" in order to save PowerPoint files to your computer)

Lecture 2 (Jan 15, 2003): Five Limitations of Personal Experience
PowerPoint Download

Jan 20 : Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday | no class

Lecture 3 (Jan 22, 2003): The Scientific Process: The Importance of Systematic Observation and the Testing and Revision of Ideas
PowerPoint Download

Lecture 4 (Jan 27, 2003): Science and Pseudo-science: The Case of Subliminal Recordings
PowerPoint Download

Lecture 5 (Jan 29, 2003): Credibility, Accountability, and the Way Inconsistent Information is Handled: The Case of the Rev. Benny Hinn
[Film: No PowerPoint Slides | Benny Hinn web site]

Discussion Section # 1 (Jan 27/29): Assignment

Discussion Section # 2 (Feb 3/5): Homework: Article on Elizabeth Targ and the healing power of prayer

Exam 1: Feb 3, 2003 | grades
Reading Assignments for Exam 1: Ch 1, Ch2, Ch 4

Part 2

Measuring Psychological Variables

Can we measure psychological variables? How can we help ensure that we're measuring what we think we're measuring?

Lecture 6 (Feb 5, 2003): Psychological Measurement and Scales of Measurement: What does it mean to measure a psychological variable?
PowerPoint Download

Lecture 7 (Feb 10, 2003): Psychological Measurement: Operational Definitions & Equivalence Relationships
PowerPoint Download

Lecture 8 (Feb 12, 2003): Psychological Measurement: Operational Definitions & Multiple Indicators
PowerPoint Download

Discussion Section # 3 (Feb 10/12): Overview

Lecture 9 (Feb 17, 2003): Psychological Measurement: Reliability and the Properties of Random Errors
PowerPoint Download

Lecture 10 (Feb 19, 2003): Psychological Measurement: Validity and the Properties of Systematic Errors
PowerPoint Download

Discussion Section # 4 (Feb 17/19): Overview

Lecture 11 (Feb 24, 2003): Psychological Measurement: Construct Validity
PowerPoint Download

Lecture 12 (Feb 25, 2003): Obtaining Research Participants: Sampling Techniques
PowerPoint Download

Discussion Section # 5 (Feb 247/26): Review for next exam


Exam 2: March 3, 2003 | grades
Reading Assignments for Exam 2: Ch 3

Part 3

Designing Psychological Research

Psychological research is typically concerned with describing the way psychological processes work and testing hypotheses about those processes. How can we best design research studies to accomplish these goals?

Lecture 13 (March 5, 2003): Formulating Research Questions
PowerPoint Download

Lecture 14 (March 10, 2003): Answering Univariate Research Questions
PowerPoint Download

Discussion Section #6 (Mar 10/12): Generate Research Questions for On-Line Exercise

Lecture 15 (March 12, 2003): Multivariate Descriptive Research: Standardized Scores
PowerPoint Download

Lecture (March 24, 2003): War, Opinions, and Evidence: A Discussion
Assignment [due April 14th]

Discussion Section #7 (Mar 24/26): Data

Lecture 16 (March 26, 2003): Multivariate Descriptive Research: Summarizing the Relationship between Two Continuous Variables with Correlations
PowerPoint Download

Lecture 17 (March 31, 2003): Multivariate Descriptive Research: Summarizing the Relationship between a Continuous Variable and Categorical Variables
PowerPoint Download

Discussion Section #8 (Mar 31/April 2): Data

Lecture 18 (April 2, 2003): Making Inferences about Causality: Confounds, Experiments, and Random Assignment
PowerPoint Download

Exam 3: April 7, 2003 | grades
Reading Assignments
for Exam 3: Ch 5 & 6

Lecture 19 (April 9, 2003): Making Inferences about Causality: Factorial Designs, Main Effects, Interactions
PowerPoint Download

Lecture 20 (April 14, 2003): Making Inferences about Causality: Sample Selection and Partial Correlations
PowerPoint Download

Lecture 21 (April 16, 2003): Testing Theories: Directional and Point Predictions
PowerPoint Download

 

Part 4

Thinking Critically about Psychology

You can easily find "experts" discussing psychological issues in the media. How do the methods of accumulating knowledge used by these experts differ from those discussed in this course? In what ways do scientific findings corroborate or undermine popular ideas about psychological processes?

Lecture 22 (April 21, 2003): Testing Theories: The Problem of Sampling Error
PowerPoint Download

Lecture 23 (April 23, 2003): Psychic Readings, Astrology, and the Scientific Method
PowerPoint Download [please see the updates section]

Lecture 24 (April 27, 2003): Weather Forecasting: Using the Scientific Method to Evaluate Predictions
PowerPoint Download


Exam 4: April 30, 2003 | grades to date
Reading Assignments for Exam 4: Ch 8 & 11

Final Exam (Exam 5): Tue May 6th 10:30-12:30 room C3 LC
Final Grades in the Class

link to: schedule | updates | top