Hum Dev/Psych 498 - Independent Study

The Course:

This course is designed to help students conduct their own research. This course requires motivated, conscientious students who are capable of working independently. Students will conceptualize a problem from everyday life or an area of personal interest, formalize research questions, conduct literature reviews on the topic of choice, and then design and execute a research study to test their ideas.

Given the time needed to complete a study, students are urged to begin thinking about and designing their projects in the semester before signing up for an independent study, and/or planning on two semesters of work on their chosen project. Training and mentorship is designed to make the student a competitive candidate for graduate school or a wide variety of professional positions.


Junior standing or higher, completion of Introductory Psychology, and a Research Methods class, GPA of 3.00 or higher. You should have a good idea of the project you want to conduct. Feel free to discuss potential topics with me before you apply to work with me.

Write down all the topics that you would be interested in finding more about. What interests you? What questions do you have? These could come from your everyday life (E.g., "Why do I not exercise as much as I want to?"), from classes you have taken, or from material you have read, seen, or heard outside of class. [Research Help]

General Objectives:  This course is designed to give students the opportunity to research a topic not covered by the current curriculum in the major. You will work on a project of your own design. Students partake in every aspect of the research process. 

 In particular it will satisfy the following departmental learning objectives:

·    Use APA style effectively when writing papers

·    Demonstrate basic proficiency with a computer-based statistical package

·    Use library facilities and computerized databases (e.g., PsychINFO) to locate pertinent information

·    Have the ability to assess critically the merits of basic and applied research

·    Have the ability to accurately interpret and use such research

·    Understand the basic principles of research designs from the variety of relevant disciplines

·    Understand the ethical issues involved in research


 The main questions that should guide your reading and searching of the literature are:

  • What are the key theories that explain the phenomenon I am interested in?
  • What are the specific variables that have been studied in this area?
  • What are the research designs used?
  • What are the unanswered questions?
  • Why is this important?

Approximate Plan for a Independent Study for a Semester:

The Research Process

Gurung, R. A. R. (2012). Developing your research skills. In P. J. Giordano, S. F. davis, & C. A. Licht (Eds.)  Your graduate training in psychology: Effective strategies for success (pp.159-174). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Hershey D. A., Jacobs-Lawson, J. M., & Wilson T. L. (2006). Research as a script. In F. T. L. Leong & J. T. Austin (Eds.) The psychology research handbook: A guide for graduate students and research assistants (pp.3-22). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Sansone, C., Morf, C. C., & Panter, A. T. (2004). Handbook of methods in social psychology.Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.  [Chapter 1]

What should you research?

Dunn, D. S. (2010).  The practical researcher: A student guide to conducting psychological research (2nd ed).  Boston, MA: McGraw-Hill.  [Chapter 3: Searching and reading the psychological literature]

Leong, F. T. L., & Muccio, D. J. (2006). Finding a research topic. In F. T. L. Leong & J. T. Austin (Eds.) The psychology research handbook: A guide for graduate students and research assistants (pp. 33-40). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Reed, J. G., & Baxter, P. M. (2006). Bibliographic research. In F. T. L. Leong & J. T. Austin (Eds.) The psychology research handbook: A guide for graduate students and research assistants (pp. 41-58). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

 Do:                  Brainstorm, Idea generation, Literature search- related findings, terms, theories.

GOAL:           Write Research Question, Hypotheses and theory they are based on

How do you do it?

Landrum, R. E. (2011). Research methods in psychology. Boise, ID: Author.

Chapter 6: Between-Groups Designs

Chapter 7: Research Designs: Within-Groups Research

Chapter 8: Research Designs: Quasi-Experimental Designs  

Chapter 10: Survey and Questionnaire Research

Do:                  Select methodology/design and materials.

GOAL:  Gather materials, surveys, stimuli material and submit Institutional Research Board (IRB) form

 Collect data

Landrum, R. E. (2011) Chapter 3: The Ethics of Psychological Research


Write Method Section

Landrum, R. E. (2011) chapter 2: Chapter 2: Reading and Writing Psychology

Schwartz, E., Landrum, R. E., & Gurung, R. A. R., (2012).  An EasyGuide to APA style and format. Thousand Oaks, CA; Sage.

 Write Introduction

Analyze data

Write Results Section

Write Discussion