Experimental Psychology (341 / 341L)

Syllabus for Spring 2008

Instructor: Dr. Scharff
EDU 215f
EDU 117c
TEC Office:
Steen Library 202H
Office Hours:
M 1-2, T 9-11, W 4-5, TH 1-2, or by appointment

TA: James Johnson
Office: ED 251; 468-1477
M 11-12, TR 3:15 – 4, W 12-2  and by appointment
Email: johnsonjf@gmail.com  

*** How do I check my grades? ***

Instructions for forwarding your titan email to another email account.

Check out the Project Assignments

Tentative Semester Schedule

Here are some links to online references regarding perception and APA style writing / referencing that might also serve as good resources.

Return to Course Information

Return to Scharff front page

Fall 2005 Research Project: Effects of homelessness, gender, and family status on prosocial behavior (presented at SWPA 2006)

Spring 2006 Research Project: Self-extension to vehicles as a function of gas prices

Fall 2006 Research Project: Survey Design to Measure Intellectual and Emotional Connections with Historical Interpretive Program

Fall 2007 Research Project: Effects of Avatar Physique and Online Environment on Avatar Personality

Required Text: Experimental Methodology, 10th Edition By Larry B. Christensen

Recommended Texts:

Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, 5th Ed.

Some class announcements and assignments will be sent to you via email. I will use your titan account that you are assigned through SFASU. It will be your responsibility to check your email regularly. It is possible to forward your titan account email to another account if you prefer (e.g. a hotmail account). I will also send Psychology news updates; these are optional readings unless otherwise noted.

Course Description and Objectives: This course is designed to introduce you to the study of experimental and other research methods in psychology. It is part of the sequence of courses (PSY 330, 341, and 497) that prepares our students to successfully enter and complete a graduate program. In this course we will cover the complete research process, and how to apply the process to a class research project and to an individual proposal that you will write in preparation for the new capstone course, PSY 497.

I will expect you to come to class prepared by reviewing the text material and completing any assignments due that day. In class we will discuss the material, and you will be expected to participate in the discussions and activities. As part of the course, you will use some of the statistical techniques that you learned in the prerequisite Statistics course (PSY 330). I will assess your learning and understanding of the content material through exams and assignments / projects. Because the projects show your ability to apply the content material, they will be weighted more heavily in your final course grade.

By the end of the course, you will be able to:

Exams: There will be four exams and a cumulative final. They will consist of multiple choice and short answer questions. For some of the short answer questions you may need a calculator. (I will let you know before the exam.) Questions on the exams will be drawn from the assigned chapters in the text, as well as from the content given during class or from the assignments. Each exam will be worth 60 points and the final will be worth 100 points.  Because it is cumulative, the final exam may replace a unit exam (with the points adjusted to a 60-point scale).

The semester schedule (see the final page of the syllabus) shows the highly probable topic and exam schedule. I will hand out blank (unlined) paper for the exams. If you prefer to write on lined paper, please bring blank sheets and show them to me prior to the start of the exam.

If you require special arrangements for taking exams, and you are registered with Disability Services, please see me as soon as possible to discuss this.

NO make-ups will be given except for a DOCUMENTED emergency. (In other words, weddings, vacations, oversleeping etc. will not qualify as a legitimate excuse.) In order to qualify for a make-up, you must contact me as soon as your emergency allows, and you must take the make-up within one week of returning to class. If you know ahead of time that you have a university-related conflict, give me documentation prior to missing the exam.

Assignments and Research Projects: Through the course of the semester you will complete three assignments / projects, each of which will have multiple parts. All of them will be linked with the material we discuss in class, and the final project should incorporate all content we cover throughout the semester. For this reason, the course content will be loaded toward the beginning of the semester, and more class time will be available toward the end of the semester for development and feedback of your projects. More details will be given in class when the assignment is handed out; however, here are brief descriptions of each:

The evaluation of your assignments / projects will be based primarily on how fully and effectively you complete the assignment. However, I will expect all writing to use the conventions of standard written English, which includes usage, punctuation, and mechanics (especially spelling). All assignments should be turned in typed, doubled spaced, using 12-pt. Times New Roman font. In your final reports, I will expect you to incorporate feedback given to you by me or by your peers. Thus, when you turn in your final reports, also turn in all drafts with feedback on them.

Please make a copy of your papers before you turn them in, just in case one of them gets lost. Your final class project paper and proposal paper should also be turned in using an electronic form. Late papers will not be accepted without a documented excuse.

Cheating / Plagiarism:

Cheating will not be tolerated. If you are caught cheating you will receive a grade of F (zero points) on that exam, assignment, or the course, at my discretion. Your name and a report documenting the incident will also be given to the dean of your college.

Plagiarism is a form of cheating, punishable (at the discretion of the instructor) by failure in the course in which it occurs and possibly (at the discretion of the Dean) by suspension or dismissal from the university.

Plagiarism can take a number of forms, including the re-use of your own or another class member's written work without appropriate modifications and/or without the permission of your instructor.

Plagiarism most commonly occurs when material is taken from a source without proper citation. Whenever material is directly (word-for-word) quoted it must appear in quotation marks and be properly cited either in the text or in a footnote. In such a case, a citation without quotation marks is not adequate because that implies the material quoted is your wording. It is even less acceptable to simply put the source of the material in a bibliography at the end of the paper, with neither quotation marks nor references made in the text or notes.

Indirect quotations -- that is, points taken from some source but restated in your own words -- should not appear in quotation marks, but the source from which they came should be cited in the text following the cited material.

If necessary, ask me for further clarification and / or refer to your text or the APA manual. Remember that a course grade or even your undergraduate career could be jeopardized by ignorance in this matter.

Attendance / Participation / Lateness / Professionalism: Class attendance and participation are vital to your learning experience. Attendance will not be recorded everyday; however, there will be 15 attendance points given at random throughout the semester. THESE ARE REQUIRED POINTS, not extra credit points. If you come but do not participate (e.g. contribute to group activities), I reserve the right to take away your attendance point.

Finally, I expect you to be professional and courteous in your behavior. Although I realize that occasional tardiness cannot be avoided, late arrivals disrupt the lecture, which is not fair to those students who do arrive on time. If you must arrive late or leave early for some reason, please let me know, and sit by the door so as to minimize the interruption. Other examples of professional behavior include turning off your cell phone, not holding side conversations, and when we are in the computer lab, not using the computers for personal tasks such as checking email. Thank you.

Extra Credit: The will be several opportunities for extra credit throughout the semester. Opportunities will include pop quizzes, activities, short assignments. The maximum number of extra credit points allowed is 2% of the possible course points (department policy).

Blackboard: All your grades will be posted on Blackboard. To access Blackboard, you will use your mySFA ID and password. There are further instructions on the class web page. You will also have all your assignments returned to you in class after they have been graded.

Remember: If you have any questions over the course material or the assignments, please come discuss them with me or with the teaching assistant. (It helps to do this before the tests or assignments are due rather than after...) You may also email me at any time.

Grades: You will receive a grade based on the following point system.

Exams (4 @ 60 points each) ------ 240
Final exam ------ 100
Assignment #1 ------ 50

Class Research Project

Research Paper #2

Attendance / Participation ------ 15
Total ------ 700

A Note about the Writing Assignments

Good writing skills are among the most important and fundamental that you should develop as a student of higher education (and prior to that). No matter what field you decide to explore, written communication skills will allow other people to clearly understand you, and they will often open doors that would remain closed if you did not have such skills. For example, many companies routinely discard any resumes that contain even a single spelling mistake or grammatical error.* That's it &endash; no chance for a second impression to overcome the first, negative one. Whether you want to work for someone else or be your own boss, to be successful in this world, you will generally need to make a favorable impression on others: they will need to believe that you are competent and professional.

So, in this class writing assignments will be taken seriously on two levels. The most obvious will be that of content. Incomplete or superficial papers will not receive full credit. The second level upon which your writing assignments will be graded will be for APA format (when applicable), correct spelling and grammar. All misspellings will receive a 0.5 point deduction, even if they are a correctly spelled word out of context (e.g. if you use the word "there" instead of "their"). In this age of spell checks on computers, there is no excuse for most misspellings (if you don't have spell check, use a dictionary!). Proofreading is essential to find misused words and grammatical problems. Major grammatical problems (e.g. run-on sentences, sentence fragments, subject-verb disagreements) will receive a 0.5 point deduction, and minor ones (e.g. awkward sentences, transitions, paragraph structure), a 0.25 point deduction.

I realize that this is not an English class. However, good writing skills are fundamental and transcend course topic. Therefore, take the time to write and proofread your work. These papers can significantly help your course grade (especially if you are a poor test taker), or they can hurt it if you do not take them seriously. There are many free resources if you do not feel confident about your writing: make an appointment to have me review a paper draft, make an appointment to meet with the TA, go to the AARC in the library, or have a friend give you feedback.


* Here is a quote from an interview published in the Washington Post, June 2003. The person being interviewed is an assistant director of a company who is answering questions about hiring practices at her company.

"You do have to be able to speak intelligently about what you know. If you're well-spoken, and can explain it back to me -- I'll respect that," she says. When Van Loon sees a typo on resume, she knocks an applicant out of the running. Her reasoning: if a candidate can't handle the details of his own job search, he probably can't meet the meticulous standards of the lab team. "You need very high attention to detail ... I need to know if something is going wrong," she says.


Tentative Semester Schedule (I will announce any changes ahead of time in class)

Date                  Day                     Activity / Chapter Reading                          Due dates / Exams

January 15


Intro / Syllabus / activity

Ch 1 [Scientific Research] / activity

January 17


Ch 4 [Problem Ident. / Hypothesis Form.]

Assign Project 1

Types of Sources / Library Modules

January 22


Ch 2 [Non-experimental Res.]

Ch 2 / Natural Obs. exercise

January 24


Ch 2

Project 1 due

Review for exam / discuss Project 1

January 29


Exam 1 (Ch 1, 2, 4) *

Cont. discuss Project 1 /

discuss Class Research Project

Assign Project 2

January 31


Ch 3 [Experimental Research]

Ch 6 [Variables]

February 5


Ch 6

Ch 13 [IRB] / SFA IRB process

February 7


Ch 5 [Ethics]

Ch 15 [The Res. Report] / APA handout / reference citations

Bring copies all required articles

February 12


Collect data

Annotated Bib. Due

(turn in copies of refs)

Collect data

February 14


Exam 2 (Ch 3, 5, 6, 13, 15)*

Descriptive results

February 19


Ch 14 [Data Analysis]

Inferential stats / How to write results section

February 21


Ch 7 [Reliability & Validity]

Intro/Method/Refs draft due

Discuss project results /conclusions

February 26


Ch 7

Writing the abstract / answer questions

February 28


Ch 8 [Construct & External Validity]

Answer paper questions

March 4


Ch 8

Full draft to class

Feedback @ drafts / peer review

March 6


Ch 9 [Control Techniques]

Final Paper due

(turn in copies of refs)

Ch 9

March 11 & 13

Spring Break!

March 18


Ch 9

Assign Project 3

Discuss Individual Project and share ideas

Bring ideas to lab

March 20


Easter holiday

Easter holiday

March 25


Exam 3 (Ch 7, 8, 9)*

Discuss topic ideas

Bring journal articles

March 27


Ch 10 [Experimental Research Design]

Discuss topic ideas

Annotated Bib. Due

(turn in copies of refs)


April 1


Ch 10 / Ch 11 [Quasi-experimental Designs]

Discuss projects

Outline draft due

April 3


Work on project

Work on project

April 8


Ch 11

answer project questions

Expanded intro / Full methods and refs due

April 10


Ch 12 [Single case Designs]

Ch 12 / answer questions

April 15


Ch 12 / review exam

Peer review of full drafts

Full draft due

(turn in copies of refs)

April 17


Exam 4 (Ch 10, 11, 12)*

Ppt guidelines  / answer questions

April 22


Work on ppt / feedback

Final Proposal due

Work on ppt / feedback

April 24


Individual Presentations

ppt Presentations Due

Individual Presentations

April 29


Individual Presentations

Individual Presentations

May 1


Individual Presentations

Wrap-up / Review

May  6


10:30 – 12:30

Final Exam

* All regular exams will be given at the beginning of class and take 50 minutes

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