Also this author:    Click Here To Find Your Accredited Online Graduate School         Click For Helpful Links For Psychology Students


UNDERSTANDING EXPERIMENTATION
IN PSYCHOLOGY
A Web Quest for Psychology 101
Designed by
Bernard Schuster M.S.
mailto:Colorado93@hotmail.com


Introduction | Task | Process | Evaluation | Conclusion | Credits


Introduction

Psychologists (and a lot of other people too) make all kinds of claims that they know something about human behavior. So it seems appropriate to ask, "What makes them think they really know anything anyway?" Well, in science the ultimate authority is research, so the time has come to for you to consider "how do they find out all that stuff?" In other words, its time to study research methods.

In this Web Quest you are given certain activities to accomplish in order to get a better understanding of research methods. These exercises will focus primarily on "the classic experiment", however you will also learn about other research methods: naturalistic observation, questionnaire survey, and correlational research.

When you have MASTERED THE QUEST you will know something about "how they know about all that stuff", you will amaze your friends with your grasp of scientific issues, and you will have taken another important step towards that great after graduation life.



The Task

This Web quest will help you develop your own understanding of what is involved in "the classic experiment" through learning the basic concepts, contrasting "the experiment" with other methods of primary research, serving as a participant (or subject) in an experiment, becoming familiar with the ethical issues in experiments, critiquing experimental designs, and finally through developing and critiquing your own experimental design. (WARNING: Do NOT allow it to escape from the lab!)



The Process

You will be performing this Web Quest on your own (no teams). (Its a good idea to read through the entire list of activities before beginning so you can start off with the whole picture in mind.)

Step 1. Learn the basic concepts. On a piece of paper define these terms using your own words.

independent variable

dependent variable

hypothesis

control group

experimental group

primary research

"between groups" vs. "within groups" design

Help is in your textbook or at: Info on terms.

Helpful hint: (To fulfill this requirement all you have to do is to list the terms on a sheet of paper and define them (accurately) in your own words. Usually 30 words or less per term is plenty. You can show them to another student to see if he or she agrees with your definition, or even write them with another students. After your definitions are ready, show them to your instructor so he can make sure what you wrote is accurate and check you off the list. These definitions won't really be graded, per ce. It will just be checked off to see you understand these terms. You will need to understand them in order to complete later steps in the Web Quest for which you will be graded.

Step 2. Write a one page paper in which you contrast "the experiment" with other methods of primary research used in Psychology. The cryptic "other methods" are "survey questionnaire", "naturalistic observation", "case study", and "correlational research." (ok, you will get a grade on this, see the criteria below on this page).

Help is in your textbook or at: SUNY Buffalo (Graziano & Raulin) Study Guide on Research Methods

Helpful hint: Your paper could include the following sections or subjects:

a. The Purpose Of This Paper
b. General Description of Experiment.
c. Experiment Contrasts With Survey Questionnaire
d. Experiment Contrasts With Naturalistic Observation
e. Experiment Contrasts With Case Study
f. Experiment Contrasts With Correlational Research
g. "The Big Picture" or Synthesis of My Major Points
h. Conclusion

Step 3. Serve as a participant (or subject) in two Psychology experiments. Choose the two experiments from the websites listed below. (Each of the experiments you select should come from a different website.)

a. web site: Hanover College

b. web site: socialpsychology.org: Online Social Psychology Network (Maintained by Scott Plous, Wesleyan University).

c. web site: American Psychological Association Online Laboratory (Your teacher may have to register in order for you to use this site.)

d. web site: The Decision Research Center: California State University, Fullerton.

Prepare a short, half page description of each experiment. The paper should include what it felt like to be a "human participant", in each experiment. Again, this is a check off item. You will need this info later.

Helpful hint: Your paper could include the following sections or subjects:

a. The Purpose Of This Paper
b. General Description of Experiment.
The Hypothesis
The Task I Was Asked To Perform
How/What I Did
c. My Comfort/Discomfort With The Experiment
d. Would I Do This Again.
e. Conclusion

Step 4. Ethics: Choose One

Become familiar with the ethical issues in experiments by reviewing the ethical standards in the APA ethics code
American Psychological Association ethics page (especially Standard 8)

OR by reviewing the ethics information from the American Sociological Association link or the ethical standards of the American Educational Research Association . (Of course you could use more than one source.) Prepare a short (1/2 to one page) continuation of each paper you prepared under step 3 stating how and how well pertinant ethical issues were handled in the experiments you participated in during step 3.

Helpful hint: Your paper could include the following sections or subjects:

a. The Purpose Of This Paper
b. Ethical Strengths of the Experiment
c. Ethical Weaknesses of the Experiment
d. How the Strengths and Weaknesses Affect the Participants
e. Conclusion

OR

a. The Purpose Of This Paper
b. Ethical Issue 1
c. Ethical Issue 2
d. Ethical Issue 3
e. Implications for Participants
f. Conclusion

Step 5. Critiquing experimental designs.

Using the experiments at: Experiments to analyze

Identify the following in each of the experiments described:

a. What is the hypothesis?

b. Is the design a "between groups design or "within groups"
design?

c. What is the independent variable?

d. What is the dependent variable?

e. Describe the control treatment, and the experimental treatment?

f. Describe any flaws you see in how the experiment is designed.

(issues to consider: Can the experimental design prove OR disprove the hypothesis? Are there procedural flaws that would tend to make the results invalid? Do you notice any questionable assumptions? Is there an appearance of bias?)

For this assignment, prepare your response to each experiment on a separate sheet of paper. It should be about 3/4 to one page in length.

Helpful Hint: You Should organize your paper in accordance the paragraphs (a-f) above, so your paper will have sections
a. What was the hypothesis?
b. Was The Experiment A Within Groups or Between Groups Design?
c. What is the independent variable?
etc.

Step 6. Develop your own psychology experimental design.

Prepare a brief (half page or so) description of the experiment and then prepare a critique/defence on your design. The critique/defense should be similar to the one you prepared for step 5 above except you should place more emphasis on the strentghs and the value of your design.

Helpful Hint: You could organize your proposal in the following sections:
a. Hypotheisis
b. Varibles
c. Subjects
d. Procedures
e. Conclusion

The critique/defense should be similar in form to the critique you prepared in step 5, however you could add a section such as Threats to The Validity of the Results That I have Thought Through and Resolved OR Noteworthy Strengths and Value of this Proposal.


NAVIGATE
Introduction | Task | Process | Evaluation | Conclusion | Credits


Ad Choices:




Evaluation Guidelines

How your performance will be evaluated. You will be graded on your individual work.
Beginning

1

Developing

2

Accomplished

3

Exemplary

4

Score
1. Learn the basic concepts Check off item just show the instructor a satisfactory paper. .
2. ...contrast "the experiment" with other methods of primary research.


The paper addresses the required points and the statements made in it are relatively accurate. The paper addresses the required points and the statements made in it are accurate. As described under two & accurately discusses how what is contrasted would effect validity of the experiment findings. As described under three & insightfully discusses how what is contrasted would effect validity of research. Brings in highly relevant outside material.
3. Serve as a participant (or subject) in two experiments


Check off item just show the instructor a satisfactory paper as described.
4. Ethics Addresses ethics with mechanical reference to the one of the required sources. Addresses ethics with accurate use to the one of the required sources. As described under two & accurately uses of the reference to make meaningful points, both about the role of the participant and the experimenter. As described under three & is makes insightful points concerning psychology's responsibilities and expresses empathy towards participants and experimenters.
5. Critiquing experimental designs. The paper addresses the required points and the statements made in it are relatively accurate. As described under one, and the required criticism is are accurate and relevant. As described under two & accurately discusses how the procedures would effect the value and validity of research findings. Also includes accurate meaningfull discussion of the strengths of the research. As described under three & insightfully discusses how what is described would effect validity of research. Brings in ethical or other relevant considerations in an insightful way.
6. Develop your own experimental design. The paper addresses the required points and the statements made in it are relatively accurate. As described under one and the experimental design is relevant and the critique is clearly relevant. As described under two & the experimental design is original in that it is beyond the materials presented in the web quest. The critique addresses relevant threats to validity. As described under three & the experimental design is original. The critique addresses relevant threats to validity and explains logic that upholds the validity of the experiment and addresses likely criticism of the experiment.


CONCLUSION

When you successfully complete the Web Quest you will have a pretty good understanding of the basic concepts involved in experimentation. This knowledge will, I hope, give you a greater understanding of the thought and planning that goes into experimentation and will enable you to examine the merits and soundness of the experiments you read about. By participating in an experiment as a subject and then considering the ethical issues in research, I hope you will get a deeper understanding of the significance to maintaining ethical standards in experimentation. What you learn during this WebQuest will, I hope, help you gain a greater appreciation of Psychology, and how hard psychologists work in attempting to learn the truth.


Ad Choices:



Other Websites by this author:

Find Your Accredited Online Graduate School

Find Your Accredited Online Psychology Graduate Degree Program

Help For Psychology Students

Arrive2.net: Websites of Bernard Bart Schuster

Free the Palm Trees: Free Palm Tree Clipart

Free Nature Clipart

Words of Wisdom and Inspirational Pictures  



Credits, References, and Comments

Alta Vista was the primary search engine used in preparing this Web Quest.

Dr. Bernie Dodge of San Diego State University originated the "Web Quest" concept ... and this page was based on a template from The Web Quest Page.

This Psychology WebQuest was developed to partially fulfill the requirements of EDT5176 Teaching with Web Quests: Using the Internet to Teach for Understanding, an educational technology course taught by Dr. Blake West, Baker University/Blue Valley School District.


You can reach me, Bernard Schuster, by e-mail at Colorado93@hotmail.com.

The intent of this WebQuest is to support a lesson or provide a lesson to help introductory psychology students learn about the use of experiments in Psychology. It was designed with college-level psychology students in mind but may be suitable for high school students as well (if used with high school students, the experiments at the University of Saarland should be monitored as there may occasionally be inappropriate experiments there.)

Pages that were developed to accompany this page include the Handout on Terms, and Experiments to Analyze (links above). Lessons used were developed by the author of this page. This WebQuest has not been tested in actual classroom use as yet(as far as I know), so if you use it as teacher OR student, please email me to let me know how it worked out at Colorado93@hotmail.com.

The content of this website is Copyright 2000, 2010, 2012, 2013 Bernard Schuster, except as otherwise specified. The term WebQuest, and template design are Bernie Dodge's (the template is available for no charge at the link above). The animated gifs do not belong to me. The brain came from a free collection at Clipart Castle (http://www.clipartcastle.com), the torch came from the free collection at Cody's Animation station (http://www.cody.designerweb.com/), the robot from NBCi.com . Teachers can print copies of the pages to use as teaching aids for their classes, however before installing electronic copies email me for permission. Ad Choices shown on this page are selected by Google.

Thanks for visiting this web site! Have a great day!