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PSY205: Experimental Design — Fall 2013

Course objectives

  1. To understand logical reasoning processes and the value of the scientific method of psychological research.
  2. To be able to discriminate scientific from unscientific problems and generate testable hypotheses.
  3. To understand the nature of experimental variables and procedures used in psychological research.
  4. To learn the ethical considerations relevant to psychological experimentation.
  5. To learn how to use experimental, quasi experimental, correlational, and other types of research design to test psychological hypotheses.
  6. To be able to communicate research results and processes clearly, concisely, and in the appropriate format.

classroom & time: Yokum 201, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday 12:00–12:50pm
instructor: Dr. J. Stephen Mansfield

email: steve.mansfield@plattsburgh.edu
phone: 564-3384
office: 207b Beaumont Hall
office hours: Tuesday 9–10am & Thursday 12–2pm, or email me to arrange an appointment.

Text book

Author: Morling, B.
Title: Research methods in psychology
Publisher: Norton (2012)
ISBN: 978-0-393-93546-2
View in College Store


Your final grade in this class will depend on your performance in the following areas:

Class exams: 40 points (4 × 10 pts each)

There will be 4 class exams on the dates specified in the schedule. Each exam will consist of short-answer questions about the course content covered since the previous exam.

You must arrive on time for exams. Students who arrive more than 10 minutes late for an exam will not be allowed to sit the exam.

Final exam: 15 points

A cumulative final exam will be held during finals week. As well as contributing 15% to your overall grade, your score (%-correct) on the final exam will automatically replace any and all class exam scores that it beats.

You must arrive on time for the final exam. Students who arrive more than 10 minutes late for the exam will not be allowed to sit the exam.

Homework assignments: 15 points (5 × 3 pts each)

There will be 5 short written homework assignments during the semester (the due dates are shown on the class schedule — assignments will be posted at least one week before the deadline).

Reading assignments: 10 points

You are required to read the assigned textbook chapter before we cover that chapter in class.

For each reading assignment, you should read the chapter and then answer the on-line quiz about that chapter. The quizzes are administered on the course web site — http://facweb.plattsburgh.edu/steve.mansfield/205F13reading.asp.

You are allowed to refer to the book when you answer the quiz. In order to receive credit for the assignment you are required to score at least 50% on the quiz. You may retake the quiz as many times as you like prior to the deadline.

APA lab report: 15 points (draft: 3 pts; final version: 12 pts)

The class will perform a study during through the semester. You will each write a complete lab report (in APA style) for this study.

A draft of your paper is due by 11:59pm on Friday November 8th. Once I have received your draft you should arrange to meet with me so that I can give you feedback. I will have a sign-up sheet on my office door where you can choose a meeting time (these meetings will be scheduled starting on Monday November 11th).

The final version of your APA paper is due by 11:59pm on Friday December 13th.

Final project: 5 points

Towards the end of the semester you will split into small groups to design and run a new and exciting research project of your own. Your project will need to be a true experiment with a hypothesis that can be tested using your fellow classmates as research participants. After you have all collected your data, each group will give a 10-minute presentation to the rest of the class describing the research question, rationale, findings, and conclusions from its final project.

Extra credit

Extra credit can be earned in the following ways:

Personal Reactions (0.25% each. Maximum 6)

Write a 1-page report (approximately 300 words) that describes how the material presented in a specific class was personally relevant to you. For example: What did you learn from a class? Did the material conform to your understanding of the world, or did it challenge your beliefs or opinions ... etc.?

To submit a personal reaction for extra credit follow the REACTION link once you have logged into the course web site. Your reaction must be sent within one week of the day the class was given, and you must have been present in class on that day.

Error spotting (0.1% each. No limit)

I hold you all to a high standard for accurate spelling and correct grammar. It is only fair that I should be held to the same standard. So, if you find a spelling error or a grammar error in any class materials that I distribute to you, or post on class web pages, or in a course textbook, and you are one of the first students to report it to me, I will reward you with extra credit.

To report an error for extra credit follow the ERROR REPORT link once you have logged into the course web site. Your error report must be sent within one week of the day the material was distributed (or referred to) in class, and you must have been present in class on that day. Additionally, your error report must itself be free of errors in order to receive extra credit.

Participation in research

Psychology department faculty often invite students to participate in their research projects. I will announce to the class when any such opportunities become available. I will post instructions in the extra credit portion of the course web site. The amount of extra credit that will be awarded for participating in a study is commensurate with the anticipated effort you will be required to make (extra credit is typically awarded at a rate of 1% per hour). If you only complete part of a study, your extra credit will be pro-rated according to the extent of your participation. For example, if a study involved four 15-minute sessions, but you only attended two of them, you would only receive half of the announced extra credit — probably 0.5% in this case.

For each research participation opportunity, I will also offer an alternative assignment, comparable to the research experience in time and effort, to students who are ineligible, unable, or unwilling to participate in the research project. Students will have the option of gaining the extra credit by participating in the research OR by completing the alternative assignment. Details of the alternative assignment will be posted in the extra credit portion of the course web site.

These policies are in accordance with the Psychology Department's guidelines for awarding extra credit to student research participants.


Your letter grade will be determined according to the following table.

≥ 93A
≥ 90 and < 93A−
≥ 87 and < 90B+
≥ 84 and < 87B
≥ 81 and < 84B−
≥ 78 and < 81C+
≥ 75 and < 78C
≥ 72 and < 75C−
≥ 69 and < 72D+
≥ 63 and < 69D
< 63 E

The final application of these guidelines is subject to the discretion of the instructor.

Note: Except for the extra-credit opportunities stated in this syllabus, students will not be allowed to do any additional "extra work" to make up for poor performance in class.


Your attendance is required and will be recorded at every class. If you are absent from class you will miss important course content and class activities (which will make it hard for you to complete the homework assignments and/or succeed on the exams.) In particular, unexcused absences on the days set aside for project planning, data collection, or group presentations, will lead to a deduction in your final-project grade.


If you do not understand something, or you are unsure how to complete an assignment, the first thing you should do is contact me. I will help you if you ask.

Use your official college email account when you email me about this course. If you email me from something else, your message may be marked as junk/spam and I may never see it. You should plan to regularly check your campus account for email. I will use this as my official mode of communication for this class, and you are responsible for any information I send to your campus account.

If you leave me a phone message and you would like me to call you back, please include your name, state your phone number clearly at the start and end of your message, and suggest an appropriate time (or range of times) when I will be able to reach you.

You are responsible for all material presented and announcements made in class, whether you are in class or not.

Course web site

I make extensive use of my class web site for this course.

You can login in to the class website using the "student login" on my homepage: http://facweb.plattsburgh.edu/steve.mansfield (You can also use this shortened URL http://is.gd/stevem.) Enter your last name in the "last name" box, and your password into the "password" box. Your password will be initially set to your Banner ID number (you should change your password once you have logged in.)

You will need to use the class web site to access all the course materials, to submit homework, to send in extra credit assignments, and to review your grades.

You must check your grade page at least once a week.

If you are unable to access the class web site you should contact me.

Academic honesty

It is expected that all students enrolled in this class support the letter and the spirit of the Academic Honesty Policy as stated in the college catalog.

All cases of suspected academic dishonesty will be reported to the college judicial board in accordance with the college's procedures for addressing suspected academic dishonesty.

Class schedule

DateTopicAssignments due
26-AugIntroduction to PSY205
28-AugChapter 1: Psychology is a way of thinkingCH1
30-AugChapter 2: Sources of information CH2
2-SepChapter 2: Sources of information
4-SepAppendix C: APA style
6-SepAppendix C: APA style
9-SepChapter 3: Three claims, four validitiesCH3
11-SepChapter 3: Three claims, four validities
13-SepChapter 3: Three claims, four validities
16-SepEXAM 1
18-SepChapter 4: Ethical guidelinesCH4
20-SepChapter 4: Ethical guidelines
23-SepChapter 5: Identifying good measurementCH5
25-SepChapter 5: Identifying good measurementHW1
27-SepChapter 5: Identifying good measurement
30-SepChapter 6: Describing what people doCH6
2-OctChapter 6: Describing what people do
4-OctEXAM 2
7-OctChapter 7: Bivariate correlational researchCH7
10-OctChapter 7: Bivariate correlational research
12-OctChapter 7: Bivariate correlational research
14-OctColumbus day break
16-OctChapter 9: Introduction to simple experimentsCH9
18-OctChapter 9: Introduction to simple experimentsHW2
21-OctChapter 10: More on experimentsCH10
23-OctChapter 10: More on experiments
25-OctChapter 10: More on experiments
28-OctEXAM 3
30-OctChapter 11: Experiments with more than one IV CH11
1-NovChapter 11: Experiments with more than one IV
4-NovChapter 11: Experiments with more than one IV
6-NovChapter 11: Experiments with more than one IV
8-NovChapter 12: Quasi-experiments and small-N designsCH12 & APA draft
11-NovChapter 12: Quasi-experiments and small-N designs
13-NovProject planningHW3
15-NovProject planning
18-NovEXAM 4
20-NovProject planning
22-NovData collectionHW4
25-NovData collection
27-NovThanksgiving break
29-NovThanksgiving break
2-DecAPA Review
11-DecFINAL EXAM at 12:20
13-DecHW5 & APA final