Psychological Science Experimental Methods

Psychological Science Experimental Methods Marks: This assignment will be marked out of 100, and is worth 30% of your final grade for PSEM/FRDASP.

Psychological Science Experimental Methods
Psychological Science Experimental Methods

Topic overview and formatting requirements: Blended teaching (where elements of face-to-face and online teaching are combined) has emerged as an option for delivery of university courses over the past 20 years. Whereas strictly online teaching is seen as an alternative to face-to-face courses, blended delivery is seen as an evolution of traditional teaching involving both face-to-face and online components. Advocates of blended teaching argue it provides a more flexible and engaging option for university courses over traditional face-to-face teaching. However, as noted by Means, Toyama, Murphy, and Baki (2013) the empirical support for the use of blended delivery of university courses is largely pre or quasi-experimental. In this assignment, you will address the above-identified gap by designing a piece of experimental research that could empirically support the use of blended teaching for university courses.

Psychological Science Experimental Methods Formatting requirements:

There are many decisions that need to be made and defended in designing any piece of research and, as this is your first attempt at such a task, we are going to guide you through the process by asking a series of questions1. Your answers to all 10 questions must be contained within five pages (excluding reference list) that meet the following formatting requirements:

  1. 12-point Times New Roman font.
  2. 2.5 cm (1 inch) margins.
  3. Double line spacing.
  4. Indent the first line of each paragraph.

Please abide by these formatting requirements (which are all standard formatting requirements for an APA style manuscript), as they ensure that all students have the same amount of space in which to express their ideas.

Note that you do not need to re-type the questions before your answers, or leave blank spaces between answers. Just label each answer clearly. Likewise, you do not need to write an introduction or a conclusion. Just answer each question as clearly and concisely as you can.

1 When you are asked to design a study in later years you will be expected to provide answers to all the questions asked in this assignment, but structured as a formal research proposal, rather than as a series of discreet short answers.

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Psychological Science Experimental Methods Questions:

  1. Provide a brief (absolutely no more than 1.5 pages) critical overview of relevant current research. In this overview, please cite at least three pieces of original research2 and aim to address the following issues with regards to each: (a) What research methods were used? (b) What was found? (c) What (if any) is the key limitation of the research? Ideally, your answer to this question will be an integrated review (in the style that you would find in the introduction of a journal article), rather than three discreet paragraphs, each dedicated to a single study. (15 Marks)

Now that you are familiar with current research, you can begin describing and defending the design of your experiment. Keep it simple. You only need one IV and one DV, and you are not expected to propose anything methodological or statistical that is not covered in the first six lecture topics. Furthermore, you do not need to reinvent any wheels! For example, there are lots of established methods for measuring the types of outcomes blended teaching would be concerned with. You do not need to invent a new way of measuring, for example, academic performance.

  1. In one sentence, specify a research question for your experiment. (5 Marks)
  2. Use your research question to develop a (i.e., ONE) hypothesis for your research. (5 Marks)
  3. What is your IV (and what are its levels)? What is your DV? How will you operationally define these variables (i.e., how will you measure or manipulate them?), and what will the resultant data look like (i.e., will it be nominal data? Interval data?)? If your operational definitions are inspired by previous research, be sure to include the appropriate citations. (10 Marks)
  4. Who are the proposed participants for your research? In your answer, please define the population, and explain how you will sample from this population. Also specify how large the sample is required to be, and justify this decision. Note that a good justification will demonstrate a clear understanding of a priori power analysis and related issues. (10 Marks)
  5. Describe, in a systematic fashion, the procedure for your experiment. In your answer, describe how participants will be assigned to levels of your IV, and then describe what you will ask them to do. Again, if your proposed procedure has been inspired by previous research, don’t forget to include citations. (10 Marks)
  6. Explain how you will test your hypothesis. What statistical test will you use? If your hypothesis is supported, what would you expect the results of this test to look like? (For example, what might the p- value be? What might the group/condition means look like?) What are the assumptions of your hypothesis test? How will you know whether or not these assumptions have been met? (15 Marks)
  7. Describe one plausible threat to the internal validity of your study, and explain how you will address or limit the impact of this threat in your design. If your design does not address this threat, explain why not. (10 Marks)

Psychological Science Experimental Methods

2 By original research, we mean journal articles or book chapters that describe research findings that have not been previously published. Articles and chapters that report original research should not be confused with those that review, synthesize or offer alternative interpretations of previously published research, but do not contribute any new findings to the body of literature. Although you may (and are encouraged to) refer to these review/theoretical articles as well, please ensure that you refer to at least three articles reporting original research in your answer. To avoid any grey areas, let’s consider meta-analyses to be original research for the purposes of this assignment.

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  1. Comment on the external validity of your study. (10 Marks)
  2. Describe one ethical issue that you could encounter in this research, and how it might be addressed/resolved to the satisfaction of a Human Research Ethics Committee. If you don’t believe that it could be addressed/resolved to the satisfaction of a Human Research Ethics Committee, explain why not. (10 Marks)

Referencing: Students should use the 6th edition of the American Psychological Association (APA) referencing style when preparing this assignment. Note that the APA’s publication manual should be considered the definitive source for all APA style matters, and if you use an APA style guide from another source, you do so at your own risk. There are plenty of copies of the publication manual in the library.

Plagiarism: The School of Psychology, the School of Occupational Therapy, Social Work, and Speech Pathology, and the University regard plagiarism and other forms of academic misconduct as extremely serious offenses. As future professionals, it is indefensible to present the work (either words or ideas) of others, either knowingly or accidentally, as though it is your own. The following information comes (with permission from the author) from a Curtin University Study Skills Information Sheet, available free from Counseling Services.


Plagiarism seems to be viewed in academia as a crime only just below mass murder. It may be simply defined as the use of someone elseís work without acknowledging that you have used it.

There appear to be four common sorts of plagiarism:

  1. Using some words or ideas from something, which has been published, and not stating what the source was.
  2. Using an exact quotation from another writer and not showing that it is an exact quotation ñ even though you may acknowledge the source. [This is the most misunderstood form of plagiarism and consequently, appears to be the most common form of plagiarism].
  3. Arranging someone else to do the work for you.
  4. Using another student’s material. For example, it is not acceptable (in a state of being in a terrible hurry) to borrow someone else’s assignment and copy it.

Please ensure that you know what constitutes plagiarism and how it can be avoided (i.e., through proper referencing). More information about academic integrity and plagiarism can be found here:

Assignment submission: This assignment will be marked and returned to you electronically via Turnitin Grade Mark. You will find the submission point in the assignments section of the Blackboard site for this unit. Note that you can submit as many drafts as you want (and will receive an originality report for each, although the second and subsequent will be delayed for 24 hours after production of the first), but the copy of the assignment that is in the system at 5:00 pm on 15th April 2019 will be considered final, and cannot be overwritten3. It is not necessary to include an assignment Cover Sheet with your submission, as you will be required to declare that it is your own work as a part of the submission process.

Psychological Science Experimental Methods

Extensions, late penalties, academic integrity etc.: Please refer to your unit outline.

3 Unless you have been granted an extension. If this is the case, and you are unable to submit your final copy because there is already a draft in the system, please email the unit coordinator a copy of your assignment before your revised due date/time, and it will be uploaded on your behalf.

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Asking questions: We are very happy to answer questions about this assignment. However, in the interests of fairness, we request that these questions be asked on the Blackboard discussion board, rather than by email or telephone. This ensures that all students have access to the same information when working on their assignments.

Psychological Science Experimental Methods Reference:

Means, B., Toyama, Y., Murphy, R., & Baki, M. (2013). The effectiveness of online and blended learning: A meta-analysis of the empirical literature. Teachers College Record, 115, 1-47.

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