Tag Archives: research methods

Psyc 217 Research Methods: What textbooks do you need?

Hello to all my new, eager students! I’ve received quite a few emails recently about the textbooks. Normally these are the kinds of questions that would receive an answer along the lines of  “please check your syllabus” — however, considering I haven’t quite finished it yet, I can’t exactly expect you to consult it.

Here’s what you need:

  • Cozby, P. C., & Rawn, C. D. (2012). Methods in Behavioural Research(Canadian Ed.). Toronto, ON: McGraw-Hill Ryerson.
    • This is a nuts-and-bolts style guide to research methods that focuses on the details of how to conduct research. Available new from the bookstore, or electronically on Coursesmart. *Note that used editions do not exist because this edition is brand new.
    • Yes, I am the second author. Please note that I am donating all royalties from UBC sales to UBC scholarships.
    • Can you use an old edition? No, I do not recommend it. Here are a few reasons why. First off: most examples are changed, updated, and now integrate Canadian culture, terminology, and research (spot your profs in the reference list!). Second, I totally overhauled the ethics chapter to reflect the Canadian context of conducting research (e.g., in terms of government, terminology, structure). The old one is all-American. Third, I’ve improved the book based on two rounds of (Canadian) reviews as well as my own experiences teaching this course for the past four years. You’ll notice a synergy between what happens in class (e.g., diagrams, ways of explaining things), and the textbook. Fourth, I’ve added extra features to help you learn. For example, I’ve re-worked the learning objectives so that it’s clearer what to do with them, and I’ve ensured every bolded term is in the glossary, which wasn’t true before…. Changes like that that will make it easier for you to learn from this text.
  • Stanovich, K. E. (2009). How to Think Straight about Psychology(9th Ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson.
    • This guide to research methods provides a nice complement to the details of the first text. It is written from a bigger picture perspective. Available new and used from the bookstore. If you buy it new from the bookstore, it comes with a $10 off i>clicker coupon and a free guide to APA style.
  • Cuttler, C. (2010). Research Methods in Psychology. Dubuque, IA: Kendall Hunt.
    • This is the lab guide — created for our Psych 217 labs — that will help you and your teammates work step-by-step to create a successful research project.
  • i>clicker Student Response System, available new and used from the bookstore.

Hope that’s a helpful start. I’ll post the syllabus later this week when I have it complete. Looking forward to meeting you next week!

Responding to Student Evals 2011/2012 Part 1: Psyc 217 Research Methods

Thank you to each of my students who took the time to complete a student evaluation of teaching this year. I value hearing from each of you, and every year your feedback helps me to become a better teacher. Based on last year’s feedback (upon which I reflected here) and my additional professional development, I made quite a few changes to my teaching in 2011/2012. I have created graphs depicting results from the University Module Items, which are 6 questions that are asked about every instructor across campus. I have posted those graphs (and the precise wording of each question) here for your consideration.

Please note that with respect to the open-ended responses, I appreciate and consider every thoughtful comment. The ones I write about are typically those that reflect common themes echoed by numerous students.

I am in the process of writing reflections on the feedback I received from each of my courses. After writing about Research Methods, I realized I should probably break up this post, as it was getting quite long! More is to come!

Psyc 217 Research Methods

As noted in last year’s reflection, my major goal this year was to address head-on the fact that on average, students rated the fairness of my evaluations as notably lower than my other UMIs, and many students discussed evaluations in the written feedback. In response, I made four key changes to the course: (1) instead of one long midterm that spanned two classes, I restructured the course so one shorter midterm came earlier and one came later; (2) I revisited every single exam question and ensured I could tie it closely to at least one learning objective in class and/or in the texts; (3) I re-read the assigned chapters in one of the two textbooks and wrote learning objectives I shared with my students (because that particular text has none); (4) I added extra emphasis on the importance of studying from the learning objectives.

I noted two interesting differences in students’ feedback this year relative to last year. First, ratings of fair evaluations jumped by a third of a point. What also jumped by a third of a point was ratings of clear expectations. It seems that the changes I made to the course could have increased both clarity of expectations and perceived fairness. It hadn’t occurred to me before that these two items seem reasonably related to each other: having evaluations that align with clear expectations is one way to operationalize fairness. I wonder about the extent to which these items are correlated (but I don’t have access to the raw data, so can’t test that).

It was especially interesting to read the comments in light of this mean-level analysis. Some students reported that the midterms were too challenging (especially the 2nd), requiring advanced application of concepts. At the same time, other students reported appreciating the challenge. For example, someone wrote,

The midterms were the best written midterms I have wrote at UBC. They were challenging but unlike in some other psyc courses, they went far beyond mere memorization and into deep understanding. Thanks Catherine!

The mixed set of comments suggests to me that I’m on the right track toward an appropriate level of challenge, but I could still be clearer in warning students about the need to apply concepts on exams. I’m not quite sure how to do that, but I’ll give it some more thought for sure. I just looked back at the midterm means and noted that the 2nd midterm average was about 7% lower than the first. I will be aiming to make that one a bit easier (while remaining consistent our departmental requirements). It will still be challenging, but I’ll aim to align it more closely with the first midterm in difficulty.

Many students reported appreciating my enthusiasm for the material and for designing engaging lessons that were interactive. Many students noted learning effectively from interactive elements including the clicker questions, “what’s in the bag?” activity, and groupwork (although a minority of others mentioned they didn’t feel like they learned from these elements). In fact, some people recommended using even more interactive learning activities! Here’s a representative comment that focuses on my interactive style:

I really enjoyed how Catherine broke up class with activities rather than just lecturing all the time. This engaged the students and made concepts easier to learn. I also enjoyed the lab component, although I was nervous for it in the beginning. Iclickers are a great idea, they make you pay attention and try to comprehend the concepts as they come at you, also if you don’t get one right, you know what to focus on while studying! Overall, the active, cheerful, outgoing attitude of professor Rawn encouraged me to want to do well in this class, and in my future!

Thanks for all of your feedback! Even though I’ve now taught this course 8 times, every time is a new adventure, and there is always room to grow!

Stay tuned for reflections on more courses…

Happy Holidays!

I hope this holiday season has brought you much joy and peace. Last week was quite hectic for me as I finished up grades for term 1 while preparing syllabi for term 2 (I’ll finalize and post those in a couple of days). But then I had a wonderful long weekend celebrating Christmas with my husband. For the past few years we’ve had friends in town to share festivities, and that’s always lovely fun. This year it was just the two of us, and it was perfect too 🙂 One of the things we love to do together is cook. We just love the teamwork! So this weekend we spent ages cooking together… and then eating our delicious results!

I still can’t believe how quickly Term 1 went by! The end of November brought our 2nd Annual Psyc 217 Research Methods Poster Session: this year with over 130 posters and over 600 students across 7 sections of the course. The energy about research projects was exciting! I think we developed a good system this year too, smoothing out some of the registration kinks from last year. Next year we’ll be ready to bring in a larger audience and media — how exciting!

Our Psyc 100 Section 002 is coming along swimmingly in my opinion. The larger size (about 375) compared with last year (about 270) presented a few disruptions at the beginning of the term, but I think those are subsiding for the most part. A unit that stands out for me this past term was Language and Thinking: We had great fun exploring how babies learn one language and two. Such fascinating research is being done on this front! Take a look at this TedTalk by Dr. Patricia Kuhl for a taste of what we learned. If you are in this course, what was your favourite unit from Term 1?

Thanks to everyone for an interesting Term 1. It has been great getting to know many  of you, and I hope to meet everyone else in Term 2. I look forward to another exciting term of leading you on your learning journey!

Midterm time already?

I can’t believe it’s almost October! This month has flown by! Yesterday I gave my first midterm tests in both my Research Methods (Psyc 217 Sections 001 and 002) and Intro (Psyc 100 Section 002) courses. That’s always a stressful day trying to ensure the most consistent and quality conditions for all 600 students. Overall I think they went smoothly.

In this post I described my plan to concentrate this semester on revamping the exams in my research methods courses. I’m pleased to report that I considered and re-considered each question, and ensured that each question was related to a learning objective either from the texts or class. To make this possible I created learning objectives for each chapter in the Stanovich text that I shared with my students and used as a starting point when creating/reconsidering exam questions. This strategy was in response to feedback from students who reported that the most important points in the Stanovich book were sometimes difficult to discern (he tends to go on a bit). If you’re in this course I’d love to hear feedback from you about how the exam went. Drop by my office hour or send me an email (or leave a comment here).

What I re-experience every September is how much I enjoy getting to know my students. When I know who you are and a bit about you it makes preparing for class and our time during class more fun. I’ve really enjoyed our conversations so far, and I look forward to getting to know as many of my 600 students this term as possible!

Gearing up for September!

This summer has flown by! Guess that’s what happens when you update an entire textbook, read another one to prep for a new course, revise multiple syllabi, attend two conferences, write a program evaluation report… and a few bits of R&R every now and again including a lovely, wine-filled weekend in Osoyoos, BC. So that’s what I’ve been up to this summer. How about you?

To students and faculty: Welcome (back!) to UBC! If you’re in my intro psych class (Psyc 100 Section 002, MWF 1-2 in CIRS 1250), you may be interested in checking out the syllabus. You’ll get a hard copy when we meet on Wednesday, but you can get the sneek peek here: Intro Syllabus. I had a ton of fun in this course last year and I’m looking forward to it again!

If you’re in either of my research methods classes (Psyc 217 Sections 1 or 2), you can find the syllabus here: Research Methods Syllabus.  I’m looking forward to this course — yes it’s a lot of work for all of us but it can be extremely rewarding and will prepare you well for all  your future studies (and for generally being an informed citizen). We start at 9am (Section 1) or 10am (Section 2) — and you *must* come to the section for which you are officially registered. Yes, it’s early, but let’s have fun anyway! I’m looking for a DJ for the first 5-10 mins before class starts to get us all energized… if you’re up for it let me know!

Looking forward to a fabulous year ahead, full of challenges, learning, new people, new experiences, and fun times 🙂  See you next Wednesday if not before — I’ll be co-facilitating Psychology TA Development Day on Friday, anda couple of Student Success Workshops on Imagine Day on Tuesday — come say hi if you see me around!