Independent Study

Independent study (PSYC 405, 406, 407) is designed to provide the student with an opportunity to conduct either an empirical study or an extensive literature review. The work is carried out independently, with guidance from a faculty sponsor. PSYC 405 and 407 are ½-credit courses; PSYC 406 is the one-credit course. A student may undertake two independent studies by enrolling in 406 and later enrolling in 405-407 simultaneously.

Student Qualifications

  1. A student must have an overall GPA of at least 3.0 and a psychology GPA of at least 3.0 at the time the independent study is proposed.
  2. Students ordinarily undertake independent study during the junior or senior year. It is not advisable to initiate independent study in the last term of the senior year, since an uncompleted project would cause a delay in the student's graduation.
  3. In order to undertake empirical research, the student should have completed PSYC 204 and/or PSYC 205. Under rare circumstances, a senior may be permitted to conduct an empirical study while enrolled in PSYC 204 or 205.

Procedure for Enrolling in Independent Study

  1. The student must obtain a faculty sponsor.
  2. The student must complete both the Application for Research in the Department and Independent Study Application forms.
  3. The student must submit a written proposal to the psychology faculty at least three weeks before the date of registration for the term in which the study is to be conducted.
  4. The psychology faculty will discuss the student's proposal and either accept or reject the student's plan. The student may be asked to defend the proposal orally at a department meeting.
  5. The student may enroll in independent study only after a proposal has been accepted by the psychology faculty.

Titles of recent Independent Study projects include the following:

"Science, Conversion, and Changes for Faith: A Review of the Psychology of Religion"
"Physiological Evidence for Brain Malfunctions in Habitually Violent and Impulsive Individuals"
"The Recovered Memory Debate"
"Social Dilemmas: Can Persuasion Increase Cooperation?"
"Cross-Cultural Psychology"
"Residential Group Homes in the Roanoke Valley"

Guidelines for Empirical Research Independent Study

  1. Proposal. A research proposal in the usual APA format is to be submitted. It should contain the following:
    a. Statement of Purpose, including hypothesis.
    b. Literature Review. At least a short review should be made to provide support for the hypothesis present in part a.
    c. Method:
    1) Subjects-including the nature of, how chosen, what population is the sample to represent.
    2) Apparatus or tests-where appropriate.
    3) Procedure-in as much detail as possible.
    . d. Results: The nature of the data that will be gathered and how it will be analyzed statistically
    e. Discussion: Examination of the possible findings and how they would affect the hypothesis.
    f. References.
  2. Product. The outcome of the research project should be a report in APA format. The final report will be similar to the proposal, except that the actual procedure and results will be given, the actual results will be discussed, and the literature review in the introduction will be more extensive.
  3. Evaluation. The student is expected to make an oral progress report to the sponsor at least four times during the term. At these times the sponsor may offer suggestions for improvement of the student's project and will assess the quality of the student's efforts in data collection and analysis. After the final report has been submitted, the student will be interviewed by the sponsor. The student will be expected to answer questions concerning the research and to summarize the knowledge gained in the project. The grade for the course will be based primarily on the sponsor's evaluation of the final report with a lessor contribution from the sponsor's assessment of the student's efforts during the conduct of the study and the interview. The sponsor may consult other members of the psychology faculty in evaluating the final report, but the final grade will be assigned by the sponsor.
  4. Ethical Considerations. The student is expected to follow APA guidelines concerning ethical treatment of research participants. These include such matters as consent and confidentiality for human participants and humane care for animal subjects. The student is also expected to follow Departmental procedures for obtaining human participants. The student is also expected to maintain the integrity expected of a scientist. Falsification of data and plagiarism are violations of academic integrity.

Guidelines for Literature Review Independent Study

  1. Proposal. The student will submit a written proposal which should contain the following
    a. A description of the topic on which the review will be conducted.
    b. A statement of the purpose of the review (e.g., questions to be answered).
    c. A list of references, extensive enough to indicate that the student has located sufficient material for the project. The student is responsible for locating adequate resources for the literature review. A project should not be proposed until sufficient material has been located either in the Fintel Library, libraries in the surrounding area (Hollins University, VA Medical Center, Salem Public Library, etc.), through inter-library loan, or on the Internet.
  2. Product. The outcome of the literature review should be a report in APA format.
  3. Evaluation. The student will be expected to make an oral progress report to the sponsor at least four times during the term. At these times the sponsor may make suggestions concerning improvement of the student's project and will assess the quality of the student's efforts in research and writing.
    After the final paper has been submitted, the student will be interviewed by the sponsor. The student will be expected to answer questions concerning the topic of the study and to summarize the knowledge gained in the project.
    The grade for the course will be based primarily on the sponsor's evaluation of the final paper, with lessor contributions from the sponsor's assessment of the student's efforts during the conduct of the study and the interview. The sponsor may consult other members of the psychology faculty in evaluating the paper, but the final grade will be assigned by the sponsor.
  4. Ethical considerations. Students are required to maintain the integrity expected of a scientist. Plagiarism is a violation of academic integrity.
 
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