Friday, March 20, 2009

Psychology Midterm Assignment

Dear Colleagues:

Last night on the reference desk two students asked essentially the same set of questions related to a psychology 4000 level class midterm. Moreover they seemed unsure how to phrase their question or understand exactly what they needed. After some discussion I realized that they need information related to the "scientific method."

While the assignment did not use the broader rubric of the "scientific method" the students were trying to answer questions related to components of this research thought process such as hypothesis, theory, testing and etc. Among other questions they were expected to compare the validity of theories in psychology. The students did not understand the issues ranging from basics such as meaning of words to the more complex conceptual questions of determining the validity of a theory in psychology or the application of the "scientific method" across an array of the sciences.

Consequently to undertake this assigment I suggested a surprisingly wide range of readily used research tools. Begin with such elementary reference works as a dictionary, paper or Oxford Referrence Online, to understand word meanings e. g. hypothesis, theory, scientific method etc. Quickly move on to an encyclopedia searching for meanings and concepts of these same words. With an understanding of this go to one of the databases in psychology to find (a) full text article(s) to compare "theory." With the collection and understanding of these parts, then see which theory is best bolstered by evidence to compare the validity as required.

For those who have much more time CUNY+ has as many as 100 books on the scientific method. These books will provide yet more background.

I hope that this is helpful.


1 comment:

Stephen Francoeur said...

I just had another student from this class. It seems that what she was after were books that talked about the connection between psychological theory and research. I found a nice entry on theory in the Encyclopedia of Psychology that got her off and running. There was also a good entry on "meta analysis" in volume 2 of the Handbook of Psychology. Finally, a CUNY+ search for psychology and methodology turned up a number of interesting handbooks and manuals for doing research, some of which might have offered a useful discussion of theory and research.