PSYCHOL 1005 - Research Methods in Psychology (BPsycSc)

North Terrace Campus - Semester 1 - 2018

This course combines lectures from Research Methods in Psychology (PSYCHOL1004) with a specialised set of Case-Based Learning (CBL) activities. The focus is on students learning how to do research in psychology, with an emphasis on student-centred activities and problem solving to introduce basic principles. Students will learn about such key concepts as the scientific method; operationalizing constructs; independent and dependent variables; data types and ways of measurement; confounding variables; experimental and non-experimental design; questionnaire construction; developing and testing hypotheses; descriptive statistics and describing data graphically; and the ethics of research. Case-based Learning will extend this by providing BPsycSc students with an opportunity to develop analytic thinking and decision making skills for applied, real-life problems.

  • General Course Information
    Course Details
    Course Code PSYCHOL 1005
    Course Research Methods in Psychology (BPsycSc)
    Coordinating Unit Psychology
    Term Semester 1
    Level Undergraduate
    Location/s North Terrace Campus
    Units 3
    Contact 1-2 per weeks
    Available for Study Abroad and Exchange N
    Incompatible PSYCHOL 1004
    Restrictions Restricted to BPsychSc Students
    Assessment Online MCQ exam; Written assignments
    Course Staff

    Course Coordinator: Professor Peter Strelan

    School of Psychology Office: Ph +61 8313 5693; Email
    Course Timetable

    The full timetable of all activities for this course can be accessed from Course Planner.

  • Learning Outcomes
    Course Learning Outcomes
    Upon completion of the course students will be able to:

    1. Understand and apply the fundamental principles of the research process as they relate to answering research questions in psychology
    2. Analyse critically information particularly in relation to identifying causal and spurious relations in research claims
    3. make decisions about the appropriate use of basic research techniques and research design as they apply to answering different psychological questions
    4. Utilize specific research skills as they relate to the development and implementation of research designs in psychology, including experimental manipulation, operationalizing variables, measurement, and making decisions about validity and reliability
    5. Effectively interpret and communicate research findings
    6. Identify appropriate techniques underlying different research approaches
    7.Demonstrate analytic thinking for applied, case-based problems
    University Graduate Attributes

    This course will provide students with an opportunity to develop the Graduate Attribute(s) specified below:

    University Graduate Attribute Course Learning Outcome(s)
    Deep discipline knowledge
    • informed and infused by cutting edge research, scaffolded throughout their program of studies
    • acquired from personal interaction with research active educators, from year 1
    • accredited or validated against national or international standards (for relevant programs)
    Critical thinking and problem solving
    • steeped in research methods and rigor
    • based on empirical evidence and the scientific approach to knowledge development
    • demonstrated through appropriate and relevant assessment
    Teamwork and communication skills
    • developed from, with, and via the SGDE
    • honed through assessment and practice throughout the program of studies
    • encouraged and valued in all aspects of learning
    Career and leadership readiness
    • technology savvy
    • professional and, where relevant, fully accredited
    • forward thinking and well informed
    • tested and validated by work based experiences
    Intercultural and ethical competency
    • adept at operating in other cultures
    • comfortable with different nationalities and social contexts
    • able to determine and contribute to desirable social outcomes
    • demonstrated by study abroad or with an understanding of indigenous knowledges
    Self-awareness and emotional intelligence
    • a capacity for self-reflection and a willingness to engage in self-appraisal
    • open to objective and constructive feedback from supervisors and peers
    • able to negotiate difficult social situations, defuse conflict and engage positively in purposeful debate
  • Learning Resources
    Recommended Resources
    Recommended Text
    Pelham & Blanton, Conducting research in psychology: Measuring the weight of smoke, Wadsorth. Any edition.
    Note that we do not slavishly follow this text. But, it presents ideas in a way that is similar to how we do it and therefore we think it will be most useful for filling in any conceptual gaps. As such, we certainly recommend you purchase it.
    A hard copy is available from the Co-op bookshop at uni, and as an e-version through the publishers. Please see a posting on the MyUni site for this course for a link.
    For readings associated with the lecture content, please see the MyUni website.

    Barr Smith Library – Psychology on the Web
    The Library is a major resource centre for students. See The website contains a list of databases, links to tutorials and help with searching methods.
    Online Learning
    In this course you will participate in online learning environments via MyUni ( In your online learning you will read, listen to a number of presentations, be expected to participate in online discussions via discussion boards, and complete and submit assessments online.

    This course may also use MyUni for one or more of the following:
    • Communication with students via Announcements and Discussion Board
    • Submission of summative assessment- Access to lecture recordings
    • Access to tutorial materials
    • Additional readings
    • Self-directed learning activities
    • Exam preparation materials

    Link to MyUni:

  • Learning & Teaching Activities
    Learning & Teaching Modes
    This course is about doing psychology. The focus is less on lecturing, and emphatically on students engaging with research principles and techniques in psychology. Thus, the bulk of the course is concerned with students doing - that is, engaging in activities during contact times to solve problems and undertake tasks that are closely related to lecture content. To facilitate this, contact will be structured such that there will be an initial pre-recorded lecture made available at the start of the week, during which time basic principles will be introduced and tasks/activities/problems will be set. Students may listen to and engage with these lectures at a time of their choosing.
    During the session together in the lecture theatre, key points from the associated lecture materials will be reiterated and expanded upon. The weekly sessions in the lecture theatre will be highly interactive. A member of the teaching staff will lead and guide students through key conceptual points, illustrating them with reference to actual research, and engaging students with research-related problems that need to be solved. A series of Case-Based Learning sessions focusing on developing analytic thinking and decision making in response to applied problems that are linked with core psychology topics will be held during the semester.

    The information below is provided as a guide to assist students in engaging appropriately with the course requirements.

    There are four assessment products

    [1] Reflection pieces associated with each of the 5 CBLs [2% each = 10%)
    Preparing for and completing this assignment = approximately 5 hours

    [2] SGDE group paper = 5%
    Preparing for and completing this assignment = approximately 2 hours

    [3] Major assignment covering concepts and principles addressed in the first eight weeks of the course = 40%.
    Preparing for and completing this assignment = approximately 56 hours

    [4] End of semester exam = 45%. This exam is multiple-choice and open book and will be submitted online in week 12. The exam items will be provided to students approximately 5 weeks ahead of the submission date.
    Preparing for the exam = 54 hours

    [d] In lecture interactive sessions = 10 hours

    [e] SGDEs = 2 hours

    [f] Pre-recorded online lecture material = 24 hours

    [g] Case-based learning tutorials = 5 hours 

    TOTAL = 158 HOURS

    Disclaimer: Assessment details are provisional and subject to change.
    Learning Activities Summary

    Week 1 Housekeeping; the scientific method and the research process
    Week 2 Operationalizing constructs; IVs and DVs; Ways of measuring; Types of data; Questionnaire design; Validity
    Week 3 Reliability
    Week 4 Experimental design; Repeated measured design; Random selection vs random assignment;
    Week 5 Non-experimental design; 3rd variable problems; threats to validity
    Week 6 Turning research questions into hypotheses; statistical decision-making; interpreting data
    Week 7 no lecture content - ANZAC DAY HOLIDAY
    Week 8 Turning research questions into hypotheses; statistical decision-making; interpreting data
    Week 9 Longitudinal design; pre-post intervention design
    Week 10 Ethics
    Week 11 Quasi-experimental design; internal and external validity; other muddy moments
    Week 12 Exam submission
    Disclaimer: This program is provisional and subject to change
    Small Group Discovery Experience
    Each student will have the opportunity to engage in two SGDEs during the course.
  • Assessment

    The University's policy on Assessment for Coursework Programs is based on the following four principles:

    1. Assessment must encourage and reinforce learning.
    2. Assessment must enable robust and fair judgements about student performance.
    3. Assessment practices must be fair and equitable to students and give them the opportunity to demonstrate what they have learned.
    4. Assessment must maintain academic standards.

    Assessment Summary
    Assessment Task Task Type Weighting Learning Outcome
    Doing and evaluating research paper  Summative 40% 1-7
    Open book MCQ online exam administered internally in week 13 Summative 45% 1-7
    Case-based learning assessment Formative and Summative 10% 1,3,6,7
    SGDE Formative and Summative 5% 1-7
    Assessment Detail
    • Doing and evaluating research assignment: This assignment will require students to demonstrate understanding of key concepts as covered in the first 8 weeks of the course, and demonstrate how to apply these concepts and principles.
    • Case-based learning assessment
    • End of semester open book multiple choice exam: The items in this exam test ability to apply learning. Thus, the vast majority of items in the exam are problem-based [as opposed to testing knowledge of facts].

    Disclaimer: These assessment details are provisional and subject to change
    Please refer to the General Handbook for Undergraduate Psychology students (available on Myuni course) for details on submission process/requirements, penalties for late submission, the process of applying for extensions, and the staff “turn-around” timeline on assessments and the provision of feedback and policy relating to re-submission/redemptive work.
    Course Grading

    Grades for your performance in this course will be awarded in accordance with the following scheme:

    M10 (Coursework Mark Scheme)
    Grade Mark Description
    FNS   Fail No Submission
    F 1-49 Fail
    P 50-64 Pass
    C 65-74 Credit
    D 75-84 Distinction
    HD 85-100 High Distinction
    CN   Continuing
    NFE   No Formal Examination
    RP   Result Pending

    Further details of the grades/results can be obtained from Examinations.

    Grade Descriptors are available which provide a general guide to the standard of work that is expected at each grade level. More information at Assessment for Coursework Programs.

    Final results for this course will be made available through Access Adelaide.

  • Student Feedback

    The University places a high priority on approaches to learning and teaching that enhance the student experience. Feedback is sought from students in a variety of ways including on-going engagement with staff, the use of online discussion boards and the use of Student Experience of Learning and Teaching (SELT) surveys as well as GOS surveys and Program reviews.

    SELTs are an important source of information to inform individual teaching practice, decisions about teaching duties, and course and program curriculum design. They enable the University to assess how effectively its learning environments and teaching practices facilitate student engagement and learning outcomes. Under the current SELT Policy ( course SELTs are mandated and must be conducted at the conclusion of each term/semester/trimester for every course offering. Feedback on issues raised through course SELT surveys is made available to enrolled students through various resources (e.g. MyUni). In addition aggregated course SELT data is available.

  • Student Support
  • Policies & Guidelines
  • Fraud Awareness

    Students are reminded that in order to maintain the academic integrity of all programs and courses, the university has a zero-tolerance approach to students offering money or significant value goods or services to any staff member who is involved in their teaching or assessment. Students offering lecturers or tutors or professional staff anything more than a small token of appreciation is totally unacceptable, in any circumstances. Staff members are obliged to report all such incidents to their supervisor/manager, who will refer them for action under the university's student’s disciplinary procedures.

The University of Adelaide is committed to regular reviews of the courses and programs it offers to students. The University of Adelaide therefore reserves the right to discontinue or vary programs and courses without notice. Please read the important information contained in the disclaimer.