East Carolina University
Department of Psychology

PSYC 2210: Research Methods in Psychology, Section 001, Summer 1, 2011

Instructor: Dr. Karl L. Wuensch
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Office: Rawl 137------ Office Hours.

Meeting Time: Monday through Friday from 0945 until 1230 (with a 15 minute break in there somewhere) in Rawl 304.

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    You will take five exams. The dates on which these exams will be given are May 23 (Monday), May 31 (Tuesday), June 7 (Tuesday), June 14 (Tuesday) and June 22 (Wednesday).  Some of the points to be earned on an exam may be earned prior to the scheduled date of the examination -- for example, part of your first exam score will be preparing a web page within BlackBoard and part of your scores on subsequent exams may come from activities completed prior to the examination day (for example, a "pop quiz" administered in class).

Writing Assignments

    This is a Writing-Intensive Course. You will write four papers, each being a part of a research report. These papers will due by 1 PM on May 20 (Friday), May 27 (Friday), 3. June (Friday), and 17. June (Friday). You will type your paper into a Microsoft Word document and submit it to me electronically by emailing it to me at WuenschK@ECU.edu. I shall make comments on your paper using the Track and Highlight Changes feature in Word and return the paper to you by email.  As part of the third writing assignment you will provide me with values for the parameters which I need to simulate the data you will analyze and report as part of the fourth and final writing assignment.  For more detail, go here.

      While I am most interested in the content of your writing assignments, poor spelling and grammar does detract from one's contribution, so please make every effort to use proper spelling and grammar.  Before you start answering any of the discussion questions, please consult my page on professional writing.

    Your first writing assignment will involve your starting a literature search and preparing an APA-style reference list, that is, a list of articles and books that provide an overview of a particular topic.  This semester that topic is psychological effects of physical attractiveness (of people).  This assignment is due on Friday of the first week of classes, so you will need to get working on it promptly.  Towards that end, I have arranged for Dave Durant, from our university library, to teach you how to use our library resources when conducting a search of the literature.  He will meet with us on the first day of classes, the 17th of May, from 1130-1230.

Class Participation

    In addition to the writing assignments, you may be given a variety of other assignments to complete in class/lab or at home. I typically go over these assignments in class and call on students to share their work with the class. I keep track of such class participation. At the end of the semester I use my records of class participation to determine which students are deserving of bonus points (0 to 5) that are added to their final average.

Late Papers and Exams

    Try hard to avoid missing any of the exams. Make-up exams will be a different form than the original. With respect to late papers, I may impose penalties for late papers (for example, lose 10% on first late assignment, 20% on second, 30% on third...). I may set the maximum obtainable score on a late paper to be equal to the lowest score obtained by students who turned in the paper on time.  Students who miss an exam or other class activity on which students are evaluated may be asked to provide a  university-approved excuse prior to being allowed to makeup work that was missed.


    Each of the five exams will be graded on a 20 point basis, where a score of 20 represents perfection, and each of the four papers will be graded on a 25 point basis, where 25 represents perfection. I shall keep a cumulative total of the points each student earns on the five exams and a separate cumulative total of the points each student earns on the four papers. At the end of the semester I shall convert each cumulative score into a P-score. I do this by dividing each cumulative score by the corresponding (for exams or for papers) "mean for mastery" and then multiplying by 100. The mean for mastery is the mean score obtained by the top 10% of the students in the class (the top score in a class of 6-14 students, the top two in a class of 15-25, etc.).

    At semester's end I shall compute for each student the mean of e's two P-scores and then add to that mean any class participation bonus points that have been earned. If that adjusted mean P is 90 or higher, the student has earned an A; 80 or higher, B; 70 or higher, C; 60 or higher, D.

    Second Chance Grading System: At semester's end I find the class mean and standard deviation for all students' adjusted mean P-scores after excluding scores from any student who received a score of zero on any exam or writing assignment and any score which constitutes a statistical outlier (as defined by Tukey, any score more than 1.5 H-spreads below the lower hinge or above the upper hinge). I use this mean and standard deviation to change each student's mean P-score to a Z-score. If this Z is 1 or more, the student has an A; 1/3 or more, a B; minus 2/3 or more, a C; minus 1 1/3 or more, a D. The student receives the higher of the two letter grades computed by the Z-system and the 10-point mean P system.

    Incomplete Grades:  Students who have not taken all five examinations and/or have not completed (with a score > 0) all four writing assignments may request an incomplete in the course.  Such requests must be made in writing (email is acceptable) and must be delivered to Dr. Wuensch by no later than 0800 on June 22, 2011.

    Pop Quizzes:  I may, during any class period, without prior announcement, administer a quiz.  Points earned on such quizzes will be added to students' examination scores  as "extra credit" points.  By "extra credit" I mean that such points cannot raise the "mean for mastery" beyond the total possible number of points on an examination (20), but they may raise it from its prior value.  Accordingly, students who do poorly on a quiz can expect their examination grade to suffer.  Students who miss a quiz will be permitted to make it up if and only if they can provide an official university excuse.

    Posting of Grades: If you would like to have your grades posted on the web, where you can view them at any time, you need to fill out the Grade Posting Form and return it to Dr. Wuensch.  After you have filled out the form, give it to Dr. Wuensch. Unless you complete this form, indicating that you wish to have your grades posted as described on the form, and deliver it to Dr. Wuensch, your grades will not be posted. You can find the link to posted grades near the bottom of this document.

    Final Grades:  Please do not beg for a better grade after final grades are posted.  Final grades are, well, final,  with only two exceptions:

    Please see the University Catalog for definitions of letter grades.  Do note that the grade of 'C' is defined as "average."


    On exams and graded class work, I expect you to work independently - no help from your classmates, unless I tell you otherwise. On computational homework assignments, you may compare answers with a classmate - if they disagree, you should both go over the problem step-by-step to find the error. Do not simply copy the work of another student - I have a very good record of detecting such plagiarism - it is easier to detect than you might suspect, and it is usually easier to do your own work fairly than to be an undetectable plagiarist. The penalty for plagiarism or other cheating is an 'F' for the course with additional disciplinary action possible.  See

25 Hours a Week Outside of Class

    You can master the content of this course, but, for most students, it requires a good deal of steady work. The usual rule of 2 hours outside class for every hour within class suggests 25 hr/week outside class for this lab course, admittedly more than you would need spend on most Psychology courses.

Class Attendance

    Class attendance is your responsibility. I do not take roll. If you miss class, you miss the opportunity to earn class participation points,  you miss the opportunity to learn material on which you may be tested later, and you might miss an exercise that earns points on an exam.

Goals of This Course.  After completing this course, you should:

  1. Be able to cite several examples of psychological research, including the findings of that research.  Most of the examples of research used in this class will involve the efforts of psychologists and others to explain the behavior and mental events of humans and other animals.

  2. Understand the methods employed by psychologists to conduct research.  In this course the emphasis will be on the role of theory in research, generating questions that can be empirically addressed, conducting a literature search to find what others have already learned about the question of interest, gathering data relevant to the questions posed, the analysis of the data, drawing conclusions from the analysis, relating the results to theory and practice, and disseminating the results in a research manuscript written in the style of the American Psychological Association.

  3. Be a more critical consumer of research results.  Those of you who will go on to take additional courses in statistics or research or accept employment involving research should find this course most instrumental. Many of you may never engage in research after your graduation, but you will be consumers of research. Adequately to evaluate the research reports that you will be reading for other courses or for your professional or personal advancement, you must understand the basic concepts taught in this course. By understanding the methods that are commonly employed in such research, you will be better able to apply those results to important decisions you make in life.

Writing Competencies for Writing Intensive Courses that Receive Foundations Curriculum Credit (From Academic Standards)

  1. Students will learn to use various heuristic and planning tactics in preparing a written composition. In drafting and revising, they will learn to choose words carefully, exploit English syntax fully, and ensure coherence. They will learn to edit for standard written English usage, punctuation, and spelling. They will also become competent in using the computer to perform those processes.  (Included in Goal II above)

  2. Students will improve their reading skills in order to understand literally, to infer, to recognize ideological bias, and to evaluate. They will deepen their sensitivities to connections and differences among texts. They will increase their capacities for reflecting on experience and analyzing and solving problems creatively.  (Included in Goal II above)

  3. Students will learn the aims and means of the expositor and the advocate and will learn to write in order to inform and to persuade.  (Included in Goal II above)

  4. Students will learn to formulate research questions, identify and search both print and electronic bibliographic indexes, locate resources in the library, and read widely for selected kinds of information. They will learn to incorporate information gained from the library and other sources into their compositions, citing documents appropriately.  (Included in Goal II above)


    PSYC 2101 or an equivalent course in statistics is a prerequisite for this course. A second prerequisite for this course is MATH 1065 or MATH 1066, or an equivalent course in college algebra.


    The requirements of this course are: A. successful completion of examinations, and B. successful completion of writing requirements.

Disabled Students

    East Carolina University seeks to comply fully with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Students requesting accommodations based on a disability must be registered with the Department for Disability Support Services located in Slay 138 (252) 737-1016 (Voice/TTY).

Sending E-Mail to Dr. Wuensch

    You can send me email through Blackboard, but it maynot put your name on the e-mail. Accordingly, you must remember to type your name in the email or I will not easily know from whom it came.  For class related email, always include a subject line in this format:  PSYC 2210:  xxxxxxx, where 'xxxxxxx' is a descriptive title -- for example, PSYC 2210:  Writing Assignment 1.


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Dr. Karl L. Wuensch

This page most recently revised on 21. May 2011.