Initial Instructions: Research Report

Initial Instructions: Research Report

General Information

For this assignment, the class will participate in a simple research project which you will write up as a research report with the following sections: Abstract, Introduction, Method, Results, Discussion and References.

In order to successfully complete this assignment, you will need to

  • conduct a literature review of approximately ten peer-reviewed relevant journal articles;
  • integrate and critically evaluate the evidence in the articles, leading logically to the research hypotheses
  • obtain descriptive statistics and conduct inferential tests using SPSS
  • correctly report the results of the analyses and critically interpret the results, leading to your own claims about your results
  • point out the significance of your research for psychological theory, practice, and/or policy
  • cite references in text and compile a References list according to APA guidelines

I encourage you to work in small groups at the following stages: finding references and developing skills at critiquing the evidence in the early weeks, conducting the statistical analyses and discussing the results of your analyses in the weeks before the report is due. However, each student must write their own reports and I would expect everyone’s report to be substantially different, except for the Method and Results sections which will necessarily be similar.

There is an expectation that you will conform to the latest APA (American Psychological Association) referencing style. Please see links to guides and resources on the course home page.

You will be marked on how well you have addressed the following criteria: Title, Abstract, Introduction, Method, Results, Discussion, References, neatness and

correction of presentation, and writing style (structure, flow and logical presentation of the arguments).

Your Draft Introduction and complete Research Report NEED to be submitted on the relevant templates, which are available on the course homepage.

As learning to write an APA style research report is a difficult task, you will complete submit a draft of your Introduction, receive a grade and feedback on the draft, complete the SPSS analyses to write the Method and Results sections in class, and then interpret the results, write and submit the complete report.

Requests for extensions must be submitted at least three days prior to the assignment due date. All applications for extension must be made via the Extension request link on the course home page and include supporting documentation (e.g., medical certificate, letter from counsellor) along with a copy of your incomplete assessment. Students will be notified whether or not the extension has been granted (and the new submission date where appropriate). An assignment handed in after the due date for which an extension has not been granted will lose 5% per working day. Assignments will not normally be accepted once marked assignments have been returned to the class (and if accepted will receive a maximum mark of 50%).

Note that if your submitted assignment file is corrupted you will be required to resubmit your assignment. The date on which a readable file is submitted will be deemed to be the date of submission. If this is after the due date a late penalty of 5% per working day will be applied to the assignment. It is your responsibility to ensure that the assignment file you submit is not corrupted.

Topic specific information

We’re going to be looking at how undergraduate Psychology students feel about studying statistics – a topic I know will be close to your hearts! Specifically, we’re interested in different types of students differ in how they feel about statistics. For example, how traditional (under 22) and non-traditional (22 and over – considered independent of their parents for the purposes of Youth Allowance) students might differ in how they feel about statistics, OR Males and Females differ in how they feel about statistics, OR how students with low previous math experiences versus high previous math experience feel about statistics. To this end I asked you to complete the Survey in Learning Activity 1.1 – First steps. The questionnaire contained the following questions & scales:

  • Text comment about course expectations
  • Statistics Anxiety Scale
  • Attitude to Learning Statistics Scale
  • Demographic information
    • Age
      • In years
    • Gender
      • Male
      • Female
      • Other
    • Highest level of Maths studied prior to this course
      • Less than Year 12 Secondary School
      • Year 12 Secondary School
      • Higher Education (eg University)

First, print out a copy of the Survey

  • Look at the questions and see if you can work out which make up the two scales (I’ll tell you which is which later so don’t worry if you’re unsure about some of them) and whether they are positively or negatively worded
    • Statistics Anxiety (5 positively worded and 5 negatively worded items on 7-point Likert scales) which we will sum so that a high score reflects greater statistics anxiety. Refer to Tremblay, Gardner, and Heipel (2000) for information on this scale
    • Attitude to Learning Statistics (5 positively worded and 5 negatively worded items on 7-point Likert scales) which we will sum so that a high

score reflects a more positive attitude toward learning statistics. Refer to Tremblay, Gardner, and Heipel (2000) for information this scale.

  • Read the following articles (both available in the Assessment section of the course homepage)
  • Tremblay, Gardner, and Heipel (2000). Look at the scales they have used to measure statistics anxiety and attitude to studying statistics – we have used two of the same scales
  • Bell (2003). Think about the argument made for differences between traditional and non-traditional students.
  • The overall aim of our study is to explore whether traditional and non-traditional/ male and female/ low previous math experience and high previous math experience students differ in how they feel about studying statistics. We have two measures of how students feel about studying statistics – their attitude towards studying statistics (how positively they feel about it – measured on the ALS scale) their anxiety about statistics (how anxious they feel about statistics – measured on the SA scale). Decide which of these (attitude or anxiety) you wish to focus on.
  • Conduct your literature search to explore this issue (you will need to find 10 to 15 peer reviewed articles). Some may be quite general (about study anxiety or attitudes to studying, some will be specific to studying statistics (statistics anxiety, attitude to statistics), some will be about the differences between traditional and non-traditional students/ male and female/ low and high previous math experience, and some will be even more specific (relating to differences in statistics anxiety or attitude to statistics between traditional and non-traditional/ male and female/ low and high previous math experience).
  • Read each article critically and type or write your own notes in a separate document NEVER NEVER NEVER copy & paste from the articles!
  • Keep a record of all references and sources
  • Approach your literature search with an open mind asking one of the following questions:
  • Do traditional and non-traditional/ male and female/ low and high previous math experience students differ in statistics anxiety, and if so, how do they differ?

OR

  • Do traditional and non-traditional/ male and female/ low and high previous math experience students differ in attitude to statistics, and if so, how do they differ?
  • The answer to your question is your theoretical hypothesis. If the majority of the studies reviewed found that traditional students experience greater statistics anxiety/have a more positive attitude to studying statistics than non-traditional students then that is your argument. Your research hypothesis will be directional and should be worded in terms of the specific groups and scales used.

o *** students will score higher than *** students on the *** scale.

  • Make sure that you can justify your hypothesis on the basis of the research you have reviewed and summarised in your Introduction. If your review of the literature doesn’t give you a clear answer then your conclusion will be that the evidence in inconclusive. Your research hypothesis will be non-directional and should be worded in terms of the specific groups and scales used.

o *** students and *** students will differ in their score on the *** scale

  • You should each have ONE hypothesis about differences between students (age groups, gender, or previous math experience) on EITHER Statistical Anxiety OR Attitude to Learning Statistics.
  • Once you have completed your reading and have developed your hypothesis you can start typing the Introduction into the Introduction Template.
  • Have your hypothesis in front of you whilst you do this as your Introduction should be leading to your hypothesis. Your introduction should not have subheadings but should have the following general sections:
  • The first paragraph should introduce the topic and convince the reader that it is something worth exploring.
  • In the body of the Introduction you need to summarise and critically evaluate the literature and draw evidence based conclusions about differences between traditional and non-traditional students in how they feel about studying statistics (i.e., their statistics anxiety OR their attitude to learning statistics) – this is your theoretical hypothesis.
  • In the final paragraph you introduce the current (our) study. Clearly state the aim of your study. Very briefly (i.e., one or two sentences) state what was done in the current study and then formally state your hypothesis.
  • Do not use contractions (e.g., isn’t, wouldn’t).
  • Use clear, concise, formal expression.
  • If you don’t know the meaning of a word then don’t use it (so no Thesaurus writing!).
  • The Introduction is quite difficult to write, and if you have made errors in the development of your hypothesis this can lead to problems with the rest of the report.

Consequently you will be submitting a draft of your Introduction and References (worth 10% of your final grade) which will be marked and returned to you before you write and submit the complete Research Report (worth 30% of your final grade).

·             We will use the data we collected in the first week to test your hypotheses. You will be given additional information about the other sections of the research report in subsequent topics.

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