Purpose of the course:
The course meets Mondays and Wednesdays from 8:45 to 10:00 in Mayborn 105. My office hours are Wednesdays from 10-12 and nearly anytime by appointment in Hobbs 217a. The course is about experimental methods of research on child development. It is designed for students concentrating in child development, cognitive studies, or psychology. The prerequisites include at least one course about child development and at least one course about statistics. The course is built around empirical articles about child development (many of the articles are “classics” that you may have read about in your other courses) and around readings about statistics & research methods.
The main purpose of the course is to bring to life the basic elements of experimental approaches to psychological science in the context of child development research. To accomplish this we will read chapters about statistics and research methods. These concepts will be anchored to child development by applying them to classic (and recent) research reports, by applying them to hands-on experiences of designing and implementing data collection protocols, and by applying them to the entire research process by writing a research proposal.
1. Come to class and participate. This will count 5% of your final course grade. I hope everyone receives the entire amount of credit. I’ll distribute an attendance list at the start of each class. It is fine to miss two classes. If you need to miss, please email me the day before. As for participating in class – it is a good thing for students to ask & answer questions in class. Sometimes I’ll ask people to hold on to their questions and ask me after class, so I can continue with the lecture. 2. Midterm exam. This is the only test in the course and will count 40% of your final course grade. It is a “concept mastery” test. You will be expected to define, explain, and apply the statistical concepts and the research design concepts to the empirical papers that we have read up to that point.
It involves teaming-up with classmates in order to identify a classic research study, to design dependent variables and independent variables based on that study, create an observation sheet, and observe a few children. Then students should, individually, summarize what you observed in a table, and report your observations within a scientific style format. It will count 15% of the your final course grade. 3. Term paper in lieu of a final exam. This is to be a 12-20 page paper roughly following the format of an NIH research proposal. It will count 40% of your final course grade. 4. Letter grades: Excellent or outstanding work will receive a grade of “A” or “A-“.
Good or very good work will receive a grade of “B+” or “B”. or “B-“. Work that minimally fulfills the assignments will receive a grade of “C”, and work that does not fulfill the assignment will receive a grade of “D” or “F”. The Vanderbilt Honor Code: I strongly encourage students to brainstorm together, to study together, and to team up to prepare for tests together. However, all written work should be your own. Tests are to be taken on the scheduled day and assignments are due on the scheduled day. I will make exceptions for documented medical emergencies, family emergencies, and participation in official Vanderbilt events.
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