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Introduction to Research Methods


  • Credit value: 30 credits at Level 4
  • Convenors: Marie Smith, Emma Meaburn
  • Assessment: two 2500-word lab reports (10% and 15%), a 3500-word lab report (20%), an SPSS test (5%) and a 2.5-hour examination (50%)

Module description

This module introduces basic statistical tests and common research designs employed in psychological experimentation. There is particular emphasis on the execution and reporting of experiments, understanding and interpreting the output of descriptive and inferential statistical tests, and how to use the statistical computer software package SPSS.

The module aims to:

  • provide you with an understanding of the rationale for, and methods of, psychological experimentation
  • give you knowledge of how to analyse and interpret data from univariate studies
  • give you an understanding of the different sorts of behavioural measures (data) that may be collected in an experiment and of the relative merits of each sort of measure
  • allow you to appreciate the differences between simple univariate experimental designs
  • provide you with the ability to write-up an experiment clearly and concisely in accordance with the notes on writing laboratory reports.

Learning objectives

By the end of this module, you should be able to:

  • define basic statistical terms (e.g. standard deviation)
  • define basic experimental terms (e.g. extraneous variables)
  • summarise data using appropriate graphs, tables and descriptive statistics
  • understand the principles of inferential statistical testing
  • perform and interpret the outcome of the following statistical tests and procedures either by hand or using SPSS: Chi-square test, Mann-Whitney/Wilcoxon Rank-Sum test, Wilcoxon Matched-Pairs Signed- Ranks test, Related t test, Unrelated t test, correlation, one way ANOVA
  • describe the circumstances under which each of the above statistical tests is appropriate
  • design an experiment to test a univariate hypothesis
  • understand good practice in questionnaire design and design and test a simple questionnaire to address a set topic.