Independent study (PSH 499, 599 and 699) offers undergraduate and graduate students the opportunity to do psychological research. For undergraduate students, most independent study assignments involve working in faculty laboratories assisting with faculty and/or graduate student research. In this context, students acquire experience in a variety of research activities, including the design and construction of experiments and research stimuli, the gathering of data from research participants (human or animal), the analysis of data, and even the writing of formal research reports for publication or presentation at scientific conferences (students sometimes even earn the privilege of being included as co-authors on such efforts).
In special cases, undergraduate students are permitted to conduct research projects of their own design, with the careful supervision of a faculty member. This is often true in those cases where students are doing honors theses, but the opportunity is not limited to honors students.
Nor is independent study limited to laboratory work. Some students use independent study as a means for studying in depth some topic that is not covered in formal courses, but in which the student has a particular interest. For example, a student might want to learn more about hypnosis or about tactile perception among the visually disabled. We do not offer course work on these topics, but they could be explored via independent study.
In all cases, if you want to do independent study, the first thing you should do is find a faculty member who is doing the kind of research you are interested in or is willing to supervise your research or reading in your topic of interest. If a faculty member is willing to assist you, or to have you work in his/her laboratory, he/she will help you enroll formally in independent study. Incidentally, you do not have to be a psychology major or minor to take advantage of independent study in psychology. All you need is to find a psychology faculty member who is willing to supervise your work.
The following are some examples of the kinds of research projects in which undergraduate and graduate students have been involved recently:
An important way in which graduate students in psychology gain research experience is by doing a formal master's thesis. For specific requirements and details regarding this option, graduate students should consult their graduate study materials and the Coordinator of Graduate Studies.
Frequently, faculty and graduate students who are doing research advertise
for people who would be interested as serving as participants in that
research. In many cases, undergraduate students can earn extra credit
in certain of their courses by participating in such projects. Such opportunities
generally are advertised on a bulletin board reserved for that purpose
in the lobby of Holmes Hall. If you would like to participate in such
projects, check this bulletin board. Be sure to read the instructions
and limitations carefully, and be sure to check with your course instructor(s)
to find out if you will be given extra credit for participating. These
projects are wonderful opportunities to acquire an insider's view of research
in psychology, so be sure to look for them.