Santa Clara University

Psychology department

Research Opportunities for Psychology Majors

A number of opportunities exist for psychology majors to develop their research skills. Psychology is a discipline that utilizes a variety of research methodologies to test hypotheses about human behavior. Whether or not you plan to go to graduate school in psychology, it is important for psychology graduates to understand the intimate relationship between theory, evidence, and practice. For students intending to pursue doctoral level work in psychology or related fields, developing research skills is a key component of preparation for graduate school.

 


I. Coursework

A. PSYC 40: Statistical Data Analysis
Exercises designed to teach the skills of statistical data analysis and technical writing in psychology.
Prerequisite: Math 6 or 11, Declared Psychology as major.

B. PSYC 43: Research Methods in Psychology
Investigation of methods of psychological research and issues involved in the collection of data. Emphasis on the social, personality, cognitive, and developmental areas of psychology. Exercises require designing research projects, collecting data, and writing professional reports.
Prerequisites: Psychology 1 or 2 and 40.

C. PSYC 105: Statistics and Experimental Design II
Advanced topics in theory and methods of statistical analysis and experimental design. Complex analysis of variance and multiple correlation and regression are typically covered.
Prerequisite: Permission of the instructor is mandatory.

D. PSYC 110: Advanced Research Methods
Students learn the major research designs used in Psychology and how to understand statistical results that come out of those designs. These include experimental designs, multiple linear and non-linear regression, non-parametric analyses, multivariate ANOVA used with experimental designs, structural equation modeling and small N designs. Students learn how to read research reports using these designs, how to understand statistical results obtained from the designs and how to communicate those results in passages that would belong in an APA-style report. The emphasis in the class is on understanding the designs and results rather than on doing the analyses oneself.
Prerequisites: PSYC 1 or 2.

E. PSYC 195: Research Practicum
Advanced methodological issues taught primarily through direct involvement in an experimental research project. Activities include reviewing the literature, formulating a research question, developing a design and procedure, collecting and analyzing data, and writing a professional research report. Meets Capstone Course requirement.

F. PSYC 199: Directed Reading/Research
Independent projects undertaken by upper-division students with a faculty sponsor. To receive course credit, the student must submit a formal written proposal and have it approved by the sponsoring faculty member and the department chair. The proposal must be submitted before the end of the previous quarter and must meet the University requirements for independent study credit.

 


II. Serving as a Research Assistant to Department Faculty

Students often initially work as volunteers on a faculty member’s research team. Advanced students may then go on to receive course credit in PSYC 199: Directed Reading/Research for their work on research projects in conjunction with the faculty member. What follows is a list of current faculty projects and a description of how each faculty member works with students in their labs.

 


Dr. Matthew Bell

Current projects

Basic learning processes using operant and classical conditioning. The primary interest is on how the environment can control behavior.


Student Involvement

I prefer that student research assistants become involved on a number of different levels, depending upon their interests and experience. I ask students to make a minimum commitment of two quarters (but one year commitments are preferred) and prefer that they have taken at least PSYC 1.

How to Get Involved

Contact me directly for more information on my lab lab. I require a minimum of a two-quarter commitment.

Go 

 


Dr. Amara Brook

Current Projects

Current studies investigate the effects of contingent self-esteem (self-esteem that is based on performance in specific areas of one's life) on behavior related to one's academic and environmental goals. Specific projects investigate the effects of contingent self-esteem on self-handicapping (undermining performance to protect self-esteem from true threatening feedback), ego-depletion (how much completing one task interferes with the ability to complete subsequent tasks), and goal-instability (the extent to which people change their goals after receiving threatening feedback about their performance). Next steps will compare the effects of contingent self-esteem to the effects of other motivations.

Student Involvement

Depending on their interest and preparation, students can be involved in designing studies, recruiting participants, collecting and analyzing data, presenting at conferences, and writing manuscripts.

How to Get Involved

Email Dr. Brook or stop by her office hours. She prefers students to have completed PSYC 2. To be involved in data analysis, students should have completed PSYC 40, and to be involved in project design and writing, they should have completed PSYC 43 and PSYC 150 (Social Psychology).

 


Dr. Jerry Burger

Current projects

Most of my current research is in the area of social influence. More specifically, I'm interested in the psychological processes underlying compliance (saying yes to a request) and conformity (altering attitudes and behavior to a perceived norm). My recent work has focused on the role of heuristic processing, i.e., the rules of thumb people rely on in social settings that make us susceptible to a crafty salesperson. For example, why do we say yes more often to people with whom we share a birthday or the same first name?

Student Involvement

Students become involved in my research in two ways. First, I sometimes rely on students to help conduct studies. In most cases, these students have expressed an interest in obtaining some hands-on research experience. Whenever possible, I try to involve students in all phases of the research process, from hypothesis development to writing. Second, students enrolled in my PSYC 195 class work in small groups to design and carry out their own original research projects under my supervision.

How to Get Involved

Contact me directly. I usually work with a couple of students per year. I prefer students who have completed PSYC 42 and a course relevant to the research (e.g., social psychology).

 


Dr. Tracey Kahan

Current Research

Kahan Lab  Kahan Lab Recording Room  Sleep Room

Studies comparing affect, cognition, and metacognition across waking and sleep. These studies involve the naturalistic sampling of individual’s experiences during waking and sleep. The goal of this research is to gain a better understanding of the similarities and differences between the mind in sleep and the mind during waking.

Student Involvement

Students are involved in all phases of Dr. Kahan’s research How to Get Involved Contact Dr. Kahan by telephone or by email. She prefers students who have completed PSYC 42 or 43 and at least one of her upper division courses (PSYC 120, 131, 132, 135).

Go Cognitive Psychology Research: Cognition in Dreaming and in Waking.

 



 


Dr. Robert Numan

Current Projects

Effects of brain damage to the septohippocampal system on learning and memory in rats.

Student Involvement

Students are involved in testing animals, data collection, and sometimes surgical procedures, histology and data analysis.

How to Get Involved

Come to Dr. Numan’s office hours to discuss becoming involved.

 


Dr. Thomas Plante

Current Projects

  1. psychological and mood benefits of exercise
  2. physical and mental health benefits of religious faith and spirituality
  3. psychological testing among applicants to religious life and sex offending clergy.

Student Involvement

                    Plante Lab  Plante Lab

Students assist in running the exercise lab, score, enter, and analyze data, write up results, coauthor papers, and present at professional conferences (APA & Society of Behavioral Medicine). Students attend weekly lab group meetings. Students also participate in other research topics as needed re: managing and collecting data

How to Get Involved

Stop by Dr. Plante's office. He prefers students who have taken PSYC 1 or 2, and 40. PSYC 115 and 117 are also useful.

 


Dr. Patricia Simone

Current Projects

Selective attention and memory processing in young adults, older adults, clients with Alzheimer's disease or Parkinson's disease. Cognitive benefits of lifelong learning.

Student Involvement

Students are involved in designing studies, recruiting participants, collecting and analyzing data, preparing manuscripts.

How to Get Involved

Come by and let Dr. Simone know you are interested. She prefers students who have taken PSYC 40 and 43. PSYC 65, PSYC 165, 166, and/or 167 are a plus, though not necessary.

 


Dr. Brett Solomon

Current Projects

  1. Evaluating Health Realization Outcomes among Delinquent and Detained Adolescents in Santa Clara County.
  2. Adult perceptions of decision making among middle school girls.
  3. Social Decision Making and Self Esteem among Delinquent Adolescent Girls (projected start date: Winter 2005).

Student Involvement

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Students can get involved on all levels of research, including literature searching, data collection, data entry, analysis and writing. Those interested in collecting data with detained populations must gain security clearance from Santa Clara County (facilitated through Dr. Solomon).

How to Get Involved

Dr. Solomon is enthusiastic about involving students in her research. Please send her an email (bsolomon@scu.edu) or call her office (408-554-4672).

 


Dr. Kieran Sullivan

Current Projects

  1. Identification of factors important to participation in premarital counseling and
  2. Social support strategies used by intimate partners to effect/support change in their partner.

Student Involvement

Students assist with all levels of both projects. Some get 199 credit, others are volunteer. How to Get Involved Stop by Dr. Sullivan's office during office hours, or email ksullivan@scu.edu.

 


Dr. Timothy Urdan

Current Projects

I am currently examining how the cultural identity of immigrant students influences their motivation and achievement in school. This project involves collecting data from college and high school students using surveys, interviews, and computer-based data collection methods.

Student Involvement

Contact Dr. Urdan by phone (408-554-4495) or via email (turdan@scu.edu).

 


Dr. Eleanor Willemsen

Current Projects

  1. Social perception of disabled adults and children, two experiments completed
  2. Developing rating scales to be used by children (start up)
  3. Developing a casebook of judicial opinions for the psychology and law class (joint project with Michael Willemsen)
  4. Case note on recent State Supreme Court opinions regarding custody after break-up of lesbian relationships that included children.

Student Involvement

Students working with Dr. Willemsen are usually full collaborators and coauthors. How to Get Involved Give Dr. Willemsen a note describing your background courses, experience, etc. and make an appointment. Depending on the project, she recommends PSYC 40, 43, 155, and 185.

 


III. Opportunities for Psychology Students to Share Their Research

National and Regional Conferences: Western Psychological Association (WPA), American Psychological Association (APA), American Psychological Society (APS), Society for Neuroscience, Society of Behavior Medicine, Association for the Advancement of Behavior Therapy (AABT), Association for Behavior Analysis (ABA).

 


Department of Psychology
Santa Clara University
500 El Camino Real
Santa Clara, CA 95053