Undergraduate research experiences (URE) are commonly offered in the behavioral sciences. Some institutions provide opportunities for students to participate in faculty members' ongoing research, while other schools allow students to engage in various types of independent research. In our department, there are opportunities for students to work on research projects with faculty members, and students are required to participate in at least one URE.
Our URE, The Scientific Core, was recently endorsed by the National Science Foundation due to its promise to facilitate disciplinary socialization and engage all students in ways that heighten the development of technical problem-solving skills. Although elements of our URE can be found in many behavioral and natural science programs, our Scientific Core is unique because it provides a comprehensive, research-supportive infrastructure that carries students through the interconnected knowledges and practices of science. Upon completion of The Scientific Core, students possess a scientific literacy premised on a capacity to understand and do science.
The Scientific Core begins with a course, Scientific Writing, in which students learn how to conduct academic literature reviews, use professional writing styles and formats, and avoid plagiarism and other forms of academic dishonesty. In our Research Methods in the Behavioral Sciences class, students discuss issues related to causation, ethics, and philosophies of science in order to better understand the strengths and weaknesses of research designs. Upon conclusion of this course, students are capable of designing studies to test hypotheses and evaluate knowledge claims relevant to human behavior. Statistics for the Behavioral Sciences and its accompanying lab prepare students to utilize descriptive and inferential statistics, offering an additional means to critically analyze theoretical concepts and proclamations.
The Scientific Core culminates in a 32-week student-initiated, hands-on research project where student research teams design a study, collect and analyze related data, and write a scientific paper describing their research project. Each team presents its work in two university-wide forums, and many of our students choose to present their findings at regional and national conferences.
Evidence suggests that The Scientific Core places our students at an advantage over those who engage in less comprehensive UREs. Decision-makers at graduate schools and at places of potential employment understand the value of our students' abilities to apply the tools of science to solve abstract, real-world problems. They also appreciate our students' abilities to work collaboratively on intricate, long-term projects. These are critical components of the form of scientific literacy that is attractive in the 21 st century global marketplace. Accordingly, our progressive model gives students a competitive edge when seeking admission to graduate school, initial employment, and job advancement.
Depending on a student's future goals, s/he may consider enrolling in a few other courses designed to further enhance disciplinary socialization and the mastery of scientific tools and techniques. These courses include Advanced Statistics for the Behavioral Sciences and its accompanying lab, Ethical Dilemmas in the Behavioral Sciences, and Psychological Tests & Mesaurements, which also has a lab component. If students successfully complete these three classes and The Scientific Core, they will be awarded with Recognition in Scientific Analysis.
CRIM/PSYC/SOCI 109: Scientific Writing (1-credit hour)
CRIM/PSYC/SOCI 200: Research Methods for the Behavioral Sciences (3-credit hours)
CRIM/PSYC/SOCI 275: Statistics for the Behavioral Sciences (3-credit hours)
CRIM/PSYC/SOCI 275-L: Statistics for the Behavioral Sciences Laboratory (1-credit hour)
CRIM/PSYC/SOCI 359: Advanced Behavioral Research I (3-credit hours)
CRIM/PSYC/SOCI 361: Advanced Behavioral Research II (3 credit hours)
CRIM/PSYC/SOCI 335: Psychological Tests & Measurements (3-credit hours)
CRIM/PSYC/SOCI 335-L: Psychological Tests & Measurements (1-credit hour)
CRIM/PSYC/SOCI 339: Ethical Dilemmas in the Behavioral Sciences (3-credit hours)
CRIM/PSYC/SOCI 475: Advanced Statistics for the Behavioral Sciences (3-credit hours)
CRIM/PSYC/SOCI 475-L: Advanced Statistics for the Behavioral Sciences (1-credit hour)
Some of our students desire to design and conduct a study on their own, and faculty members are typically available to serve as mentors. These projects are critically important to students who plan to apply to more prestigious graduate schools. If you are interested in enrolling in an independent research project, ask the professor with whom you are interested in working if s/he will be available. It is unlikely that students will acquire permission to enroll in complex independent research projects prior to completion of The Scientific Core.
Faculty members in our department are actively engaged in research, and there are a number of ways for students to participate in these projects. In some cases, students may be allowed to assist in literature reviews. There may be opportunities for students to administer surveys, conduct interviews, enter data, and perform preliminary data analyses. If you are interested in these forms of research apprenticeship, ask faculty members if they are engaged in ongoing projects in which you can participate.
Each spring, teams of student researchers enrolled in Advanced Behavioral Research II need to recruit participants for their research projects. If you are interested in being a research participant, there are several ways to get involved. First, students can inform instructors serving as URE mentors in Advanced Behavioral Research II of their desire to serve as a volunteer participant. Also, research teams are often allowed to solicit volunteer participants from the pool of students enrolled in non-research courses. Thus, you may get a chance to volunteer while enrolled in your classes. Finally, some student research teams type a brief description of the study and a sign-up schedule and then post this information on the wall next to the computer lab. Given the demand for research participants and the different forums in which recruits are solicited, you should have little difficulty when trying to find opportunities to serve as a volunteer.
Statistics Lab Mentors & Computer Facilities
Our department's research-supportive infrastructure was designed to ensure that students have a diverse range of opportunities to mentor one another. All students will, at different stages in the curriculum, serve in student mentor roles. However, the opportunity to serve as a statistics lab mentor is not available to all students. Each academic year, two to five students are solicited to serve as statistics lab mentors. Those students have completed Statistics for the Behavioral Sciences and excelled in the course.
Statistics lab mentors maintain regular office hours in our computer lab, provide reviews using the projection system, offer individual assistance to students, review assignment submissions, provide feedback to allow for necessary corrections, and grade assignments. They also attend weekly meetings with the instructor of record who solicited their participation. These contacts increase the likelihood that both statistics lab mentors and the recipients of their assistance will have a positive learning experience. Students who are asked to serve as statistics lab mentors may enroll in Supervised Undergraduate Teaching, which fulfills an experiential learning requirement in the Leadership Drury program.
Our computer laboratory is located on the second floor of Pearsons Hall and contains 15 computer stations, a projection system, and video technology. The lab accommodates several classes, and students frequent the facility to work on statistics-based assignments and research projects. Open lab hours are posted on the wall outside the computer lab each semester. If students need access to computers at other times, they may use one of the university computer labs in Springfield Hall.
If researchers plan to utilize human participants when conducting studies, they must obtain approval from an Institutional Review Board (IRB) prior to the onset of data collection. IRB permission to conduct research is contingent upon the nature and design of submitted proposals. While there are a number of key issues that must be addressed in an IRB request form, including assurances that participation is informed and voluntary, the central goal of the IRB is to ensure that researchers treat human participants with respect and dignity.
Several of our courses examine the role of the IRB and the primary components of a successful IRB proposal. Information provided in those classes is linked to broader ethical concerns that arise when conducting research with human participants. The Ethical Dilemmas in the Behavioral Sciences course represents our most focused attempt to ensure that students understand IRB requirements, their origins, and their relationship to theories of ethics. The course explores studies across the full range of disciplines that typically use human participants in research in order to help students better understand the value of institutional review.
Please review the following checklist to be sure that your application is complete prior to submission. This will insure a more timely review of your proposal.
1. Original plus 2 copies of the page #1 with correct signatures.
2. Appropriate number of copies of the following:
a. Cover letter to potential subjects
b. Informed Consent Form
c. Nonstandardized tests, questionnaires, inventories.
d. Interview protocol, written instructions, audio/visual instruction to subjects.
If you have any questions regarding these requirements, please contact the chair of the Drury University Human Subjects Research Council.