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 knowledge 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 21st 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 & Measurements, 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.
All students majoring in criminology, psychology, or sociology must complete a series of courses designed to engender scientific literacy. These courses are referred to as the "scientific core" and include the following:
BSCI 109: Scientific Writing
BSCI 200: Research Methods for the Behavioral Sciences
BSCI 275: Statistics for the Behavioral Sciences
BSCI 275-L: Statistics for the Behavioral Sciences Laboratory
BSCI 359: Advanced Behavioral Research I
BSCI 361: Advanced Behavioral Research II
Students who wish to gain a recognition in scientific analysis must complete the scientific core as well as the following courses:
BSCI 339: Ethical Dilemmas in the Behavioral Sciences
BSCI 435: Psychological Tests & Measurements
BSCI 435-L: Psychological Tests & Measurements
BSCI 475: Advanced Statistics for the Behavioral Sciences
BSCI 475-L: Advanced Statistics for the Behavioral Sciences
Note: Students must earn a grade of “C” or better in BSCI 339, BSCI 435, BSCI 435-L, BSCI 475 and BSCI 475-L to earn the recognition in scientific analysis. Students completing the requirements for a recognition in scientific analysis will receive a certificate of recognition from the department of behavioral sciences. Since this specialized certificate does not comprise either a major or minor, it will not appear on the university transcript.