Example Assignment - Course: PSYC 110

Assignment 1 - Popular Press

The popular press includes newspapers, magazines, and supermarket tabloids that report information in a format intended for the general public. Your assignment is to find four articles from the popular press that summarize research done by psychologists. The four articles you choose may deal with the same topic, or you may choose articles dealing with different topics. To get credit for the assignment you must bring all four articles to class on August 31 and turn in a reference page (typed) listing all four articles. (a sample of a reference page is attached to these instructions) Please do not work in groups. By obtaining a large sample of different articles our class will be able to draw some conclusions concerning how psychology is portrayed to the general public. On August 31, near the end of the class period, we will break into small groups and share articles. PLEASE SAVE YOUR ARTICLES!!!!!!! YOU WILL NEED THEM FOR ASSIGNMENTS 2 & 3.

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Assignment 2 - Locating An Original Source

This assignment is designed to be done during the library tour on Sep. 7. It is important that you bring the four articles from assignment #1 to the library tour.

The results of scientific studies are first typically presented in scientific journals or books. These journal articles and books are written by the scientists who actually conducted the research and are considered to be original sources of information. As you read articles from the popular press you will notice that reporters summarize the results of scientific studies. A high quality article from the popular press should present enough information so that the reader can locate the original source (e.g. the journal article or book). This assignment will teach you how to use the library to locate an original source of scientific information.

  1. Choose one of your your popular press articles.
  2. Using the resources on the library, locate an original source that is discussed in the popular press articles.
  3. Obtain the original source (this will probably require that you use interlibrary loan).
  4. Type a reference page that includes the popular press article and the original source.
  5. On a separate page (typed) outline the steps you took to obtain the original source (be very specific).
  6. To obtain credit for the assignment you must turn in:

    a) The popular press articles (underline/highlight the place in the article that discusses the original source) & original source (if your original source is a book the you can simply show the book to me)

    b) Your reference page

    c) Your outline of steps used to obtain the original source


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Assignment 3 - Comparing the Popular Press & Original Sources

Use the popular press articles and original source from Assignment #2 for this assignment. The purpose of this assignment is to enhance your understanding of the material presented during the first four weeks of the course and to give you some experience in judging the quality of articles from the popular press. Use the following outline as a guide in writing your report. In addition to the body of your report, please include a title page, reference page, and copies of the articles you used for this assignment.

I. Briefly describe the topic being investigated. Describe any preconceptions you may have of this topic.

II. Evaluate the original source:

  1. What psychological perspectives (approaches) does the author use to address this topic? What position do you thing the author might take on the (a) mind/body problem, (b) the nature/nurture debate.
  2. Describe the study:

a) Is this an example of pure or applied research? Explain why.

b) Point out any specific hypothesis the author proposes.

c) In your own words, describe the specific research methods that were used (e.g. descriptive, correlational study, experiment)

d) In your own words, describe the results and main conclusions.

III. Popular Press Article:

  1. Use the seven characteristics of good critical thinkers (Smith, 1995) to help you evaluate the quality and accuracy of the popular press article (i.e. is it a good reflection of the original source?)
  2. Evaluate the quality of any statistical presentation (e.g. errors in cause and effect statements, misleading graphs, tables). Point out what the popular press author does correctly.
  3. How could the author of the popular press article improve their presentation of the original source (i.e. if you were the popular press author what would you have done differently?).
  4. Overall, do you view the popular press article as a credible source of information?

IV. Reevaluate your preconceptions of the topic.

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