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Understanding Experiments in Cognition

It is reasonable to admit that in four weeks you have been exposed to a great deal of information about the human mind! This assignment will give you the opportunity to examine how the knowledge that you have acquired during the past weeks may tie together. You will explore a phenomenon which interests you, highlight the methodologies used to study it, uncover the results obtained, and assess the validity of the knowledge acquired. These activities will make you aware of the intrinsic relationship between knowledge of specific mental and behavioral phenomena, as well as the limitations of the techniques used to study them. 

Knowledge in cognitive psychology, is largely gathered by means of experiments. Thus, it is important that you become intimately familiar with this data-gathering method.  The goal of the assignment is to ensure that you have a good understanding of specific cognitive psychological phenomena as well as experiments that are often used to investigate such phenomena.  Abide by the instructions listed below:

·       Watch the video, Experimental Research Methods in Psychology, on the experimental method:

·       Go to the Ashford University Library or Google Scholar and select one peer-reviewed article on a topic of interest among those discussed in our class.

Ø False Memory (e.g., eyewitness testimony, instances of recovered memories of traumatic experiences, etc.)

Ø Attention (Selective, Divided, etc.)

Ø Short-term or Long-term Memory

Ø Working Memory

Ø Memory Loss (i.e. Amnesia)

Ø Levels of Processing

Ø Encoding Specificity

·       Describe the main research questions that the study attempts to answer, state the main hypothesis (prediction) made by the researchers, and identify the key variables.  Keep in mind that a description of the main question of the study entails an explanation of the importance of the question (i.e., illustrates the gap in the existing literature).

·       Describe the critical characteristics of both the participants and the procedure(s) used.

·       Summarize the main findings.  How do these findings answer the question that the researchers formulated in the introductory section of the article?

·       Explain the extent to which the findings answer the research question.  Do the findings support their research question (or prediction)?

·       Illustrate the weaknesses and strengths of the selected study.  For instance, ask yourself questions such as: Is the technique used to understand the selected phenomenon able to gather adequate information about it? How does this technique compare to other techniques used in cognitive psychology? Do the findings of the selected study generalize to individuals who may be different from those who participated (young versus older adults)? Please note that research articles often contain more than one study. Thus, in this assignment, you are given the opportunity to describe each experiment separately or focus on what you believe to be the most significant experiment.


Guidelines for the Assignment

This assignment must:

·       Start with a title page and end with a reference page.

·       The title page must contain the following items (title of paper, student’s name, course name and number, instructor’s name, and due date).

·       Be at least five double-spaced pages in length (without counting the title page and the reference page). 

·       Begin with an introduction to the selected topic in which you define the research question and all concepts that will be discussed in the paper. For instance, let’s assume you select the article by Strayer and Johnston ‘Driven to Distraction: Dual-Task Studies of Simulated Driving and Conversing on a Cellular Telephone’ as the topic of your paper.  Then your task is to state the question the researchers want to answer and define the terms attention, divided attention and distraction.

·       Briefly summarize the content of the selected article according to the guidelines described above. 

·       Conclude your paper by expressing your thoughts about the strengths and weaknesses of the available evidence.  If possible, suggest the course that future research should take if the answer to the selected question is less than conclusive.

The reference section will be the final page of the paper.  In this section, you will cite the article you have chosen to discuss in the paper and any other source you have used. Be sure to follow APA guidelines as outlined in the Ashford Writing Center.




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