Life of the Mind: Psychology students share their class research projects

Students in professor Bill Altman's Psychology 101 course capped off the semester by presenting on their research projects.

Students in professor Bill Altman’s Psychology 101 course capped off the semester by presenting on their research projects.

Make sure you follow APA format, never identify your research study participant and proofread, proofread, proofread.

Monday, Dec. 18, was the big day for Professor Bill Altman’s Psychology 110 students. Students conducted research experiments in class, and finished their semester with a poster and presentation highlighting their work. Afterward, Professor Altman and their peers questioned their methods and findings in depth.

The questions and critiques could be tough at points, but they provided students with the experience they need to become better researchers in their field.

“I know that a massive amount of work went into all of this, so I do commend you,” Professor Altman said after giving critiques that included the advice that leads this story.

Students researched a wide range of topics. The 10 a.m. session alone included presentations on the effects of texting and driving on brain waves, whether snacking impacts the learning process, the effect of expressive writing on stress, and whether color influences mood.

Students presented their findings and faced questions from their professor and peers.

Students presented their findings and faced questions from their professor and peers.

The project groups used different measures in the attempt to prove their hypotheses. While evaluating the impact of colors on mood, Abigail Hunt, Cherry Zhang and Chase Palinosky used a box that showed one color at a time, measured the participant’s brainwaves and followed up with a questionnaire.

Derek Everett and Anthony Yalch had their study participant use a driving simulation program while texting simultaneously, as they measured her brainwaves. She crashed every time she answered a text, they recounted, and data showed an increase in her brainwave activity.

Sometimes results were unexpected. Emma Horoszewski, Megan Hazelton and Kurtis Wan had expected to see stress decrease by 25 percent in a study participant who used expressive writing, but didn’t achieve the expected results. While the participant did report feeling less stressed, the results could probably be chalked up to the placebo effect, they said.

In their project, Rachael Meyers, Melanie Garcia and Taylor Voorhis had expected to see an increase in knowledge retention following a snack – but the results showed the opposite. The subject could have been distracted by the granola bar, they surmised.

While their experiment failed in terms of proving the hypothesis, failure is a part of science, too – as is learning to identify a study’s possible deficiencies. Thank you, Hornets, for sharing your fascinating research!