Student dissecting brain

Senior Research Thesis

The Senior Thesis is designed to be the capstone of your college education in psychology. It involves an intensive, semester-long research project requiring you to use the knowledge you have obtained in the various courses described as the Psychology Core. This experience provides you with the opportunity to demonstrate to employers and graduate admissions committees that your college education in psychology has been unique, and that you have done more than simply take courses. Our Psychology Faculty have been very proud of the work our seniors have produced in recent years. Many students have presented their research at national conferences. Several theses have been published in top peer-reviewed journals such as the Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, Behavioural Processes, Physiology & Behavior, Chemical Senses, etc. The senior research thesis has become an important means for our students to gain acceptance into graduate school and improve employment opportunities.

Several professors are involved in supervising the Senior Thesis each semester. Senior students may select any of these professors, provided that their research interests coincide and you have completed the necessary prerequisites. The basic structure of the course is the same with all professors, but each professor controls the course material and grading. The basic format of the course consists of  two parts carried out concurrently: (a) the literature review, and (b) the experiment.

(a). The literature review requires you to read many original journal articles related to your thesis topic and integrate their findings. These articles present evidence for some process or mechanism of behavior. Your goal is to write a comprehensive paper (the literature review) that shows how this process works, using published research to back up your claims. Therefore, the literature review is an APA-style paper in the form published by Psychological Bulletin, in which you integrate across many original research articles to explain some aspect of behavior. It is not a summary of the articles published in an area.

(b). In contrast, the thesis is a second paper, written in APA style, describing the experiment you have completed -- normally while you have been working on the literature review. Professors often create research teams composed of up to four students to carry out the actual experiment. The use of teams, rather than working individually, has the advantages of dividing the responsibilities for the project across students, facilitating discussion of the research literature, and encouraging students with special abilities (such as in statistics, computer use, etc) to lead the other members of the team. Therefore, the final thesis paper is often a joint collaboration of all team members. The literature review, however, is the individual work of each student.

Formal Course Description
Student Publications and Presentations

Past Student Research: Select a year: 

2010-2011 2009-2010 2008-2009 
2007-2008  2006-2007  2005-2006 
2004-2005  2003-2004  2002-2003 
2001-2002  2000-2001  1999-2000 
1998-1999  1997-1998  1996-1997