The class project for this course is a written report, that addresses the biological study of a specific behavioral or mental phenomenon (normal or pathological) covered in the readings and videos. The written report is great way to explore the biology behind a psychology topic of interest to you. Please select a behavioral or mental phenomenon such as language or schizophrenia and then select a biological strategy for investigating it, such as hormonal or genetic mechanisms, neurotransmitters, drug treatments, or localization of brain processes by imaging.
After choosing a topic, you should send a Pager or email message to your instructor with a brief description (one or two sentences) of your topic to me for approval and feedback — see the syllabus schedule for the report topic approval due date.
It is not necessary to choose a unique topic. For example, several class members may decide to explore new research in autism. However, each written report is to be an individual effort. Collaborative projects will not be accepted.
As an example, the theme of your report might be imaging approaches to the study of schizophrenia. Your paper should summarize fundamental issues, questions, and controversies and provide a general overview of the topic using the biological line of investigation you chose. It should also elaborate on your understanding of the brain processes that are revealed through imaging research in schizophrenia. To accomplish this, you will have to use recent research articles (published within the last five years) to illustrate relevant points. You may use any of a number of electronic databases to find research articles that deal with your topic, including the library and the Internet. The one requirement for the research articles that you select is that two of them must have appeared in a peer-reviewed scientific journal. You may wish to consult with the library staff or your faculty member to confirm whether a particular journal is peer-reviewed.
Newspaper or magazine articles should not be used as your major reference, but they are sometimes useful when they lead you to the appropriate research article. You should avoid simply repeating the articles in summary form, but rather use them within the text of your paper to illustrate important points. You are welcome to discuss your choice of topic with your faculty member to make sure you are on the right track.
Your paper should be 1,600 words, or about 6 to 8 pages, in length (use the word count as a guide to length and stay within 200 words of the target to avoid penalties). It must be typed, double-spaced, with one-inch margins, and fully referenced in APA format (seehttp://www.apa.org). Please check the course schedule in this syllabus for the due date. See the Grading Information section of the syllabus for description of the late penalty.
The text of your paper should be preceded by an abstract (about 100 words) that summarizes the key points in the paper (i.e., statement of problem, major findings, conclusions). Please post your abstract in the Week 8 Discussion conference for other class members to read, and respond to their abstracts for a stimulating discussion.
You may wish to submit a draft of your complete or near complete paper to the Effective Writing Center (EWC at http://www.umuc.edu/writingcenter/writingresources/faq.cfm ) for review and comment, prior to the due date of the paper. This should be submitted well in advance of the due date, in order for the EWC to respond and for you to make the necessary corrections. Once you receive feedback from the EWC, you can copy and paste it into a Word Document, then post it in your assignment folder with your project paper by the due date, for your instructor to view as necessary. The EWC can help address questions regarding format, structure, writing style, and appropriateness of references.
The written report project grade will be based on a maximum of 100 points.
For grading detail, please see the grading rubric for the project.