Research Methods is one of the mandatory courses for all psychology majors and an incredibly important one. It is true that the material is a little drier than other psychology courses, but the material you learn in the course will serve you in a lot of your future psychology courses as well as in your career! As such, read on to gain some valuable tips that will be sure to help you as you work through the course. (Note – Dr. Gadbois is the professor who usually teaches the course, so some of the points are specific to him as the professor.)
1. You need at least a B+ if you want to qualify for an honours degree
Whether you’re planning on getting a honours degree in psychology or not, Research Methods is a required course. However, if you do plan on working towards an honours degree, a B+ in this course is a requirement. That being said, learn from the mistakes of all the students who didn’t keep this requirement in mind – take the class seriously, because the last thing you’ll want to do is have to repeat it!
2. Attendance is taken randomly, and if you show up for class, Dr. Gadbois is more likely to bump your mark up a percentage!
Dr. Gadbois is an extremely reasonable and empathetic professor – if you are just on the cusp of a B+, he is willing to bump your mark a percentage so you can make the cutoff. However, he will only do this to people who consistently attend his class. To that end, he takes attendance at random lectures throughout the semester to see who is really putting effort into the class. If he sees that you were present the majority of classes at which he took attendance, he will most likely help you out so you don’t have to repeat the course!
3. Some of the articles you need to read are pretty confusing… and long.
Research Methods is really your first exposure to long, dense, and occasionally convoluted scientific articles. Experience certainly gives people the ability to read these types of articles faster and still obtain an understanding of the points presented as well as their implications, but this takes time! So what’s the point? Don’t feel bad if you need to read articles a few times over to get the gist of what they’re saying! In fact, you should expect that you will need the extra time to really understand the articles assigned to you, so when you need to have articles read for your tutorial, don’t leave them until an hour before your meeting time!
4. They are extremely strict about tutorial attendance!
Ah, yes – tutorial attendance. Because of the nature of the course, the coordinators are extremely strict about tutorial attendance. In fact, they tell students at the beginning of the semester that if a student misses a tutorial and does not make it up by attending a different one, they will need to repeat the class. So do yourself a favour and do whatever it takes to make sure you can always attend your tutorial!
5. Consider getting someone to look over your main scientific report
As stated earlier, Research Methods is really about getting students acquainted with the research process – that includes writing up papers. Writing papers on scientific experiments is an extremely important skill to learn, but it can be quite time-consuming and difficult. As such, having a higher level psychology student look over or help you with the main scientific paper that you will need to submit closer to the end of the semester is highly advisable. Remember – you don’t want to take your chances when getting anything less than a B+ means repeating the course!
If there’s anything to take from this blog, it’s to take this class seriously! It may not be the most interesting class you’ll ever take, but it will certainly be one of the most important (especially if you’re planning on completing graduate studies in psychology). So anytime you’re sitting in a lecture, thinking about how you’d rather be anywhere else, remember that you will have to learn this stuff eventually and therefore might as well pay attention now, nail the course, and be proud that you never have to take it again!