Welcome to the heart of the psych major

Science (by Robinson Jeffers)
Man, introverted man, having crossed
In passage and but a little with the nature of things this latter century
Has begot giants; but being taken up
Like a maniac with self-love and inward conflicts cannot manage his hybrids.
Being used to deal with edgeless dreams,
Now he’s bred knives on nature turns them also inward: they have thirsty points though.
His mind forebodes his own destruction;
Actaeon who saw the goddess naked among leaves and his hounds tore him.
A little knowledge, a pebble from the shingle
A drop from the oceans; who would have dreamed this infinitely little too much?

Because the psychology faculty see this course as the single indispensable course in the major, we have redesigned it and added a lab.  The goal is in the tag line above, to provide you with skills to care about data.  The double meaning in care implies both skill and attitude and is central to the goals of the course (see the meaning behind the poem).  Caring for data certainly involves skills and knowledge, but it also means showing particular virtues and attitudes when you plan for, collect, analyze, and talk about data.  We will be talking about those virtues so you should not be surprised if they show up in grading rubrics.


There are two books required for this class, plus a bunch of readings I will make available over moodle.  The books are:

Collins, H, & Pinch, T The Golem: What you should know about science 2012 Cambridge University Press 2nd Edition $14.00
Sternberg, R., Roediger, H., & Halpern, D. Critical Thinking in Psychology 2006 Cambridge University Press $27.00

You will find the assigned readings on the schedule, along with links to get you to any additional reading not in the textbook.

Team Projects

You will be divided into teams of three to do a semester long empirical research project. Almost all of this work will be done in the associated lab or in your teams outside of class time.  Class will be reserved for lecture, discussion, and exercises to help you get the knowledge you need to do the project.

The possible projects are listed on the project page.  We will select teams based on the interests you put down on the index cards on the first day of lab. The products, processes and due dates for the projects are also all listed on that page.


There will be two exams for the course: one just after Fall break and the Final. These will be in-class exams with a word limit for your answers. We will begin the course with a list of possible questions for these exams, based on the readings for each day.  At least one week before the exam, I will hand out a short set of questions that will be on the exam. The actual exam will consist of a subset of these questions. You will not know the exact subset until 24 hours before exam.

Other assignments

The lab will have a variety of other assignments that will be a small part of your grade.


The majority of your grade will come from the team project.  Below is the percentage breakdown of grades.

Item Percentage
Project 60%
Lab notes (3) 5%
Career Exploration Essay 3%
Exemplar Statistics Sentences 2%
Midterm 15%
Final 15%


If you have a documented disability for which accommodations may be required in this class, please contact Nancy Cheeseman (cheese1@stolaf.edu) or Laura Knobel-Piehl (knobel@stolaf.edu) in the Academic Support Center (507-786-3288, Buntrock 108) as soon as possible to discuss accommodations. If you have already arranged accommodations through St. Olaf Accessibility Services, please arrange for the submission of your accommodation letter within the first two weeks of class. Accommodations will only be provided after the letter is submitted to me and with sufficient lead-time for me to arrange testing or other accommodations. Although I will receive the letter electronically, I expect you to initiate a conversation with me about the accommodations.

Academic integrity is a central theme in this course.  We will spend much time talking about and practicing it.  The college has an academic integrity policy, and we will be following that policy in this course.  It is your responsibility to know about it.  A central issue in academic integrity is plagiarism.  To get a reasonably subtle idea of what plagiarism is, please look at this statement from the college. We will also be concerned with being honest about what we have done (e.g. in the methods section) and about the data (e.g. in the results section).  These can be described as instances of academic integrity.  It is possible to fail an assignment, and in spectacular cases even to fail the course, by attempting to deceive the reader or your client about your work or data.  I do not put these criteria on grading rubrics, but they do apply.