You could use what you have learned about psychology to make sense of an experience you have had, to explain some behavior you have observed in yourself or other people, or to help create a plan to

Final Project

Instructions and Grading Rubric

 TOPIC FOR PAPER: How stress leads to depression

 Description.  A four to seven page (double-spaced) paper in which you apply one or more ideas from the course to something in your own experience is due during final exam week (see course calendar for the exact time).  The goal is for you to use what you have learned in the class in a way that is meaningful to you, and to evaluate the strength of the empirical evidence for the ideas you are applying.  You could use what you have learned about psychology to make sense of an experience you have had, to explain some behavior you have observed in yourself or other people, or to help create a plan to achieve some goal in the future, just to name a few examples.  A paper which merely cites general ideas from the textbook or lectures (“Similar contexts at encoding and retrieval make it easier to remember something”) is likely to be decidedly mediocre.  One that cites specific empirical evidence in a way that supports your interpretations and arguments (“Morris, Bransford, and Franks (1977) found that words were better remembered if the way they were tested matched the way people thought about them when they studied them.  I could use this ‘encoding specificity principle’ to help me …”) is likely to be a much better paper.  Also be sure to critically evaluate how strong the evidence is for the “facts” from psychology that you are applying.

Instructions.  Use the following section headings:

1.     Issue.  Begin by describing the personal goal, problem, experience, or phenomenon that you will be addressing.  Explain briefly why it is interesting or important to you. (One paragraph)

2.     Course Topics. Identify the topics from the course that you will be applying, including the relevant facts or theories you will make use of. (One paragraph)

3.     Application.  Apply information from the course to analyze your experience, create a plan for achieving your goal, find a solution to your problem, etc.  Be sure to cite the specific sources for the ideas you are applying.  You can also refer to general principles from the course readings and lectures.  (2 to 3 pages)

4.     Empirical Evaluation.  Evaluate the strength of the evidence for the “facts” you are applying from topics in the course.  If, for example, you applied the idea of “retrieval practice” to help you study more effectively, you might say something like, “The idea that retrieval practice leads to better memory is something we can be highly confident is true, because it has been repeatedly supported by well-controlled experimental evidence.”  Or if you applied the idea of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs to identify things that were interfering with your academic achievement you might say, “Although intuitively appealing, the ideas described in Maslow’s Hierarchy are things we can have very little confidence are true, because they are mostly based on only intuition and observational research, not repeated and well-controlled experiments.”  Try to cite specific empirical evidence to support your conclusions whenever possible.  This can include primary sources such as journal articles.  (The library has a Guide for Research that is very helpful.) (2 to 3 pages)

5.     Conclusion.  Sum up what you have done, and briefly discuss which information from the course you found most applicable to your issue.  Also briefly talk about what questions you still have or what further information you think you might need.  (1 to 2 paragraphs).

6.     References.  Provide an APA-style reference list for any source you used in your paper, whether it is a journal article, textbook chapter, course lecture, website, content-generating tool such as an AI system, or anything else that is not common knowledge or your own words and ideas.  Each entry in the References list should also correspond to an APA-style in-text citation in the text of your paper.  Each entry in the References list must include a DOI, or if no DOI is available it must include a URL that links to the source. 


20 points:  Following instructions.  Are the 5 sections listed in the instructions above clearly labeled and in the correct order?  Does the structure and content of the paper otherwise fit the instructions?20 points:  Application.  Does the paper apply relevant ideas from the course in a way that makes sense?   Are they specific, or only vague and general ideas from the course?  Does the way that they are applied to your issue make sense?30 points:  Empirical Evaluation.  Is specific empirical evidence cited for the ideas that are being applied?  Are references provided?  Is there a clear evaluation of how confident we should be that the ideas are true, and are clear reasons given for that evaluation, in terms of the strength of the empirical evidence (or lack thereof)??20 points:  Clarity and style.   Is the paper written clearly and logically?  Do paragraphs have clear topic sentences and supporting ideas?  Is everything written in complete, grammatical sentences?  Are there too many direct quotations?10 points:   Length and formatting.  Is the paper 4 to 7 pages of text, not including title, references, etc.?  Are the font-size and margins reasonable?  Is it double-spaced?  (Note:  A very short paper is likely to lose points for other categories as well as “length and formatting.”)

Turn in your finished paper using the submission folder.  Please keep in mind that all submissions are automatically checked for evidence of plagiarism. 

Plagiarism Warning

DO NOT USE SOMEONE ELSE’S WORDS in your paper!  Do not copy from your referenced sources.  Do not copy from a web site that summarizes your source.  Do not copy from another paper you have written for another class.  Do not copy phrases, sentences, or paragraphs from ANYWHERE!  That includes using automated content-generation tools like chatGPT.  Any words produced by something other than your own brain must be quoted and the source cited.  Instead, put everything in your own words: paraphrase, condense, and summarize the sources you cite.  Do not copy.

If your paper contains material copied word for word that is not clearly indicated to be a direct quotation (with quotation marks), you will receive a zero on the assignment for failing to follow instructions.  You may also face disciplinary action from the Academic Integrity Board.