Teaching Research in Principle and in Practice: What Do Psychology Instructors Think of Research Projects in Their Courses?


Psychology majors typically conduct at least one research project during their undergraduate studies, yet these projects rarely make a scientific contribution beyond the classroom. In this study, we explored one potential reason for this—that student projects may not be aligned with best practices in the field. In other words, we wondered if there was a mismatch between what instructors teach in principle and what student projects are in practice. To answer this, we asked psychology instructors (n=111) who regularly teach courses involving research projects questions about these projects. Instructors endorsed many of the commonly assumed pitfalls of student projects, such as not using rigorous methodology. Notably, the characteristics of these typical student projects did not align with the qualities instructors reported as being important in research practice. We highlight opportunities to align these qualities by employing resources such as crowdsourced projects specifically developed for student researchers.

Psychology Learning & Teaching
Michelle Hurst
Michelle Hurst
Assistant Professor

My research interests include mathematical development and variations in performance across contexts.