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Applying Student Course Research to a Greater Good

Bryan Burnham, Ph.D., associate professor of psychology at The University of Scranton, works with undergraduate students in psychology laboratory courses to replicate studies recently published in academic journals. The students’ results are then added to the published national archive PsychFileDrawer.org.
March 20, 2018

With ever-increasing pressure on faculty and researchers to publish or perish, most focus on new breakthroughs, leaving a void in replicative research that provides the important scientific step of verifying results.

Step in the capability of University of Scranton students and the need of these students to learn how to conduct research for courses with a research lab component.

Bryan Burnham, Ph.D., associate professor of psychology at Scranton, married the two “needs” into win-win situation for undergraduate students in his Research Methods in Behavioral Sciences Laboratory course. Students working in small groups replicate recently published studies.

The “real world” experience not only introduces students to the most recent research in the field, but they also gain a better understanding of the scientific method, and how to plan and execute a study. Their results are then added to the published national archive PsychFileDrawer.org, which equates to an impressive line on an undergraduate’s resume.

And science – in the midst of a replication crisis – has one less unverified study in its case file.

According to Dr. Burnham, University students also enjoy the research projects, become more engaged and learn more through the process.

A second psychology professor at Scranton, Jill Warker, Ph.D., has added the replication research component to her course as well.

Maybe this situation is better described as a win-, win-, win-, win- …

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