The Empirical Investigation

Group Assignment

Students will be assigned to groups by Prof. Huff. Under special circumstances individuals can volunteer to form a group if this occurs before Friday Sept. 14. Most groups will have little trouble getting their work done if they pay attention to my advice to groups. If there are problems with groups dynamics, under special circumstances, group members can be fired and group members can transfer. Group members will all receive the same grade for the project, but I will use a rating system to move deserving individuals up or down by no more than a letter grade from the group's grade.

Choosing a Topic

  1. Each student should independently generate 2 questions that follow the guidelines
  2. After finding out your group assignment, discuss the different topics and rank order three that work for the group.
  3. Discuss your rank ordering with the TA in charge of your group
  4. Choose a topic in consultation with the TA.

Preparing an Empirical Question Report

Preparing the Annotated Reference Report


Preparing your Empirical Method Outline

  1. Choose a short title and list your names as authors in APA style.
  2. Describe at a conceptual level your independent and dependent variables
  3. Describe in detail the procedure you will use to measure or manipulate each variable, using an APA style header to label each variable. Be sure you have pretested any coding system you describe.
  4. Include a sample data row in a spreadsheet format.
  5. Describe any ethical considerations you think are relevant to your study.
  6. Consult with the TA in charge of your group on a first draft of this before turning it in.
  7. The sample Empirical Method Outline provides you with an idea of what I am looking for..

Collecting your data

  1. Prepare and pretest any coding sheets you will need in advance of the observation time. Design these with 1) ease of coding and 2) ease of data input in mind.
  2. Make sure to sample behavior ahead of time to familiarize yourself with the environment.
  3. Devise a way to collect your data in the shortest amount of time possible.
  4. Type your data into a spreadsheet as soon as possible and make a backup copy.
  5. When you are done, send the TA in charge of your group an email note indicating this.

Preparing your Analysis Summary

  1. Include a cover sheet with your project title and author names.
  2. Compute simple statistics (means), graphics (boxplots, scatterplots, histograms), and tables to present your main findings. Use the handout in class to help arrange these.
  3. Present these simple statistics in pictorial form (with clear labels)
  4. Write a summary sentence that describes the pattern you have found.
  5. The sample Analysis Summary provides you with an example of what I am looking for. You do not have to use Excel charts the way I do in this paper. Careful, clear charts done by hand are acceptable.


Preparing your Empirical Poster

  1. Mark the most important excerpts from your Empirical Question Report, Annotated Reference Report, Empirical Method Outline, and Analysis Summary.
  2. Arrange them in Powerpoint or Word using the handout of APA Poster style.
  3. Revise them to make a smoothly flowing report.
  4. Include pictures that help explain and add visual interest, but that still look professional.
  5. Have someone proof read it for you.

Guidelines for Empirical Questions