Have Students Conduct Descriptive Research

One way of getting students to respect descriptive methods is have them do descriptive research. You could have them do content analyses of television shows, newspaper coverage of an issue, observation of a professor's in-class behavior; or you could have them generate their own project to obtain correlational data (Make sure they clear their project with you before they do it).

To help students conduct descriptive research, you may want to use the personal advertisement coding sheet or the scale design project handouts for Chapter 4.

Observational Research

If you want students to do an observational study, you may want to go over this website on observer reliability. If you want them to do a content analysis, you may want to go over this content analysis website.

Alternatively, you may want to focus on the value and the pitfalls of observational research. Three good resources for this are

Goldstein, M. D., Hopkins, J. R., & Strube, M. J. (1994). `The eye of the beholder':

A classroom demonstration of observer bias. Teaching of Psychology, 21, 154-157.

Zeren, A. S., & Makosky, V. P. (1986). Teaching observational methods: Time sampling, event sampling,

and trait rating techniques. Teaching of Psychology, 13, 80-82.

Krehbield, D., & Lewis, P. T. (1994). An observational emphasis in undergraduate

psychology laboratories. Teaching of Psychology, 21, 45-47.


Archival Research (Data from Secondary Sources)

To give students a light introduction to archival research, you might have them visit the Freakonomics blog , google's trend site, the Pew research site, look at pre-processed census data (from census scope or from the census bureau or have them download archives of research methods tutoring sessions. If you want them to examine data that has already been coded and organized into a spreadsheet, you might go to the Bureau of Justice Statistics web site.   If you want to take a more serious approach, have them go to

Back to Chapter 7 Main Menu