Morgan (2009) recommends having students learn about research methods by doing a personalized behavior change project. To get students off to a good start, Morgan recommends having students choosing a behavior that is easy to operationalize, such as calories consumed, caffeine consumed, minutes exercised, or minutes studied.
- To monitor any single behavior, have students go to http://www.askmeevery.com to set up a free account and to determine the question that will be texted to them every day (e.g., "How many minutes did you exercise today?"). If students respond to the text message, the website will graph their data.
- To help students record their calories, you might refer them to http://www.tweetwhatyoueat.com/
Morgan has students graph baseline data for two weeks. Then, they implement the change and continue to graph their data for another two weeks. Next, students calculate the mean and the standard deviation for the baseline period.
- By entering their data in a calculator like the one below, students can get the mean and standard deviation.
standard deviation Gadgets powered by Google
Once students have calculated the mean and standard deviation, Morgan has students draw three additional horizontal lines through the graph: (a) a solid line that represents the mean of the baseline period, (b) a dashed line representing one standard deviation above the mean, and (c) a dashed line representing one standard deviation below the mean. Thus, the graph might look like the following:
If data in the intervention phase are more than a standard deviation away from the baseline mean, this is typically taken as evidence that the intervention worked (Morgan, 2009). However, the change may not be due to the treatment. To help students see why the change may not be due to the treatment, have them read Chapter 14--or at least pages ( 518-519). To extend the exercise-and increase their study's validity, you might have students use a reversal design (if so, have students read Chapter 14--or at least pages 515-517).
Source: Morgan, D. L. (2009). Using single-case design and personalized behavior change projects to teach research methods. Teaching of Psychology, 36, 267-269.
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