Training undergraduate researchers is a central aim of the Psychology Department at Hillsdale College. Students complete a rigorous sequence of courses in inferential statistics and research methods usually during their first year after declaring psychology as their major and they proceed through these courses in a cohort. This allows them to build strong relationships with peers who share their love of psychology and are at similar stages in the learning process. The research methods course culminates in a personal research project for which students prepare a professional report and presentation they deliver in a departmental conference.
Unique to the psychology program at Hillsdale College, and a key component of students’ training, is their completion of an independent research project that spans the course of two semesters. Students usually embark on these projects their junior year after successfully finishing the department’s preparatory courses in statistics and research methods. The first semester of the project is spent reviewing relevant published research and developing a proposal that articulates an empirically testable hypothesis and the method that will be used to evaluate it. The second semester is spent implementing the proposed project and requires students to gather, analyze, and interpret data and report their findings. Students receive guidance from faculty mentors throughout the year in one-on-one meetings and they receive feedback from classmates in group discussions. The projects culminate in a professional report and oral presentation that is delivered just prior to the end of the Spring semester.
An important means by which students can further their research skills is by collaborating with faculty on research projects. This can be done through the LAUREATES program or by enrolling in PSY 597 for course credit. Such partnerships provide students experience as apprentices, which mirrors the working relationship between students and mentors in graduate school. To learn more about the research interests of the psychology faculty and potential projects you could assist with, visit their webpages through the provided links or meet with them to discuss opportunities.