Cognitive Psych Lab

PSYC 3310L

Course Description

As a hands-on approach to the study of cognitive psychology, this specific course provides a project-based applied experience with the standard experimental tools used in research in the area of cognition.  The course builds on knowledge and skills in research methodology and quantitative analysis that students previously learned in PSYC 3070 and 3080 along with subject-specific content from the co-requisite cognitive course (PSYC3310).


PSYC 1101 or PSYC 1101H with a grade of C or higher; PSYC 3080K with a grade of C or higher; PSYC 3310 (or co-requisite) 

Learning Outcomes

Required Materials

Assignments & Grades

Lab Research Journal (Required for all team progress and assignments)

Researchers must keep journals to document their progress. For this lab course and project, you will record your goals and your progress in a research journal. This journal will be on Microsoft Teams. All team members will use the same journal. This will help with communication and ensure proper progress is made throughout the course. Every member of the group must contribute to the journal on a regular basis. You should record your goals for each week at the start of the week, including what you plan to do and when. Then, you should record what you do throughout the week. Research journaling is a good habit. Aside from the benefits mentioned here, your team assignment grades will be impacted by your journal entries. It is not fair for some people to do all the work for a team while others makes the same grades. When grading each group assignment, I will use the research journals, the assignments themselves, my interactions with you during lab, etc to determine your contribution and effort for each assignment. If you do not record your goals, contributions, and progress in the lab journal, you will not earn credit for team assignments. If you do not attend lab during team assignment work, you will not earn credit for team assignments. A lab journal reflection will be completed at the middle and end of the semester. Finally, these journals are intended to improve communication and team effectiveness. If you notice team members inaccurately describing their effort/contributions or the effort/contributions of others, please let me know via email and/or during office hours. Intentionally recording inaccurate effort/contributions for yourself or others is cheating, a violation of the UNG Student Code of Conduct, and will result in an F in the course; it will also be reported to the Dean of Students and the office of Student Integrity.


Cognitive Research Quiz (2.5% of overall grade)

You have all taken Research Methods and Quantitative Methods. This means you know the basics of research design and analysis. You have also taken or are currently taking Cognitive Psychology. However, you are not taught everything you need to know to conduct research in cognitive psychology in these courses. During lab, we will discuss the basics of cognitive research. Then, you will complete a quiz on this content. This quiz must be completed independently on D2L. You have two attempts. The highest attempt is taken. Only missed questions appear on the second attempt.


OpenSesame Homework (2.5% of overall grade)

Computer programs that allow you to create and run experiments are a critical tool in modern cognitive psychology research. OpenSesame ( is an open source program that allows researchers to create computer-based experiments with little or no programming. We will use OpenSesame to collect data this semester. In order to start learning about this software, you will read a journal review article by Mathod et al (2012). Then, you will write a summary of the paper and a brief reflection explaining how the software could be used to conduct cognitive psychology research, connecting what you learned in lab about cognitive research to what you learned in this paper. This must be individual work. Paraphrase; don’t use quotes. The homework should be at least 250 words.


Topic Selection (2.5% of overall grade)

As a team, review the project topic options presented by Dr. Hale. Select the topic that most appeals to your team. Be democratic! Everyone in your team should have a voice in this process. If you have an idea that you think would work for this project but that is not one of the options listed, talk to Dr. Hale about it. For this team topic selection assignment, include a description of your specific topic and at least three peer-reviewed articles related to this topic. You should also include a research question and hypothesis. Remember you will be conducting this study using a college student population and collecting in-person data using OpenSesame.


OpenSesame Tutorial 1: Gaze Cue (2.5% of overall grade)

To help you learn how to use OpenSesame, you will be complete two tutorials. The first will be completed on your own. Some of you may have completed it already in a previous class. That is fine! You still need to complete it again as a refresher. Click here to access video and written instructions for the tutorial. You will need access to OpenSesame to complete the tutorial. All lab computers in Strickland have OpenSesame installed. You can also install OpenSesame on your own computer or laptop. Click here to download OpenSesame on your personal computer. Once the tutorial is complete, run it to make sure it works. Only a working tutorial will earn full credit. You can ask your team members questions about this process, but you need to complete the tutorial on your own. Once complete, submit the working experiment file to the D2L assignment folder. 

OpenSesame Tutorial 2: Visual Short-term Memory (VSTM) (2.5% of overall grade)

All projects this semester are related to a previous study on VSTM. This previous study was conducted using OpenSesame. In this second tutorial, you are going to re-create this OpenSesame program using (1) the skills you learned from the first tutorial and (2) and resources, instructions, and advice provided by Dr. Hale. You are going to work as a team on this assignment. To earn full credit, you must have a working experiment file. Once completed, test it out on your team members--with each of you serving as an experimenter and participant at least once. That will help you confirm the experiment file runs, AND it will help you prepare for future data collection. Upload the working OS file to Teams once complete. 


Research Project Proposal (5% of overall grade)

Each research team will write a project proposal that describes the proposed research study in detail. The proposal will include a working title for your project, background information, a rationale for why this experiment should be completed, research question, hypothesis, population and sampling information, a brief explanation of the procedures and methods, and a data analysis plan. 


IRB Application Assignment (5% of overall grade)

Before conducting research with human participants, your project must be reviewed and approved by the UNG Institutional Review Board (IRB).  Each research team will use the information from their proposal to complete an application for IRB review (Form 1.1).  The research team will make any necessary corrections to the application after submission. This is likely to take multiple attempts; at minimum it will require a first draft and a final draft. Dr. Hale will serve as the Faculty Sponsor and Principal Investigator for all submitted applications.

CITI Training (Required for IRB application process)

Required trainings were likely completed in a previous course, e.g., PSYC1102, PSYC3080K. The following two courses are required and must be up-to-date: Social & Behavioral Research - Basic/Refresher & Social and Behavioral Responsible Conduct of Research. These courses can be found here: Completion certificates must be submitted by the due date.


Annotated Bibliography (5% of overall grade)

Before collecting data for any research project, you should complete an in-depth literature review.  You will need to use resources such as GALILEO, Google Scholar, and other databases to find your sources. You will want to keep track of the key information in each source that is relevant to your project along with your evaluation of the source.  To do this, you will need to create an annotated bibliography, a list of sources that includes the full APA citation, a one-paragraph summary of each source, and a one-paragraph assessment of how this source helps with the project. As a team, you must have a minimum of ten unique peer-reviewed articles with annotations for each. Full-text PDF versions of each article must be submitted with the assignment.


Outline (5% of overall grade)

For this lab, you will have to write a complete research manuscript of your project. Therefore, you should create a manuscript outline beforehand. The outline should reflect and organize information from your proposal and annotated bibliography. It should also match the content of your IRB application. Use this outline as scaffolding for your manuscript. You will complete the outline as a team. I highly recommend using the outline template on D2L.


Presentation 1: Literature Review & Methods (10% of overall grade)

The first presentation will be a group oral presentation of your literature review and methods. As a team, you will need to prepare a 10-15 minute presentation, including a PowerPoint presentation (or similar) as a visual aid. This visual aid must have a trial sequence diagram. (The same trial sequence can be used on your poster later.) Each presentation will be followed by a 5-minute Q&A session.


OpenSesame Program & Experiment Script (7.5% of overall grade)

Each research team will create a program in OpenSesame that will allow you to automate your experiment by presenting instructions and stimuli to participants, collecting responses, and storing all the data into experiment files. This process needs to be completed on your own; however, I will be available to help you with the process, if necessary. In addition to the experiment program, each research team will write an experimenter protocol and script to detail the complete procedure and detail specifically what researchers will say to participants. 


Data Collection (5% of overall grade)

Once your IRB application is approved and your program and script are complete, it’s time to begin data collection. You will collect in-person data using SONA systems and room reservations over the course of a couple weeks. Everyone will need to contribute to the data collection process (as an experimenter and through administrative tasks, e.g., putting up timeslots, granting credit, emailing participants if needed) to earn a grade for data collection. We will workshop this process in lab.


APA Manuscript (25% of overall grade)

Throughout the semester you will write a collaborative APA formatted research paper detailing your project. Your paper must include a title page, abstract (200 – 400 words), introduction, methods with stimulus figure, results with graph, discussion, and references. In addition to all other APA guidelines (use your APA Manual), your paper must be a minimum of nine content pages (i.e., introduction through discussion – not including title page, abstract, references, or figures/graphs) with each of the three main sections (i.e., Introduction, Methods, & Results/Discussion) being approximately three pages each. You will also need a minimum of ten peer-reviewed sources for this paper – at least seven of which must be cited in the introduction. (Other sources may be cited in the methods and/or discussion if/where appropriate.) See D2L for grading rubric. Manuscript will be completed in parts with an introduction draft, method draft, results/discussion draft, and manuscript final draft. 


Conference Poster (10% of overall grade)

Research is often presented at conferences using a research poster.  Each research team will create a professional-quality poster that summarizes the background, methods, results, and significance of their experiment.  Posters will be completed as a group as a visual aid for Presentation 2. These posters will be peer reviewed during class to gain feedback and insights on how to improve. Then a revised version will be submitted.


Presentation 2: Poster Session (10% of overall grade)

The culmination of this course is a poster presentation session to be held at the end of the semester.  The poster session will be open to the university community, including students and faculty in Psychological Science.  Each research team should be prepared to present the poster as a team, and each team member will also be expected to present the complete poster on their own.  To help you prepare for the presentation, each student will prepare a written set of notes (a script) for their individual presentation. 

Grade Scale

> 90.0% = A

80.0 - 89.9% = B

70.0 - 79.9% = C

60.0 - 69.9% = D

< 60.0 = F

Schedule Overview

Week 1: Syllabus // Research teams // CITI training due

Week 2: Cognitive research quiz due // OS homework due

Week 3: Team topic selection due

Week 4: OS Tutorial 1 due // Team proposal due

Week 5: OS Tutorial 2 due // IRB application due

Week 6: Annotated bibliography due // Outline due

Week 7: OS Program due // Presentation 1

Week 8: Manuscript introduction draft due // Data collection begins

Week 9: Data collection continues...

Week 10: Manuscript method draft due // Data collection continues...

Week 11: Data collection complete!

Week 12: Work on data cleaning & analyses; start on poster (nothing due)

Week 13: Manuscript results & discussion draft due

Week 14: Poster peer review

Week 15: Poster final draft due // Presentation 2

Finals: Manuscript final draft due