Research Requirements:

Introductory Psychology Out-of-Class-Experiences

One of the requirements of this class is participation in out-of-class experiences. You need to earn 4 out-of-class credits. If you fail to participate in the required number of out-of-class experiences, you will receive an “Incomplete” for the course and risk a reduced grade for the course as determined by your instructor. These credits may be earned by any combination of the following (your instructor may add or delete items from this list):

  • Participation in research being carried out by Psychology faculty and students.
  • Summarizing a journal article from a source approved by your instructor.
  • Attending a special presentation, approved by your instructor, on a psychological topic and writing a short summary of the presentation.

For more information about the first activity, check out the student research section. This page describes how to receive credit through research participation.

Your instructor will give you further details on how to get credit for the second and third activities.

Research Participation—Student Information

What research is available?

During a semester, a variety of experiments are conducted in the Department of Psychology by both faculty and students. These may include experiments in social, clinical, developmental, personality, industrial, cognitive, and learning psychology, although in any one semester only some of these areas will be represented. Experiments will generally begin to be available during the second or third week of school, with more available as the semester progresses. Participating in research is a good way to learn more about psychology and methodology while contributing directly to our knowledge of human behavior. In the past those students who have preferred to fulfill all the out-of-class requirements by participating in experiments have been able to do so, provided that they check the research board regularly and don’t wait to begin the requirement until the last few weeks of the semester.

How to participate in research

You can sign up for studies on-line using the Psychology Study Participant Manager (PSPM). Make sure you click "continue to this website" in order to continue. You can find information on how to use the PSPM by checking the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) Page.

Before signing up, check to see if there are any special conditions for participation. Some studies may request only participants with certain characteristics (e.g., being male, a smoker, or a native English speaker). If you are younger than 18, you will need to obtain parental permission for participation. Contact the experimenters prior to the research study for more information.

You will receive one credit for each hour of participation. You should only sign up for each study once.

When you arrive at the experimental session, you should receive a copy of your informed consent form to take with you. Keep this in a safe place, as it is your proof of participation should clerical errors arise. Please allow at least 48 hours for credits to show up on the PSPM system.

Keep a list of studies you have participated in and/or a list of other activities (see above) handed in. When you have the required number of items recorded on your list, you have finished the requirement.

The informed consent form will be your proof that you have participated in a study. If there are any discrepancies between the credits that are on the PSPM session and your own recollection, you must show the consent forms from the studies you participated in to the PSPM Pool coordinator or you will not receive credit.


You always have the right to refrain from participating in an experiment, with no penalty. That is, if you show up for a study and, after the experimenter explains what is required, you decide you’d rather not participate, you can terminate the session at that point. If fact, you can terminate the session at any point after hearing the instructions, even if the experiment has already begun. In other words, your participation is entirely voluntary. You may not receive credit if you do not complete a study, however, there will be no penalty for terminating participation.

If you cannot attend a session you have signed up for, contact the experimenter at least 24 hours before the beginning of your session. Experimenters must spend time preparing for each session, and if you fail to show, you have not only cost them time and effort, but you may even cause other students’ data to be useless.

If things go wrong

Researchers have an obligation to treat participants with respect and dignity. Any student who has a complaint about a study (e.g., you showed up but the experimenter didn’t, the experimenter was discourteous, the experimenter didn’t fully explain the experiment, you didn’t get credit for participating) should complete a complaint for as soon as possible (available in the psychology office) . The PSPM Pool coordinator will check into your complaint and contact you about it.

Educational goals

Once you show up for a study, the researcher has an obligation to explain what you will be required to do, what the study is about, and what questions are being answered by the research. If the educational goals of your participation are to be met, it is important that the study be fully explained to you before you leave the session. This will usually occur during a “debriefing” at the end of the experiment. Feel free to ask questions. Experimenters will be glad to answer them.

The purposes of research in the Department of Psychology are both scientific and educational. Most of the information in your text was discovered by research of the sort you will be given an opportunity to participate in. Thus you may be able to add, in a small but significant way, to our growing knowledge of human psychology. At the same time, you will have a chance to see psychologists at work doing research, and this will add to your understanding of the scientific process in general and psychology in particular.

Guidelines for Instructors

The participant pool coordinator will give instructors a list of the number of experimental credits each student in their class has completed at least two weeks before the cut-off date for participation and an updated list at the end of the semester.

Instructors of other introductory-level classes (e.g., social psychology, developmental psychology, and behavior modification) may wish to give extra or class credit to their students for participating in research. Any possibilities of credit should be printed in the form of a standard statement on the syllabus at the beginning of the semester, and the student experimental information sheet should be provided to these students. For any instructors who wish to add this to their classes, the pool coordinator will organize the credits and return the list of students who participated to the instructor at the end of the semester. If researchers do not want members of certain classes to participate in their study, this can be marked on the sign-up sheet. Make sure to notify the pool coordinator at the beginning of the semester if you plan to give extra credit for research participation to your students.

The syllabus statement should include at a minimum the following information:

a. the total number of participation credits which can be counted;

b. how these credits will contribute toward the course grade; and

c. a reference to the standard research participation information sheet for details.

Example: You earn one hour of extra credit for each hour or fraction of an hour that you spend participating in each experiment. For the purposes of this course, you will receive the equivalent of one exam question of credit for each experiment or experimental hour that you participate. The final grade distribution used for this course is established on the basis of examination points. Your research participation credits will be added to the cumulative total of your examination scores to determine your course grade AFTER the final grade distribution, based on examination and pop quiz points, has been established. Thus, research participation is an additional means to strive for a better grade. There is a limit of 3 credits that you may earn from research participation. These points may change your letter grade no more than a fraction of a letter grade. For example, a change from B- to B or C+ to B- may be achieved in this manner. Please see the Research Participation Student Information Sheet for details on how to participate and receive credit for participation.

Use of the Human Participant Pool

Guidelines for Researchers

The Chair of the Human Participant Pool Committee will take requests for access to the pool and will determine how many studies, credits, and participants each researcher will be allocated each semester. A second-year graduate student will be appointed as the Participant Pool Coordinator at the beginning of each semester. A standing committee of faculty will continue to monitor the human participant credit system. Anyone with suggestions or concerns should contact Linda Walsh (Chair of the Human Participant Pool Committee), Helen Harton (IRB Chair), or John Williams (PSPM designer).

Pool procedures--Instructions for researchers.
1. Get IRB approval for your study. Allow at least 2 weeks for this step, and note that you should complete the NIH training module before submitting your protocol. Forms and information on what needs to be reviewed are on the Graduate College website.

2. At the beginning of the semester, let the Chair of the Human Participant Pool Committee know how many studies, credits, and participants, you anticipate using during the semester. Once all requests are in, the Chair will let you know what your allocations will be. Additional requests may be made later in the semester if necessary, but will hold a lower priority level for pool access. Researchers with large participant requests may be asked to stagger their data collection throughout the semester.

Researchers who have short questionnaires, pretests, or pilot studies may wish to consider pooling them together into a “mass testing” session to be organized by the pool coordinator. Students would receive one credit for each hour of participation, even though the session might include several short questionnaires from different researchers.

3. When you have IRB approval and are ready to collect data for a study, go to the PSPM system (linked from the psych dept. website) and log in as a researcher. Each faculty member has a unique user name and password. He/She should give those to his/her research assistants so they can also use the system.

4. Post the name and description of your study. If this is a study that you hadn't told the Chair of the Human Participant Pool Committee about before, you need to clear it with her/him first. If there are any requirements that participants must have, please indicate those. This will need to be approved by the Pool Coordinator (graduate student) before you can start posting times. Please allow 48 hours (longer over weekends, holidays) for this approval.

5. Time--if you have a short study, please talk to the Chair of the Human Participant Pool Committee or the Pool Coordinator about putting it together with someone else's study. In general, studies posted on the PSPM system should take at least 30 minutes, and usually longer.

6. The Pool Coordinator will send you an e-mail letting you know your study has been approved on the system. Then you can start entering times and room numbers for particular sessions. Please do not put up more slots than you actually need for your study.

7. You can log in at any time and see how many participants are signed up for a session. You can't remove (delete) a session once someone has signed up, so please make sure that your times are accurate as you enter them.

8. If you'd like, you can e-mail the intro instructors to let them know that new studies are posted. However, you should not go to the classes, try to recruit directly, or conduct studies during class time. (An exception would be studies that are evaluating educational practices in the classroom.)

9. Within 24 hours of the end of each session, log on to the system and post the credits. You'll get a list of all the names of those signed up and should indicate whether they showed up or not.

10. Periodically double check your sessions and make sure that all the credits have been entered.

11. All experiments must be completed and participation forms turned in to the pool coordinator by 5:00 pm on the third to the last Friday of each semester.

What if's and other points:

1. If something happens and you have to cancel a session at the last minute (try really hard for this not to happen), you should have someone hang a sign-up sheet on the room door. If students show up, they should get credit for participating.

2. Students must be 18 or have parental permission to participate in any study. The parental permission has to be for each study individually.

3. If a student has a complaint about the study, he/she will contact the Pool Coordinator, who may come and discuss the issue with you before getting back to the student.

4. You should not recruit your own students for your studies. There are two ways to avoid this conflict of interest: 1) state on PSPM that a requirement of signing up for your study is that they not be in X's session; 2) have a research assistant run the study and enter all credits so that you don't know who participates (and make sure to announce to your students that you won't know).

5. All students who participate should be given a copy of the consent form to take with them (make sure they take them). This is their "receipt" for participating.

6. Researchers are required to provide students with an educational debriefing, even for surveys or low risk studies. This information will ideally be given to participants at the completion of their participation and may be provided as a handout with information on the study and/or the area. If this is not possible, it should be mailed to participants or posted on a web site after the study is completed. Researchers should also offer to answer (and answer) any questions participants may have.

7. Faculty are responsible for making sure that their assistants know, understand, and follow all pool procedures.

8. There may be times where researchers are asked to wait before conducting a study. The department head will work out an equitable distribution of the available participant hours among researchers.



Other Web Links

Old Site to New Site

Many of the pages on the old site no longer exist in the forms they did. Overall the new web site offers more information than the previous, and should be easy to use. Old bookmarks will likely not work, and will need to be replaced with new ones for this site. We apologize for any inconvenience.