Psychology 4995 - Honours Thesis

General Course Description

The purpose of the honours thesis course is to provide a small group of 4th year students with a comprehensive research experience that consolidates their undergraduate training at the University of Lethbridge.

It is an intensive course that places considerable emphasis on the student’s ability to think critically and independently, organize their time and activities efficiently, and produce a substantial piece of original scholarly work.

It is intended to provide students with a variety of practical, technical, and intellectual skills that are central to scientific research generally. It is, therefore, intended primarily for students who are committed to pursuing graduate studies.

Students will work directly with a faculty advisor on an independent research project. The students identify an appropriate research question, develop a systematic research plan to address it, and then execute this plan themselves, collecting, analyzing and interpreting the resulting data, and writing them up in standard scholarly format (the thesis). That is, the students are ultimately responsible for all steps in the research process.

The role of the faculty advisor is to provide guidance in these various steps where appropriate, such as in helping to identify the research question and in providing feedback on the research design, its execution, data analysis, and writing of the thesis. Normally, the students give an oral presentation summarizing the thesis.

Usually, the faculty advisor will be someone with whom the student has worked closely in the past, for example, having done independent and/or applied studies under their supervision.

The following material provides additional information on the objectives of the honours thesis course and on the various steps involved.

Deadlines
There are two important deadlines that must be met:
1) The first is a deadline for mandatory pre-registration with the department, which is June 1 for fall registration and December 1 for spring registration.
2) The second is a deadline for official registration with the registrar, which is the standard add/drop date in September or January (consult the current calendar for the exact date).

Specific Course Objectives
The course is designed to develop scholarly skills in a variety of areas that are central to the research process, including:

(1) Critical thinking
Conducting effective scientific research involves thinking critically about significant issues in a particular field, evaluating past research in the area, and identifying important outstanding questions that warrant further study. Central to this process are a comprehensive literature review, a carefully planned research design, and a thoroughly justified rationale for the work.

(2) Data collection
Collecting appropriate data that directly address a specific research question is absolutely central to effective science. The reliability and validity of the data collected hinges on using appropriate data collection methods and techniques.

(3) Statistical analysis
Data are just numbers without statistics to interpret them. Therefore, it is critical to use and understand the statistical analyses that are most appropriate to the particular data collected and the research they were designed to address.

(4) Oral and written communication
A key part of the research process is communicating the results and their significance to the wider scientific community. This includes presenting the research both orally and in written form.

Course Format
Much of the work for the honours thesis will be conducted independently by students and will occur outside the context of structured class meetings. However, the students in the course may meet regularly to provide collective guidance through the various steps in the research process, to cover specific material that is relevant to all student projects, to conduct regular student presentations of their progress, and to allow for discussion and feedback from student peers. If a student is unable to complete the course due to medical or compassionate reasons, Academic Advising must be contacted and a Withdrawal, a Withdrawal with Cause, or an Incomplete will be assigned after the appropriate documentation is reviewed.

Thesis Research Timeline
The following is the timeline that students will be expected to follow to ensure successful progression through the various steps involved in the thesis research. Timelines are shown for both a September and a January start date.

- September/January: Conduct literature review and finalize specific research question
- October/February: Develop and finalize research design, complete ethics review
- November/March: Begin data collection
- January/May: Finish data collection
- February/June: Analyze data
- March/July: Prepare thesis and submit to advisor
- April/August: Make revisions to thesis and submit final copy of thesis to the department. Oral presentation.

Grading Scheme
A formal grading scheme for each thesis is to be developed by the student’s faculty advisor and is to be submitted as part of the “Thesis Agreement Form”. The complete thesis will be read by the faculty advisor and a second evaluator, the thesis reader (another faculty member).

NOTE: As specified in the University Course Calendar, only students earning a final grade of B+ or higher will receive the “Honours thesis” designation. Students who earn a B or lower will receive credit for the “Undergraduate thesis” course, but will not receive the honours designation.

Thesis Dissemination
All students will submit three bound copies of their final thesis and one electronic version to the Department. One bound copy of the thesis will go to the faculty advisor, one copy will go to the Department to be held on record, and one will remain with the student. Bound copies can be made at the Copy Centre on campus.


Psychology 4995 Prerequisites and Application Checklist

Prerequisites:
To be eligible to apply for the thesis course, students must:
(a) Have completed 30 courses by September 1 or January 1 of the year they are applying in.
(b) Usually have completed an Independent or Applied Study under the direction of their proposed thesis advisor.
(c) Have an overall GPA of 3.3 or higher.

Application Procedure:
To apply for the Honours Thesis course, students must:
1. Identify a faculty member who will supervise the research and develop a research proposal together.
2. Submit a brief proposal of the research together with the signed Thesis Agreement Form and a copy of the student’s Academic Transcripts to the Department by June 1 or December 1 (prior to the semester in which the thesis course will begin.)
3. Complete official university registration in the Honours Thesis Course by the add/drop date in September or January.

June 1/December 1 deadline application checklist:
1. Thesis proposal
2. Thesis Agreement Form
3. Academic Transcripts
4. Approval and registration for undergraduate thesis course form

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