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Introduction to Research Methods



Psyched for Research

Lesson 4:
Introduction to Research Methods

Activity Description/Rationale                                                       

The idea behind this lesson is to introduce students to basic research methods. Now that they have learned about APA format, and have possibly come up with an idea for their aerodynamics/final project, we need to give them the information they will use to carry out their experiments.

NYS Standards: Content Knowledge & Inquiry, Analysis, and Design

This lesson focuses on research methods. Students will learn about empirical observation, data collection and analysis, and how to put this information into a report.

Common Core Learning Standards

As always, Common Core speaking, listening, and language standards will be thoroughly tested throughout this lesson, as students will be required to partake in general class discussions, as well as present their individual background research, methods, and results of their aerodynamics/paper airplane project. Students will use feedback they receive from their peers and mentors to continuously improve their presentation and writing skills. This is a common theme throughout the entire course and applies to all lessons and activities.

Goals: Process Skills (Basic & Integrated) and Attitudes/ (Enduring Understandings & Essential Questions)

Students will learn objective research methods, in addition to the subjective meaning of these methods. This is the point in which fundamental lessons are taught, and the following understandings and questions should be addressed starting from this point:

1)    Scientist must think critically while also keeping an open mind.

a.     What does it mean to think critically?

b.     In what ways can we learn to think this way?

2)    Scientists come up with ideas by making observations in the world.

a.     What is considered an “observation”?

b.     What kinds of observations lead to an idea?

c.     What should be your first few steps after you make an interesting observation that you would like to look into?

d.     What are some other ways of developing ideas?

3)    Scientists most often use controlled experiments to test their ideas.

a.     What does it mean to use a “controlled experiments”?

b.     Why is it important to control variables in your experiment?

c.     What are confounds and why are they important?

d.     Why is it important to use a carefully planned research design?

e.     What happens if you cannot run your experiment in a controlled setting?

4)    Scientists rely on statistics to determine the effectiveness of their experiments.

a.     Why are statistics important? Why do we need them?

5)    Scientists’ knowledge bank doesn’t develop overnight!

a.     In what ways can you gain knowledge?

b.     How can you keep up with your field and keep your knowledge bank growing?

Universal Design for Learning/Differentiation

Students will be instructed to think about what kind of project they can design from the beginning of the course, knowing that at some point they will have to write a research proposal that will be critiqued and hopefully approved. Over the course of the ARM, students will hand in small portions of their final APA-formatted paper, such that they will continuously receive feedback on their progress. Students will also assist each other using peer review methods and constructive criticism. The general knowledge they gather over the course of this ARM will allow them to develop this independent project in any number of areas that may be of interest to them. If available, students will be paired with a mentor that is an expert in the field they have chosen. For instance, students may work with a college professor in their laboratory, conducting studies alongside graduate students.


An important material for this lesson is a Research Methods textbook

Estimated Length of Activity:

This activity should span approximately ten 40-minute class periods to ensure ample lesson time, and class discussion time.


Discussion of potential project ideas.

Activity Instructions:

At this point, it would be useful for the teacher to develop a lesson using PowerPoint. By following this example, you will ensure that all of the important points are made, while also encouraging class discussion.


Students should be encouraged to begin thinking about how these research methods apply to their projects, and what sort of design they think they should employ. Again, class or group discussions at this point are imperative.

Assessment and Reflection

Student progress will be monitored over the course of the ARM via individual meetings with the teacher to discuss their project and design idea.

Instructor’s Notes:

Teachers may add or delete material as they feel necessary. This lesson should be reviewed as "Unit 2: Lesson 1" if the teacher feels it is neccesary.


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