Psychology Learning & Teaching
ISSN 1475-7257


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Volume 11 Number 1 2012

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CONTENTS [click on author's name for abstract and full text]

 

SPECIAL ISSUE
Qualitative Research Methods in Psychology
Guest Editors: STEPHEN GIBSON & CATH SULLIVAN

Stephen Gibson & Cath Sullivan. Editorial. Teaching Qualitative Research Methods in Psychology: an introduction to the special issue, pages 1‑5 http://dx.doi.org/10.2304/plat.2012.11.1.1 VIEW FULL TEXT OPEN ACCESS

ARTICLES
Frederick Attenborough & Elizabeth Stokoe. Student Life; Student Identity; Student Experience: ethnomethodological methods for pedagogical matters, pages 6‑21

Viv Burr & Nigel King. ‘You’re in Cruel England Now!’: teaching research ethics through reality television, pages 22‑29

Rachel E. Maunder, Alasdair Gordon-Finlayson, Jane Callaghan & Anca Roberts. Behind Supervisory Doors: taught Master’s dissertation students as qualitative apprentices, pages 30‑38

Sally Sargeant. ‘I Don’t Get it’: a critical reflection on conceptual and practical challenges in teaching qualitative methods, pages 39‑45

REPORTS
Amy L. Fielden, Sarah Goldie & Elizabeth Sillence. Taking another Look: developing a sustainable and expandable programme of qualitative research methods in psychology, pages 46‑51

A. Claudio Bosio & Guendalina Graffigna. ‘Issue-Based Research’ and ‘Process Methodology’: reflections on a postgraduate Master’s programme in qualitative methods, pages 52‑59

Craig Owen & Sarah Riley. Teaching Visual Methods Using Performative Storytelling, Reflective Practice and Learning through Doing, pages 60‑65

GENERAL ARTICLES
Achim Elfering, Simone Grebner & Silke Wehr. Loss of Feedback Information Given during Oral Presentations, pages 66‑76

Benjamin A. Motz, Michael H. Goldstein & Linda B. Smith. Understanding Behaviour from the Ground up: constructing robots to reveal simple mechanisms underlying complex behaviour, pages 77‑86

Regan A. R. Gurung, R. Eric Landrum & David B. Daniel. Textbook Use and Learning: a North American perspective, pages 87‑98

GENERAL REPORTS
Elizabeth Arnott & Margaret Dust. Combating Unintended Consequences of In-Class Revision Using Study Skills Training, pages 99‑104

REVIEWERS WANTED
List of books available for review, page 105 http://dx.doi.org/10.2304/plat.2012.11.1.105 VIEW FULL TEXT OPEN ACCESS

REVIEWS
Qualitative Research Methods in Mental Health and Psychotherapy: a guide for students and practitioners (David Harper & Andrew R. Thompson, Eds), reviewed by Jan Burns, pages 106‑108
Ethnography in Social Science Practice
(Julie Scott Jones & Sal Watt, Eds), reviewed by Dawn Jones, pages 108‑110
Basic Statistics for Psychologists
(Mark Brysbaert), reviewed by David Scott, page 111
Biological Psychology
(3rd ed.) (Frederick M. Toates), reviewed by Tom Hardwicke, pages 112‑113
Educational Psychology: concepts, research and challenges
(Christine M. Rubie-Davies, Ed.), reviewed by Genovefa Kefalidou, pages 114‑115
Essentials of Sensation and Perception
(George Mather), reviewed by Tony Reinhardt-Rutland, pages 116‑117
Key Research and Study Skills in Psychology
(Sieglinde McGee), reviewed by Martin Tolley, pages 118‑119
Research Methods in Psychology: investigating human behavior
(Paul G. Nestor & Russell K. Schutt), reviewed by John Malouff, pages 119‑120
Well-Being: productivity and happiness at work
(Ivan Robertson & Cary Cooper), reviewed by Glenn Williams, pages 120‑122 http://dx.doi.org/10.2304/plat.2012.11.1.106 VIEW FULL TEXT

ABSTRACTS
Abstracts of recent articles published in Teaching of Psychology and Psychology Teaching Review, pages 123‑135 http://dx.doi.org/10.2304/plat.2012.11.1.123 VIEW FULL TEXT




Student life; Student Identity; Student Experience: ethnomethodological methods for pedagogical matters

http://dx.doi.org/10.2304/plat.2012.11.1.6

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Within psychology and, more broadly, the social sciences, the teaching of qualitative methods has become a common and required component of research methods training. Textbooks and journals that support such training are increasingly dominated by various forms of individual and (focus) group interviews as methods of data collection, whilst constructionist forms of discursive psychology, particularly those influenced by conversation analysis (CA) and ethnomethodology (EM), seem to be declining. This article aims to tilt the balance in qualitative methods teaching back towards these methods, showing that and how they are uniquely able to respecify and challenge some of traditional psychology’s key assumptions about ‘experience’ and ‘identity’. To do so, EM/CA methods are shown in use. Drawing upon five separate data corpora, findings from previous and ongoing research into, broadly, student identity and the ‘student experience’ of university education are presented. Rather than attempting to recover ‘identity’ and ‘experience’ from interviewee talk, the article shows how it is possible to capture it as it emerges in and as the practice of ‘doing-being-a-student-amongst-other-students’. Reflecting on these findings, the conclusion suggests that EM/CA methods should (be encouraged to) figure far more prominently in the teaching of qualitative methods in psychology.

 

‘You’re in Cruel England Now!’: teaching research ethics through reality television

http://dx.doi.org/10.2304/plat.2012.11.1.22

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This article reports findings from a one-year research project funded by the Higher Education Academy (HEA) Psychology Network. The research aimed to explore the use of ‘reality’ television in teaching research ethics to psychology undergraduates and this article reports on those findings that have particular relevance for qualitative research methods. Experience of teaching research ethics suggests that students can find the process of thinking through ethical issues in qualitative work quite challenging. Ethical issues in qualitative research can be subtly different from, or more complex than, those raised by quantitative studies, and yet most textbooks that deal with research ethics tend to focus on the latter. This article presents findings from a research project by the authors, which suggest that using familiar material such as TV programmes, and in particular ‘reality’ TV, can be effective in helping students address ethical issues in qualitative research. Fifteen second-year psychology undergraduates were shown an extract from an episode of Big Brother (Channel 4). They were then asked to discuss in small groups the ethical issues they felt it raised, and these discussions were audio-recorded. Subsequently, they were asked to apply their thinking to a research brief by discussing the ethical issues it raised, suggesting ideas for design and then writing a research proposal. This article reports findings from the first stage of the project. It presents evidence from the discussion groups indicating that the TV material had promoted an in-depth consideration of some ethical issues that can be challenging for students to address in relation to qualitative work, notably informed consent, confidentiality and risk of harm.

 

Behind Supervisory Doors: taught Master’s dissertation students as qualitative apprentices

http://dx.doi.org/10.2304/plat.2012.11.1.30

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This article explores the supervision of Master’s students undertaking qualitative research dissertations. Specifically, it presents a model for theorising the nature of the supervisory relationship established with students who are relative newcomers to the qualitative research community. By drawing on reflections from the authors’ own practice and situating this within a broader context of the ‘community of practice’ approach to learning, it argues that the supervision of qualitative Master’s dissertations can be seen as an apprenticeship into qualitative research, whereby students begin to take on the identity of a qualitative researcher. Adopting such a model requires a reconceptualisation of how supervisors work with their supervisees, how students are prepared for the requirements of the dissertation, and how strategies are developed to facilitate their transition from novice to expert. This article explores how educators might integrate theoretical and practical concerns in applying the apprentice model to Master’s dissertation supervision, considering the advantages and limitations of such a model.

 

‘I Don’t Get it’: a critical reflection on conceptual and practical challenges in teaching qualitative methods

http://dx.doi.org/10.2304/plat.2012.11.1.39

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This article is a reflective piece that concentrates on facilitating student learning styles and reflexivity when teaching qualitative methods. It elaborates specifically on the challenges of deep and surface learning, and managing these differences in conjunction with the practical challenges posed by qualitative research. The introduction of reflexivity to undergraduate students and how this can be conveyed effectively is also discussed in connection with learning how to execute qualitative work. The teaching context was a section on qualitative methods that formed part of a larger research methods module. Student feedback indicates that time constraints and group-work affect the learning process. In conclusion, improvements can be made by attending more closely to deep learning strategies and reducing the number of activities in class, to ensure that the quality is maintained within the teaching of qualitative research.

 

Taking another Look: developing a sustainable and expandable programme of qualitative research methods in psychology

http://dx.doi.org/10.2304/plat.2012.11.1.46

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This report reflects on the current provision of qualitative research methods within a UK psychology department’s teaching programmes. It considers how this has contributed to the poor integration of qualitative research methods into undergraduate teaching and also considers how some key conceptual issues need to be addressed in order to facilitate student engagement with qualitative research methods. Furthermore it sets out the authors’ plans to create a pragmatic approach to research methods teaching, by readdressing what they want their students to learn and how they deliver it. The authors suggest that students should be engaging with the criticisms and conceptual challenges faced by both paradigms. This is done with the overall aim of eventually creating a research methods teaching programme that focuses on creating pragmatic researchers able to use a variety of methods, regardless of whether they be quantitative or qualitative.

 

‘Issue-Based Research’ and ‘Process Methodology’: reflections on a postgraduate Master’s programme in qualitative methods

http://dx.doi.org/10.2304/plat.2012.11.1.52

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This article describes the conceptual foundation of a Master’s programme in qualitative methods aimed at training professional qualitative researchers in the field of social and marketing psychology. Two principles underpin the Master’s project: anchorage to research questions generated by the real social context as the driver of the entire development of the research project (i.e., ‘issue-based research’); and the adoption of what is called ‘process methodology’ as the methodological interconnection between the features of the social field (i.e., the context of the research) and of the research field (i.e., the study’s scope). In practice, process methodology requires the learning of three sets of competences (content, contextual and flow) related to qualitative research. Those competences are devoted to the implementation and management of applied qualitative research able to produce situated knowledge and to enhance the transferability and usability of that knowledge. The article gives details of both the didactic structure of the programme as well as the teaching devices adopted.

 

Teaching Visual Methods Using Performative Storytelling, Reflective Practice and Learning through Doing

http://dx.doi.org/10.2304/plat.2012.11.1.60

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Visual images percolate our everyday lives, visual technologies are increasingly accessible and affordable, and visual methods are at the forefront of methodological innovation. If psychology students are to capitalise on these exciting developments, visual methods teaching needs to be integrated into ‘mainstream’ qualitative methods training. This report offers an example of how this has been done through the use of three pedagogical practices, namely performative storytelling, modelling reflective practice, and learning through doing. It describes how these practices inform the authors’ teaching of visual methods, gives an example of how these have been applied, and offers suggestions to the reader for other ways of developing these principles in practice.

 

Loss of Feedback Information Given during Oral Presentations

http://dx.doi.org/10.2304/plat.2012.11.1.66

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Oral presentation of a research proposal for a Master’s thesis can be stressful for psychology students. During and after the presentation, students often miss or forget feedback to their research proposal. The study tested whether information loss after receiving feedback depended upon the amount of supervisor feedback, the retention time, and experience in giving Master’s thesis research proposal presentations. Students had to present a research proposal three times and feedback was recorded by a record clerk. After each presentation students were obliged to send their remembered feedback to their supervisors. Forty-three Master’s students gave 101 presentations of their Master’s thesis research proposal to their supervisors and colleagues. On average 40% of the supervisor feedback information was missed by students. Retention time, measured as the time between presentation and arrival of the student mail recording the remembered feedback, and the amount of supervisor feedback were positively related to loss of information. A significant interaction between the amount of supervisor feedback and retention time indicated that loss of information was immediate when supervisor feedback was extensive, while information loss was comparably low and increased moderately with retention time when supervisor feedback was brief. In stressful oral presentations recording of supervisor feedback is highly recommended.

 

Understanding Behaviour from the Ground Up: constructing robots to reveal simple mechanisms underlying complex behaviour

http://dx.doi.org/10.2304/plat.2012.11.1.77

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Students often have difficulty getting past the use of folk-psychological terms (e.g., wants, loves, fears) when explaining behaviour. They assume that complex behaviours require similarly complex causal structures. For this study, the authors developed a two-week robotics project to demonstrate that complex behaviours can also emerge from simple mechanisms. The project combined lectures, demonstrations of simple robots, and hands-on robot building and observing. Evaluations showed that students enjoyed the project, and essays revealed that they learned from the experience. The project accomplished four goals: (1) engaged students in generating and testing hypotheses, (2) demonstrated the power of a mechanistic approach, (3) showed how social behaviour can arise from simple behaviours of individuals, and (4) illustrated how natural selection operates at the level of the whole organism.

 

Textbook Use and Learning: a North American perspective

http://dx.doi.org/10.2304/plat.2012.11.1.87

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Eight hundred and ninety students at 35 US institutions of higher education participated in a comprehensive study of textbook use and its relation to ratings of textbook quality and helpfulness, a student self-report of learning, student self-report of their deep approach to learning, student perceptions of instructors, and a measure of quiz performance. Intercorrelations between key measures revealed surprising relationships about the influence of these variables on self-reported learning and quiz performance. An analysis of textbook differences revealed some significant differences between the books in terms of quality and helpfulness as well as self-reported learning, but not on quiz performance. The authors identified significant predictors of self-reported learning (deep approach and student perceptions of instructor) and quiz performance (grade point average and textbook helpfulness). These results highlight the complexity of examining student learning and suggest some important variables and problems for future research especially the need for a valid, reliable, measure of learning.

 

Combating Unintended Consequences of In-Class Revision Using Study Skills Training

http://dx.doi.org/10.2304/plat.2012.11.1.99

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In order to assess the most effective means of revising course material in-class, the researchers manipulated the type of revision (spaced after each chapter versus a single, pre-exam revision) and collected exam scores, student study time estimates, and student confidence estimates. In addition, the researchers manipulated whether the class received a study skills training lecture at the beginning of the semester. Results indicated that a single, massed revision might have a counterintuitive effect, increasing student confidence, while decreasing study time and exam scores. This negative effect, however, was mitigated by a brief study skills training that highlighted the dangers of overconfidence and massed practice.

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