First assignment for Introduction to Organizational Psychology


This assignment has three goals. First, we want you to gain experience in looking at familiar organizational settings from the perspective of an organizational psychologist. Second, we want you to practice translating your observations about organizations into research questions that can be used to frame searches of the organizational psychological literature. And finally, we want you to learn how to conduct a computerized literature search and to critically evaluate the results of a search to identify books and journal articles that are relevant to your research questions.

Homework tasks

1. During the first section meeting you will be assigned into a three-person group. Your group will be given a specific organizational site to study and one topic in organizational psychology to examine at that site. Topics include:

Your data will consist of unobtrusive observations. That is, between the first and second section meetings your group must spend a minimum of 30 minutes gathering information at your site -- without disturbing normal operations and without bothering employees or members of your target organization. For example, to observe leadership at a fast food restaurant you might order something to eat and then sit at a table that allows you to watch how the restaurant's manager supervises the servers.

2. Prior to the second section meeting your group must meet to discuss the observations you've made of your organizational site. Based on your observations you must formulate a research question relevant to your site and to your topic. For instance, if you observed a bank and your topic was work-related attitudes, one question might be: Does the behavior of tellers toward customers indicate the tellers' level of job satisfaction? Using your group's research question you must generate a list of three or more "key words" that could be used in a computerized literature search to identify journal articles relevant to your group's research question. Key words associated with the bank teller question might be: job satisfaction, banks, customers, and employees. Once your group has a question and a list of key words, make eleven copies of your question and key words for distribution to your TA and the other groups in your section at the second section meeting.

3. Prior to the third section meeting, each member of your group must individually use MIRLYN, the University of Michigan's on-line library catalog, to conduct a computerized literature search using your group's list of key words. You will be given instruction on how to do literature searches during the second section meeting. You must identify three journal articles pertinent to your topic through the literature search. At the fourth section meeting you will hand in these three references and a three sentence statement explaining the relevance of each reference to your group's research question. Note: You do not need to actually find or read the articles to complete this part of the assignment.

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Revised - November 4, 1996