Psychology 331 -- Laboratories in Biopsychology

Course Syllabus, Winter 1999
T 9-11am, 419 West Hall
4 Credits

NEW: Final grades

Course Coordinator:

Prof. Thad Polk (preferred method of communication)
4428E East Hall
Office hours: Fri 8:30-10:30am

Teaching Assistant:

Richard Briscoe, Ph.D. (preferred method of communication)
2445 Medical Sciences I (MS I)
University of Michigan Medical School
Office hours: By appointment during: Mon 9-12, Wed 9-5, Fri 9-12

Course description: This 4-credit course is designed to provide you the opportunity to have direct, hands-on experience working in a biopsychology lab. There are two distinct components to the course, the general "lecture/discussion" component (section 001 that meets Tuesdays 9-11am in 419 West Hall during the first 5 weeks of the term) and an individual, lab-specific component (your faculty supervisor's section). All students in Psychology 331 will share common experiences in section 001, whereas each of you will have a unique experience that results from working in a Biopsychology faculty member's lab. This course can be used to fulfill the ECB writing requirement (simply modify it within CRISP).

Course goals: Psychology 331 has two general goals. First, the course will provide you with the opportunity to gain direct, practical experience by assisting in on-going research in a faculty member's lab. This experience will vary from lab to lab depending on the particular type of research done in the lab. Second, the course will introduce you to skills needed by all biopsychologists, including accessing the primary scientific literature in a specialized field of study and writing about your research.

Course work: By far, the majority of your effort in Psychology 331 will result from work you do in an individual faculty member's labs, which means I cannot in this syllabus describe or quantify with precision the amount and kind of work you will be doing. However, I can assure you that Psychology 331 will require a considerable amount of effort and time commitment on your part. Here are a couple of quotes from former students: "I learned a lot in this class, but I think that it is much more work than a class of equal credit should require." "The amount of time that one has to put into this class can be overwhelming at times." "Work done for class, however, often went far beyond what should be expected for the amount of credit received for class." Most students report spending 10-12 hours per week working on their research project. I encourage you to talk openly and in detail with your lab supervisor about what you will be expected to do in his or her lab so there are no "surprises."

The "lecture/discussion" section of Psychology 331 will only meet during the first 5 weeks of the term, but assignments will be due throughout the term. The work you do for this section of the class will include four tasks. (1) You will prepare and turn in an abstract (150 words maximum) summarizing the project you will be working on along with a set of abstracts from all the previous papers you can find that are relevant to your topic. (2) You will write and turn in a ~3 page paper placing your project in the background of previous work. (3) You will write and turn in a research proposal (both a draft and final version) in which you describe the work you will be doing in your supervisor's lab. (4) You will write a final report in which you describe the research in which you participated. Detailed instructions for each assignment were handed out in class and made available on the world-wide web.

Grading: You will receive one overall grade for Psychology 331 which will be determined by your performance in your supervisor's lab and in section 001. Points will be assigned for each task you perform and tasks will be weighted as follows:

Abstract and literature search:10%
Background and significance:10%
Research Proposal Draft:10%
Final Research Proposal:20%
Research Report & Laboratory Performance:50%

Note that your laboratory performance and research report will be evaluated by your faculty supervisor.

Here's a map showing where Rick Briscoe's office in Medical Sciences I is located (Rick is the TA):

Course Schedule:

Date Topic Assignments
1/12/99 Introduction  
1/19/99 Literature searches (NOTE: In 120 West Hall)  
1/26/99 Scientific writing Abstract & Lit search due in class; Read about scientific writing
2/2/99 Animal procedures (animal people only)  
2/9/99 Grad school/academics (grad school people only) Background/significance due by 3pm
2/23/99   Proposal draft due by 3pm
3/2/99 Winter Recess  
3/16/99   Final proposal due by 3pm
4/20/99   Research report due by 3pm