Psychological research methods (2018/2019)

Course code
Name of lecturer
Margherita Pasini
Margherita Pasini
Number of ECTS credits allocated
Academic sector
Language of instruction
Sem. 1A, Sem. 1B

Lesson timetable

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Learning outcomes

General aims:
The general aims of this course are mainly connected with two aims of the entire degree course:
1. To develop knowledge and understanding of research methods and measurement issues in psychology, considering psychological phenomena at individual and group level.
2. To develop skills concerning psychological assessment, mainly oriented to the assessment of individual needs for lifelong education and training, also in an organizational and community perspective.

Specific learning objectives:
This course aims:
* To develop some fundamental concepts and critical knowledge concerning the research process on psychological sciences. Research methods will be discussed, both considering a qualitative and quantitative approach.
* To help students in developing skills useful to critically examine and evaluate the scientific communication in psychology, with a focus on organizational research.
* To allow students to carry out a simple research project


Contents will be delivered through both lectures and laboratory practicals.

- The Science of Psychology: qualitative and quantitative methods.
- The Scientific Method.
- Ethical Issues in the Conduct of Psychological Research.
- Descriptive Methods (Observation; Survey Research).
- Experimental Methods (Independent Groups Designs, Repeated Measures Designs, Complex Designs).
- Quasi-Experimental Designs.
- Validity in psychological research.
- Data description and data analysis in qualitative and quantitative approach.
- How to read and how to communicate research results.

- Library Research Methods in Psychology.
- Managing a scientific paper.
- Data collection and Computer-Assisted Data Entry. How to manage a dataset.
- Computer-Assisted Data Analysis, descriptive statistics. Illustrate and summarize the data.
- Computer-Assisted Data Analysis, inferential statistics. Null Hypothesis Significance Testing (NHST); Comparing Two Means; univariate ANOVA, Correlational analysis, Regression analysis.

Reference books
Author Title Publisher Year ISBN Note
John J. Shaughnessy, Eugene B. Zechmeister, Jeanne S. Zechmeister Metodologia della ricerca in psicologia McGraw-Hill 2016 8838615454 Dalla verifica conclusiva sono esclusi i contenuti presentati dal capitolo "Studio di un caso e disegni sperimentali su singolo soggetto" Capitolo 10 nell'edizione 2016). Il testo può essere sostituito con altri testi che dispongano degli stessi contenuti. Si prega di concordare con la docente l'eventuale uso di testi alternativi.
Fabio Lucidi, Fabio Alivernini, Arrigo Pedon Metodologia della ricerca qualitativa Il Mulino (Bologna) 2008 978-88-15-12620-7 Solo i seguenti capitoli: 1, 2, 3, 5, 6.

Assessment methods and criteria

The same examination will be applied to students who attend or not attend the lessons. All students will be required to complete a two-part written exam. Both parts should be completed in one and a half hour. Both parts will be available together, so that students can decide how to use the entire available time. It will be a closed-book examination. Contents: 1. Part 1: Basic knowledge. This part comprise a multiple-choice test, with 32 questions, 4-5 closed ended questions, only one of which is correct, designed to assess the student's understanding of theoretical contents in Psychological Research Methods. Items found on this exam all the topics described in the program. To address these part it will be useful to study the two handbook suggested (or other similar handbooks). Concerning the topics described in the handbook “Metodologia della ricerca in psicologia", by John J. Shaughnessy, Eugene B. Zechmeister, Jeanne S. Zechmeister, McGraw-Hill, a good training could be offered by the handbook website (, both through the multiple-choice tests in the Students Area (Area Studenti) (available for everybody), and through the "Connect" platform, with access code in the handbook. 2. Part 2: Applied knowledge. This part comprise three questions, which could be open-ended (very short answers required) or multiple choice ones, designed to assess student’s competence concerning some technical and methodological issues of the discipline. The starting point will be a scientific communication in the field of psychology (generally a short report, in English language, describing a psychological research). The questions will concern method, data analysis, communication of results. Chapters 12) Analisi dei dati and 13) La comunicazione in psicologia of the handbook "Metodologia della ricerca in psicologia", by John J. Shaughnessy, Eugene B. Zechmeister, Jeanne S. Zechmeister, McGraw-Hill (2012 or 2016) will be helpful to address the questions. Only a basic understanding of English language is needed, because all the relevant information will be translated in Italian. It will be rather required to be able to read numeric tables, figures and graphs. Exam evaluation: Maximum evaluation for each part will be 32 over 30, and each part will be evaluated separately. For Part 1, scoring will be: correct answer=1; missing answer=0, wrong answer=-0.2. Total score will be the sum of each single item scoring. For Part 2, scoring will be max 10 for each question, with 2 additional points, for an excellent overall performance. Final scoring depends on the two evaluations, with different weights: 4 for Part 1 and 1 for Part 2. Final grade will be computed as following: Final grade ={[(Part 1 scoring x 4) + (Part 2 scoring x 1)] / (30 x 5)} x 30. Single part’s scoring cannot be used separately: the test is one, and finale grade is one. Scoring in the lab final test (see lab part of the program) will be added to the written examination score (only for evaluations more than 18 over 30), to reach the final grade. Lab test will be proposed only once in the year, at the end of the lab lessons. This part is not mandatory.
At the end of the practical training session a test could be performed, with an evaluation of max 3 scores, that will be added to the final evaluation. No more than one test will be proposed for the class.

Teaching aids