Annually, 288,000 students enroll in Advanced Placement (AP) Psychology across 8,478 US high schools. The AP Psychology course curriculum includes lecture, activities, and interactive software to prepare students for the culminating AP exam, but it does not offer a problem or project-based learning method to develop research questions nor apply psychological science to their own lives and school problems. Additionally, 0 of the 14 AP Psychology course areas focus on a pressing concern in psychology: the need for open, reproducible and transparent research. In a 2015 publication in Science, psychological researchers tried to reproduce the results of 100 prior psychological experiments; only 39% of the studies were reproducible. The field of psychology is at the cross-roads – continue to produce poor-quality experiments and potentially risk losing the public trust OR train the next generation of scientists to conduct experiments ethically and with transparency.
“Adults in general, but particularly those in schools and community-based organizations, have historically viewed youth from two primary perspectives as objects that need to be controlled because youth are incapable of knowing what is best for them, and as recipients, as they are really “adults in waiting” and in need of being socialized and educated accordingly. A third perspective… sees youth as partners with adults… capable of making significant and lasting contributions now” (Delgado, 2006, p. 3).
Pilot Course at Yorktown High School (Arlington, VA)
This Psychology of Psychological Research is being piloted with 125 Yorktown High School (YHS) students in 5 sections of AP Psychology. In teams, they are conducting a correlational or social network study using transparent practices from May 14 to June 8. This course will teach students how to use the scientific method to answer psychological questions on character, (dis)honesty, school climate/safety, mental health, and technology. They will also create a poster presentation of their research to share with others.
Students will conduct a psychological research study based on the research workflow model developed by the Center for Open Science (cos.io):
- Search and discover research topics of interest
- Develop an idea
- Design a study using a correlational design or social network analysis
- Acquire materials
- Collect data using google forms
- Store data on a public repository
- Analyze data using an open-source software, JASP (jasp-stats.org)
- Interpret findings
- Develop a research poster
- Present a research poster to psychological “judges” at the conclusion of the course
Promoting Research Transparency