3 MLO 2 Research Methods Essay

The second Major Learning Outcome (MLO) describes Research Methods in
Psychology. The purpose of this second MLO is to ensure that upon graduation students are able
to “understand and apply basic research methods, including research design, data analysis and
interpretation.” Students must be able to “differentiate research methods, evaluate aptness of
research conclusions, design and conduct basic studies and generalize research conclusions
appropriately” (“Cal State Monterey,” n.d.).
MLO 2 discusses research methods of psychology. This MLO can be viewed as
completing a research study from start to finish. The individual must understand research
methods, how to design a study, data analysis, interpretation of results, and presentation of
Research methods have been taught throughout several courses taken at California State
University Monterey Bay (CSUMB) but can be most clearly seen in Psychological Research
Methods and Data Analysis (PSY 302/L). In this course, students were instructed to complete a
“Final Deliverable” which consisted of creating and completing an empirical study; including
research about the chosen topic, designing the study, pilot testing, altering the study,
administration of the test to the class (our sample group), data collection and analysis through
IBM SPSS (Statistical Package for the Social Sciences), and presentation of findings. The final
deliverable for PSY 302/L can be viewed in Appendix A.
Through completion of courses that satisfied MLO 1, students obtained a basic
knowledge of Psychology, which they were able to apply in this final project. In addition,
students were able to choose their topic, allowing for a more specialized understanding in their
prospective fields. Personally, an interest that always captured my attention was facial
expressions and their portrayal of emotions. In completion of MLO 1 and 2, I have researched
Dr. Paul Ekman extensively. Understanding the work of a leading expert in this field provided
my basic psychological background (MLO 1) and a familiarity with research methods to find and
comprehend similar work (MLO 2).
At the time of the final deliverable project, Fall of 2012, I was certain of my career
choice as a federal law enforcement agent. Because of this, I ensured that my topic could be
applied to law enforcement. As Mary Duenwald (2005) states in her article “The Physiology of
… Facial Expression, “…he [Paul Ekman] and his colleagues have taught hundreds of police
officers, judges, airport security officers, and FBI and CIA agents to size up their suspects and to
read clues in their facial expressions” (p.1).
This topic regarding facial expressions and emotion was of great interest to me. I have
always been fascinated with non-verbal communication, specifically body language and facial
expressions. For these two reasons, the research project for my final deliverable concentrated on
gender differences regarding ability at identifying emotion through facial expression.
In addition, a course taken at California State University San Bernardino (CSUSB), in the
Fall of 2010, also demonstrated the second CSUMB -MLO. This course, Expository Writing
(SSCI 306), required a final paper on any topic. The thesis for the paper written was stated
“reading and interpreting facial expressions proves effective cross culturally.” In this course, an
introduction to researching information efficiently was taught and applied to writing effectively.
The final paper for SSCI 306 can be viewed in Appendix B.
It is interesting to note that over a two year time period, from when I wrote the first paper
for Expository Writing at CSUSB to the time I wrote the second for Psychological Research
Methods and Data Analysis at CSUMB, my topic remained the same, essentially. As a matter of
fact, the results from the final deliverable showed insignificant differences at identifying emotion
through facial expressions between participants of different cultures.
The research methods in psychology MLO is important to students because it ensures that
students are familiar with the scientific process and are aware of how to complete a research
study. In addition, this course provides a familiarity with SPSS which is a valuable skill in the
classroom and in the professional world. In my opinion, the most valuable part of this course is
the ability for students to follow their interests and apply it to meaningful work.
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