Empirical Research Project
As part of the formal assessment for the programme you are required to submit a
Research Methods empirical research project assignment. Please refer to your
Student Handbook for full details of the programme assessment scheme and general
information on preparing and submitting assignments.
After completing the module, you should be able to:
1. Identify, research, critically summarise and apply key concepts in psychology
to a range of psychological issues
2. Critically evaluate and apply different methodological approaches to the study
of psychological concepts
3. Report a mini research project at a postgraduate level with a reflective
understanding of ethical issues in human participation in research
4. Critically distinguish between different research approaches in psychology
and their application, based on relevant theoretical, philosophical, practical,
statistical, and methodological reasoning
5. Demonstrate an understanding of how to plan and execute research to a
professional and ethical standard, act autonomously, and demonstrate
6. Undertake effective communication and presentation skills to support or
strengthen arguments and analysis
7. Professional Skills: Utilising the skills to perform effectively within the
professional environment such as showing competence in data analysis and
reporting of results.
Your assignment should include: a title page containing your student number, the
module name, the submission deadline and a word count; the appendices containing
SPSS output and a reference list in APA format. You should address all the elements
of the assignment task listed below. Please note that tutors will use the assessment
criteria set out below in assessing your work.
Maximum word count: 5000 words
Please note that exceeding the word count
For this assignment, you are required to write a research report about the
disfluency effect (see background below). You will be provided with a complete
data set to analyse and you will answer the research question below. You should
analyse the data using appropriate statistical techniques in SPSS and write a 5000-
word report using the report writing conventions of the APA.
As good exam performance has implications in education and the workplace, many
studies have investigated how the retention of information can be improved. One
popular area of research focuses on creating desirable difficulties in learning
materials, also known as the disfluency effect. The idea is that desirable difficulties
force the reader to use a slower more analytic processing of material, leading to
increased recall when tested. However, there is mixed research on whether
desirable difficulties lead to increased recall, and if a particular type of desirable
difficulty leads to increased recall. The following references are provided to you as a
starting point: Yue et al. (2013) and Pieger et al. (2018). Both articles are available
What do I need to do?
When you conduct your own research in future, you will search for literature and
develop hypotheses before you plan and conduct a study. Therefore, before the
data is released to you, you are encouraged to start exploring this area of research
to develop your own hypotheses. Try and focus on research that has investigated
the effect of fluent and disfluent text on perceived and actual performance on tests.
Furthermore, explore different strategies for creating desirable difficulties such as
generation (filling in missing letters) and font manipulation (small barely legible font).
You will answer the following research questions: “Do disfluent fonts lead to greater
recall than fluent fonts?” and “Does letter generation lead to greater recall than font
Please follow these steps:
1. Read the articles provided to you and conduct a small literature search to
identify any further articles on the disfluency effect. The aim of this is to
develop your hypotheses for the research based on what you have read.
This means when the data is released to you, you can analyse the data in
order to test your hypotheses. The release of the data is delayed to stop you
being tempted to develop hypotheses after you have already analysed the
2. At approximately week five of the module, the data will be released to you.
This will be data from a study using real participants. You will also be
provided with some basic demographic information and the materials used to
conduct the study so you can fully report the methods.
3. You are required to analyse the data in SPSS and to include the SPSS
output in an appendix. If you experience any issues with installing or using
SPSS, please email your tutor for advice.
4. The variables used in the experiment will be outlined to you when the data
and materials are released. It is your job to choose the statistical test being
used, perform any data screening to justify the choice of test (parametric or
non-parametric), and report the descriptive and inferential statistics. You can
include tables and figures where relevant, but they must be formatted in line
with APA style.
5. Although you are not directly collecting data, it is important you understand
the ethical processes involved when testing human participants. Each
participant must be presented with a participant information sheet, informed
consent form, and debrief form. Templates for these documents can be
found on the virtual psychology lab. We would like you to add these
documents in the appendix of your report, adapted to the details of the study
you are reporting. These will not be marked, but their appropriateness will be
commented on for when you are designing your own study in future.
6. The suggested word allocation of the report is:
a. Abstract 200 words
b. Introduction 2000 words
c. Method 400 words
d. Results 400 words
e. Discussion 2000 words
Total 5,000 words