The Department of Psychology and Child Development offers many opportunities for students to become involved in the research process. Students may assist faculty members with ongoing research projects as research interns or research assistants. They may also conduct original research of their own, or they may serve as participants in research studies. The department and university also have facilities to support student researchers. Limited funding may also be available for some student projects. More information about each of these opportunities is provided below.
Many of our faculty members have active research programs. Qualified students may gain research experience working with faculty researchers who provide research internships, which are completed for course credit, and research assistantships, which are paid. Students interested in pursuing a graduate degree in psychology or child development, especially those with interests in pursuing a Ph.D., will find these opportunities particularly valuable. If you have not decided whether or not you will pursue a graduate degree, getting hands-on experience doing research would provide a wonderful opportunity to see if a graduate degree is of interest to you, as most graduate programs, in particular doctoral programs, require that students do research.
Both research interns and assistants may be involved in many tasks, such as library research, data collection and entry, data analysis, and writing.
Many students obtain research experience by doing one or more quarters of an unpaid research internship that counts as one of the required fieldwork experiences (PSY 448 or PSY 449, CD 432). Alternatively, students may get course credit by signing up for an independent study (PSY 200/400, CD 200/ 400); this may count as an advisor approved elective.
Some faculty researchers have funding from grants to hire paid student research assistants. In most cases, students who work with faculty in this capacity do not also receive course credit for their research involvement.
Please keep in mind that most faculty researchers will want student research interns and research assistants to have completed one or more research methods courses with good grades (PSY 329, PSY 333, CD 329) before agreeing to include them in their research. You should probably choose to do research with a professor whose interests match your intended graduate school specialization. For instance, if you would like to pursue a degree in clinical psychology, you should do research with someone who is a clinical or counseling psychologist. See our listing of faculty interests (pdf).
Students have several opportunities to conduct original research as part of their academic training in Psychology and Child Development. For example, all majors must complete a senior project. One option is to conduct a research study including data collection and analysis. This type of senior project is recommended for those students planning to pursue doctorate degrees, such as a PhD. For more information on senior projects see the information listed on either the Psychology or Child Development undergraduate program pages.
Please note that students collecting data with human participants must first receive approval from Cal Poly's Human Subjects Committee. Students who plan to use PSY 202 students as research participants will want to follow the procedures described here. Make sure to consult your senior project advisor or instructor for guidance in this process.
Some undergraduate funding opportunities and research competitions are listed on Cal Poly's Research and Graduate Programs website.
A facility for students to use as they engage in research-related activities is available in Building 47, Room 21P. This is a small research lab comprised of two computer/video coding stations. An on-line scheduling system has been established for students to use to reserve times to use this facility. Students should talk with their faculty advisor about how to access this system and schedule research time.
Several faculty members have access to dedicated research space that their student interns or assistants may use. Students working with these faculty members will learn more about these facilities as needed.
Students also have access to numerous computer labs on campus which are equipped with up-to-date software to support data entry and analysis and electronic searches of the research literature.
The Department of Psychology and Child Development is seeking funding to expand our research facilities. Please see How To Give which can be found under our Alumni link (link to Alumni page).