PYIR 450: Community Based Research in Psychology

Instructor: John Dennis - Ph.D.
Credits: 3
Course/Lab Fee: TBA
Prerequisite: None
Cross-Listing: Community-Based Courses, Faculty-Directed Research Programs, Psychology

Course Description

This course introduces students to psychology research in collaboration with numerous community partners on projects that involve field research experiences.


In this course, students will learn how to understand, evaluate, and carry out psychology research. This means being able to critically evaluate existing published research, setting up the rationale for a research project, creating a competent methodology, collecting and analyzing data, interpreting the results and then communicating those results.


Research knowledge is given meaning through the complex historical, social, and political realities of the local community and will help students broaden their cultural perspectives by seeing in a concrete way what is/is not universal across cultures. In this process, students will understand that research questions can be of value to the local community as well as the academic community at large.


Students will engage within a research community that includes an international group of psychologists, the local city government, non-profit organizations and Italian university students. The purpose is to structure collaborative research projects within the following areas of research: goals, ownership, and morality, all of which are studied with an eye for examining intercultural differences.  One project involving the city government, volunteer associations, students and local residents aims at understanding how the city center can become more livable for the community at large. Our research group will participate by analyzing the issues at hand through the lens of the above mentioned research areas.  While all research projects are collaborative, each student is responsible for their own individual research project culminating in original findings which are then explained in a final research report and final presentation.


The opportunity to work in a research group will enable students to test and explain and experiment with ideas that will become the foundation for their individual research projects. Being part of such a group outside of the US will help students observe cultural differences within an international research team.


Course Objectives:
● Hands-on knowledge of psychology and a heightened awareness of cultural differences.
● Integrated theory with practice with an appreciation for how the outcomes/results affect people’s lives.
● The ability to synthesize learning in a final exercise and render an informed evaluation of a pressing

community issue and in the process learn how to be a more effective written and oral communicator.
● Career relevant experiences in research teamwork and community engagement while developing their own
area of research expertise.


Course Materials

Weekly handouts provided by the instructor.


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