I have tried out various brief writing assignments to inject a little personality into my Personality Theories course. This semester I decided to try another new one – and so far it is working out pretty well! I asked the students to act as science reporters and write about a recent finding in personality psychology. In my research methods course, students write a lot of article critiques, but I wanted this assignment to be distinct from that one in that I wanted students to write for a more general audience. To raise the stakes even further, I told the students that their pieces would be posted here, on my blog. I’m tagging these posts “Personality Science Student Guest Posts.” I’ll have the first few up shortly, and there’ll be more to come in a few weeks. I’m also providing the instructions I gave to students below, in case anybody else wants to try out the assignment. Enjoy!
Science Blog Assignment – PSYC 326, Spring 2015
The objective of this written exercise is to allow you to further consider a topic from class. You must complete this assignment twice; you can choose from three due dates (these are Feb. 16, Mar. 25, & Apr. 17). Please submit assignments on Moodle. I will also post blogs on scienceofpsych.com.
Instructions: For this assignment, you will write a 700–1,000 word report on a recent research finding in personality psychology. You must read and report on an article from Journal of Research in Personality, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, or Journal of Personality. The article must have been published in 2014 or 2015, or be “in press.” Use PSYC INFO or google.scholar.com to get a copy of the research paper. Any topic relevant to personality psychology is permissible.
Your task is to write, essentially, a science blog post. Your audience is educated, but has no particular expertise in personality psychology. Your job is to inform them about the results of this new research, in a style that is both clear and correct, as well as interesting and engaging. For an example of a well-done science blog, you can check out Ed Yong’s blog Not Exactly Rocket Science at National Geographic (see, e.g., this).
Here are some great pieces on how to do good science journalism:
You might want to include an image to make your report more appealing. If you do, be sure that you have permission to use it and give proper attribution. As a general rule of thumb, it is safe to use images that are licensed “creative commons,” but you still have to give credit. Figures in scientific articles are generally not allowed to be reproduced, but you can recreate a key figure yourself and give the attribution “adapted from [original source].”
Make sure to include an APA style citation for the article on which you are reporting, as well as for any additional references.
Format: Use 12-point Times New Roman font. Do not put your name on the first page; instead, put your name at the end of your assignment on a separate page.
Grading: This exercise is worth 20 points.
|Task||Breakdown for Points|
|Title & lead: Main finding of study is clearly described right away in a way that draws reader in (3 points)||0 points will be given if you do not address this topic at all|
|1-2 points will be given if you address only one part of this task|
|3 points will be given if you address all parts of this topic|
|Personality concepts & theory: Concepts/ theories surrounding research finding are clearly and correctly described and defined. (8 points)||0 points will be given if you do not address any of this topic|
|1 to 4 points will be given if you minimally address the topic|
|5 to 7 points will be given if you address only one part of this task thoughtfully|
|8 points will be given if you address all of this topic in a thoughtful and thorough manner|
|Style & Tone (4 points):1) Appropriate level for audience2) Critical of work, not just a summary||0 points will be given if you do not address any of this topic|
|1 point will be given if you minimally address the topic|
|2 to 3 points will be given if you address only some parts of this task thoughtfully|
|4 points will be given if you address all of this topic in a thoughtful and thorough manner|
|Grammar, Spelling, & Readability (3 points)||0 points for pervasive/severe grammar and spelling mistakes.|
|1 to 2 points for notable (but not pervasive and severe) grammar and spelling mistakes.|
|3 points for few or no grammar or spelling mistakes.|
| Following Instructions (2 points):1) 700-100 words
2) Proper citation of research & images
|0 points will be given if you do not follow any of these instructions|
|1 point will be given if you only follow some of these instructions|
|2 points will be given if you follow most or all of these instructions|