research proposal sample

research proposal sample

Research Proposal Sample

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1. Introduction

This research proposal is concerned only with the so-called “Stroop Effect,” a particular demonstration of interference in the reaction time of a task. When the name of a color (e.g., “blue,” “green,” or “red”) is printed in a color which is not denoted by the name (e.g., the word “red” printed in blue ink instead of red ink), naming the color of the word takes longer and is more subject to interference than when the color of the ink matches the name of the color. This is a classic psychological test originally created in 1935. Stroop found that the subjects took significantly longer to respond to the color of the words than the words themselves. Recognizing the nature of the mind’s reaction to the task has spawned countless experiments and research in its effect on attention and interference on an array of other mental tasks. This body of research has been relatively successful in understanding the information processing taking place during the Stroop task, and has uncovered a great deal of information about the automation of behavior, and the retrieval of the particular information in the brain. Stepanses and Caudron (3) suggest that perhaps one of the reasons why there is such a large volume of this type of research is that the Stroop effect is believed to be robust with the experiment being so simple and cost effective that it has been a popular task in many classes of an introduction to experimental psychology. Despite the large volume of research that has been done on the Stroop effect, the ideal experimental design has yet to surface. In 1978, a conference on the Stroop task was held at Western Washington State University. At that conference, a collection of nearly all the internationally recognized Stroop researchers convened to discuss the most current research, and conceptual issues involved with the Stroop effect. One the necessary steps for this enterprise was to increase communication and cooperation on the future research on the Stroop task. With the acquisition of a great deal more information about the process involved in the Stroop task, there is now a need to assemble it, and design an experiment to test one specific aspect of the task. This paper proposes an experiment to examine the previous research, and seek specific evidence to the reading account of the Stroop effect. Steps and Caedron (3) have offered a comprehensive review the extent of this information.

2. Literature Review

There appear to be some basic differences in male and female attitudes and values that give this research some possibility of finding inferential evidence. Schneider and Jacoby (2003) in a study on voters in the 2000 US federal elections found that women were more likely than men to determine their candidate choices based on social welfare issues and projected candidate empathy. Christy and Franks (2006) conducted an experiment using vignettes that depicted criminal offenders and mock sentencing decisions and found that female respondents were less punitive than males in their assessments of sentencing severity suggesting that differing gendered perceptions of crime and punishment could be an important variable in this research. A recent study by Sigelman, Sigelman and Fowler (2006) found that perceptions of defendants’ guilt and sentence severity were influenced by defendant race and juror gender, although they did not examine in depth the specific interaction between these two variables. These findings and those of many other studies provide a clear indication that there are significant attitudinal and behavioral differences between males and females that affect their interactions with the legal system. This suggests that there is a suitable foundation of gender and political behavior research upon which to base the study of the judge-defendant interaction. An understanding of this research can provide a valuable context within which to make inferences about the possible effects of defendant race and gender on judges’ decisions in Renfrey and Brown’s study.

The first section of the literature review examines the substantial body of recent research on gender and political behavior. As previously stated, the research being proposed builds upon the theoretical assumptions that males and females have different attitudes and values, and that they are treated differently within the legal system. This gendered interaction between judge and defendant has the potential to affect case outcomes to the extent that judges’ attitudes towards guilt and appropriate punishment for a defendant may be altered given the defendant’s race and/or gender.

A literature review is designed to identify related research, to set the current research project within a conceptual and theoretical context. The second section of this proposal is composed of a comprehensive review of the research on gender, alternatives to prison, and political behavior. This discussion of the literature on these three general areas is meant to help situate the current study within a larger field of inquiry. It is also meant to provide the reader with a brief overview of each of the three substantive areas, and to make clear the ways in which they intersect with the current research on gender and the judiciary.

3. Methodology

Phase One: The Life Story The purpose of the life story interviews will be to develop a preliminary understanding of the concept of wisdom and to generate hypotheses that can be tested in the future. Lore is a valuable pedagogical tool that is often used to transmit wisdom knowledge (Staudinger, 1999). Lore acts as a vivid memory that conveys a specific wisdom message. Thus, we are now in the early stages of developing a methodology that can extract such wisdom messages from life stories. The basic idea is that we must define wisdom as it manifests itself in life and then look for it in specific life events. As our understanding of wisdom grows, we will be able to more accurately assess levels of wisdom. This will involve the testing and retesting of wisdom assessments in a cyclical manner. Any assessment tool we develop must be sensitive enough to measure changes in wisdom knowledge resulting from an intervention. Measures of internal consistency will be used to compare wise persons and those who know less. Ages will be representative of two different historical eras. It is expected that the stories of elderly wise persons will contain more wisdom knowledge than those of less wise elderly persons or younger persons. This will be the first validity test of our assessment tool.

A two-phase empirical study will be conducted to address the research questions. The research questions will guide the focus of the study, which seeks to understand and describe what is unique about the wisdom of the elderly. Phase one will involve the collection of life stories from the elderly. Information gained from these life stories will be developed into a “Portrait of the Wise Person,” which will serve as a benchmark with which to integrate and contrast phase two data. This phase will involve cross-sectional comparisons of wise and less wise persons and younger and older adults. A combination of qualitative and quantitative analyses will be used to address the research questions.

4. Expected Results

The expected results of the proposed research are both general and specific in nature. The ultimate goal is to accurately measure some indicator of skill. This can be the overall skill of a student throughout a course, or the skill of the instructors in teaching a particular topic. These measures of skill are an indication of the educational value of the course, and the specific content of the course can be adjusted based on the results. In the case of the Matlab tutoring materials, the hoped-for outcome is that students will acquire a strong basic understanding of Matlab, and the indicators may include test scores, or judging by the amount of time it takes students to complete tasks. An assessment of the specific tool created can also provide an indicator of its usefulness. For example, in the tutoring materials project, surveying the students on their opinions of the tool and whether it helped them learn Matlab. A positive outcome of the research is that those being assessed will use the results to improve their future offerings. An example is that those instructors that rigorously assess the educational value of their methods will be more likely to continue using the methods that were shown to be effective. At the most specific level, it would be expected that modifying the factors would directly affect them, and the assessment results would change. In all cases, failure to achieve expected result is a valid outcome, and the reasons for ineffectiveness of the changes can be just as valuable as indications of success.

5. Conclusion

While certain elements of this study, such as the skinfold analysis, were not completed due to time constraints, the results obtained from this study have important implications for the design of resistance training programs for endurance athletes. The finding that power to body weight ratio is important for cross-country skiers supports the work by Paavolainen et al. (1991), who reported a slight but significant increase in the performance of cross-country skiers following a 16-week period of heavy resistance training. This is important as many endurance athletes are reluctant to undertake resistance training for fear that it may compromise their endurance performance. However, the increased performance seen in the present study and the work by Paavolainen et al. (1991) and Stone et al. (2006) would suggest that the high level of power output required during certain phases of endurance events would actually benefit from resistance training, as it improves power to body weight ratio. This would enable the athlete to produce the necessary power with less metabolic cost, thus improving performance. Therefore, coaches and athletes should consider incorporating periods of heavy resistance training into their endurance athletes’ training program, with emphasis on improving power to body weight ratio at various stages of the competitive season.

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