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Course Information

Instructor Info:Melissa Burch
Office Extension x5465
TA Info:Kyrie McIlveen
Term: 2014S
Meeting Info: Monday Wednesday
01:00 PM - 02:20 PM Adele Simmons Hall (ASH) 221
01:00 PM - 02:20 PM Adele Simmons Hall (ASH) 221

In this course students will gain first-hand experience in the process of conducting research in autobiographical memory. Students will be exposed to some of the main issues in autobiographical memory for personal past events throughout the childhood years and into adulthood. We will consider the potential roles of social interaction, self, culture, and emotionality of events as well as developmental changes in autobiographical memory reports. Course requirements will include reading primary research articles, and designing and executing an original research project. This is an intensive course comprising instruction in all areas of the research process, including collecting, coding, and analysis of data. Prerequisite: Previous coursework in psychology.


Course Expectations: Because this is a project-based course, it is essential that students attend every class. In addition, students are expected to spend at least six to eight hours a week of preparation and work outside of class time. This time includes completing course readings and written work, designing and conducting a research study, and preparing a written report of the study and findings. This is a guide; students may need to spend more time during some weeks when working on assignments or based on particular readings. 

Course Objectives:

Course Objectives:The goals of this course are for students (1) to become conversational in the main issues and theories of autobiographical memory and its development, (2) to understand the functions of autobiographical memory, its relation to identity, and the role of emotion in remembering the past, and (3) to conduct an original research project on autobiographical memory. This will be accomplished through reading empirical and review articles, and through active application of these concepts to a group research project. The group research project will entail designing, justifying, conducting, and reporting a study on autobiographical memory. The specific focus of the study will be developed throughout the semester in collaboration with other students in the class.

Objectives for cumulative skills:

1)   Writing will be evaluated for coherence, the development of argument, use of evidence, and overall clarity. It is also expected that students follow APA style in their written work. The OWL website at Purdue ( is a great resource. Additional resources will be posted to the course moodle throughout the semester.

2)   Independent work is a critical skill for success in this course. This will include proposing a project, managing timelines, working through the revision process, and self-evaluation of work. Collaboration is also essential to the success of the project.

3)   Quantitative skills that will be addressed in the course include the interpretation and production of graphs and tables, the use of specific research findings to support claims, evaluation of research design and conclusions, and interpretation and calculation of statistics.


Evaluation Criteria:

Evaluation Criteria: Evaluation will be based on quality of written work and class participation. To receive an evaluation in this course, students are required to:

1) Attend class and participate in class discussions. This course is a project-based seminar. The quality of the projects that result from the course will depend upon the active involvement of each individual.

2) Assist in leading discussions. On most days, there will be two students who are responsible for leading discussions of the readings. Everyone should be prepared with questions about the readings.

2) Select articles relevant to the research project and lead class discussion with their research team on two occasions.

3) Complete all assignments. This includes annotated bibliographies of articles relevant to the research topic, a write-up of the study, as well as other assignments.

4) Complete an original research project that will be conceived with other students in the course. This will include a written research proposal, and drafting, reviewing, and revising research reports. Although the project will be completed with a group, all writing will be completed individually. We’ll work together to maintain an online record of our ideas.

5) As a group, present their study and findings to other members of the class.


Additional Info:

Attendance: Class attendance is a requirement of this course.  I will be taking attendance every day, and missing class will have an impact on your evaluation.  You will NOT receive and evaluation if you miss more than 3 classes.



Written projects are due in class. Late assignments will not be accepted and will result in the student not receiving an evaluation. However, if a medical or personal emergency arises, please contact me as soon as possible so that we can make arrangements.


Incomplete Policy:

An “incomplete” will be granted at the discretion of the instructor only under the most unusual and incapacitating circumstances.  If you miss more than two classes, or feel that you are in danger of not completing the course for any reason, please come see me as soon as possible.  Any student seeking an incomplete must (1) request the “incomplete” in writing prior to the last week of class, (2) provide appropriate written documentation of the illness or circumstances, and (3) make specific arrangements with me to complete the required coursework.   If I agree that an incomplete is appropriate, that information must be recorded no later than the course completion summary deadline for that semester. To record an incomplete, both the student and I will fill out the appropriate form to record the new negotiated deadline by which the student will complete all remaining work for the course. That date will not exceed the first day of the spring semester for a fall incomplete, and June 30th for a spring incomplete. If the negotiated deadline passes and I have not received and recorded the completed work from the student, the incomplete will be converted to a "No Evaluation." Students experiencing exceptional circumstances that could make it difficult to adhere to any part of this policy should immediately be referred to CASA for assistance with accommodating circumstances.


Special Needs

I encourage students with disabilities or special needs to discuss with me whatever arrangements may be needed to facilitate their work in the course.  Students with special needs should contact me during the first week of class to discuss any special arrangements.  Proper documentation must be in place with CASA. 


Academic dishonesty is “any act that violates the rights of another student with respect to academic work or that involves misrepresentation of a student’s own work.  Academic dishonesty includes (but is not limited to) cheating on assignments; plagiarizing (misrepresenting as one’s own anything done by another [including quoting from required readings without acknowledging your source]); submitting the same or substantially similar papers for more than one course without consent of all instructors concerned; depriving another of necessary course materials; or sabotaging another’s work.”


In this course plagiarism on any assignment will not be tolerated.  Collaboration with other students, with respect to sharing ideas, is encouraged.  Students, however, must do all of their own writing. 

The full academic dishonesty is included in the syllabus. For further details about Hampshire’s policies regarding the Ethics of Scholarship please see Non Satis Non Scire.