Learning basic skills in experimental research already at the beginning of psychology studies

As early as their first year of studies, students of psychology get to participate in research in a genuine research environment.

In accordance with the University’s strategic plan, the aim is to actively integrate students into the University community and research activities from the beginning of their studies. Even internationally, this is a fairly exceptional approach. Regardless, this has for a long time been the guiding principle in the teaching of experimental psychology.

A practical course for first-year students provides them with the basic skills needed in conducting experimental research and writing scientific reports. On the course, students carry out a series of experiments in the laboratory, collecting and analysing the material and writing a concise report based on their work. While the goal is to focus on genuine research topics and unanswered research questions, topics are chosen so that an established research design can be utilised.

In addition to research skills, the course advances skills in perceptual and cognitive psychology as well as statistics gained from lecture-based courses, as they are applied to actual research problems.

Participation in research projects already in the second year of studies

As a continuation of the practical course, second-year students take a research course, which involves a more extensive experimental research project and the writing of a comprehensive scientific report.

The projects are carried out in collaboration with research groups active in the field of psychology, for example, in the form of pilot studies. This enables students to participate in ongoing scientific research in an actual research environment.

We are continually developing experimental research environments by employing new technical solutions as well as the knowledge and skills of researcher-teachers. For instance, during the coronavirus crisis we drew up research designs using iPads, enabling students to conduct experiments at home.

At Haartmaninkatu, students have at their disposal modern research equipment, including a virtual reality setup and a high-resolution eye tracker.

On the course, the conduct of research and related reporting are practised in detail to prepare students for the writing of their master’s thesis. The course culminates in a scientific conference where the participants present their research findings in the form of presentations or posters. In the best case, students’ research will lead to, after further processing, international scholarly articles.

Ilmari Kurki, university instructor, PhD, Department of Psychology and Logopedics
Kaisa Tiippana, university lecturer, docent, Department of Psychology and Logopedics