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Types of Writing Assignments

Reflective Papers:

These assignments typically ask the student to think about and describe how one’s own experiences demonstrate psychological principles and/ or concepts. For example, a student might write about her own struggle with smoking cigarettes at a young age and reflect on how peer pressure perhaps contributed to her desire to fit in with a group.

Reaction Papers:

These assignments typically ask the student to think about and describe a response to a specific source – article, book, web site, movie – and how that source demonstrates something about psychological principles or concepts. For example, a student might write about the movie “The Help” and describe, perhaps, a mixed portrayal of race relations of the era.

Literature Reviews:

These assignments typically ask the student to report on and evaluate some aspect of psychology that addresses a specific topic. A literature review surveys the findings of others and often, if the review is meant to be critical, argues a case. Depending on the instructor, it may be presented as an annotated bibliography. For example, a student might present findings from the last five years that speculate about the causes of memory loss in an effort to show how new pharmaceuticals have little effect on delaying or improving loss.

Research Papers:

These assignments typically ask the student to select a manageable topic, form a HYPOTHESIS and support it throughout. The student is expected to survey the research, demonstrate understanding of it, as well as of some of the current debates within the circles or researchers. The paper should cite findings that both support and counter the hypothesis. For example, a student may research the topic of whether or not Facebook is a hindrance to traditional understandings of intimacy. If the student incorporates surveys, questionnaires, etc., into the discussion, that “field” research presents its findings in line with other published materials.

Peer-reviewed journals are the core bank of materials students are expected to examine in analysis. EVERY research paper is expected to analyze research on the topic at hand.