Why take PSYCH 492?

Why take PSYCH 492?

Most students don’t really know what “Psychological Measurement” is, so I have been asked to share some information. Here is what the course is about:

Measurement is fundamental to science. Tests of theory in most sciences involve specific predictions requiring controlled and accurate observations. In psychology, we are faced with the problem of measuring variables such as “intelligence” or “aggressiveness” that are inferred from behaviour or self-report. How can we tell if the tests we create are really measuring what we think they are? How can we estimate the precision of our tests? This course will tell you. You will learn not only how to evaluate psychological tests and measures, but also how to construct and refine your own. At the same time, you will learn advanced statistical techniques based on correlational data (in particular multiple regression and factor analysis), as well as how to evaluate the reliability and validity of measures. This knowledge is essential in both research and applied settings, because both research results and clinical/applied decisions are dependent on the tests and measures that people use. Therefore the course is relevant if you are planning to attend graduate school (especially psychology), as well as for many jobs in hospitals, clinics, or industry.

A few comments from recent 492 students (posted with permission)…

From Vanessa Huyder, former student who is now completed PhD in our Clinical Psych program:

I learned a lot from this course in regards to how to create valid and reliable measures and how to look at this statistically. I still use this knowledge to date and have since worked on/been working on projects with faculty members in the psychology department. One project is on creating a new self-report measure to look at different facets of social anxiety disorder in adults. Another project is on creating a new parent report measure investigating specific everyday manifestations of executive functions in preschoolers. The applications of these measures is very interesting (e.g., to better understand social anxiety disorder in adults; to be able to create reliable and valid measures of executive functions in preschoolers in order to predict later outcomes, such as, social and academic functioning and children at risk for ADHD). In short, being able to look at existing measures with a critical eye and to create new reliable and valid measures is something that I began to learn in this course.

I especially enjoyed the applied nature of the course where we worked in small groups to create our own new measure: learning how to carefully research a particular construct, inventing a test to measure this construct and learning how to create items in this test to measure this, and then collecting a data set to conduct psychometric analysis and an analysis of convergent and discriminant validity. This hands on experience is something I still remember and refer back to today.

From Sherif Soloman, former student who completed MA in our Cognitive Psych program and is now employed as research analyst with Amazon:

There is probably no psychology-related career that will not involve reading journal articles and using psychological measures and scales. You will learn some statistics in 391, but there is more out there that you should know before you finish undergrad and move on to your next stage, whatever that might be. The knowledge in PSYCH 492 is very important to how you will be able to understand and think critically about the literature that will be your bread and butter for years to come. Take it from a first-year grad student, it's extremely helpful to know those things and be comfortable with the stats, the basics of measurement, and scale design from now, *especially* if you're planning on applying to graduate school. This course will make things so much easier later on, and hey, let's be honest, who here has not dreamt of creating their own scale and getting some *real* student data on it for a change? Only in 492!

From Phoebe Liu, Honour’s Psych Grad & Lab Manager for Clinical Psych Faculty at UW After taking Psych 391:

I acquired a new found passion for stats, so I did not hesitate to enrol in Psych 492 - and to my pleasant surprise it proved to be even more beneficial than I had anticipated. Psych 492 was completely different from Psych 391 in that, while 391 prepares you for complex data analysis, 492 teaches you how to effectively acquire that data in the first place.

This aspect of psychological research was still untouched during that period of my undergraduate career and yet it deems extremely important if you plan to pursue further education in psychology. Even if you aren't, it is interesting to learn about test construction and what goes into it - we do spend a great deal of our university career taking them, so it's interesting to acquire the knowledge that allows you to be critical of your tests and perhaps shed light on how to take them better too!

I enrolled in a graduate stats class following Psych 492 and I was evidently more prepared than fellow students who may have attended other schools that did not offer this course or may have chosen not to take it, so don't pass on the opportunity!

Dan Brady, former student, completing PhD in I-O psychology:

Hi Ramona!

I received the good news earlier today that my workplace gossip scale development paper was accepted for publication at JAP. 

I just wanted to take a moment and thank you for your inspiration. My interest in scales really started in your undergraduate psychometrics class. I have to say that your class was the most interesting and enjoyable class that I took. It perhaps goes without saying - but I'll say it anyway - your class had a big impact on my research.

Thank you so much for helping to spur my interest in this area! 

Dear Dr. Bobocel,

I just want to write to you and thank you for your excellent teaching for PSYCH 492 (I think that's the class code for advanced stats). I attended your class back in 2011, while getting ready to apply for my graduate program. I am now done my studies, and writing the psychologist licensing exam (EPPP) soon. I found your course very helpful to my current studies, and I just want to thank you again for your efforts and heart to teach students.

Many Thanks,

Clarissa Clarissa Ee (B.Sc., M.Ed.)

School and Clinical Child Psychology

University of Alberta