Research Projects for Students
A research project can be a very important part of an education inmathematics. Besides the greatly increased learning intensity that comes from personal involvement with a project, and the chance to show colleges or graduate schools and potential employers the student's ability to initiate and carry out a complex scientific task, it gives the student an introduction to mathematics as it is: a living and developing intellectual organism where progress is achieved by the interplay of individual creativity and collective knowledge.
High school and college students often have trouble finding appropriate topics for research projects in mathematics. This page presents some suggestions of where to look. These sources do not list project topics! But they present a wealth of mathematical subjects in an accessible way. Each of these subjects will have areas that invite further investigation.
- The Math Forum website posts Problems of the Week in geometry, algebra, discrete math, trig & calculus. The site also links to Problems of the Week administered by others, including the challenging college-level problems of Macalester College, the interactive ESCOT Problem of the Week, and several team-based projects.
- Joe Malkevitch's math stories in the Feature Column introduce areas of mathematical exploration.
- This link is to a list of Research Project Ideas. This list is a copy of the list "Possible Science Fair Mathematics Projects" which was created by Afton H. Cayford, at TheUniversity of British Columbia. A little dated now, but may be useful.
- What's Happening in the Mathematical Sciences is a series of publications from the AMS and can be ordered from the AMS Bookstore. Each issue has 10 or more articles by a science writer, covering a new development in the mathematical sciences. Subjects treated are on the frontiers of mathematical research,but reading about them can be useful in searching for an area to explore.
- ABC News maintains an archive of John Allen Paulos' columns "Who's Counting". An excellent source of project ideas in probability and statistics.
- Joseph Malkevitch of York College, CUNY, maintains the web page Mathematical Research for High School Students, which contains a rich selection of resources.
- +plus magazine is a monthly web publication, part of the Millenium Mathematics Project sponsored by the University of Cambridge and Cambridge University Press. Every month there are 5 or 6 very accessible articles onmathematical topics (along with puzzles and news).
Do you need to design an experiment for a psychology assignment? Chances are you can come up with plenty of interesting ideas on your own, but sometimes it can be helpful to explore some other ideas for inspiration.
Many experimental methods courses require students to design and sometimes perform their own psychology experiments. Finding a good experiment idea can be critical to your success, but it can be a difficult task.
If you need to design an experiment for a psychology assignment, there are plenty of great places to look for inspiration. The key is to start your search early, so that you have plenty of time to do background research as well as to design and perform your experiment.
Try One of These Psychology Experiment Ideas
Most of these can be performed easily at home or at school. Always remember to discuss your idea with your instructor before beginning your experiment, particularly if your research involves human participants. You may need to get approval from your teacher or from an institutional review board before you begin.
Finding the right psychology experiment idea can be a challenge, but as you can see there are a lot of great ways to come up with inspiration. Once you have an idea in mind, the next step is to learn more about how to conduct a psychology experiment.
Some psychology experiment ideas you might want to try:
- Do colors really impact moods? Conduct an investigation to see if the color blue makes people feel calm, or if the color red leaves them feeling agitated.
- Can color cause physiological reactions? Perform an experiment to determine whether certain colors cause a participant's blood pressure to rise or fall.
- Can certain colors improve learning? Could the color of paper used in a test or assignment have an impact on academic performance? You may have heard teachers or students claim that printing text on green paper helps students read better, or that yellow paper helps students perform better on math exams. Design an experiment to see whether using a specific color of paper helps improve students' scores on math exams.
- Can different types of music lead to different physiological responses? Measure the heart rates of participants in response to various types of music to see if there is a difference.
- Does eating breakfast really help students do better in school? According to some, eating breakfast can have a beneficial influence on school performance. One study found that children who ate a healthy breakfast learned better and had more energy than students who did not eat breakfast. Compare test scores of students who ate breakfast to those who did not.
- Do people who use the social media site Facebook exhibit signs of addiction?
- Do action films cause people to eat more popcorn and candy during a movie?
- How much information can people store in short-term memory? One classic experiment suggests that people can store between five to nine items, but rehearsal strategies such as chunking can significantly increase memorization and recall. A simple word memorization experiment is an excellent and fairly easy psychology science fair idea.
- Do people rate individuals with perfectly symmetrical faces as more beautiful than those with asymmetrical faces?
- What is the Stroop Effect? The Stroop Effect is a phenomenon in which it is easier to say the color of a word if it matches the semantic meaning of the word. For example, if someone asked you to say the color of the word "Black" that was also printed in black ink, it would be easier to say the correct color than if it were printed in green ink. This fun experiment will be sure to impress.
- Can smelling one thing while tasting another impact a person's ability to detect what the food really is?
- Are people really able to "feel like someone is watching" them?
- How likely are people to conform to the opinions of a group? This conformity experiment investigates the impact of group pressure on individual behavior.
- Do creative people see optical illusions differently than more analytical people?
- Does gender influence short-term memory? In this interesting experiment, you can focus on a variety of research questions such as whether boys or girls are better at remembering specific types of information.
- How likely are people to conform in groups? Imagine that you're in a math class and the instructor asks a basic math question. What is 8 x 4? The teacher begins asking individual students in the room for the answer. You are surprised when the first student answers 27. Then the next student answers 27. And the next! When the teacher finally comes to you, do you trust your own math skills and say 32? Or do you go along with what the rest of the group seems to believe is the correct answer? Try this experiment to see what percentage of people are likely to conform.
- Could a person's taste in music offer hints about their personality? Previous research has suggested that people who prefer certain styles of music tend to exhibit similar personality traits.
Explore Your Interests to Find Good Experiment Ideas
Think about the things that interest you. During your time in psychology classes, you have probably spent a little time wondering about the answers to various questions.
Are there any topics in particular that grab your interest? Pick two or three major areas within psychology that interest you the most, and then make a list of questions that you have about the topic. Any of these questions could potentially serve as an experiment idea.
Find Psychology Experiment Ideas in Textbooks
Another great source of experiment ideas is your own psychology textbooks. Choose specific chapters or sections that you find particularly interesting, like a chapter on social psychology or a section on child development.
Browse through some of the experiments discussed in your book and then think of how you might devise an experiment related to some of the questions asked in your textbook. The reference section at the back of your textbook can also serve as a great source for additional reference material.
Discuss Experiment Ideas With Other Students in Class
Brainstorm with classmates to gather outside ideas. Get together with a group of students in order to come up with a list of interesting ideas, subjects or questions. Use the information you gathered during your brainstorming session to serve as a basis for your experiment topic. This is also a great way to get feedback on some of your own ideas and to determine if they are worth exploring in greater depth.
Check Out Some Classic Psychology Experiments
Looking at a few classic psychology experiments can be an excellent way to trigger some of your own unique ideas. You might try conducting your own version of a famous experiment or even updating a classic experiment to assess a slightly different question.
In many cases, you might not be able to exactly replicate an experiment, but you can use some of the well-known studies as a basis for inspiration.
Review the Literature on a Particular Topic
If you have a general idea about what topic you'd like to do an experiment on, then you might want to spend a little time doing a brief literature review before you start designing your experiment.
Visit your university library and find some of the best books and articles that cover your particular topic. What research has already been done in this area? Are there any major questions that still need to be answered? By tackling this step early, writing the introduction to your lab report or research paper will be much easier later on.
Talk to Your Instructor
If all else fails, consider discussing your concerns with your instructor. Ask for pointers about what might make a good experiment topic for your specific assignment and request some assistance in coming up with a good idea. While it may seem intimidating to ask for help, your instructor should be more than happy to assist and may be able to provide helpful pointers and insights that you might not gather otherwise.
A Word From Verywell
If you need to design or conduct a psychology experiment, there are plenty of great ideas out there for you to explore. Consider one of the ideas offered on this list, or explore some of your own questions about the human mind and behavior. Always be sure to observe any guidelines provided by your instructor and always obtain the appropriate permission before conducting any research with human or animal subjects.
Britt, MA. Psych Experiments. Avon, MA: 2017.
Martin, DW. Doing Psychology Experiments. Belmont,CA: Thompson Wadworth; 2008.