Honors Research

In contrast to many colleges and universities, faculty at Illinois State maintain a strong commitment to undergraduate instruction and mentoring. Every semester, undergraduate students conduct research under faculty supervision. Any research conducted in the Department of Psychology must comply with the Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct of the American Psychological Association.

Students can develop and complete a research project through the Honors Program by enrolling in PSY 299 Independent Honor Study, HON 285, or HON 286 Honors Undergraduate Research . The Honors Program has contracts for these courses. Students should complete the Honors contract with the faculty member who will supervise the research project. After the contract is signed by the student and faculty member, it should be submitted to the department for approval. If approved by the department, the Honors contract will be submitted to the Honors Program for final approval. Students cannot register for the course until the contract is approved by the Honors Program and an override has been processed for the course.

Students should contact Dr. Jeffrey Wagman, the department's Honors Coordinator, at jbwagma@ilstu.edu if they have any questions about Honors Research experiences.

Honors Colloquium

The Honors Colloquium is an opportunity for Honors students completing Honors in Psychology  to present their theses (HON 395.03, see below for details) in a public forum to faculty and other students. At the colloquium, students make oral presentations of their honor theses describing the background, methods used, findings, and conclusions of their research. Family members and friends are welcome to attend. There are two colloquia, during the fall and the spring semesters. In the fall, the Honors Colloquium is held in conjunction with the colloquium for Advanced Research Apprenticeship (PSY 390) students.

Out-Of-Class Honors Credit

HON 285 Honors Undergraduate Research
Honors students assist faculty members with faculty research projects.
This course is comparable to PSY 290, but it is for Honors credit. HON 285 provides an opportunity for students to become familiar with faculty labs and research projects. Students must complete the Honors Program form and have it approved before they can register for HON 285.This course can be taken for 1-3 credits.

HON 286 Honors Undergraduate Research II Continuation of HON 285.
Students must register for the course with the same faculty member for HON 285. Students must complete the Honors Program form and have it approved before registering for HON 286. This course can be taken for 1-3 credits.

HON/PSY 299 Independent Honor Study Intensive work in a special area of students' major or minor. Each individual project is to culminate in a comprehensive written report or examination.
This course is designated as an Independent Honors Study course. This course is similar to HON 285 and 286. However, instead of working on faculty research, students take the primary responsibility for designing and completing their own research project. The Honors Program form should include a description of the research and students' responsibility with the projects (see example below). Students must complete the Honors Program form and have it approved before registering for HON/PSY 299. The course can be taken for 1-6 credits.

HON 395.03 Honors Thesis: Psychology Intensive research in a special area of the student's major. Each individual project is to culminate in a comprehensive written thesis and an oral defense of the thesis.
Students who want to obtain Departmental Honors at graduation should register for HON 395.03. Students must complete the Honors Program form and have it approved before registering for HON 395.03. This course also requires students to have worked in the faculty member's research lab for at least a semester prior to registering for honors thesis hours. PSY 395.03 can be taken for 1-6 credits. However, a minimum of 3 credits of HON 395.03 is needed to satisfy departmental honors requirements.

The honors thesis must be an independent project of students' design. This does not mean students have to come up with their own idea, but it must be a research project where students have primary responsibility and must be substantive enough that students can present their research. This course requires a comprehensive written thesis and an oral defense of the thesis at the department's Honors Colloquium during the fall or spring semester.

For example, a description of an honors thesis project:

A Comparison of Familiarity and Automatic Memory Processes for Conceptual and Perceptual Tasks
The project will involve experiments investigating differences between conscious and automatic memory in terms of forgetting and type of processing in the task. The student will be responsible for all stages of the project including stimulus development, subject running, and data coding and analysis. The student will prepare written paper describing the research and conclusion, and will make a presentation at the Department of Psychology Honors Colloquium.

Note: Honors students may register for PSY 287, 290, and 390, but will not receive Honors credit for these courses. Students may register for a maximum of 15 credits of out-of-class experiences, including Honors designations of these courses.

In-Class Honors Credit

The department offers Honors sections in content and skill courses, such as for PSY 110, 138, and 231. Students can earn Honors credit by completing the Honors section of these courses.

Honors students may also approach faculty about in-class honors projects for psychology courses. These projects have often involved an additional research paper, but can be any project faculty and students agree upon that is an addition to normal course requirements. For in-class honors credit, projects can include the following:

  • Working an extra hour a week as research assistants in faculty member's lab if topics are related to the course
  • Preparing a literature review on a topic related to the course
  • Proposing and conducting a small research project related to the course
  • Evaluating media news related to psychology
  • Developing study guides for the course (e.g., unit quizzes)