PSYC4012 Psychology: An Evidence-Based Approach 4

Graduate Diploma Course Unit

PSYC4012 Psychology: An Evidence-Based Approach 4

Duration: One trimester

Level: Four

Credit points: 4 (out of total of 24 points)

Prerequisites: PSYC1012, PSYC2012, PSYC3012 (or equivalents)

Mode(s) of delivery: On-campus

Core/elective: Core

Unit co-ordinator: Dr Fiona Ann Papps

Unit description

This unit provides a review of methods of data collection, designs and methods of analysis to prepare students for their individual research projects. It then reviews processes involved in preparing a literature review, a research proposal and a research ethics application linked to the expectations of students in the Honours or Graduate Diploma Thesis A and B units. The unit also covers more advanced statistical techniques including multivariate analysis of variance and covariance, multiple, mediational and logistic regression analyses and principal components analysis.

Learning outcomes

On completion of the unit students should be able to:

a) describe the range of methods available to them for conducting research;
b) conduct a research literature review, prepare a research proposal and prepare a research ethics application;
c) understand and undertake multiple and mediational regression analyses, analyses of variance and covariance, multivariate analyses of variance, and principal components analysis;
d) present arguments for the importance of an evidence-based approach.

Unit content

  • Reviewing research methods, design and analysis
  • Conducting literature reviews
  • Preparing research proposals
  • Preparing research ethics applications
  • Advanced statistical analyses including multiple, mediational and logistic regression analyses, factorial analyses of variance and covariance, multivariate analysis of variance and principal components analysis.

Learning and teaching process

This unit comprises 10 weekly three hour seminars. The seminars will include a lecture component and a tutorial/workshop component. In seminars, students will be expected to participate in group discussions, computer-based activities and demonstrations as well as presenting information to the seminar group. Students may be required complete set readings/tasks prior to seminars. There will be an additional six hours of independent work associated with this unit, where students will be expected to apply advanced statistical techniques to data sets provided by the unit co-ordinator.

Graduate attributes

The material covered in this unit will contribute to the development of the following graduate attributes:

  1. Knowledge and understanding of core topics in psychology. These topics include abnormal psychology, biological bases of behaviour, cognition, information processing and language, learning, lifespan developmental psychology, perception, social psychology and intercultural diversity and indigenous psychology.
  2. Research methods in psychology. This attribute covers an understanding of the characteristics of the science of psychology and the different and varied research methods used by psychologists. It also includes the acquisition of practical skills in laboratory-based research and other methods, the design of studies to address psychological questions, critical analysis, the formulation of testable hypotheses, the choice of an appropriate methodology, the question of reliability and validity and their meanings and operations, the analysis of data, and the writing of reports.
  3. Critical thinking skills. This attribute includes the application of scientific method to the study of mental and behavioural problems, the examination of other modes of understanding the world and the development of other world views, and a recognition of the fallacies and the biases that can affect human thinking and analysis.
  4. Values, research and professional ethics. This attribute includes the evaluation of the behaviour of psychologists in psychological research and other professional contexts and is in the context of the Australian Psychological Society “Code of Ethics” and the Australian “National Practice Standards for the Mental Health Workforce”. Values and professional ethics must also be understood and evaluated in the context of social ethical principles and ethical conduct in legal, medical and institutional behaviour.
  5. Communication skills. Students need to learn how to communicate effectively orally in various settings (group discussion, presentations, both formal and informal) for various purposes. Written communication, in the form of written reports, should be according to professionally accepted formats. In psychology, we follow the American Psychological Association structure and formatting conventions.
  6. Learning and the application of psychology. This attribute includes the application of knowledge of legislative frameworks and the application of knowledge about laws and conventions in work settings, consumer and carer participation and in the general matter of the conduct of application of psychology. It also considers how there may be variation of legislation across different areas of application.
    Students should also be cognisant of the need to sustain independent learning for professional and personal development over their life, in the changing social and cultural practices in society and in the practice and development of the scientific basis of psychology.

Assessment summary

Type Weighting Word count Submission Week

In-class quizzes

Students will complete two in-class quizzes during the term, each worth 10%. These quizzes will comprise multiple choice and short answer questions, aimed to revise content in preparation for the examination.

Learning outcomes: a, b, c, d.
20% NA 5 and 10

SPSS based assessment

Students will be provided with a large data set and expected to analyse this using SPSS, document the steps taken, justify analysis decisions and present the findings from the analyses.

Learning outcomes: c.
40% NA 7

Final Examination

The examination is a combination of multiple-choice questions, short answer questions and SPSS output interpretation covering the unit curriculum including material presented in lectures, laboratory/tutorials and in prescribed reading.

Learning outcomes: a, b, c, d.
40% NA 12


Special provisions

Attendance at seminars and the final examination is required.

Recommended text

Field, A. (2013). Discovering statistics using IBM SPSS (4th ed.). London, England: Sage.

Tabachnik, B. G., & Fidell, L. S. (2012). Using multivariante statistics (8th ed.). Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.

Other significant references

Baron, R. M. & Kenny, D. A. (1986). The moderator-mediator variable distinction in social psychological research: Conceptual, strategic, and statistical considerations. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 51, 1173 – 1182.

Chalmers, A. (2006). What is this thing called science? Brisbane, Australia: University of Queensland Press.

Field, A. P. & Hole, G. (2003). How to design and report experiments. London, UK: Sage.

Hart, C. (1998). Doing a literature review: Releasing the social science research imagination. London, UK: Sage.

Keith, T.Z. (2006). Multiple regression and beyond. Boston, MA: Pearson.

Kenny, D. A. & Judd, C. M. (2013). Power anomalies in testing mediation. Psychological Science, XX(X), 1 – 6. DOI: 10.1177/0956797613502676

Salkind, N. J. (2012). Exploring research (8th ed.). Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Pearson Education.

Relevant journals and resources

Readings will be made available for class discussion throughout the trimester. Students are also expected to make use of the library eResources to follow up on specific topics in journals. Students will require their own copy of SPSS Statistics Premium Grad Pack, version 22. It is available from

Academic misconduct

Ethical conduct and academic integrity and honesty are fundamental to the mission of ACAP. Academic misconduct will not be tolerated by the college. This includes plagiarism of any nature. It is your responsibility to make sure that you understand what constitutes plagiarism in order to ensure that you do not engage in it. Please refer to for full details of the Academic Misconduct Policy.


This unit outline may be updated and amended from time to time. To ensure you have the correct outline please check it throughout the trimester. Your lecturer will advise when there are updates on the site and also when readings are available for class discussion.