INTRODUCTION Over the course of an academic year at Loyola University, approximately fifty psychology research studies are completed by undergraduate students. There are many other universities across the country that have similar undergraduate programs as a way for their students to gain a hands-on experience in the field of research with data of their own. Most of these completed studies do not make it to psychology journals, but of the few that do, how valid are their results? A popular policy among Freshman/Introductory Psychology professors is to give credit to their students, whether it be required for the course or it be extra-credit, for participating in research studies at their respective university. This method of enriching the participant pool creates a homogenous group, similar in age and educational background. With participant pools being flooded with Psychology majors, you have to wonder how much external validity the study has, or in other words, how well the sample represented a typical population. Furthermore, it is also necessary to question the quality of the sample, and the nature of their motivations if most of the participants are taking part to receive credit for class. Motivations can be teased into two groups, intrinsic and extrinsic. These terms both work to identify the placement of onesí desire to perform a particular task or portray a certain behavior. When this desire is formed around the attainment of external rewards, it is referred to as extrinsic motivation. Conversely, intrinsic motivation is experienced when one denies the external reinforcements and acts on their enjoyment of the task at hand (Aronson, Wilson, & Akert, 2002). Conti (2001), found that intrinsically motivated people are less concerned with the difficulties of a certain task and how long it takes, than someone who is more extrinsically motivated. Similarly, when people are intrinsically motivated for partaking in certain tasks, they experience many positive traits such as, a rise in creativity levels, the ability to perform better, the preference of a challenging task and remaining interested for a longer period of time (Conti, 2001). The rewards gained for completing an interesting task impair a personís intrinsic motivation for the given activity. The person participating will enjoy the task less and be more likely to disengage themselves (Cameron, 2001). The drop of motivation or interest in tasks at hand, is also most likely to be related to a reward factor. Research shows that, when people receive rewards for completing tasks, they will enjoy it less and spend less time to complete that task (Pierce, Cameron, Banko, & So, 2003). Therefore, if students that participate in research studies for the sole reason of receiving credit, their extrinsic motivation might be a factor in them losing interest in the tests or questionnaires in front of them and as a result, speed through providing mediocre, and possibly inaccurate data. It is thought that time spent at a task is affected by motivation. When students work on completing an assignment, they supremely focus much of their energy on receiving a high grade. When these particular assignments contain intrinsic rewards as well, students are likely to spend greater amounts of time on the task, due to an increase in effort (Covington & Mueeller, 2001). Along the same lines as intrinsic motivation, is the concept of internalization. In this concept, a person takes total obligation in doing the task, when they empathize with the worth of that activity. Psychology majors will internalize the task at hand because they are better able to identify with the research we are conducting, and will therefore spend more time taking the study due to their honest attempt (Deci, Eghrari, Patrick, & Leone, 1994). The present study aims to investigate the validity of college studies. We hypothesize that if the participants receive credit to participate in our study, they will take less time to complete the test. While, conversely, when the participants are Psychology majors, they will take more time to complete the test.
METHODParticipants Forty-five students, male and female, were selected through convenience sampling at Loyola University New Orleans. All of the students that participated in the study did so on a volunteer basis. Materials The subject variables being measured in our study are whether or not the participant is receiving extra-credit, course-credit, or any credit it at all. The second subject variable is the participantís major, Psychology or non-Psychology. The first page of our study packet was a questionnaire of demographic information developed by the researchers. The questions pertained to the independent variable by asking for the participantís year in college, major, and reason for participating in the survey, as well as a couple of filler questions to mislead the students from the true objective of the study. The remaining three pages of the questionnaire consisted of researcher-altered puzzles to test the dependent variable of time. The puzzles were each altered to increase the amount of time it would take the participant to complete the study. In the first word search, three of the words on the provided list we altered so that it would be impossible to finish. On the second word search, the twenty words originally provided were deleted so that the participants could spend a varying length of time on the task. The last puzzle for the participants to complete was a list of anagrams of United Stateís cities. Again, because some people are better at anagrams than others, for five of the anagrams on the list, we either added or deleted letters to make the word unsolvable. Design and Procedure Both the investigators and the participants met in an assigned room on the campus of Loyola University New Orleans. After the participant signed two consent forms, keeping one for their won records, the test packet was handed out. The participants were then informed that they would be partaking in a study of problem solving skills in test situations. During this quasi-experimental study the participants were secretly timed from the moment they received the puzzle packet, until the time they returned it to the investigators. After each of the participants were finished with the test packet, they were informed about the real study, the objects and the hypotheses. In their debriefing, the participants were told to contact the campus counseling services if they experienced any distress, and thanks for their participation in the study.
RESULTS Of the 45 participants, 66.7 % were female and 33.3 % were male. Psychology majors made up 55.6 % of our sample, with a mean time spent on the test of 38.76 minutes (SD = 4.86), while non-psychology majors took a mean of 36.10 minutes to complete the test (SD = 7.52). The 66.7 % that participated in our study to receive credit took a mean time of 37.30 minutes (SD = 6.77), compared to only 33.3 % that did not receive credit and took 38.13 minutes (SD = 5.25) to complete the study. We hypothesized that participants receiving credit would take a shorter amount of time than students not receiving credit, but this was not supported. There was no significant difference in the time taken between participants receiving and not receiving credit (t(43) = -.417, n.s.). Our second hypothesis stated that Psychology majors would take a longer amount of time than non-Psychology majors, and this was unsupported as well. There was no significant difference in the time taken between Psychology majors and non-Psychology majors (t(43) = 1.435, n.s.).
DISCUSSION The results did not support our hypothesis that Psychology majors would take a significantly longer amount of time to complete our study than non-Psychology majors. Nor did the results support our second hypothesis, that participants receiving no credit would take a longer amount of time than participants receiving credit would take. Conti (2001), found that people that are intrinsically motivated are less concerned with task difficulties and how long the task takes. This did not hold true in the present study; there was no significant difference in the amount of time intrinsically and extrinsically motivated individuals spent on the task. Research conducted by Pierce et al. (2003) showed that when people received rewards for completing tasks, they will enjoy it less and spend less time to complete the task. Although it is not clear to what degree the participants enjoyed themselves during the study, the majority spent a lengthy amount of time on the task, disproving the conception that rewards decrease time spent to complete a task. The fact that there was not a lot of prior research related to this study, made our task rather difficult. We found no existing measures of motivation that could be used to test our hypotheses, which greatly reduced the likelihood for supporting our study, and allowed for confounding in the quiz packet of tests that we altered. Had we been able to use an established test of motivation, the possibility for range in skill would have been eliminated. Another problem we encountered was a lack of participants, partly due to the short amount of time we had to run participants. Along with that, it is also possible that, because our study did take a fair amount of time, and contained an element of deceit, students that had already participated told other students that our study was difficult and would take a long time to complete. This may have decreased the number of people that signed up and also may have altered the motivations and efforts of the participants that participated. There are a couple of improvements that could be made to study to find significant results. It would of course be beneficial to have more research in this area of study. With this, if an already published survey that directly tested motivation could be implemented, there would be a better possibility that the results would be significant. This study could also branch out to investigate the effect of teacher rewards in the classroom, or different types of classroom motivation. This could help teachers create research-participation assignments that have been shown to be beneficial for the researchers and the participating students. This could also help teachers learn new ways to intrinsically motivate their students in the classroom, in order to inspire more in-depth research of topics during the studentís free-time.
REFERENCESAronson, E., Wilson, T. D., & Akert, R. M. (Eds.). (2002). Social Psychology. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Prentice Hall.
Cameron, J. (2001). Negative effects of reward on intrinsic motivationĖA limited phenomenon: Comment on Deci, Koestner, and Ryan (2001). Review of Educational Research, 71(1), 29-42.
Conti, R. (2001). Time flies: Investigating the connection between intrinsic motivation and the experience of time. Journal of Personality, 69, 1-26.
Covington, M., & Mueeller, K. (2001). Intrinsic versus extrinsic motivation: An approach/avoidance reformulation. Educational Psychology Review, 13, 157-176.
Deci, E., Eghrari, H., Patrick, B., & Leone, D. (1994). Facilitating internalization: The self-determination theory perspective. Journal of Personality, 62, 119-142.
Pierce, W., Cameron, J., Banko, K., & So, S. (2003). Postive effects of rewards and performance standards on intrinsic motivation. Psychological Record, 53(4), 561-579.
1. What is your current year at Loyola (please circle)? Freshman Sophomore Junior Senior 2. What is your sex? Female Male
3. What is your major? ________________________
4. Do you live on campus? Yes No 5. Are you currently taking any psychology courses? Yes, if so please state. ____________________ No, if so please skip to question 8.
6. Are you receiving credit for participating in this study? Yes No
7. If you are receiving credit for this study, what type of credit are you receiving? Extra-Credit Required Credit for Class
8. Have you ever taken a preparation class for any standardized test? Yes No
9. Have you ever experienced any anxiety in test taking situations? Yes No
10. Do you prefer to take tests early in the morning or later in the afternoon? Morning Afternoon