The Senior Project
Near the end of your Junior II semester, you will describe your plans for your Senior Project (taking into account your preparation), and the Psychology Program will match you with an appropriate adviser. Students choose to pursue a project in the Division of Science, Mathematics, and Computing or a project in the Division of Social Studies. There are three types of Senior Project possible (two in the SM&C Division and one in the SSt Division); requirements for these three types are here or can be downloaded here. Seniors must confirm the division in which they intend to graduate by the end of the add/drop period of their Senior II semester.
Senior Project Deadlines
Thursday, September 14 | Senior Project Presentations (Senior IIs)
Monday, September 25 | Senior Project Statements Due (Senior Is)
Friday, November 17 | Senior Project Midway Papers Due (Senior Is)
Thursday, November 30 & Friday, December 1 | Senior Project Midway Boards (Senior Is)
Monday, December 4 | Senior Project Posters due to advisor (Senior IIs)
Monday, December 11 | Senior Project Final Papers Due (Senior IIs)
Thursday, February 8 | Senior Project Presentations (Senior IIs)
Monday, February 26 | Senior Project Statements Due (Senior Is)
Friday, April 19 | Senior Project Midway Papers Due (Senior Is)
Wednesday April 24 | Senior Project Posters due to advisor (Senior IIs)
Wednesday, May 1 | Senior Project Final Papers Due (Senior IIs)
Wednesday, May 8 – Tuesday, May 14 | Board Week
TBD | Senior Project Poster Session
Regular Meetings with Senior Project Adviser
You should consider your meetings with your project adviser as a regular class time. Attend meetings prepared!
Senior Project Statement
You will submit a 1–2 page description of your project in which you: (1) state your research question and provide a brief summary of how you intend to answer it; (2) indicate whether you plan to complete the SSt or SM&C model (and whether this is the division into which you are moderated—you can check on BIP if you’re unsure); (3) indicate whether you plan to collect data, and if so, describe your plans for doing so and estimate your expenses. Include 2–3 initial sources.
Senior Project Midway Paper
Your midway paper may emphasize different aspects of your project; discuss with your adviser which focus for writing will be most useful for you and your board members during your midway board discussion. Midway papers frequently are excerpts of the writing for a section of your project. Midway papers should be approximately 10–12 double-spaced pages of text, and include your proposed project title and an annotated bibliography with at least 10 sources. Projects which will include data collection should also include at least a brief summary of the plan as part of the Midway.
Senior Project Midway Meeting
Your meeting with your committee is an excellent opportunity for feedback—the more thoughtful and detailed your proposal is at this point, the better feedback the committee can offer. If necessary, you may submit (working closely with your adviser) an IRB proposal before your midway board, but you may not begin data collection until after the board meeting. This meeting must be timed so that faculty feedback can be integrated into any potential IRB revision. The board is comprised of at least two members of the Psychology Program and (optionally) one other Bard faculty or staff member.
Project Preregistration (SM&C projects only)
You will, in the spirit and practice of Open Science, preregister your empirical plan online (https://cos.io/prereg/) using the template at https://aspredicted.org/ or another suitable preregistration template. If you are doing a data collection project, this preregistration will be submitted after receiving approval from the IRB (though preparation should begin earlier) and before data collection begins. If you are doing a data proposal project, this preregistration will be completed by the middle of the second semester. The preregistration should be included in your project’s appendix.
Midway Senior Project PowerPoint Presentation
All students will deliver a 5-minute oral presentation to the program faculty and student peers at the start of their Senior II semester.
Final Senior Project Poster Session (SM&C projects only)
Students graduating from the SM&C Division will publicly present a poster at the end of the Senior II semester.
Final Senior Project Oral Presentation (SSt projects only)
Students graduating in the SSt Division will deliver a 15–20 minute presentation at their final senior board.
The final Senior Project grade will be determined by all members of the project board and will be based on the rubric provided below. Performance on all aspects of the project, including the final Senior Project Board and Senior Project presentations, will be assessed. The Board will then discuss and finalize grades in conjunction with all faculty in the Psychology Program later in the week (or in the following weeks). Once the final grade is determined, advisers will contact advisees to share the grade and provide additional feedback.
How the Senior Project Is GradedThe final Senior Project grade will be determined by all members of the project board and will be based on the rubric provided below. Performance on all aspects of the project, including the final Senior Project Board and Senior Project presentations, will be assessed. The Board will then discuss and finalize grades in conjunction with all faculty in the Psychology Program later in the week (or in the following weeks). Once the final grade is determined, advisers will contact advisees to share the grade and provide additional feedback.
The Psychology Program recognizes that the new realities of world and work call for more flexible and individualized systems of assessment. We offer two grading options for Senior Project – each student selects which works best for them and their project.
EITHER, the student chooses to proceed with the traditional system of the full letter grade range (A, A-, B+, B, B-, C+, C, C-, D, F)
OR the student chooses to proceed with the A, Pass, D, Fail option.
Note that in the second option above there are only 4 possible grades, versus the 10 possible grades in the traditional system. This second option offers what some students like about the P/D/F system, while also preserving the possibility of an A grade for a truly excellent project. And of course the first option preserves the traditional grading system for those who prefer it. Students will discuss with their adviser, before the final Senior Project board, in order to make their own decision about the grading system.
Senior Project Assessment Guidelines
Grades will be based both on the quality of the project and on the effort put into the project. Note that final grades will be based on quality and effort demonstrated across both semesters! Thus, strong effort in one semester cannot make up for poor effort during the other, and consistent and prolific production of writing in second semester cannot make up for a lack of writing during first semester. As projects may take a variety of forms, it is important to consult with your adviser, Midway Board members, and Senior Project criteria here to confirm clear assessment guidelines for the finished product by the end of Senior I.
Quality of Product
- Suitable for year-long project in Psychology
- Provides rationale for research question
- Comprehensive in scope, draws on relevant and contemporary academic sources
- Linearly organized
- Literature is reviewed critically (i.e., in addition to providing summaries of the literature, the benefits and limitations of such literature are noted)
- Free of significant confounds
- Uses valid measures
- Appropriate statistics are used
- Study was preregistered
- Interpretations of evidence (student’s own and/or empirical literature) are offered
- Discussion clearly follows from presented evidence and integrates the prior literature and the student’s analysis
- Thoughtful suggestions for future work are made
- IRB application and approval in appendix
- Proposal or empirical projects: Informed consent, and debriefing, proposed budget, detailed statistical plan, and all measures and methods are described and/or included as an Appendix
- Preregistration is included in appendix
- Raw data are retained (to the extent new data have been collected)
- Final project incorporates feedback from the midway (or provides a clear rationale for why such feedback was not incorporated)
- APA format is followed (except where College-wide policy contradicts APA format; in-text Figures and Tables may be used)
- A 250-word abstract is included
- The project follows the format described in the Bard Student Handbook
- The project is carefully proofread
- Mastery over material is demonstrated during the final board meetings (e.g., student demonstrates awareness of relevant scholarly literatures and is able to integrate such literatures with their own work in meaningful and novel ways that were not necessarily already included in the project itself; student demonstrates thoughtfulness and sophistication in conveying criticisms of own work)
- Midway Powerpoint presentation and final poster/oral presentation are thoughtful and clear
Initiative and Independence
- Student took initiative to schedule and attend regular meetings with the adviser according to agreements established at the beginning of the semester, proposed additional consultation from other knowledgeable individuals in the field, including other members of the board, where appropriate
- Student attended meetings prepared with questions and demonstrated initiative of both thought (e.g., questions about material) and process (e.g., independently at-tempted statistical analyses and literature integration prior to asking for help)
- Independence in thought and work grew throughout the year. It is expected that students will need help with research question and thesis formulation, experimental design, and techniques early on, but by later in the year the student should be proficient in all aspects of the projects – able to understand research methodology, troubleshoot problems, and interpret results with little to no help
- Student responded well to and incorporated feedback (as demonstrated by continual additional work – both revised and novel – that is brought to meetings with adviser throughout the year)
- Individual advisers may have additional expectations (e.g., attendance at a weekly lab meeting)
- Students are expected to work a minimum of 12 hours per week on the project. Work during the January (or summer) break does not make up for low effort during the first semester of the project. As a general guideline to planning the year, for most projects in the first semester, students will be doing a lot of background reading, refining the research question, and developing the thesis and experimental design
- For projects that require collection of data, data collection should aim to begin by the end of the first semester. In the second semester, library research and writing should continue. Data collection should end at least 5–6 weeks prior to the due date for the final paper so that data analysis, data interpretation, and final report writing can proceed
Bard takes academic integrity seriously, and the Psychology Program requires that students submit their own original work. Indeed, you’ll be asked to defend your writing during your Senior Project board meeting. Plagiarism (e.g., using the words or ideas from another entity without proper citation) is not acceptable in this—or any—academic context. Thus, using text produced by a generative system (e.g., entering a prompt into a generative artificial intelligence tool like ChatGPT or Google’s Bard and using the output in your Senior Project) does not meet the requirements for original work. Moreover, content produced by such tools is generated based on others’ (uncredited) work, can be inaccurate, and risks reproducing pre-existing biases/other problems from its source material. As always, you should evaluate your sources and methods carefully before drawing conclusions.
The Program urges you to use this critical time in your intellectual development to strengthen your own capacities to learn, think, and write effectively–in your own voice. We want to hear from you–your ideas, your words.
When in doubt as to what constitutes plagiarism, you are encouraged both to consult the student handbook and to ask your adviser for further guidance. There is absolutely no penalty for asking for clarification; however, failing to abide by Bard’s standards for academic integrity can result in failing the Senior Project.
Senior Project Funding
Students may request funding from the Program to assist with their Senior Projects (e.g., to cover the cost of participant compensation). To make such a request, students should submit this form (while signed into your Bard email) to the Psychology Program Director by the end of their Senior I semesters.
Senior Project FundingThe form will ask you to include the following information, as relevant:
- whether data collection will take place online or in-person,
- the targeted number of participants, with rationale for that number (e.g., an a priori power analysis),
- the expected length of the study (e.g., 40 minutes),
- the payment rate or how participants will be paid (e.g. pro-rated 20-minute study, or a drawing every 20 participants),
- the total expected cost, and
- a budget/plan for use of the funds.
Once the budget is approved by the Program, it is up to the student and their adviser to devise a plan for utilizing funds, ordering supplies, etc. This may be done via reimbursement (if the student themselves fronts the costs) or through direct purchasing by the College. Careful records must be kept of all funds used.
Participant payment considerations:
In-person participants should be paid at New York minimum wage ($14.20/hr in 2023), per quarter-hour. That is, if you are running a 15-minute study, you should pay approximately $3.55 for that quarter of an hour in 2023. Online studies should be paid at no lower than the Federal minimum wage ($7.25 in 2023). Seniors who expect to pay more than this minimum wage should include their reasoning in their participant compensation plan (see above). Drawings, raffles, and other alternate compensation methods may also be used where appropriate. Seniors who collect data online should consult with their adviser about possible fees charged by online payment systems.
Students are also encouraged to seek out additional funding opportunities, such as the Dean Stuart Stritzler-Levine Seniors-to-Seniors Scholarship.
Institutional Review Board (IRB)
The role of an IRB is to foster ethical treatment of human research participants. Before IRBs were instituted as a national standard, some researchers conducted studies that resulted in serious and unwelcome consequences for the participants. For these researchers, the potential gained knowledge overshadowed the harm done to the participants. IRBs have since been instituted to make sure a balance exists between harm to subjects and potential gain.