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Introduction to Research Methods and Statistics


Admission requirements

Students can only register for the examination if they have either passed or been exempted from the maths test.


Topics discussed in this course include: empirical reasoning; deriving a verifiable research idea; selecting data collection methods; determining reliability and validity; using descriptive statistics; experimental control, experimental designs; describing and explaining variance.

Course objectives

  • Acquiring knowledge of core concepts and basic principles of the methodology of psychological research and the way these are interrelated.

  • Acquiring knowledge about and skills of working with descriptive statistics.

  • Acquiring insight into the pros and cons of various research designs that are used in (experimental) psychological research.

  • Acquiring the necessary skills in working with the SPSS statistical package for descriptive statistics.

Note: A detailed list of course objectives will be available on Blackboard.


Introduction to Research Methods and Statistics (2013-2014):



First-year students will automatically be registered for the course. All others wishing to enrol should consult the inschrijfwijzer.


Students will not be automatically enrolled for an examination — they can register via uSis from 100 to 10 calendar days before the date. Students who are not registered will not be permitted to take the examination.

Mode of instruction

Instruction for this course will be over eight successive weeks. The course will comprise lectures, working groups and extra workgroup sessions..

Each course week will begin with a lecture to introduce and explain course material. The focus will be on knowledge of core concepts, basic principles, descriptive statistics, and research designs. The lectures also cover additional topics that will also be covered in the examination. As preparation for the lectures students should study the chapters prescribed for that week.

On one of the days following the lecture there will be a work group meeting. In these meetings the focus will be on application of the acquired knowledge. Students will also learn to work with SPSS (version 21), a software package for data analysis. Students should bring both the workbook and the textbook to every working group session. The material covered in these work group sessions is also covered in the examination. Attending the work groups is obligatory.

In the extra work groups at the end of the week students are offered the opportunity to get some extra practice in statistical calculations, by hand or using SPSS. All students who would like this extra support are free to attend these sessions.


The extent to which the students have mastered the course objectives will be assessed in two ways:

  • A written examination consisting of 40 multiple-choice questions, each with four alternatives, covering both theory and statistical calculations from the literature, the workbook, and the lectures.

  • An SPSS skills test covering students’ skills in working with SPSS as well as describing and interpreting statistical output.

The final grade will be a weighted average of the examination grade (0.7) and the grade for the SPSS skills test (0.3). To receive the course credits students must get a final grade of 5.5 or higher, and both examination and skills test grade must be 5.0 or higher.
Within thirty days of the final exam results students will have the opportunity to attend a debriefing session on their examination performance.

Since 1 January 2006 the Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences has implemented the Ephorus system, for use by instructors for the systematic detection of plagiarism in students’ written work. Please see the information concerning fraud.


The Introduction to Methodology course is also supported by the Blackboard digital learning environment.
Blackboard will be used to make announcements, provide study material (lecture slides, excercises etc.) and practice questions, and to provide an opportunity to consult fellow-students and instructors during the course about any problems students may have.

Literature and Course Material

  • Leary, M.R. (2011). Introduction to behavioral research methods (6th edition). Boston, MA: Pearson.

  • Howell, D. C (2013). Statistical Methods for Psychology (8th edition).

  • IBM SPSS Statistics for Windows, Version 21. Released 1012. Armonk, NY: IBM Corp., [ 19.75 euro]. The DVD contains the following digital manuals:

    • IBM SPSS Statistics 21 Brief Guide
    • IBM SPSS Statistics 21 Core System User’s Guide
    • IBM SPSS Statistics Base 21
  • Workbook Introduction to Research Methods and Statistics

  • Lecture slides Introduction to Research Methods and Statistics

If you are a member of the study association Labyrint you may purchase books more cheaply via their study book service. Alternatively there are the academic book shops.



SPSS coordinator