Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts
Wheaton College
Psychology

Academics

RPP for Student Participants

Here is information about the Research Participation Pool (RPP) that is specific to student participants:

Note: The RPP for the semester officially closes the last regular day of classes (not the last day of final exams) at 6:00 pm. All research participation (including non-study writing assignments) must be completed by this time.

Additional Note: Starting this year (2014-2015), important changes have been implemented regarding both (a) the way that research participation "units" are counted and (b) the penalty for failing to complete the participation requirement for PSY 101 and 202 on time. These changes are reflected in the rest of the RPP web documentation.

Please realize that it is essential for you to understand how the RPP works for your specific course. Ultimately, you (not your instructor, the researchers, or the RPP coordinator) are responsible for knowing the RPP policy and procedures. If you do not take this responsibility seriously (by making sure you read and understand all of this material), you may fail to satisfy the research participation component of your course.

How do I learn more about the RPP?

These web pages provide a thorough explanation of how the RPP system works. Additionally, there will be orientation sessions during the second week of classes where the RPP coordinator will explain the basics of the system. The RPP coordinator will let your instructor know when these orientation sessions will be held early in the semester.

For PSY 101 and PSY 202 students, attending one of these scheduled orientation meetings is mandatory and you will earn one unit (see explanation below) of research participation for doing so. Failure to attend an orientation session means that you will not earn this unit and must do so through additional participation.

For students who are enrolled in a course that is not PSY 101 or PSY 202, your course instructor will decide if you must attend this session and whether doing so will earn you any research participation units.

How do I get an account to log into the RPP system?

At the end of the second week of classes, each student will receive an e-mail that contains his/her log-in information and instructions on how to begin using the system. When you log in for the first time, you will be required to acknowledge a Human Subjects Policy agreement (that explains your rights) and then complete a short online background information survey consisting of a series of short questionnaires and activities. You will also indicate when you are typically free during the week. This online survey is a prerequisite for participation in the various studies being conducted.

For PSY 101 and PSY 202 students, completing this questionnaire process must be done no later than the end of the third week of classes and you will earn one unit of research participation for doing so. Failure to complete the process by this deadline means that you will not earn this unit and must do so through additional participation.

For students who are enrolled in a course that is not PSY 101 or PSY 202, your course instructor may decide when you must complete this process and if doing so will earn you any research participation units. If they do not offer any such information, you should assume that the questionnaire simply must be completed before you can participate in any studies and that completing the questionnaire does not earn you any research participation units.

How do I use the RPP system?

The RPP system was designed to be intuitive and easy to use. You will understand how to do most things just by logging in and looking at the web page.

For more detailed instructions on how to use all of the features of the RPP computer system, please download the Sona Systems Instruction Document for Participants (requires free Adobe Acrobat Reader ).

The RPP coordinator is also available to help you learn how to use the system.

How much research do I have to participate in?

If you are a student enrolled in PSY 101 or PSY 202, then you are required to complete four units of research participation. One of these units can be earned by attending one of the mandatory scheduled orientation meetings at the beginning of the semester (see explanation above). Another unit can be earned by completing the mandatory account activation survey by the assigned deadline (see explanation above). Therefore, students who complete both of these tasks correctly will only have two units of research participation left.

If you are a student enrolled in a psychology course that is not PSY 101 or PSY 202, then the amount of research you should participate in and what types of participation may count is up to your instructor. You should speak to him/her to answer this question.

What counts as a "unit" of research participation?

For research studies, a unit corresponds to 60 minutes of participation. Therefore, a two-hour study would count as two units of research participation. The unit value of a study, which ranges anywhere from one half unit (30 minutes of research participation) to two units (two hours of research participation), will be indicated in the study description. Students cannot use the same unit of research participation for multiple courses (see explanation below).

What if I am enrolled in both PSY 101 and PSY 202?

You are required to complete four units of participation for PSY 101 and four units of participation for PSY 202. Therefore, you are required to complete a total of eight units of participation. However, units earned by attending one of the mandatory scheduled orientation meetings at the beginning of the semester or completing the mandatory account activation survey by the assigned deadline can be applied to both course requirements. Therefore, a student who completes both of these tasks correctly will only have four units of participation left.

Can one participation unit be used for multiple courses?

When students participate in a research study, they cannot use the same unit of participation for multiple courses. However, they can split how their units are allocated. For instance, if a student is enrolled in both PSY 202 (requires four units) and PSY 203 (for extra credit), here are two scenarios:

  • If this student completes one unit: S/he should choose to apply this unit to PSY 202 (will still be three units short for that course).
  • If this student completes six units: S/he should choose to apply four units to PSY 202 (will fulfill that course's requirement) and apply two units to PSY 203 (will count as extra credit).

What if I fail to complete my course's RPP requirement?

If you are a student enrolled in PSY 101 or PSY 202, failure to complete the mandatory RPP requirement by the deadline listed above will result in a change to your final grade for the course. In particular, your final course grade will be reduced by one third of a letter grade for each hour of the required participation you have missed. For instance, a PSY 101 student who earned a “B” final grade but only completed three of the four required units of participation will find a "B-" grade on his/her transcript (instead of a "B"). If that student only completed two of the four required units of participation, he/she will find a "C+" on his/her transcript (instead of a "B"). The maximum amount that your grade can be lowered is two thirds of a letter grade.

If you are a student enrolled in a psychology course that is not PSY 101 or PSY 202, then the effect of not participating in RPP research is up to your instructor. You should speak to him/her to answer this question.

How do I get matched with a study?

There are two main ways that you can be matched with a particular study:

Self-Scheduling: Most of the time, you will sign yourself up to participate in a study. You can browse the list of available studies on the RPP system. The website lists each study that is available by its name. It also gives the name of the researcher, any restrictions on who can participate, and a brief description of the study. If you find one that fits your schedule, you can sign up to participate at a particular time.

Researcher Scheduling: Although it is less common, researchers may also search for students who meet the requirements for their study and sign them up for a time that fits in the student’s schedule. The RPP system calls this “manual scheduling”. It is important to remember that researchers will not see any participant names. Instead, they will see the student’s unique ID code. Please note that, although there is currently no way to set this up in the RPP system, we ask researchers to schedule participants with at least 24 hours notice. If you are given less than 24 hours notice, you are free to cancel this appointment (at least eight hours before the study) if you wish. You may also cancel this appointment if you choose not to participate after reading the study description. However, if you would like to participate, but at a different time, simply contact the researcher to reschedule.

A couple important things to keep in mind:

  1. After you are signed up, you will receive an e-mail confirmation of your appointment with the study’s name and information about when and where it will take place.
    • Print and save this confirmation notice to know the (a) name, (b) location, (c) date/time, and (d) researcher contact information for the study. Keeping this information is very important! Because other studies may also be going on nearby, you will need to know the study’s name and the researcher’s contact information.
    • Make sure to go to the study, and please be on time! Most studies have to start on time, because many students are scheduled around the same time. If you are late, you may miss the study. Give yourself enough time to find the right place. Researchers’ time is valuable, and they often go through a lot of trouble to be ready for you!
  2. Do not wait to be scheduled for a study by a researcher. Instead, you must regularly check the RPP system website throughout the semester for opportunities to sign up for research. Different studies will become available gradually, over the course of the semester, rather than "all at once".

Why are different studies available to different people?

There are several possibilities: (a) the study may be over - meaning that the researchers are finished collecting data, (b) there may not be any available time slots at the moment, or (c) you may not be eligible to participate in certain studies due to particular prerequisites. Note: If you are not eligible to participate in a study due to particular prerequisites, it may not be visible to you on the RPP system.

How are units of participation credited?

After each day of the study, the researcher in charge will give you credit for participation through the RPP website. It may take a day or two for credit to show up on the website.

How do I check to see if my credit has shown up?

You can easily check your credits on the RPP system at any time and you are encouraged to do so. You can also see your scheduled studies (both past and upcoming) with dates, times, and places. This is a good way to keep track of your progress towards completing the participation requirement over the course of the semester.

If it has been more than two days and you have still not received credit for your participation, contact the RPP coordinator (see link to the left of this web page) who will verify that you participated in the study and make sure you receive appropriate participation credit.

Can I cancel an appointment?

If you become sick or have some kind of emergency come up at the last minute, you can cancel your appointment on the website as late as eight hours before the study. If there are fewer than eight hours before the study, call and/or email the researcher as soon as possible before your scheduled participation time so that you can be rescheduled and another student may take your vacated time slot.

What if I fail to show up without cancelling?

Please remember that when you sign up for a study you are making a commitment to show up for that appointment. The same is true for studies that researchers sign you up for. You should check your schedule and make sure you can commit the to the time. If you cannot make the appointment, you must cancel it immediately. Participants who fail to appear for a scheduled appointment, without at least eight hours notification, will receive a “no-show”. Being a no-show is a serious problem because both other student participants and the researchers are depending on you. It also means that you have missed an educational opportunity.

If you are a student enrolled in PSY 101 or PSY 202, the penalty for receiving a no-show is an increase in the number of units of participation you must earn by one (equivalent to one additional hour). For instance, a student in PSY 101 who no-shows for a study without canceling will then be required to complete a total of five units of participation.

If you are a student enrolled in a psychology course that is not PSY 101 or PSY 202, then the effect of not showing up to RPP research is up to your instructor. You should speak to him/her to answer this question.

What if the experimenter fails to show up?

First, you should make sure that you are in the correct location. If you are in the correct location, wait at least 15 minutes. If the researcher does not show up, send an e-mail to the RPP coordinator (see link to the left of this web page) who will verify that you attended the scheduled session and make sure you receive the appropriate participation credit.

What if there are not enough studies?

The department will make every effort to make it possible for you to satisfy your course’s research participation requirement via studies, but in case we are not able to do so, you will need to complete writing assignments.

For instance, let’s say that you are a student in PSY 202 and you (a) attended an orientation session - worth one unit, (b) activated your account by the deadline - worth one unit, (c) participated in one hour-long study - worth one unit, and (d) have zero no-show penalties. If there are no more studies for you to do, you will need to complete one of the written assignments (also worth one unit). That will satisfy the four units of participation you need for PSY 202.

Keep in mind that you may complete a writing assignment at any time during the semester to count for participation units.

How is my privacy protected?

The RPP system automatically assigns each participant a unique numeric ID code. The purpose of the ID code is to identify participants to researchers in a way that does not reveal their identity or compromise their privacy. Researchers using the RPP system only know participants by their ID code, and not their name.

Additionally, the only people who know who is a participant in a study are the participant, the study researcher, and the RPP coordinator. No other users, including other participants, researchers, or your instructor, may see this information. For instance, if you are enrolled in PSY 101 or PSY 202, your instructor will simply know whether or not you fulfilled the mandatory research participation requirement. He or she will have no idea what you did to satisfy that requirement though.

Furthermore, know that all data you provide, whether they be answers to a questionnaire or responses in a laboratory experiment, are maintained in a way that prevents public or general access. Unless you have given explicit and written permission, none of the data you provide will be published or otherwise disseminated in a manner that allows you to be personally identified.

Who is responsible for addressing my issues?

For students enrolled in PSY 101 or PSY 202, the RPP coordinator will answer all questions about the mandatory research requirement itself and the operation of the RPP system. Instructors of these courses should direct any students with a question, problem, or complaint to the RPP coordinator. Only the RPP coordinator can make determinations regarding whether the research participation requirement has been met. This approach is designed to ensure that the mandatory research participation requirement is handled in a way that is fair and consistent across courses and instructors.

For students enrolled in a psychology course that is not PSY 101 or PSY 202, the RPP coordinator will answer all questions about the operation of the system (including complaints). However, the instructor of the course is responsible for answering question regarding research participation issues that are specific to that course (e.g., “how much extra credit will I earn?”, etc.).


If you still have questions or need assistance, please feel free to contact the RPP coordinator (Jason Reiss, reiss_jason@wheatoncollege.edu | (508) 286-3636).

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