Each semester, I recruit undergraduate and graduate students to help with my research projects. Undergraduates can take up to 6 hours of research experience (400:193g). In a typical semester, a student will be primarily responsible (along with another student) for one project in my lab. He/she may help with literature review, design, participant recruitment, running the study, entering the data, and collecting the data. In a given semester, there are usually 4-5 projects going on at different stages in my lab, so the student would also help with the other projects. This gives him/her experience with a broader range of research topics (social influence, attitude change, relationships, etc.), a broader range of methods (survey, experiment), and a broader variety of participant populations (children, college students). My research team, which includes graduate and undergraduate students, meets about 3 times a month. During these meetings, we discuss future studies, do training, and talk about issues relevant to the group as a whole. Students will also have a weekly meeting with me to discuss their primary project.
Students can take research experience for varying amounts of credit. This works on a 3:1 ratio, where 1 credit = about 3 hours of work per week, 2 credits = 6 hours of work, and 3 credits = 9 hours of work. The hours of work per week are an average; generally things are slower during the first half of the semester, and pick up in the middle and end of the semester. I encourage students to take the course for 3 credits if at all possible. If they find they like research, they can then repeat the course for 3 credits another semester.
It's best for students to get involved in research in their sophomore or junior years (after they've taken research methods) so they'll have time to be involved with research for more than one semester. As time progresses, students get more responsibility and more opportunities to do different things. After a semester or two, students can propose and work on their own projects under my supervision, completing an honors thesis.†
To graduate with honors in psychology, students must have a 3.5 overall GPA and complete an honors thesis. For the honors thesis, a student does a literature review and proposes a study, carries out that study, analyzes the results, and writes it up (like a journal article). A faculty committee reviews the project and decides whether it is worthy of departmental honors. I HIGHLY RECOMMEND honors theses for students, particularly if they're interested in graduate school. It's a great experience and the best way to learn about research.
My students also gain experience presenting papers at local, regional, and national conferences and submitting manuscripts for publication. In the past few years, my students have been first author on presentations at the Midwestern Psychological Association conference (Chicago), the Society for Personality and Social Psychology conference (Palm Springs, Austin), and the American Psychological Society (Atlanta, DC). †
Come talk to me if you're interested in taking research experience with me as soon as possible in the semester before you're interested in taking it.