Designing a Project

Midquarter you'll need to decide on your topic and discuss your ideas with your faculty sponsor. Look back at your journal entries from the last few weeks. Identify the major incidents in your placement so far or themes that come up repeatedly. What can you learn more about that will deepen your work in your placement, help you to push beyond where you are right now?

Academic projects should be a bridge between the knowledge of the field of research and experience directly in the community. By combining the two your field study will take a new turn to be more rewarding and an opportunity to learn even more from your classes on campus and subsequent work in the field. This is a great opportunity for you to direct your own learning! Approach it with care and enthusiasm!

Once you have a topic, think about just how interested you are in exploring it further. Is this something you'd like to delve into in depth over two quarters? Or would you rather end up doing one topic your first quarter, and another your next? If you'd like to delve in over two quarters, you might consider doing an annotated bibliography the first quarter, and a research paper the next, in which you essentially combine a literature review with illustrations from your work at your placement, critically discussing the literature and applying the concepts to your own experience.

If you're going to cover one topic one quarter and another the next, you could do a research paper of the kind described above each quarter. Each would be less in depth than if you were covering this topic over two quarters, so they don't require an annotated bibliography first.

To get you thinking about paper topics here is a sampling of the papers that can be found in the Field Study Papers binder in the UCSC Psychology Field Study office.

I. Social Psychology papers

Brinkman, Millicent. "Adult Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse" Placement: District Attorney's Office, Victims Services

Smith, Erin. "An Assessment of Mentoring Relationships" Placement: Children's Placement Service Glover, Charles. "Gender, Sexual Orientation and Schooling" Placement: Gateway Elementary

Monger, Sarah. "Psychosocial and Instrumental Support with Elementary School Children" Placement: DeLaveaga Elementary

Bhatnagar, Neera. "Restorative Justice and The Group Home Society Inc." Placement: Group Home Society

II. Clinical and Personality Psychology papers

Aburto, Liana. "Efficacy of Play Therapy with Children of Mothers Recovering from Chemical Dependency" Placement: Mondonaro-Baskin Center/Janus Perinatal

Swinington, Abby. "The Arts in Education" Placement: Westlake Elementary Caetano, Izabel. "Group Therapy: Effectiveness in the Reduction of Defense Mechanisms in Children of Divorced or Separated Parents" Placement: Scotts Valley Middle School

Kim, Mi Kyung. "Multicultural Counseling: Ethnicity of the Therapist and Beyond" Placement: Asian American for Community Involvement (AACI)

Bartel, JoAnn. "Sexual Abuse, Mental Retardation, and The Tamara House" Placement: Tamara House Group Home

Sing, Maile. "Who We Can Help by How We Can Help: Maximizing the Effectiveness of Telephone Crisis Line Intervention" Placement: Suicide Prevention Services

Vazquez, Nelida . "The Variables Behind The Resistance of Accessing and Accepting Professional Help Among Latinos" Placement: SC County Juvenile Probation

Velasco, Amee. "'Eli' : Schizophrenia and Humanistic Psychology" Placement: Seventh Ave. Center

III. Developmental Psychology papers

Ace, Camille "The Effects of Sex Stereotyping and Children's Play Amongst Pre-School Aged Children" Placement: Neighborhood Child Care Center Munuz, Beatriz "Acculturation Processes and Ethnic Identity Among Adolescent Latina Girls" Placement: Gambetta Middle School

Rosenfelder, Anne. "Effectively Teaching Conflict Resolution" Placement: Emeline Child Care Center Gale, Jennifer. "Creating a Culturally Inclusive Pre-School" Placement: Neighborhood Child Care Center

Giddeon, Bethany. "Home Visiting: National and Local Perspectives" Placement: Mountain Community Resources

Frederick, Krystelle. "The Effects of Divorce on Adolescents" Placement: Youth Services Baldwin, Shannon. "Rudolf Steiner's Stages of Childhood Development: The Foundation of Waldorf Education" Placement: Santa Cruz Waldorf School


There are several alternatives to traditional papers: You could research your topic and produce a training manual for future volunteers at your agency, or an educational manual for the population you serve. Check with your field sponsor to see if this is something that would benefit your agency. You could do a research project at your placement. Several students have done this in the past, with very interesting results. However, planning is necessary, since you will probably need to get approval from the Human Subjects Committee on campus first. See your faculty sponsor for details if you have an idea for research you'd like to perform at your agency.

In preparation for this during your first quarter of field study, you could do an annotated bibliography. Annotated bibliographies are just thoughtful summaries of research articles and books you've read about your topic. You first list your source in APA style. Then, you write a paragraph or two, in single space, summarizing what in that reading related to your topic of interest and to the work you're doing at your agency. You might include your own reflections on the source; i.e., did the author's concepts or suggestions 'work' at your placement? Have you observed behaviors that don't or do seem to support the author's work? You should use about 2-3 books and 5-6 articles in an annotated bibliography.

If you really don't want to write both quarters, you might consider producing a narrated slide show. You could take photographs at your placement and use them to illustrate your work at the agency, the challenges you faced, the kinds of people you worked with, and the way in which you applied psychological concepts there. You could also produce a video, where you interview individuals and take a tour around the agency, doing the same things you would do in a slide show, but in live action. For both the slide show and video projects, you will need to get informed consent from whomever you photograph or film; make sure to speak with your field sponsor first, too.

The Social Sciences Media Lab offers excellent slide show and video production workshops each quarter. They have lots of experience working with field study students. To get to their web site, where more details and a schedule can be found, click here. No matter what kind of project you'd like to do, you MUST first discuss your idea with your faculty sponsor, who must approve it!