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Within the Professions of Psychology Paper

Within the Professions of Psychology Paper


PSY 540 Final Project Guidelines and Rubric


Within the professions of psychology, it can be typical for you to work on proposals for programs, studies, or new initiatives. For example, you may work for a university that regularly partners with foundations and corporations to identify grant opportunities for projects in local communities. The final project for this course is a project proposal that provides you an opportunity to draw upon your knowledge of cognitive psychology and demonstrate the key skills and abilities developed in this course to address a contemporary psychological problem, giving you critical exposure to how that problem impacts people’s interactions in a professional setting. You will select an area of interest in cognitive psychology and one of the following applied settings: education, law, mental health, or technology. Your proposal may include brief references to an additional setting, but your focus must be on your primary applied setting choice. For example, you can select education as your primary applied setting as you research a contemporary problem related to memory processes and learning, but you may find that you want to also touch on memory disorders (i.e., mental health setting) within the scope of your project.

This project is supported by four milestones, which will provide you opportunities to work toward the final project throughout the course and improve the quality of your final submission. These milestones will be submitted in Modules Two, Four, Six, and Seven. The final project will be submitted in Module Nine.

Please use the Final Project Template document to help you complete this assignment. The template is linked in your course; see the Module One Final Project Review. 


These assessments will address the following course outcomes:

  • Apply foundational theories of attention, learning, memory, language, and decision making to practical, contemporary problems
  • Identify gaps in and propose improvements for practices in professional disciplines based on the strengths and limitations of human cognitive systems
  • Assess foundational theories of cognitive psychology for their relevancy to real-world issues
  • Interpret current research and statistical findings in cognitive psychology through the application of sound methodological principles
  • Advocate for and defend the use of socially responsible strategies and techniques for improving upon human cognitive processes


Approach your proposal by first identifying an area of cognitive psychology to address within your proposal: attention, learning, memory, language, or decision making. Then select an applied setting to connect with your selected area of cognitive psychology: education, law, mental health, or technology. You will focus on a contemporary problem that pertains to your selected area of cognitive psychology and your selected applied setting. For example, suppose that you selected “attention” as your area of cognitive psychology and “education” as your selected applied setting. Based on those selections, you will now have to identify a relevant contemporary problem. As an example, with the growth of online education, consider online students, the different factors competing for attention given the nature of the educational environment, and potential impact on success.

After you have identified your area of cognitive psychology, applied setting, and contemporary problem, you will select at least two relevant foundational theories within your selected area of cognitive psychology, keeping in mind your selected applied setting and contemporary problem. For example, in relation to attention, you may be interested in exploring Treisman’s attenuation theory, which posits that information not being attended to “consciously” is still being processed. However, the information being attended to is being processed at a deeper level than the unattended information. Based on your review of related research, you will be required to formulate a research question that addresses potential improvements to practices in your selected applied setting based on the strengths of human cognitive systems. Lastly, you will devise an appropriate solution that will offer socially responsible strategies and techniques to address the problem.

The examples below can help provide further direction for your proposal. Keep in mind that you must identify a key topic or area of cognitive psychology, as well as an applied setting (education, law, mental health, or technology) in your proposal. In your proposal, you may briefly address secondary applied settings, as well:

Topic and Proposal Examples

Example 1:
Area of cognitive psychology: Attention
Applied setting: Education (with potential secondary applications in technology)
Example: A study that investigates online students, the factors competing for attention, and the impacts on educational success, and draws conclusions about the resulting societal implications for improving upon these human cognitive processes

Example 2:
Area of cognitive psychology: Memory (processes and disorders)
Applied setting: Mental health (with potential secondary applications in education)
Example: A mental health program designed to help the elderly improve memory and prevent memory loss due to Alzheimer’s and/or dementia

Example 3:
Area of cognitive psychology: Decision making
Applied setting: Law
Example: A study that investigates decision-making processes of jurors in court cases

Topic Selection Resources
The following sites offer topics and news feeds on a variety of issues related to various areas of psychology.

American Psychological Association – Topics area
Psychological Science in the News – News feed

Specifically, the following critical elements must be addressed in your proposal, in the following order:

  1. Problem Statement
    1. Describe the contemporary problem that is the focus of your proposal with full details with respect to your selected applied setting.
    2. Identify your selected area of cognitive psychology (attention, learning, memory, language, or decision making) and appropriate foundational theories that apply to your selected problem.
    3. Describe performance issues in your selected applied setting based on limitations of human cognitive systems.
    4. Create a research question that addresses potential improvements to practices in the applied setting based on the strengths of human cognitive systems. Remember that your research question should address your contemporary problem.
  2. Contemporary Relevance
    1. Evaluate the utility of the theories you identified when describing your problem with respect to their strengths and limitations.
    2. Which particular theory offers the greatest utility for practitioners to apply in addressing real-world issues specific to the contemporary problem you selected? Defend your selection.
  3. Interpretation of Research Findings: Explain how each primary or secondary resource you selected supports your research question. This is where you will apply sound methodological principles (by following the prompts below, a–b) to qualify the research results and statistical findings.
    1. How do the research results and statistical findings apply to your research question?*
    2. Explain the strengths and limitations of the research results and findings in supporting the research question. This is where you will explain how the research results and findings you have reviewed support your research question and specific gaps. In other words, in reviewing your sources, is there sufficient support for this research question? This is also where you would identify what research does not yet exist that is necessary in supporting the application of your research question.*
  4. Methodological Principles: This is where you will look at your research question (critical element I, part d) and determine what types of strategies or techniques you would use if you were to hypothesize improving upon the problem in your selected applied setting. Remember, this is not limited to a controlled experiment.
    1. What socially responsible strategies and techniques could be used for improving upon human cognitive processes specific to your applied setting?
    2. What are the implications for using these strategies and techniques?
  5. Conclusion
    1. What potential future direction do you see from implementation of your research specific to addressing the contemporary problem you cited in critical element I, part a?

*Click here to access a list of approved publications, which has been provided to illustrate the standards of quality expected in the types of resources necessary in supporting this proposal.

Project Milestone

Final Submission: Project Proposal
In Module Nine, you will submit your final project, a proposal exploring how you would address a contemporary problem of cognitive psychology within a specific setting. Throughout the course, you have had multiple opportunities to work on elements of this proposal and to fine-tune your thinking on your chosen topic. Your finalized proposal should incorporate feedback you have received from your instructor as well as your peers. This submission will be graded with the Final Project Rubric.

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