Research Assistants

Active involvement in a research lab is a valuable experience for many students and can enrich your experience as a learner. As a Psychology major, you will gain valuable experience applying the concepts learned in PS232, PS214, and PS215. Students who work in my lab with have opportunities to solidify and enhance their knowledge and understanding of cognition and cognitive aging. In addition, students get to see how research in psychology really works in practice. Students interested in pursuing higher degrees will gain valuable research experience that is needed to obtain admission to many competitive graduate programs in psychology or other fields. In addition, course credit can be earned by completing independent study projects (PS491, PS416).

Among the skills you will develop in the lab are:

  • Experience reading original scholarly work. A fundamental component of the research experience involves learning about the specific research topic or background. Students are expected to read and discuss scholarly journal articles and review chapters, thus deepening their conceptual understanding of the field.
  • Computer skills. We use several specialized software programs (e.g., E-Prime, Qualtrics, SPSS) for data collection and analysis. Research assistants receive training and experience to program experiments and collect and code data.
  • Training in experimental research methods. Research assistants are involved in all stages of the research project, from stimulus development to data interpretation. Students become proficient in developing materials for studies and develop a deep understanding of the importance of careful selection of materials, thereby improving their understanding of critical issues such as validity.
  • Experience working with human participants. Research assistants will be given basic training in research ethics and in the issues involving research with human participants, such as the importance of informed consent and full debriefing.
  • Experience coding and analyzing data. Research assistants are responsible for coding and analyzing data. This gives valuable experience applying statistical concepts and learning new skills in Excel and SPSS.
  • Presentation skills. All research assistants are expected to present their work at the Colby Undergraduate Research Symposium, held annually in the spring. In addition, many students have presented at local, regional, and national conferences.
  • Writing skills. Students completing independent studies, senior empirical studies, and honors theses will also write an APA style report of their project.
  • Deeper knowledge of cognitive psychology. Through research, students’ understanding of fundamental issues in cognition, such as attention, memory, and language use, will become more sophisticated and rigorous.
  • Experience working with an aging population. As a research assistant, students can acquire theoretical and experiential knowledge of age-related changes in cognition (see here for more information).

If you are interested in working in the lab as a research assistant, email the lab director at

To see the current members of the lab, please click here

For updates on former lab members, click here