10 Senior Project

In your junior year, you will describe your plans for your senior project taking into account your preparation, and the Psychology Program will match you with an appropriate advisor. For students receiving a degree in the Division of Science, Mathematics, and Computing, the project must take the form of (A) an empirical study (with associated paper) or (B) a detailed proposal for an empirical project. For the latter, the proposal should be on the model of a grant proposal (written in the future tense), and should include all potential measures, detailed data analytic plans, and predicted results section (see below for more detail). For students receiving a degree in the Division of Social Studies (SSt), the project must focus on answering a research question or series of questions using psychological sources including theory and empirical research. Seniors should plan to confirm the Division in which they intend to graduate by the end of the Add/Drop period of their Senior II semester.

10.1 Project Milestones

  • Weekly meetings with Senior Project Advisor – You should consider your meetings with your project advisor as a regular class time. Attend meetings prepared!

  • Senior Project Statement – You will submit an early, short description of your project (about 1 page) in which you: (1) State your research question and provide a brief summary of how you intend to answer it, (2) Indicate whether you plan to complete the SSt or SM&C model (and whether this is the division into which you are moderated – you can check on BIP if you’re unsure), and (3) Indicate whether you plan to collect data, and if so, describe your plans for doing so and estimate your expenses.

  • Senior Project Midway Paper – Your midway paper may emphasize different aspects of your project; discuss with your advisor which focus for writing will be most useful for you and your board members during your midway board discussion. Midway papers frequently are excerpts of the writing for a section of your project. Regardless of the particular focus you use, midway papers should be at least 10–12 double-spaced pages of text, and include: your proposed project title, a 150–200 word abstract (including brief hypotheses, method, and results), and an annotated bibliography with at least 10 sources.

  • Senior Project Midway Meeting – Your meeting with your committee is an excellent opportunity for feedback – the more thoughtful and detailed your proposal is at this point, the better feedback the committee can offer. If necessary, you may submit (working closely with your advisor) an IRB proposal before your midway board, but you may not begin data collection until after the board meeting. This meeting must be timed so that faculty feedback can be integrated into any potential IRB revision. The board is comprised of at least one member of the psychology program and at least two other faculty from Bard. Additional persons, such as staff or persons from other institutions, may serve on the board.

  • Project pre-registration (SM&C projects only) – You will, in the spirit and practice of Open Science, pre-register your empirical plan online (https://cos.io/prereg/) using the template at https://aspredicted.org/ or another suitable preregistration template. If you are doing a data collection project, this preregistration will be submitted after receiving approval from the IRB but can be prepared simultaneously with the IRB proposal. If you are doing a data proposal project, this preregistration will be done by Dec 15th at the latest.

  • Midway Senior Project PowerPoint Presentation – You will deliver a 5-minute presentation to the program faculty and your peers. Spring Senior Is will either deliver this presentation to their board or at a Program colloquium.

  • Final Senior Project Poster Session – Students graduating from the SM&C Division will present a poster with other SM&C majors at the end of the Senior II semester.

  • Final Senior Project Board – You will meet with your board and discuss your submitted Senior Project. Students graduating in the SSt Division will deliver a 15–20 minute presentation to the board after completing the project.

10.2 Senior Project Grading

The Final Senior Project Grade will be determined by all members of the project board and will be based on the rubric provided below. Performance on all aspects of the project, including the final Senior Project Board and Senior Project Presentations, will be assessed. The Board will then discuss and finalize grades in conjunction with all faculty in the Psychology Program later in the week (or in the following weeks). Once the final grade is determined, advisors will contact advisees to share the grade and provide additional feedback.

The Psychology Program recognizes that the new realities of world and work call for more flexible and individualized systems of assessment. We offer two grading options for senior project – each student selects which works best for them and their project.

EITHER, the student chooses to proceed with the traditional system of the full letter grade range (A, A-, B+, B, B-, C+, C, C-, D, F)

OR the student chooses to proceed with the A, Pass, D, Fail option.

Note that in the second option above there are only 4 possible grades, versus the 10 possible grades in the traditional system. This second option offers what some students like about the P/D/F system, while also preserving the possibility of an A grade for a truly excellent project. And of course the first option preserves the traditional grading system for those who prefer it. Students will discuss with their advisor, before the final senior project board, in order to make their own decision about the grading system.

10.2.1 Senior Project Assessment Guidelines

Grades will be based both on the quality of the project and on the effort put into the project. Please note that final grade determination will be based on quality and effort demonstrated across both semesters! Thus, strong effort in the second semester cannot make up for poor effort during first semester, and consistent and prolific production of writing in second semester cannot make up for a lack of writing during first semester. Details are provided below. Not all of these guidelines may apply to Senior Projects in the Division of Social Studies (SSt). As such projects may take a variety of forms, it is important to work with your advisor and Midway Board members to establish clear assessment guidelines for the finished product by the end of Senior I. Given the more flexible nature of the SSt Project, students who would benefit from clear, pre-established grading criteria may find the model for a project in the Division of Science, Mathematics, & Computing described above a more comfortable fit.

10.2.2 Quality of Product

Research Question

  • Novel
  • Suitable for year-long project in Psychology

Literature Review

  • Provides rationale for research question
  • Comprehensive in scope, draws on relevant and contemporary academic sources
  • Linearly organized
  • Literature is reviewed critically (i.e., in addition to providing summaries of the literature, the benefits and limitations of such literature are noted)

Study Design and Execution (where appropriate)

  • Free of significant confounds
  • Uses valid measures

Results and Discussion (where appropriate)

  • Appropriate statistics are used
  • Study was preregistered
  • Interpretations of evidence (student’s own and/or empirical literature) are offered
  • Discussion clearly follows from presented evidence and integrates the prior literature and the student’s analysis
  • Thoughtful suggestions for future work are made

Documentation (where appropriate)

  • IRB application and approval in appendix
  • Proposal or empirical projects: Informed consent, and debriefing, proposed budget, detailed statistical plan, and all measures and methods are described and/or included as an Appendix
  • Preregistration is included in appendix


  • Raw data are retained (to the extent new data have been collected)
  • Final project incorporates feedback from the midway (or provides a clear rationale for why such feedback was not incorporated)
  • APA format is followed (except where College-wide policy contradicts APA format; in-text Figures and Tables may be used)
  • A 250-word abstract is included
  • The project follows the format described in the Bard Student Handbook
  • The project is carefully proofread


  • Mastery over material is demonstrated during the final board meetings (e.g., student demonstrates awareness of relevant scholarly literatures and is able to integrate such literatures with their own work in meaningful and novel ways that were not necessarily already included in the project itself; student demonstrates thoughtfulness and sophistication in conveying criticisms of own work)
  • Powerpoint presentation and poster presentation are thoughtful and clear

10.2.3 Effort

Initiative and Independence

  • Student took initiative to schedule and attend regular meetings with the advisor according to agreements established at the beginning of the semester, proposed additional consultation from other knowledgeable individuals in the field, including other members of the board, where appropriate
  • Student attended meetings prepared with questions and demonstrated initiative of both thought (e.g., questions about material) and process (e.g., independently at-tempted statistical analyses and literature integration prior to asking for help)
  • Independence in thought and work grew throughout the year. It is expected that students will need help with research question and thesis formulation, experi-mental design, and techniques early on, but by later in the year the student should be proficient in all aspects of the projects – able to understand research methodology, troubleshoot problems, and interpret results with little to no help

Working with Faculty

  • Student responded well to and incorporated feedback (as demonstrated by continual additional work – both revised and novel – that is brought to meetings with advisor throughout the year)
  • Individual advisors may have additional expectations (e.g., attendance at a weekly lab meeting)

Reliability and Consistency

  • Students are expected to work a minimum of 12 hours per week on the project. Work during the January (or summer) break does not make up for low effort during the first semester of the project. As a general guideline to planning the year, for most projects in the first semester, students will be doing a lot of background reading, refining the research question, and developing the thesis and experimental design
  • For projects that require collection of data, data collection should aim to begin by the end of the first semester. In the second semester, library research and writing should continue. Data collection should end at least 5–6 weeks prior to the due date for the final paper so that data analysis, data interpretation, and final report writing can proceed
  • All deadlines outlined by Psychology Program are met

10.3 Senior Project Funding

Students may request funding from the Program to assist with their senior projects (e.g., to cover the cost of participant compensation). To make such a request, students should submit this form (while signed into your Bard email) to the Psychology Program Director by the end of their Senior I semesters. You must discuss your plans with your senior project advisor before submitting this form.

Those seniors intending to compensate participants must submit a participant compensation plan as part of the linked form above, before beginning data collection, to the Program Director. The plan must indicate the following:

  1. whether data collection will take place online or in-person,
  2. the targeted number of participants, with rationale for that number (e.g., an a priori power analysis),
  3. the expected length of the study (e.g., 40 minutes),
  4. the payment rate or how participants will be paid (e.g. pro-rated 20-minute study, or drawing every 20 participants),
  5. the total expected cost, and
  6. a budget.

In keeping with the Psychology Program’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, we have developed a system so that seniors do not have to use their own money and wait for reimbursement. After approval of the participant compensation plan, a student will consult with the Program Director and their Senior Project advisor to (1) ensure there are sufficient monies available for electronic disbursement of funds in the case of online studies, or (2) prepare allotted petty cash payments for in-person studies. Whether paying participants online or in person, students should keep a detailed log of all funds distributed by: date, amount, and participant, and submit this log to their Senior Project advisor and the Program Director at the conclusion of data collection.

Some additional considerations:

In-person participants should be paid at New York minimum wage ($12.50/hr in 2021; $13.20/hr in 2022), per quarter-hour. That is, if you are running a 15-minute study, you should pay approximately $3.13 for that quarter of an hour in 2021. Online studies should be paid at no lower than the Federal minimum wage ($7.25 in 2021). Seniors who expect to pay more than this minimum wage should include their reasoning in their participant compensation plan (see above). Drawings, raffles, and other alternate compensation methods may also be used where appropriate. Seniors who collect data online should consult with their advisor about possible fees charged by online payment systems.

Students are also encouraged to seek out additional funding opportunities, such as the Dean Stuart Stritzler-Levine Seniors-to-Seniors Scholarship.

After approval of funds, students should be in touch with the program director to receive information about how to receive the funds.