Improving Article Summaries: Can a Brief Tutorial Help College Students Write More Effective Research Article Summaries?
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The ability to understand and condense research articles is crucial for success as an undergraduate psychology student; however, this does not come naturally to many students. Sommer et al. (2014) found that students tend to focus on operational definitions rather than constructs in their summaries even after a summary writing tutorial. The tutorial has been modified to focus on the relationship between constructs and operational definitions in research. The current study investigates the effectiveness of the summary writing tutorial in improving students’ essays. Participants were twenty-six upper-level undergraduate psychology students enrolled in a psychology lab course who completed a digital tutorial and three article summaries as part of an in-class assignment. All students were assigned to read two psychology research articles in preparation for class. One class section was randomly assigned to the experimental group, in which participants individually completed a thirty-slide PowerPoint tutorial designed to help students focus on the most important and relevant details of a research article. They were then instructed to type summaries of the two previously assigned articles. Students in the other class section, which served as the control group, wrote their article summaries first and were then directed to complete the summary-writing tutorial. Participants’ summaries will be evaluated based on the presence of constructs (mention of the study’s hypotheses) and operational definitions (mention of the study’s methods and results). Summarizing performance of the experimental and control groups will be compared. Implications for intervention strategies, as well as suggestions for future research, will be discussed.