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Intervention Paper Ideas

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On the syllabus, I provided the following brief bit of guidance: "The goal of each Intervention Proposal is to give you an opportunity to thoughtfully create - and describe in detail - some sort of intervention that you think might actually help solve some real-world problem or otherwise improve the lives of real people."

Now, let me elaborate.

What Are the Objectives of an Intervention Proposal Paper?:

There are two objectives.

The primary objective is to apply your knowledge of social psychological processes to the creation of a psychology-based intervention that might be implemented to help solve some real-world problem. In order to accomplish this objective, your paper should clearly identify some problem and some psychological processes that may contribute to it, and it should also describe some sort of intervention procedure that might used to influence those psychological processes and thus help solve that problem.

The second objective is to devise some means of evaluating whether your proposed intervention - if implemented - might actually have its desired positive outcomes. In order to accomplish this objective, your paper should describe some sort of empirical methodology that might be used to assess the actual impact of the intervention.

In a sense, I want you to put yourself in the position of a social scientist who is writing a grant proposal seeking money from some funding agency - a grant proposal requesting money to fund both the implementation of clever intervention that might actually do some good in the world, and the implementation of a methodology designed to assess the success of that intervention. You can pretend that I'm the funding agency, that I'm looking to fund interventions that employ social psychological principles to improve the world, and that I'm no fool - I only want to spend time, effort, and money if I'm convinced that the proposed intervention is sensible and stands a good chance of success, and that the proposed method of evaluating the intervention is also sensible.

In What Format Should the Paper Be Written?:

Your papers should contain three sections.

Section 1: The problem and potential for a solution. I want to know why it might be useful to put time, effort and money into the implementation of an intervention. And so, before describing any intervention, you'd better convince me that there is a real problem out there that might actually be fruitfully attacked by an intervention that capitalizes on what we know about social psychological processes. Therefore, the first section of your paper should identify a specific social problem, and also identify some psychological processes that might contribute to this problem. (Be persuasive here; you'll probably want to refer to some basic theory and/or research to justify your assertions.) Only after you've done that are you in a position to suggest a specific intervention that might influence those psychological processes and thus help solve the problem.

Section 2: The intervention itself. Before I commit time, effort and money to an intervention, I want to know just what I'm getting myself into. Therefore, I want to know, in as much detail as you can tell me, just what this intervention is and how it might be pulled off. Details are important here: No intervention can be implemented unless someone figures out the nitty-gritty procedural details. I don't want to figure them out; I want you to tell me what they are.

Section 3: A mechanism for evaluating the success of the intervention. If I commit time, effort and money to implementing an intervention, I'm going to want to know if it was time, effort and money well-spent. In short, I want to be able to objectively evaluate the success of the intervention with some sort of scientific methodology for assessing whether the implementation of the intervention had any measurable impact on solving the problem. So, please, sketch out the scientific methods that you might use to test whether the intervention actually has an impact. Again, details are important here.

A word about APA Style: I really don't care if your Intervention Proposals conforms strictly to APA Style or not. But I do care about good writing. I care about the clarity, coherence, and reader-friendliness of your papers. Therefore, I do encourage you to employ aspects of APA style that can be helpful to the reader. For instance, within each of the three major sections, you might want to explicitly organize your paper through the use of headings and subheadings; if so, please use them in a coherent manner. In addition, you'll probably want to mention specific pieces of published work to make your proposal more compelling. If so, please embed citations properly in the text, and include a page of references at the end.

If you have any questions about what I care about and what I don't, ask me (out loud, in class).

What Considerations Will Most Strongly Influence the Marking of these papers?:

Your Intervention Proposals will be marked according to the extent to which the answers to the following questions are clearly "yes":

- Is the psychological backstory (the stuff described in Section 1) sensible and compelling?

- Is the intervention (described in Section 2) well-thought-out, both from a conceptual angle and in terms of the procedural details?

- Is the method for evaluating the intervention (described in Section 3) well-thought-out and methodologically-sound?

- In general, does the paper show evidence of creative and deep analytical thinking about a topic that lies within the scope of this class?

- In general, are the various parts of the proposal articulated in a clear, straightforward, and understandable way?

How Long Should Each Intervention Proposal Be?:

The smart-alecky answer is this: It should be as long as it needs to be, and not a bit longer. (Yes, that is a smart-alecky answer, but there is a little bit of wisdom in it: Different interventions - and different methods used to evaluate those interventions - demand different amounts of space to describe adequately. Your paper should be long enough to quickly describe the rational behind the proposed intervention, to describe the intervention itself in meaningful detail, and also to describe the evaluation methodology in meaningful detail as well.) Meanwhile, here is some more practical advice: I'm expecting these papers to be between 6 and 12 typed, double-spaced pages. If it's less than 6 pages, you probably haven't put enough thought and/or detail into it. If it's longer than 12 pages, I'm likely to get grumpy.

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Solution Preview

As you brainstorm for your paper, please consider some of my related ideas for your intervention proposal. Once you draft it, please send to us for editing and feedback:

As you consider ideas on what real world problem to write about, I suggest "At Risk Prevention Problems to Help Teen Girls Who Suffer from Low Self Esteem or Eating Disorders." By teaching them dance, yoga, or dramatic arts, you might look at funding an after school intervention.

Another real world problem might be "Stereotyping of Hispanic Males that Leads to High Drop Out Rates." ...

Solution Summary

Ideas for an intervention paper are brainstormed.

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