SIE 503: Overview

Principles of Experimental Design

Dr. Nicholas Giudice
Room 331 Boardman Hall

Course Objectives

This course is designed primarily for first year graduate students who plan to engage in scientific research. The course covers topics in: (1) design of behavioral experiments, (2) modern experimental techniques and instrumentation, and (3) data collection, organization, and statistical analysis techniques. Course objectives include:

1. Gain an understanding of how to perform rigorous scientific research, and the issues that are important to consider in the research process.

2. Become better able to evaluate the quality of others’ research and think critically about what scientific evidence means in a variety of contexts.

3. Develop an appropriate research question/problem.

4. Design and conduct your own research project.

5. Generate an appropriate statistical plan to support a proposition.

6. Build your experience with scientific communication by writing and speaking about your research and reading about others’ research.

A. Class Sessions

  • Wednesday: 1:10-2:00 Room 326 Boardman Hall
  • Archived Broadcasts: Links to the class broadcasts are made available at the end of each day through the Lectures and Assignments link for this course.

Course Materials

Practical Research: Planning and Design 10th Ed. (2013), Authors: Paul Leedy & Jeanne Ellis Ormrod

(optional reading) 100 Statistical Tests (2006), Kanji, Gopal


Grading and Course Expectations

  • Grades in this course will be based on class attendance / participation, as well as the quality and completion of all class assignments, exams, and papers / projects listed on the syllabus. NOTE: If students decide to conduct human research as part of their class project, the appropriate Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval must be obtained at the beginning of the semester, before any human experiments are run. Information on the UMaine IRB and the application for testing human subjects can be found at:
  • All students planning to conduct such research must also complete the required web-based tutorial on the protection of human subjects, found at:
  • You are expected to exhibit high quality work that demonstrates sound understanding of the concepts and their complexity. Earning an “A” represents oral and written work that is of exceptionally high quality and demonstrates superb understanding of the course material. A “B” grade represents oral and written work that is of good quality and demonstrates a sound understanding of course material. A “C” grade represents a minimally adequate completion of assignments and participation demonstrating a limited understanding of course material. A “D” grade represents less than adequate completion of assignments and participation demonstrating nominal understanding of course material. An “F” failing grade represents an unacceptable level of completion of assignments and participation demonstrating a lack of understanding of course material.

 Grading criteria:

Assignments – 25%
Midterm Exam – 20%
Research and Experimental Design Project – 35%
Class Participation – 20%

If you are absent due to illness or a similar valid excuse, please notify me of your situation at prior to (or immediately after) your absence.

Class Policies

  • Attendance: Regular attendance and class participation is expected. I place a high value on questions and interactivity, and twenty percent of the course grade is based on your constructive in-class input.
  • Late assignments and make-up:
  • Assignments submitted after the due date are docked 10 percent per day and will not be accepted for credit after a week.  If you miss an assignment or are unable to take an exam due to an illness or emergency, you must send notification to me by email prior to (or soon thereafter the due date if there are mitigating circumstances). Special arrangements will be made on a case by case basis.
  • Academic honesty:
  • Academic honesty is expected.  Plagiarism is unacceptable in this course and will result in a failing grade.
  • Etiquette:
  • Ringing cell phones and occupation with texting, emailing, web searching, and the like is distracting to both the instructor and your fellow students. There is plenty of time for these activities when outside of class, please have the courtesy to turn off your phones and curtail computer use, except for note taking or in-class exercises, during class sessions.
  • Submitting Assignments:
  • Please submit all class assignments with the following information in the header: your name, assignment title, date, and class number/name. Since I often comment on the assignment in-text or cut and paste them into a single document for distribution to the class for discussion, it is easier to have them in a readily editable format rather than a PDF. Thus, please submit all assignments as a MS word (or PC compatible) document, or in rich text format, or as a text file.
  • Finally, in the event of an extended disruption of normal classroom activities, the format for this course may be modified to enable its completion within its programmed time frame. In that event, you will be provided an addendum to the syllabus that will supersede this version.

E. Instructor Office Hours & Discussion Sessions

  • For one-on-one discussions with the instructor, E-mail to is often the simplest way to get a message through and a response. You are also welcome to call my offfice at 207-581-2187 for questions or to set up an appointment.

urs from 1:00-2:00 (before class). Alternatively, students are welcome to contact me by email to arrange a time to meet in person or by phone/Skype.

Weekly schedule (1 class session per week for 15 weeks): updated schedule sent by email.