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Homework answers / question archive / Paper 1 Roadmap: Task-Switching Overview: In this project you will collect, analyze, and report data from a simple task-switching experiment

Paper 1 Roadmap: Task-Switching Overview: In this project you will collect, analyze, and report data from a simple task-switching experiment


Paper 1 Roadmap: Task-Switching


In this project you will collect, analyze, and report data from a simple task-switching experiment. Data will be collected and analyzed on the computer. You will be responsible for writing a full APA-style research report.

Things you will learn:

  • using response time (RT) as a dependent measure
  • paired-sample t-test comparisons
  • reading and citing primary source material

Short background on the task-switching paradigm:

A well-known finding in research on attention and task performance is that people suffer costs in performance when switching between two tasks. This is commonly measured by having people alternate or repeat between two simple tasks. Performance is faster and more accurate for task repeats than task switches. The cost to performance in both speed and accuracy is called the task-switching cost.

Here is the link to the experiment you completed: taskswitching.html#_run_the_demo. Feel free to run through the experiment as many times as you like (doing so will help you describe it in the procedure section). Here are some details about the experiment that may be useful in writing the methods section:

  • font: Arial, size 18
  • letters used: g k m r a e I u; numbers used: 29. 
  • there were 40 practice trials with just letters, 40 practice trials with just numbers, and 40 experimental trials, half taskswitch and half task-repeat
  • stimuli were displayed for 3000 ms before the trial automatically ended b and n were the response keys

Background reading:

  • Monsell, S. (2003). Task switching. TRENDS in Cognitive Sciences, 7, 134140.

Writing the paper

Here is a rough roadmap for writing paper 1. Also keep in mind the guidelines I put in the slides we went through in lab. The guidelines in the slides will apply to every paper you write. The guidelines in this document have been tailored to project 1.

  1. Use APA formatting rules (6th edition recommended).
  2. Create a suitable title for the paper (should be no more than 12-15 words)
  3. Write the abstract (150-250 words)

• The aim is to very briefly describe the issue at hand, the experiment, and the results.


4. Introduction (around 2 double-spaced pages)  

The goal of the introduction is to first put the research into a broader context, and then narrow the focus to describe the specific research aims and hypothesis/es.

Opening section: (starting broad) - about 1 paragraph

  • discuss task-switching using examples in the real world

Middle section: (discussing ideas about task-switching)

  • discuss the idea of a task-set, and give an example
  • discuss the idea of task-set reconfiguration, and explain how this idea explains the taskswitching cost.

Final section: (briefly explain the experiment in plain language and what you expect to find)

  • tell the reader what the purpose of the current experiment is (to measure task-switching using a laboratory procedure)
  • briefly explain what the participants did in the task
  • briefly give predictions (i.e., hypothesize) for performance in each condition, and justify your predictions


5. Methods (about 1 page)  

The methods section should be a complete recipe that anyone could follow to replicate your experiment. There are lots of details that you can include, some of these are listed below. Be clear and concise! Participants

  • how many people? Where did they come from?


  • program/website used to carry out experiment
  • what numbers were used, what tasks were used
  • what cues were people given as signal to perform each task


  • what were the independent variables? - what was the dependent variable - within or between subjects?
  • how many trials?
  • what happened in each trial?


6. Results

The results section is used to report the patterns in the data, and the statistical support for those patterns.

  • state which statistical test(s) was/were used to answer which question(s). What specific comparison(s) did we make to answer the research question(s)?
  • e.g., mean RTs from each condition were submitted to a paired-samples t-test with task sequence (repeat vs. switch) as the single factor
  • visualize the data (create a table or graph) and tell the reader where they can see it
  • e.g., the results of experiment 1 are presented in table 1, or in figure 1


7. Discussion  

The discussion can be used to briefly restate verbally the pattern of the most important results, and then to relate the results to theory and ideas developed in the introduction

  • highlight the main findings from the experiment
  • start the discussion by stating the answer to the research question(s) as directly and concisely as possible
  • discuss how the data can be explained (or not?) by the task-set reconfiguration hypothesis
  • discuss general importance of task-switching research, suggestions for further research, and potential problems with the current research.


8. References  

- include citations used in the paper


9. Figures or tables  

- create a figure or a table (whichever you think gets the point across more clearly) that shows the mean RTs for the task-repeat and the task-switch conditions

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