Senior Integrated Projects (SIPs)

All students at Kalamazoo College must complete a “Senior Integrated Project” (SIP) during their senior year. Psychology majors have three options for completing this project.

Conduct your SIP under the supervision of another department at K.

  • The SIP is a college graduation requirement, not a departmental one, and as such, Psychology majors do not have to complete their SIP in the Psych Department. Students who have another major, minor, or concentration may wish to pursue a SIP in one of those areas. Each department has their own set of rules and requirements for SIPs. Students must educate themselves on the process of doing a SIP under the direction of another department.

Conduct a Psychology SIP under the direction of the Psych Department.

  • This can be a one or two-unit project that earns a unit of Psychology credit towards your Psychology major. This type of SIP builds research and writing skills and is typically the best kind of preparation for advanced study in Psychology. Please visit our Psychology SIP page for more information.

Conduct an interdisciplinary SIP 593 under the direction of the Psychology Department.

  • This is a one-unit project that earns a unit of credit towards graduation, but not towards the Psychology major. There is quite a bit of flexibility with these kinds of projects to make it something that you are passionate about and will find personally rewarding. Please visit our Interdisciplinary SIP 593 for more information.

Helpful Information

Timeline for SIPs Supervised by the Psychology Department

Winter-Spring of Junior year: Understand the various models for a Psych SIP or an interdisciplinary SIP 593. Think about topics or projects that you might be interested in doing under the various models. Begin thinking about your summer plans and how you can fit a SIP into those plans. If pursuing a Psychology SIP, secure a SIP placement, by emailing researchers who do work you would be interested in helping with. See a sample email here. Alternatively, explore opportunities for an internship in an applied setting by consulting the CCPD or other sources.

Spring of Junior year: Take Experimental Research Methods, to learn valuable SIP skills including APA writing, statistical analysis, and experimental design.

Summer of Junior year: Work at your placement, helping with ongoing research or working on your SIP 593. Write your SIP. A complete draft is due to the SIP coordinator by mid to late August.

Fall of Senior year: One unit SIPs are turned in Friday of Week 1. Two unit SIPs continue over the fall quarter.

Winter of Senior year: Two unit SIPs are turned in Friday of Week 1.

Spring of Senior year: All Psych SIPs are presented at the VanLiere Symposium.

The SIP Coordinator

In the Psychology department, all SIPs (with only a few exceptions) are overseen by one of the professors in Experimental Methods (either Dr. Batsell or Dr. Hostetter) This person is the SIP coordinator and is your contact person for all questions related to your SIP.

In addition to the SIP coordinator, students who complete their Psych SIP work in the lab of an off-site researcher or in the lab of a K Psych professor will also likely get feedback on their project from that person. Your off-site adviser may help you identify articles related to your particular topic, explain the experimental design of their ongoing project, analyze your data, and read drafts of your SIP. However, there is a lot of variability in how much help off-site advisers are willing to give. Your goal as you are working on your SIP should be to work as independently as possible.

Students who wish to complete an interdisciplinary SIP 593 supervised by the Psychology department should also work with the SIP coordinator to plan their project.

SIP Grading

What SIP grades are given?

There are three possible grades for your psychology SIP, regardless of SIP type or number of units: 1) Fail; 2) Pass; and 3) Pass with Distinction. Each unit of the SIP is graded separately. For example, it is possible that you might receive a “Pass” for one unit and “Fail” the other. The “Pass with Distinction” grade is commonly (but mistakenly) called “Honors” on the SIP. Strictly speaking, Honors are given only in your major. SIP grades appear on your transcript (along with your SIP title) but do not affect your GPA.

Who will read my SIP?

Every SIP is assigned a primary reader. This is not necessarily the faculty member you list as your SIP supervisor. The psychology department assigns your primary reader in terms of faculty expertise, in consideration of the need to balance the number of SIPs to be read by members of the department. Your request that a particular faculty member be assigned as primary reader will be given consideration.

If the primary reader decides that your SIP is a “Pass,” ordinarily there will be no additional readers. However, you may request that another faculty member read the SIP if you think your SIP deserves better than a “Pass.”

If the primary reader does not think your SIP has earned a “Pass” or if he or she thinks it might deserve a “Pass with Distinction,” one or more additional readers are assigned until a consensus on the grade is reached. Sometimes additional readers are assigned just to assure consistency and fairness in grading, such as when new faculty members read SIPs for the first time.

Can I revise my SIP?

You may not request permission to revise your SIP simply because you want to improve your SIP grade. However, the reader(s) may ask you to revise your SIP. The psychology department makes this decision and never allows revisions to correct for sloppiness or inadequate effort. In most instances, the psychology department does not think it is practical to attempt revising your SIP while you are taking a full load of courses. The department will ask for revisions only when: a) a relatively small amount of work can make a significant difference in the quality of the SIP; or b) it is clear that you have sufficient time and would greatly benefit from the additional work involved.

What if my SIP does not pass?

Since the SIP is a College graduation requirement, you would have to do another SIP if your SIP does not “Pass.” However, there are then several options: 1) “redo” the SIP that did not pass; 2) begin a new SIP in psychology or in another department; 3) take regular college courses as a SIP; or 4) petition for a waiver of the SIP requirement. It is possible to complete your SIP during the summer following commencement, but the earliest possible SIP registration for credit would be in the fall. However, as soon as the SIP receives a passing grade, the Registrar will certify that you have met this graduation requirement.

SIP Frequently Asked Questions

To earn”pass with distinction” on my SIP, is it imperative that a 2-unit SIP be completed?

No, the department gives “pass with distinction” for 1-unit SIPs as well as 2-unit SIPs. The criterion for “Pass with DIstinction” is that multiple Psychology professors must agree that the SIP surpasses our expectations for the project.

Can I do a SIP in another department?

Yes. Psych majors are not required to complete a SIP in the psychology department. If you have another major or minor, you may choose to do a SIP in that department. Be sure to find a SIP supervisor from that department, educate yourself about the SIP process in that department, and complete the proper paperwork.

When should I start thinking about my SIP?

You should really start thinking about your SIP before the start of junior year spring quarter. As early as your sophomore year, peruse old SIPs to gain a better idea of the nature of Psychology SIPs. SIPs from previous years can be found in the Psychology department; ask Brenda Westra for help locating them. By the end of Junior spring, you should have a clear plan for which type of SIP you will complete (a Psychology SIP or an interdisciplinary SIP 593).

Psychology SIPs require that you have a placement in a research lab secured or have a specific topic in mind that you wish to write about by the beginning of summer. To find a placement, you will have to send emails out to researchers that you are interested in working with. We recommend that you begin this process as soon as Winter of junior year. The sooner, the better, as you are often competing with students at other schools for research and internship placements. You don’t want all the positions to be filled before you get a chance to apply. If you will be doing a Psychology SIP that does not involve working in a research lab, you will still need to have a specific topic in mind by the beginning of summer. If you are doing an interdisciplinary SIP 593, you will need to have the proposal completed and your project approved by the end of Spring Junior year.

Can I design my own study for my SIP?

Yes, but in order to collect data, you must submit a SIP Proposal. You must also get IRB approval before the project begins. This requires having a complete protocol, including all forms and questionnaires that will be administered to students, by the end of Week 8 of Spring quarter. The project cannot change once IRB approval has been granted. Although it is possible to design a project on your own, it is often easier to find a position working with someone who is already doing research on the topic you are interested in, rather than starting from scratch on your own.

Can I do my SIP abroad?

Yes, but we do not typically advise it. Students who conduct their SIP abroad often do not have the resources they need to complete a Psychology SIP successfully. For example, it can be difficult to access research articles with slow internet connections. If you are interested in doing a SIP abroad, please discuss your plans with the SIP coordinator as soon as possible. You may also consider applying for a Beeler Fellowship to fund your travel.

What funding is available for my SIP?

For students doing a Psychology SIP, the Psychology Department has some limited funding to support students who have secured a position in an off-site research lab with our Plumert-Teasley psychology SIP fellowship grant. In addition, it is often possible to get some funding from the college to support students who are working with one of the Psych faculty at K on our on-going research projects. This is something you should ask the individual professor you are working with.

The Psychology Department does not currently have funding to support interdisciplinary SIP 593 projects. Students may be able to get funding from other departments or institutes on campus (e.g., ARCUS, CCPD) depending on the nature of the project. In addition, many students work at a paid internship or job while completing an SIP 593.