Internal Code: MAS1600
Topic: The effects of meditation in reducing student stress
Students entering university often experience high degrees of stress in dealing with the expectations of academia, high workloads, challenging classes and tests. While universities provide assistance in the form of counsellors and student learning centres, this is not always sufficient and many students are too embarrassed to seek help. As a consequence it was decided to test whether meditation techniques may help students reduce their stress levels.
This pilot trial was carried out at Murdoch University. Eighty (40 male, 40 female) first year environmental science students were selected (with ages ranging from 17 to 65 years) and then divided into two groups, the standard group and the treatment group. Stress levels in the participants were measured using the Perceived Stress scale before the experiment. The standard group visited a counsellor once a fortnight (which is the standard therapy for stress), whereas participants in the treatment group meditated for 20 minutes each day. Stress levels in participants were recorded again after 3, 6, 9 and 12 months.
The aim of this assessment is to develop your skills in academic writing and simple data analysis. The Report Assessment comprises Parts A and B, and is worth a total of 40% of your final mark. Part A will consist of preliminary sections of a scientific report. You will receive feedback on these sections from your tutor. You may then revise these sections before incorporating them into Part B, which consists of the entire report.
We have a range of possible report topics. This semester we are using Topics 2, 3 and 4 (see links below). Choose ONE of these topics for this report assessment. Each topic has an associated data set which forms the basis of your report. We recommend that you have a look at all data sets before deciding on your topic and then choose the one that appeals most to you. You will notice that the data sets are quite different and reflect the nature of the experiment. Each data set presents its own challenges and possibilities for investigation, which you can address in your report.
Once you have selected your topic, your task will be to write a structured report on the topic. To do this you will have to:
a) research the topic to be able to present background information with references to appropriate sources.
b) note how the data was collected and explain why this was an appropriate form of experiment/survey for this study.
c) analyse the given data using only the methods shown in class (as a minimum you need to calculate a mean and the standard deviation).
d) present the results in at least one Figure (i.e. in a suitable graph and/or table of statistics).
e) write a results section.
f) write a discussion section, where you will explain your results and develop an argument using your references.
g) present a logical conclusion summarising the outcomes of the study in the wider context of this research topic.
A list of useful references is provided for each topic. Note that you do not need to use them if you do not want to and you are encouraged to find your own good quality references online.
Part A will consist of the preliminary sections of your scientific report, i.e. the introduction and methods sections, and a description of your intended data analysis. It is limited to 750 words (excluding references).
The introduction should include a brief background with the statement of the research question and any hypotheses.
Your methods section should include a description of how the data was collected. Also include a brief written indication of how you plan to analyse the data using Excel. No analysis or graphs are required for Part A of the report but you should outline your plans clearly.
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