Therapy dogs on campus: Experiment example, assignment, or discussion

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If you are looking to freshen up your examples of experiments, here’s a pretty readable one from an open access journal.

Pendry, P., Carr, A. M., Vandagriff, J. L., & Gee, N. R. (2021). Incorporating human–animal interaction into academic stress management programs: Effects on typical and at-risk college students’ executive function. AERA Open.

Here is a summary.

Petting therapy dogs can help college students cope with stress. (2021). The Optimist Daily. Retrieved May 28, 2021, from

While you can use this as your own lecture example, if you want to make this an assignment or a discussion, here are some questions. Use whatever best matches your coverage of experiments.

Ask students to read both the summary and the original research article, then answer these questions.

What is the independent variable? What are the levels of the independent variable?

What is the dependent variable? How many different times was the dependent variable measured?

Were participants randomly assigned to conditions? Why is random assignment important?

In the research article, the authors identify three limitations to the study. What are they? Which of the three do you believe is the biggest limitation? Why?

Identify at least two more pieces of evidence you would like to have before recommending that your college or university spend money on therapy dogs.

About the Author
Sue Frantz has taught psychology since 1992. She has served on several APA boards and committees, and was proud to serve the members of the Society for the Teaching of Psychology as their 2018 president. In 2013, she was the inaugural recipient of the APA award for Excellence in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning at a Two-Year College or Campus. She received in 2016 the highest award for the teaching of psychology--the Charles L. Brewer Distinguished Teaching of Psychology Award. She presents nationally and internationally on the topics of educational technology and the pedagogy of psychology. She is co-author with Doug Bernstein and Steve Chew of Teaching Psychology: A Step-by-Step Guide, 3rd ed. and is co-author with Charles Stangor on Introduction to Psychology, 4.0.