Adolescent Psychology

Adolescent Psychology


If you complete Topic 3, you should be able to

acquire knowledge about a specific topic or issue related to adolescence that is of interest to you.
complete a literature review.
analyze and synthesize information about your chosen topic.
write a research paper.

You are required to submit a research paper of 10-15 pages (2500-3750 words), excluding the title page and References list. The paper should be double-spaced and written in APA style (6th ed.). You must choose from the four topic themes detailed below. The treatment of your topic must reflect the purpose of the course; that is, your paper must address the psychological ramifications of the developmental changes that occur throughout adolescence and emerging adulthood.

Contact Your Tutor

You are advised to discuss your choice of topic with your tutor before proceeding. Your tutor can help you refine your topic, recommend resources for your research, and provide assistance with any problems you may encounter in the various stages of your work. For example, you may need help in staying focused on the main topic, organizing your theme, narrowing/broadening the scope of research, or selecting a thesis.

Identifying Your Topic

After you have identified your area of interest, you might need to do some reading before deciding on the actual topic. As a general rule, while survey texts such as Arnett’s provide good starting places for research, they do not provide sufficient detail to be acceptable sources for a research paper. For your research you must use 6-10 sources. Of these, 6-8 should be primary source materials. Primary sources are original research articles that have been published in peer-reviewed scientific journals. At least two of these primary sources must have been published in the past two years. In addition, you may use secondary sources—books or articles written by someone with appropriate academic credentials that criticize a piece of original research or compare several pieces of research on a single issue. These types of source materials should be supplemental to those describing original research. All of your sources should have been published within the past 5-10 years. Websites should only be used if they are from electronically published journals. Wikipedia, newspapers, or popular magazines are NOT acceptable sources.

Topics should relate to one of the following themes reviewed in the course:

social problems and adolescent delinquency
adolescent cognitive development
adolescent family relationships
the role of culture in adolescent development

A scholarly paper always consists of three major segments: the introduction, the body, and the conclusion. Begin writing by making an outline, to sketch out the parts of your paper. The outline demonstrates that your arguments are logical and that they follow from the introductory section (which defines the issue) and lead to your conclusion. The outline should also indicate any future research needs or practical applications that you have identified.


The introduction to your paper addresses the following questions in a scholarly manner:

What do you intend to do?
What issue(s) will you discuss, and from what point of view?
Be specific, mentioning not only the theme of your paper but also any unique aspects of that theme that you plan to address.

Why is it worth doing?
What is the importance of this issue?
How does this issue fit into a developmental framework?
How will you go about it?
What approach to your topic will you take?
Here, you explain your strategy; for example, your strategy may be to examine a particular theory or body of research, to compare several theories, or to consider the relevance of some particular theory or body of research to everyday reality.

What will be the limitations of your research and your discussion?
The length of your paper will most likely limit the extent of your work.

The introduction should define what you will and will not cover. Be sure to note any obvious relevant variables that you will have to omit.

You must acknowledge your sources in a scholarly manner throughout your paper, using APA style. The introduction of the paper is worth 15% of the grade.


In the body of your paper you follow through on what you said you would do in the introduction. Pay attention to the clarity of interpretation and the relevance of the theories, concepts, and research findings to adolescent development. Any quoted material and any ideas attributable to someone else must be acknowledged in proper in-text citations, and listed in correct reference format at the end of the paper. This section is worth 50%.

The conclusion reviews the relevance of the topic to adolescent development. In it, you should summarize your arguments and include any suggestions about what should be done with your work or about what further research is needed. The conclusion is worth 15% of the mark.


The ideas in your paper should flow in a logical fashion; your ideas should be connected, and your paragraphs should be well constructed. Grammar, spelling, usage, and punctuation errors will be considered in the assessment. You should also ensure that you use APA style in writing the paper. Form is worth 10% of your mark.


Enclose a brief reflection with your paper (approximately 200-250 words), discussing your experience in writing it. This reflection should outline what you found interesting about your topic, the most important thing you learned from investigating this subject, and what aspect(s) of the paper represent your best work. What problems did you face, and how did you overcome them? What research strategy did you follow? In what way(s) does this topic relate to your experiences? What do you think are the implications of research findings in this area? What unexpected findings did you encounter? You could include a statement indicating to whom you are indebted or what sources suggested the topic and provided information. This section of your assignment is worth 10%.


Lester, J. D. (1999). The essential guide to writing research papers. New York: Longman.

Sterberg, R. J. (1993). The psychologist’s companion: A guide to scientific writing for students and researchers (3rd ed.). New York: Cambridge University Press.

Veit, R. (1998). Research: The student’s guide to writing research papers (2nd ed.). Boston, MA: Allyn and Bacon.

Weidenborner, S. (2001). Writing research papers: A guide to the process (6th ed.). Boston, MA: Bedford.

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