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1. Teacher SupportA Level Psychology Specification AAS Exam PreparationPractising Examination Skills Spring 2012 Version 1 2. Permission to reproduce all copyright…
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  • 1. Teacher SupportA Level Psychology Specification AAS Exam PreparationPractising Examination Skills Spring 2012 Version 1
  • 2. Permission to reproduce all copyright materials have been applied for. In some cases, efforts tocontact copyright holders have been unsuccessful and AQA will be happy to rectify any omissionsof acknowledgements in future documents if required.
  • 3. Contents PageSelecting material for the specification 5Selecting Day Care research 7Selecting material relevant to answering a question 9Group exercise: What to teach: Psychological approaches to abnormality 11Selecting material and writing concisely 12Developing answers which are accurate and reasonably detailed 14Analysing stem questions: application skills 16Recognising an effective explanation 19Creating an effective explanation 20Commentary/ evaluation skills 21Research methods activities 25 3
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  • 5. Selecting material for the specification• Textbooks contain a wealth of material. How do students know what they need to learn for the examination?• To get an overview of what is/ is not required students could take a section of the specification and produce an A3 poster focusing on the terms in the specification.• An example relating to Biological Psychology- Stress is shown on the next page.• This not only identifies what is required but with the use of colour, helps students to visualise the various parts of the specification from which questions can be asked.• Once the initial diagram has been created it can be further refined to specify detail. Here is an example of a section from attachment which has been elaborated: Attachment Effects of Failure to form disruption of attachment Institutional care attachment (privation) Robertsons- PDD Hodges & Tizard Hodges & Tizard model and case Case studies e.g. Rutter, Romanian studies Genie Orphans Bowlby, 44 juvenile thieves Evaluation of Evaluation of Evaluation of the research the research the research• This activity could be carried out as a class revision activity resulting in posters for around the classroom to remind students of the structure and requirements of the specification.• Based on the posters created, students could create exam questions which they think are possible. 5
  • 6. Pituitary adrenal Sympathomedullary system The immune system pathway SIT Body’s response to Stress-related illness stress Life changesPsychologicalmethods Stress Management Daily hassles Stress Daily hassles SStress Biological methods Hardiness Workplace stress Personality factors Drug therapy Effects of Type A Effects of Type B control workload 6
  • 7. Selecting Day Care researchSpecification: The impact of different forms of day care on children’s social development,including the effects on aggression and peer relations.There is lots of research in this area. Some of it has contradictory findings.The two studies below are both relevant to aggression and peer relations.The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) • Study was carried out in America • It was a longitudinal study aimed at investigating many aspects of child development. • Over 1000 children from ethnically and economically families and 10 different locations continue to be involved. • The children were assessed at regular intervals on their ability to get along with children and adults and follow social rules. Information about the number of hours in childcare was obtained every 3 month. • When the children were studied aged 5 the data showed that the more time a child spent in day care of any kind or quality, the more adults rated them as assertive, disobedient and aggressive. The problem was greater where the quality of care was poor. • Children in full time day care were close to three times more likely to show behaviour problems than those cared for by their mothers at home. • Behaviour problems included: frequent arguing, temper tantrums, lying, hitting, screaming a lot and destroying things belonging to others. This suggests day care has negative effects on children. They are more aggressive, and have poorer peer relations as shown by frequent arguing etc. The effect has continued through into primary school years. Shea (1981): pre-school, nursery children in Australia: • 3-4 year old children were assessed for their social skills during their 10 weeks attending a nursery. • One group attended 5 days per week. One group attended 3 days a week and one group attended 2 days per week • All groups showed an increase in social skills, e.g. less aggression and more interaction with others. • The group that attended 5 days per week improved faster in social skills over the ten week observation period. This suggests day care has positive effects on children. Children become less aggressive and have better peer relations, as shown by greater interaction. The answer on the next page illustrates a good answer outlining two studies and containing thoughtful evaluation. 7
  • 8. Outline and evaluate research into the effects of day care on social development (e.g.aggression, peer relations).Shea carried out research on 3-4 year old children starting nursery. The study lasted for 10weeks. One group attended for 5 days a week, other groups attended for 3 or 2 days perweek. Children in all groups showed an increase in social skills, e.g. less aggression andmore interaction with others. The group that attended 5 days per week improved morequickly.This research suggests that going to nursery at age 3 can have a positive effect on children.They were less aggressive, and had better peer relations as shown by more interactions withothers. However, this is a fairly small scale study and the finding cannot be generalised toother age groups or other types of day care. Other research has shown less positive findings.The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) study is beingcarried out in America. It is a longitudinal study investigating many aspects of childdevelopment. Over 1000 children from ethnically and economically diverse families and 10different locations continue to be involved. The children and their parents have beenassessed at regular intervals. When the children were studied aged 5, the data showed thatthe more time a child spent in day care of any kind or quality, the more adults rated them asassertive, disobedient and aggressive. Children in full time day care were close to three timesmore likely to show behaviour problems than those cared for by their mothers at home.Behaviour problems included frequent arguing, temper tantrums, lying, hitting, screaming alot and destroying things belonging to others.This suggests day care can have negative effects on children’s social development. They aremore aggressive, and have poorer peer relations as shown by frequent arguing etc. However,the aggression shown by children was well within the normal range.There are lots of reasons why it is hard to be sure about how day care affects socialdevelopment. There are lots of variables which cannot be controlled for in research in thisarea. For example, children start day care at different ages, they spend different amounts oftime in day care and the quality of the care they receive may vary. It may be that childrenunder one year old are more likely to be affected negatively, especially if they spend a longtime in day care.Another important factor to consider is what happens to children when they are not in daycare. Children from disadvantaged backgrounds may benefit most at day care in terms ofhaving a routine, consistent care and a stimulating environment. 8
  • 9. Selecting material relevant to answering a questionIt is important that students think about the focus of exam questions. Selection of relevant material isan important skill.Here is a summary of the study carried out by Shea (1981) looking at changes in social distance andplay behaviour in the early weeks of pre-school (nursery) for a group of children in Brisbane,Australia. Homework exercise for students: Read the summary of the Shea study and then answer two of the questions below the extract.Shea (1981) observed children in a pre-school environment over a 10 week period. Naturalisticobservations were made using cameras and video. Children attended the pre-school 5, 3 or 2 days aweek. He created the following categories for analysing behaviour from the filming: a) aggressive behaviour e.g. hitting, pushing b) rough and tumble play e.g. pulling another child c) distance from the nearest child e.g.1 metre from the nearest child scored 1, the greater the distance, the higher the score. d) distance from the teacher –scored in the same way as distance from other children e) frequency of close behaviour- this was scored when a child was only a metre or less from another child and facing them, as this was regarded as a basis for interaction f) Also categories of play behaviour were recorded. They related to opportunities for social interaction increasingly distant from the teacher. Category one provided closest interaction with the teacher e.g. holding the teacher’s hand, category two involved interaction e.g. going on a climbing frame whilst category 3, e.g. chasing, involved least interaction with the teacher.Children were observed every morning during their outside play period. Each group, 5 day, 3 day and2 day children played at different times. Observations took place over a ten week period from thechildren starting preschool. Observations were for one hour, they only took place when at least 19children were present and occasionally did not occur when it rained.The recordings and analysis showed there were increases in all measures of social behaviour (i.e.categories above) except for aggressive behaviour. Children became less dependent on the teacherand played further from the teacher. The increase in distance from nearest child, although not large,was unexpected. This may have been due to children moving more freely around the pre-schoolgrounds as days went by. Shea reported that age and sex effects were slight. Overall there was arelationship between the amount of time spent in pre-school and the various measures of socialbehaviour. The more time spent at pre-school the greater the peer interaction that developed.Children who had attended pre-school for five days a week showed a greater increase in socialbehaviour with other children than those who had attended two days a week. All the children,regardless of how often they attended pre-school showed a similar decrease in aggressivebehaviour. 9
  • 10. Homework: Write answers for two of the questions below, using material from the Shea study summary. It is important to select the material appropriate to the question you have chosen. Do not write down which questions you are answering, just write two answers. • Outline a study of the effects of day care on peer relations (4 marks) • Outline a study of the effects of day care on aggression (4 marks) • Outline the findings of research into the effects of day care on peer relations (4 marks) • Outline the findings of research into the effects of day care on aggression (4 marks) • Outline what research has shown about the effects of day care on peer relations (4 marks) • Outline what research has shown about the effects of day care on aggression (4 marks)N.B. In the exam answer booklet, 8 lines (plus 4 extra space lines) would be allocated for the answer.Students should try to answer in the space allocated. The failure to select can result in over-long, lesscoherent answers. Follow up activity: a) Pass round the answers in class and see whether other students can identify which questions have been attempted. Students who have failed to focus their answer should discover this from other students’ comments. b) Discuss the difference between outlining research, outlining findings of research and outlining what research has shown. 10
  • 11. Group exercise: What to teach: Psychological approaches to abnormality • List the key features of the psychodynamic approach to abnormality. • Discuss and note the level of detail you teach/expect your students to know. • For each element identify how it links to the psychodynamic explanation of abnormality. • Select from the listing the features of the theory that are most relevant to the psychodynamic explanation of abnormality and what you think could reasonably be explained in 6/7 minutes (the AO1 of a 12 marks essay). • N.B. Is it necessary for the students to know all the detail of the development of id, ego and super ego, or, is it more important for them to appreciate that abnormal behaviour is a symptom of unconscious conflict between id, ego and superego? Key features of the psychodynamic approach to abnormality 11
  • 12. Selecting material and writing conciselySome students write too much AO1 at the expense of AO2. Here is an modified account of themethod of Yuille and Cutshall’s (1986) Canadian study (A Case of Eye Witness Memory of aCrime) based on an event in which witnesses observed a shooting incident where a thief was killedand a shop owner, who had been robbed, was seriously wounded. This study is relevant to thespecification section anxiety and EWT. Task for students: • Read the account below of the method used by Yuille and Cutshall. • Discuss the procedure with your teacher to ensure you understand what was done. (N.B. it contains a useful example of a content analysis procedure) • Highlight the key aspects of the method used by the researchers. • Write a summary of this method in no more than 150 words.MethodThe police interviewed 21 witnesses of the shooting incident, 13 agreed to a research interview withpsychologists 4-5 months later. The police had obtained from witnesses their accounts of theincident. The witness had first been asked to describe the incident in his/her own words. Then thepolice officers asked a series of questions to expand some of the information. The method of gaininginformation was the same across all the policemen involved and was observed by the researchers.13 of the 21 witnesses agreed to a research interview 4-5 months later. These interviews lasted from45-90 minutes. Each interview was recorded on tape and transcribed. The research interviewfollowed the police procedure. Witnesses were asked to say, in their own words, what happened.This was followed by specific questions aimed at clarifying information and at eliciting details. The 13witnesses ranged from 15-32 years with a mean age of 23.5 years.In the research interview, witnesses were also asked about the degree of stress they hadexperienced at the time of the shooting. Witnesses were asked to rate their stress on a 7- point scalewith 1 representing perfectly calm and 7 representing extreme anxiety or stress. Also witnesses were 12
  • 13. asked about their emotional state before the incident and any negative effects they suffered after theincident, such as sleeplessness or nightmares.Content analysis was used as a scoring procedure. Witnesses’ statements were divided into singleunits of information. Action details were the verb and adverb information e.g. the thief ran out of theshop (one unit of information).Descriptive details of people or objects were noun and adjective wordsor phrases e.g. He wore a yellow (1) sweater (2) (two units of description) The number of action anddescriptive details were tallied. Each detail was scored as correct, incorrect or unclassifiable (couldnot be verified from police evidence gathering). Each witness statement was divided into threecomponents; person description, object description and action details. Each detail was allocated apoint. Points were totalled for person description, object description and action detail separately forboth the police and research interview. Each of the components of the report was evaluated in termsof the proportion of the details that were correct. The accuracy of each witness’s statement wasscored independently by three judges and the results compared. The variance of results was lessthan 2%. 13
  • 14. Developing answers which are accurate and reasonably detailedGenerally ‘less is more’. Some students get very muddled when they try to report more than 2research studies in one answer. It is better to know a couple of studies in reasonable depth than tojust mention 4 or 5 studies. AO1 description of studies is never more than 6 marks. The top band ofthe mark scheme for AO1 requires answers to be ‘accurate and reasonably detailed’. This is usuallybest achieved by focusing on a limited number of studies.Activity: Students mark the following AO1 answers. They should identify the band in which they thinkthe answer lies. They follow up the exercise by improving an answer to create an ‘accurate andreasonably detailed’ response. Read the following 3 answers and indicate the appropriate mark band for each answer:Q. Mary Ainsworth studied insecure and secure attachments in infants by using the ‘StrangeSituation’.Describe how Ainsworth studied types of attachment. Jan 2011 Q.6(a), 5 marksAns.1 Ainsworth conducted an observation in which the mother was with her child in a room when astranger enters the mother leaves. The child’s behaviour was then monitored towards the strangerand towards their mother on return.Ans.2 Mary Ainsworth study involved her travelling to Uganda and using mothers and their babies tocarry out her study. She studied secure attachment.Ans. 3 The strange situation was studied by Ainsworth. It was an observation of babies and theirmothers and a stranger coming and going.Identify the mark band appropriate to each answer. Justify your choice.AO1 knowledge and understanding5 marks Accurate and reasonably detailedSound knowledge and understanding, appropriate selection of material4-3 marks Less detailed but generally accurateRelebvant knowledge and understanding, some evidence of selection2 marks basicSome relevant knowledge and understanding, lacks detail, may be muddled1 mark Very brief/ flawedDemonstrates very little knowledge, selection largely inappropriate0 marksNo creditworthy materialN.B. Actual marks given are on the next page. 14
  • 15. Marks for the Ainsworth procedure question:Ans.1- 3 marksAns.2- 0 marksAns 3- 2 marksTask: Research this study and add some additional material to Ans.1 in order toproduce an answer which you think is ‘accurate and reasonably detailed’ (5marks). 15
  • 16. Analysing stem questions: application skillsStem questions are used in a variety of ways.The stem can: • direct students to particular material • exclude certain responses to a question. • explain something which is not on the specification so that it is reasonable for the examiner to refer to it in the question. • provide material that can/should be addressed in a candidates answer. This usually entails the candidate applying knowledge of theory, studies or methodology to answer a question based on the stem • The question may be a straight forward knowledge question but more usually assesses student’s ability to apply their knowledge and understanding. Activity Working in pairs, read question 1 below and discuss the purpose of the stem. Then read the student response and discuss its strengths and limitations. What feedback would you give this student? For each of the other examination questions below consider the purpose of the stem. Share ideas about the best advice to give students about how to approach such examination questionsActivity1 A brain scan shows that one area of the brain is more active when a person is doing a verbal task.However, when this person is doing a visual task, a different area of the brain is more active.1 (a) Explain how this could relate to the working memory model. Refer to different partsof the working memory model in your answer. (4 marks)1 (b) Give an example of an appropriate verbal task
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