Psychology

“Anxiety in a man's heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad. “                                                                                  Proverbs 12:25

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”                                                                                                                                                          Romans 12:2

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?”            J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Powerful knowledge

Students will need to develop a clear understanding of the separate approaches within Psychology.

    • Students will need to apply their knowledge to different scenarios, areas and contexts such as institutionalisation and eyewitness testimony.
  • Students will need to demonstrate their ability to describe and evaluate key theories through undertaking examination questions and timed assessments.
  • Students throughout the course will need the ability to assess and give feedback on their own work as well as the work of others, to enable them to model and scaffold higher level answers.
  • Students will need to employ metacognition skills and techniques to retain information such as key terms and points.
  • Students will gain an awareness of different emotional and social issues when studying Psychology, thus empowering them to comprehend and uphold the catholic values our school employs.

Curriculum intent

Psychology gives students the opportunity to explore and investigate a subject that at GCSE they haven’t had the opportunity to undertake. What interests them the most about this subject is gaining the ability to study people: how they think, act, react, and interact. As Psychologists scientifically study all kinds of behaviour and the thoughts, feelings, and motivations of that behaviour.  So by studying this subject in Year 12 and Year 13 it allows students to examine questions like: 

  • How do people act on a first date?
  • Why do people forget things?
  • How can we help people to overcome depression or phobias? Why are some people more obedient than others? By collecting information about what people do, think, and feel, throughout the AQA curriculum it is our aim try to answer questions about human behaviour. Because Psychology is an interdisciplinary subject that draws on the Sciences and the Humanities by applying scientific methods and theories to understand human behaviour. It relates to everyday life by addressing topics such as learning, memory and group behaviour but in order to understand Psychology, we use curriculum links to aspects of Biology, Ethics, Philosophy and other curriculum areas. All this combined makes Psychology a most fascinating subject to study, but also gives our students a wide range of skills. As they are expected to describe and evaluate studies, present their viewpoints to the class through role play and debates, work in teams as well as individually to construct essays and gain a thorough knowledge of the 11 units, which at the end of two years are cumulates in three two hour exams. This means that students must have automaticity in their learning; this is established through everyday use of whiteboards and Assessment For Learning (AFL) testing students so that key terms, names, evaluation points become commonplace and embedded in their memory. Whether this is through repetition, or creating deeper processing of our learning (Craik and Lockhart, 1972). Frequently we see student’s shallow process information (reading the word/letters) rather than creating a meaningful storage. This is why making plans in lessons, creating mind maps and flashcards and using revision guides as well as constant assessment through homework and end of topic examinations is crucial for students, all of which is enhanced through the use of metacognition in lessons. So that students can progress and ensure the transition of information from Year 12 to Year 13 and thus remains in their long term memory (see curriculum plan).

KS5

At KS5 we undertake A level AQA Psychology. It offers students a variety of different learning capabilities, which enable students to have real life application. Such as Eyewitness Testimony and the impact this has on the police and justice system, as well as exploring common disorders such as depression and OCD and how these disorders can be explained.

By using AQA it enables students to progress seamlessly if they so choose onto BPS approved University Psychology courses. As many of the units taught at this level have a basis within the AQA specification. This specification also allows the teacher in Year 13 to have a choice over the topics taught. E.g. in Paper 3 Section B- students can be taught Relationships, Gender or Cognition and Development. Enabling the teacher to change the course to suit the learner’s needs. Currently eight of the eleven topics are mandatory, but many of the Year 12 content is developed in the Year 13 curriculum. Within Paper 3 the decision has been made to teach Relationships, Schizophrenia and Addiction. Schizophrenia and Addiction directly relates to the Psychopathology and Approaches topics as well as the Biopsychology one taught at the beginning of year 13. Relationships is a topic students thoroughly enjoy and are most excited to study within Year 13, as it the one topic they can relate and see a greater understanding of human romantic behaviour.

As you can see from the curriculum plan and the breakdown and sequence of units, it is paramount that Research Methods (RM) is taught at the beginning of Year 12. As without this student’s will not be able to evaluate the research studies or theories being used in the different topic areas. Each topic besides RM can be taught independently. The decision to teach Memory after research methods is due to the practical elements of course such as engaging in the memory experiments, and role plays in presenting a defence for a criminal investigation. Social influence is a fascinating topic and makes up another part of Paper 1. By doing this after the Cognition elements allows students to explore a different side of Psychology where we see the impact that History has had in influencing society and thus Psychology, this then is followed by Attachment which looks at the impact our parents have on our development and the factors that can affect it. These topics including aspects of RM make up the AS Paper 1. At the end of each topic area they have an end of unit test (roughly two weeks later) and homework is set every week on firefly (see curriculum plan). Next students recap of the Approaches topic before they are taught Psychopathology as both units are linked together, as students must have a detailed understanding of the Approaches to then explain how each disorder can be described and treated (this makes up AS Paper 2). Again students have end of topic tests on each unit which is then build upon, increasing students to be tested on two topic areas within the hour which will then increase to three topics in an hour and half. Tested in the end of Year 12 mocks. After mocks students study Issues and debates which enable them to recap and use all the topics studied in Year 12 as evaluation for this unit of work.

Within Year 13, ensuring progression is crucial. Students are informed at the end of Year 12 they will be tested on four units again at the end of September. Social influence, Memory Attachment and Psychopathology A2 Paper 1. At the beginning of Year 13 we recap on the Biological Approach taught in Year 12(Neurons, Endocrine System, Nervous System etc.) before we move onto the rest of the topic. Students are set Biopsychology homework over the summer which must be brought with them to every Biopsychology lesson.

Inferential statistics which is taught alongside Biopsychology make up the final parts of A2 Paper 2. Biopsychology is then assessed with an end of unit test and then all aspects of Paper 2 are assessed again in November (Approaches, Biopsychology and Research Methods). Addiction is taught next followed by Schizophrenia both draw on aspects of the Approaches and Psychopathology topics and Biopsychology as students need to know the neurological elements and behaviour explanations for these disorders. Each topic is assessed in an end of topic test. They then sit Paper 1 and Paper 2 again in Year 13 Mock week, Relationships is then taught to students drawing the end of Year 13 to a close followed by Issues and Debates which then acts as a perfect revision for all the units studied. Students then sit a Paper 3 mock testing their knowledge on Issues and Debates, Relationships Schizophrenia and Addiction.

As you can see linear assessment is essential for students to retain the information from each year, which is supported by homework, exam questions, presentations, role plays, end of topic tests as well as end of paper tests, which enhance students oral, literacy, reading and especially numerical skills through RM.

Curriculum enrichment

Each student at the beginning of the year are presented with a new purple folder, access to the online login details for the Year 12 and Year 13 textbooks, as well as a library pass system with the revision guides and in class textbook which can be taken home and used.

All lessons and materials are on the curriculum area and wider reading, revision techniques, structure of the course and materials are also on firefly, which is where all homework’s and assessments are set for students.

All students are also supported through booklets for each topic area, rather than writing out pointlessly the materials on the board, this information is readily given to students with activities to extend their learning and understanding. This then provides opportunities in class for the more able to complete extension pieces of writing, exam questions, scenarios etc. this is also supported through questioning within the classroom, differentiation of materials and through the feedback sheets which accompany essays, homework’s and assessments.

Intervention is given in class through one to one feedback, through the use of red pen and the development of students’ knowledge and understanding. There is also excellent communications with parents, with A1s being sent home for students reaching and achieving their target grade, parents are also informed when students fall below their target grade. With phone calls and meetings with parents held if students regularly underperform.

YLLs are made aware of student’s success and under achievement, so they can monitor and be updated on their progress throughout the year.

Reports on examinations are also created for the end of Year 12 exams, and all exams in Year 13 (September, November, February and April) which student’s areas that went well within the exam and areas that they need to focus and improve upon. After school sessions are also held every Tuesday (week 1- year 12 and week 2- year 13) with specific sessions on revision for end of topic exams. Also revision days on statistics and research methods are held with year 13, as this is an area that they often struggle with.

Cross curricular integration

Due to Psychology only being taught at A level, it is important for students to be able to see the links to other subjects that they have been taught at GCSE. Psychology encompasses a lot of different subjects such as Geography and Maths, that when immersed with Psychology allows them to develop this knowledge further. 

Maths Edexcel- content linked to Psychology:

  • Recognise and use expressions in decimal and standard form.
  • Use ratios, fractions and percentages.
  • Estimate results.
  • Use an appropriate number of significant figures.
  • Find arithmetic means.
  • Construct and interpret frequency tables and diagrams, bar charts and histograms.
  • Understand simple probability
  • Understand the principles of sampling as applied to scientific data.
  • Understand the terms mean, median and mode.
  • Use a scatter diagram to identify a correlation between two variables.
  • Use a statistical test.
  • Make order of magnitude calculations.
  • Know the characteristics of normal and skewed distributions.
  • Select an appropriate statistical test.
  • Use statistical tables to determine significance
  • Understand measures of dispersion, including standard deviation and range.
  • Understand the differences between qualitative and quantitative data.
  • Understand the difference between primary and secondary data.
  • Understand and use the symbols: =, <, <<, >>,>, ∝, ~.
  • Substitute numerical values into algebraic equations using appropriate units for physical quantities.
  • Solve simple algebraic equations.
  • Translate information between graphical, numerical and algebraic forms.
  • Plot two variables from experimental or other data.

    The majority of these areas are taught between Years 7-11 with statistical/inferential tests being taught at A level. As you can see there is a big link to the mathematical requirements in Year 1 and 2 Psychology content. 

Biology GCSE- exam board AQA content linked to Psychology:

  • Mathematical elements/Graphs
  • Drug treatments – taught in year 9
  • Genetics/-Genotype/Phenotype- taught in Year 8 and Year 11
  • Neurons- taught in Year 7
  • Evolution- taught in year 11
  • Central Nervous system/Peripheral Nervous System /Endocrine system- taught in Year 11
  • Structure and Function of neurons/ Neurotransmitters Synaptic transmission- taught in year 11

Biology A level AQA content linked to Psychology:

  • Central Nervous system/Peripheral Nervous System /Endocrine system- taught in Year 13
  • Structure and Function of neurons/ Neurotransmitters Synaptic transmission- taught in year 13

All of these aspects are covered within Biopsychology in Year 12 and in Year 13, as well as students needing to understand the role genetics and neurochemistry play in the explanations of disorders such as OCD, Schizophrenia, Addiction and evolutionary explanations of parental investment in the topic of Relationships.

Geography A level AQA content linked to Psychology:

  • Fieldwork investigations: - taught in Year 12/13
    • be based on a research question or issue defined and developed by the student individually to address aims, questions and/or hypotheses relating to any part of the specification content
    • involve research of relevant literature sources and an understanding of the theoretical or comparative context for a research question/hypothesis
    • incorporate the observation and recording of field data and/or evidence from field investigations that is of good quality and relevant to the topic under investigation
    • involve justification of the practical approaches adopted in the field including frequency/timing of observation, sampling and data collection approaches
    • Require evaluation and reflection on the investigation including showing an understanding of the ethical dimensions of field research.
    •  Qualitative and quantitative skills: taught in Year 12/13
    • use and understanding of a mixture of methodological approaches, including interviews
    • understanding of the opportunities and limitations of qualitative techniques such as coding and sampling, and appreciation of how they actively create particular geographical representations
    • Understanding of the ethical and socio-political implications of collecting, studying and representing geographical data about human communities.
    • descriptive statistics of central tendency and dispersion
    • descriptive measures of difference and association, inferential statistics and the foundations of relational statistics
    • measurement, measurement errors, and sampling
    • Countries and Locations

Links to aspects of research methods and psychological investigations is a requirement for all students within Psychology, as you can clearly see from the specification requirements in the document named breakdown and sequence of units which has the specification requirements for each unit. The RM unit directly relates to geography and the material taught at Year 12 and Year 13. Also students need to be aware of different countries, locations and child rearing practices within these, which directly relates to the Attachment topic.

Media studies- AQA A level- content linked to Psychology taught at Year 12/13

  • Critical Perspectives
    • The mainstream media’s role and influence in the construction of identities
    • Audiences and identities, including audience uses and responses, self-representation, role playing,

Students in Psychology have to explore Virtual relationships in social media and the role of self-disclosure and identify formation and how this can lead to Parasocial relationships and celebrity addictions, which is taught in our Relationships year in 13.

Business Studies- A level Edexcel content linked to Psychology

  • Theme 1: Motivation theory- Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs- taught in year 12 (half way through the year)

Students within the Approaches topic must explore the Humanistic Perspective and Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs when applied to mental health, and what is deemed mentally healthy and how an individual can achieve self-actualisation, as the lower levels such as physiological; and safety needs must be satisfied before reach psychological needs such as self-esteem.

PE AQA A level- taught in Year 12/13 content linked to Psychology

    • Sport Psychology
    • Bandura’s Model of self-efficacy
    • The physiological effects of drugs on the performer and their performance.
    • Neuromuscular system
    • Nervous system. Sympathetic and parasympathetic
    • Principles and theories of learning and performance
    • Behaviourism Operant conditioning (Skinner).
    • Social learning. Observational learning (Bandura).
  • Memory models
  •  Input.
  •  Senses.
  •  Receptors.
  • Selective attention.
  • Decision making.
  • Short and long term memory
  • Baddeley and Hitch, working memory model memory system.
  • Functions and characteristics of components of working memory model.
  •  Output.
  • Feedback.

Students are taught similar aspects in both Year 12 and Year 13 between PE and Psychology. Above shows the direct links to each topic area. Learning and Memory models are taught simultaneously with PE in Year 12, aspects of Bandura, Nervous system and effects of drugs enhance students’ knowledge when entering year 13 PE as this material is already taught in Year 12. 

History Edexcel GCSE/A level content linked to Psychology

  • Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Holocaust – taught in Year 9
  • Suffragettes- taught in Year 8
  • Mia Lai Massacre, Holocaust, Martin Luther King- taught in Year 13

Knowing events in History, and how individuals/groups of people have risen to power, is crucial for the Social Influence topic. AS this directly looks at the reason for the holocaust, is this due to situational variables of personal ones, what reasons/alibis did people give. How did people resist the pressure to conform or obey and how individuals like Rosa Parks can cause minority social change? This is taught within the first term and links directly to concepts explore within GCSE History. 

 Theology A level OCR content linked to Psychology

  • The nature or attributes of God- free will
  • Conscience
    • Freud’s psychological approach. Details of this approach, including:
    • psychosexual development (early childhood awareness of libido)
    • id (instinctive impulses that seek satisfaction in pleasure)
    • ego (mediates between the id and the demands of social interaction)
    • super-ego (contradicts the id and working on internalised ideals from parents and society tries to make the ego behave morally)
    • Evolution

Psychology within the approaches topic teaches students about the Psychodynamic perspective and Freud and his view on mental health and the development of disorders such as OCD being due to an imbalance within the personality and childhood experiences. Within Issues and debates in Year 12 and Year 13 we talk about freewill vs determinism and moral arguments directly linking to Theology and the debates which arise in this topic areas as well as evolution and nature vs nurture.

Transition learning opportunities

Transition opportunities are limited, in previous years assemblies have been delivered to Year 11 students on Psychology and what it entails before Information evening in January. This allowed students to gain a grasp and an overview before speaking individually to students. This is something I feel should be addressed and reintroduced. Information evening provides a good basis for students to find out about psychology speaking to Year 12 students and giving a realistic viewpoint of the course. Psychology teachers are always present at A level results days and GCSE results day to talk and sign up students in August top start September with the entry requirements.