Head of Department - Mr G Lambert
Curriculum Intent, Implementation and Impact in Psychology
Introduction to subject
Psychology is the study of the human mind and behaviour. This A-level course will give you an understanding of the way people think and why people behave in certain ways. It also brings with it the opportunity to raise self-awareness and develop a greater understanding of ones own behaviour and characteristics. Topics include social influence, memory, attachment, psychopathology, forensic psychology and more. We will be looking into the theories that help answer questions such as, have you ever wondered why people conform or why some people seem to obey whilst others rebel and disobey more often? Or why some people develop mental health disorders? What causes OCD? What are the elements of a successful marriage? Are there rules of attraction? Does prison actually reduce crime or make it worse?
You will learn a variety of skills including analytical thinking, improved communication, problem solving and many more. These skills will help to prepare you for an exciting future with a range of excellent career options.
This course includes a focus on scientific enquiry, so an interest in biological sciences is recommended. Overall at least 10% of the marks in assessments for Psychology will require the use of mathematical skills. These skills will be applied in the context of A-level Psychology and will be at least the standard of higher tier GCSE mathematics. The exams will also require students to be able to write highly detailed and cohesive extended essay answers.
Why is the study of Psychology important?
Students will learn…
- to understand themselves and others.
- to discuss and debate on issues that will/do concern future decisions.
- to understand and discuss philosophical and scientific debates such as ‘determinism and free will’, ‘the benefits and the problems with science’, ‘cultural and gender differences and biases’ .
- to analyse research and to read and interpret data appropriately recognising misleading evidence or that which is biased.
- to be able to use psychological and scientific language.
- to be able to apply psychological concepts to real world scenarios, issues and experiences.
- to develop their writing skills.
- the importance of critical thinking and questioning evidence and opinions.
- to understand group dynamics and the pressures that we all face in society that can impact us and others in many ways.
- to understand the impact of psychological research on society, the economy and government policy.
How does the study of Psychology develop your skills, knowledge and understanding?
Basic Psychology skills are incorporated into SOW such as reading and interpreting data, essay writing, analytical thinking and assessing research and theory.
Use of IT skills to encourage independent learning/research.
Use of data to encourage maths in psychology and the use of statistics.
All students will be expected to contribute in reading to the class, sharing and articulating their thoughts.
Lessons include reflection on self and others regarding behaviour and experiences.
Students are shown and encouraged to apply psychological concepts to real world experiences and scenarios.
Enquiry based work to search for a deeper understanding in psychological matters.
How are students assessed in Psychology?
This is a two-year, linear course. At A-level there are three exams, each account for one third (33.3%) of your A-level. The three exams last 2 hours and are worth 96 marks each.
The exams consist of multiple-choice, short answer and extended writing questions.
Paper 1 ‘Introductory topics in psychology’ - Social Influence, Memory, Attachment and Psychopathology
Paper 2 ‘Psychology in context’ - Approaches in Psychology, Biopsychology, Research Methods
Paper 3 ‘Issues and options in psychology’ - Issues and debates in Psychology, Relationships and Stress.
Assessment objectives include;
AO1; Descriptive work
AO2; Application of theory
AO3; Evaluation of theory and research
How does Psychology support learning in other areas of the curriculum?
Our topics of work support a vast range of subjects to encourage skills for future development in any area of study.
We encourage ‘SPAG’ (Spelling, punctuation and grammar) and extended writing tasks throughout our lessons to support literacy skills.
Many of our topics include science-based themes i.e. Biology, Neuro-science and Anatomy.
Throughout our schemes of work, we cover different cultures, religions and key terms that support the learning of PRE, deepening and widening the knowledge of differences and diversity and how to recognise and challenge bias and prejudice.
We use many forms of mathematical skills including reading and interpreting data, using graphs, charts, averages, mean, mode, medium, calculating ratios and percentages and at a higher-level statistical analysis in the form of Spearmans Rank, Chi Squared etc.
How can students extend and deepen their knowledge in Psychology?
Students are given many opportunities for independent research which allows them to enhance their knowledge on subjects related to the topics we cover. The students are encouraged to make use of our ever increasing library of teacher recommended psychology books that relate to the curriculum whilst pushing beyond the A-level and onto degree level knowledge and understanding of psychology.
We encourage the reading of newspapers, watching media events/documentaries and news stories to further their knowledge on subjects that interest them but ones that fit into their units of work.
Displays around the psychology rooms advertise relevant films and books that relate to topics in the curriculum.
Teachers choose and display fortnightly super curricular tasks such as podcasts and radio programs to listen to and then apply to the lessons and curriculum studied.
How does Psychology link to the world of work?
Many Psychologists work in the health and education services but graduates can be found in applied fields such as business and marketing, human resources, nursing, law, and sport.
Others may apply their skills in other industries or careers which recognise the value of knowledge and skills in this subject such as personnel and the civil service. For more information you can visit the British Psychological Society website: www.bps.org.uk
How does Psychology link to the three strands of our core values?
Learning For The Future
Outstanding Personal Achievement
Students are expected to be punctual to class. Students are always polite, considerate and respectful during lessons and in particular when contributing and listening during class discussions.
In Psychology we link to the National Curriculum which identifies ‘British Values’. Our schemes of work encourage understanding and mutual respect for cultural, gender and individual differences in people. Through understanding and educating, students develop respect of everyone no matter what background they are from and we promote tolerance for all people regardless of culture, gender and identity e.g. we discuss the validity of differences in behaviour and attitudes between collectivist and individualist cultures, gender bias and how to reduce bias.
Students take pride in their work creating a psychology folder which is well maintained and organised in a way that presents a proud and professional approach to their psychology studies.
Students take personal responsibility for their work and demonstrate independence and autonomy in their learning; reflecting on critical feedback and using their own targets to make progress and to re-test when necessary to maintain high standards and their target grades. They will independently complete super curricular tasks such as listening to scientific/psychology podcasts and radio programs to enhance and broaden their learning.
Students learn about cutting edge scientific research and theory and the implications this can have on future society and economics in the future. Students will develop a love for learning and their scientific literacy including the skills to independently research and seek information when needed in the future.
Students develop resilience and problem solving strategies, independence and efficacy all of which encourages the growth of confident and adaptable young people ready for the ever changing and unpredictable world in which they will thrive.
Students will develop confidence and ambition to always seek and pursue challenging and aspirational targets and outcomes for themselves in future education and career settings.
Students learn how to learn including cognitive psychological theory, information processing, memory improvement, revision techniques etc.
High standards are set by the teachers and adopted by the students along with high levels of academic rigour from the teachers. This is done through personal target setting which allows students to know where their strengths and weaknesses are. Progress can be made via regular assessment, reflection and adaptation. It is also promoted in psychology, that inclusion and diversity are things to celebrate, and in turn this will help our students of all backgrounds and identities to thrive and achieve for the future.
Students feel confident that they can apply their knowledge of psychological theory and concepts to a wide variety of abstract situations and scenarios beyond the curriculum including their own relationships, mental wellbeing and life decisions.
Students have the opportunity to become young psychology leaders representing the department and developing leaderships skills and mentoring younger students.
In Psychology we foster the shared language for learning in a number of ways across our curriculum. Retrieval practice is used with exam classes to recall prior learning related to the specification and enhance long term memory. It is often based on concepts and theories and can also assess student understanding and highlight areas that may require further attention. Our learning intentions are used throughout lessons to ensure all students remain on task and are able to monitor their progress regarding the required tasks needed in preparation for the exam. We use plenaries to assess the learning that has taken place; these can be based on exam questions, verbal responses, quizzes and class discussion. To further monitor the progress made in lessons, questioning for understanding is used throughout and it is a priority to ensure that each and every student will be invited to contribute during every lesson. Strategies like ‘random selection’, ‘nomination’ and ‘cold calling’, with questions bounced back to add depth and check for misconceptions where necessary.
Written feedback used with assessments and exam tasks is a strength in Psychology. During DIRT (Dedicated Improvement and Reflection Time), students have the opportunity to reflect on their progress, review feedback from the teacher, set themselves targets, and then respond to the feedback. This approach involves the teacher going through the assessment with the students who are then tasked with writing down anything that they need to improve on to ensure their success in future assessments and exams – this could be about knowledge or skill/technique. They will even be encouraged to identify their key successes and skills so that they recognise their strengths.
Finally, THRIVE skills are referred to in Psychology lessons. This makes up part of our commitment to supporting the personal development of our students. The course is demanding and we pride ourselves on maintaining high standards. Students are encouraged to work independently to supplement their classwork and are also taught that mistakes are part of learning and failure can be part of growth, this helps them to develop their resilience and to use their mistakes as a platform for progress. As a subject, Psychology provides students with the opportunity to address questions about their world and the people in it, to find out more about how and why people behave the way they do, and challenge their own assumptions about others. Our team are skilled at facilitating challenging conversations and enabling students to feel safe and included. Topics that have come up include relationships, sexuality, stereotypes, gender differences and biases and cultural differences. Taking part in these lessons develops self-awareness, empathy, understanding and compassion. Psychology students support each other and work together outside of the lessons using dedicated snapchat groups to communicate with each other, much like an online community. We also have a group of Young Psychology Leaders in year 13 who work as a team to support other students and mentor some of the year 12 students in times of need.
One of the pleasures in leading the psychology department is seeing the impact that psychology has on the students who choose to study with us. In addition to consistently achieving higher than the national average for pass rates and A*-B grades, many younger siblings of previous students opt to study psychology based on the recommendations and successes of their older siblings. Psychology is often the most popular choice at A-level for Year 11s and as a result is the largest cohort within the St Martins sixth form. Psychology is often a new subject for year 12 students and when I ask students who might hope to study psychology further at university I typically have 2-3 students in year 12 wanting to do so, by the time they reach year 13 and finish their exams we often see a dozen or more students go on to their university of choice to study psychology at degree level. Students often comment on the benefits of studying psychology being that they have learnt so much about themselves as well as others, and, that this new self-awareness has helped them with wider and more significant life choices. Students also develop their academic skills: essay writing, evaluating research and analysing data which are all transferable skills for university and careers.