Posted by Sam Dudek
Last week NZQA requested feedback for the review of Psychology's UE status. I was asked by colleagues in my school to summarise my thoughts around the question NZQA was considering in the review.
Will the proposed new subject (and standards) equip students with the skills and knowledge that would
-contribute substantially to a student's general ability to undertake a programme of degree-level study;
- provide a foundation fro study in a specific degree-level subject or discipline.
I started out by writing a list of the skills students had developed in the standards we covered and from there I was able to then identify how they prepared my students to undertake a programme of degree level study and then specifically a psychology degree level programme.
Below are my thoughts that will shape my submission Blue for the general degree level programme and purple for the psychology specific degree level programme
91872 Analyse the interaction between psychological approaches.
This standard teaches students the skills to not only interpret and understand complex theories and approaches. But, to apply that theory or approach to human behaviour to help; understand, explain and predict human behaviour. Students are able to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of theories and approaches in reference to validity and reliability. Students delve a step further to identify how opposing theories and approaches can interact with each other and the impact this interaction has on society.
In reference to a psychology degree level program, this standard provides students with understanding of the key psychological approaches that will be used in the degree. Students are provided with a good firm historical context for psychology that leads them to current theory and research. Student are not only able to describe and apply the well used approaches but understand how they interact. It is the interaction between approaches that reflects current psychological practice.
91873 Analyse the significance of a key piece of research and its impact on society.
Students through this standard become familiar with journal article formats and are taught skills to interpret and comprehend the articles. Students use the information they have collected from journal articles to explain the impact the theory, research or approach has on society. In reference to the journal article, students critique the significance of theory and research including validity and reliability.
Students will be familiar with how to use psychology journal articles and will have a good foundation for the key terms used in journals. Students are able to move past taking the journals at face value and instead can critique them in term of significance. This will allow students to carefully select appropriate published work to use in their degree.
91874 Conduct independent psychological research with consultation
Students develop the skills to conduct independent research in a scientific manner. Our students write up their research in journal format and use APA referencing for sources they have used as background information. When writing the journal students learn to write all sections including; abstract, introduction, methodology, results, discussion and references. The students have to source the background information independently using a variety of sources such as websites, journal articles and textbooks, they also use this information to develop suitable hypotheses. Students have the knowledge to appropriately select the correct methodology to suit the investigation and are able to justify their choices. Once they have conducted their investigations all students analyse their results and interpret the descriptive and inferential statistics, to draw appropriate conclusions. Finally, student evaluate their investigation, critique the validity and reliability, reflect on the impact their results have on society and they identify the next steps in their research.
Students very early on in a psychology degree level program have to conduct investigations. Studying psychology at level 3 allows students to have the skills to independently conduct research and appropriately select the correct research methodology. At Tawa College we work out the statistics by hand and students learn how to select the correct statistical analysis, the correct probability level and learn how to interpret the results.This provides students with the ability to not only analyse their own results thoroughly but also to interpret the results provided in journal articles used in degree level psychology. Student will be able to write their results in the journal style that is required at degree level and use the compulsory APA referencing system.
91875 Analyse how theories are applied within a field of psychological practice.
Students develop the ability to take theory beyond the pages of text and apply them to working fields within society. Students are able to critique the effectiveness of the theory when in use in a specific field and finally students reflect and critique the impact the theory had on society.
Students can identify the different fields in psychology and are able to select and apply theory to practice in a specific field. Students are able to critique how psychological theory impacts different fields of practice. In a psychology degree level programme students choose their program according to the field they are interested in and potentially the career pathway they wish to follow. Having knowledge and understanding of fields will allow students to have a more informed choice over their pathway through the degree programme.
91876 Analyse a significant issue in psychological practice.
For this assessment students all write formal essays based on a statement that outlines an issue. Students need to decide whether they agree or disagree with the statement and provide a critique of the issue using knowledge they have gathered throughout the year. Students need to use evidence to support their critique and suggest ways that psychology could overcome the issue in the future. Issues such as culture bias, gender bias, validity and reliability, methodological issues etc, can be applied to a range of other university programmes.
Students understand a variety of issues in psychology and are able to identify the issues in research and theory understanding the impact on psychology. For degree level psychology this will allow student to critique theory and research according to the issues they raise and allow them to successfully identify theory and research that are more appropriate.
In the last week of term two Victoria University, School of Psychology opened it doors to 3 colleges from the Wellington region. The focus of the day was the science of psychology, students were introduced to a range of scientific research methods and current research being conducted at the university. Gina Grimshaw and her team organised a full day of mini lectures and laboratory tours, giving students insight into university life for a psychology student.
Students came away from the day buzzing with excitement and ideas for their futures. An awesome day was had by all.
As we walk into the F ward students are greeted with display cases that includes a mind blowing range of old medical equipment and remains of the previous buildings. Around the walls are photos and pictures of the original building, its staff and treatments the asylum used. Students are particularly impressed with the display of coma/insulin treatments and the range of old ECT machines and the very keen eyed students spot an old lobotomy needle in one of the counters. Our guides shared their knowledge and experience of the life on the F ward, the typical patients and the lay out of the room we were standing standing in.
As we moved from the ward into the corridor our students feel the change in the mood when they are led into the confinement room, complete with scratches on the wall. In the room is an original bed with original linen and mattress for students to touch; along the walls are the clothing the patients wore along with a straight jacket. Our students are instantaneously transported back in time, which helps them get a glimpse of life in the asylum.
We moved through the corridor and into the different rooms including a kitchen, observation room, store room and even a hairdressers. Students are met with all sorts of delights such as old doctor ledgers, mobile baths, nursery equipments and an eye opening telephone operator switchboard. Our students begin to understand the range of patients the original asylum housed and the lifestyle of both patients and staff, which challenges their pre existing idea of a dark dungeon-like place. Students are surprised to see that the asylum included sports teams, hairdressers, communal food halls and are blown away with the size of the original asylum.
Finally our tour guides offer a question and answer session, they are regaled with amazing stories of what it was like to live and work in the asylum. One of our guides talks about her time working as a psychiatric nurse in F ward and the patients she treated; with this real life experience she helps student to unpack comparisons with modern health care and treatments.
We visited the Hospital museum as part of our level 3 course, we focus our Key Study on Rosenhan’s ‘Being insane in sane places”. F ward provides an anchor to the study, allowing students to reflect on the methodological issues and impact the study has on diagnosis and treatments.
Opening hours are Tuesday 1pm-4pm but Friends of Porirua Hospital Incl Museum are more than happy to open to school groups.
Set up in 2013 by our previous chair of the NZAPT is a Facebook group that promotes collaboration around Psychology in New Zealand secondary schools. Typical post on the page are specific questions around teaching and assessments in secondary school psychology, requests for moderation help and up to date psychological resources. Members of the page are; teachers who offer psychology as a subject, who teach one psychology standard in another subject or teachers who just love the subject, this page is not exclusive to NZAPT members.
If you would like a member type in Psychology NZ secondary schools into Facebook and ask to join the group.
A teacher's perspective
At the beginning of the year the main question driving our planning was this: “What will our year 13’s want to study?” They always talk about how they don’t get enough sleep. We know that teenager’s circadian rhythms are a little funky. And we know that AS 3.1 requires students to conduct a piece of psychological research. I can’t entirely remember how the idea came up, we must have had too much coffee, but we thought “what about a study about sleep deprivation?” When they heard the words “sleepover”, “midnight feast” and “Friday off school”, the students were in. All 100 of them.
On a Thursday early in Term 1, a hundred and three year 13 Psychology students were instructed to wake up at 7am. They spent psychology class finalising their experiment packs. Under the umbrella of “What is the psychological impact of 24 hours without sleep?” students chose their own dependent variables: IQ scores, heart rate, reaction speed, happiness scores, social skills, and skin conductance. We met at the Gym at 9pm that evening for a briefing session - rules, procedures, and so on. We were not leaving school grounds until 7am Friday morning. There would be snacks and games provided. Pizza at 12.30am. Dodgeball at 3am. And most importantly, at three hourly intervals (9pm, 12am, 3am and 6am) group leaders must come and collect an assessment pack, administer the tests to their group, and return the data collection sheets to the office where Sam and I were furiously entering the results into excel. To skip to the results, it turns out that after 24 hours without sleep teenagers report significantly decreased happiness and sociability levels. IQ scores, heart rate and skin conductance were not significantly affected while reaction speed got slightly faster. At 7am the next morning our blurry-eyed students signed out, were picked up by parents, and taken home to recover. Over the next two weeks we taught students how to write a complete lab report on their study.
Like any school event, there was a plethora of safety measures to consider:
- Informed consent was gained from parents
- Students were not allowed to drive home on Friday morning
- Students were not expected at school on Friday
- Designated sleeping rooms were provided for those who wanted to withdraw
- Out of bounds areas were clearly marked with “caution” tape
- Two extra teachers helped us so we could rotate supervision. They happened to be Year 13 deans which helped provide some authority.
- Dietary and medical needs were recorded
- Group leaders provided cell phone numbers and the teachers were on constant roaming supervision
- Classrooms had designated activities (e.g. table tennis; giant jenga) including 2 “chill out rooms”
It was a hugely exhausting night, but I highly doubt the students involved will ever forget the research skills gained. What’s an extraneous variable? “Oh, like when some people decided to drink coffee!” What does it mean to have the Right to Withdraw? “Like how we had designated sleeping rooms if we decided to give up.” - Rebecca Roche , Teacher of Psychology, Tawa College
A student's perspective
Certain psychology experiments will go down in history. The Stanford Prison Experiment of 1971. The Yale Milgram experiments of the 1960's. And this year, the Tawa College 2017 Sleep Deprivation Study.
How will 24 hours of sleep deprivation affect 103 teenagers full of pizza, sugar and coffee? Will they live up to their claims that 24 hours without sleep is a piece of cake? Or will everything fall apart at 3am?
The Tawa College 2017 Sleep Deprivation Study took place on Thursday the 2nd of March, 103 Year 13 Psychology students stayed awake for 24 hours for the sake of psychological science. The purpose of the study was to further scientific knowledge of the effects of sleep deprivation on senior high school students.
There was a past study done in 1965 on Randy Gardner who set the world record for staying awake at 11 days. As teenagers often report feeling sleep deprived, we wanted to find out if science has anything to say about the situation. From this curiosity we crafted an experiment to see if just ONE night sleep deprivation would have any effect on students happiness, IQ, reaction speed, and social skills.
On the day of the experiment, we met in the gym at 9pm and then stayed awake all night until 7am the next day, as the school staff were arriving at school our participants, exhausted and pyjama'd year 13 students were sprawled on the floor of B block hallway.
I would like to thank all the students who took part and also the teachers who gave up their time to let us run this experiment. - Shout out to Mrs Lorenzen who volunteered to help and stayed up all night doing data entry Also Mr Parazda who ran 2am basketball and 4am dodgeball. Finally shout out to Miss Roche's who did a little mid night pizza run to pick up 40 pizzas.
Sadly there was a wide range of confounding variables in our experiment which would need to be changed in order to make it a valid experiment. While the experiment may have failed with results, in my opinion the experiment was a success. We had lots of fun and laughter until about 3am when everyone got very grumpy and the validity of the experiments dropped drastically as no one wanted to complete them anymore but it was still hilarious. I highly recommend psychology as a subject and future years should attempt this study again. - Jack Harriss Level 3 Psychology student
Students at Nayland College, Nelson anlaysed a partner through their approach to decorating a cake. Carefully observing the techniques used, students evaluated their partner's personality using the Myers-Briggs and Big 5 dimensions. Students who were careful and considered, took care and placed the decorations very deliberately may be more likely to be high on the sensing dimension than the intuition dimension. Keen to display your work to peers and show off your talents? Maybe you're an extrovert! Worked hard on your cake and applied lots of time and effort - maybe you'd score highly on the conscientious dimension of a Big 5 test. (All pretty silly fun of course but it got us all talking about the various ways of assessing personality, their likely accuracy. And then we got to eat the cakes!)