Section A was quite challenging and provided a mix of questions that distinguished the less able from the more able. Questions which required an application of knowledge pose a problem for many students who focus on content rather than understanding and application. 3 General comment
Common errors in interpretation Describe eg-: Question 2 (disadvantage of exp design) Stated a disadvantage , but failed to express how it is a disadvantage eg ethical concerns Ethical concerns can be a disadvantage as participants may be exposed to some degree of harm when randomly assigned to groups. 6
Common errors in interpretation Identify eg-: Question 9(a) , 9(b) (Classical Conditioning) Recognised the correct stimulus or response, but then added incorrect information eg CS = Satay chicken or food made with chicken Explain eg: Question 9 (c) (Stimulus generalisation-classical cond.) Providing a description of stimulus generalisation without giving a reason to account for how it is illustrated ie- Initial S-R link between satay chicken and nausea and then CSgeneralised to all chicken 7
Common errors in interpretation Discuss eg-: Question 11 (animals and experimental research on learning) Recognised an ethical issue, without any relevant communication about the issue to an example ie: Marttin Seligman conducted research with dogs in which they were harnessed and electric shocks administered under certain conditions. This inflicted unnecessary pain and harm, causing distress to the dogs to the point where they demonstrated learned helplessness. 8
9 Other comments
10 Other comments
11 Other comments
12 Other comments
2009 Psychology Exam Post Mortem -Section A Questions 13-23 January Summer School 2009 Zena Abiad-Tan
General Comments Section A –Part 2 provided added challenges for students. All three topics (Personality, Altered States and Healthy Minds) provided a range of questions that required different thinking skills: -discuss one difference -illustrate your answer with reference to a graph -using the information displayed in graph -describe a theory using a detailed scenario (Obama).
Common errors in interpretation Describe eg-: Question 13 (a + b) Describe one trait conception of personality and one weakness. (a) Described a trait but failed to provide 3 valid well-expressed ideas for 6 marks. (b) Described a weakness but not one that was exclusive to trait theory. e.g. relies on self-reporting (also valid for psychodynamic) 15
Common errors in interpretation Describe eg-: Question 16 Describe one ethical issue associated with using behavioural observation Again, an ethical issue that is specific in the area of observation was needed with a description of the issue- not just stated. e.g. Intrusion on privacy-person may not have given consent to be watched in this way 16
Other Comments Describe Question 15 Use a humanistic conception of personality to describe Obama’s personality. A large range of students were able to demonstrate their knowledge of the humanistic conception and for some their application skills. Less able – described a Humanistic conception only (typically Maslow) More able – described the theory and applied every point to the scenario 17
Other Comments Describe Question 20 Using the basic processes level, describe one factor that can contribute to anxiety Question required knowledge of ‘the levels’ and the risk factors of anxiety as well as the ability to identify which of the factors is a basic process. e.g. irrational thoughts or phobias acquired through operant conditioning, etc. 18
Common errors in interpretation Discuss Question 14 ‘Discuss one difference between psychodynamic and humanistic conceptions of personality’. Requires knowledge of both conceptions and the ability to extract one difference and discuss two points on each. The discussion needed to focus on the difference not a point on each theory that were unrelated. e.g. optimistic vs. pessimistic with a point on each conception. 19
Common Problems Discuss eg-: Question 18 Discuss the relationship between arousal and task performance as it relates to Freda. Illustrate your answer with reference to one time on the graph.
some students were unable to interpret the graph, did not relate arousal levels to task performance and did not refer to a particular time on the graph in their answers.
assumptions were often made about task complexity/simplicity or Freda’s stress levels.
some students implied that task complexity drives arousal levels.
Common Problems Discuss eg-: Question 19 Using information displayed in the graph, discuss one social issue in families with babies.
often identified irritability, fatigue and sleep deprivation as consequences of interrupted sleep and failed to explain the social consequences of these.
Needed to demonstrate an understanding that a social issue requires involvement of, or impact on, other people not just the individual involved.
Common Problems Explain eg-: Question 21 Using the sociocultural level of explanation, explain how anxiety influences behaviour. Students often described behaviours that could cause anxiety, rather than explaining how anxiety influences behaviour. This question required the knowledge of ‘the levels’ as well as the behaviours associated with anxiety. ‘Explaining how’ requires identifying a ‘socio-cultural’ behaviour that is caused by the anxiety and explaining how it is influenced by the anxiety e.g. Individuals that suffer from anxiety can often feel judged or stigmatised when symptoms are present. To avoid this feeling, some may withdraw from or avoid social situations. 22
Exam Marker Gain a better understanding of the marking process and how to better mark your students’ work. Understand the construct of questions and the range of appropriate answers.