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  1. 1. OCR A2 Psychology Unit G543 Psychology of Education Student style answers with commentaries G543 Student style answers - Education Page 1 ©JRSilver-revised April 2014 part a) -Miranda TOP BAND 9-10 marks Comment a) What has educational psychology discovered about social roles and academic success? Riley investigated about social roles and academic success. Research highlighted that if children come to school culturally prepared and able to read print and identify letters, by the end of reception 80% should have a reading age to match their chronological age. However, other psychological research highlights the dangers about what happens if children can‟t adapt to social roles, and fall into the danger of creating sub-cultural groups. For example, Powney highlights that poverty and social disadvantage are detrimental to academic success, therefore children can be put at a disadvantage before even starting school, and may form sub- cultural groups with a negative attitude towards school. Sutherland‟s theory of differential association also explains these sub-cultural groups to some extent. Sutherland would explain that those who do not fit into the social „normality‟ of school may view each other as their „significant‟ other , and act out against school to please and gain reward from the peers they view as significant. This could provide an explanation of the laddish sub-culture that may appear at school, and sub-cultures in general. Children who arrive in school ‘culturally prepared’, for example for reading, do well from the beginning. However children from disadvantaged backgrounds may fall into and sub- cultural groups and social roles (e.g. negative attitude towards school) which hinder academic success. Insightful analysis of how Sutherland’s differential association theory might explain how ‘laddish’ sub-cultures are formed. Total words = 178 This question could have been answered either by detailed reference to a single piece of research or with a broader response. Kathryn has gone for breadth rather than depth and cites two research studies and a developmental theory to excellent effect. The answer is clearly in the top band  Uses many psychological terms ( social roles, cultural preparation, reading age, chronological age, sub-cultural groups, ‘significant other’, differential association, gaining reward )  Very good grammar and spelling  Answer shows excellent ability to explain the evidence in the context of the question.  Answer shows good elaboration and detail and is structured to build an argument Could anything be improved? Kathryn took a high risk strategy in adopting the ‘broad brush sweep’ rather than describing a single study in detail. Inevitably, she hints at some of the research results rather than providing details and does not have time to define every single one of the many psychological terms she has used. This highly individual answer made stimulating and thought-provoking reading – so the braod sweep approach was a risk worth taking for this highly able student.
  2. 2. OCR A2 Psychology Unit G543 Psychology of Education Student style answers with commentaries G543 Student style answers - Education Page 2 ©JRSilver-revised April 2014 part a) Kathryn TOP BAND 9-10 marks Comment a) Describe one piece of research into teacher expectations Rubie – Davies‟ study on teacher expectations in New Zealand found that teacher expectations varied in accordance with various ethnic groups. The Rubie-Davies study was conducted on 540 children in New Zealand of various ethnic backgrounds: White New Zealanders, Asian, Pacific Islanders and Maori. The study was conducted over a school year, with the children‟s ethnicity acting as a naturally occurring IV along with teacher expectations and reading levels acting as the DV. Despite the fact that at the start of the year all students had similar reading levels, by the end, Maori children were by far the lowest performing group. Rubie-Davies attributed this decline as due to lower expectations of the Maori group compared to the other groups. High teacher expectations of the other ethnicities had created a positive self-fulfilling prophecy, whereas low expectations of Maori children had created a negative self-fulfilling prophecy, leading to falling standards of academic achievement. Introductory sentence links clearly to the question and introduces study by Rubie -Davies Sample Method : Longitudinal research study IVs and DV Results Conclusions drawn by the researchers Note how concluding sentence refers back to question title Total words = 150 This answer is clearly in the top band  Psychological terms (naturally occurring IV, DV, reading levels, ethnicities) used correctly.  Excellent sentence construction, spelling and punctuation  Evidence is clearly relevant to question title ( signposted in first and last sentence)  Evidence is accurate and detailed ( sample size, ethnicities)  Answer is well structured and organised ( logical sequence – aim, sample, method, results, conclusions)  Evidence is explained and interpreted with understanding ( last two sentences) Could anything be improved?  Could say explicitly that method is quasi-experimental and approach longitudinal  It is unclear why teacher expectations were to be considered an IV and how measured
  3. 3. OCR A2 Psychology Unit G543 Psychology of Education Student style answers with commentaries G543 Student style answers - Education Page 3 ©JRSilver-revised April 2014 part b) – Davina Upper Band 8-11 marks b) Assess the effectiveness of research into student-student social interaction Comment Researching student-student interactions is highly important as there exists a need in society to reduce bullying. The effectiveness of research into student-student interactions must be considered if we are to implement findings from this research across the country. In the first paragraph, the student interprets ‘effectiveness of research’ as ‘practical effectiveness of interventions such as anti-bullying strategies’ - she does not develop this point yet, but that is OK.. So far so good ... A major flaw with the effectiveness of research into student-student interactions is the fact that such interactions are usually measured through self-report measures, such as questionnaires or interviews. The Kiscape Survey, for instance Researching student-student interactions is highly important as there exists a need in society to reduce bullying. The effectiveness of research into student-student interactions must be considered if we are to implement findings from this research across the country.relied on questionnaires to obtain data. Self-report measures are often problematic as they are likely to introduce demand characteristics and students may therefore provide wrong answers, which reduces the validity of the research and in turn reduces the effectiveness of the research. A student, for instance, may be embarrassed to admit that either they are the victim of bullying or in fact bully other students. The wish to make a „socially-desirable‟ response will greatly undermine the validity of the research. However, self-reports remain the only feasible way into measuring student-student interactions, as experiments would introduce even more demand characteristics and observations may prove ethically dubious. Nonetheless, even if they are the most feasible way of measuring interactions, self=reports are still low in their effectiveness. However in the second paragraph the student switches tack and now interprets ‘effectiveness of reseach’ as ‘validity of research’. There is no signpost paragraph to tell us she is now taking a different interpretation of the question and so the reader feels a bit lost. The paragraph consists of an argument that self-report measures of student- student social interaction, such as questionnaires about bullying, may have low validity, because students may make ‘socially desirable’ rather than truthful responses. The conclusion to this paragraph is that self –reports are low in ‘effectiveness’ – an attempt to tie the answer to the question. However, what is really meant is that self-reports are low in validity. The argument could have been much improved if she had commented that research studies based entirely on self- report measures are potentially low in validity, and so this means the evidence from such studies cannot entirely be trusted, so this makes these studies less ‘effective’ ( ie less useful ) in helping us tackle problems such as bullying. It is this weakness in linking the answer
  4. 4. OCR A2 Psychology Unit G543 Psychology of Education Student style answers with commentaries G543 Student style answers - Education Page 4 ©JRSilver-revised April 2014 convincingly and directly to the question which pulls this answer down from the top band into the upper band. The usefulness of research into student-student interactions does, however, make their effectiveness strong. The Kidscape Survey provided evidence of long-term effects of bullying, such as poorer relationships and more suicidal thoughts as adults. When used in conjunction with the Smith and Shu study which highlighted the effectiveness of anti- bullying strategies, the effectiveness of research into student-student social interactions is high because of its usefulness. Measuring the long-term effects of bullying can however be ineffective due to longitudinal studies offering the only real solution and the problems associated with such studies such as participant attrition decreases the effectiveness of research into student-student interactions. This paragraph reverts to interpreting ‘effectiveness’ as ‘usefulness’. The candidate cites results from the ‘Kidscape’ Survey , as ‘useful’ , since the study reveals the damaging effects that bullying has on individuals. She then claims that a study by Smith and Shu showed anti-bullying strategies to be ‘effective’ , but does not provide any examples or evidence from the study which would explain what criterion of ‘effectiveness ‘ was used by these researchers. This is a real weakness in this answer. It leaves a cloud of vagueness in the mind of the reader. This again puts the answer in the upper rather than the top mark band. Finally, the student refers to a methodological weakness – participant attrition- of longitudinal studies of the effects of bullying and claims that this weakness makes the studies ‘ineffective’. However, no evidence is provided to back this claim. It would be good to know what the level of participant drop-out in such a research study actually was, and whether this could be considered to compromise the validity of the results and hence the ‘effectiveness’ of the research study. The effectiveness of research into student-student interactions is thus mixed. Methodology used in this area of research reduces validity, whereas strong practical applications make the research an effective venture. The student makes a brave attempt to pull her argument together and link back to the question in this final paragraph. Total words = 363
  5. 5. OCR A2 Psychology Unit G543 Psychology of Education Student style answers with commentaries G543 Student style answers - Education Page 5 ©JRSilver-revised April 2014 This candidate has struggled to fit her pre-learnt knowledge on this topic to the demands of the question. . In a long middle paragraph, she then interprets ‘effectiveness of research’ as whether the research is methodologically sound. . She ‘drifts’ in her interpretation of ‘effectiveness’ as meaning ‘usefulness’ or ‘methodological soundness’ and does not always ‘signpost’ the reader when she is about to use the term in a different way. The argument is therefore weakly structured and the points made do not always relate clearly to the question. It was not wise to devote the entire second paragraph to discussing the limitations of self-report measures in investigating bullying The third paragraph is more clearly relevant but is weakened by lack of research evidence or criterion of effectiveness to support the claim that anti- bullying policies have been ‘effective’ and lack of evidence to support the methodological point about the problems of longitudinal research. One has sympathy with the struggle of this candidate, because this was a very tricky question, given that the phrase ‘assess the effectiveness of research’ is ambiguous . It might have been preferable to take just one interpretation of the question , rather than mixing in different interpretations :- One approach could be to consider how well the relevant research explains ‘student-student social interactions’ Alternatively, ‘effectiveness of research’ might be interpreted as ‘usefulness of research in improving the quality of student-student social interactions’. The three areas of research on student-student social interaction cited in the specification are:  empathy and moral development,  friendship, bullying and academic success and  anti-bullying strategies. The third of these is an example of evaluation research, in this case to try to assess the effectiveness of an educational intervention to reduce bullying. The ‘results’ of this study are a comparison of bullying levels before and after the intervention. So if you interpreted the question this way, it would be difficult not to ‘drift’ from evaluating the ‘effectiveness of research’ to evaluating the ‘effectiveness of the intervention’. A third approach to answering the question would be to evaluate the strengths and limitations of the research methodology of the relevant research studies. This might include discussion of the strengths and weaknesses of field research, which has high ecological validity, but lacks control over extraneous variables, which makes it difficult to establish the direction causation (e.g. between having good friendships at school and academic success).
  6. 6. OCR A2 Psychology Unit G543 Psychology of Education Student style answers with commentaries G543 Student style answers - Education Page 6 ©JRSilver-revised April 2014 part b) -Eric TOP BAND 12-15 marks Comment b) How useful is research into a personal approach to learning? When assessing the usefulness of research into a personal approach to learning we can consider Curry, McCarthy, Rose and Gardner‟s research into this field of psychology If a criticism is to be made of this excellent answer, it would be of this opening sentence. It would be better to open by outlining the issues or points to be discussed, rather than listing the research studies to be used in evidence in the answer. Firstly, the research is useful to a large extent as it is widely acknowledged by schools and teachers, particularly Rose‟s research into visual, auditory and kinaesthetic learners. The implications are that teachers should acknowledge these differences to enable each child to reach their full potential and it should be incorporated into current policies. This would fit with the policy that “Every Child Matters” and research only widens teachers‟ understanding. The first point is that the research is actually adopted in schools . Rose’s research on learning styles is given as an example. The answer is further developed by an explanation of the benefits of acknowledging individual differences in learning style ( enables it child to reach his/her full potential) A final comment is that the importance of treating each child as an individual has been incorporated into a UK government slogan which encapsulates an aspect of its educational policy. This paragraph enlightens and educates us and shows true depth of understanding. However, usefulness is limited due to the lack of inter- research reliability and consistency. What some psychologists call a learning „strategy‟ others call a learning „style‟.. There is so much research that it is hard to establish which is valuable to incorporate into policies and which isn‟t.. For example, should teachers focus on what types of „cognitive personality style‟ students have, as Gardner suggests, or should they focus on straightforward „cognitive style‟, as suggested by Rose? It is too complex to integrate all of these ideas into current teaching policies. The candidate now proceeds to explain that it may not be so easy to incorporate concepts and findings from educational research into policy and practice as it might at first seem. The term ‘learning style’ is used in different ways by different researchers, so which type or aspect of ‘learning style’ should educationalists apply in the classroom? Also, usefulness is further limited as it may be hard to actually establish what types of learning style students have. For example, a student may be extraverted but not understand the emotions of others, therefore where would they fit on Gardner‟s scale? Also, if one student prefers This paragraph further elaborates the difficulties. There are many aspects of learning styles and students cannot be simply pigeonholed into ‘types’.
  7. 7. OCR A2 Psychology Unit G543 Psychology of Education Student style answers with commentaries G543 Student style answers - Education Page 7 ©JRSilver-revised April 2014 auditory learning, such as lectures, but another prefers visual learning, as per Rose, what can a teacher do to meet both needs? Also, how can teachers adapt to different individual learning styles in a group context? Although research is useful to be able to understand, the usefulness in its application can be complex and therefore is limited in its ability to be applied to current policies. Excellent neat conclusion. Total words = 283 This answer shows an excellent approach to analysing the usefulness of psychological research. The answer is directly relevant to the question at all points, and shows independent analysis and understanding. It is clearly structured, setting out argument and counter-argument and draws a clear but qualified overall conclusion. All these factors place it in the top band. The answer interprets ‘usefulness’ in terms of ‘practical application’. The candidate starts by explaining how the research is used in schools , and furthermore , concepts and findings deriving from this research have been incorporated into UK government policies on education. He continues to discuss how difficult it is in practice to apply research findings in the classroom , displaying excellent understanding of the realities of applying academic research findings to educational policy.