It’s blindingly obvious that students will learn things better if we model them first (see Rosenshine, 2012) and most of us are in the habit of modelling all sorts of things, including the sorts of thinking and writing skills that Psychology requires. However, with the recently increased emphasis on practical skills at A – Level (in Edexcel’s specification, anyway) I’ve found myself planning for lots of practical work and it occurred to me that I’ve never modelled the whole process of a practical investigation for my students. Bits of it, yes, but not the whole thing. On reflection, that strikes me as a bit of an oversight. Here is an attempt to put that right. The aims are twofold: (1) to show, all in one, the steps involved in carrying out a practical investigation so that students have an overview of what they will need to do and how it all fits together; and (2) model good research practices and set appropriate expectations about ethical conduct during research. It is based around a practical investigation that can be done in 45-60 minutes depending on the size of the group. It’s a correlational study of the relationship between D2:D4 digit ratio and aggression. There’s a lesson plan, a slideshow, a PBAQ-SF questionnaire for measuring aggression an Excel spreadsheet for analysing the results and a sheet for students to record their observations during the demo. I’ve also written an example report, which is pitched for students studying the Edexcel specification (users of other specifications YMMV).
Rosenshine, B. (2012). Principles of instruction: research-based strategies that all teachers should know. American Educator, Spring 2012.
Here’s a lesson on the 47,XYY karyotype (XYY syndrome) using the jigsaw format. It starts with a factual learning check and some slides to support an explanation of three different explanations of the association between XYY and offending. The jigsaw element is oriented towards using research into 47,XYY as a way of discussing various issues and debates in psychology. These are based on some of those specified by Edexcel (reductionism, socially sensitive research, development of knowledge over time and nature/nurture) but I imagine they’re fairly broadly applicable. There’s a slideshow, a Socrative true/false quiz on XYY and a set of jigsaw materials on XYY for four groups.
The first addresses the characteristics of the defendant. There is an analysis task (based on an Edexcel sample question) you can use to structure a group discussion on influences on jury decisions, explanations of those influences and the evidence that relates to them. This is followed by a consideration of the weaknesses of mock-jury research and an activity on research design to help integrate RMS knowledge and understanding with the topic of criminological psychology. Invite students to design studies and summarise them on this form, then stick them on a visualiser/photograph/scan and project them for a group critique. There is a slideshow to structure the lesson.
The second lesson focuses on pretrial publicity. It is also RMS-focused and structured around a content analysis of two newspaper articles about the Joanna Yeates case, one from the Daily Mail and one from The Guardian. The slideshow gives a structure for the lesson.
Here are two lessons on interviewing witnesses (cognitive interview) and suspects (ethical interview). Each lesson assumes you have set advance reading from whichever textbook or other source you are using. Lesson one starts with students making comparisons between standard police interviews and cognitive interviews using this visible thinking routine for comparing. The main application activity is to write a letter to a chief constable persuading her to adopt cognitive interviewing in her force. I’ve found that some students get all up tight about writing an essay because it smells like assessment and they do a better job if they write a letter instead, even though the same skills are required. The slideshow gives a structure for the lesson.