On completion of this unit the student should be able to explain the roles of attention and perception, compare gustatory and visual perception and analyse factors that may lead to perceptual distortions.
To achieve this outcome the student will draw on key knowledge outlined in Area of Study 2 and relevant key science skills on pages 12 and 13 of the study design.
Detailed example 1
Reflective blog – what influences a person’s sensations and perception of taste?
This task is staged over a few weeks of class time and involves students undertaking a series of practical activities as part of the regular teaching and learning program for Unit 2 Area of Study 1.
Students create an online blog that includes a selection of relevant practical activities that enables them to compare the sensations and perceptions of taste and analyse the factors that may lead to the occurrence of perceptual distortions of taste.
For each practical activity, students may be asked to formulate hypotheses or make predictions in relation to sensation and perception. They undertake investigations relating to human taste that involve the collection and recording of data, analysis of data and the methods used to draw evidence-based conclusions based on their investigations, and identification of associated scientific theories and models.
In this example, the chosen format for communication of their scientific ideas is an online reflective blog (using a selected blogging website of choice such as Global2.vic.edu.au). The practical activities may involve the student conducting an experiment, being a participant in an experiment or acting as an observer in an experiment. The student may be involved in these activities individually, or as one student in a small group, or as a member of the whole class. The key knowledge to be addressed includes the processes involved in sensation and perception: taste as an example of human sensory systems; biological, psychological and social factors that influence gustatory perception; and the fallibility of gustatory perception systems.
At the time of undertaking each practical activity, the student should record the details of the activity in their journal / on their blog. Students could be encouraged to take digital photographs to record the data as evidence of their participation in the practical activities and upload these under the relevant blog entries.
Suggestions for practical activities that could be undertaken by students as part of this reflective learning journal / blog include:
- influence of colour intensity of different drinks on their perceived sweetness
- influence of being blind folded on correct flavour identification of different flavoured drinks
- judgment of perceived crispiness of food based on noisiness of packaging
- influence of temperature on perceived sweetness
- influence of brand labels and no labels on perceived taste preference
- changes in salt sensitivity with age
- influence of stress on ability to distinguish different flavours / tastes
- influence of the Delboeuf illusion on satiety
- influence of temperature on perceived bitterness
- influence of price on perceived taste preference
- effect of nose-holding on the perception of taste.
The student reflects upon the practical activities undertaken in terms of the overall research question. The teacher may decide whether to provide a set of guiding questions to assist student reflections or whether to allow students to make their own reflections based on a general question or related to a specific aspect of the area of study. The teacher should also determine when the reflections are to be completed, for example immediately after each practical activity, or after a series of practical activities, or in a block at the end of the area of study.
Detailed example 2
Exploring factors influencing gustatory perception towards eating insects
To explore the factors influencing gustatory perception of eating edible insects.
To develop secondary data skills through analysis of a contemporary Australian study.
To develop primary data generation and analysis skills.
Eating insects as a protein source is likely to increase in the future. These activities explore the social factors that may influence Australians’ willingness to try and incorporate insects as a food source.
Step 1: Tuning in
Brainstorm and discuss the reasons that eating insects as a protein source is likely to increase in the future. Identify and discuss students' reactions to the thought of eating insects. Classify these reactions as social or psychological.
Step 2: Accessing a secondary source of information
Access a secondary source of information on Australia’s willingness towards consuming edible insects. For example, the journal article by Hopkins et al (2021)
Australians’ experience, barriers and willingness towards consuming edible insects as an emerging protein source. Note: this is an open source journal article so all sections are freely available. Note: while the article is quite long it is written in a fairly accessible manner.
Depending on the cohort, students may read the whole article or break the article into sections with different students / groups focusing on a section each. Alternatively, you may provide a summary of the article or use a media article summarising the research such as this one on the
Step 3: Interpreting and analysing the scientific investigation
Depending on the cohort, decide on the best way to analyse the secondary source of information. Some suggestions follow:
Using a graphic organiser such as a flow chart, summarise the research methodology and findings under the following headings: aim of research, study type, methodology, results, discussion, conclusion. This could be done by individual students, small groups or as a whole class.
Carry out a scavenger style challenge for individuals or small groups of students to locate information and answer questions regarding the study aim, methodology, results and findings.
Step 4: Classifying the gustatory factors
Using a graphic organiser such as a mind map or table, summarise the biological, social and psychological factors identified in the article that may influence willingness to try insects.
Note: this may present a good opportunity to connect and review topics covered in Area of Study 1 including attitudes, cognitive dissonance, use of heuristics for decision-making, conformity, and the influence of different media sources.
Step 5: Carrying out primary research to replicate the investigation
In small groups or as a class, design a method to replicate / modify / extend the research by surveying the local school community. This is a good opportunity to discuss the difference between primary and secondary research, qualitative and quantitative data, as well as the concept of reproducibility.
You may choose to use / modify the original survey questions used by Hopkins et al (2021). These are available online as a link at the end of the report in Appendix A: supplementary data. It is suggested that you remove some or all of the screening questions to ensure that sensitive information is not gathered.
Consider whether the research will be carried out using an online platform or in a paper-based format.
The class will then collate the results and process the data obtained using appropriate mathematical calculations and units (such as the mean and percentage). Then it will be organised and presented in an appropriate format such as a table.
The class findings can then be compared to the Hopkins et al (2021) research and any similarities / differences identified and discussed. This may present an opportunity to discuss errors, extraneous and confounding variables, uncertainty, reproducibility and external validity.