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Advice for teachers -

​Unit 2 - Area of Study 1: What influences a person’s perception of the world?​​

Outcome 1​

Compare the sensations and perceptions of vision and taste, and analyse factors that may lead to the occurrence of perceptual distortions.​

Examples of learning activities

  • undertake an eye dissection, examining the main structures and components of the eye
  • participate in activities that illustrate phenomena in the visual perception system, for example locating the blind spot, producing a negative after-image
  • undertake activities from ‘Neuroscience for Kids’ on the University of Washington website.​that illustrate phenomena in the visual perception system
  • undertake the Ishihara test for colour blindness and explain how these tests relate to the sensation and perception of visual stimuli
  • use a graphic organiser of choice to illustrate the processes of sensation and perception of visual information
  • discuss Cristina Marrero’s quote: ‘The Scientific Method is a wonderful tool as long as you don’t care which way the outcome turns; however, this process fails the second one’s perception interferes with the interpretation of data. This is why I don’t take anything in life as an absolute…even if someone can “prove” it “scientifically”.’
  • use a ray box to demonstrate the concept of accommodation
  • use a pen to demonstrate the concept of convergence: focus on the tip of the pen and move the pen closer to the nose; notice the change in muscular tension in the eye as the pen moves closer to the nose; an observer can record what happens to the eyes as the experimenter tries to keep the pen tip in focus as the pen moves toward their eye
  • participate in activities that involve focusing on ‘magic eye’ artworks
  • investigate artworks involving visual illusion, for example Escher’s tessellations
  • consider how monocular depth cues are used to create the perception of depth and the appearance of three dimensions in a chosen artwork
  • participate in activities that involve using 3D glasses
  • take photographs of symbols from the everyday world (for example, at work, on the way home from school, during weekend activities); in groups, present the symbols and describe how Gestalt principles are used to create meaningful perception of the images
  • conduct a practical activity based on the Stroop effect
  • participate in activities that demonstrate inattentional blindness/change blindness
  • undertake an adapted version of the ‘Investigating Eyesight’ lesson plan from the Surfing Scientist
  • analyse ambiguous figures to understand the effect of psychological and social factors on visual perception
  • comment on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s quote from The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes that: ‘You see but you do not observe’ in terms of visual perception, attention and distortion of perception
  • research journal articles relating to taste, for example Plassmann et al. (2007) Marketing actions can modulate neural representations of experience pleasantness to develop an information campaign that informs others of the influence of marketing as a psychological factor on the perception of taste
  • devise a model to test an explanation of why people who have a blocked nose cannot taste food
  • investigate whether the way that individuals perceive ‘sweetness’ on the tongue varies over time
  • complete a flow chart identifying the key scientific components relating to taste; see journal articles, for example McClure et al. (2004) ‘Neural correlates of behavioural preference for culturally familiar drinks’ 
  • Example icon for advice for teachers
    create an online blog that reflects on practical activities relating to taste.
  • ​undertake an adapted version of the taste illusion lesson plan from the Surfing Scientist​ 
  • design and undertake investigations relating to taste receptors for sweet, sour, salty, bitter and savoury
  • investigate the evidence supporting a sixth taste receptor, that of ‘fat’
  • compare fMRI images of people with synaesthesia to people without synaesthesia to understand differences in brain activity of people with synaesthesia
  • undertake experiments that examine the influence of factors such as colour, temperature, colour intensity, sight and olfaction on the perception of taste sensations including sweet, sour, salty, bitter and savoury
  • design and conduct an investigation that examines psychological factors such as the effect of labelling and/or price and/or package design on the perceived pleasantness of particular foods
  • analyse the scientific concepts and techniques used in a media article that looks at factors that influence the sensation and perception of taste, for example articles from including:

    or use one of the articles from as stimulus for developing a practical investigation to investigate taste perception

  • ​comment on Robert M. Pirsig’s quot​e from Zen and the art of Motorcycle Maintenance, 1974, that ‘For every fact there is an infinity of hypotheses’
  • design an investigation to explore how butterflies find each other by smell; explain how the ‘transmitter’ strength and the ‘receiver’ sensitivity of butterflies could be determined ​
Example icon for advice for teachers 

Detailed example

Reflective blog: w​hat influences a person’s sensation 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 progr​am 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 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 stu​dy.