Unit 4 - Area of Study 1: How do levels of consciousness affect mental processes and behaviour?
Explain consciousness as a continuum, compare theories about the purpose and nature of sleep, and elaborate on the effects of sleep disruption on a person’s functioning.
Examples of learning activities
Investigation of sleep patterns across the lifespan
To compare patterns in the total amount of sleep in a 24-hour cycle across various age groups.
Students investigate the relationship between age and the total hours slept by individuals of varying ages. The task requires students to access a small number of participants of different ages (for example an infant, a child, an adolescent, an adult and an elderly person). The students will be required to collect data, use evidence and transfer their findings to explain this relationship.
Teachers should identify and inform students of the relevant key science skills embedded in the task.
The task follows class work on the importance of sleep, circadian and ultradian rhythms, patterns of sleep and theories of its purpose. A review of self-reports and the use of quantitative data may also be required.
- Each class member will survey at least one participant in each of the age groups.
- The students should approach each potential participant and say ‘I am a VCE student doing a survey on sleep patterns as a learning activity; would you mind if I ask you a few short questions? This survey is entirely anonymous’. Note: if the participant is an infant or a child, the students will need to ask the participant’s parent this question.
- If the participant indicates a willingness to take part, ask ‘Could you tell me which of these age groups applies to you?’ 0-2, 3-12, 13-18, 21-64, 65+. Note: if the participant is an infant or a child, the students will need to ask the participant’s parent this question.
- The student should then record the age group of the participant and then ask: ‘For each of these questions, could you think back and give the average figure for the past week?’
- On a normal day, how many hours did you sleep?
- On average, how many times did you awaken during each night?
- If you did awaken in the night, on average for how long did you remain awake?
|Age group ||Hours of sleep reported ||Number of times awoken ||Time spent awake |
|Infants (0–2) |
|Elderly (65+)|| |
Class members ‘pool’ their results and process the quantitative data obtained, using appropriate mathematical calculations and units (for example, descriptive statistics such as a mean). They will organise, present and interpret the data using an appropriate table or graph.
Discussion questions and report writing in logbook
A series of four to six graded questions that address the data and the implications of the relationship between the total amount of sleep and patterns of sleep across the lifespan should be set for students to answer in their logbook, for example:
Identify: What are the dependent and independent variables in your investigation?
Explain: According to your data, how does the pattern of sleep change across the lifespan?
Evaluate: Discuss any potential extraneous variables and how they have affected the data on sleep gathered? Suggest future improvements to address these if the investigation was to be repeated.
Propose: What further data could be gathered to investigate how patterns of sleep change across the lifespan? Outline a method for a further testing.
- It is important that students understand how to collate the data and perform any calculations. Some students may not, and teachers should lead students when collating the data and demonstrate some calculations, for example the mean values for the first age group (infants) in the table.
- Further investigation gathering qualitative data about the quality of sleep, dysomnias and parasomnias could also be conducted.