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Advice for teachers -
Psychology

Sample approach to developing an assessment task

Unit 3

Area of Study 2: How do people learn and remember?

Outcome 2​​

Apply biological and psychological explanations for how new information can be learnt and stored in memory, and provide biological, psychological and social explanations of a person’s inability to remember information.

Step 1: Define the parameters of the outcome, including relevant key knowledge and key science skills, and the related assessment task options

Review the outcome for Unit 3 Area of Study 2 and identify the key knowledge on pages 25 and 26 and relevant key science skills on pages 11 and 12 of the VCE Psychology Study Design that students will be expected to develop. For some outcomes the assessment of achievement may best be structured by using more than one assessment task; teachers should exercise judgment in the determination of the number of tasks in the assessment of an outcome to balance assessment of student performance and student workload. Assessment task/s will contribute to the determination of an S or an N for the outcome.

For this outcome, at least one task from a choice of eight tasks as listed on page 27 of the VCE Psychology Study Design should be chosen. Teachers may produce an assessment template for students to complete the task.

The selected task accounts for 50 marks of the 100 marks available for School-assessed Coursework in Unit 4 and contributes 8 per cent to a student’s study score for VCE Psychology.

Step 2: Decide on the type of task and review the conditions under which the task will be conducted

A detailed description of task types for VCE Psychology may be found in suggested approaches to assessment tasks. Tasks should be completed under supervision for authentication purposes and should not exceed 50 minutes and/or 1000 words. Reading time should be built into the assessment task in addition to allocating time for the response. Teachers may produce an assessment template to assist students to complete the assessment task. Students may need to access data and information from their logbooks in order to be able to respond to the task. Prior to the task students should be advised of the timeline and the conditions under which the task will be conducted, and have an indication of the knowledge and skills that will be assessed.

Step 3: Examine the assessment advice in this handbook

Review the performance descriptors as they provide an indication of qualities and characteristics that teachers should look for in a student response.

Step 4: Design the assessment task

Consider what it will look like when students develop the identified key knowledge and key skills, then use this as a basis to develop a valid assessment task. The assessment task should allow students to demonstrate their psychological knowledge in terms of relevant concepts and skills.

One assessment task for Unit 3 Outcome 2 is the annotation of at least two practical activities from a practical logbook.

Students may work individually, in pairs or larger groups, or may collate class results related to experiments and activities that explore psychological aspects of learning and/or memory. Teachers will determine the number of practical activities to be undertaken prior to the assessment task. Students should use their own logbook throughout the investigation to record results of experiments and activities.

The assessment task requires students to produce an independent set of annotations for at least two of the practical activities undertaken; the annotations may be made at the end of each practical activity and/or as a final summative set of annotations as part of the assessment. The summative set of annotations may relate to particular activities selected by the teacher or may be selected by the student in response to the prompts. Teachers should provide a limited set of questions as prompts for both individual activity and summative annotations. Students should be provided with a description of the assessment task in terms of the number of activities for which annotations are required and when the annotations will be completed. They should be given the criteria for the assessment task and should be informed about any weighting given to their actual logbook records.

In this example there are three stages.

  • Stage 1: Students undertake practical activities related to three types of learning: classical conditioning; operant conditioning; and observational learning. They record the results of their activities in their logbooks in addition to their response to a different overview question for each activity, for example, How effective was the learning? What are the independent/dependent/confounding/extraneous variables? Which psychological principles explain the learning? Teachers collect logbooks at the end of the session to assess work progressively, to provide feedback to students and for authentication of student work.
  • Stage 2: Logbooks are returned to students by the teacher prior to the summative assessment task so that students may review the psychological concepts associated with ‘learning’.
  • Stage 3: In the next session students are provided with one to three prompts as a basis for their summative annotations. Students choose at least two activities from their logbooks on which their response is based. Prompts should apply across a number of practical activities, for example: What factors affect learning? Which type of learning requires the least/most participation from the learner? Would conclusions be affected if a larger sample size was used? Students are then given 50 minutes to complete their annotations directly into their logbooks. They may use post-it notes to identify specific sections of the activities to which they have referred.

Step 5: Determine teaching and learning activities

For Unit 3 Area of Study 2 the teacher should plan a sequence of teaching and learning activities that will enable students to develop the key knowledge and key science skills and to lead students towards achieving the desired outcomes. Prior learning and alternative conceptions held by students should be considered by teachers when developing teaching and learning activities.

Teaching and learning activities that could support students to prepare for this assessment include:

  • classical conditioning (practical activities): for example, student conditioning to salivate to a bell or Whizz Fizz;
  • classical conditioning (media/video response): for example, aversion therapy to fast food; phobia of feathers and graduated exposure as a treatment
  • operant conditioning (practical activities): effect of applause on performance
  • operant conditioning (media/video response): for example, Shaping an Australian Sheepdog; dog training school; Thorndike’s puzzle box, Skinner’s pigeon
  • observational learning (practical activities): for example, making an origami jumping frog or butterfly by watching a video, folding a fitted sheet or a T-shirt, learning a dance move
  • observational learning (media/video response): for example, Children See, Children Do YouTube.

When to assess the students

The teacher must decide the most appropriate time to set the task. This decision is the result of several considerations including:

  1. The estimated time it will take to cover the key knowledge and skills for the outcome.
  2. When assessment tasks are being conducted in other studies and the workload implications for students.

Marking the task

The marking scheme used to assess a student’s level of performance should reflect the relevant aspects of the performance descriptors and be explained to students before commencing a task.

Performance descriptors provide a guide to the levels of performance typically demonstrated within each range on the assessment task/s. The performance descriptors for each outcome identify the qualities or characteristics expected in a student response.

Authentication

Authentication issues can be minimised if students complete the assessment task under supervision and if the assessment task is new for that cohort of students. Authentication issues can also be minimised by timely collection of student logbooks and signing off on sighted work, changing the set of practical activities undertaken from year to year and changing the task type each year. ​

Unit 4

Area of Study 2: What influences mental wellbeing?

Outcome 2​​

Explain the concepts of mental health and mental illness including the influences of risk and protective factors, apply a biopsychosocial approach to explain the development and management of specific phobia, and explain the psychological basis of strategies that contribute to mental wellbeing.

Step 1: Define the parameters of the outcome, including relevant key knowledge and key science skills, and the related assessment task options

Review the outcome for Unit 4 Area of Study 2 and identify the key knowledge on page 30 and relevant key science skills on pages 11 and 12 of the VCE Psychology Study Design that students will be expected to develop. For some outcomes the assessment of achievement may best be structured by using more than one assessment task; teachers should exercise judgment in the determination of the number of tasks in the assessment of an outcome to balance assessment of student performance and student workload. Assessment task/s will contribute to the determination of an S or an N for the outcome.

The assessment task for this outcome requires students to apply a biopsychosocial approach to at least one task from a choice of seven tasks as listed on page 33 of the VCE Psychology Study Design. Teachers may produce an assessment template for students to complete the task.

The selected task/s account for 30 marks of the 90 marks available for School-assessed Coursework in Unit 4 and contribute 8 per cent to a student’s study score for VCE Psychology.

Step 2: Decide on the type of task and review the conditions under which the task will be conducted

A detailed description of task types for VCE Psychology may be found in suggested approaches to assessment tasks. Tasks should be completed under supervision for authentication purposes and should not exceed 50 minutes and/or 1000 words. Reading time should be built into the assessment task in addition to allocating time for the response. Students may need to access data and information from their logbooks in order to be able to respond to the task. Prior to the task students should be advised of the timeline, the conditions under which the task will be conducted and have an indication of the knowledge and skills that will be assessed.

Step 3: Examine the assessment advice in this handbook

Review the performance descriptors as they provide an indication of qualities and characteristics that teachers should look for in a student response.

Step 4: Design the assessment task

Consider what it will look like when students develop the identified key knowledge and key skills, then use this as a basis to develop a valid assessment task. Teachers may produce an assessment template to assist students to complete the task.

One assessment task for Unit 4 Outcome 2 is the analysis of the development of specific phobia and/or the maintenance of mental health.

Each student may be allocated a randomly selected specific phobia. Teachers may select a specific phobia from websites such as http://phobialist.com/ that students have not studied in class. Analysis of the specific phobia will involve students considering how each of the three components of a biopsychosocial approach relates to the three risk factors and one protective factor. In this example there are three stages.

Stage 1: The teacher selects a number of specific phobia examples so that each student in the class is allocated a different example. Teachers are advised to choose examples across a spread of general categories of specific phobia that can reasonably be analysed by students using a biopsychosocial approach and a 4P risk and protective factors approach (predisposing, precipitating, perpetuating, protecting factors), for example:

  • animal phobias (such as a fear of sharks, birds, fish, mice, bees)
  • situational phobias (such as a fear of failure, going in tunnels or over a bridge, driving)
  • natural environment phobias (such as a fear of thunderstorms, the sea, rocks)
  • blood-injection-injury phobias (such as a fear of having blood tests, injections, surgery)
  • other phobias (such as a fear of falling down, loud sounds, costumed characters such as clowns)

Stage 2: Students are given the criteria for this assessment task and provided with the set of key knowledge and key science skills that will apply to the task. They should understand that the task will involve them applying their knowledge and understanding to an unfamiliar task related to specific phobia and that a previously-used/adapted template for the analysis of specific phobia will be provided. Students should be informed that no other reference material will be allowed.

A sample template for the initial class analysis of an example of specific phobia follows. This may be adapted for the assessment task to include further specific prompts.​

​​​Risk and ​protective
f​​actors​​
​​​Biopsy​​chosocial approach​
​​​Biological factors​ ​Psychological factors​​ ​ ​Social factors​​
​​Predisposing​
​Precipitating
​Perpetuating​
​Protective

Stage 3: In the next session students are provided with a randomly selected example of specific phobia and an analysis template, which they should complete individually in an allocated time 40 minutes.

Step 5: Determine teaching and learning activities

For Unit 4 Area of Study 2 the teacher should plan a sequence of teaching and learning activities that will enable students to develop the key knowledge and key science skills and lead students towards achieving the desired outcomes.

Teaching and learning activities that could support students to prepare for this assessment include:

  • case studies that distinguish between anxiety and specific phobia; and
  • analysis and evaluation of an example of a specific phobia, including use of a biopsychosocial approach and the 4P factor model approach.

When to assess the students

The teacher must decide the most appropriate time to set the task. This decision is the result of several considerations including:

1. The estimated time it will take to cover the key knowledge and skills for the outcome.

2. When assessment tasks are being conducted in other studies and the workload implications for students.

Marking the task

The marking scheme used to assess a student’s level of performance should reflect the relevant aspects of the performance descriptors and be explain​ed to students before commencing a task.

Performance descriptors provide a guide to the levels of performance typically demonstrated within each range on the assessment task/s. The performance descriptors for each outcome identify the qualities or characteristics expected in a student response.

Authentication

Authentication issues can be minimised if students complete the assessment task under supervision and if the assessment task is new for that cohort of students. Authentication issues can also be minimised by changing the selected specific phobia examples used for the assessment task or the type of assessment task/s from year to year.