Quantitative research

The quantitative research methods part of the IB Psychology course is primarily assessed in the internal assessment; however, students can also be asked questions about research methods on Papers 1 and 2.

It is important that research methods are integrated throughout your course in order to create a habit of mind in our students to think about how and why research is carried out. You will see under the heading "Course Design" that there is a unit plan for an introduction to research which I do to start the course. Giving the students the framework for discussing experimental research early in the course gives them a means to discuss studies and evaluate them.

For quantitative research it is essential that students understand the nature of experimental studies. In addition, especially with regard to genetics research, it is important for them to understand the nature of correlational research.  Here are some other quantitative methods that you may teach to students, but they are not required by the IB curriculum:

  • Quasi-experiments
  • Natural experiments
  • Surveys (numerically based)

The activities in this section have the goal of getting students to think about quantitative research.  This will hopefully lay the foundation to prepare them for their internal assessments.

Learning objectives for experimental research

  1. Define the aim of a study.

  2. State a research and null hypothesis of a study. higher level icon

  3. State the independent and dependent variable in an experiment.

  4. State operational definitions of variables.

  5. Describe potential confounding variables.

  6. Explain the controls needed for an experiment - for example, maturation, contamination, placebo effect.

  7. Explain effects of participant and researcher expectations and bias - for example, demand characteristics, expectancy effect, observer bias.

  8. Explain the use of single- and double‑blind techniques.

  9. Discuss the strengths and limitations of experimental designs - for example, independent samples, repeated measures, matched pairs, single participant.

Sampling procedures

  1. Discuss sampling techniques appropriate to quantitative research - for example, random, opportunity, systematic, stratified.

  2. Discuss how participants are allocated to experimental and control groups - for example, matched pairs, random allocation.

  3. Explain the concept of representative sampling.

Evaluation of research

  1. Discuss the concepts of internal and external validity.

  2. Discuss conditions that increase a study’s reliability.

  3. Apply descriptive statistics to analyze data.

  4. Distinguish between levels of measurement - that is: nominal, ordinal, interval, and ratio data.

  5. Apply appropriate graphing techniques to represent data.

  6. Apply an appropriately chosen statistical test in order to determine the level of significance of data.higher level icon

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