Curriculum: SL in one year

It should be said right at the start that the IB does not encourage that psychology SL be done in one year. There is a clear benefit to students having the full two years in order to develop their critical thinking skills and master the conceptual understandings of the course.

That being said, however, there is a striking number of schools in which SL is taught in only one year.

The most important decision to be made by the SL teacher who is required to teach the course in one year is which option to teach. The choice of the option will then dictate how the rest of the course is taught. The three approaches should be taught making the most of research that comes from the option.

Sample scheme of work

The following is a course outline based on the teaching of the abnormal psychology unit.

August - September:  Introduction to research methods (2 weeks)

September - October: Introduction to abnormal psychology - what is normality and what are the factors that influence diagnosis? (3 weeks) 

October - November: The biological approach.  Begin by looking at biological factors that may influence behaviour and how they are studied: brain imaging technology and how genetics are studied.  Then focus on one of the disorders.  For example, use depression to study the role of neurotransmitters (serotonin), brain plasticity (hippocampus), hormones (cortisol) and genetics. 5 weeks

November - December: The cognitive approach. Take a break from abnormal and focus on memory and decision making.  Then look at the cognitive explanations of depression 6 weeks.

January: The internal assessment. (3 weeks) The experiments should focus on a cognitive psychology topic - taking advantage of the unit that has just been completed. This should be done in class, and there should be clear deadlines with the focus on completing a rough draft in 3 weeks. A final draft after teacher comments should be due before the March deadline for submission to the IB.

February: The sociocultural level of analysis -  focus on culture, social cognitive theory and social identity theory.  Also on stereotyping.  Finish the course by looking at the role of social factors in depression.

March:  Treatments for depression

April:  Revision

Limitations:  Pheromones does not fit into any of the options except for human relationships  But besides that, I think that the abnormal unit is the most sensical to use as a way to reinforce the approaches to psychology.

Although I have used depression here, in order to go deeper, you may want to have students look at all five disorders through independent inquiry.

This is just one potential model. The way in which the curriculum was designed was such that the Paper I content should set a foundation for the teaching of the options. That being the case, any one of the options has material that could be taught in order to teach the approaches.

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Comments 2

James Goffred 22 July 2018 - 23:29

Can you elaborate as to why you suggest abnormal before the core and perhaps elaborate a little on what you think should be covered in abnormal without first going through the core? I feel like the textbooks talk a lot about core subjects in the abnormal chapter and think the kids may be a bit lost without it. Are you suggesting looking at what is considered normal and then a description of the disorders with the DSM, but not looking at causes and solutions until March?

John Crane 23 July 2018 - 06:14

Dear James

The course you see is just a suggestion for a one-year course. Personally, I do not teach it as I teach the course over two years. For those who are teaching the course over a single year, the rationale is that you would introduce some key concepts from abnormal psychology (definition and diagnosis) and then teach the core by using abnormal psychology examples. So, when teaching biology, you would teach the biology of dysfunction. And by doing this, teach each of the topics for the unit.