Curriculum: An integrated approach
Many people discuss either teaching in a "sequential" manner or in a "thematic" manner. I take the middle road with my own students - an approach that I call an integrated approach.
This approach keeps the integrity of the "core" and the "options" so that students are clear on assessment goals - but it also tries to link all content in a unit together. It also postpones some of the learning objectives until the options. Finally, it uses a menu approach for the options so that students can get a greater exposure to the diverse nature of psychology as a field of study.
The following is my own course plan. Following the plan is an explanation of benefits and disadvantages.
Sample integrated plan
The following plan is for a two year course in which both SL and HL are in the same class.
|How do we study human behaviour?||An introduction to psychology and research methods. Primary focus on experiments||Five weeks: August – end of September|
|The nature of groups - conformity and culture||The sociocultural approach: social identity, social learning, stereotyping and culture. Introduction to SAQ and ERQ assessment rubrics. Research methods (HL) - observations.||Nine weeks: October - November|
|Globalization and behaviour (HL)||The effects of globalization on behaviour||Two weeks: December|
|Memory||A look at both cognitive and biological aspects of memory. Content includes schema theory, memory models, the effect of emotion on memory, the reliability of memory, localization of function.||Ten weeks: January – March|
|Problem Solving||One theory of thinking and decision making; cognitive biases||Two weeks: March - April|
|IA & Cognitive extension||The Digital world - and Internal Assessment||Six weeks: April - May|
|The nature of stress (HL / SL)||The biological, cognitive and sociocultural aspects of stress; stress hormones; issues of prevalence. HL: Interviews. Final IA due.||Five weeks: August – end of September|
|Diagnosis in abnormal psychology (HL)||What is normality? Factors influencing diagnosis.||Three weeks: October|
|Etiology of depression (HL/SL)||Etiology and prevalence of depression. Biological, cognitive and sociocultural explanations. Genetics and neurotransmission.||Three weeks: November|
|Treatments of disorders (HL/SL)||Drug treatments and psychological treatments for depression.||Three weeks: December.|
|Qualitative research design||The theory behind the methods: credibility, transference, generalizability and practicing paper 3.||Two weeks: January|
|Social responsibility (HL)||Helping behaviour; strategies for promoting helping behaviour||Three weeks: January/February|
|Mock exams||Last week in February|
|Personal relationships (SL/HL)||Nature of personal relationships - formation, communication and why they fall apart. Evolutionary theory and pheromones; neurotransmitters||Four weeks: March|
Evaluation of an integrative approach
Integration of content to reduce the number of studies required
SL gets time off in shorter blocks to prevent disconnecting from concepts and critical thinking strategies.
Choosing a breadth of content from the options while avoiding ambiguities or content-heavy components
IA follows the cognitive approach and allows the summer to complete the final draft.
Requires a bit more planning to make sure that all learning objectives are addressed.
Students may have difficulty understanding which questions they can answer on the exam - and distinguishing between the demands of Paper 1 and Paper 2.