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.

Year I

How do we study human behaviour?An introduction to psychology and research methods.  Primary focus on experimentsFive weeks: August – end of September
The nature of groups - conformity and cultureThe 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 behaviourTwo weeks: December
MemoryA 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 SolvingOne theory of thinking and decision making; cognitive biasesTwo weeks: March - April
IA & Cognitive extensionThe Digital world - and Internal AssessmentSix weeks: April - May

Year II
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 designThe theory behind the methods: credibility, transference, generalizability and practicing paper 3.Two weeks: January
Social responsibility (HL)Helping behaviour; strategies for promoting helping behaviourThree weeks: January/February
Mock examsLast week in February
Personal relationships (SL/HL)Nature of personal relationships - formation, communication and why they fall apart. Evolutionary theory and pheromones; neurotransmittersFour 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.

All materials on this website are for the exclusive use of teachers and students at subscribing schools for the period of their subscription. Any unauthorised copying or posting of materials on other websites is an infringement of our copyright and could result in your account being blocked and legal action being taken against you.

Comments 2

Steve Powers 20 February 2018 - 07:21

Do you have a more granular list of how you get thought the topics in year one? Memory looks like a blend of Bio and Cog which is really desirable. Just how do you do it on a topic by topic basis do you do it.

John Crane 20 February 2018 - 09:53

Dear Steve

If you look under the menu for each approach, you will find something called Unit Planning: Biological, etc. Under that you will find a general unit plan and as many lesson plans as I have done so far. I am actually running the lesson plans to make sure that they are "doable" and interesting to students. Currently all of the memory lesson plans are completed - and I am now moving on to the biology of memory. I hope to have all of them up by the end of next week.