Symposia



SYMPOSIUM ONE


Chair: Paul Sander


1.1


Psychology as an empirical science: An introduction to research methods for GCSE/GCE students



Dr George Varvatsoulias


Acorn Independent College


Research methods form an integral part of GCSE/GCE curricula on
psychology. Examining boards dedicate extensive sections in their
syllabuses about what students need to know when doing research with human participants, as well as why and how empirical research is an important tool for psychology. In this presentation, there will be suggested ways through which the subject of research methods for psychology could be delivered to our students. My way of approach is both theoretical and practical. Students are encouraged to regard research methods as a topic that is as much useful as entertaining. Useful, because we are able to observe, and hypothesise ideas about human behaviour; entertaining, because students can ‘play around’ with topics of everyday interest and significance. My objective with this presentation is also to argue that research methods can help us teachers understand the empirical implications of psychological theory in studying human behaviour.


1.2


A-level psychology teachers, their views about teaching A-level psychology and their beliefs about psychology as a science.


Martin Rowley and Liz Dalgarno


Keele University


Psychology teachers in schools and colleges in England (N=109) completed a questionnaire asking them about: i) their academic background and psychology teaching experience; ii) their views about A-level psychology and; iii) their beliefs about the nature of psychology as a science. Out of 20 teachers who were not qualified to degree level in psychology, significantly more (19 out of 70) were teaching in school sixth forms: c2 (1) = 10.099, p = .001. Class sizes were higher in colleges than schools and higher for AS-level classes than for A2. However, fall in class size over the two years was significantly greater for schools than for colleges: F (1,86) = 7.436, p = .008, h2 = .08. Teachers tended to agree that A-level psychology provides students with a good grounding for studying the subject at university but there was less agreement that students wishing to study psychology at university should be required to hold an A-level qualification in the subject. Those teaching in schools were more likely than college teachers to say that A-level psychology content should be aligned with what is taught at university (t [105] = 2.611, p = .010). When asked how the A-level course could be improved the most frequent responses talked about the need to engage students more in practical work, for teaching to become less examination-driven and for more in-depth coverage of fewer topics. Most teachers (89%) agreed that psychology is a science but although they rated psychology as more scientific than Economics, Sociology and Criminology (all ps < .001) it was rated less scientific than Chemistry, Physics, Biology and Geology (all ps < .001). Furthermore, more college teachers (6/37) said psychology is not a science than school teachers (2/70): c2 (1) = 6.245, p = .020. Overall, these findings highlight differences in the experiences and views of A-level psychology teachers in schools and colleges and raise questions about the impact this might have upon the expectations of students who go on to study psychology at undergraduate level.


1.3


How can we help students structure their notes in Psychology? Research on the usefulness of topic guides



Viv Louizos & John Graves


Esher College


What is the most effective way for 6th form students to take notes in a subject like Psychology which they will not have encountered before, and where they may find the new concepts somewhat daunting, the subject content overwhelming, and the textbooks somewhat dense and too detailed? Last academic year, we undertook a piece of action research to examine the utility and effectiveness of structured workbooks in improving student learning, offered as a kind of ‘navigational aid’ for recording,
organising and comprehending the essential subject matter that students need to master in order to succeed in Psychology ‘A’ level. Given the range of approaches and preferences exhibited by the students, this represented a significant challenge.

1.4

A psychology teacher’s perspective on the first year of teaching


George Bannister


Manchester Metropolitan University


The research looks at the stresses and delights of being an NQT in a large successful college psychology dept. The research findings have implications for those mentors/Heads of departments in schools and colleges who employ an NQT


SYMPOSIUM TWO

Chair: Patrick Hylton


2.1


The American approach to teaching Psychology


Kirsty Bingham

PGCE Manchester Metropolitan University


This presentation will be based on information gathered during an
educational enrichment trip to New York to observe psychology being taught in America and see how/if it differs from the English approach to teaching Psychology. Specification units, learning activities and assessment requirements will be discussed.

2.2

Perceived prevalence, determinants and preventive strategies for violence-related behaviours among South African high school children


H.A. Akinsola and N.J. Ramakuela


University of Venda, South Africa


The trend in violent acts in South African schools since independence has shown a steady rise and to date, the situation continues to get worse. The litany of violent crimes in the schools in recent past alone is a sign that the situation is not abating. For example, in the past months, many students and other individuals have either been seriously injured or murdered by students. The study seeks to determine the teachers’ perceived prevalence, determinants and preventive strategies for interpersonal violent behavior in secondary schools within Vhembe District. The study uses a quantitative cross-sectional design. All the teachers in the ten randomly selected schools were eligible to participate in the study. The instrument of data collection was a questionnaire and the data was analyzed descriptively using the SPSS. The study showed that the causes of violent behavior in the schools included in the study are multi-faceted and therefore the strategies to address the problem must also operate at variety of levels.

2.3

Dissertation Plagiarism: A Comparison between Religious and
Non-Religious APA-Accredited Institutions


Dora Pine


La Sierra University, California


Plagiarism has been an area of growing concern in academia for a number of years. Certainly, students who commit plagiarism may be influenced by any number of variables, both conscious as well as unconscious ones. However, one possible contributing factor is the failure of academic institutions over the years to provide constructive feedback on major papers when errors do occur; that is, there is a real possibility that a breakdown in quality control measures occur and can occur throughout a student’s entire academic career. As a result, it was hypothesized that academic institutions may fail in their endeavors to provide adequate feedback regarding citing other authors’ work even at the highest level of education possible—the doctoral level. In a pilot study by this author, a plagiarism rate of 100% was found in 57 dissertations in one unidentified state. In this study, the author used a nationwide sample targeting only American Psychological Association (APA) accredited universities. Again, a plagiarism rate of 100% was found in the 65 dissertations examined. The most frequently occurring word lift was in the ten-word or more category, which represented 80% of the dissertations examined. Two of the highest word lifts were 150 and 93 words. In 48% of the cases, almost half of the dissertations, dissertation authors produced word lifts of 15 words or more. As a result, it was confirmed that adequate quality controls were not in place with the dissertations in the doctoral programs examined in this study. This is certainly disheartening news for academia and indicates
the need for academic institutions to increase their efforts to not only teach students how to appropriately cite authors throughout their educational careers (high school, undergraduate, and graduate schools),but also to monitor and mentor the process with appropriate quality controls as professionally as possible.




2.4



Summary: An international perspective on teaching psychology



Patrick Hylton

University of Lincoln

This session will deal with the issues raised during the other
presentations in the symposium and explore common themes and issues in the teaching of psychology in different cultures.