The unseen passage: Paper 3

IB Psychology: The unseen passage: Paper 3

Paper 3, much like the "unseen passage" in English, is a bit of a surprise every year. You will get a piece of research that you have never seen before - and then you are asked to answer a series of questions about the research.The focus of the paper is research methodology - both quantitative and qualitative. The stimulus piece that you will receive on exam day will be followed by a series of questions to test your...

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Comments 7

Victoria Domone 19 January 2018 - 11:04

John, this is very useful to see how Paper 3 can be set and marked - Thank you. Please could you advise whether the stimulus material can include a study which employs quantitative methods? It is my understanding that this is possible? For example could there be a field experiment study which is described which used convenience sampling. Then in q1, students could perhaps refer to a lab experiment as an 'additional research method'. Then for the final question if for example the 'generalisation' question was selected, then students would talk more about external validity in the context of quantitative research? The stimulus exam paper for paper 3 also outlines a qualitative study. I wonder if it would be possible to see what a 'quantitative version' would look like? Are there any resources on this? Many thanks.

John Crane 19 January 2018 - 15:42

Dear Victoria,

Yes, the new exam structure may have a quantitative study. Your suggestions as to how to approach it are totally appropriate. I hope to have more samples up soon - including a quantitative sample.

Beth Wasylyk 25 April 2018 - 14:07

Hi John, Do the students have to state a method that is listed in the syllabus? Different sources and study guides have different research methods and sampling methods included.


John Crane 26 April 2018 - 12:04

Dear Beth

This is a bit difficult to answer because it sort of depends on what the research methods are. As far as I know, the accepted research methods are: experiments, observations and interviews (and all their variations), as well as case studies, questionnaires and surveys. In addition, there are simple "correlational" studies.

What I know is not accepted as a research method is twin studies or animal research (both are examples of samples used in experiments, observations, correlational studies), content analysis or meta-analysis (both forms of data analysis) or MRIs (a technique, not a research method).

As for sampling methods, the list is pretty definitive. What is it that you would like to add? I also teach haphazard sampling and cluster sampling.

Michael Harnish 24 May 2018 - 12:30

Do you have any feel for how experimental studies will be handled on paper 3? For example, any idea if an animal study could be used? Obviously inclusion of animal studies could radically alter the types of answers that are appropriate for ethical considerations, sampling methods, generalization, and alternative methods. I'm also at a loss of how they could provide a stimulus study that uses random sampling.

John Crane 25 May 2018 - 05:13

Dear Michael

I am not clear how experiment studies will be used - as the questions that are being asked do not invite students to write much about the study. I also do not see how they could provide a stimulus piece that uses random sampling. I do think, however, that they could use animal research. But that will make the questions difficult to answer. Paper 3, IMHO, is poorly considered. Sorry that I don't have a better answer for you. My hope is that they will not use an experiment on the first year and that they will eventually clarify what such a question would look like. I may be overly optimistic.

Michael Harnish 25 May 2018 - 07:27

Thanks. Your answer is oddly comforting because it means I'm not confused in being confused by the syllabus as written. I'm trying to prep my HL students for any possibility but the possible inclusion of animal research complicates things because so many of the standard questions either don't make a lot of sense or they require a different set of knowledge and approach to answer appropriately.

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