IA practice test

The following in-class assessment is a way in which I get students to practice for their internal assessment.  I give this assessment when we have finished studying the Working Memory Model.

Our students all have laptops. If they have laptops, they should be able to finish this task in 45 minutes.  Writing by hand may take longer. You may also want to give it as a take-home assignment or assessment.

A copy of the assessment is attached and suggestions for responses and how to assess on a 1 - 7 scale are included below.

Student copy

The task

Students are given the following "study."

Crane (2018) carried out the following study in his IB Psychology class to determine how well multi-lingual international school students can multi-task.

To begin, his 22 students were randomly allocated to one of two groups – group A or group B. Students in both groups were given an 800-word text that described a historical crime committed in the city of Prague.  Group A read the text in silence for four minutes. In Group B, just as the participants started to read the text, Mr. Crane received a phone call.  He spoke to the principal about a “disciplinary issue” with one of his students. The student being discussed was not named.  The conversation was scripted and lasted four minutes.

After the four minutes were up, students were given a set of 10 questions to answer about the text.  The questions were marked as either right or wrong.  Here were the results.

Group A

Group B

Mean

7.5

3.2

Median

5.0

3.0

Standard Deviation

0.8

3.1

A Mann Whitney U was calculated.  The p-value was less than or equal to 0.01.

Questions and responses

The study is followed by four questions.  Here are four model responses.

Summarize the results in your own words based on the data above.

The results are problematic because there are only 11 participants in each condition. The mean from group A is over twice the mean of group B.  This is unlikely to be due to outliers because the median of the group is 5, which means that just as many participants answered 5 or more questions correctly as those that answered five or fewer questions correctly. The standard deviation was much larger in group B.  This means that there was a greater variation in the scores, meaning that there may have been some that were more able to multitask than others in the sample. The p-value indicates that the results were significant and that we can reject the null hypothesis.  It appears that listening to a conversation while trying to read a text does have an influence on one's ability to recall the content of the text.

Discuss your findings with reference to the Working Memory Model. How do these results reflect what research tells us about our ability to multi-task?

The results support the theory of the Working Memory Model.  If the phonological loop is engaged in the reading process, it can only retain so much information in working memory.  When listening to the conversation, information in the phonological loop is displaced, meaning it is not then placed in long-term memory.

Explain the strengths and limitations of the design, sample, and procedure.

The design is an independent measures design.  A strength of this design is that you can use the same text in both conditions. If one used two different texts, we could not rule out that the differences in the texts might be the reason for the different levels of recall, rather than the distraction. A limitation is participant variability. It could be that one group has more participants who are good at memorizing than the other group.

The sample is an opportunity sample made up of students in Mr. Crane's class.  The strength of the sampling technique is that the sample is easily obtained. In addition, since they are all of the same age and level of education, they will all understand the directions and the level of the text. A limitation of opportunity samples is that the participants may not be highly engaged.  In addition, it may be difficult to generalize the sample to people outside of these two classes.

The procedure is a bit problematic because it is not carefully standardized.  In the "distraction" condition, it is not starting right at 0 and ending right at 4 minutes. It is possible that the conversation will not be consistently distracting. A strength of the procedure is that the materials were the same for both groups - and 800 words is about what people can read in four minutes.

Suggest one modification to address one limitation of our investigation.

One modification would be to use a repeated measures design.  In this way, we could make sure that participant variability in the ability to memorize a text would not be a confounding variable. 

Assessment

You may choose to simply give feedback on this assessment or use it for grading purposes.  Below is a suggested "mark scheme" for this test.

1. Summarize the results in your own words based on the data above.

  • 6 marks: the student has discussed the mean, median, and standard deviation and referred to the p-value without errors.
  • 5 marks: the student has discussed the mean, median, and standard deviation and referred to the p-value but with minor errors.
  • 4 marks:  the student has discussed the mean, median and standardization but has not discussed the conclusions of the study with regard to the p-value.
  • 3 marks:  either the mean, median or standard deviation is not explained.
  • 2 marks:  two of the three descriptive stats are not explained.
  • 1 mark:  There is a minimal attempt to answer the question with very little evidence of understanding.

2. Discuss your findings with reference to the Working Memory Model. How do these results reflect what research tells us about our ability to multi-task?

  • 3 marks:  makes an explicit link back to the theory, demonstrating an understanding of the theory as well as the link.
  • 2 marks:  the study's finding is stated without reference to the theory, or the theory is explained without a link to the study.
  • 1 mark:  There is a minimal attempt to link the theory and the study with very little detail or evidence of understanding.

3. Explain the strengths and limitations of the design, sample, and procedure.  (6 marks)

One mark is awarded for one strength and one limitation for the design, sample, and procedure for a total of six marks.

4. Suggest one modification to address one limitation of our investigation. (3 marks)

  • 3 marks: a modification is clearly explained and linked to a limitation of the study.
  • 2 marks:  an appropriate modification is explained but not linked to a limitation of the study.
  • 1 mark:  a modification is identified but not explained.

Markbands

7654321
16 - 1814 - 1512 - 1310 - 118 - 96 - 70 - 5
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