Teaching SL in one year
It should be said right at the start that the IB does not encourage that psychology SL be done in one year. There is a clear benefit to students having the full two years in order to develop their thinking as a psychologist in order to master the big ideas that make up the course.
That being said, however, there is a striking number of schools in which SL is taught in only one year. This is problematic in that it is difficult to cover all of the material in one year - and complete the internal assessment.
The most important decision to be made by the SL teacher who is required to teach the course in one year, is which option to teach. The choice of the option will then dictate how the rest of the course is taught. The three levels of analysis should be taught making the most of research that comes from the option. For example, if you choose Abnormal psychology as your option, then I would recommend the following schedule:
- Introduction to research (2 weeks)
- The biological level of analysis: in this unit, research regarding neurotransmission, genetics, and evolution can all be focused on the nature of depression. (10 weeks)
- The cognitive level of analysis: once again, research here can be focused on depression - for example, the relationship between memory and emotion. (8 weeks)
- Internal Assessment (3 weeks) The experiments should focus on a cognitive psychology topic - taking advantage of the unit that has just been completed. This should be done in class, and there should be clear deadlines with the focus on completing a rough draft in 3 weeks. A final draft after teacher comments should be due before the March deadline for submission to the IB.
- Socio-cultural level of analysis: once again, this can focus a lot on depression. In particular, attribution theory, cultural dimensions and conformity are all issues that can easily be linked to abnormal behaviour. (8 weeks)
- Abnormal psychology (8 weeks). By this point in the course you should have covered most of the learning objectives for depression. You may still have to address treatments. You will need to teach an anxiety disorder - but you do not need to teach treatment of this disorder. You will also need to discuss the nature of abnormal behaviour.
This is just one potential model. The way in which the curriculum was designed was such that the Paper I learning outcomes should set a foundation for the teaching of the options. That being the case, any one of the options has material that could be taught in order to teach the levels of analysis. Some teachers have tried to teach the option first and then cover the levels of analysis, but this technique may actually lead to more redundancy in the teaching of the material.