Internal Assessment Ideas

Replication Ideas

Ideas for IB Internal Assessment

There is so much to consider when you are deciding on a topic for your Internal Assessment. What areas are you interested in, what topic will be exciting and interesting enough to grab your attention and the attention of others. The amount of prior knowledge can be a governing factor in this decision making process. For most of you your prior knowledge is limited and in some cases non-existent or corrupted by popular views that sometimes lack clarity and definition. This section is designed to help you with the selection process by giving ideas and tips to assist you.

Ideas for IB Practicals

Important Ethical Issues:

Don’t assume you can do the practical just because it appears here! It may be unethical or not an experiment or a quasi-experiment.

Please note that your study is supposed to be based on a previous experiment carried out by psychologists (i.e. a replication).


Major Headings:

A         MEMORY

  1. Improving memory:
    1. Learning and recall can be helped by making associations with something else. Words to be learned are associated with other words which are used later to help retrieval.
    2. Give subjects an ambiguous passage (which could mean anything) which they later have to recall. Some subjects are given a title to the passage which makes it sensible while other subjects are not. Those with the title should process the passage more meaningfully and therefore recall the passage more successfully.
    3. Imagery vs rehearsal: participants recall more words from a (20) word list when they use an imagery method (forming a vivid mental image and linking each item to the last in a dynamic fashion) than if they use either rehearsal (repeat each item until you hear the next) or no particular method (no prior instruction). Bower (1967); Paivio (1971).
    4. Organisation and memory: If word lists are organised in some meaningful way, subjects will recall better than from a jumbled list?
  1. Memoryinterference: This could be nicely applied to school revision. Subjects have to learn for example a list of words and then recall them. However, memory is interfered with by learning another list of words but some subjects learn this interfering list before the main list and some learn it after the main list to see which has the greater effect.

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  1. Word and letter recognition:Visual search: Time taken to find X’s hidden in a four column list of similar shaped letters (Y, Z etc.) is longer than for lists with letters such as S, R, P etc. — Neisser’s (1964) feature analysis model of pattern recognition. Alternatively: Participants will take longer to find 0 among letters if it is called tzero’ than when it is called letter ‘oh’ and vice versa — Jonides & Gleitman (1972).
  2. Is performance is impeded by noise? Subjects have a task to perform with or without noise.
  3. Estimation of time:Effects of mental activity on the estimation of time: Ornstein hypothesised that the more mental activity we do in a fixed period of time the longer the subjective estimate of that time interval. This could be tested by asking subjects to listen to a passage of prose for say 100 seconds and then to estimate when a further 100 seconds of the prose had elapsed. In one group the prose could be read slowly to reduce the amount of mental processing and in the second group the prose would be read out faster.
  4. Concrete v abstract reasoning (problem solving) and concept formation: When it comes to logical problem solving people are typically very poor and tend just to look for examples which confirm their theory rather than looking for possible exceptions which might disprove it. This practical is based on giving subjects seemingly simple tests of logic to see what errors they make. However, the hypothesis being tested is that if the logic problems are purely abstract (e.g. if x is always double y and y is never an even number .....etc.) then many more mistakes will be made compared to more concrete problems (e.g., if worms are always animals and animals are sometimes birds....etc.) even if the basic logical pathway is the same. A similar alternative is as follows: The Wason (1969) selection task —participants are shown four cards displaying B E 3 and 8. They are given the rule ‘every consonant has an even number on the other side’. Participants have to decide which two cards to turn over in order to check the validity of the rule. They tend to demonstrate false logical reasoning and assume that the B and 8 cards must be turned over whereas B and 3 are correct. Griggs and Cox (1982) used more realistic material with ‘beer’ or ‘Pepsi’ on one side and an age on the other. To check the rule ‘only 18 year olds and above may drink’, and given cards showing ‘beer’, ‘Pepsi’, ‘16’ and ‘20’, participants do much better than on the abstract task. Similarly, participants might be asked to check the rule ‘all first class envelopes are sealed’ given sealed unsealed, first and second class stamped envelopes. Frequencies of correct response can be compared with those for the abstract Wason task using chi—squared.

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  1. Prejudice and stereotypes:
  1. Person perception and first impressions: A two paragraph description or story of someone is written with one paragraph being more positive than the other. Paragraph order can be reversed and subjects get one of the two possible orders. Subjects then have to rate the person on a questionnaire. The hypothesis is that due to first impressions the subjects who hear the story with the first paragraph being the positive one will rate the person more positively.   E.g.  Story of Jim with the first half suggesting he is friendly and the second half suggestion he is unfriendly. Different subjects receive different orders of the story. 
  1. Conformity: Do people over-estimate the number of beads in a jar if they see a list of other peoples ‘over-estimates’? i.e. do they conform to other peoples views?
  2. Defensive attribution: The more serious an accident appears, the more people wish to assign responsibility to someone.

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