An idea for the next IB Psych’ curriculum…

Travis DixonAssessment (IB), Curriculum

Could an infinite number of chimps typing for infinity eventually write a perfect curriculum?

Originally posted to the MyIB Psychology forum, May 18th, 2018


One thing I think is missing from the new IB Psychology guide in the guidance column is some suggested studies. I know Christos and others would like to see a prescribed list of studies, but I can see some issues with this (e.g. it doesn’t allow for adapting one’s course to fit a local context).

So how about a compromise? Why not for the core approaches (assessed in Paper 1) have a long list of studies to choose from, that cover a range of cultures and regions (This would be like how English teachers have a text list they must choose from). This would increase validity in marking and would be a massive help to new teachers.

One reason I share these ideas is because I might not be part of the next review – I may not be asked or I may not be teaching IB Psychology – so I want as many people to hear the ideas to increase the odds they’ll be shared during the review process.

We could keep Paper 1 assessment as is, requiring use of studies.

And then for the Paper 2, why not disband with the requirement of studies? Let students just explore the behaviours and explanations in the options, using studies to help their learning sure, but not needed for external assessment?

A justified complaint with IB assessment is that it’s all about memorizing studies, which comes at the expense of conceptual understanding. We don’t need to do it to death in all external assessments – they can still show knowledge, understanding and critical thinking without studies.

But to ensure we’re sticking with evidence-based knowledge, what we could also have is an internal, project-based assessment for the options where students choose an area of applied psychology, pose a question, explore it and then present/report on it, using research they’ve independently sourced and analyzed. This also allows for flexibility and making sure that our teaching is relevant to “local and global contexts.”

Psychology is a perfect subject to allow for internal, project-based assessment. It’ll be a great shame if this isn’t improved for the next IB Psych’ review. 

Cutting our time to 20hrs in the options has made allowing independent student research into areas of interest very difficult, if not impossible. But with a different type of assessment we could kill many birds with a couple of stones.

Just a thought.