A/A* Booster Session #2 – AO2

This session is focused on the skill of AO2 and reaching top band evaluation marks.  It will be using an example of “Evaluate the biological approach” (3marks) and “Evaluate the cognitive approach” (6marks). We will also be focusing on the use of issues and debates as evaluation.  The skills discussed, however, relate to any aspect of writing AO2. Due to the nature of holistic marking in a 96mark paper it is impossible to say the actual marks/grades these would get, instead this reference the ‘typical’ writing style of someone who will achieve that grade overall.

Excerpt 1 – 2 & 2 marks 

This is typical of a C/B grade response.  It has broadly the right structure for an effective evaluation point. You can identify a point, because, so what and however but each is short and a bit stilted. Again a feature of a student who remembers the points but lack detail, particularly in their because sections.

Q1) [P] The biological approach focuses too much of the nature side of the nature/nurture debate.  [B] It believes that all behaviour is caused by our biology (nature) and so ignores the possibility of nurture, for instance Behaviourism.  [S] Therefore it is too simplistic and is an incomplete theory of behaviour.

Q2) [P] The cognitive approach is good because it employs scientific methods.  [B] This is because it uses experiments and neuroimaging.  [S] This means it is more controlled and objective, which are features of science. [H] However it sometimes has to make inferences about behaviour because it cannot be seen and tested.

Excerpt 2 – 3 & 5 marks

This is typical of a A grade response.  It has the right structure for an effective evaluation point. You can identify a clearly identify a signposted point, the because is detailed, the so what uses words from the question and however just as detailed. Again a feature of a student who remembers the points well and is confident in their ability to repeat them.

Q1) [P] An important limitation of the biological approach is that it focuses exclusively on the nature side of the nature/nurture debate.  [B] It believes that all behaviour is caused by our nature through genetics, neurochemistry or neuroanatomy and so ignores the possibility of more environmental or nurtured causes such as vicarious learning, conditioning or our past experiences.  [S] Therefore the biological approach can be considered an incomplete theory of behaviour which does not consider the interaction of the two sides of nature and nurture.

Q2) [P] The cognitive approach continues to be widely accepted as the predominant discipline in Psychology because it employs scientific methods.  [B] Experimental studies such as conducted by Loftus employ high levels of control and objectivity whilst modern cognitive neuroscience utilises neuroimaging techniques such as fMRI and PET scans.  [S] These features of science give both the approach and the discipline scientific credibility. [H] However due to its focus on thought, memory and attention the approach sometimes has to make inferences about the causes of behaviour due to the inability to directly observe and test these aspect of the human mind.  This can lead to such experimental studies lacking mundane realism as their stimulus material and methods do not reflect real life, such as Peterson and Peterson’s test of duration.

Excerpt 2 – 3 & 6 marks

This is typical of a A* grade response, or in short mark questions how to secure full marks.  These fully address the demands of the question without being limited by ‘the right structure’. Nevertheless, you can identify a clearly identify a signposted point, with detailed justification.

Q1) [P] An important limitation of the biological approach is that it focuses exclusively on the nature side of the nature/nurture debate.  [B] It believes that all behaviour is caused by our nature through genetics, neurochemistry or neuroanatomy and so ignores the possibility of more environmental or nurtured causes such as vicarious learning, conditioning or our past experiences.  [E] Whereas a more modern explanation combines nature and nurture in the interactionist or diathesis-stress approach. [S] This suggests that the biological approach can only explain a vulnerability which is then triggered by environmental factors.

Q2) Due to the cognitive focus on thought, memory and attention the approach has to make inferences about the causes of behaviour due to the inability to directly observe and test these aspect of the human mind. This leads some to criticises experimental studies such as Loftus’ work on EWT, or Peterson and Peterson’s duration of memory for lacking mundane realism as their stimulus material and methods do not reflect real life. However these are developed in order to ensure the cognitive approach continues to employ scientific rigour which gives its status as the predominant discipline in Psychology. 

Whilst experimental studies such as conducted by Loftus may have flaws in ecological validity they employ high levels of control and introduce a level of objectivity to inferences made about thoughts whilst modern cognitive neuroscience utilises neuroimaging techniques such as fMRI and PET scans.  These features of science allow theories to be developed based on sound empirical evidence using inductive reasoning giving both the approach and the discipline as a whole scientific credibility.

This demonstrates that it is not about the number of evaluation points presented but about the depth, detail and clarity of the points you make.  In reality, in longer answers the A* is less driven by this style and more about linking paragraphs consistently to a kind of argument. This is what we will discuss next week.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s