National Moderator's Reports

Mar 2019

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Download PDF: Psychology National Moderator's Report (PDF, 28KB)

The following report gives feedback to assist assessors with general issues and trends that have been identified during external moderation of the internal Psychology standards in 2018.

It does not clarify specific standards but provides further insights from moderation material viewed throughout the year.


Volume of Evidence Produced

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Some students produce an excessive volume of evidence. Students are not required to submit evidence beyond the criteria of the standard. It is appropriate for teachers to guide students to produce succinct evidence in response to the achievement criteria of the standard.

Tasks that provided clear instructions about the extent and depth of evidence gave students the best opportunity of meeting the standard, and allowed students to focus on the quality of their responses.

For example, when looking at approaches, debates or application of theory in Psychology, students can be directed to focus on in-depth discussion of the main points or research appropriate to the level of the Achievement Standard. The coherence of student understanding is more easily evidenced using, for example, three to four good quality points - relevant to the standard - compared to an outline or extended descriptions of five or more concepts.

For 91844, Level 2, this would mean using, for example, three theories or concepts from an approach to explain a behaviour to illustrate the how the main ideas of the approach can be used. While a comprehensive explanation of a behaviour may incidentally fulfil achievement standard criteria, it is not required, and increases student workload.

Excellence at Level 3

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There is some inconsistency in awarding Excellence. When making assessor decisions regarding Excellence, consideration needs to be given to the overall quality of the evidence. This is critical when making a judgement at the Merit/Excellence boundary.

Level 3 Psychology, particularly for the approaches, key research or application of theory standards, includes a qualitative step-up from critique at Merit to a detailed critique for Excellence. Successful outcomes typically demonstrate sustained and developed critique by explicitly stating associated consequences, implications or details of the critique rather than to give an extended critique - more of the same - with hinted at, or implicitly stated, consequences.

Group Work

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Group work is an acceptable form of assessment, if appropriate to the standard. When submitting group work for moderation, the teacher needs to ensure there is evidence that each student has met the standard.

The contribution of each student can be tracked and presented in a variety of ways, such as written record of teacher observation, the division of workload into clearly defined tasks, a student worklog or video diary, recordings of teacher/student conferences, etc.

In Psychology, group work has not been evident in the work sent in for moderation in 2018.

Integrated Assessment of Standards

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This refers to assessing multiple standards via one submission of student evidence. The assessment of standards may be integrated either within a subject or across subjects.

For external moderation, if the assessment is across subjects and the student evidence is physical, it can be sent on to the next subject moderator/s if required. If it is an online submission, the student evidence can be uploaded for each standard being moderated.

Some schools have adopted an integrated approach to the delivery of Psychology standards. This involved the combination of two Psychology standards or a Psychology standard with another subject’s standard into a single learning sequence. The resulting ‘body of work’ was then assessed in relation to the criteria of each standard.

Separating such assessments into task components with clear goals may ensure that students give consistent performances across assessments by not confounding the quality of responses to one component with another. For example, analysing the significance of key research (91873) as a separate event prior to, rather than as a quick preliminary to, conducting research (91874) is more likely to result in stable responses across different criteria.

Psychological Research

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While Level 2 and 3 psychological research requires a scientific research method, the report is expected to be in an accepted scientific format which would include such features as appropriate sub-headings, a written and replicable methodology with clearly labelled and summarised data.

Where assessors have provided or demonstrated accepted scientific format for a research report, compromising the standard of student evidence was avoided.


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Psychology Achievement Standards allow for extensive flexibility in the choice of topics, and care should be taken to match the chosen contexts to the requirements of the standard. For 91845, when examining how a debate has changed over time, the chosen context should allow students to reach the higher levels of achievement.

For example, where students chose the context of addiction to examine a reductionism versus holism debate, it allowed a successful exploration and comparison of early rat addiction studies with more holistic studies such as Alexander’s Rat Park and the studies of United States veterans from the Vietnam war. This context/debate combination allowed students to show clear changes over time, and gave scope for evaluating the debate by examining current criminalisation and medicalisation strategies used to deal with addiction, compared with more holistic approaches used in Portugal.

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