VCE Psychology

This information is based on the study information provided by VCAA.

Rationale

VCE Psychology provides students with a framework for exploring the complex interactions between biological, psychological and social factors that influence human thought, emotions and behaviour. In undertaking this study, students apply their learning to everyday situations including workplace and social relations. They gain insights into a range of psychological health issues in society and also develop a range of inquiry skills involving practical experimentation and research, analytical skills including critical and creative thinking, and communication skills. In addition, students use scientific and cognitive skills and understanding to analyse contemporary psychology-related issues, and communicate their views from an informed position.

Structure

Unit 1: How are behaviour and mental processes shaped?

In this unit students investigate the structure and functioning of the human brain and the role it plays in the overall functioning of the human nervous system. Students explore brain plasticity and the influence that brain damage may have on a person’s psychological functioning. They also consider the complex nature of psychological development, including situations where psychological development may not occur as expected.

Unit 2: How do external factors influence behaviour and mental processes?

In this unit students investigate how perception of stimuli enables a person to interact with the world around them and how their perception of stimuli can be distorted. They evaluate the role social cognition plays in a person’s attitudes, perception of themselves and relationships with others. They also explore a variety of factors and contexts that can influence the behaviour of an individual and groups.

Unit 3: How does experience affect behaviour and mental processes?

In this unit students examine both macro-level and micro-level functioning of the nervous system to explain how the human nervous system enables a person to interact with the world around them. They explore how stress may affect a person’s psychological functioning and consider the causes and management of stress. Students investigate how mechanisms of memory and learning lead to the acquisition of knowledge, the development of new capacities and changed behaviours. The limitations and fallibility of memory and how memory can be improved is also explored.

Unit 4: How is wellbeing developed and maintained?

In this unit students examine the nature of consciousness and how changes in levels of consciousness can affect mental processes and behaviour. They consider the role of sleep and the impact that sleep disturbances may have on a person’s functioning. Students also explore the concept of a mental health continuum and apply a biopsychosocial approach, as a scientific model, to analyse mental health and disorder.

Assessment

Satisfactory Completion

The award of satisfactory completion for a unit is based on a decision that the student has demonstrated achievement of the set of outcomes specified for the unit.

OUTCOMES

Unit 1

On completion of the unit students should be able to demonstrate the following outcomes:

  • Describe how understanding of brain structure and function has changed over time, explain how different areas of the brain coordinate different functions, and explain how brain plasticity and brain damage can change psychological functioning.
  • Identify the varying influences of nature and nurture on a person’s psychological development, and explain different factors that may lead to typical or atypical psychological development.
  • Investigate and communicate a substantiated response to a question related to brain function and/or development, including reference to at least two contemporary psychological studies and/or research techniques.

Unit 2

On completion of the unit students should be able to demonstrate the following outcomes:

  • Compare the sensations and perceptions of vision and taste, and analyse factors that may lead to the occurrence of perceptual distortions.
  • Identify factors that influence individuals to behave in specific ways, and analyse ways in which others can influence individuals to behave differently.
  • Design and undertake a practical investigation related to external influences on behaviour, and draw conclusions based on evidence from collected data.

Unit 3

On completion of the unit students should be able to demonstrate the following outcomes:

  • Explain how the structure and function of the human nervous system enables a person to interact with the external world and analyse the different ways in which stress can affect nervous system functioning.
  • Apply biological and psychological explanations for how new information can be learnt and stored in memory, and provide biological, psychological and social explanations of a person’s inability to remember information.

Unit 4

On completion of the unit students should be able to demonstrate the following outcomes:

  • Explain consciousness as a continuum, compare theories about the purpose and nature of sleep, and elaborate on the effects of sleep disruption on a person’s functioning.
  • Explain the concepts of mental health and mental illness including influences of risk and protective factors, apply a biopsychosocial approach to explain the development and management of specific phobia, and explain the psychological basis of strategies that contribute to mental wellbeing.
  • Design and undertake a practical investigation related to mental processes and psychological functioning, and present methodologies, findings and conclusions in a scientific poster.

Levels of Achievement

Units 1 and 2

Levels of achievement in Units 1 and 2 are determined by the school.

Units 3 and 4

Students’ level of achievement will be determined by School-assessed Coursework and end of year examination.

Percentage contributions to the study score in VCE Psychology are as follows:

  • Unit 3 School-assessed Coursework (16%)
  • Unit 4 School-assessed Coursework (24%)
  • End of year examination (60%)