VCE Psychology

VCE Psychology Pathways

Have a look at the Avila College Psychology website The Control Group to see more detailed course material.

Other subjects that complement Psychology are: Biology | Health and Human Development

Unit 1 & 2 Psychology

Psychology careers image

 

Unit 1:  How are behaviour and mental processes shaped?

Human development involves changes in thoughts, feelings and behaviours. 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 consider the complex nature of psychological development, including situations where psychological development may not occur as expected. Students examine the contribution that classical and contemporary studies have made to an understanding of the human brain and its functions, and to the development of different psychological models and theories used to predict and explain the development of thoughts, feelings and behaviours.
A student-directed research investigation related to brain function and/or development is undertaken in this unit. The research investigation draws on content from Area of Study 1 and/or Area of Study 2.

Areas of Study
•    How does the brain function?
•    What influences psychological development?
•    Student-directed research investigation

Outcomes
In the first area of study, you will learn how to 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. In the second area of study, you will learn to 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.  In the third area of study, you will to 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.

Assessment
Assessment tasks for Outcomes 1 and 2 may be drawn from:a report of a practical activity involving the collection of primary data; a research investigation involving secondary data; a brain structure modelling activity; a logbook of practical activities; data analysis; media response; problem solving; learning blog or a test.
Assessment for Outcome 3 will be a report of an investigation into brain function and/or development that can be presented as a digital presentation, oral presentation, or written report.

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

A person’s thoughts, feelings and behaviours are influenced by a variety of biological, psychological and social factors. 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. Students explore a variety of factors and contexts that can influence the behaviour of an individual and groups. They examine the contribution that classical and contemporary research has made to the understanding of human perception and why individuals and groups behave in specific ways.
A student practical investigation related to internal and external influences on behaviour is undertaken in this unit. The investigation draws on content from Area of Study 1 and/or Area of Study 2.

Areas of Study
•    What influences a person’s perception of the world?
•    How are people influenced to behave in particular ways?
•    Student-directed practical investigation

Outcomes
In the first area of study, you will learn how to compare the sensations and perceptions of vision and taste, and analyse factors that may lead to the occurrence of perceptual distortions.  In the second area of study, you will learn to identify factors that influence individuals to behave in specific ways, and analyse ways in which others can influence individuals to behave differently.  In the third area of study, you will design and undertake a practical investigation related to external influences on behaviour, and draw conclusions based on evidence from collected data.
Assessment
Assessment tasks for Outcomes 1 and 2 may be drawn from: a report of a practical activity involving the collection of primary data; a research investigation involving secondary data; a brain structure modelling activity; a logbook of practical activities; data analysis; media response; problem solving; learning blog or a test.
Assessment for Outcome 3 will be a report of an investigation into internal and/or external influences on behaviour that can be presented in a digital presentation, oral presentation, scientific poster or written report.

Unit 3 & 4 Psychology

 

Most students entering Unit 3 & 4 Psychology have completed at least a minimum of Unit 1 Psychology. Students seeking to commence Psychology studies at Unit 3 should consult with VCE Psychology teachers Mrs. Macklin and Mrs. Bunning about whether this is appropriate for the particular individual.  Study of at least one other VCE Science subject at the Unit 1 and 2 level would be required in this case.

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

The nervous system influences behaviour and the way people experience the world. 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. They consider the limitations and fallibility of memory and how memory can be improved. Students examine the contribution that classical and contemporary research has made to the understanding of the structure and function of the nervous system, and to the understanding of biological, psychological and social factors that influence learning and memory.

Areas of Study
•    How does the nervous system enable psychological functioning?
•    How do people learn and remember?

Outcomes
During this unit, you will focus on explaining how the structure and function of the human nervous system enables a person to interact with the external world and analysing the different ways in which stress can affect nervous system functioning.  You will learn to 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:    How is wellbeing developed and maintained?

Consciousness and mental health are two of many psychological constructs that can be explored by studying the relationship between the mind, brain and behaviour. 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 explore the concept of a mental health continuum and apply a biopsychosocial approach, as a scientific model, to analyse mental health and disorder. They use specific phobia to illustrate how the development and management of a mental disorder can be considered as an interaction between biological, psychological and social factors. Students examine the contribution that classical and contemporary research has made to the understanding of consciousness, including sleep, and the development of an individual’s mental functioning and wellbeing.

Areas of Study
•    How do levels of consciousness affect mental processes and behaviour?
•    What influences mental wellbeing?

Outcomes
You will learn to 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.  You should be able to 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.

Unit 3 or 4: Practical Investigation

A student-designed or adapted investigation related to mental processes and psychological functioning is undertaken in either Unit 3 or Unit 4, or across both Units 3 and 4. The investigation relates to knowledge and skills developed across Units 3 and 4, and is undertaken by the student using an appropriate experimental research design involving independent groups, matched participants, repeated measures or a cross-sectional study.

Assessment for Units 3 & 4
•    School assessed coursework for Unit 3 contributes 16 per cent to the study score
•    School assessed coursework for Unit 4 contributes 16 per cent to the study score
•    Unit 3 and/or 4 Practical Investigation contributes 8 per cent to the study score
•    An end-of-year examination contributes 60 per cent to the study score

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