Discuss the claim that technology has played a decisive role in the development of psychological research.In this activity, you will focus on preparing for your final assignment: the EMA, which stands for end-of-module assessment. It is important that you devote sufficient time to completing this assignment, given that you cannot pass DE100 unless you obtain a grade of 40 per cent or more. Also, this assignment contributes toward your final grade as much as all the other TMAs put together. It counts towards 50 per cent of your total grade for DE100. You will find full details of the way that your final mark is calculated in the DE100 Assessment Guidance.
The EMA differs from the other assignments in three ways:
1. You have a choice of two essay questions. It is up to you to decide which one you want to answer in your assignment.
2. The assignment requires you to draw on examples from three different chapters across the two main module textbooks:Investigating Psychology and Investigating Methods.
3. The EMA is longer than the essays you wrote for TMA 02 and 03 (1500 words as opposed to 1000 words).
Instructions on how to approach the specific questions that have been set for this TMA can be found in the EMA guidance.
The aim of this activity is to help you recognise and identify the steps involved in writing an essay that draws on a number of chapters. It also offers some tips on how to choose the question, how to go about identifying and selecting appropriate examples and how to make them part of the argument that you want to make.
While completing this activity, you might find it useful to have the assignment guidance handy.
There is one part to this EMA: a 1500-word essay. You should only attempt one question: either Option A or Option B.
Drawing on examples from Chapters 2, 6 and 7 of Investigating Psychology, discuss the claim that technology has played a decisive role in the development of psychological research.
100 per cent of the mark
Word limit: 1500 words
• In answering the question you will need to draw on material from across Parts 1 to 3 of the module. This means that you need to make connections between separate topics and select relevant examples to address a question focusing on a broader issue.
• The process word you will engage with is different. In TMA 02 you were asked to ‘outline’ similarities and differences which gave you the opportunity to practise identifying and describing information, and explaining how things were similar or different. In TMA 03 you were asked to ‘evaluate’ a body of work, which gave you the opportunity to appraise material and begin to build an argument. This EMA requires you to ‘discuss’ a particular claim or contribution. ‘Discuss’ builds on TMA 02 and TMA 03 by requiring you to explain and evaluate concepts, and consider their implication for a particular claim or contribution.
• The word limit of 1500 words for the EMA essay is considerably higher.
On the following pages you will find:
• student notes for Option B
• learning outcomes addressed by the EMA
• a checklist to ensure you have done everything required.
Student notes for Option B
Drawing on examples from Chapters 2, 6 and 7 of Investigating Psychology, discuss the claim that technology has played a decisive role in the development of psychological research.
Before you choose which option you will complete, you need to make sure you understand exactly what each question requires. This means identifying and understanding the process and content words.
Process and content words
As in Option A, the process word is ‘discuss’. ‘Discuss’ requires you to explain something – in this case, the role of technology in the development of psychological research. You then need to give two sides of the argument: you need to consider some examples of how technology has made a significant impact on the development of psychological research, and others which suggest that the role of technology has been much less important. Finally, you need to consider any implications of the issue being discussed. ‘Discuss’ indicates that this essay must go beyond description and should consider different viewpoints and evaluate the relative importance and/or implications of the relevant evidence.
The content words are ‘the claim that technology has played a decisive role in the development of psychological research’. Note that you are also instructed to use material from Chapters 2, 6 and 7 of your textbook Investigating Psychology.
Therefore, Option B requires you to:
• outline the different ways in which advances in technology have influenced psychological research
• consider alternative viewpoints regarding the role of technology (e.g. the possibility that technological advances are not always that relevant)
• evaluate the role of technological advances, in light of the evidence available in Chapters 2, 6 and 7 of Investigating Psychology.
By considering alternative viewpoints on the role of technology, you will need to consider its strengths and limitations. In what different ways have advances in technology influenced psychological research? Can you think of any examples of research, or areas of psychology, where advances in technology have made a particularly big contribution; and, conversely, can you think of examples where that influence has been less prominent? Note, again, that in considering these issues you are required to illustrate your points with examples from Chapters 2, 6 and 7 of Investigating Psychology.
Also, spend some time thinking about the main content words: ‘technology’ and ‘psychological research’. You may want to make a distinction between the contribution of technology to how we study mind and behaviour (e.g. development of new instruments or techniques) and what we study (e.g. people’s engagement with new technology as a new subject matter). This is an important distinction, especially when it comes to choosing examples from the chapters.
The essay question is very exact about the material that you should draw on for this assignment: Chapters 2, 6 and 7 of Investigating Psychology. While many of the sections in these three chapters will contain material relevant to the question (especially when it comes to selecting examples), you may find the following guidance helpful.
Chapter 2 discusses the obedience studies by Stanley Milgram. Section 2 outlines the seminal study, while Section 3 discusses the controversies surrounding it. However, for this essay, Section 4 is especially relevant, as it discusses some innovative ways of overcoming the ethics concerns raised in response to the original studies. Note that some involve the use of technology, others do not; you could include this in your discussion of the claim in the question.
Chapter 6 considers psychological research on friendship. Sections 2, 3 and 4 introduce a number of classic and contemporary studies. For the present essay, Section 5 is likely to be especially relevant, as it considers the rise of online friendships in recent decades, and how this has influenced the way that people engage with their friends. The audio-visual interview with Carly Butler may also be relevant, as it discusses the use of recording equipment in the study of children’s play.
Chapter 7 introduces psychological research on the structure and functions of the brain. Section 4 is especially relevant, as it considers different techniques for studying the brain which have been made possible by advances in technology. However, make sure you revisit other sections, especially Sections 2 and 3, as examples given there are closely related to the essay question and contain important examples that you may want to draw upon. Note, however, that in considering both sides of the argument, you may want to draw on some of the material from Section 5 (as well as some of the audio-visual material linked to Chapter 7), which looks at various interventions used in the treatment of stroke patients, which are much less reliant on sophisticated technology.
As you are asked to consider a broad issue related to the role of technology in the development of psychological research, you may find it helpful to revisit the General Introduction to Investigating Psychology, as well as the Introductions and Conclusions to Parts 1 to 3, and the Final Note. Investigating Methods also contains relevant material. Section 4 of Chapter 6 introduces a way of studying friendship which relies heavily on new digital technologies, and as such supplements well the research you read about in the corresponding chapter ofInvestigating Psychology. Similarly, Chapter 7 of Investigating Methods (specifically Sections 3 and 4) considers studies on brain function that are less reliant on complex and technologically sophisticated imaging techniques, so you may want to draw on these as you evaluate the role of technology. Feel free to draw on the information from Investigating Methods (and remember to reference it appropriately), but bear in mind that the research examples you draw on should come mainly from the three specified chapters in Investigating Psychology. In other words, you can refer to material from Investigating Methods alongside, but not instead of, examples from Investigating Psychology.
Below you will find tips for writing this essay, but before you start working on it, you should make sure that you have completed the online activities relevant to this task. Even if you have completed these in the relevant weeks, you may wish to revisit them as part of your preparation for the EMA.
• Online Activity 29.1: Preparing for the EMA. This offers advice about how to complete the final assignment, including how to choose which option to answer and how to develop an argument in the essay.
• Online Activity 10.2: Essay writing (Part 2) – Essay planning. You may find it valuable to revisit this activity to help to create an essay plan for the EMA.
• Online Activity 13.2: Constructing an argument. This activity deals with how to present material in an assignment in a logical and coherent way, so that it addresses the question.
• Online Activity 15.3: What is evaluation? Revisiting this activity will refresh your memory of the demands of an evaluative essay. Remember that although the process word in the EMA is ‘discuss’, rather than ‘evaluate’, the answer should include the evaluation of the claim made in the question.
Also, before you begin to plan your essay, review the feedback you received from your tutor for the essays in TMA 02 and TMA 03 to see if there is any advice about the essay structure/content etc. that you could apply to this essay.
Tips for writing your essay
Having worked through the online activities, and identified the process and content words in the essay, the next step in beginning to answer the question is to select the material that you will use in your essay. Begin by rereading the relevant chapters with the essay question in mind, and make notes. When making notes you may find it helpful to consider which points can be used to illustrate the role of technology in psychological research, and which points suggest an alternative position, and how they do this.
As with all essays, it is a good idea to create an essay plan in order to help to organise the points that you may want to make into a logical structure, and think about ‘the story’ of the essay in terms of how it begins, proceeds through the points and then ends. You will be covering material from different chapters, some of which will indicate the important contribution that advances in technology have made to psychological research and some of which will support an alternative view, namely that there are certain questions or issues in psychology that can be addressed using methods and techniques that are not as reliant on advanced technology. Therefore it is particularly important that you work out what you want to say and what order to say it in. This is so that a reader can understand how you have addressed the question and follow your argument.
When you are planning the structure of your essay, remember to ensure that your essay includes a clear but concise introduction in which you set out the issue(s) that you will be addressing and how you intend to approach the question. Use your introduction to say what you will be arguing.
For the main body of the essay, note that while you are required to give a balanced view, you do not need to provide an equal number of points in favour and against the view that advances in technology have played a decisive role in the development of psychological research. However, you should aim to draw evenly on material from all three chapters specified in the question. Make sure that you choose examples carefully and that for each one you state clearly how it is relevant to the question. You probably will not be able to include all the pertinent examples from the chapters, so you will need to be selective. Make sure you include at least one example from each of the three chapters specified in the question, and do not include any from other chapters: you will not gain marks for irrelevant material.
Remember also to finish with a concluding paragraph that clearly summarises your argument about the value of experiments.
Although the word limit for the EMA is 1500 words, there is a lot of material to cover. Therefore, it is important to focus on the question and to be as succinct as possible. This will inevitably require you to revisit your essay several times, refining your arguments and clarifying your points. This will also give you the opportunity to check for any errors in spelling or grammar, or poor expression, all of which can have a significant impact on the fluency and accuracy of your essay. In addition, it will allow you to check that you have included appropriate references in the text of your essay and in a reference list at the end.
Remember to state the word count at the end of your answer.
Name the file in a way that indicates whether you have answered Option B
When marking Option B the marker will be looking for:
• evidence of understanding of the relevant material
• good paraphrasing skills and writing in your own words
• clear and concise writing
• the ability to structure the essay in a logical way that addresses the question
• a balanced argument with evidence of evaluation
• the ability to provide evidence from Chapters 2, 6 and 7 of Investigating Psychology to support points made in the essay
• referencing of sources
• keeping within the word limit of 1500 words.
A key point to note is that each of these EMA questions invites discussion. In the first case, the question is not just about describing the contribution of something, but also about evaluating it. It is about discussing whether the contribution is significant or not and whether it is positive or negative. Similarly, in the second statement, the task is not just to list the evidence, but also to consider both sides of the argument and assess the strength of support in favour of, or against, a claim.
The process word ‘discuss’ requires you to explain something and then give two sides of a particular argument before finally considering any implications. This definition of ‘discuss’ dictates that this essay must go beyond description and should consider different viewpoints and discuss the relative importance and/or implications of the relevant evidence. This involves the skill of evaluation, which you already developed while working on Part 1 of TMA 03.
Why don’t you have a closer look at the two EMA options in turn? What is it exactly that you are invited to discuss? What are the different sides of an argument that you need to consider, or are you to ascertain the importance of something? Or is the focus for discussion on something else?
Stage 1: Gathering evidence
The first thing to do is identify the relevant material. The chapters will be specified in the essay title. In addition, you should think carefully about whether there are any relevant audio and video materials or online activities linked to those chapters – then gather your notes, books and anything that you think is relevant.
The main source of evidence will be the chapters. As you are already familiar with this material, the best way to proceed is to ‘scan’ it. This means that, rather than reading a chapter in detail as you did the first time round, you could simply look over the material with the EMA question in mind. It is a really good idea to write the question on a piece of paper and have it in front of you, or just keep repeating it to yourself. As you scan through the material, select (with a coloured pen or some sticky notes) the parts that you feel relate to the question and that you might want to use in your assignment. Given that the question for the EMA focuses on broader issues and requires you to draw on chapters from different parts of the module, don’t forget to consult the introductions, conclusions and commentaries.
Also, make use of the index at the back of each book to find out where else a term is used. Although you are supposed to draw on specific chapters, information from other material can help you get a better understanding of the specific ideas, concepts or methods you are writing about.
At the evidence-gathering stage, don’t worry about whether you have identified too many points or selected too many examples, or if you are unsure that everything you have selected is relevant. This is just the first stage, and you can make further selections later.
Stage 2: Selecting and organising evidence
The evidence that you’ve gathered should all be related to the EMA question you have chosen to answer. The essay requires you to discuss something, which involves evaluation. In Online Activity 18.2: Preparing for TMA 03 (Part 1), you considered in more detail the different types of evidence that you can use to support your argument. Below is a quick reminder.
This refers to the findings of studies mentioned in the chapters. Research findings represent strong evidence, in that, rather than being based on speculation or opinion, they represent the results of systematic investigation. If you are using a study as evidence, it is important to reference it properly in your essay.
Points made by the chapter author
In introducing research on a particular topic, chapter authors have often made evaluative comments that you might want to use in your essay. It is important, however, that you acknowledge their authorship of the comment and do not try to pass it off as your own. Make sure you reference the source appropriately.
Material from the DE100 audios and videos
It is possible that you will want to refer to something you heard or saw in one of the audio programmes or videos. While you should draw from this material too, be sure that references to videos and audios do not dominate your essay. The bulk of your argument should come from the book.
Examples from personal experience
It may sometimes be appropriate to include some reference to personal experience in essays, but you should do so cautiously, as it can backfire. Personal anecdotes do not constitute evidence of the same calibre as research studies or published material. The main reason for this is that only you will have access to this experience, so others cannot easily evaluate your claim. Personal experience should be treated more as a source of illustrative examples, rather than a source of evidence. Before you include any personal anecdotes, you should try to find a better source of evidence for the point you want to make.
Stage 3: Evaluating evidence
The final stage is to evaluate the evidence. This involves differentiating strong evidence from weak evidence.
Here are some questions that you may want to ask yourself about the evidence:
• How appropriate is the evidence in supporting the argument? Does it relate to a key aspect of the argument that you are developing?
• What doesn’t the evidence tell you? Reflect on how much weight you can place on the evidence. For example, if a study focuses more narrowly on children or animals, can the findings be said to apply to all people?
• What are the limitations of the evidence? If it relates to research studies, then reflect on the method used and the type of data collected and the conclusions that can be drawn from such data.
It is important to always maintain a critical stance towards evidence. When discussing something, you are effectively evaluating evidence relevant to that ‘something’. Note though that the extent to which you need to evaluate the evidence will depend on the EMA question you have chosen to answer.