Psychology Gifted & Talented
Psychology Department Ethos for Inclusion
It is the belief of this department that studying psychology has the potential to engage and inspire all pupils. Lessons are planned to ensure that all pupils work together, take part fully in lessons, and benefit from the discussions and interactions with their teacher and their peers. The aim is to ensure that all students feel that they have an active part to play in the lesson and that this role is matched to their individual ability.
The Government defines gifted and talented (G&T) learners as: ‘Children and young people with one or more abilities developed to a level significantly ahead of their year group (or with the potential to develop those abilities).’ In line with inclusion, the psychology department aims to provide opportunities for all abilities.
Identification of Gifted and Talented Students
It seems fitting that the identification of gifted and talented students is a subject of recent psychological research. There are now more concrete guidelines concerning the identification of gifted and talented students, and how they can be supported. Since psychology is a post-16 subject, gifted students are often spotted earlier in their academic career through initial indicators such as national assessment data, external examinations and internal assessments, which will be available from their previous school or internally.
In addition to these indicators, there are other characteristics that are identified by the psychology department. Students who are gifted and talented in psychology will be more likely to:
- Make connections quickly between facts and concepts they have learned.
- Use more extensive vocabulary than their peers.
- Read widely, particularly psychological literature.
- Be interested in finding out more about themselves and those around them.
- Ask questions, which are relevant to the subject matter, suggesting that they are willing to hypothesise and speculate.
- Think logically, providing plausible explanations for human behaviour based on the research or going deeper.
- Consider alternative suggestions and strategies for psychological research, building upon the research designs already present.
- Understand the concepts of reliability and validity and the implications of them when drawing conclusions from evidence.
- Be self-motivated, willingly putting in extra time.
More generally speaking, there are particular areas in which gifted and talented students have significant skill including general intellectual ability, specific academic ability, creative thinking and leadership ability.
Provision in Lessons
Psychology lessons aim to provide opportunities for all, by providing suitable activities that will ensure all members of the class can achieve. Teaching strategies and activities are varied in order to capture the imaginations of a variety of learners.
Those who are gifted will be encouraged to engage in additional activities so that the opportunities provided will keep them applied and enable them to go deeper into the subject matter.
It is important that a post-16 classroom aims to bridge the significant gap between GCSEs and Higher Education, thus questioning and discussion in a seminar environment is of particular importance. In the context of the gifted and talented, this type of technique is used and made more challenging for gifted students, by directing more complex questions with a wider use of vocabulary at them and expecting the same level of communication in return (i.e. with the use of psychological terminology).
Project work may also be used in order to extend a student’s understanding of a given topic. Their presentation of that topic will reveal their depth of knowledge and help them to develop clear communication skills.
The Learning Environment
The psychology classroom is located in the Popham Centre, a well-equipped new building, which was opened in 2007. The layout of the classroom aims to facilitate open discussion between students and this is a particular teaching strategy used within the psychology department. Students are invited to ask questions and others are invited to answer these questions; or to develop hypotheses that might explain the questions/answers further. This particular exercise is a characteristic of a gifted student.
There are notice boards which can be used to display student’s work, thought provoking quotes, images and newspaper items. There are also cabinets which can be used to display books and resources that are relevant and of interest to students. In addition to the modern and spacious classroom design, the electronic equipment within the classroom provides the ability to display PowerPoint presentations, videos, and DVDs.
There is the opportunity for trips to various seminars and even universities in order to get a deeper understanding of psychology. The department has links with the Wells Cathedral School psychology department, where trips to meet with other A Level psychology students and discuss the subject matter with them further will be made available. Richard Huish College in Somerset also puts on conferences to A Level psychology students. Trips to @Bristol and Paignton Zoo have also been arranged to give pupils the chance to explore other areas of Psychology and enhance their understanding of it.
Psychology lectures have been organised to enhance pupil understanding including those from Dr Nigel Holt of Aberystwyth University who spoke on “Weird Stuff in Psychology” and Dr Guy Sutton who lectured on “The Philosophy of the Mind”. These opportunities allow for gifted and talented pupils to consider Psychology from people who work in the field and explore areas outside the syllabus.
Lectures also allow students to see how Psychology crosses into other areas. Dr Sutton’s Philosophy of the Mind talk was attended by Psychology, Biology and Ethics students and included discussions of consciousness and the implications of medical ethics.
A Psychology Club is open to Years 11 – 13 on a Monday afternoon to allow further exploration into topics outside the syllabus. These include the changing provision for mental health problems and looking deeper at the history of Psychology and some of its more questionable research. This gives the opportunity for pupils to explore deeper ethical implications of the subject as well as cultivate a better understanding of how the subject is applied in the real world.
The psychology classroom is fitted with glass cabinets, which can be used for display purposes in order to encourage students to consider the types of books or films that they should be reading.
The department has a variety of resources that can be used and/or borrowed by students including DVD copies of “Rain Man”, “Girl Interrupted”, and “The Three Faces of Eve” as well as books on a range of topics such as language, crime, Freud and music.
Use of the school’s VLE (Moodle)
The school’s Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) Moodle (http://intranet.blundells.org/moodle/), is an internet based software system in which various subjects can make resources made available for student access at any time. Within Psychology, Moodle is used to ensure that students have accesses to any resources that they have missed (such as PowerPoint presentations or handouts) as well as additional reading. This additional reading forms part of the enrichment of gifted students who wish to read further into a certain topic.
The department makes use of Twitter to enable pupils to interact with Psychology in a different fashion. Retweeting current research is one way to enhance the gifted and talented pupils’ appreciation of the wider world of psychological research and it also enables the whole class to consider research in bitesize chunks. The account can be found here: https://twitter.com/BlundellsPsych and pupils can “Follow” to get the latest updates.
Students are encouraged to subscribe to Psychology Review magazine, produced by Phillip Allan Updates. It is aimed at A Level students and includes course relevant articles as well as those which provide a broader perspective on the research. Subscription for the year is £12.50.
BPS Research Digest
All students are encouraged to sign up to the British Psychological Society research digest (available online at http://bps-research-digest.blogspot.com/). This is a fortnightly email that is aimed at A Level psychology students, summarising recent psychological research. Gifted students will be able to identify the relevance of the research.
BPS Student Membership
Those studying A level psychology can join the British Psychological Society as student members (see here: http://www.bps.org.uk/smg/). The cost of this is £21 for the year and members will receive monthly copies of The Psychologist, the BPS magazine, which features the latest news and information on research, termly copies of “Psych-Talk”, a magazine written by members of the SMG for other students, money off psychological books and journals, access to conferences and careers guidance.
This membership is particularly recommended to those A Level students interested in pursuing psychology at university as it will provide them with an introduction to the level that they are aspiring to.