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Internal Assessment Guide HL Psychology

adapted from:

Wally Hobbs Teacher Support Material (IBO) The Holy Guide to Internal Assessment (Jay Atwood)

HL Psychology Internal Assessment Guide


General Guidelines


Title Page




Introduction Section


Method Section


Results Section


Discussion Section







Please see the APA Style Guide for complete information on writing, formatting, headings, page numbering, title page, and so on.

Some basic rules to get you started

You can write in first person to enhance flow

Write in past tense, and be consistent

Number all pages, starting with the title page, in the top right corner

Use a standard font (Times New Roman 12 pt), left justified, double-spaced

Use APA style in-text citations (in-text references) to refer to the works of others (ex: Neisser 1964)

Word count includes the Introduction, Method, Results, and Discussion sections only (minus citations, headings, and graphs)

HL Psychology Internal Assessment Guide


See the APA Style Guide for details on how to format and layout your title page, and for what details to include. This is how it should look:


An experiment measuring the effect of category headings on recall

Wallace Hobbs


HL Psychology

15 December 2005



Although this is the first section after the title page, it should be the last section you write. It is a summary of the entire paper, and it should begin on its own page. It does not count towards the word count. Recommended word length: 200.


Summarize your aim and hypotheses

Summarize your method

State the type of design (i.e. independent measures, repeated measures)

State your variables (i.e. IVs and DV)

Briefly describe any controls you used (i.e. counterbalancing, double blind, etc.)

Briefly describe your participants

Briefly describe your procedure

Summarize your results

State your conclusion

HL Psychology Internal Assessment Guide


This section includes two main things: the background, and the justification for the research study.
This section includes two main things: the background, and the justification for the research study. The background
should lead logically to your aim and hypotheses, so try to funnel the introduction from broad concepts to more specific
topics directly related to the research study. Recommended word length: 600.
General introduction to the psychological area under investigation
Identify the perspective in which your study took place
For example: Cognitive psychology
Introduce the specific area of research to which the study was relevant
For example: memory
Write about the particular topic that your study addressed
For example: the effect of ‘state dependence’ and ‘cue dependence’ on memory
Summary of key theories and research studies
Include studies/theories related to your hypotheses, cited in APA style
Discuss 3-5 background theories/studies (cut and paste from your annotated references if possible)
Essentially you are explaining the theoretical framework that supports your study
For each background theory/study:
Describe the procedure and conclusion
Evaluate (CEGM, or supporting/contradicting research)
Relate it explicitly to your own hypotheses
Rationale and justification for the study
Briefly and clearly justify why it is important to study this topic
Briefly explain and justify the prediction you are making
Aim and hypotheses
 State your aim
Make a clear statement about what is being investigated
For example: The aim of this study is to investigate how the use of category
headings affects the number of words that people can recall.
 State your null hypothesis (H 0 )
It’s not a prediction: it is simply a statement that there is no difference between the experimental conditions
 State your research hypothesis (H 1 )
Make sure it is operationalized (it must be evident how the variables will be quantified or measured)
For example: The mean number of words recalled by the group given category headings
is significantly greater than the mean number of words recalled by the
group without category headings.
Page 3
Updated January 2010

HL Psychology Internal Assessment Guide


Precision and clarity are necessary in this section, because this is where you demonstrate your understanding of research methodology. Anyone should be able to replicate your study EXACTLY by reading this section. This section is subdivided into four parts, each with a label: design, participants, materials, and procedures. Recommended word length:



State the method used (for example: experiment)

State which design was used (for example: repeated measures), and fully justify why this design was used

Briefly describe how each of the ethical guidelines were followed (especially consent, withdrawal, anonymity/confidentiality, debriefing, no stress/discomfort, etc.)

Clearly identify your independent (IV) and dependent (DV) variables, making sure they are operationalized


Identify the characteristics of your target population, and explain how they are relevant to your H 1

The population being sampled should be completely described (number, age, gender, language, etc.)

State your sample size, and the number of participants in each condition/group

If appropriate describe any distinguishing characteristics of your sample (number, age, gender, language, etc.)

Identify and justify your sampling and allocation procedures

It is okay to use an opportunity sample, as long as it is fully justified

Do not state “Taipei American School” and do not give characteristics that allow readers to identify individuals


This section can be in the form of a list, and any materials specifically developed for the experiment should be listed and referenced to a sample copy in the appendix

As a minimum this section should include: informed consent, debriefing statement, standardized instructions, and any experimental materials

For example:

standardized instructions (see Appendix C)


Carefully and accurately describe how you carried out the experiment itself, in chronological order

This section may be done in bullet points

You do not need to repeat any details from previous sections here (i.e. sampling procedures, ethics, etc.) but you do need to sequence when sampling was done and ethical guidelines followed

Describe your experiment in step-by-step fashion, including such details as:

Where it was conducted and how participants were grouped during the experiment (individual, pairs, etc.)

How the IV was manipulated and the DV measured

The role(s) of the researcher(s)

Standardization – instructions to increase reliability and limit distraction; location to increase reliability; etc.

Identify and explain any other controls used and how For example: counterbalancing, single-blind, double-blind, etc.

HL Psychology Internal Assessment Guide


This section includes numerical and graphical summaries of collected data: the reader should be able to understand the results by looking only at the text or by looking only at the graph. This section should be written in paragraph form (and may include a table), supported by a graph, and should reflect the hypotheses exactly. DO NOT include raw data (i.e. each participant’s score) – these go in the Appendix. Recommended word length: 200.

Interpretation of descriptive statistics

Use descriptive statistics to summarize the central tendency

Mean, median, mode – include only the most relevant measure(s)

For example: “The mean number of words recalled by the experimental group was 2.5”

Use descriptive statistics to summarize the dispersion

Range, variance, standard deviation – include only the most relevant measure(s)

For example: “The standard deviation for the experimental group was 0.7”


Also use a graph to summarize your results

Graphs should clearly indicate the IVs and DV (on the axes of a bar graph)

Graphs should match your hypothesis and show how each group performed in the experiment

Also include N =

for each group

10 8 6 4 2 0 List with category headings (N=10) List without category headings
List with category headings
List without category
headings (N=9)
Mean number of words recalled

Figure 1: Effect of category headings on recall

Analysis using inferential statistics

Explain which statistical test you chose and why

Summarize your calculations

May explain how the test was applied to each experimental condition (see Coolican as a model)

State values of N =

For example: “Each participant’s score on the word recall quiz was allocated points whenever it was exceeded or equaled by a score in the other group. The lower points total was taken as a Mann Whitney U value for N 1 =10 and N 2 =10. The results indicated

lower scores for the group without category headings, U=12; the critical value at p < 0.05 is 15.”

Include your raw calculations in an Appendix

, p < 0.05, critical values (from Appendix in Coolican), calculated values (S, T, x 2 , or U)

Make a decision of significance

Significance level p < 0.05 is appropriate for most psychological research

Essentially you are determining whether the results are due to a real difference between the groups, or the result of chance or error

Make a decision about the null hypothesis

If your results were significant (p < 0.05) you can reject H 0 … the probability of your result under H 0 is less than 5%

If your results were not significant (p > 0.05) you can make no decision regarding H 0 … the statistical test has not provided the required confidence to reject it – your result may be due to chance, error, etc.

Furthermore, this means you can make no decision regarding H 1 … it is neither supported nor rejected statistically

HL Psychology Internal Assessment Guide


This section discusses the implications of your research. It provides an opportunity for you to discuss the larger meaning and applicability of your experiment, in light of the background research, your methodology, and future research and improvements. Do not rehash the Introduction or introduce new research. End with a well-balanced conclusion. Recommended word length: 700.

Discussion of the results of the current study and its relation to the study/studies cited in the Introduction

Interpret your results

Discuss whether or not the results were consistent with H 1

Explain the difference, if any, between the groups (i.e. your measure(s) of central tendency should indicate whether the difference between groups is large/small, so discuss possible reasons why)

Explain the implications of your measure(s) of dispersion (i.e. a relatively large standard deviation might indicate low reliability)

Comment on any anomalous (particularly unusual) results

Overall, what do your results mean in the big picture?

Link/relate your results to each background study

Try to explain why your participants behaved the way they did, in light of the background research

Try to explain why your results were similar/different as compared to the background research

Develop your ideas fully

Identification of strengths and limitations of methodology

Analyze and evaluate your own methodology

Discuss any flaws or limitations that may have affected the outcome of your experiment

Try to identify confounding variables that may have influenced the study

Try not to rely on simplistic evaluations such as “the experimental study should have used a larger sample”

Discuss which factors were out of your control, if applicable

Discuss strengths of your methodology

Again, try not to rely on simplistic evaluations – consider experimental controls, etc.

Suggestions for modifications and further research

Suggest modifications to remedy your methodology

Try to ‘fix’ the limitations you identified in the previous paragraph … focus on one or two important modifications

Explain how the experiment might be improved in the future

Suggest further research

Consider any questions that arose during your experiment

Consider related topics it might be interesting to study


Very briefly summarize your research in a well-balanced conclusion

Clearly indicate whether or not your hypothesis was supported

Go for the “big picture” – the implications of your findings, what they mean in the grand scheme of things, etc.

HL Psychology Internal Assessment Guide


See the APA Style Guide for details on how to format your references, and for basic styles. The Reference section should begin on its own page.


Include only sources you actually read and cited in the text of your paper

Follow a one-to-one relationship: if it’s in the paper it should be in the References, and vice versa

In alphabetical order

Use a hanging indent


This section begins on a new page and includes all the materials necessary to allow the experiment to be replicated. It also includes your raw data (possibly in table form). The Appendices do not count towards the word limit.

Include copies of all materials necessary for replication

Label each item as a separate Appendix (i.e. Appendix A)

Include blank copies of the following, as applicable:

Any materials used

Standardized instructions

Informed consent statement(s )

Debriefing statement(s)


Include raw data and calculations

Include tables of raw data

Make sure no participants are identifiable

Include statistical calculations

Paste your worksheet from Excel

Make sure all relevant calculations are clearly labeled (i.e. central tendency, dispersion, inferential tests, etc.)

HL Psychology Internal Assessment Guide

IA#Rubric#(H L) #












Clearly stated


Very clearly stated

Theoretical Framework

There is no introduction or it is irrelevant

Not relevant to hypotheses


Not sufficiently relevant to hypotheses

Logical, and relevant to H1 and H0

Logical, and highly relevant to H1 and



Background Research

Fewer than 3


Lacks analysis

Basic analysis


Good analysis

Analyzed in depth




Unclear and not justified


Clearly stated and justified

Very clearly stated and well justified

METHOD: Design








Not identified or are irrelevant


Accurately identified


Ethical Guidelines


Not followed


Evidence that all guidelines have been followed



Not identified or inappropriate design

Appropriate but unjustified


Appropriate and justified

METHOD: Participants




Target Population

No relevant characteristics are identified

Some characteristics identified but not all are relevant

Characteristics identified and made explicitly relevant


Sampling Technique

No relevant sampling technique is identified or justified

Selected using an appropriate method, but the method is not justified

Selected using an appropriate method, and justified

METHOD: Procedure





Not presented or not relevant

Relevant but not clearly described and not easily replicable

Relevant, clearly described, easily replicable








There are no results, or they are irrelevant to the hypotheses

Stated and accurate, but not sufficiently related to hypotheses

Clearly stated and accurate, and H0 has been rejected (or not) according to statistical tests


Not sufficiently accurate or clear

Accurate and clearly presented

Inferential Statistics

Not appropriately chosen or applied or justified

Appropriately chosen, applied, and justified













Results Tied to Theoretical Framework


Very superficial discussion of results in light of theoretical framework, background studies, and aim

Not fully discussed and not fully developed in light of framework, research studies, and aim

Fully discussed but not fully developed in light of framework, research studies, and aim

Fully developed discussion of results in light of theoretical framework, background studies, and aim

Excellent discussion of results in light of theoretical framework, background studies, and aim

Strengths and


There is no discussion or it is irrelevant


Not all have been accurately identified

Accurate yet


Clearly identified

and discussed

Not always accurately identified



Clearly identified



None drawn

Appropriate conclusion

Appropriate and well balanced


Improvements and

Modifications and


None suggested

Some improvements and modifications suggested

Improvements and



modifications are

suggested for

further research








Word Limit


Outside limit


1500 – 2000 words




Not in correct format (APA style)

Correct format (APA style)



None provided

Incomplete, or APA style is not used consistently or correctly

Complete, using APA style consistently and correctly


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