Let’s get started! This is a useful summary for teachers and students of the process for the new IA (internally-assessed student-conducted experiment…now you see why the name is shortened 🙂 This will first be assessed in May 2019, and I’m sure some of you are getting started soon.
Group work is mandatory. Up to 4 students in a group, and preferably each group conducting a different experiment, so you don’t run out of participants. The experiment is run together by the group to collect the raw data, but every section, and all data calculations, have to be performed and written about individually.
Statistical Analysis must be conducted by everyone. Descriptive statistics identify if there is a difference between the two conditions and inferential statistical analysis tells you whether or not this difference is significant at the p<0.05 level. Unless you are an expert statistician, it is easier to just manipulate the independent variable once to give two conditions under which you measure the dependent variable. Plan how you are going to do this, and which tests you need to use before even starting your experiment.
Ethical Considerations – be sure that your experiment will cause no harm or stress to the participants, who may not be animals or young children. Conformity experiments are not allowed, because they are stressful, and you may not ask your participants to eat or drink anything in order to test the effects. Neither may you deprive them of sleep. Your appendices at the very end of your report should contain a blank copy of the informed consent form, a copy of your briefing and debriefing notes, raw data tables and your calculations for the analysis.
IA Report – This needs a header containing the following information: title; your IB candidate code and the codes of all group members; date, month and year of submission; no. of words.
The Report should be between 1800 and 2200 words and split into the following 4 sections:
Introduction (6 marks) – Contains the aim of the experiment, and explains the link between the experiment and the model or theory on which it is based. (Most likely your experiment will be based on another study or experiment, but you need to know the underlying theory and show the link). The hypotheses should be written out carefully, and contain the operationalised independent and dependent variable. It is probably easier to write these separately first and then combine them to make the hypothesis.
Exploration (4 marks) – This is where you describe your procedure, including the design, sampling technique, participant characteristics, controlled variables and materials. Write it very carefully, as you will want to refer back to it later in your last (Evaluation) section.
Analysis (6 marks) – Consists of correctly chosen and applied descriptive and inferential statistics. The descriptive statistical analysis results should be shown in a bar chart (graph) that is carefully labelled. The inferential statistics results need to be interpreted in terms of what they show about the hypothesis. Do you have to accept or reject your null hypothesis, and why?
Evaluation (6 marks) – This is where you explain your results, in relation to the theory/model and study on which you based your experiment. You need to explain the strengths and limitations of your design, sample and procedure and suggest how you could have improved upon what you did. We cannot always anticipate the effect of decisions we made earlier when deciding how to conduct the experiment, but we can explain their effect at the end.
All IAs need a list of references at the back, and the appendices follow this. They do not count towards the word count.
Remember – it doesn’t have to be a complex experiment. The simpler the better. Old ‘favourites’ from Cognitive Psychology always do well: Loftus and Palmer, Stroop, Peterson & Peterson and Bransford & Johnson are all tried and tested studies from the area of memory.