Psychology A Level/GCSE Standardised Instructions

Understanding Psychology at A Level and GCSE: 15: Variables Affecting Research – Standardised Instructions

Here is the 15th in our new series of Psychology blogs – useful for anyone revising for exams or thinking about taking up Psychology as a new subject at A level or GCSE.

Variables Affecting Research – Standardised Instructions

I want to see how many five year olds in a class of thirty can read a list of ten words off the whiteboard for me. Thirty is a bit many children to handle at once, so I split the class in half. Fifteen stay with me, whilst the other fifteen go outside to play.

Group 1 – I put up the ten words one by one. I ask the children to shout out the words to me. I count how many have shouted out.

After this group, I find that I found this a bit confusing, so decide to handle group 2 a bit differently.

Group 2 – I get the other fifteen children to come into the classroom. Again, I put the words up on the whiteboard one by one, but ask the children to put up their hands if they can read it. Again, I count how many put their hands up.

But I have handled these two groups differently. I have asked one group to shout out their answers and the other group to put up their hands. What about children who are shy? They might not have liked shouting out their answers, but might have been able to read the words. There were fifteen children all shouting at once. What if I missed someone? What if someone wasn’t reading the word properly? What if they only started shouting the word out when they heard someone else read it?

All of these factors would affect my results.

Variable Way to Control For It
Different instructions One way to control for this type of situation would be Standardised Instructions. Before carrying out the experiment, I would prepare my instructions on exactly how to carry out the experiment. Then I would ensure that both groups have the same instructions and perform the experiment in the same way. Standardised instructions are also useful if there is more than one experimenter carrying out the research as it ensures that everyone performs the experiment in the same way.

Tracey Jones


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