Twenty-nine Lower Sixth Psychology students recently enjoyed a trip to Newquay Zoo armed with stopwatches, cameras, tally timers and observation charts on clipboards. They went to learn observational techniques (construction of behavioural categories, coding, time sampling, point sampling, event sampling); testing out these techniques on black macaques, ring tailed lemurs and spider monkeys and then making use of the education room there to analyse the data, drawing a variety of graphs with the collected data. Students then independently observed any animal of their choice using the same techniques.
Back in lesson, students have embedded this into their learning, designing observational studies of children, tackling examination questions about observations and doing presentations about their independent research (otters, penguins, meerkats, zebra & wildebeest).
It was a brilliant trip that stretched students beyond the A Level syllabus and gave them an opportunity to actively develop upon a skill for life, especially for anyone wanting to pursue a career in Psychology.