Part 1: Essay (50% of the mark for this EMA)
‘Psychologists who have studied a range of different phenomena have offered valuable insights into why people sometimes have difficulty understanding the world and each other.’
Evaluate this claim (above), drawing upon examples of research from across the module to support your answer.
Word limit: 1800 words
You are working as a junior researcher as part of a team of psychologists. You are approached by a student union that offers an advice service for students who are experiencing issues during their studies. The advice service currently only offers support with academic issues, but many of the
students who use the service are experiencing issues with their studies because of conflict in their personal relationships.
To address this, the student union is considering funding the development of resources to create online support for students who are experiencing relationship conflict. As students may wish to seek support at any time of the day or night, the student union would like to know if including a ‘self-help’element to the online support, which would be available 24/7, is a viable option.
The student union have asked for your advice on two aspects of the problem and want you to: (1)discuss the main psychological issues in relationship conflict that the student support team should be aware of; (2) explain what types of online support (including self-help) could be provided for students dealing with these issues.
Student notes for part 1
This part of the EMA is intended to assess your ability to evaluate a claim (that ‘psychologists who have studied a range of different phenomena have offered valuable insights into why people sometimes have difficulty understanding the world and each other’). You will need to give careful
consideration to what is meant by the claim and then present some carefully selected material that allows you to evidence and support your arguments.
You are explicitly asked to draw upon examples of research from at least two blocks of the module to support your answer. A particular challenge of this essay is to select appropriate examples from a potentially very broad range of relevant material, from across the module topics.
The command word in the essay question is evaluate. This means that you will need to make an appraisal of the worth, validity and/or effectiveness of the claim that is stated within the question (that ‘psychologists who have studied a range of different phenomena have offered valuable insights into why people sometimes have difficulty understanding the world and each other’). You should consider some of the explanations that psychologists have offered for why people have difficulty understanding the world and each other, and the research evidence that they use to support their theories. You should consider the strengths and weaknesses of those explanations,and research examples.
Tips for writing:
The essay question specifically asks you to draw on research examples from across the module, so when selecting which material to include make sure you demonstrate a breadth of knowledge (e.g. don’t draw exclusively or very heavily on just one book chapter or module week, no matter
how interesting you find it).
It would be appropriate for you to draw on additional material that you have found in your independent study time to help illustrate your points, such as recent research papers that you might have found through the Open University Library. However, you should make sure that you
use these to support points that are based on examples from within the module, rather than introducing entirely new topics or areas.
Relevant Material : part 1
Chapter 1- Mind reading
Chapter 5 – Conflict in Close Relationships
Chapter 7 -Boundaries of the self
Chapter 10 – Making sense of the world
Chapter 11- Everyday errors in making sense of the world
Chapter 12 – Conspiracy theory
Part 2: Report (50% of the marks for this EMA)
Write a brief report relevant to the areas identified in the scenario provided below.
Word limit: 1200 words
Student notes for Part 2:
This part of the EMA is intended to assess your skills of thinking critically about an applied scenario.
The report you are being asked to write applies to a context in which a student union is considering offering online resources to support students experiencing relationship conflict.
Your focus should therefore be on what the student union needs to know about psychological theory and research on conflict in personal relationships and how to manage it, as applied to the context in the scenario. You should also consider what types of online support and resources would be useful to help students manage relationship conflict.
Your report will need to be concise, and its main purpose is to provide an initial assessment of psychological research and theory on relationship conflict and its management, and to make recommendations about the types of online support, including self-help, that could be used to help students address this issue. This part of the EMA requires you to use a mainly textual format. You can support your points with appropriate additional elements, such as tables, graphs,or other figures, but please note that tables and figures still need to be included in your word count.
It is appropriate to draw on material that you have found in your independent study time, for example through the Open University Library, as well as the module materials.
There are two command words in the Part 2 question: discuss and explain. You are asked to discuss the main issue highlighted in the scenario (relationship conflict) and provide recommendations about the types of support that could be offered online. In order to do this effectively, you will need to draw on psychological theories and research to explain some of the
issues further, giving details about relationship conflict and its management as well as offering recommendations about types of self-help advice and online support.
At this stage of your studies, your discussions and explanations should demonstrate your ability to critically evaluate — that is, they should not be purely descriptive.
Tips for writing:
You have already produced a report for TMA04, but in this assignment you will be using material from more than one block. Make sure you refer to your TMA04 feedback about report writing to help you with writing Part 2 of this EMA.
An important element of writing this part of the EMA is to remember your audience and write appropriately for them. Your audience has been identified in the scenario as non-psychologists.Therefore, though you should assume that the audience are professionals and educated to a
reasonably high standard, you should not assume familiarity with psychological concepts,theories or terminology.
You should also try to make good use of the report format, presenting your material in an appropriate style and structure so that it is clear and concise. Remember that you can use non-textual elements if they would help to get your points across, such as tables, graphs, figures or diagrams. However, make sure that any such elements serve a useful function in your report: do
not include them just for the sake of it. Remember that the words in any tables or figures that you use will count towards your word limit.
Well-chosen material from outside the module materials will help you address the question effectively and demonstrate your ability to make use of independent literature. It is important that you relate the psychological theories and research you identify in the literature back to the specific issues presented in the scenario.
Be careful not to use too many quotations from the module materials or other sources and keep the ones you do use short and to the point, as they will count towards your word limit. It may be better to avoid quotations altogether, and to concentrate instead on writing in your own words.
Relevant material :
Chapter 5 – Conflict in close relationships
Chapter 15 – Self-help
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