Essay Writing Tips for Psychology Students
This article is going to be an article with some tips on writing good essays for your psychology exam or Essay Writing Tips for Psychology Students so I’ve got a simple method that you can use I hope it helps you in your essay writing.
The P-E-E-L formula the PEEL formula
- When you start writing your essays the first part of your essay should have a point when you’re writing so let’s say one paragraph, you should start with a point
- And then you should try and give some examples or evidence to back up the point that you just made.
- Then you can add an explanation or perhaps an elaboration on the previous point
- And then last but not least make sure that you link your answer to the study that’s often a careless mistake that many of my students make is that oftentimes they read the question but they answer so quickly they talk about a different study, the question asks you for Solomon and you give an example from bandura.
- That can happen to caddis mistakes so make sure you always remember the l which is to link your answer correctly
- Make sure as you’re writing the answer the whole answer should be linked to a particular study a point your evidence example and how you explain or elaborate on it
- Now this doesn’t strictly have to be in this order the order can change you can change maybe your point comes first your explanation comes second elaboration comes later or evidence comes last that’s completely up to you the order doesn’t matter so much but as long as it has a logical and coherent flow that means all the points make sense together then it should be fine is the order fixed no it’s not fixed you can change the order if you want
Now here’s a simple question and let’s break down this question together with some answering and you guys will understand how the p-e-e-l method works based on this question.
Evaluate one strength and one weakness in Milgram’s study.
Try to write the Answer to this Question in your way I am waiting to complete your Answer.
Okay, I shall assume that I’m going to give a wild guess that you didn’t write the Essay in your notebook but that’s all if you did congratulations if you didn’t it doesn’t really matter because we’re going to go through it together just make sure that you’re using your brain and thinking.
Make sure you don’t just learn passively it’s always good to have active learning so before I even say something try and think of the answers in your head so what’s one strength and one weakness of Milgram’s study think about that for a moment I’m going to be talking about the strength being the standardized procedure in the study and I’m going to highlight one weakness which is the ecological validity of the study.
So sometimes the questions are two strengths and two weaknesses for the purpose of this example I’m just going to use one strength and one weakness
Strength – A Standardized Procedure
So let’s talk about the strength being standardized procedures that are strengths in Milgram’s study.
So what’s my point p the point is going to be one strength of the study is the standardization of procedure in Milgram study again this is just in point form when you’re writing an actual sentence please write the full sentence properly.
So now I’m going to go to the E procedures are standardized to make sure that the research can be replicated at other times and settings at the same time it increases the reliability of the research as procedures and measures are consistent so I’m explaining what the standardization of a procedure is.
E and L
And then finally I give the evidence and I make sure that the evidence is linked to the study of Milgram’s experiment.
In this study, the experimenter and the confederate were consistent throughout the study.
The experimenter is 31-year-old biology teach biology teacher dressed in a gray lab coat the confederate is a 47-year-old accountant who appeared to be mild-mannered to the participants all the participants picked a paper from a hat to know their roles they were all exposed to the shock generator and were administered and was administered a 45-volt electric shock to make them believe that the shocks they were going to administer were real during the administration of the electric shock all participants were prompted with the same four verbal prods when they refused to administer further electric shocks please continue the experimenter requires that you go on it is absolutely essential that you continue and you have no other choice you must go on.
So I’m basically highlighting here all the procedure that was standardized for all the participants in the Milgram study what did they go through and what did they experience I provided as much detail as I can remember and remember.
The l part here is that I make sure I’m talking about the correct study make sure that you’re linking it to the correct study and not a wrong study
So as you can say p-e-e-l here is very good last but not least I can recap the second e which is such standardization of procedures allows the risk, other researchers, to replicate the studies to investigate the effect of obedience and thus contributes to the advancement of knowledge on obedience I think there are some typos in English there please ignore the typos if I’ve made any mistakes sometimes I prepare these late at night and I may make small grammatical errors do forgive me for that but essentially I’m just recapping to restate what the whole what my point is that the standardization of procedure is a good thing why because it allows for replication of the study.
So that’s the strength of having a standardized procedure is that you allow other people to replicate it there are higher levels of reliability, so notice how the PEEL and I repeated another e just to recap you can give a conclusion, or some you can give a restating it’s like it’s sometimes when you learn writing you learn this word thesis statement so it’s as if you’re restating a thesis statement similar to that concept I’m just restating the point to enhance the fact that my point is very clear that the standardization of procedure is good why is it a strength because it allows for reliability to be increased and it allows for other people to replicate the study.
Weakness – Ecological Validity
So P one weakness of Milgram’s study is a lack of ecological validity so I make my point very clear in the first part of the paragraph then I add to it so I’m gonna give some evidence from the study first.
Now this is a bit different I didn’t explain it I’m just going to go straight to the evidence Milgram’s study took place in a laboratory which was an artificial environment that the participants would not have been familiar with the task was very unusual as we are not normally asked to give electric shocks to strangers in our daily lives especially not under pressure from an experimenter so I clearly linked the whole study and I explained the whole ecological validity part in the sense that it’s in a foreign environment they’re not familiar with it and the things that they’re asked to do are also not familiar that’s part of mundane realism as well and then the last e, as a result, it is possible that the behavior they produced would not have been representative of their normal behavior in everyday life we should therefore be cautious about generalizing Milgram’s findings to the real world.
So here’s the weakness of having low ecological validity is that the results are no longer representative of normal behavior in real life thus the results of the findings could be less valid that’s something also that you could say because it’s not in a normal situation it’s in a foreign environment artificial environment rather and people are not people probably not going to react exactly in the same way as they would in real life he’s asking them to do something that’s very strange and so because of that it’s a weakness the findings and results will probably not be as representative of normal behaviour.
“So what” problem
Now here’s the number one problem that I ever that I see in essays, not just me but examining the seed as well the problem is the so what problem I call it so what problem.
let me give you an example let’s say we go back to the answer I gave on the weakness being ecological ability so the point was it lacks the ecological ability and then I gave evidence from the study to say that okay his experiment took place in the laboratory we don’t do this often we don’t give strangest electric shocks and what if I had just stopped there that means I just state the point I give you evidence from the study and then I don’t add any explanation as to why it’s straight it’s a weakness I just stopped there the question I’m left with is so what yes it lacks the ecological ability, yes the artificial environment was the lab that they were in so what how is that a weakness but can you see how this does not explain the weakness part the weakness is that the results become less valid why because people are less likely to show their actual normal behavior.
“So what” Issue
So this is often related to the explanations portion of your answers students have not told the marker why the point that students have made is relevant or useful to the debate or the evaluation in question you need to explain why why is it the ecological validity is a weakness or why is it that the standardized procedure is a strength this is what the explanation point should do you should explain clearly why the point you’ve made is a good or a bad thing for your study in this case a strength or a weakness why if i just tell you that oh his study had standardized procedures and that is a strength so why is it a strength i know it’s a strength but why is it a strength if you just describe the study and tell me that oh the participants were all shocked with 45 votes of electricity to prove that it was real and they were also all given the same four verbal prods and then full stop so what why was that a strength why is that a good thing because it increases reliability increases replicability so that’s the why part you need to explain it.
Let’s practice now what would you add to these points to solve the problem of so what so I’m going to give you three points on how would you add to it to improve it.
- If many students write this what was the weakness of the sample, the sample was small full stop so what if the sample is small that doesn’t explain why it’s a weakness how would you add to that okay think for a moment how would you add to this answer well one of the things that I would add because the sample size is small therefore the results are less generalizable because having a small sample size is less representative of the entire population you have less variety less variance within the sample you can’t represent the population as well so those are the kind of answers that I would add on to get the second mark for this question.
- All participants were debriefed so if some question asks you something like what were the ethical measures taken all participants were debriefed full stop so what so what if they were debriefed how does that help well you need to explain why why is debriefing a good and important thing to do especially in terms of ethics well because debriefing is the one is the one thing that ensures that first and foremost participants are informed fully informed of the of the true nature and aim of the study and they also have also will usually be given the to withdraw their results from the study should they wish to they should also be ensured that or rather the experimenter should ensure that this that the condition that they came into the experiment is the same condition that they leave the experiment they shouldn’t be left feeling in any way anxious or distressed which is especially important for milgram study in milgram study many of them were close to the point of complete breakdown and then they had a debriefing they met the supposed victim and everything was hunky-dory and everything was fine because they understand that oh actually this was completely fake there was nobody actually being electrocuted.
- The measures were standardized, so what if the measures are standardized how would you answer it better what would you add to this to explain why the standardization of procedure or standardized measures is important or a good thing for the study or strength of the advantage why so always think about the why.
There are several types of questions you may encounter with regard to this the three types that I’ve seen from passive question papers are –
- Evaluated evaluate the weaknesses in the Milgram study so using the p e plus l method talk about the weak and talk about the weakness still, weaknesses means in plural so at least two talks about weaknesses but you must also defend the weakness and provide an evaluation in this sense don’t just list the weakness also evaluate evaluated don’t just say or the sample was small or the procedure was standardized you need to evaluate balance the weakness with talk about how it’s a weakness or why it’s a weakness evaluate the weakness.
- Next you can also talk about the strengths and weaknesses so this is strengths and weaknesses you often see this question use the pe method to talk about each separately so try not to mix up your points and strengths and weakness in one in one paragraph it looks very messy one paragraph one string one paragraph one weakness and make sure there are two of each at least one of your points must be about so some of the questions they have this additional line where they say oh talk about two strengths and weaknesses and at least one of your points must be about ethics or at least one of your points must be about so and so so make sure you pay attention to that circle that keyword and and talk about that first so if the question says evaluate two strengths and two weaknesses in milgram study at least one of your points must be about the sample so the first thing that you should talk about is it the sample in milgram study is whatever you want to talk about always talk about that first because i know these students often write the answer and forget about the extra detail about the named issue that the question is asking you to talk about they often forget about it so talk about it first in your answer so you don’t forget about it so that’s important.
- Discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the social approach using milgram study or slash using any of the studies under the social approach so this is another way that i’ve seen some asking questions ask you rather than ask about the study specifically they ask you from the terms of the approach so you’re now evaluating the approach not the study you’re talking about the fact that it’s from the social approach use the study as an example to illustrate your point so that that’s talking more towards the approach and in fact i will have a um i think i have other videos that are coming up on my channel about approach so so stay tuned for that or if you subscribe to my premium study notes um you will actually get some notes that i’ve written down on the approach so then you can talk more about how each approach what are the assumptions of the approach and stuff like that that you can add to your essays but just be careful in this sense you are still going to use milgram study as an example or other studies but your focus should be on the approach now that being said this is a very rare question i don’t see this question coming up very often in fact personally as a lecturer i don’t really like this question i prefer just evaluate two strikes and two weaknesses i think that’s clear easy to understand it’s a question that students are able to understand and answer when it comes to evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of the approach it’s a little bit odd but i might discuss it in a future video but for now i think focus on the first and the second type of question that we often see .
Some Extra Notes
Read the question carefully what is the question really asking for make sure you always know what the question is asking for circle the keywords in the question so that you don’t make a canvas mistake.
- Which study is it referring to very important is it referring to Milgram bandura etc which study is it referring to specifically make sure you always link your answers to that study?
- Plan your essays take a few short seconds to plan a quick essay don’t write too short make sure you have one paragraph and one point don’t mix up everything together because then it becomes messy it becomes too short you don’t usually elaborate enough when everything is just in one paragraph.
- Please I always encourage my students please use good handwriting there’s no point in having the best answer in the world if nobody can read it you won’t get marks for it markers can only give marks for what they can read if your answers are completely illegible and they can’t read it you won’t get any marks they’ll be quite sad.
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