What is the themantic approach?

The traditional and by far the most common way of teaching IB Psychology is to teach it in a linear way,., i.e. teach each approach (level of analysis) and the options topics separately. So, for instance, the course begins with Research Methods, then moves into the BLA (or approaches, as they’re now called), the CLA. And in the second year perhaps the options and the SCLA are completed. Each learning outcome is addressed separately, with perhaps some overlap.

A themantic approach to structuring the course still addresses the same learning outcomes (topics), it’s just they’re grouped together from all parts of the course. So, for instance, you might teaching one unit that combines outcomes from Development Psychology with BLA, CLA, and SCLA outcomes.

Here are some potential unit titles to give you an example:

  • Criminology
  • PTSD
  • Love, Sex and Marriage
  • Social Influence

You can see that these outcomes come from some areas of the course that grouped together (e.g. “Interpersonal Relationships” in the HR unit) but they also include aspects from other units. In later posts, I’ll go into more specific examples of how you can do this.

There is so much potential with a themantic overview once you realise you can break free from a linear approach to structuring the course. You’ll have more fun planning your units and, in turn, your students will be more engaged in your lessons.

In this blog series about themantic teaching I’ll delve further into outlining the advantages of the themantic approach, potential teaching ideas and examples, as well as practical strategies as well, like how to combine this with the Internal Assessment and Qualitative Research for HL students.

Just so you know, the themantic model of curriculum design is a bigger and more complex (on the surface) model. In order to fully appreciate the themantic model, it’s important to grasp our three levels of thinking (knowing, understanding and abstracting). You can find more information about these three levels on this site.