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Achievement objectives in psychology

The New Zealand Curriculum does not state specific achievement objectives for psychology at levels 6–8. Specific objectives have been developed to describe the intended outcomes. These objectives are structured in four strands:

These four strands align with the social science achievement objectives for level 6, 7 and 8 for social studies and history.


The four psychology strands relate closely to each other and the key concepts. For example, approaches can be applied to any of the fields and, in turn, the key concepts can be studied through any of the strands.

It is imperative that ethical considerations for practice and research are integrated into every aspect of learning in psychology.


In psychology, the term ‘approach’ refers to a paradigm or set of principles about people and the way that they function. Different approaches may offer different explanations for behaviours. Approaches may include, but are not limited to, behavioural, biological, cognitive, sociocultural, humanist, evolutionary, and psychodynamic.

When discussing these approaches there are a number of debates that may be considered. These may include, but are not limited to, nature vs nurture, holism vs reductionism and free will vs determinism.

For more on approaches, see What is psychology about?


Methodologies are how psychologists investigate behaviour in order to develop and test theories. They may include but are not limited to case studies, correlations, experiments, observations, statistics, and surveys.


Psychological theories are applied in real life settings, known as fields. Fields of professional practice may include, but are not limited to, clinical, developmental, industrial and organisational, forensic, health, sports, comparative and media.


Issues are professional, ethical or methodological concerns that arise from psychological research or practice. They may include, but are not limited to, ethics, gender bias, cultural bias, reliability, validity and the use of animals in research.

Progression in psychology

Students’ progress in psychology is demonstrated by their increasingly sophisticated ability to identify, apply, evaluate and analyse psychological concepts, methodologies, and issues. 

Achievement objectives by level and strand

The development of conceptual understanding is cumulative as students return to the same concepts in different contexts throughout their learning.

Last updated November 21, 2017