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Welcome to the ShortCutstv Blog

Saturday, December 23rd, 2017

This is the part of the site we use to post anything we think might be of interest to teachers and students of Sociology and Psychology – from announcements about new Sociology, Psychology and Criminology films, to teaching and learning Notes, PowerPoints, web sites, software – just about anything that piques our interest, really.

In September 2019 we hit 600 individual Blog posts and to make it easier for you to find a particular post on a particular topic we’ve added a range of functions (on the bar to the right) that should help:

Search Box: if you’re looking for something specific. It’s not very clever so try to Keep It Simple.

Recent Posts displays the most recent posts (yes, really). Not the most useful widget in the world. Obviously.

Archive Posts: This is actually useful if you want a quick way to look back through the numerous posts we’ve made by month / year. Just click the month / year you want from the drop-down list.

Popular Tags: identifies the most popular keywords used in posts (the larger the word, the more posts there are about it). Just click the word to see the posts…

Popular Posts: identifies the posts that have had the most views so you can Follow the Crowd(tm).

Categories: allows you to filter posts by Sociology, Psychology, Simulations and Toolbox – so if you only want to see Psychology posts (or whatever), this is the filter for you.

Last, but by no means least, you can use the Get Notified box to sign-up for an email notification each time a new post appears on the Blog.

We only use this address to send you automatic notifications and it won’t be passed to a third-party, used for spamming you or whatever.

We like to think we’re better than that.

Are you feeling lucky?

Saturday, September 14th, 2019
Well, do you?

When it comes to Sociology Knowledge Organisers I’m starting to feel like Clint Eastwood in Dirty Harry: in all the excitement I’ve kinda lost track of what I have and haven’t posted.

So, moving quickly past the stuff about “44 Magnum’s” and their undoubted ability to separate parts of your body from other parts, we can go straight to the bit where you’ve got to ask yourself just one question:

“Do I feel lucky?”

And if the answer’s “yes” then this small batch of A-level Organisers and Guides from Kate Henney (to add to the GCSE Family and Education Revision Guides I’ve previously posted) should be a very welcome addition to your growing pile. Presupposing you don’t already have them from some other post I’ve forgotten about. In which case, please ignore what follows:

Family Organiser

Families includes two types of KO – blank and completed – on:

  • Structures
  • Diversity
  • Nuclear families
  • Alternatives
  • Functions
  • Divorce
  • Changes
  • Education covers the following:

  • Functionalism
  • Marxism
  • Interactionism
  • Types of Schools
  • Social Class
  • Gender
  • Ethnicity
  • Question Guide

    Beliefs includes two types of KO – completed and cloze (fill-in-the-gaps):

  • Ideology
  • Religious Change
  • Organisations
  • Social Characteristics
  • Secularisation
  • A-Level Exam Guides – simple overview of question types and how to answer them.

    Key Studies – a list of key names plus a one-line summary of their work for:

  • Families
  • Education
  • Beliefs
  • Crime and Deviance
  • Question Planning Sheet – detailed walkthrough showing how to successfully answer 10 mark education questions.

    The Wider Effects of “Broken Windows”?

    Thursday, September 12th, 2019
    Click to download pdf file

    The impact of so-called “Broken Windows” policing (which invariably turns-out to be an aggressive variant of the policy – Zero-Tolerance Policing (ZTP) – pioneered by New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and the New York Police Department commissioner William (Bill) Bratton in the early 1990’s) has been argued over for a good number of years.

    For supporters of the policy it was claimed that ZTP resulted in dramatic falls in both “pervasive” (i.e. relatively minor but persistent misdemeanour crime)  and “headline crime rates” (such as homicide) while critics pointed to the fact these falls seemed to have occurred both across America and in areas where ZTP was not in operation.

    Whatever the truth of the matter, little or no attention has been given to what might be called the “fall-out” from ZTP policies; while their impact on crime might be the subject of heated debate, recent research by Fagin and Legewiea (“Aggressive Policing and the Educational Performance of Minority Youth”, 2019) argues that “the consequences of aggressive policing extend into key domains of social life, with implications for the educational trajectories of minority youth and social inequality more broadly”.

    In this respect they have claimed to demonstrate a causal link between the presence of ZTP in an area and the decline in educational attainment of African American boys (interestingly, there is no correlated fall in African American female attainment, nor that of Hispanic youth generally).

    Their findings, in this respect, are somewhat counter-intuitive in the sense that where neighbourhoods are made safer through the impact of ZTP we would expect to see, at best, improved educational achievement and, at worst, little or no change. This, as they argue, highlights the “hidden costs of aggressive policing programs and suggests that police reformers, policymakers, and researchers should consider these broader implications for assessing the effectiveness of policing.”

    One reason cited for this finding is reduced school attendance (absenteeism) by young African American teenagers during periods of intensive police activity in a neighbourhood. The main drivers of absenteeism, in this respect, appear to have been:

  • a desire and / or need for young African Americans to “stay off the streets” during periods of intense police activity (which itself suggests a belief they would be a primary target for police action)
  • the disruptive effect on families of the arrest of parents / guardians during these periods of activity.
  • In addition, the authors argue that aggressive styles of policing, such as those associated with various forms of ZTP, frequently lead to the development of “frequent and negative interactions with authority figures” and the ensuing sense of discrimination “can undermine educational and potentially other outcomes”.

    Finally, it’s just been pointed-out to me on Twitter that the research offers a really easy way to make synoptic links between Deviance and Education.

    Introducing Sociology: Core Concepts

    Tuesday, September 10th, 2019
    Culture Presentation

    Core Concepts in Sociology was a series of short films on areas like culture, identity and socialisation produced by OnlineClassroom. If you’re interested, the films are still available in various places but since they were originally published in 2007(ish) the technical quality is probably not up to the standards to which we’re now accustomed.

    The content, however, is still sound.

    Which is probably just as well because I’ve managed to dig-out the resources we created at the time to accompany the film. They’re perfectly serviceable, if a little basic…

    The main resources were three PowerPoint Presentations covering:

    1. Culture

    2. Identity

    3. Socialisation

    Although they were originally designed to complement teaching in conjunction with the films there’s nothing here that actually requires students to have watched the films.

    more resources…

    Psychology: Classic Studies Resources

    Monday, September 9th, 2019
    Eyewitness Testimony PowerPoint
    (I did say it was pretty basic)

    A few years back, around 2006 to be more-precise than is actually warranted by the evidence, Online Classroom (the predecessor of ShortCutstv) made a number of short films under the general heading of Classic Psychological Studies.

    While the films are still around to buy if you want to look for them, the technical quality is, as you might expect, “not great” (the words “fuzzy” and “like looking through a muddy window” spring to mind) there were a few resources produced to accompany the films you might find useful.

    These resources, in the shape of PowerPoint Presentations and Word-based activities, could, if I was being charitable, be described as “quite basic” (as you can probably tell from the accompanying screenshots), but they “do the job” for which they were originally intended: you might find the Presentations a useful time-saver and the Activities a source of inspiration if nothing else.

    Click for the Resources

    Right Realism vs. Edgework: A Short Film

    Saturday, September 7th, 2019

    This short Crime Channel film looks at two contrasting approaches to understanding young, male, working-class criminality.

    The first, Right Realism, is an approach underpinned by the notion of criminals making rational choices on the basis of a “cost-benefit” analysis of crime. If, in short, the potential costs exceed the assumed benefits then a crime will not be committed. If you want to explore the theoretical background of rational choice you might find this critical overview (there’s an accompanying PowerPoint if you want to take a more-visual approach) and evaluation useful.

    This, as you might expect, feeds into practical forms of situational crime prevention whereby potential criminal victims, from individuals to businesses, are encouraged to increase the potential costs of crime through various forms of target hardening.

    As characterised by Clarke (1980), “SCP is a practical, policy-oriented approach whose goal is to reduce crime in the future”. It is, as Freilich (2014) notes “uniquely concerned with how offenders successfully commit their crimes. Understanding how the offender carries out the crime can be used to craft interventions to prevent offending. The rest of criminology is focused on why perpetrators offend”.

    This focus on the how has led, as Freilich argues, to the development of “a growing number of strategies…that have in fact reduced crime. There are currently five general strategies encompassing 25 techniques to reduce crime. The techniques include both ‘‘hard’’ and soft interventions.

    Hard interventions include making it impossible or more difficult for the crime to be committed and alert potential perpetrators that they are likely to be apprehended if they transgress.

    Soft interventions reduce situational prompts/cues that increase a person’s motivation to commit a crime during specific types of events”.

    The second, Edgework, is an approach that offers a very different view in the sense it suggests the kinds of situational crime prevention measures advocated by Right Realists either displace crime or, in some situations, offer perverse incentives to young, male, working-class criminality.

    By making crime “more risky” through situational strategies and techniques it perversely makes it more attractive to some young males by offering greater challenges and hence more opportunities for individuals to enhance their power and status within the social groups that are important to, and supportive of, their sense of self.

    Right Realism vs. Edgework

    Five Methods of Socialisation

    Thursday, September 5th, 2019
    5 Methods of Socialisation PowerPoint. Click here to download.

    Continuing the dimensions of socialisation theme that began with the Agencies of Socialisation PowerPoint and continued with the Methods of (Gender) Socialisation Knowledge Organiser, this 5 Methods of Socialisation PowerPoint Presentation is designed to introduce the concepts underpinning the latter by providing simple definitions of:

  • Selective exposure
  • Identification
  • Modelling
  • Sanctions (rewards and punishments)
  • Nurturance
  • You can use the Presentation as a simple standalone introduction to different methods of socialisation (the Presentation leans towards examples of gender socialisation within the family but it’s easy enough to change this focus to get students to think about other institutions, such as the media or education, and the impact they have on the general socialisation process) or as an explanation of the Knowledge Organiser categories if you intend to do more in-depth work with your students in this area.

    For continuity purposes the Presentation uses the same backgrounds, icons and Glass Experience™ as the Agencies Presentation.

    Either that or I couldn’t be bothered to create a new design.

    Methods of (Gender) Socialisation: Knowledge Organiser

    Wednesday, September 4th, 2019
    Blank KO Template. Click to download.
    Blank Template

    While putting together the Agencies of Socialisation PowerPoint I came across a related document – a kind of proto-knowledge organiser, circa 2002 – that I must have once worked-on and then, for whatever reason, abandoned.

    In basic terms, the document can be used to organise ideas about, in this instance, gender socialisation (it could probably also be used to organise other forms of socialisation) into four main categories:

    1. Selective Exposure: boys and girls are selectively exposed to different ideas, behaviours and practices seen as appropriate to their sex.

    2. Modelling: boys and girls are encouraged to model their behaviour by observing and to some extent copying the gendered behaviour they see around them – in their families, peer groups, schools, media and so forth.

    3. Rewards and Punishments: although the idea of social sanctions, in the form of rewards for conformity and punishments for deviance, is a standard aspect of our understanding of socialisation processes what might be more-interesting to think about is whether different types of male – female behaviour are rewarded and punished and whether each gender is rewarded / punished differently for displaying the same behaviour?

    4. Identification and Nurturance: Identification and nurturance involve a stronger form of modelling in the sense that where boys and girls are encouraged to identify with adults of their sex, the latter are potentially more-influential in nurturing the social traits and behaviours they see as desirable in children of different sexes.

    (more…)

    Agencies of Socialisation

    Tuesday, September 3rd, 2019
    Agencies of Socialisation PowerPoint: Click to download.
    Before…

    Another day, another PowerPoint Presentation.

    And this time its “All About The Agencies”

    The Presentation identifies a range of primary and secondary socialising agencies (family, peers, education, workplace, media and religion to be precise) and provides some simple information / examples for each in five categories:

  • Behaviour
  • Roles
  • Norms
  • Values
  • Sanctions.
  • If this sounds a bit complicated, it’s really not.

    The complicated bit was designing and compiling the slides, but since you’re unlikely to be very interested in the trials and tribulations involved in creating a monstrous, vaguely-interactive, PowerPoint Presentation with sliding menu, it’s probably best to move on.

    There’s more if you want it…

    Global Culture: 3 Views

    Friday, August 30th, 2019
    Global Culture: Click to download PowerPoint
    Convergence and Homogenisation

    While there’s probably a general agreement that “globalised cultural forms” – from fast food to films to football – are increasingly coming into existence, students need to be aware there are debates over both the exact forms these globalised cultures take and the impacts they make.

    They need to consider this in terms of how local and national cultural forms and behaviours may be changed by globalising tendencies and, counter-intuitively perhaps, how local and national cultural forms and behaviours modify and change various forms of globalising culture.

    To this end, this PowerPoint Presentation outlines some of the key features of three different interpretations of the impact of globalised cultural forms:

    1. Convergence and Homogenisation: The main thrust of this view is that cultural differences between societies gradually breakdown and, in some cases perhaps, disappear, as societies adopt cultural ideas and attitudes that are broadly similar in style and content. Key ideas here include McDonaldisation, McWorld Culture and Coca-Colonisation – ideas that suggest one of the key drivers of “globalised culture from above” is the behaviour of large-scale global corporations.

    (more…)

    Middle Class Identities |2 Cultural Identities

    Tuesday, August 27th, 2019
    Click to download the Presentation
    Disgusted Subjects…

    The second of two related “identity” PowerPoint Presentations, (the first looked at occupational identities) identifies four cultural factors – two that could be loosely called “positive” (social and cultural capital) and two that could loosely be called “negative” (disgusted subjects and not being working class) that contribute to the shaping of middle class identities.

    The Presentation is, in this respect, indicative of how “two-sides of the middle class identity coin” are related: the negative is a strong driver of the positive in the following ways:

    1. “Not working class” is a significant descriptor because while the middle classes have signficant economic advantages that differentiate them from the working classes, they lack the strong wealth foundation of their upper class peers that serves to secure long-term class reproduction. While middle-class parents, for example, may be relatively affluent there is no guarantee these economic advantages can be used to secure the long-term future of their children. There may, for example, be no great body of wealth middle class parents can pass-down to their offspring through inheritance.

    The maintenance of a “middle class lifestyle” is also a signficant factor here, both negatively, in terms of an economic drain on resources and positively in terms of “taste” and the development of “taste cultures”.

    There’s more if you want to read it…

    Middle Class Identities |1 Occupational Identities

    Monday, August 26th, 2019
    Click to download PowerPoint
    Middle Class Occupational Identities

    The first of two related “identity” PowerPoint Presentations, this one identifies a number of occupational identities that contribute to the shaping of middle class identities:

  • Professionals
  • Managers
  • Consultants
  • Intellectuals
  • Service Workers
  • As ever, the list is indicative rather than prescriptive, designed mainly to provide a general starting-point for further investigation and discussion.

    In this respect the Presentation also suggests some key features of middle class occupational identities:

  • the importance of symbolic cultural capital (educational and work-based qualifications)
  • personal autonomy
  • decision-making
  • career structures and progressions
  • knowledge work
  • remuneration
  • power and control over others.
  • Each of these – and probably a few others you can think of – is suggested as a possible stepping-off point for any wider discussions / investigations you want to carry-out.

    Social Identities

    While the Presentation isn’t designed to do much more than serve as a way of introduing students to different types of middle class occupational groupings – the semi-legendary “Middle Class Identities | 2: Cultural Identities” will take things a step further once I’ve cobbled it together carefully planned it out – it can also be useful as a way of both thinking about social identities (occupation, along with gender, age, ethnicity, sexuality and disability, is a key social identity in our culture) and moving away from the idea that “identity” is just about “Who am I?”.

    One of the things about identity that tends to get a little neglected at a-level is that it’s also very much about “Who We Are” and, by extension, how this “sense of Us” (the groups to which we belong, aspire to belong to or, indeed, deny us entry) impacts on our sense of individual identity.   While we see this idea most clearly in relation to something like National Identities, it’s also something that can be found in the margins: middle class identities, for example, are just as much bound-up in occupational statuses and achievements as is more-clearly the case with their working class counterparts.

    Types Of Cybercrime

    Tuesday, August 20th, 2019

    Cybercrime, broadly defined as unlawful behaviour involving the use of computers – either as a tool for committing a crime (such as cyber stalking) or as the target of a crime (such as identity theft) – comes in a number of shapes and disguises and this “reasonably short” (i.e. quite long) PowerPoint Presentation can be used to introduce some of the main types.

    These include, in no particular order:

    Types of Cybercrime PowerPoint: click to download
    Types of Cybercrime
  • Hacking
  • Viruses
  • DDoS Attacks
  • Phishing
  • Spamming
  • Jacking
  • Cyber Stalking
  • Identity Theft
  • Slicing
  • IP Theft
  • As you may have noticed these types all involve, to greater or lesser extents, access to a networked system of computers – hence the idea of cybercrime: “crime that takes place in cyberspace”: pretty much a defining feature of contemporary computer crime.

    Read more stuff about the presentation

    Getting Your Revision On: The Appliance of Science

    Thursday, August 15th, 2019

    Although revision is probably the last thing on anyone’s mind at the start of a course, the science suggests that taking a structured, long-term, “little and often”, approach is the way to go…

    Retrieval Practice Guide
    Retrieval Practice

    While any revision is arguably better than no revision, I’d also suggest some forms of revision are more effective than others. And if you’re looking at introducing a more-structured approach to student revision in your classroom – one that’s built-in to a course of study rather than bolted-on at the end – you might find ideas like Retrieval Practice and Spaced Study interesting and useful.

    These are ideas I’ve written about in a previous post,  based on the work of the Learning Scientists and the short video-explainers they’ve produced to introduce these ideas.

    read more about retrieval practice

    The Rules of the Game

    Friday, August 9th, 2019

    How “predicted grades” and the “personal statement” contribute to the relative failure of high-performing disadvantaged kids in the “game” of university entrance.

    The Rules of the Game - click to download this pdf document.

    While a-level sociology students do a lot of work on education and differential achievement, the narrative in relation to social class tends to focus on “middle class success”, “working class failure” and the various reasons, material and cultural, for this general situation.

    While this is a useful and valuable focus, it does mean students can lose sight of a further dimension to educational inequality, one that is less visible and less researched but which has significant consequences: how even relatively successful working-class kids still tend to lose-out to their middle and upper class peers in the transition from school to higher education and, eventually, from H.E. to the workplace.

    In “The Rules of the Game“, a recent (2017) Report for the Sutton Trust, Gill Wyness looked at two dimensions of inequality experienced by high-performing students from relatively disadvantaged backgrounds:

    Predicted grades

    While there has, over the past few years, been a great deal of debate about whether University places should be awarded once A-level results are known (the Post Qualification Admissions (PQA) system), in England and Wales the “predicted grades” system (school students apply to University before their A-level grades are known and Universities, in turn, make conditional / unconditional offers partly on the basis of the grades “predicted” by their teachers) is still a crucial part of University application.

    Read on macduff…

    Tech4Teachers: Backchannel Chat

    Saturday, August 3rd, 2019

    YoTeach is a free browser-based Chatroom – think of it as a combination of a Facebook Group – people with a shared interest  – and text messaging if you’re not over-familiar with an idea whose heyday was probably somewhere around the beginning of the century.

    Basically, it’s a private online space (or room in YoTeach parlance) you create, give others the entry password to and exchange real-time text messages with whoever’s present at the time.

    So, you may well be thinking, what’s the point of a tech that’s ancient in internet terms and which functions very much like the most popular social media site in the known universe?

    Well, chatrooms can be a little more private and exclusive, hence the idea of a “Backchannel” – a private form of communication that operates beneath more overt forms of communication (such as a classroom).

    With a chatroom you only invite those you know or who are present for a particular purpose, such as exchanging teaching ideas, discussing homework problems, reviewing lessons and notes or whatever you decide is the primary purpose of the room (or rooms – you may want to create different rooms for different purposes) you set-up.

    Backchannel chat has, in this respect a number of potential uses:

    1. Teacher – Teacher networks where teachers from different schools / colleges meet to exchange teaching ideas, tips, or simply to support each other. This can be particularly useful if you’re the only subject teacher in your institution or you’re teaching something like sociology as a second subject.

    2. Teacher – Student groups allow teachers and students to interact as necessary outside classes. This may include things like homework help, personal coaching for students who are finding things difficult or simply a little extra class teaching on a difficult topic. While these types of groups may be set-up to cater for a particular course in a single institution it’s also possible for different schools and collages to “meet” in this virtual space, so that students from different institutions can discuss common problems and different experiences, exchange ideas, notes and the like.

    3. Student groups for things like end-of-course revision study, discussing areas of the course that are causing problems and the like.

    Next: setting up your chatroom

    Teaching and Learning: The Jigsaw Method

    Tuesday, July 30th, 2019
    The 10 steps of the Jigsaw Method.
    10 (easy) Steps…

    This is an interesting teaching and learning method I stumbled across while reading an article by Jennifer Gonzalez on “In-Class Flipped Teaching” -something I mention because it’s worth looking at if you’re interested in the idea of flipped learning “with a twist”, but by no-means essential for your enjoyment (or otherwise) of this post.

    The Jigsaw Method is a teaching tool first developed in the early 1970’s by Professor Elliot Aronson and one of it’s great strengths is it’s simplicity, particularly in terms of:

    • understanding the basic principles of the method.

    • organising your classroom to employ the method.

    • the value of its pedagogic content.

    If you’re interested in using the method, the Jigsaw Classroom website outlines the “10 Steps” you need to follow to implement it.

    In addition, Jennifer Gonzalez has created a short video explainer that shows you everything (probably) you need to know about setting-up a Jigsaw Classroom.

    This is worth watching in addition to reading the “10 Steps” because it adds a couple of bits of very useful information that are worth knowing / considering not included in the 10 Steps document.

    Introduction to A-Level Sociology: Cultural Differences

    Sunday, July 28th, 2019
    Click to download as pdf
    Introduction to AS Sociology

    For reasons that will become clear in a moment, I was searching for a document or two about Sherbit Culture to accompany a 5-minute film clip I’d assembled from some old (2000 – 2002-ish) HSBC adverts. The idea was to use the film as a light-hearted way to introduce the concept of cultural differences to GCSE or A-Level sociologists and, from there, create a springboard to the introduction of basic concepts like values, norms and roles – the kind of stuff most teachers do at the start of the course.

    While that’s still the intention, I happened to stumble across a couple of useful little resources you might also find helpful and, indeed, complementary:

    The first, An Introduction to AS Sociology from Ullswater Community College (2007, hence the “AS” reference) has a range of notes and tasks on areas like the Sociological Imagination, Identity, Nature and Nurture and Shirbit Culture.

    The second is a free PowerPoint (“Meet the Shirbits”) created by Jacqueline Ryan (2010) as part of a short Introduction to Sociology quiz. The latter uses a supplied reading taken from the Collins Sociology AS for AQA textbook.

    Anyway, to complement these resources – or just to use as a standalone introduction from which you can spin-off whatever ideas and issues (from basic norms and values to discussion of cultural stereotypes…) – this is the “cultural difference” clip I’ve created (the quality of the original film isn’t great and I’ve edited-out the original HSBC idents. Because I felt like it).

    Belonging Without Believing

    Friday, July 26th, 2019

    I seem to have got into a habit of writing stuff about secularisation recently, whether it be the more-or-less straightforward stuff about the intergenerational decline in religious beliefs to accompany the long-term decline in religious practices in countries like Britain or the rather more left-field increase in paranormal beliefs recently seen in countries like the United States.  

    Sunday Assembly

    While the two are probably not unconnected – Routledge (2017) argues that as societies become less overtly religious they witness a concomitant increase in supernatural / paranormal beliefs – I happened to stumble across another religion-related idea that could be usefully thrown into the secular(isation) mix – the idea of Belonging without Believing, as reflected in the American-based Oasis Network, founded in 2012, and it’s English equivalent the “Sunday Assembly” that first saw the light of day in 2013.

    Popularly dubbed secular churches, the basic idea is that just as various groups gather on a Sunday to participate in a religious service of some description, Sunday Assemblies serve much the same sort of purpose for the non-religious; they represent small communities where secular congregations come together to “sing songs, hear inspiring talks, and create community together” – without the need for any religious trappings or content.

    While the idea of secular congregations that ape what Durkheim called the function, if not necessarily the form, of religious congregationalism is hardly new (think football matches and pop festivals, for example), what marks something like the Sunday Assemblies or Oasis Network apart as far as a-level sociology is concerned is the fact they explicitly copy a religious congregationalist form, albeit in a secular context.

    Or maybe not?

    While this general idea is sociologically interesting, it’s important not to overstate the significance of the expansion of the Sunday Assemblies / Oasis Networks, across America and the UK in particular, in terms of both numbers – worldwide congregationalists can be counted in the thousands rather than millions – and social need: as Woodhead (2019) argues, while “communities can be hugely important to people, you can’t just meet for the sake of community itself. You need a very powerful motivating element to keep people coming, something that attendees have in common” – an idea reflected by a recent worldwide decline in both the number of Sunday Assembly / Oasis chapters and the number of people attending such meetings.

    Whether this decline reflects the difficulties involved in creating, maintaining and growing this type of secular community organisation in late modernity or something, as Woodhead suggests, more-fundamental about these types of quasi-religious organisations is an interesting question…

    British Social Attitudes: Selected Surveys

    Wednesday, July 24th, 2019
    Subjective Social Class…

    NatCen describe themselves as “Britain’s largest independent social research agency”, one that works “on behalf of government and charities to find out what people really think about important social issues” and while they produce a lot of statistical stuff™ that’s probably of interest to someone, of most interest to a-level sociology teachers and students will probably be the fact NatCen is responsible for carrying-out the British Attitudes Survey – an annual questioning of around 3,000 respondents on a wide diversity of topics.

    This research is useful for a-level sociologists for, I would hazard, four main reasons:

    1. It’s free:

    While this is always one of my top considerations when thinking about social research, “free” is not in and of itself always very useful.

    There’s more…

    Losing Their Religion? Using Statistical Evidence to Evaluate Secularisation

    Thursday, July 18th, 2019

    The secularisation debate in A-level Sociology, encompassing a wide diversity of ideas around pro, anti and post-secularisation positions, is an increasingly complex area for students to cover. Although this can make it a somewhat daunting topic, it also provides significant opportunities for students to critique these different positions (and gain solid marks for knowledge, application and evaluation into the bargain).

    Given the argumentative nature of a debate that so often seems to turn on interpretations of different opinions, this, somewhat perversely perhaps, opens-up interesting opportunities for students to apply statistical data to different aspects of the debate and, by so doing, introduce highly-effective forms of evaluation into exam answers.

    In this respect the latest British Social Attitudes Survey (2019) covering religious beliefs, attitudes and practices is a useful teaching resource in the sense it provides some interesting empirical evidence students can apply to evaluate two areas of the secularisation debate:

    (more…)

    A Cage and Freezing Water: One Woman’s Journey Through Depression

    Tuesday, July 16th, 2019
    Click to view preview
    A Cage and Freezing Water

    Our latest Psychology offering is a bit of a departure from the norm in that it’s focused on giving students an impression of what it’s actually like to suffer from depression through one woman’s experience of the condition – the fatigue, the feeling of being trapped and the continual voices in her head that told her to end her life.

    While the film is not designed to give a “textbook” overview of the possible causes of depression, it’s presented in a psychological context that seeks to explore the experiences – and consequences – of depression in a way that provides a sympathetic, if at times unsettling, introduction to the subject.

    This makes the film suitable as a general introduction to the topic of depression and the basis for students to explore possible causes, therapies and explanations.

    The film does, however, touch on a range of mature themes – such as suicidal thoughts – that might make it unsuitable for certain audiences.

    Sociological Research Methods On Demand

    Thursday, July 11th, 2019

    3 short films whose aim is not simply to tell students about sociological methods, but to show their strengths and limitations in action by looking at how these methods have been applied in key sociological studies. The films, also available on DVD, are now available to buy as individual titles on our new Vimeo On-Demand site.

    Case Studies [5 minutes]

    If you go and see your doctor or a therapist, you’ll become a ‘case’ to them. They’ll want to know a lot more about you. Similarly, sociological case studies involve putting a social group, an event or a place ‘under the microscope’. This film looks at a classic sociological study, The Spiritual Revolution, to show why case studies are used in sociology, what they provide for the sociologist and the extent to which findings can be generalised.

    Self Report Methods: Interviews and Questionnaires [7 minutes]

    How do school students negotiate the pressures to perform well academically alongside the pressure to popular and cool? Carolyn Jackson combined questionnaires and interviews to research this question and this film uses her study, Lads and Ladettes, to illustrate why these methods are chosen, their respective strengths and limitations and how the strengths of one can be used to offset the limitations of the other.

    Participant Observation [7 minutes]

    Some research questions can only really be studied by sociologists getting out of their offices and interacting directly with the people they want to study. Starting with the famous Chicago School of sociology, this film looks at some classic studies to illustrate why participation observation is used in sociology, its major strengths and limitations and its contribution to sociological understanding.

    Elitist Britain 2019: The educational backgrounds of Britain’s leading people

    Tuesday, July 9th, 2019
    Summary Report: Click to downlaod
    Summary Report

    This latest report from the Sutton Trust looks at the various educational pathways taken by Britain’s elites “from the type of school they attended to where they went to university” to paint a picture of educational and economic inequality across our society.

    The Summary version of the Report (there’s also a full version you can download if you want a bit more depth and detail) contains a wealth of useful statistical data, plus a bit of commentary that provides some basic, but still interesting, interpretation. There is also a 1-page summary of the policy recommendations to come out of the Report if you or your students are particularly interested.

    Otherwise, the Summary is neatly divided into two useful sections:

    Firstly, a short Overview has some general observations about “a country whose power structures are dominated by a narrow section of the population” backed-up with some facts and figures about Independent Schools, Oxbridge and the occupations with the highest and lowest percentage of students from these sources.

    Secondly, a much longer section that links various sections of society and economy (Politics, Business, Media…) to Independent School and Oxbridge representation. The format here, again, is a short introductory commentary coupled with a page or so of statistical data.

    Overall the Summary Report is something students and teachers alike should find informative and accessible, with a range of applications across different parts of the Specification.

    Sociological Research Methods DVD

    Monday, July 1st, 2019

    Our first sociological research methods DVD features 3 short films whose aim is not simply to tell students about sociological methods, but to show their strengths and limitations in action by looking at how these methods have been applied in key sociological studies. The DVD features:

    Interviews and Questionnaires [7 minutes]

    How do school students negotiate the pressures to perform well academically alongside the pressure to popular and cool? Carolyn Jackson combined questionnaires and interviews to research this question and this film uses her study, Lads and Ladettes, to illustrate why these methods are chosen, their respective strengths and limitations and how the strengths of one can be used to offset the limitations of the other. (more…)

    How to Bubble Mark Summative Essays…

    Monday, June 24th, 2019

    Although I’ve got a sneaking suspicion I’ve written about this marking technique before, I can’t find any trace of it so it’s entirely possible I might have dreamt it.

    Be that as it may, if you’re in the market for a quick’n’dirty way to efficiently mark a pile of summative essays (the kind you might set as an end of Module / Unit test, for example) then bubble marking might be just what you need.

    A disordered list
    (or “pile” as it’s sometimes known)

    The technique is based on the idea of bubble sorting, a very efficient way of turning disordered lists, such as a bunch of unmarked student essays, into neatly ordered lists: in this instance, essays ordered in terms of something like a general grade (such as A – E).

    You will do this by using your teaching knowledge, experience and understanding of the mark scheme to roughly assign different essays to different grades.

    For reasons that should become apparent, it’s preferable if you can complete the following in a single marking session:

    1. Take the first essay from your pile and read through it once. You’re not looking to make any comments or marks on the script itself during this stage (this is something you can do later, in a range of different ways, if you want to engage in formative assessment). Rather, you’re trying to get an overall impression (which is why this is sometimes called “impression marking”) of the work in relation to the next essay you read.

    Once you’ve read through it, place the essay on a table, floor or flat surface that’s within easy reach.

    2. Repeat the above with the second essay and, once you’ve finished the read through, decide whether you thought it was better, worse or about the same as the previous essay.

    • If better, place it to the left of the previous work.
    • If worse place it to the right.
    • If about the same, place it above or over the previous essay.

    3. After you’ve read the 3rd essay you need to think if it was better | worse | same as the 2nd essay and then better | worse | same as the first.

    4. Continue sorting the essays until they’ve all been put into a rough order.

    Once you’ve read through all the essays you will have arrived at a rough “order of merit” that covers “best to worst”.

    Once you have a completely ordered set of essays you can, if you wish, sort through them once more to place them in whatever marked categories (such as A – E) you prefer.

    If you want to fine-tune the grade (by dividing those in the “A” category into A+ / A / A- for example) simply repeat the above process within each category.