здесь

Blog

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.

As of June 2019 there are nearly 600 individual posts on the Blog, so we’ve included a range of functions (on the bar to the right) to help you find the stuff you want:

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 Quite Useful if you want a quick way to look back through the numerous posts we’ve made by month / year.

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.

Finally, you can use the New Post Notification box to be notified by email each time a new post appears on the Blog.

We only use your email address to send automatic notifications.

Nothing More and Nothing Less.

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.

Defining and Measuring Crime: The Cyber Dimension

Wednesday, June 5th, 2019
Cybercrime…

One of the most interesting developments in criminology over the past 25 years is the extent to which crime has moved online, something that has important ramifications for the sociology of crime and deviance, both in terms of how it’s theorised and how it’s taught.

When thinking about the different ways crime can be defined and measured, for example, there’s still a general preoccupation at a-level with what we might call face-to-face / bricks-and-mortar types of crime – from interpersonal violence, through burglary to fraud: crime that, by-and-large, takes place in real, as opposed to cyber, space.

While it’s not to say these forms of crime are suddenly unimportant or unworthy of our interest, it’s important for students to recognise and understand changes to criminal behaviour and activity reflected by developments in cybercrime.

Continue reading

Aspiring to Succeed? Education and the New Right

Monday, June 3rd, 2019
"The influence of parents, places and poverty on educational attitudes and aspirations"
Summary Findings

One of the key features of New Right approaches to explaining social class differences in educational achievement is the attempt to frame the debate in terms of the qualities possessed by individual actors.

This reductionist approach – reducing complex social processes to their apparently simplest and most basic forms – sees success or failure (as measured by exam grades and entrance into the most prestigious Universities) as a consequence of how individuals apply – or fail to apply – themselves to their studies.

All things being equal within a “broadly meritocratic education system”, therefore, how do we explain the fact that social class has a strong correlation with exam success or failure: the lower the class, the more-likely the individual is to leave school with few, if any, qualifications?

While for some New Right theorists (such as Murray in the USA or Saunders in the UK) the answer is found in “natural” IQ class differences, for others the answer involves different orientations to education and, more specifically, the claim that those with higher educational and work aspirations are far more educationally successful than those with low educational and work aspirations.

The basic argument here, therefore, is that those who “aim high” for high-pay, high-status employment are much more likely to work hard in the education system to fulfil those high aspirations. Those, on the other hand, who have no great aspirations to, desire for or expectations of achieving, such work, see no great incentive in trying to achieve the required qualifications.

In both instances a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy takes hold: high aspirations lead to a strong desire to work towards and achieve high qualifications; low aspirations results in a lack of effort and a consequential lack of educational success.

On the face of things, this argument seems to make some sense – if you want something badly enough the chances are you will work diligently towards trying to achieve it – and, as St Clair et. al. (2011) note, there has been a great deal of social policy interest in the possible relationship between aspirations and achievement:

Politicians and policy-makers are very interested in aspirations. The strong assumption is that raising aspirations will increase educational achievement, while contributing to greater equity and the UK’s economic competitiveness, and that public policy has a key role in ensuring that these ends are attained. Aspirations were a theme of many of the Labour Government’s policy papers on children and young people. They were a key component of The Children’s Plan (2007) and in Aiming High for Young People (2007), and the concerns raised helped to shape the 2009 Inspiring Communities programme. The coalition Government (2010) has continued this interest in raising aspirations, again based on the assumption that aspirations are too low among disadvantaged groups”.

Sociologically, however, taking the theorised relationship between aspirations and achievement at face value is rather more problematic and one way to evaluate it is to examine the key question of “aspirations”.

• The good news here is that there has been a lot of research focused specifically on the role of “aspirations” in educational achievement, particularly as it relates to social class.

• The bad news – at least as far as New Right approaches are concerned – is that this research has found little or no evidence to suggest that aspirations play any significant or meaningful role in explaining social class achievement differences. St Clair et. al. (2011) for example, summarise their findings with the observation that:

Low aspirations among young people and their families in disadvantaged areas are often seen as explaining their educational and work outcomes. This study challenges that view. It demonstrates that barriers to achievement vary significantly among deprived areas as different factors combine to shape ambitions, and shows that the difficulty for many young people is in knowing how to fulfil their aspirations”.

Both the full report and a handy summary of its findings are available from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation website.

In addition, if you want to dig a bit deeper into areas like aspirations, attitudes, behaviour and educational attainment there are three further Research Reports and Summaries you might find helpful:

Carter-Wall and Whitfield (2012): The role of aspirations, attitudes and behaviour in closing the educational attainment gap.

Goodman and Gregg (2010) Poorer children’s educational attainment: how important are attitudes and behaviour?

Hirsch (2007) Experiences of poverty and educational disadvantage.

Lateral Thinking | Icebreakers

Wednesday, May 29th, 2019
Click to visit the puzzle page
Lateral Thinking Puzzles…

A few years ago, when thinking about how to introduce some icebreakers into the sociology classroom, I chanced upon the idea of using lateral thinking puzzles, for a couple of reasons:

Firstly, because they get students who may not know each other talking and discussing possible answers.

Secondly, and perhaps more-importantly, they’re an interesting way of getting students to think about and solve problems – or things they’ve taken for granted for most of their life – in a new and different way. The best lateral thinking puzzles are both logical and require the application of a little bit of sideways thinking to solve – which, in many ways, I would argue, applies to sociological questions.

I used to follow this up with some counter-intuitive sociological observations, questions and explanations, but it’s not obligatory.

Getting your students, right at the start of their course, to think about ways of approaching the study of social behaviour from a slightly left (or indeed right) of centre perspective is something you might want to encourage.

Or not. As the case may be.

You can now find plenty of these puzzles online, but back then, not so much. I put together a little site to share a batch of puzzles I’d collected from various sources and while the interface was pretty cutting-edge at the time (you’ll have to trust me that the idea of combining inline frames that could be manipulated using a smattering of javascript was pretty outrageous when I did it) it’s safe to say that it’s not anymore.

But it does the job. And that’s all anyone could really ask. Probably.

The alternative is to simply copy the questions from the site (or use your own favourite puzzles) and write them on something you can display to your class.

A whiteboard perhaps?

Or maybe a piece of slate if you’re looking to capture that elusive old-school vibe?

Flipping Good | 1. The Structure of Social Action

Friday, May 24th, 2019
Heads. Or Tails?

This is a simulation I’ve slightly adapted from Renzulli, Aldrich and Reynolds’ “It’s Up In The Air – Or Is It?”, where they use the game of “Heads or Tails?” to show “How social structures can constrain individual actions”.

They apply these ideas to an understanding of social inequality, while here I mainly want to concentrate on how the game can be used:

  • To help students understand the concepts of social structure (in particular) and social action.
  • As the building block for various applications across the Sociology Specification, both explicitly, in areas like social stratification and differentiation and implicitly, in relation to stuff  like family, education and crime.
  • Set Up

    To run the simulation, you will need:

  • Around a minimum of 10 – 12 students (include yourself if necessary), although the more students you have in the class the better because it will make it easier to see how patterns of economic inequality develop. If you only have a small number of students it’s probably worth a test run to see if it works for you. If you’re really “lacking the numbers” you could try to rope in any non-sociology students who happen to be around.
  • 5 coins for every student (such as 1p or 2p coins in the UK).
  • If you think your students are likely to cheat by introducing their own coins into the sim you can use something like plastic tokens instead. In this case you will only need one coin per student.

  • Display Board (such as a whiteboard) to show many coins each student has at the end of each round. Ideally this should be large enough for everyone to easily see how many coins each student holds.
  • Timer (optional) such as a kitchen timer that can be set to 1-minute intervals.
  • How to play the game

    Mass Media | Complete Chapter

    Wednesday, May 22nd, 2019

    Over the past few weeks (months? I lose track) I’ve been assiduously assembling a series of mass media booklets from Notes that have been hanging around taking up space on a hard drive for the past few years. Where I’ve thought it necessary – either because I wanted to include some updated material or because a section had become a little outdated (mainly where statistical data was involved) – I’ve added some newer stuff. This gives the chapters a bit more contemporary relevance, particularly where it relates to the fast-moving world of new media, but the main objective here was simply to provide solid coverage of the general ideas and principles involved in studying the mass media.

    Having posted the Notes as individual units (as pdf docs and online flipbooks) I thought it might be helpful to gather them together into a complete Mass Media chapter, again as both a pdf document and online flipbook.

    I’m not sure why but it seemed like a good idea when I thought of – and actually did – it, so it seems like a waste of time and effort not to bung it online.

    So there you have it.

    The complete chapter has five main media sections, each of which are still available as individual pdf documents / flipbooks if you want to distribute them to your students in that way – and you can, as no-one ever says anymore, read all about ’em here:

    Defining and Researching the Mass Media

    The Ownership and Control Debate 

    The Selection and Presentation of News

    Media Representations 

    Media Effects 

    Podcasts With Pictures | GCSE

    Monday, May 20th, 2019

    I’ve been meaning to do a post on the growing number of teachers creating video resources for some time and now I’ve finally managed to drag myself away from Far Cry 5 make a bit of time I thought I’d start with a set of GCSE resources from MTO Sociology aimed at the AQA Specification. When I get around to it I’ll do a follow-up post on A-level video resources of which, you might not be surprised to learn, there are many more available.

    Anyway, at the time of writing the MTO Sociology YouTube Channel has 15 or so Sociology resources divided into 4 main playlists:

    Exam Ready takes you through all the information you need to cover in terms of revision in areas like Methods, Family, Education, Deviance and Stratification. These films are 30 – 60 minutes long.

    Themes focuses on concepts (socialisation, gender, class and ethnicity) that crop-up right across the sociology specification and the podcasts focus on how to apply your knowledge of these themes to questions in different areas (such as family or education). These resources are much shorter – between 10 and 20 minutes – to reflect their tighter focus.

    Perspectives provides a brief introduction to Functionalism, Marxism and Feminism and how these perspectives can be applied across different areas of the Specification. Again, these are relatively short films that come-in around the 10-minute mark.

    Questions and Answers seems to be a bit of a pot-luck resource based on whatever MTO Sociology’s students requested. If you’re having problems understanding concepts like the glass ceiling, for example, this resource will be helpful. If you’re not, it probably won’t. Which isn’t a criticism, more a heads-up. The films in this section are around the 15-minute mark.

    Finally, there are a couple more Sociology resources tucked away on the GCSE Humanities playlist that are worth checking-out: How do I answer exam questions? and Model answers and exam feedback.

    When Good Labels Go Bad…

    Sunday, May 19th, 2019
    Bad news…

    One of the enduringly fascinating things about studying sociology is the way it frequently throws up counter-intuitive ideas that lead us, as teachers and students, to question what we think we know about something. Take, for example, the concept of labelling.

    By-and-large, when we discuss labelling in the context of education the focus is generally on the impact of negative labelling, such as the kind that occurs:

    1. Within the school, through things like teacher-attitudes, the impact of organisational processes  like setting, streaming and banding and the like.

    2. Across the education sector in terms of things like institutional labelling – whether a school is rated “good” or “bad” by Ofsted, for example.

    In relation to school status, we can see evidence of the impact of both positive and negative labelling; in terms of the former, being ranked “Outstanding” by Ofsted can be seen as a major pull-factor in relation to not only attracting students per se, but also for attracting those students with high levels of prior educational achievement.

    In the case of the latter, a school negatively labelled as “bad”, “needs improvement” or, in the worst case, “failing”, may struggle to attract students and is unlikely to attract the kinds of high-achieving, largely middle class, students generally associated with “academically-successful” schools it needs to challenge the label (something that links to a further aspect of negative educational labelling: a self-fulfilling prophecy of decline).

    While these kinds of general “labelling effects” are well-known and well-embedded in the sociology canon, a new (2019) piece of research by Greaves et. al.* gives us a slightly different perspective on educational labelling by suggesting that some forms of positive labelling can have unintended negative effects.

    Positive Labelling, Negative Outcomes?

    Click to download full report
    Greaves et. al.

    Greaves et. al. used a combination of the UK Household Longitudinal Study and Ofsted data to test the effect of the published data on student exam performance. In this context we might reasonably expect that a positive Ofsted report might lead, at best, to an improvement in GCSE exam scores or, at worst, no effect at all.

    What the researchers found, however, was that the students of families who received “good news” about their school’s positive Ofsted rating at the start of the academic year “performed significantly worse in the GCSE exams” than those where the good news about a school’s improved Ofsted rating was revealed much later in the academic year.

    In other words, positive school labelling, in the shape of a good Ofsted rating, seemed to have a negative effect on the exam performance of GCSE students. The earlier in the academic year the news was received, the lower the students’ performance.

    The researcher’s accounted for this unexpected change in academic performance by arguing that “Parents typically reduce help at home when perceived school quality increases. Parents receiving good news are around 20 percentage points more likely to reduce help with homework, for example”. (If you want to take this finding further, of course, you can relate it to ideas about the levels of cultural capital parents are able to employ in pursuit of achieving educational success for their offspring).

    Overall, the “negative effect of positive labelling” in this context meant that “parents who receive good rather than bad news about the quality of their child’s school are 24 percentage points more likely to reduce the help they give their children with homework and 14 percentage points less likely to increase it”. This, in turn, suggested “reduced help by parents lowered children’s exam performance”, even in a situation where “their children’s own time investment in schoolwork increased in response to the same information”.

    In a further interesting finding the researchers’ note that “While parents’ reaction to good news is pronounced, their reaction to bad news about school quality is much more muted. Parents that receive bad news do not respond by significantly increasing their help at home”.

    This is a further finding you might want to usefully explore with your students in terms of different types of capital and their effects in terms of educational achievement.

    * Greaves, E; Hussain, I; Rabe, B and Rasuly, I: “Parental Responses to Information About School Quality: Evidence from Linked Survey and Administrative Data”: Institute for Social and Economic Research (2019)

    Mass Media 5 | Effects

    Saturday, May 18th, 2019

    The final chapter in this series on the Mass Media to accompany the chapters on:
    Defining and Researching the Media,
    The Ownership and Control Debate,
    The Selection and Presentation of News and
    Media Representations

    looks at a range of models of Media Effects: how and in what ways (if any) the mass media affects individual and social behaviour.

    The first – main – section of the chapter covers a number of direct and indirect affects models (from the Hypodermic to Cultural Effects) plus an extensive and updated section on postmodernism / post-effects theory (audience as media, media as audience…).

    The second, much shorter section, moves the focus away from media effects on individuals and groups to look at possible effects – both positive and negative – on society as a whole.

    Update
    This chapter is also now available as an online flipbook.

    Free Sociology Textbooks: A New Batch of Contenders

    Thursday, May 16th, 2019
    Seeing Sociology

    Those of you with long(ish) memories may recall the previous posts in a series that delivers a variety of slightly out-of-date sociology textbooks found gathering dust and mould in some unloved corners of the Internet to your desktop (Sociology Textbooks for Free and More Free Sociology Texts).

    If you do remember them you’ll no-doubt be pleased to know that I’ve been out rummaging once more and have collected a further batch of out-of-print editions of once-loved textbooks-that-have-been-replaced-by-newer-shinier-versions.

    And if you don’t, this should all come as a pleasant surprise.

    As ever, I’ve held fast to only two basic criteria when selecting the books (three if you count the fact that there’s not, in truth, a great deal of selecting going on behind the scenes, or four if you include the proviso they must be freely available “somewhere on the web” – i.e. I’m just the messenger bringing them to you).

    The first is they need to have been published in the 21st century (arbitrary I know, but you have to draw the line somewhere and that’s where I’ve drawn it).

    The second is that they should be out-of-print. i.e. they’re not being sold anywhere or have been supplanted by newer versions.

    Continue to the textbooks

    Sociology Flipbooks: Free Textbook Previews

    Sunday, May 12th, 2019

    So. Here’s the thing.

    I like to occasionally root around on Pinterest   – mainly, it must be said, when I’m pretending to do “research” in order to avoid doing any actual work – because it’s a good source of interesting ideas and practices.

    Like stuff I’ve shared in the past, such as structure strips or the Crumple and Shoot revision game.

    Anyhow, while idly browsing doing important research the other day I chanced upon what turned out to be a flipbook preview of my CIE Sociology textbook that I never knew existed (I’m just the guy who wrote it).

    For reasons best known to themselves, Cambridge University Press, have not only uploaded a 77-page flipbook of Chapter’s 1 and 2 (The Sociological Perspective and Socialisation and the Creation of Social Identity respectively), they’ve also included, half of Chapter 3 (Research Methods).

    Which is nice. But why it abruptly stops half way through the chapter is anyone’s guess.

    Mass Media

    Be that as it may, not content with this rather extraordinary act of generosity, they’ve also added a further 48-page flipbook of the complete Media chapter.

    To put that into context, that’s around 30% of the actual textbook.

    For free.

    That’s extraordinarily generous of CUP with my time and effort.

    Anyway, my interest, not to mention my sense of grievance, having been piqued I decided to see if there were any other previews hanging around just waiting to be discovered and, sure enough, both CUP and Collins have been busy posting both A-level and GCSE materials. Those I’ve found can be viewed online as flipbooks or downloaded for offline use as pdf files. Most only seem to have a single chapter but, since they’re free, what have you got to lose?

    Click here to read more

    Psychology Films 5 | Debates

    Friday, May 10th, 2019

    The fifth and final – at least for the time being as we concentrate on sociology and crime (of the filmic as opposed to “actually committing it” variety) – set of films in our marathon psycho upload looks at some key debates in psychology.

    As ever, the films are designed as short, highly-focused, introductions to a topic, with the emphasis on outlining and explaining key ideas, applications and evaluations relevant to an a-level or ap psychology course of study.

    The Ethics of Abortion 
    7 minutes
    The controversies surrounding abortion involve a clash between two fundamental rights: the rights of the unborn child, or foetus, and the rights of the mother.

    This film begins with the storm created by the US case of Roe vs Wade and then provides students with an unbiased analysis of the ethical issues underlying demands for the criminalisation and the legalisation of abortion.

    Free Will and Determinism 
    7 minutes
    Do we really have free will?
    And, if so, from where does it come?

    In this film, Professor Patrick Haggard explains the differences between free will and behavioural, psychic and neurological determinism.

    We then reconstruct Benjamin Libet’s seminal experiment on determinism, showing its implications for understanding consciousness and explaining human behaviour.

    Click to read more

    Deviancy Amplification: Some Notes

    Wednesday, May 8th, 2019

    I’ve been editing and updating a piece on Media Effects and decided the section on deviancy application didn’t really fit into what I was trying to do.

    Loathe to completely scrap anything at all I’ve ever written, I thought someone might be able to find some use for it as a standalone piece on deviancy amplification.

    So here it is.

    It’s a bit of a “no-frills” effort (I might manage to add some pix later, but I can’t promise anything).

    Make of it what you will.

    Click to Continue…