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Archive for September, 2015

Maths in Psychology

Monday, September 28th, 2015

The 2015 A-level Psychology Specifications place a new emphasis on students’ ability to both understand and, more-importantly, apply a range of statistical tests to psychological problems.

This new set of short films, written and presented by Deb Gajic (The Polesworth School and ATP) covers the main statistical tests students encounter in psychology: Chi Square, Sign Test, Spearman’s Rho, Probability, Mann Whitney U Test, Wilcoxen Signed Ranks Test. Each film takes students through the basic steps needed to calculate and apply the tests to various research methods. The films are available in a range of formats:

48-hour rental: All 6 films available for on-line viewing.

Buy: Individual films Bundle of all 6 films

DVD: all 6 films: £17.50

The Amstradification of Education

Thursday, September 17th, 2015

Amstradification” refers to the idea that when offering someone a choice between two things that can be considered to be broadly similar, you make your favoured option sound better by making the unfavoured option sound worse…

Older readers will probably be familiar with Amstrad, the consumer electronics company founded by Alan Sugar, but for the younger readers that make up the core demographic of this blog (and if you believe that, I’m very grateful) a bit of explanation may be needed.

Amstrad (Alan Michael Sugar TRADing) was big (by which I mean BIG) in the UK Consumer Electronics market in the 1970s and 80’s – mainly, but not exclusively, in relation to hi-fi equipment. In the late 1970s, for example, Amstrad had a reputation for producing equipment, such as record players, that while cheap was definitely pitched at the lower, lower, end of the listening market. The two are probably not unconnected.

The name, either by accident or design, also sounded “Nordic” at a time when Scandanavian companies led the world in hi-fi design. There’s a suggestion – that I may have just made-up but, since this is The Internet, who cares? – initial discussions over the company name ranged far and wide, with one particularly popular suggestion eventually rejected because it was felt the connection with Japan, at the time associated with cheap, knock-off, consumer electronics, was just a bit too close to home (not as close as Oslo, of course, and, to be fair, since the company was based in Essex, the East Coast is about as close to Scandinavia you can get without getting your feet wet). It was, however, a sad day for nominative determinism that the link-up with Hitachi never got past the rickety old desk that passed for a drawing-board at Sugar HQ.

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Introducing Sociology: Setting Sociological Ground Rules

Monday, September 7th, 2015

Exercise

One way to introduce Sociology to students who have never studied the subject is to focus on the concept of roles because this is a simple way to introduce a range of basic sociological concepts, from values, through norms to socialisation.

If you want to give these ideas a “real world” context and meaning an easy way to do this is use an exercise focused on the idea of establishing a set of “sociological ground rules” for the course (grounded in things like classroom behaviour, work outside class and so forth).

This not only allows you to introduce a range of basic concepts, from norms through values to socialisation and beyond, it’s also a sneaky way of getting your students to think about acceptable and unacceptable forms of classroom behaviour – whether this relates to attendance, behaviour in the class (such as the use of mobiles) or completing homework on time.

The basic idea for this activity is a simple one: as a class you are going to decide on what everyone agrees is:

  1. Acceptable behaviour
  2. Unacceptable (deviant) behaviour

for a Sociology class.

To skew things in your favour, start by introducing and explaining the concept of using the example of education. This allows you to set-up two roles (teacher and student) from which you can then build the exercise (including ideas like role-set if it’s applicable to your course).

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Applying news values to contemporary events

Monday, September 7th, 2015

Chibnall (1977) defines news values as “The criteria of relevance which guide reporters’ choice and construction of newsworthy stories, learnt through a process of informal professional socialisation”. They are values determined by organisational needs that translate into the professional codes used by editors and journalists to guide their assessment of media content – and particular news values directly influence how and why certain types of information are selected and presented as news.

An interesting exercise here is to look at news values and how they can be defined and apply them to a contemporary news story such as, in the UK, something like Ebola.

Applying news values to contemporary events (Part 2)

Sunday, September 6th, 2015

Chibnall (1977) defines news values as “The criteria of relevance which guide reporters’ choice andnewsvalue construction of newsworthy stories, learnt through a process of informal professional socialisation”. They are values determined by organisational needs that translate into the professional codes used by editors and journalists to guide their assessment of media content – and particular news values directly influence how and why certain types of information are selected and presented as news.

If you’re looking for a recent, very sad, example of personalisation – and the power it can command – look no further than the Syrian Refugee Crisis…