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Posts Tagged ‘positivism’

9 | The Research Process: Part 2

Saturday, September 16th, 2017

The focus here is quantitative data and research, with the free chapter split into three discrete, but necessarily related, parts.

The first part outlines a selection of primary quantitative research methods (questionnaires, structured interviews and content analysis) and evaluates their strengths and weaknesses.

The second part does something similar for secondary quantitative methods (official and non-official statistics).

The final part turns the focus onto quantitative research methodology with an overview and analysis of positivist approaches. In addition to identifying and explaining some of the main features of this approach the link with research design in the first chapter is maintained through an overview of a classic positivist design: Popper’s Hypothetico-Deductive model of scientific research.

As with previous chapters printer’s marks are visible and some chucklehead at the publisher has added some obvious pictures and even-more-obvious captions…

Clarke and Layder: Let’s Get Real

Thursday, May 11th, 2017

Continuing to clear-out the filing cabinet that is fast-assuming legendary status in both my life and the sociological world (pretty much the same thing, actually) I came across a copy of an article by Clarke and Layder originally published in the November 1994 issue of Sociology Review called “Let’s Get Real: The Realist Approach in Sociology”.

While a 23 year-old article’s not usually a source I’d recommend for contemporary students, in this particular case the age of the content’s not especially significant because it deals with the general principles of realist methodology – and these haven’t really changed much over the past 25 years. The article’s also one of the most accessible explanations of sociological realism for A-level students I’ve read or indeed written – although, to be fair, this probably isn’t actually saying that much in terms of the competition.

Be that as it may, if you teach Realism alongside “Other Alternative Research Approaches” such as Positivism and Interpretivism this article should prove helpful, not just in terms of clearly-identifying the key principles of Realism but also in terms of highlighting the key similarities and differences between these competing approaches. And even if you don’t teach Realism, you should find the stuff on Positivism and Interpretivism helpful.

As you might expect, given its age and provenance (it’s been in a filing cabinet for most of the past quarter century…) the actual document is a little bit the worse for wear. This hasn’t been helped, it must be admitted, by the various annotations to the text I presumably added in my “Underline everything and hope something sticks” phase of critical unawareness.

Sociology Shortcuts: NotAFactsheets

Sunday, April 9th, 2017

Over the past few weeks I’ve published a small selection of Curriculum Press Sociology Factsheets and the response to these set me thinking about creating some of my own, using a similar format – although I’ve decided not to call what I’ve produced “Factsheets”, mainly because they aren’t.

Anyway, I posted my first attempt at a NotAFactsheet a week or so ago and since then I’ve been developing and refining the format in terms of both design and content. Whether or not I’ve managed to capture something useful is something for you to judge but I thought I’d post my first batch of NotAFactsheets anyway.

The basic idea, in case you’re not familiar with the general format, is to use NotAFactsheets in a range of possible ways, as:

  • basic introductory documents.
  • an extra source of student Notes.
  • a source of information when students miss part of a course.
  • a revision document.
  •  
    These are all based around “Approaches to Research” and, in the main, focus on an outline of different approaches. I have, however, included one on research methods to see if and how that works (at 5 pages it’s significantly longer than each of the others and I’m not sure if this format works as a NotAFactsheet).

    You can download the following NotAFactsheets:

    Positivism

    Positivist Research Methods

    Interpretivism

    Realism

    Feminism

    Sociology ShortCuts F’sheet

    Tuesday, April 4th, 2017

    I’ve posted a couple of times about the Sociology Factsheets produced by Curriculum Press –  particularly about how it might be an idea for teachers to get their students to make their own versions as both a revision aid and teaching resource for future sociology students – and I thought it might be interesting to have a go at something along these lines myself: particularly because having written a number of books for different exam boards over the past 10 or so years I’ve accumulated a large stock of words that could possibly be put to some more – and probably better – use as a revision-type resource.

    The upshot of playing-around with various words and pictures is my first ShortCuts Sheet on “Approaches to Research: Positivism” (for no better reason than the fact I had some underutilised text lying around that I thought might be easy to adapt to this format).

    If you’ve got any comments, suggestions etc. about why it’s brilliant / shite / could be improved please don’t hesitate to let me know…

    A Few More Sociology Factsheets

    Sunday, April 2nd, 2017

    A previous post featured a selection of the Factsheets produced by The Curriculum Press  and since this post I’ve managed to collect a few more Factsheets from various corners of the Web.

    These, oddly enough, all relate in some way to Research Methods…

    Experiments

    Overt Participant Observation

    Positivism and Interpretivism

    Qualitative Research

    Crime statistics

    PowerPoint: The Hypothetico-Deductive Model

    Monday, February 27th, 2017

    This is a simple one-slide PowerPoint presentation of Popper’s classic model of scientific research. The presentation contains two versions:

    1. Click-to-advance: this allows teachers to reveal each element in the model at their own pace. This is useful if you want to talk about each of the elements before revealing the next.
    2. Self-advancing: if you want to just show a class how the model develops this option slowly (there’s a two-second delay before each reveal) displays each element in turn.

     

    If you want to give your students some notes to accompany the presentation the following should help:

    (more…)

    7 Sims in 7 Days – Day 6: For My Next Trick…

    Sunday, October 2nd, 2016

    sim_trickThis sim involves a bit of very gentle trickery on your part as you use your little-known ability to mind-read as a way of enlivening some of the “possibly less interesting?” aspects of research methods.

    As with some of the other sims in the series this is a building-block resource; while it’s not very useful, in itself, for teaching, it’s possible to integrate it into curriculum content in a number of innovative and, I hope, interesting ways.  

    The specific instructions for this version of the sim relate to research methods generally and research design specifically. The background reading that’s included, at no extra cost, relates to Popper’s Hypothetico-Deductive Model of science and you can build the sim around a range of general and / or specific research method issues (replication, variables, hypothesis construction and testing etc.) depending on your own particular needs and preferences. For more advanced levels the sim can be used to illustrate the difference between Positivist and Realist approaches to understanding social phenomena and action. (more…)

    Seven Sims in Seven Days – Day 5: Trial by Jury

    Saturday, October 1st, 2016

    sim_trailAs with some of the others in this series, “Trial by Jury” is a building block sim that gives you a basic template that can be used to organise and run a wide range of possible simulations. In basic terms if there’s an area of the Sociology / Psychology course that involves comparing and contrasting two opposing viewpoints it can be adapted to the Trial by Jury format using this template.

    As a way of exampling this the package uses the (sociological) example of “Positivism On Trial” (effectively a debate between Positivism / Interpretivism at As-level).

    This is quite a time-consuming simulation and it’s probably best-suited to occasional use (unless you’ve completely flipped your classroom, in which case it’s something you could frequently use).

    For example, it could be used at the end of a specific teaching session (such as “secularisation”) as a way of bringing all the different arguments and evaluations together. Alternatively you might find it useful for a series of “end of course” sessions as a way of structuring student revision.

    Podcasts for AS and A-level Sociology

    Tuesday, May 17th, 2016

    With the growth of video, podcasts seem to have fallen out of fashion in recent years which is a bit of a shame because they can be useful teaching / learning aids. From a production point-of-view they’re also cheap to create and easy to distribute so it’s perhaps surprising that more aren’t made.

    Be that as it may, one accusation that can’t be levelled at AQA is jumping on a bandwagon before the train has left the station; so, a little late admittedly, comes these podtastic offerings for your listening pleasure. Atm there are only 4 casts (3 if you discount the “Overview”) and whether there will be any more is anyone’s guess (and mine, for what little it’s worth, is that there won’t be, but I’m prepared to be surprised).

    (more…)

    Teaching A-level Research Methods: Part 3

    Monday, April 25th, 2016
    1. Talk the Walk

    At this point students need to get to grips with learning the basics of research methods. How you organise this is up to you, but one way is to get students to take ownership of their learning:

    If there are sufficient students, split the class into groups and give each group responsibility for one research method. Give the group a broad outline of how they should proceed in terms of:walk_template

    • Brief overview of the method

    • Primary / secondary data

    • Quantitative / qualitative source / data

    • Strengths

    • Limitations

    One way to do this is to use an evaluation template (this is for Focused (Semi-structured) Interviews – if you want a blank template download it here).

    (more…)

    Understanding Crime and Deviance in Postmodernity: Part 1

    Monday, March 21st, 2016

    blog_crime1Although the concept of a “postmodern criminology” is, for various reasons, highly problematic this doesn’t mean that newer approaches to understanding and explaining crime don’t have something to offer the a-level sociologist. In this two-part extravaganza, therefore, we can look at two (yes, really) dimensions to this criminological shift through the medium of a couple of lovingly-prepared workbooks.

    The first workbook – a critique of conventional criminology – helps students understand some of the points-of-conflict between conventional (positivist) and postmodern criminologies, with the focus on areas like:

    • The ontological reality of crime

    • The myth of crime

    • Criminalisation, punishment and pain

    • Crime control

    The workbook identifies and explains these ideas and also includes space for students to test their knowledge and understanding through relatively simple critical tasks.