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Posts Tagged ‘research methods’

Chinese Parents’ Involvement in Children’s Education

Monday, October 9th, 2017

Regular readers of this blog will be aware that from time-to-time we’ve been able to feature research done by Richard Driscoll’s Sociology A-level students at the Shenzhen College of International Education in China and the latest study to come our way, by Ma Jia Ying, looks at the involvement of Chinese parents in decisions made by their sons and daughters about what to study in higher education.

The research should be interesting to UK teachers and students for a couple of reasons:

Firstly, it gives a comparative cultural insight into family relationships and educational processes in an area that will be familiar to many UK students – the extent to which family pressures impact on the choices made by individual students in terms of their future educational careers.

Secondly, another interesting dimension is the construction and implementation of the research itself: this is made manifest in areas like the choices made by the researcher in terms of sampling, research methods, reliability, validity and so forth, their awareness of methodological uses and limitations and their evaluation of the strengths and weaknesses of their research.

If you want to get in touch with Richard about this research, his students or maybe to make a fruitful contact between your school / college students and his – you can contact him via his Twitter account

11 | The Research Process: Part 4

Monday, September 25th, 2017

The final part of the Research Methods chapter covers the use of mixed methods in the context of sociological research and is split into three theoretically-discrete, but related, areas:

1. Methodological pluralism involves the idea of combining methodologies, methods and data types to arrive at a more-rounded, reliable and valid insight into social behaviour.

2. Types of Triangulation outlines how researchers can use different types of triangulation – specifically, methodological, researcher and data – as a practical way of improving research reliability and validity.

3. The final section look at a range of Practical. Ethical and Theoretical research considerations and how these relate to both choice of topic and method.

Although the chapter relates directly to the OCR Specification there should still be plenty here for teachers and students following other Specifications.

10 | The Research Process: Part 3

Thursday, September 21st, 2017

In Part 2 of this chapter  we looked at quantitative research – in terms of both primary and secondary data and methods – and Part 3 does something similar for qualitative data and research.

It’s also structured in the same way as the previous chapter which, if nothing else, at least shows I thought a little bit about presentational continuity. Be that as it may, the chapter is divided into three discrete, but related, parts.

The first part deals with examples of primary qualitative research methods (semi-structured (‘focused’) interviews, unstructured interviews and focus groups). Each method is outlined, exampled and evaluated in terms of their strengths and weaknesses.

The second part does the same for secondary quantitative methods (Non-participant observation, Overt and Covert participant observation and documentary sources).

The third part looks at the methodology behind the methods through, initially, an overview of Interpretivism and, subsequently, an outline of Interpretivist research design that links this part to the overall theme of the research methods chapter.

Some printer’s marks are visible on the pages and I think the publisher just stopped pretending with both pictures and captions.

Culture and Identity: Caught Between Two Worlds?

Monday, September 18th, 2017

Richard Driscoll teaches A-level Sociology at the Shenzhen College of International Education in China and you may recall an interesting piece of research – The Last Queendom of Women?  – carried-out by one of his students, Hecate Li, that provided a contemporary example of an alternative to the “conventional nuclear family”.

In this latest piece of research by one of his students, Sarah G. Zhang applies two complimentary research methods, questionnaires and semi-structured interviews, to examine the question “How do experiences in different countries affect the social identities of American-born-Chinese (ABC) students” – a piece of research UK teachers and students should find useful for a couple of reasons:

Firstly, it covers the respective strengths and weaknesses of two different research methods and shows how they can be applied to a substantive research area. The use of quantitative and qualitative methods / data is also a useful example of research triangulation.

Secondly, the research gives a fascinating insight into questions of culture and identity by choosing to look at “precarious identities” – young people “caught between two very different worlds” – expressed through a wide range of cultural concepts: language, family values and relationships, work ethics, identity and social relationships.

If you want to contact Richard Driscoll about this research you can do so through Twitter.

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…

8 | The Research Process: Part 1

Thursday, September 14th, 2017

While Research Methods at a-level aren’t everyone’s cup of tea they can be interesting if students are given the time and space to bring together the theory with the practice. Unfortunately I can’t help you here with the practice (although I can give you a few pointers about how to carry-out a range of cheap ’n’ cheerful activities), but I can help with the theory.

This chapter kicks things off by looking at the idea of research design – from choosing a problem to research, through developing a testable hypothesis or research question, to data collection and analysis. Along the way the chapter takes in a range of research-centred ideas students will have to understand if they are to make the most of methods:

• Research respondents
• Types of representative sampling
• Types of non-representative sampling
• Pilot studies
• Concept operationalisation
• Reliability and validity
• Primary and secondary data
• Quantitative and qualitative data and methods
• Ethics

Psych’d Magazine Issue 2

Tuesday, August 22nd, 2017

Psych’d is a twice-yearly (October and July) Psychology Magazine, published by WJEC (formerly the Welsh Joint Examining Committee) designed to support teachers and students studying for the WJEC and Eduqas A-level Psychology qualifications.

While, as you might expect, the magazine contains material (CPD events, important dates and recommended textbooks) specific to these particular exam boards, it also features a range of short, concise, articles teachers and students following other psychology a-level qualifications will find useful.

In this respect Issue 2 has the following articles focused on research methods:

• An active way to teach ways of assessing validity
• Personal Investigations: A Guide for the Terrified
• How we conducted our experiment on bilingualism
• Questionable Research Practices
• An observation of gender differences in food choices
• Skewed Distributions
• An Insight into the Potential Issues of a Personal Investigation

Psych’d Magazine

Monday, August 21st, 2017

Psych’d is a twice-yearly (October and July) Psychology Magazine, published by WJEC (formerly the Welsh Joint Examining Committee) and designed, in the words of its editor, “to provide key information, suggestions for teaching, updates and news as well as interesting features relating to our WJEC and Eduqas Psychology qualifications”. 

Although the magazine contains stuff (applying to be an examiner, CPD events, recommended textbooks…) that’s only really going to be of interest to teachers following these qualifications there are also a number of articles that teachers and students following other psychology a-level qualifications will find useful.  

Issue 1, for example, has the following:

  • The Psychology of Happiness
  • Understanding Psychological Approaches in Bowlby and Alfred Adler
  • Introducing research methods
  • Autism
  • Using technology

  • Overall, the magazine is professionally produced with short, interesting, articles aimed squarely at the a-level student. It’s well worth a look, whether or not you teach WJEC / Eduqas psychology.

    GCSE Psychology: Revision Booklet

    Friday, August 11th, 2017

    The final offering in this short GCSE Psychology series is a revision booklet by R Cummins of Knowsley College that covers both

    Unit 1: Making sense of other people (Memory, Non-verbal communication, Development of personality, Stereotyping, prejudice and discrimination and Research methods). 

    Unit 2: Understanding other people (Learning, Social influence, Sex and Gender, Aggression, and Research methods)

    The emphasis, as you might expect, is very much on revision and the booklet takes a no-frills approach to the topic through a combination of: 

  • Checklists
  • Notes and
  • Practice exam questions.

  • It’s not the most visually-dynamic offering, but it does the job it sets out to do…

    GCSE Psychology: Unit 2

    Thursday, August 10th, 2017

    Having posted stuff for AQA Psychology Unit 1 it’s probably only fair to do the same for Unit 2 so today’s post focuses on two offerings

    1. Understanding Other People: This resource, created by T Mitchell, consists of information and activities – plus a few revision tips – focused on various aspects of Conditioning. There’s one specific reference to a textbook that you may have to change if you don’t use the featured textbook.

    2. Unit 2 Revision Booklet: Although this offering from “Caz” covers some of the same ground as the previous booklet, it contains much more besides (from social learning theory through aggression to research methods) and has a much greater focus on revision. It does, however, contain a few activities and an extensive range of exam questions.

    GCSE Psychology: Unit 1

    Sunday, July 30th, 2017

    Having spent the past few weeks furiously editing videos we’re licensing to a couple of British and American publishers, one of the joys of having a bit of spare time is the opportunity for a random-trawl through my hard drives looking for stuff that “might be useful to someone, sometime”.

    The stuff I’ve selected today is a little niche – and you don’t get more niche than GCSE Psychology, unless you count GCSE Sociology, in which case it’s not quite as niche as I might have initially lead you to believe, but still quite niche. Probably. 

    Anyway, since some helpful teachers have taken the time, trouble and effort to create it the least I could reasonably do is post it. You can thank me later.

    Today’s offerings, therefore, are focused around AQA Psychology Unit 1 (Making Sense of Other People) and include: 

    1.     A Revision Booklet covering Memory, Stereotyping, prejudice and discrimination, Non-verbal communication, Personality, and Research Methods. This booklet was created by someone who must remain nameless (mainly, but not exclusively, because I don’t know their name). The approach adopted here is one of testing student recall rather than trying to provide a comprehensive revision document.

    2.   Personality Key Studies and Key Words created by Kevin White takes a more-conventional approach to revision with this extensive bundle of condensed course notes covering, as you might have been lead to expect, key studies and words. 

    3.     Unlike the previous two offerings, this Personality-focused resource created by T Mitchell is more of a course workbook than revision guide. Although it offers a few revision and exam tips its main focus is on individual classroom activities. The resource makes reference to a couple of specific texts so if you don’t use those texts you will need to substitute your own.

    Patterns of Crime and the Social Characteristics of Offenders: Gender and Ethnicity

    Monday, July 3rd, 2017

    After a brief hiatus, we’re back to business with a fifth example of Jill Swale’s ATSS work, this one focusing on patterns of offending and how differences based on gender and ethnicity (you can easily add further variables, such as age, to the exercise if you want) can be identified and explained.

    The exercise itself is a simple one to organise and run, although you’ll need to update the “Websites and Other Sources” section of the instructions because the suggested web data no-longer works and you’ll need to use texts that reference more contemporary crime statistics. That aside, the exercise is generally straightforward and is designed to encourage students to apply a range of skills to sociological data and research in terms of: 

  • Researching patterns of offending.
  • Identifying major trends.
  • Developing explanations / hypotheses for gender, ethnic and age differences in offending.
  • Testing explanations against sociological research and data.
  • Evaluating sociological research.
  • NotAFactsheet: Miscellaneous Methods

    Friday, May 5th, 2017

    Another small batch of NotAFactsheets covering a miscellaneous melange of methods-related stuff – some essential, some less so (but probably nice to know, just in case you want to impress the examiner with your wide-ranging and perceptive grasp of all things methodological. Or maybe not).

    M9. Quantitative and Qualitative Data

    M10. Strong and Weak Feminist thesis

    M11. Types of Triangulation

    M13. Objectivity, Subjectivity, Value-Freedom

    Methods in Context: Overt Participant Observation

    Sunday, April 23rd, 2017

    For some reason I thought I’d already blogged this document, but it seems I’d put it on the Sociology Central web site but not here.

    To rectify the omission, therefore, this document uses Sudhir Venkatesh’s “Gang Leader For a Day” study as the basis for an outline and evaluation – the advantages and disadvantages – of the following key methodological concepts in overt participant observation:

    Access.
    Recording Data.
    Validity.
    Depth and Detail.
    Going Native.
    Observer Effect.

     

    NotAFactsheet: Interpretivist Methods

    Thursday, April 20th, 2017

    Continuing the Research Methods theme of recent posts, these NotAFactsheets focus on a range of methods associated with Interpretivist research:

    M4a. Research Methods: this outlines different types of interview: semi-structured, unstructured and focus groups.

    M4b. Research Methods: observational methods are one of the staples of Interpretivist research and this outlines non-participant observation, covert and overt participant observation.

    M4c. Research Methods: while experimental methods are not conventionally associated with Interpretivism there have been a number of very interesting and influential field and natural experiments carried-out over the years. This NotAFactsheet outlines these and also provides an outline of documentary sources (with a bit of content analysis thrown-in for good measure).

     

    NotAFactsheet: Research Ethics

    Thursday, April 13th, 2017

    This NotAFactsheet on Research Ethics is a slight departure from previous NotAFactsheets in that it comes in two flavours:

    1. The normal “text with box-outs and pictures-if-you’re-lucky” version.

    2.  An experimental version with an added bit of embedded video (click-the-pic-to-play).

    Although not ideal, the video is in Flash (.flv) format for reasons that are much too boring to go into. Plus, the .flv format can be quite heavily compressed and means the video doesn’t add too many megabytes to the pdf file. I’ve deliberately kept the clip short – it just illustrates a simple mnemonic that I cut out of one of our films on Ethics – because it’s essentially just a test to see which people prefer.

    If you choose this option you’ll need to download the pdf file because atm it won’t play online (probably).

     

    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

    Interpretivism: Emergent (Exploratory) Research

    Friday, March 17th, 2017

    Although the Hypothetico-deductive model describes an important way of doing research, by way of contrast (since not all sociologists believe the same things or do things in exactly the same way) we can look at an alternative “emergent (exploratory) research” model that can be closely associated with Interpretivist methodology.

    In general, this type of model follows the same basic flow identified by Oberg (1999) – albeit with some significant design modifications – in that it involves:

    1. Planning:

    A research issue is identified and a “research question” or “problem” takes shape. This may flow from background reading on the topic or the researcher may want to “come fresh” to the research to avoid being influenced by what others have said or written.

    (more…)

    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…)

    A2 Psychology: Research Methods Free Chapter

    Friday, November 4th, 2016

    holt-and-lewisOne of the simple pleasures of Wandering the Web™ for a living, made all the more enjoyable by that intangible sense of the unexpected (I know, I live my life through contradictions), is coming across Stuff That Is Free.

    My not-so-little face lights up at the mere thought of finding Something For Nothing, even though that “Something” invariably ends up stored somewhere on a half-forgotten hard drive, waiting for that magic moment when “it might be useful to someone, sometime”.

    This behaviour, which I’m calling “Simple Squirrelling Syndrome” – because I can – has a yet deeper dimension (I’m toying with the idea of “Simple Squirrelling Syndrome Squared”, but it may need some work). Some years after the initial find-and-save I get to spend further pleasurable hours sifting through multiple hard drives “looking for that study I know I saved somewhere, under a name that made perfect sense at the time but which is now largely meaningless”, during which I rediscover all kinds of things I’d forgotten I had. My pleasure is quite obviously redoubled. Probably. I’m not altogether certain I’ve quite mastered mathematical analogies.

    Anyway, be that as it may, the actual point of this rambling preambling is that I came across this sample chapter on Research Methods from Holt and Lewis’ “A2 Psychology: The Student’s Textbook” and thought of you.

    On the downside it looks like a chapter from the 2009 edition, but on the upside you have to ask yourself when was the last time a textbook said anything startlingly-new about the Hypothetico-Deductive Model? Or “the Research Process”? Sampling? Probability and significance? My case rests.

    The chapter also has a very pretty, colourful, layout, which in my book counts for quite a lot.

    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…)

    7 Sims in 7 Days – Day 4: The Anomie Within

    Friday, September 30th, 2016

    sim_anomieThis short (5 – 10 minute) sim can be used whenever you want to introduce the concept of anomie, such as if you’re introducing Merton’s Strain Theory or looking at Garfinkel’s breaching experiments.

    The package includes a little bit of background on breaching experiments and a couple of different anomie variations – mild and strong – depending on the type of short, sharp, dose of anomie you want to impart to your students.

    7 Sims in 7 Days – Day 3: Window Shopping / The Art of Walking

    Thursday, September 29th, 2016

    sim_shoppingAlthough these are two different sims I’ve included them together because both involve thinking about the “rules of everyday social interaction”, albeit in different ways:

    Window shopping is designed to encourage students to think systematically about the “underlying rules” of relatively mundane behavior. It can be used to simulate sociological research (such as field experiments and naturalistic observation) and introduces what some teachers might feel is a practical element into research methods.

    The Art of Walking relates to Berger’s argument that sociology involves making “the everyday seem strange” in that it involves looking at something students take for granted (how to walk in public) to see if they can work out “the rules” by which it is underpinned. It’s a simple sim that can be used at different points in a course but can be very effective right at the start as a way for students to “do sociology” in a relative safe environment.