Posts Tagged ‘research methods’
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:
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.
This is a simple one-slide PowerPoint presentation of Popper’s classic model of scientific research. The presentation contains two versions:
- 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.
- 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:
One 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.
This 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…)
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.
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.
Those of you with long memories may recall the ATSS (Association for the Teaching of Social Science), an organisation that was eventually folded into the British Sociological Association and lives on (sort-of) in their Teaching Group.
Anyway, a while back (probably 10 years or so?) ATSS produced a range of Teacher Support booklets, some of which I’ve rediscovered on one of my many hard drives and now present to you “as is” on the off-chance you might find them useful (or you may be able to update and adapt them to your current needs…).
- 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:
• Brief overview of the method
• Primary / secondary data
• Quantitative / qualitative source / data
Virtual Research in a Real Location
The idea here is that we use students’ knowledge of a real location as the basis for virtual research: while the scenario is real – a location such as a high street, shopping mall, school or college – students aren’t required to carry-out any real (time-consuming) research. Rather, they use their knowledge and experience of a real-world location to inform their understanding of research methods.
- Walk the Talk
How to prepare the ground for the Border Walking and subsequent teaching is something for individual teachers, but a couple of things can be usefully observed.
A few years ago I was asked to deliver a Conference on “Sociology and the Internet” to teachers interested in learning more about what was available on the Web and how to incorporate this material into their teaching. The “one proviso” stipulated by the commissioning company was that “there would not be any access to computers on the day”. I thought long and hard about this for all of 5 seconds before politely declining (even though the money was good, even I’m not that masochistic).
“So what?” I hear you think (and yes, I really am that perceptive. And also in desperate need of a link between the first paragraph and the next).
Well, since you ask, I was listening-in on a Twitter chat the other day about the difficulties involved in teaching research methods and I was reminded of the invitation to teach a bunch of people about all the brilliant resources available on the Web without giving them the ability to actually do any research for themselves.
Keeping abreast of the various statistical sources and data on crime can be both time-consuming and somewhat confusing for teachers and students – both in terms of the volume of data and the reliability and validity of different data sources.
For these reasons the Office for National Statistics statistical bulletin is a brilliant resource for a-level sociologists in terms of both crime statistics and the research methodologies underpinning their production (so it’s good for information covering both Crime and Deviance and Crime and Methods in Context).
In this short (10 minute) interview, (recorded in 2009 in what looks and sounds like a cupboard somewhere…apologies for the less than pristine sound quality and video), Professor Becky Francis talks about her research into educational achievement.
In the early 1960s two apparently-unrelated events, separated by thousands of miles, took place that, in their own way, shocked the world.
The first, in early 1961, was the Jerusalem trial of Adolph Eichmann. He was accused – and subsequently convicted – of being one of the organisers of the Nazi Concentration Camps in which millions of innocent victims were sent to their deaths.
The second, a few months later, was a series of experiments carried out in and around Yale University, by Stanley Milgram.
What connects these two events is obedience and, more specifically, the idea of “blindly obeying” orders given by those in authority.
- In Eichmann’s case “blind obedience” was manifested in his defence – both during and after the trial – that he was merely the agent of a higher, more-powerful, will. He was, he claimed, guilty of nothing more than being a loyal soldier; one who simply “obeyed the orders” he was given.
- In the case of Milgram’s “Teachers”, “blind obedience” was apparently manifested in the willingness of two-thirds (66%) of his volunteers to deliver what they believed were lethal electric shocks to “Learners”. Were Milgram’s Teachers simply “obeying the orders” given to them by Milgram’s experimenters?
Our latest Psychology DVD brings together 4 short films designed to clarify and consolidate the meaning of experimental methods by looking at the different ways psychologists carry out and design experiments and evaluate their comparative strengths and limitations. Illustrative case studies are used throughout for application and advice is given on key points of revision and exam technique.
- Laboratory Experiments (5 minutes 45 seconds). In the context of three major studies (Bandura, Maguire, the Stroop Effect) the film covers key:
- definitions (aim, method and environment)
- concepts (such as dependent and independent variables)
- evaluations (identifying their strengths and weaknesses)
- Field Experiments (7 minutes 5 seconds). Uses a range of classic studies to take you through the key ideas and skills required to produce an excellent exam answer in terms of:
- knowledge: the experimental method, field and natural experiments
- applications: Hofling, Piliavin, Fisher and Geiselman
- evaluation: the uses and limitations of field experiments
- Natural Experiments (7 minutes 10 seconds). Uses Costello et al’s Great Smokey Mountains study (Relationships Between Poverty and Psychopathology) as the basis for:
- illustrating the unique features of natural experiments
- showing how natural experiments differ from other types of experiment
- identifying the strengths and weaknesses of this research method
- Experimental Design (8 minutes 45 seconds). Uses a real world example (the relationship between learning and time of day) to explore 3 different types of experimental design:
- Repeated Measures
- Independent Measures
- Matched Pairs
The film explores their respective strengths and weaknesses as each design is applied to the learning example.
Length: 29 minutes | Price: £17.50 | Order online / offline
Unlike its English counterpart – the late, unlamented, “National” Grid for Learning that slowly expired around 10 years ago in a puddle of wasted money and opportunities – NGfL Cymru continues to develop free online educational resources – one of which just happens to be this new AS Sociology site.
As it currently stands the resource offers AS Research Methods, divided into 10 sections (from Design through Ethics to Primary and Secondary Methods) involving a mix of short text and videos to get the main ideas across.
Each section is introduced through a set of Aims and Key Points before covering the main ideas students need to grasp through clear, concise “textbook-length” text (written by experienced teacher, examiner and author Janis Griffiths) and concluding with a downloadable (pdf) Revision Checklist document students and teachers can use to check understanding.
For some reason best-known to the designers, to change the default language from Welsh to English you need to click on the “CYMRAEG” text at the bottom of the screen.
Part of our new Revising Psychology Series aimed at a-level and ap psychology students and teachers.
The full film covers key:
- definitions: aim, method and environment.
- concepts: dependent and independent variables
- examples: Bandura, Maguire, Stroop Effect
- evaluation: identifying strengths and weaknesses
We’re starting to release the first batch of films in our new Revising Psychology series – short, informative, videos aimed at students and teachers and designed to both consolidate learning and suggest ways to gain the best possible exam grade.
The films can be rented (48-hours) or bought (individually or in selected bundles) and can be viewed in a variety of formats – desktop, tablet and mobile.
Simulations are a good way to involve students in thinking about sociological ideas and issues and this particular online simulation focuses on labelling theory as it relates to crime and deviance. (although it can also be used to get students to reflect on different research methods – particularly interviews and observations).
The Bailey Report (Letting Children Be Children, 2014) highlights a range of issues (and moral concerns bordering on panics) around families, children, childhood and the media that form the basis for interesting discussions around both contemporary family life and wider social developments.
The research methodology – particularly the use of online parental surveys – is also a fruitful area for more general discussions about the reliability and validity of particular research methods.
The Independent has a short report that raises some broad questions about family, children and media (including the perennial “influence of sex and violence” on child development).
Alternatively, you can download the full report (that includes a handy summary).