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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.

At the time of writing (October 2018) there are over 500 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).
• Popular Tags: identifies the most popular keywords used in posts (the larger the word, the more posts there are about it).
• Popular Posts: identifies the post that have had the most views.
• Categories: allows you to filter posts by Sociology, Psychology, Simulations and Toolbox.

Finally, you can use the Subscribe box to be notified by email each time a new post appears on the Blog (we guarantee not to do anything with your email address other than send automatic notifications).

Methods Mat

Monday, January 14th, 2019
Methods Mat

A generic Methods Mat template that might be useful for both Sociology and Psychology A-level Research methods teaching. 

The Research Methods Tables created by Liam Core got me thinking about how to present a similar level of information in a Learning Mat format (such as Stacey Arkwright’s Sociology Mats, the Psychology Studies Mat or the generic Sociology / Psychology Mat).

What I’ve come up with is Learning Mat template – an A4 page available as either a PowerPoint or Pdf document – focused on a single research method. I’ve included the PowerPoint version for a couple of reasons:

Firstly, if you’re in the habit of displaying stuff for your students it’s much easier to do this in PowerPoint.

Secondly, if you want to edit the template – to create, for example, a worked illustration – it’s a lot less work to do it in PowerPoint.

Although the Mat should be fairly straightforward to use (it includes space to note the Key Features, Strengths and Weaknesses of a Research Method) I’ve added / adapted a couple of sections from the original:

The first is fairly minor: the addition of a way to indicate if it’s a primary or secondary research method).

(more…)

Research Methods Tables

Saturday, January 12th, 2019

I’ve previously posted a couple of pieces of Liam Core’s work (a Sociology Literacy Mat and an A-level Evidence Bank Template) and since these have proven very popular with teachers I thought I’d tap him up for a few more resources.

Research Methods Table

And, sure enough, he’s delivered.

This time it’s a handy research methods table students use to record key aspects of a range of methods (from questionnaires to public documents). The (Word) format’s easy to replicate so if you need to add or subtract different methods before you let your students loose it’s relatively easy to do.

In terms of completing the table, for each research method students are required to note its:

  • Key features
  • Strengths
  • Weaknesses
  • Practical issues
  • Ethical issues
  • How you use the table is, of course, up to you but it’s a resource that could be useful for revision, as a prompt sheet for timed essay writing and so forth.

    The resource packs a lot of research methods onto a single A4 page and some teachers / students might find this a bit restrictive, so if you decide to use this as a paper-based resource the author suggests you enlarge it to A3 before giving it to your students. Alternatively, if you find A3 materials a little unwieldy, a forthcoming post should solve this problem.

    Keep watching the skies.

    The Cannibal on Bus 1170: Rethinking Moral Panics

    Friday, January 11th, 2019

    In July 2008, 22-year-old Tim McLean was riding Greyhound Bus 1170, on his way back to his home in Winnipeg, Canada, when he was attacked by Vincent Li, a fellow passenger. Li stabbed McLean numerous times before cutting off McLean’s head, dismembering the body and eating some of the parts.

    Li, who suffered from schizophrenia, was quickly arrested and subsequently deemed unfit for criminal prosecution on the basis that, as Canadian sociologist Heidi Rimke describes it:

    “The voices in his head were telling him Tim McClean was going to harm him and everybody on the bus”.

    For Li, therefore, killing McLean and eating his body was the only possible way to save the lives of all concerned.

    “He believed that if he didn’t dismember and destroy the body it would re-constitute and thereby remain a threat to everyone on the bus”.

    The widespread public anger and concern at these events – the brutal, apparently senseless, killing, the cannibalism and the fact Li seemed to “escape punishment” for his actions ( Li was committed to a secure medical facility from which he was released in 2017) – suggested a classic moral panic in the form described by Stan Cohen in “Folk Devils and Moral Panics” (1972):

    “A condition, episode, person or group of persons emerges to become defined as a threat to societal values and interests; its nature is presented in a stylized and stereotypical fashion by the mass media; the moral barricades are manned by editors, bishops, politicians and other right-thinking people; socially accredited experts pronounce their diagnoses and solutions; ways of coping are evolved or (more often) resorted to; the condition then disappears, submerges or deteriorates and becomes more visible”.

    (more…)

    Wakelet

    Thursday, January 3rd, 2019

    If you’re a teacher looking for a free Padlet replacement, this versatile Bookmarking site will probably do everything you need.

    Bookmarking sites can be a handy way for teachers to store and share all kinds of related information with their students and the leader in the field has, for me at least, always been Padlet, www.padlet.com mainly because it lets you organise and display a variety of linked documents (text, video, audio…) in a quick, simple and visual way.

    Recent changes to the site have, however, seen its functionality limited unless you fork out for the “Pro Plans” at around $100 / £75 a year. While there’s still a perfectly serviceable free version that let’s you organise a wide range of different types of information, new users are only allowed 3 free Boards (Padlet’s way of naming grouped information).

    And while you can still cram a lot of bookmarks into a Board, it’s not very useful if you want to categorise information in more than 3 ways.

    Which is probably something most teachers want to do.

    But without the price tag.

    And this is where Wakelet might be a useful alternative, particularly if you just want to store and organise basic types of information, such as links, documents and videos. While Padlet has a few more bells and whistles, Wakelet does pretty much everything a teacher / student might need (although it’s important to note it doesn’t – at least at the time of writing – allow you to directly upload Word or PowerPoint documents. You need to covert them to Pdf first – and although this isn’t an insurmountable problem, it is a definite limitation).

    Functionality

    Instead of Boards, Wakelet has Collections – places where you store related bookmarks. If you want to see how this works, this is a Collection I made earlier. It’s just a set of video links, but it should give you an idea about the sort of stuff Wakelet can do once you’ve familiarised yourself with the interface and layout.

    There are some basic customisations you can make to your Home Page and Collections (adding background images / branding for example) and you can set one of three levels of access for each Collection:

  • Public can be seen by anyone
  • Private, which only you can see
  • Unlisted, where you can invite people to view a Collection based on a link you share.
  • In terms of what you can Bookmark, this currently includes:

  • YouTube videos
  • pdf documents
  • images
  • free text (you can write whatever you like)
  • Twitter links to display a Twitter feed as a Collection (although this requires giving Wakelet a level of access to your Twitter account that you might want to think twice about)
  • Crosslinks that allow a link from one Collection to be added to a different Collection.
  • You can also give different contributors, such as your students, access to each Collection so they can add information to it.

    Overall, while Wakelet is probably not quite as flexible as Padlet, it’s a decent bookmarking site that’s easy to use and which allows you to create as many Collections as you need.

    All for free.

    Happy New Year.

    Attitudes to Marriage in China

    Tuesday, December 18th, 2018
    Click to download a pdf copy.
    Download the Report

    As you may be aware, from time-to-time I’ve featured a variety of short pieces of research, on a range of topics, carried-out by Richard Driscoll’s students at the Shenzhen College of International Education in China.
    This latest study by Elim Wu (“What are High-School Girls’ Attitudes Towards Marriage in China’s International High Schools?”), a high school sociology student at the school, is well-worth the read for a couple of reasons:

    Firstly, it gives an interesting glimpse inside a non-European society that UK students in particular should find useful as a way of broadening their knowledge and understanding of contemporary societies.

    Secondly, it’s a relatively simple piece of research (in the sense that it doesn’t try to be over-ambitious in what it can realistically achieve with the time and resources available) carried-out by an A-level student.

    The study looks at female attitudes to marriage and the various pressures surrounding the development of such attitudes, with a particular focus on parental and wider cultural attitudes to marriage in contemporary China. The study has three main sections (although some of these are sub-divided):

    1. Background reading about marriage in China that’s used to set the context for the study, in terms of outlining some of the traditional social pressures faced by young women. In addition the material notes some of the contemporary attitudinal changes creeping into a Chinese society undergoing rapid modernisation.

    2. The Methodology section provides information about the research method (semi-structured interviews), sample and pilot study. There’s a helpful discussion of the strengths and weaknesses of the method A-level students should find useful. Discussion of the plot study also provides an interesting reflection on the research, in terms of things like how questions evolve in the light of researcher experience. Again, this is useful information that gives students an insight into how “real-life” research changes to meet unexpected problems and conditions.

    3. Final Findings sets-out the qualitative data collected from the interviews. This is worth reading for both the content – the author interviewed a number of perceptive and articulate respondents – and the clarity with which the data is linked to the various research questions.

    While the study clearly has limitations, both in terms of the subject matter and the methodology (only 6 respondents were interviewed, for example) this makes it a useful piece of research on which A-level students can practice skills such as evaluation – to which end the author has included a helpful final section in which they evaluate the work they’ve produced.

    Ethnicity in Advertising Report

    Friday, December 14th, 2018
    Download pdf version of the Report
    Download Report pdf

    This short Report, sponsored by the Lloyds Banking Group, asks the question “Does Advertising Reflect Modern Britain in 2018?” and answers it in a way that both GCSE and A-level Sociology teachers and students should find useful.

    In basic terms, it’s a big, colourful, pdf file in three broad sections available for viewing online or offline as a pdf download.  

    In basic terms, it’s a big, colourful, pdf file in three broad sections available for viewing online or offline as a pdf download.  

    1. Key Findings does exactly what you might expect by pulling together a couple of A4 posters worth of information – covering things like ethnic identities and media representations and stereotypes – and presenting it in a clear, informative, way.

    2. Findings goes into more detail about what the research discovered, with a few bits-and-pieces of interpretation thrown into the mix for good measure. There’s also an interesting little section on “ethic identity”, plus a short discussion of the relationship between ethic and gender identities.

    3. Methodology. This adds a further dimension of usefulness as far as sociology teachers are concerned because it provides an opportunity to examine how a piece of research is constructed, particularly in terms of its strengths, weaknesses, reliability and validity.

    (more…)

    Sociology Literacy Mat

    Thursday, December 6th, 2018

    Although I’ve created my own and posted a few examples of Sociology Learning Mats, I hadn’t, until Liam Core sent me this example, come across the idea of a Sociology Literacy Mat – a collection of tips, prompts, hints and reminders designed to help students get to grips with answering sociological (exam) questions. This particular Mat includes brief advice on things like:

    • Constructing answers
    • Examples of evidence
    • Spelling sociological terms
    • Question Command Words
    • Key terminology
    • Connectives
    • Elaboration tips.

    I’ve left the Mat in its original PowerPoint form because this format is easy to edit if you want to personalise the Mat to your own particular specification or if you simply want to display the Mat for your students on a screen.

    If you want to print or distribute the Mat to individual students, just use the PowerPoint Export function to convert it to an A4 pdf file.

    This format can be useful if you get your students to do timed essay questions in class: if you laminate the Mat, for example, its then available for students to use for reference as they practice answering questions.

    Update

    Eleanor Johnson has created a ‘Write and Speak Like a Sociologist‘ vocabulary strip, based on the Sociology Literacy Mat, designed to help students improve the structure and flow of their answers through a range of handy writing prompts.

     

     

    A-Level Evidence Bank Template

    Tuesday, December 4th, 2018

     

    Instructions and Example

    When it comes to a-level exam success, one of the key things is preparation: the ability to turn the mass of disparate information students have dutifully recorded over the course of a couple of years into something manageable from which they can revise.

    And however your students choose to revise – from my preferred-option of “little-and-often” to the ever-popular “cram it all in between the end of the course and the start of the exam” – you can help and encourage them using this latest resource from Liam Core

    The Evidence Bank is a deceptively simple idea that involves getting students to record and revise details of research studies as and when they encounter them.

    In other words, it’s a way of encouraging students to spend a little bit of time after, say, a class has finished, to record and review a study or studies to which they’ve been introduced (although there’s no reason why this couldn’t be built into the normal teaching process if you think that’s what your students need). This record then forms part of an expanding Evidence Bank from which it should be possible to revise easily and effectively.

    The Evidence Bank format also encourages students to think about where the research can be applied to different parts of the course, which is always a bonus when thinking about transferrable knowledge. Noting some major strengths and weaknesses of a study is also, of course, a quick and simple way to introduce evaluation into an argument.

    Theory Bank Template

    Although the Evidence Bank template was specifically created to help students collect and organise information around “research studies as evidence” it struck me that the general format could probably be applied to other areas of an a-level course, such as theories or even concepts. Students could, for example, create a Theory Bank to run alongside and complement their Evidence Bank.

    The original document was formatted as “3 tables per A4 page” and whileI’ve kept examples of this formatting I’ve also added a couple of different types – an A5 “2 tables per page” format and an A4 “1 table per page” – just to give you a few more options if you want them.

    I’ve also kept the original Word document format in case you want to edit the template to your own particular needs or requirements.

    Although the template was originally designed for A-level Sociology students I see no reason why it couldn’t also be used by Psychology students.

    Sociology A-level Student Feedback Form

    Monday, December 3rd, 2018

    From time-to-time teachers send me resources to share with other teachers.

    Which is nice.

    And also very useful because it’s odds-on that if you’ve developed a resource that saves you time or helps your students in some way, other teachers will find it useful too.

    This particular resource, created by Liam Core (you can find him on Twitter if you find it useful and want to thank him personally) involves a couple of student feedback forms designed to standardise the information you give to students about their work.

    Although it’s similar in intent to the kind of feedback form I’ve previously posted this is a much more detailed set of responses aimed at giving students very clear and concise information about what they’re doing right and, perhaps more importantly, what they need to do to improve their essay-writing performance.

    Although the forms were originally designed for the Cambridge International A-level Specification the areas they cover (Knowledge and Understanding, Interpretation and Application, Analysis and Evaluation) can be easily edited to bring them into line with alternative A-level Exam Board Specifications. Although these two forms cover “essay writing” they can be easily edited to reflect a range of question types.

    Similarly, the two sections covering “What you did well” and “Things to work on” can be edited to your own particular requirements and feedback preferences.

    A-level Sociology 25-mark Feedback Form

    A-level Sociology 16-mark Feedback Form

    Rational Choice Theory | 2

    Wednesday, November 28th, 2018

    This second (of two) posts evaluates Rational Choice Theory and, by extension, any New Right / Right Realist theories based on the notion of rational cost-benefit analyses of criminal motivation.

    Digested Read

    A list of all the relevant bits to save you having to read through the rest of the post…

    • Rational Choice Theory (RCT) reminds us that an understanding of social action – how and why people make certain choices – is important for an understanding of criminal behaviour. It also focuses our attention on crime as a rational process.

    • A cost-benefit analysis of offending fits neatly with a common sense understanding of criminal behaviour. It also underpins a range of contemporary crime theories – such as RCT, Broken Windows and Routine Activities – that can be generally characterised as Right Realist. It has, however, serious limitations related to how offenders receive and process information, particularly in time-limited situations.

    • An alternative and, according to Simon (1956), more realistic way to understand the behaviour of offenders, is to see it in terms of a bounded rationality. Interview evidence, for example, suggests burglars evaluate alternative forms of behaviour within what Walters (2015) calls “the limits of their knowledge and abilities”. Offenders, in this respect, seem to make “rational enough” decisions based on a range of “rule-of-thumb” beliefs and experiences.

    • If a cost-benefit model of criminal decision-making is invalid, this has important ramifications for both crime-control theories and situational crime prevention techniques and strategies. More specifically it suggests that if offenders do not rationally weigh likely benefits against potential costs any attempt to lower the former and raise the latter will have only a limited long-term effect on crime.

    (more…)

    Sociology Revision Cards

    Monday, November 26th, 2018

    Back in the day, before the invention of Learning Tables / Knowledge Organisers, students had to make do with Revision Cards – lists of all the key ideas and concepts you might need to know for an exam (you’ll find a selection here if you want to take a trip back to a time before mobile phones ).

    Anyway, I chanced upon a mix of PowerPoint and Pdf Revision Cards (dating from around 2014 so they may require a bit of editing to bring them into line with the latest Specifications) on Chris Deakin’s SociologyHeaven website. I’m guessing the PowerPoints were designed for whole-class revision but if you want to give your students the slides as Revision Cards just use the Export function to create pdf files.

    If you find the Kristen ITC font used in the files a bit too racy for your taste, just convert the text to something like Arial.

    (more…)

    Marxism Sim

    Saturday, November 24th, 2018

    The Prisoner: A Picture of Portmeirion. Apparently.

    This is a slightly weird one because it seems to be an unfinished, abandoned, web site dating from 4 or 5 years ago created by Chris Deakin (who has another sociology blog you might find useful).

    It has precisely two blog posts.

    One of those posts – “Using simulation to illustrate basic Marxist theory” – might, however, be useful to you if (probably more-accurate to say “when”) you find yourself introducing Marxism to a sea of blank faces. It’s just a relatively simple “Marxism sim” that casts your students in the role of owners and labourers, the experience of which should help you to introduce – and them to understand – a range of basic-but-important Marxist ideas and concepts (Means of Production, Social relations to production, ownership and control and so on).

    Although I’m not altogether sure this post is complete (there’s reference to creating “a chart on the board which looks something like this” that is signally absent) but there’s enough here to successfully run the sim. In addition, it strikes me that there’s also scope to expand the basic sim if you want to introduce further elements / ideas.

    If you have a large enough class, for example, you could set-up a number of “factories” where different “companies” compete against each other for your custom. The effect of this competition on the production process might be interesting to illustrate, as might further ideas about companies being bankrupted, the establishment of monopoly controls when there’s only one company left in the market (and its effect on prices etc.).

    Confirmation Bias | p1

    Monday, November 19th, 2018

    Confirmation bias involves the tendency – usually, but not necessarily, unconscious – for individuals to look for and accept information that confirms what they already know and believe.

    In other words, it involves a cognitive tendency to place greater importance on “evidence” that generally supports a position we already hold.

    This process has been famously simulated by Wason and Johnson-Laird’s (1972) “Four Card” puzzle, the objective of which is to solve an apparently simple “If X, Then Y” statement using just the aforementioned 4 cards.

    The significance in relation to confirmation bias, as will hopefully be demonstrated if you run the sim in your classroom, is that the majority of your students will choose a solution that confirms what they already know, rather than testing that knowledge, as the puzzle requires.

    The beauty of the sim is its apparent simplicity.

    Students only have 4 cards from which to choose and the number of potential combinations is very small (reduced even further if they immediately realise they must initially choose a vowel).

    In all probability, most students will choose A and 4, but a reasonable number should work-out the correct solution.

    (more…)

    Psychological Studies: A Free Text

    Thursday, November 15th, 2018

    40 Studies that Changed Psychology is a free (presumably because it’s around 10 years old and out-of-print) text I discovered while rooting around the Web that offers-up a selection of influential psychological studies that, in the opinion of its author Roger Hock, changed the way we think about – and in some cases do – psychology.

    Whether or not you agree with the author’s claim (an alternative title – “A collection of psychological studies, a lot of which you’ve heard of, some of which you haven’t” – probably doesn’t have quite the zing of the actual title), students and teachers will definitely find something here of interest in its 10 chapters that cover:

    • Biology and Human Behavior (sic)
    • Perception and Consciousness
    • Learning and Conditioning
    • Intelligence, Cognition and Memory
    • Human Development
    • Emotion and Motivation
    • Personality
    • Psychopathology
    • Psychotherapy
    • Social Psychology

    Each chapter contains 4 readings (Social Psychology, for example, features Zimbardo (1972) “The pathology of imprisonment” / Asch (1955) “Opinions and social pressure” / Darley and Latané (1968) “Bystander intervention in emergencies” / Milgram (1963) “Behavioral study of obedience”), each of which is sub-divided into sections covering:

    • theoretical propositions
    • research methods
    • results
    • discussion
    • criticisms.

    This consistency of presentation is an attractive feature that makes it relatively easy for students to hone-in on the main ideas in each reading, how the research was carried-out, the results it gave and a short discussion of the main criticisms it has attracted over the years.

    Although the majority of the studies will only be of interest to psychology teachers, a few – Rosenthal and Jacobson, Rosenhan, Zimbardo, Asch, Milgram – will also be useful to sociology teachers.

    Psychology Learning Tables | 6

    Tuesday, November 13th, 2018

    It’s been a while (March 2018 if anyone’s interested. Anyone?) since I posted any psychology Learning Tables / Knowledge Organisers so I thought it might be helpful to post a few more to add to your growing collection.

    As you may have noticed, I’ve decided to post the Tables in a slightly different way, as small collections of related areas rather than individually, on the basis that this is an easier and less cumbersome way of downloading the Tables. I have, however, indicated below exactly what each Collection contains.

    The majority of the Tables have been created by, or under the direction of, Miss K. Elles and while some take the standard Knowledge Organiser format others take a more-sophisticated approach – an indication of A / C / E grade answers in a PEEL format. (more…)