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Revising Psychology: Laboratory Experiments

Doing more with classic studies…

Revising Laboratory Experiments is one of a range of short films we made specifically aimed at helping students understand and revise significant areas of their A-level Psychology course.

While most revision films and texts simply focus on the key ideas students need to know for their exam, this short, 6-minute, film takes this a step further. While key knowledge is identified and outlined, the film is much more focused on demonstrating the essential skills students need to master and display in order to score highly in the a-level exam.

To this end, it’s organised around the three major skill domains tested in the exam:

  • Knowledge: the film identifies and outlines the kinds of things students need to understand.

  • Application: this is demonstrated through the use of classic psychological research, such as Bandora’s Bobo Doll and Loftus’ Eyewitness Testimony experiments, that students can utilise to show their understanding of core content.

  • Evaluation: while this involves identifying the strengths, weaknesses and limitations of the method, students can take this a step further by “evaluating the evaluation” in order to score the really high marks. The film shows how this can be achieved using examples from a range of classic psychological studies.

    Anthecology: Lesson Study Journals

    Here’s a clue…

    My only previous exposure to teachers carrying-out research in their own school was Sandringham School’s Sandagogy site and the Sandringham Learning Journals therein.

    That was until I chanced upon the Samuel Whitbread Academy’s Anthecology (no, me neither) and while it may be entirely coincidental that both are Academies, I’m guessing it’s probably not. Which, if true, means there must be quite a few schools engaging in this kind of thing without any of it reaching the wider audience it deserves.

    This is a little ironic given that Anthecology involves the study of the relationship between plants and their pollinators (I was lying earlier), so I’m firmly of the opinion that it behoves me to take it upon myself to do what little I can to spread a little pollinating power by bringing these resources to a wider audience.

    That would be you, then.

    Lesson Study Journals

    While there’s a whole rationale surrounding the theory and practice of Study Journals you can read about if you’re so inclined, the Whitbread version is fairly basic and easily digested if you’re less inclined.

    In a nutshell it involves teachers doing some basic research in and around their own classrooms and subjects and sharing the outcome of that research with other teachers in the school.

    It’s probably more exciting than I’ve made it sound.


    Sound Sociology

    Over the years we’ve highlighted a small, but growing, number of Sociology Podcasts, the majority of which have been aimed at a-level students – either because that’s the way the market’s pointing with the increasing popularity of Sociology at this level or because the potential GCSE audience is relatively small in comparison.

    Sound Sociology “Presented by JCOSS” – I don’t actually know who or what that is – bucks this general trend by focusing squarely on GCSE Sociology.

    And that’s no bad thing because what you get, since November 2020, is a weekly podcast around the 5 – 10 minute mark (some are slightly less, some slightly more) focused on a single topic (crime and class, official statistics and so forth) that has a kind of revision-vibe to it.

    There’s around 80 individual podcasts (give-or-take – I lost count) grouped into the familiar AQA Specification groupings (introductory sociology, crime and deviance, stratification, families, education and research methods) and while the narration isn’t exactly dynamic – it sounds, at times, as if it was recorded in a small cupboard and the presenter seems to be extemporising at times –  there’s no reason why a lot of these podcasts couldn’t serve as introductory / summatory sessions.

    Having said that, in August 2021 there’s a big change of direction, away from the short revision-type material that’s presumably been exhausted, towards longer podcasts lasting between 25 and 40 minutes. The latter are much more conversational and involve the presenter talking to other teachers and students about a range of topics – from sociology stuff to careers.

    How useful you’ll find this change of format is probably down to what you want to use the podcasts for. The answer is probably to suck it and see.

    Psychology Film Club

    Membership of the Psychology Film Club (just £25 + VAT per year) gives you unfettered access to a wide selection of our films specifically tailored to the needs of A-level teachers and students.

    Membership gives you complete on-demand access to the films across all devices (destop, laptop, tablet, mobile…) – plus automatic access to new films we publish during your membership.

    Try Before You Buy and take advantage of our Free 30-day trial.

    Click to see the current film list

    Ghostsites: Wathistory

    WatHistory is a YouTube site I’ve been meaning to write about but, for whatever reason, never got around to doing so until now. I guess I was inspired by the sociology ghostsites theme because this site seems to have something of a chequered history. Although the Twitter account ceased trading in 2018 and the .com website may never have existed, there is a Weebly Website still in existence. It doesn’t, however, look like it’s been updated in a long time. A big clue being the last blog entry made in 2014. Nothing, but nothing gets past me.

    Interesting as I find these things, I’m wholly-prepared to except not everyone does, so, moving swiftly on, what does WatHistory (did you see what I did there?) have to offer the sociology teacher looking to blag some free resources?

    First up are a small number of videos (and by “small” I actually mean “five”) covering two main areas:

    1. Perspectives (Marxism, Feminism and Functionalism): these are all around the 10 minute mark and conform to the classic “podcast with pictures” format. The teacher (Mr Watkins) voice overs  his way through a number of static slides. The style is all-very-pleasant and painless, depending upon your level of tolerance for such things.

    2. Revising and Answering Exam Questions (Methods in Context, Education). The oft-mentioned aim of the films is “How to get an A/ A* in Sociology” and these exam walkthroughs are designed to help students do just that. Whether or not they achieve this aim is, of course, always a moot point.

    And while I’d personally like the aim of all this kind of stuff to be “How to understand the world in which you live a little better” I’m perfectly prepared to accept that the commodification of knowledge has become an embedded feature of our system (whether or not it’s actually “education” is anyone’s guess).

    A second set of resources mainly relate to Religion (a couple, for whatever reason, cover What is Sociology? and Identity) and involve a mix of course information and exam advice, some PowerPoint Presentations and some Word documents. There’s nothing here to blow your socks off – some looks useful, some doesn’t, so it may just be a question of looking through it all to see if there’s anything you can scavenge…

    Marxist Feminism


    A bit obcessed with “A*”…

    Postmodernity exam question

    Religion, Renewal and Choice exam tasks

    Religion in a Global Context exam tasks


    Fundamentalism Spider Diagram


    Participation (gender, ethnicity, age)

    Ideology (exam advice)


    Ghostsite: The Sociology Tutor

    Every so often I chance upon web sites that have been started by teachers with what seems like a shed-load of initial enthusiasm. They create and distribute lots of free resources in a relatively short space of time and then suddenly just abandon their baby before it’s had a chance to really grow. One of the fascinations of such sites, apart from all the free resources, is wondering why?

    Tutor Tom in full flow…

    ·  did their initial enthusiasm evaporate in the harsh light of audience apathy?

    ·  did a new SMT clamp-down on all this “free resources” nonsense?

    ·  did they simply move onward and upward to something newer, more-interesting and financially-rewarding?

    ·  did they leave teaching behind them in pursuit of a different career?

    I’ll ever know, of course, but Ghostsites – a site abandoned by its creator but which continues to have a sort of spectral existence on the Web – are something I do find sociologically-fascinating.

    And, as luck would have it(?), one such example I’ve just stumbled upon is a YouTube site created by “Tom” The Sociology Tutor  – evidence of either a distinct lack of imagination (Tom’s a tutor who teaches Sociology) or a simple statement of intent.


    Social Inequality Smoothies: The Presentation

    To complement the Social Inequality Smoothies blog post I thought it might be helpful to create an accompanying PowerPoint Presentation for those who like to take a more-visual approach to these things.

    It’s a very simple Point-and-Click Presentation (you Point at a picture, Click it and get some basic information) that covers most of your glass-related favourites (I might add the glass escalator at some point if I can be bothered – probably not, then) plus a couple of non-glass analogies:

    ·  Glass Ceiling

    ·  Glass trapdoor

    ·  Glass cliff face

    ·  Concrete ceiling

    ·  Sticky floor

    The basic idea is to make ideas about social inequalities related to, in particular, gender and ethnicity easier for students to visualise and hence understand (although the concept of sticky floors is equally applicable to class inequalities in the workplace / any hierachical structure).

    Whether or not it actually does is probably for you and your students to judge.

    Either way, it was quite fun making the Presentation so I’m not that bothered.

    The A-level Gender Gap: A Visual Tool

    Although I’ve posted before about the gender gap in subject choice, the focus has largely been on explanations for the gap in various broad subject strands (see, for example, Archer 2013).

    While this type of analysis is, of course, vital, what sometimes gets overlooked in the rush to explain is data that actually allows students to get an initial handle on the scale of the issue.

    The actual chart moves. Click it and see.

    This neat interactive chart courtesy of the Education Policy Institute (a Liberal think tank that need not overconcern us here) rectifies this omission by allowing teachers to “illustrate the gender gap between males and females in A level subject entries and attainment for each year between 1996 and 2018 based on published Department for Education statistics covering students at the end of Key Stage 5 in England“.

    It does this in a simple, highly-visual, way.

    And although it’s not going to win any web-award prizes for hi-octane excitement (tbh I’m not sure if such awards actually exist) it does the job it was designed to do and should save you a fair amount of writing and talking.

    The only real downside is that it ends at 2018 – a promised 2019 update doesn’t seem to have been delivered – which means it doesn’t accurately reflect the rapid expansion of two of the most highly-feminised A-level subjects: sociology and psychology.

    Which just goes to show, you can’t have it all.

    Theory Summaries


    I was going to tack this on to one or other of my previous Knowledge Organiser posts but then thought better of it because it’s more a classroom presentation than an Organiser per se.

    Originally a 2019 PowerPoint Presentation by Colette Cradock (I’m assuming – that’s what the metadata says but whether she is the actual author is anyone’s guess) that I’ve converted into a pdf version in case you find this format more useful. Either way, I’ve linked to both so you can make your own decision.

    What you get is half-a-dozen pages of text, with a pic. or two to lighten the load, covering all the main sociological perspectives:

  • Interactionism
  • Feminism
  • Functionalism
  • New Right
  • Postmodernism
  • Marxism
  • Each is basically a one-page overview with one or two criticisms attached.

    There’s nothing too demanding or extensive here – the pages are designed to be “theory summaries” and that’s exactly what you get – but the whole thing might be useful as a “theory introduction” that could save you a bit of preparation time.

    Crime Prevention Strategies: Plain Language Summaries

    Although keeping up-to-date with the latest research is something that should happen in an ideal world, the reality is that few of us have either the time or inclination to:

    a. Find and read a whole bunch of often-obscure research publications.

    b. Summarise this meta-analysis in a pithy, student-friendly, way.

    c. Present the information so that students might be tempted to read it.

    This last one is, of course, optional. And probably wildly over-optimistic.

    The obvious solution to this dilemma is to get someone else to do all the work.

  • On the plus side, Campbell Collaboration “an international, voluntary, non-profit research network that publishes systematic reviews” has done just that.
  • On the down side, the Crime and Deviance summaries are focused on an empirical evaluation of the effectiveness of crime prevention strategies.
  • Having said that, if you teach or study crime and deviance, crime prevention is likely to feature on the course and having some ready-made summaries and critiques of strategies such as zero-tolerance policing could well be useful.

    If you prefer to root through the Campbell Collaboration documents that’s not a problem, but in case you don’t I’ve selected what I think are the most relevant for A-level / High School Sociology. By way of explanation, I’ve listed the research title, author/s and year, followed by a textbook-friendly conclusion about the strategy’s effectiveness in reducing crime and a link to the Plain Language Summary – a two-page overview of the research.


    Read Summaries

    Q and A: Does the Gender of the Teacher Matter?

    The Question

    A popular (as in “a lot of people seem to believe it“) and recurring question around the “failing boys” discourse in education across many western societies (from Britain to America and Australia) is whether a lack of male role models, particularly in early-years education, is to blame.

    The Answer

    Supplied by Carrington, Francis, Hutchings, Skelton, Read and Halld (2007) “Does the gender of the teacher really matter? Seven- to eight-year-olds’ accounts of their interactions with their teachers“:

  • There’s little or no evidence the “feminization of teaching has an adverse effect on boys’ levels of academic motivation and engagement“.
  • The 7 and 8 year olds interviewed in the study gave little or no significance to the teacher’s gender. Around 2/3 of respondents replied negatively to the question: “Do you think it makes any difference whether you have a man or a lady teacher?”
  • Consistency, fairness and even-handedness were seen as more-important qualities than the teacher’s gender.
  • The vast majority of the interviewees saw the teacher’s gender as immaterial or inconsequential.
  • Although there were “higher levels of disaffection and recalcitrance among the boys” in the study, they found no evidence this was less “in classes taught by men than those taught by women“.
  • Only 13% of boys and 33% of girls identified teachers as “significant others” – and hence potential role models – in their lives. This suggests the “teachers as role models” argument doesn’t hold water. To compound matters, even this small number of boys did not see male teachers as more important than female teachers.
  • More Gaps to Mind…

    If you’ve read the recent Mind the Gap blog post you might be thinking:

    “That’s all very well and good but what would be really useful is a Pdf version of the post that’s been designed in the style of the recent Sociology Shortcuts Magazine Issue 3 with all kinds of pictures and stuff or, even better, an online Flipbook version that’s a bit like a magazine where you can turn the pages, just like the real thing. But without the ink coming off on your fingers”.

    Or words to that effect.

    I’m not entirely sure because I’m not a mind reader.

    But if you were thinking along those lines then you’re in luck because now you and / or your students can read all about a new piece of research that links gender identities to educational achievement in a way that helpfully takes in the notion of school subcultures – or youth subcultures more generally if you want to stretch things a little further.

    It also contains a short section on the idea of “effortless achievement” and it’s significance as an integral part of a broad masculine worldview shared across all social classes (but guess which classes take it seriously…).

    As you’ll see if you have a look at either the pdf or flipbook version of the file, I’ve called it “Education Xtra” partly because that kind of nu-style nomenclature appeals to “The Kids”, apparently, and partly because it’s about Education and contains “additional (or “xtra!”) material” to the kind you’re likely to find in textbooks (i.e. it goes into more-depth and provides more discussion material).

    Whether or not that’s “A Good Thing” is something for you to decide (and you can always just give them the “Key Points” if you’re a Key Points kind of person).

    Mind the Gap: gender identity and educational achievement

    Key Points

    Recommended for those with short attention spans or too little time to spend wading through a lot of informative but quite detailed stuff. Students. Probably.

    Andrew Martin

    Yu, McLellan and Winter (2021): study based on sample of 597 students, aged 14 -16, drawn from 4 state-maintained secondary schools in England.

    Educational achievement is linked to masculine and feminine identities.

    Move away from “girls’ good / boys’ bad” typology of achievement that ignores:

    High levels of male achievement; low levels of achievement of many females.

    Created gender role profiles based on traditional norms of masculinity (emotional control, competitiveness, aggression, self-reliance, risk-taking) and femininity (thinness, appearance orientation, romantic relationships, housekeeping or domestic duties).

    This was basis for identification of 3 male gender profiles (Resisters, Cool guys, Tough guys) and 4 distinctive female gender profiles (Modern girls, Relational girls, Tomboys, Wild girls).

    Each group had a different way of “doing gender” that impacted on their motivation, engagement and achievement in English and Mathematics.

    Resister males and relational females had high levels of achievement. Cool guys and wild girls had much lower levels of achievement.

    The Longer Read

    The discerning choice for those who want a digested read of a contemporary study, the basics of which they can then pass on to their students. Teachers. Probably.

    Conventional explanations of gender-based differential educational achievement – the idea, in basic terms, that “Boys lag behind girls in school across many Western industrialized countries (OECD 2015)” – tend to focus on two broad areas:

  • inside school explanations based on a range of ideas – from labelling to school climate – focused predominantly on the range of gender-based interactions that take place within the school. This output model argues that what happens within the school is the most crucial explanation of differences in gender achievement.
  • outside school explanations that examine the impact of factors like deprivation, both material and cultural, family background and so forth that are largely outside the school’s control. This input model argues that what happens outside the school is the most crucial explanation of differences in gender achievement.
  • Recent research by Yu, McLellan and Winter (2021) has, however, arguably added another dimension to the debate by linking achievement to identity and, more-specifically, different forms of masculinity and femininity.

    Continue Reading…

    Creating Curious Presentations: the medium is not the message

    Download an example…

    It’s probably fair to say that when it comes to PowerPoint Presentations the crowd is divided:

    On the one hand it can be a very powerful teaching tool with a relatively low learning curve that makes it easy to pick up and produce Presentations without having to wade through pages of instructions or endless “How to” YouTube videos…

    On the other, the fact it’s so simple to use makes it easy to produce Presentations that are, with the best will in the world, a little dull because they do little more than repeat whatever a teacher is telling their audience.

    The question for me, therefore, is how to take advantage of PowerPoint’s presentational strengths without reducing your audience to passive submission?

    And the answer, to contradict Marshall McLuhan, is not to use the medium as the message.

    Just because PowerPoint makes it easy to present information in a simple, linear, uncritical way doesn’t mean you have to. PowerPoint also makes it possible to present information in ways that enhance, rather than detract from, the message. And while this is relatively easy in principle, it can be a lot harder in practice (which is probably why so few teachers do it).


    Sociology Shortcuts Magazine No.3: The Intro Issue


    Issue 3 of Sociology Shortcuts Magazine arrives just-in-time for the start of the new school year, which is just as well because the Intro Issue is aimed squarely at those new to Sociology as they take their first faltering steps in their new favourite subject taught by their new favourite teachers.

    In terms of content, the magazine’s 40-odd pages (and some, to be fair, are particularly odd, partly  as a result of yet more design experimentation and partly because that’s just the way it is) are filled with short, mainly one-page, articles covering, in no particular order:

  • what is sociology?
  • what can you do with it?
  • culture and instinct
  • what is culture?
  • identity
  • what is society?
  • socialisation
  • types of socialisation (primary and secondary)
  • roles, values, norms and beliefs
  • ideology
  • the I and the Me
  • the presentation of self
  • social control
  • agencies of socialisation (family, peer group, education, media, religion).
  • Landscape…

    Each article is designed to be a relatively simple, standalone, introduction to a key topic or idea – although taken-together they build into something a little more substantial than the sum of their parts.

    Which, if you’re looking for learning opportunities in this post, is a bit like the relationship between the individual and society. This, co-incidentally, is not something covered in the issue and while I’d like to say it was for specific academic reasons, the reality is that until I just thought about it, it didn’t really occur to me.

    On the down side, therefore, there’s probably a lot more that “didn’t occur to me” to include, but there’s probably enough content for students to be doing with at the start of their course. If you want to mix things up a little – and possibly fill in a few gaps while you’re doing it – you might find the Sociology Show Podcast Starter Pack useful for this purpose. This has a 20-minute segment covering “18 key introductory terms” and covers a lot of the same areas covered in the Intro Issue.

    Or Flipbook versions.

    On the up side, the Magazine’s available in a few different formats, none of which are inherently better or worse than the others. It probably depends what you’re comfortable with (and since they’re all free you can try each one for size to see which fits best):

    Portrait pdf: The classic A4 page look.

    Landscape pdf: As above but each A4 page covers two magazine pages.

    Flipbook: An Online Magazine style booklet that includes some short video clips and, probably best of all, pages that you can actually turn (or “flip” as we putative media moguls are wont to say). Albeit in a virtual way.


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    Anthecology: Lesson Study Journals

    My only previous exposure to teachers carrying-out research in their own school was Sandringham School’s Sandagogy site and the Sandringham Learning Journals therein. That was

    Sound Sociology

    Over the years we’ve highlighted a small, but growing, number of Sociology Podcasts, the majority of which have been aimed at a-level students – either

    Ghostsite: The Sociology Tutor

    Every so often I chance upon web sites that have been started by teachers with what seems like a shed-load of initial enthusiasm. They create

    Podcast: The Social Breakdown

    Podcasts, as you may have noticed, have become something of “A Teaching Thing” over the past few years, partly as the technology to create them

    Nine Family Trends

    To keep you up-to-date, demographically-speaking, with all the latest family facts from the UK Office for National Statistics. 1: Families are increasing. In 2021 there

    Scaffolding for Students

    The idea of “scaffolding” – providing some kind of tangible support for students when they are asked to learn something new, as opposed to simply

    Rules of the Exam Game

    One of the things that can be difficult to get students to grasp is the importance of exam technique: the idea that what they achieve

    GCSE Sociology: Debate Kits

    One of the Good Things about Teaching (and, indeed, Learning) Sociology is that it offers up plentiful opportunities for classroom discussion in ways that can

    Foucault and Introducing Sociology?

    I always found giving students an “Introduction to Sociology” – whether as part of a recruitment or induction process, first lesson or whatever – something

    Learning Skills Booklet

    Around 30-odd years ago at the FE College at which I then worked, I took it upon myself to create a whole bundle of “Study

    AQA GCSE Sociology: Core studies

    The AQA GCSE Sociology Specification helpfully lists 25 “Core Studies” that it describes as: “A list of readily available classic and seminal texts that will

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