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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.

In January 2021 we passed 700 individual Blog posts and to make it easier for you to find a particular post on a particular topic we’ve added a range of functions (on the bar to the right) that should help:

Search Box: if you’re looking for something specific. It’s not very clever so try to Keep It Simple.

Recent Posts displays the most recent posts (yes, really). Not the most useful widget in the world. Obviously.

Archive Posts: This is actually useful if you want a quick way to look back through the numerous posts we’ve made by month / year. Just click the month / year you want from the drop-down list.

Popular Tags: identifies the most popular keywords used in posts (the larger the word, the more posts there are about it). Just click the word to see the posts…

Popular Posts: identifies the posts that have had the most views so you can Follow the Crowd(tm).

Categories: allows you to filter posts by Sociology, Psychology, Simulations and Toolbox – so if you only want to see Psychology posts (or whatever), this is the filter for you. We’ve also started to create a few sub-categories you might find useful. For example, the main “Sociology” category has sub-categories like “Crime” and “Family”. Selecting one of these sub-categories serves-up a post archive for your selection.

Last, but by no means least, you can use the Get Notified box to sign-up for an email notification each time a new post appears on the Blog.

We only use this address to send you automatic notifications and it won’t be passed to a third-party, used for spamming you or whatever.

We like to think we’re better than that.

Sociology Podcasts: Theory for 10@10

Friday, March 5th, 2021
PowerPoint Activity

This is a set of podcasts, plus associated supporting material (such as PowerPoint Presentations that summarise key ideas and throw-in a few student activities for good measure), created by Liz Beaven and Andy Leach from Sociology Support that are being given-away for absolutely no money (although you do have to go through a fairly-painless Checkout process to get them).

Podcasts…

Using Analogies: How Inequalities Create Inequality

Sunday, February 28th, 2021

This Lesson Outline is designed (yes, really) as a kind of skeleton structure you can flesh-out with ideas and information as and how you see fit. In other words, while it provides a basic structure for a lesson it doesn’t necessarily tell you what to teach, which means it’s not something you can just take off-the-shelf and use “as is”. Having said that, it does make for something that’s adaptable to a range of different lessons.

Most, admittedly, centred around notions of poverty and social inequality, but, hey, you can’t have everything.

Preamble…

I’ve previously drawn attention to the usefulness of analogies in sociology teaching (Using Analogies in Sociology, Teaching Perspectives: Society is Like, Different types of Society), most-latterly in relation to how we can think about social mobility, moving away from a conventional “ladder analogy” towards one – climbing a mountain – that I think better reflects both the daily reality of social mobility and how it can be conceptualised for students in terms of both:

  • social action: the idea that mobility can have an individual dimension, one that reflects, for example, both the ability to rise above different types and degrees of disadvantage through a single-minded determination to succeed (upward mobility) or the inability to exploit the advantages of a privileged family and background (downward mobility).
  • This dimension, while important to keep in mind because it reflects the idea of individuals struggling to come-to-terms with – and sometimes overcoming – the problems created by societal forces largely beyond their individual ability to control, leads into the concept of:

  • social structures: the idea there are social forces surrounding the individual that place barriers in the path of their mobility, or indeed open-up gateways to such mobility. These forces – economic, political and cultural – can be brought to life for students through the mountain-climbing analogy.
  • This dimension is important because concepts like social mobility, poverty and social inequality are frequently conceptualised in our culture in terms of “individuals” standing-apart in glorious isolation from the economic, political and cultural backgrounds against which their lives are framed. These concepts, in other words, are frequently individualised – lack of mobility or poverty, for example, is framed in terms of individual failings – and the role of social structures systematically downplayed.

    We can see this most clearly in relation to the “ladder analogy” of social mobility, where “the ladder” is simply conceived as a neutral mechanism for climbing up-or-down the social scale – and since it neither hinders nor facilitates mobility, the ability to climb up or down is reduced to something like individual determination or motivation.

    If we replace this with a more realistic “mountain analogy” the reverse is true: movement up-or-down the social scale is hindered, blocked or facilitated by a wide range of structural factors – and this is where we can develop the analogy slightly to take-in concepts of poverty and social inequality.

    And to understand how this occurs we can use the analogy to construct a couple of thought experiments that can be carried-out either face-to-face in a classroom or, particularly useful in these Covid times, online.

    Setting the Scene…

    Would You Rather?

    Sunday, February 21st, 2021

    Would You Rather?” is a simple word game that involves students making a choice between two (or more) opposed choices that’s not only simple to describe, construct and run but also has the really big plus, as far as teachers are concerned, of encouraging students to think about ideas and information and make choices about them – something that has the extra advantage of helping students carry-out evaluation without necessarily realising that’s what they’re doing.

    And because it requires no pre-preparation it can be played anywhere – online or in the classroom – and at any time during a lesson (although you may find it works most effectively after you’ve introduced / explained two or more opposing ideas).

    How To Play

    The teacher poses a simple question that always has the format:

    Would you rather be “X” or “Y” (or, if you want to make things a little more complicated and interesting, “Z”).

    For example, if you’ve been teaching something like research methodology in sociology you could ask the question:

    “Would you rather be a positivist or an interpretivist?”

    If you have a small class you can give your students 5 – 10 minutes (or whatever suits your purpose best) to consider:

    1. Which answer they want to choose.

    2. Their reasons for choosing that answer: these can be positive (“I would rather be a positivist because…”) negative – “I would rather not be a positivist because…” – or a combination of the two.

    At the end of the allotted time you then bring the class together to discuss “What they would rather be” and, most-importantly, “Why they would rather be it” (the very useful evaluative part of the equation).

    If you have a large class there’s nothing to stop you running the game as above, but a variation here is to give your students a few minutes to think about which they would rather be (a positivist or an interpretivist) and then get them to form small groups based on their choice (for example, a group of “positivists” and a group of “interpretivists” or, if you have a really large class, 2 or 3 small groups of each).

    At the end of the allotted time you can again bring the groups together for a class debrief.

    As the teacher, whether playing online or offline, your role is one of offering encouragement and guidance to individuals and / or groups as and if necessary – to clarify or explain any points students might raise during the game, for example. At the end of the game, in the discussion phase, you would run it as you would run any class discussion – summarising different viewpoints, pushing for further elaboration / justification / explanation or whatever.

    The beauty of this game, apart from its elegant simplicity, is that it encourages your students to not only assimilate the stuff you’ve taught (which is obviously important) but also to engage in some higher-order thinking:

    They have to:

  • make decisions (“I would rather be…”)
  • evaluate their reasons for making those decisions (consider the pros and cons of their choices)
  • justify their decisions (“I would rather be…because…”).
  • draw conclusions based on the evidence that’s been presented (after the class has come together to discuss their arguments for and against).
  • Going a Step Further…

    Although the above describes a relatively simple “Either / Or” session once students have got the hang of what you’re asking them to do you can, if necessary, develop the game to add a few further layers of complexity. This might, for example, involve:

    1. Providing more than two options (such as Positivist / Interpretivst and Realist in the above example).

    2. Providing a context to their decision. For example, if you were teaching research methods in sociology a “question with context” might involve asking:

    “Would you rather use a questionnaire or participant observation to study criminal behaviour?”.

    3. Asking more-general questions that aren’t necessarily focused tightly on a Specification but which may nevertheless contribute something towards the general understanding of a topic and, most importantly, encourage the generic development of evaluations skills…

    And Finally…

    Although the example I’ve used here is drawn from Sociology there’s absolutely nothing in the above that precludes Psychology teachers (or indeed teachers of any subject) using “Would You Rather?” in their classroom.

    Or video monitor come to that.

    Gender in Education 3 – 19: A Fresh Approach

    Saturday, February 20th, 2021

    Gender and Education” consists of “a spectrum of views commissioned and published by the Association of Teachers and Lecturers” and while it was published in 2004 many of the ideas, themes and concepts discussed are still, as you might expect, extant in contemporary Sociologies of Education.

    In the main the articles – there are 10 in all – are:

    Click to download…
  • fairly short (7 – 8 pages),
  • reasonably accessible to a-level students,
  • written by academics who’ve subsequently become some of the most well-known and significant writers in UK education (such as, David Gillborn, Louise Archer, Heidi Mirza, Stephen Gorad and Becky Francis)
  • cover various aspects and dimensions of gendered education.
  • The articles include materials that feed directly into the A-level Specification – the gendered curriculum, gendered subject choices, intersections of class, race and gender and their impact on attainment – as well as those that might be considered more-tangentially perhaps: this might include things like discussion of gender and learning styles (one, as you might expect, that’s a lot more nuanced than the usual uncritical acceptance of style differences), classroom interaction and the uses of gendered spaces and school exclusions.

    While, as I’ve noted, you need to be aware this material was published 17 – 18 years ago there’s definitely stuff here that can contribute to our understanding of contemporary education differences and inequalities – either as a background resource for teachers to select and present to students or as material that can be given directly to students as a way of encouraging them to read more-widely.

    It can also, of course, be used as a comparative resource to assess the extent to which gendered forms of education in Britain have changed.

    Or not as the case may be.

    Groundhog Day and the Psychology of Happiness

    Friday, February 19th, 2021
    Cheer up. It might never…
    Oh.

    Over what seems like the interminable days, weeks and months of the past Year of the Pandemic we’ve watched an awful lot of TV.

    Because we’re Old School and can’t always be dealing with modern tech.

    And one of the things we’ve watched quite a few times is Groundhog Day.

    And since we couldn’t get out and about filming our usual educational stuff, we thought it might be an interesting – and perhaps a little thought-provoking – exercise to build a commentary around the film and its take on the psychology of happiness.

    So we did.

    Even though it took many months to put together, we’ve eventually managed to construct a 10-minute film based around the events of GHD (as we’ve come to know and love it) that poses the question:

    “Could a film really help you make changes to your life that could make you happier?”.

    And one of the answers we came up with is that Groundhog Day seems to have touched on a common human experience; feeling trapped in a repeating cycle of daily life that doesn’t seem to be going anywhere (sound familiar?).

    And while the solution to Lockdown Life seems obvious – get a new life, get what you think you want – there’s a problem.

    Decades of psychological research have shown how little changes in life circumstances affect our long-term happiness, something psychologists call the hedonic treadmill: running very fast to stay in exactly the same place.

     And this is where Groundhog Day comes in.

    We see someone finally finding happiness and fulfilment, even though everything around them stays exactly the same.

    And so Groundhog Day and the Psychology of Happiness uses extensive footage from the Bill Murray classic as the background for an exploration of both the psychology of happiness and our understanding of how we might achieve some form of personal happiness in these difficult times.

    Or something.

    Sociological Insights: A Curated Collection of ASA Videos

    Thursday, February 18th, 2021

    The American Sociological Association seems to take a genuine interest in the study of sociology at all levels – from the humble High School classroom to the rarefied strata of postgraduate specialisms – and their latest initiative is the creation of what they’ve called Sociological Insights:

    A curated collection of short videos, featuring sociologists sharing their expertise on some of the most pressing topics today”.

    Sociological Insights…

    And while these sociologists are, as you might expect, uniformly drawn from the ranks of American Academia and the “pressing topics” are resolutely focused on those most-pertinent to Americans and American Society – from privatised Health Care, through Evangelical Christianity, to gun crime and Black experiences of discrimination – this doesn’t mean the films don’t have value for Non-North American’s (as the rest of the world is known. Probably. I haven’t actually checked).

    On the contrary, there’s enough sociological content within each film to enable those outside the American purview to look past the specific-specifics in order to embrace and apply the more general principles involved across 6 broad categories of film:

    1. Criminal Justice encompasses illegal drug markets, the police and racism, racialised police misconduct and mass incarceration.

    2. Poverty touches on areas like food insecurity and the working poor.

    3. Environment covers areas like poverty and environmental harm and the politics of climate change.

    4. Gender – probably the most-accessible for non-American audiences – looks at gender inequality in the home, the complexity of gender identity and how “women are challenging traditional gender norms in the craft beer scene”.

    5. Technology and Aging involves online dating amongst the elderly and social networks for seniors.

    6. Miscellaneous includes the gun control debate, religiosity in America, Hate Crime, Health Care and immigration.

    The format is pretty standardised across all of the films: American sociologist talking to camera about their research interspersed with film to illustrate their ideas and arguments.

    And all in under 3 minutes.

    The Impact of Social Media

    Monday, February 15th, 2021
    Student Pack…

    This set of free resources is the outcome of a collaboration between the Hong Kong University Department of Sociology (who may just take the prize for “Worst Designed Home Page. Ever”. Take a look, if you dare and tell me it doesn’t make you feel queasy) and the UK’s Very Own OCR Exam Board.

    Aesthetics aside, what’s on offer from this collaboration is a set of free teaching resources focused on the sociology of social media, the most-immediately useful of which, for UK-based teachers, are likely to be the Teacher (available as pdf or docx files) and Student Packs (similarly available in pdf or docx format).

    UK OCR Resources

    The Teacher Pack offers an overview of the resources in terms of things like the aims and objectives of the Project, how the materials link to the OCR Specification and suggested ways to use the resources) while the Student Pack provides a range of questions and activities, many of which are linked to the University of London’s “Why We Post” research on the uses and consequences of social media. 

    PowerPoint Presentation…

    The third element to the resource is an extensive (44-slide) PowerPoint Presentation containing a whole host of interesting information, videos and activities based around the notion of “Seeing society through social media”.

    While the Packs and Presentations are all (obviously) focused on the OCR Spec. there’s plenty here for teachers of other Specs. to use, either “as is” or with a bit of judicious tweaking to fit them to the requirements of the course you’re teaching.

    HKDSE Liberal Studies Resources

    There are further resources available to support the HKDSE Liberal Studies course, focused around the idea of “Conducting Independent Enquiry About Social Media”. While the general focus of these resources – students producing “a report of not more than 4,500 words” (something that gives me a flashback to the old OCR Research Report) – is no-longer applicable to UK Specs (more’s the pity…) there are still some useful resources on Research Methods (operationalising concepts, choosing a research method, quantitative and qualitative data…) that might be worth a gander to see what might be usefully cannibalised.

    HKDSE Resources

    Sociology Texts: Another Big Bundle of Free

    Sunday, February 14th, 2021

    One of the things we like to do on this blog is discover and post orphaned sociology textbooks – as in texts published sometime this century that have either gone out of print or been superseded by later, bigger, more-colourful, All-Singing-All-Dancing versions – for the benefit of teachers and students in these straitened economic times.

    I like to think we’re giving these texts something of a new lease of life because even though they’ve been replaced by a newer version, much of the information they contain doesn’t suddenly become irrelevant or worthless – you just need to be aware that using slightly older texts can have a few potential downsides:

    1. Specifications change, both in terms of the Modules they cover and their content. Twenty years ago, for example, AQA included a Module on Power and Politics that has long-since disappeared from exams and textbooks.

    2. Statistical data does go quickly out-of-date and is likely to be more current in tater versions of texts. Against this, keep in mind that statistical data in even the latest versions of textbooks is likely to be 2 – 3 years out-of-date by the time a text is authored and published. Against this, textbooks aren’t a particularly great statistical resource anymore when all the most up-to-the-minute stats are freely available at the press of a few mouse clicks…

    3. Research cited in older texts may have been questioned or disproved by the time later texts are published and this is clearly a drawback as far as teaching is concerned. The extent to which this is actually a problem, given the texts republished here are, at most, 20 years old (i.e. they just about squeeze into contemporary definitions of, well, “contemporary”) is something you need to consider before using them.

    Free the texts…

    How to Slay Your (Exam) Demons

    Friday, February 12th, 2021

    I’m reliably informed (although, after a moment’s reflection, find it hard to actually believe) that someone called Sheena Hutchinson (no, me neither) once said that “Life is all about choices”.

    Choose wisely, Young Skywalker…

    Which, all-things-considered, is one of the most profound things you’re ever likely to read (at least on this blog).

    Or maybe not.

    You pays your money…

    And while few of these choices are as frighteningly-existential as that of “Daddy or Chips”, some come surprisingly close.

    Or at least they do according to CGP Books, purveyors and retailers of revision texts on subjects as diverse as Sociology and Psychology (and, as I’m contractually-obliged to say, “Other subjects”. But, honestly, why bother?).

    For CGP, apparently, as a student nearing the end of your course, “You have two options in life and two options only”:

    a. Exams?

    b. Demon Fighting?

    And, given their reputation for selling an attractive range of reasonably-priced revision products*, who am I – or indeed you – to argue?

    As you’re probably starting to realise, this is a stark choice and, as they wisely council, you should:

    Have a really good think before deciding. This is one of the most important decisions (and if you choose B, possibly the last) you’ll ever make”.

    Which is nice.

    Unless you choose demon fighting.

    Then probably not so much.

    Unless the “demons” you need to slay are Sociology or Psychology exams! (I’m guessing you probably saw what I did there?). In which case, as they expertly advise, choose “Option A: Learn your stuff, pass your exams and have a happy and prosperous future”.

    The alternative, in case you’re still weighing-up those life-choices, is “Option B: Don’t bother with exams, find a demon portal and spend your few remaining hours battling the beasts of the underworld until one of them kills you in a hideous and painful way”.

    Either way, the choice is yours

    And if you want my advice – it’s broadly free, although it may come with an unspecified range of strings and caveats – choose the Exam Door.

    Behind it you’ll find a solid and generally useful set of tips and tricks you can employ by way of preparing yourself for the stresses and strains of exams.

    And while a few of the tips are tongue-in-cheek – sleeping with your notes under your pillow will not magically transfer their contents to your brain – and peppered with puffs (of the non-dragon variety) for CGP Revision Books – I think you’ll find them helpful.

    Obviously. Or I wouldn’t have bothered posting them.

    This is “Dan”. He works in the dispatch dept.
    You could too if you make the wrong choice…

    Should you decide, for the purpose of slaying whatever demons haunt your personal psyche, to choose Option B, fighting your way to the end (of the page) should reveal a simple allegorical message about “demons” and “exams”.

    Unless I’ve read too much into it.

    In which case.

    Good Luck.

    * In the interests of full disclosure, I have no relationship, financial or otherwise, with CGP Books, their friends, relations, competitors or sworn mortal enemies. I may have once idly leafed through one of their books, but that’s about the extent of our so-called relationship.

    A-level Sociology Organisers: A new selection

    Wednesday, February 10th, 2021

    It’s been a while since I last posted any A-level Sociology Knowledge Organisers – a combination of both being a bit busy and a relative paucity of resources – and although this is something of a mixed-bunch, some fairly bog-standard stuff plus some rather more interesting efforts – unless you try them you won’t know if they’ll work for you and your students.

    Crime / Globalisation / Theory and Methods

    Crime and Deviance

    Crime and Deviance Questions: less a conventional Knowledge Organiser and more a set of questions with “knowledge answers” (trust me, they’re difficult to accurately describe but you’ll know what I mean when you see them). Covers lots of different areas, from perspectives through globalisation to media

    Crime and Deviance: King Charles 1 School: Again, not your standard Knowledge Organiser, this one combines elements of a glossary with key facts and figures and interesting stuff about crime and class, age, gender and ethnicity (key theories and research, in the main).

    Beliefs in Society Questions: As with their Crime and Deviance counterparts, a set of “questions with knowledge answers”. These cover things like theories of religion, organisations and secularisation.

    Families and Households

    Sociology Revision Notes: As the name suggests, less an Organiser, per se, and more a set of Organised Notes. These cover a lot of different areas but the Notes themselves are fairly sparse (and not a little superficial in places).

    Structures, family functions and diversity: Clearly constructed Organiser that identifies some of the main features of family life with the emphasis on diversity. There’s also stuff on marriage and divorce, conjugal roles and family change.

    Education

    Perspectives and Categories: Neatly constructed Organiser that identifies some of the main ideas students need to cover in terms of perspectives like Functionalism and Marxism and categories like class, gender and ethnicity.

    Education

    Learning Tables: These are laid-out as a set of Notes covering a couple of aspects of education – Marketisation / Privatisation plus Ethnic Differences in Educational Achievement. There’s also a reasonable Table looking at Researching Education that’s useful for methods in context.

    Methods

    Evaluating Research Methods: In the main, a set of tables that cover the advantage sand disadvantages of different research methods.

    Miscellaneous

    Crime / Globalisation / Theory and Methods: Extensive set of Learning Tables that, judging by the different designs, have been constructed by different teachers (or the same teacher at different times…). Most are colourful and interesting in terms of how they display essential ideas and information. One or two are just bare-bones efforts but overall, well-worth the download…

    GCSE Sociology Knowledge Organisers

    Friday, February 5th, 2021

    Over the past couple of years I’ve posted a whole load of Sociology Knowledge Organisers (or Learning Tables as they’re sometimes known) and they continue – along with their Psychology counterparts – to be some of the most-popular posts on the site.

    Which must mean something.

    The last batch, however, seems to have been posted nearly 2 years ago, which means I either lost interest or, more-probably, exhausted the supply.

    In either case – and they’re probably not mutually-exclusive – you’ll be glad to know that while I was at a loose-end I decided to have a look around to see if there was anything new available and was pleasantly surprised to find there was.

    It seems schools and colleges have been busy encouraging teachers to create Knowledge Organisers like they were going out of fashion (although, by the time I get around to posting this, they probably will have).

    While there’s probably a sociological debate to be had about this, this is not the place and I’m not the person to initiate it. So, whatever your particular take on the question of Knowledge Organisers – as “just-another-tool in the teacher’s toolkit” to “a management tool that will revolutionise learning” – you can rest-assured that all you’re going to get here are a load of links to a variety of different types of Organiser.

    The twist, this time, is that these are all for GCSE Sociology (AQA mostly) because, unless I’m very much mistaken (unlikely I know) I haven’t previously posted any Organisers for this level…

    Click to see the Organisers

    PowerPoint Lessons: Sociology

    Tuesday, February 2nd, 2021

    I chanced upon this series of “PowerPoint Lessons” from Eggbuckland Community College while looking for Knowledge Organisers (as you do) – and while the promised Organiser has either disappeared or was never posted the page contains a load of useful resources for those teaching Crime, Health, Media, and Research Methods (a rare outing for the Oxford Comma, in case you’re interested and, quite coincidentally an opportunity to create a tangential link to one of my favourite tunes…).

    These take the form of the aforementioned PowerPoint Lessons – sets of PowerPoint slides organised into topics that follow the (AQA) Spec. Crime and Deviance, for example, has 15 Lessons covering things like perspectives (Functionalism, Marxism, Interactionist), prevention, corporate and environmental crime, gender, ethnicity and a great deal more.

    The Lessons themselves generally consist of slides designed to encourage class discussions / research around specific ideas and topics – there’s a liberal sprinkling of questions and activities within each topic – rather than simple didacticism (although, having said that, some of the slides are explicitly designed to impart specific ideas and information).

    In general terms, therefore, I’d tend to see the Lessons as broadly indicative of the kinds of areas and information to cover on a particular topic rather than necessarily providing that information.

    This, of course, is No Bad Thing because it allows teachers working in different schools to add their own materials to the Lessons – one of the advantages of using something like PowerPoint is the ease with which it allows this to happen.

    Judging by the changing templates used these resources seem to have evolved over a period of years (the earliest seems to date from 2014), with their appearance becoming progressively more professional over time.

    The latest lessons on Research Methods, for example, look particularly attractive, even though this section is somewhat incomplete when compared to the Crime, Health and Media sections: currently (2021) there’s only coverage of three areas (Choosing a Method, Experiments and Questionnaires) – although it may, of course, just be the case that no-ones got around to adding further lessons yet.

    To round things off there are a few further resources on offer, such as guidance on how to approach different-mark exam questions (very useful) and a Revision Checklist and Health Mind Map that isn’t (not useful).

    Differential Educational Achievement: “Must Try Harder?”

    Wednesday, January 27th, 2021

    Explanations for differences in educational achievement based around concepts like class, gender, ethnicity and, for rather different reasons, age are well-known and generally covered comprehensively at High School and A-level, in relation to both “outside” and “inside” school factors. In terms of the former this includes a variety of material and / or cultural factors centred around the home, while for the latter the focus has tended to be on ideas like teacher labelling and, more-recently, applications of concepts like school climate.

    Educational Effort: Parents, Teachers, Students…

    In general terms, therefore, explanations at this level tend towards either the broadly structural (class, gender and ethnic differences) or the broadly actional (such as teacher – pupil relationships).

    More-recently a further, transgressive, approach has sometimes been introduced to acknowledge how concepts like class, gender and ethnicity intersect within educational systems to produce sometimes variable achievement outcomes. The most obvious example here is that while girls generally achieve more in the UK educational system than boys, upper class boys generally outperform middle-class and working-class girls. There is, however, a further dimension here, epitomised by De Fraja et al (2005).

    Their research took a more empirical approach that looked at “causes of differential achievement” by examining how relations at the level of the home, the school and the individual intersect in terms of “effort”. Or as they put it:

    This paper is based on the very simple observation that the educational attainment of students is affected by the effort put in by those participating in the education process: the schools attended by the students, the students’ parents, and of course the students themselves”.

    Their research in this respect offers a more-granular approach to understanding the specific mechanisms that account for differences in educational achievement at the individual level – something that could be helpful for teachers and students in two ways:

    Firstly, it provides an explanation for “deviant” achievement differences, such as some working-class children gaining significant educational achievements “against the odds” or some upper-class children not achieving in line with their social and economic peers.

    Secondly, their findings create a lot of space for the application of a wide range of specific explanations for differential achievement. This might include, for example, consideration of how concepts of social and cultural capital may be applied to pupil-teacher relationships.

    Main Findings and Methods

    Research Methods: Triangulation

    Thursday, January 7th, 2021

    Over the past few years the concept of triangulation has become increasingly central to an understanding of both research methodology and methods – their strengths, weaknesses and limitations in particular – at High School and A level and it’s a topic I’ve already addressed a few times in one form or another.

    Download the Abridged version…

    If you want to check out these resources, you’ll find both textbook chapters (Of Methods and Methodology: 5. Triangulation, The Research Process: Part 4) and Factsheets dealing with different aspects of the general concept – and if these aren’t enough to satisfy your hunger for “Quality Triangulation Resources” (it says here, admittedly because I wrote it) it’s your lucky day because I’ve chanced across an interesting document from the UNAIDS Monitoring and Evaluation Unit you might find useful.

    The pdf document – An Introduction to Triangulation – broadly follows Denzin’s (1970) triangulation typography as it looks at four general questions:

  • What is triangulation?
  • What are the different types of triangulation?
  • What are the strengths and weakness of the four types of triangulation?
  • Why do triangulation?
  • As an added bonus there are short sections on different types of data you might find helpful, either in the context of triangulation or research methods generally:

  • The differences between quantitative and qualitative data
  • Quantitative and qualitative data sources
  • Determining the usefulness of data
  • As you’ll notice if you decide to download the document, this is an abridged version that just focuses on the topics listed above.

    The full document is available as an online flipbook if you want it but unless you’re after a very short quiz and a quick glossary of key terms there’s not a lot extra to be had.

    Update

    If you want a visual complement to the above our latest (2021) short film introduces students to Denzin’s four types of triangulation:

    • data
    • researcher
    • theoretical
    • methodological.

    The film – previewed below – outlines and illustrates each type using an example drawn from real-world sociological research and concludes with a brief outline and assessment of the broad benefits and limitations of each of these different types.

    Psychological Applied Learning Scenarios (PALS)

    Tuesday, December 22nd, 2020

    Psychological Applied Learning Scenarios represent a teaching method designed to encourage students to get actively involved in the teaching and learning process by applying their psychological knowledge to “real world” situations.

    Cognitive Scenario

    Or as the OCR Exam Board puts it:

    “One of the central skills required in any psychology exam is being able to apply psychological theory to real world situations…students will have to show their practical application skills by recognising the psychological content in a novel source, making evidence-based suggestions in relation to the source and consider the strengths and weaknesses of the suggestion(s) they have made.”

    To this end the PALS resource provides 7 examples of scenarios drawn from different psychological areas (social, cognitive, biological, individual differences, developmental) and perspectives (behaviourist, psychodynamic), plus some suggestions for further possible scenarios that are identified but not developed.

    The basic idea here is that students are required to analyse the scenarios psychologically in order to understand and explain them, something they do by following a relatively simple 4-step structure applied to each scenario:

    1. Identify the psychological content / issue / problem embedded within the scenario.

    2. Select and outline the psychological research that could be applied to an understanding of the scenario and show how it relates to the issue or problem previously identified.

    3. Apply the research / knowledge you’ve identified to the scenario and suggest how it could be modelled in real life.

    4. Evaluate your suggestion across a range of areas – from strengths and weaknesses through practical or ethical issues to methodological issues and debates.

    While this is a resource created by and for OCR to reflect the specific requirements of their particular exam, the basic principles involved in the PALS system could easily – and usefully – be adapted and applied to teaching and learning across a range of Specifications, for both Psychology and Sociology.

    Hate crime

    Saturday, December 19th, 2020

    In the UK, hate crime is defined by the criminal justice system in terms of 5 broad categories:

  • race or ethnicity
  • religion or beliefs
  • sexual orientation
  • disability
  • transgender identity.
  • and police recorded hate crime statistics are released annually by the Home Office.

    While these are an important and useful source of information for students and teachers they can be a little dry and dusty, so if you can’t be bothered to trawl through the Report looking for the key results, selected lowlights are as follows:

  • Over 100,000 hate crimes were recorded by the police in England and Wales in 2018/19 – an increase of 10% over the previous year.
  • Increases in hate crime over the past 5 years have mainly been driven by improvements in police crime recording (i.e. they are increasingly likely to recognise and define certain actions as hate crimes). Spikes in hate crime do, however, occur in response to specific events (e.g. the EU (“Brexit”) Referendum in 2016 and terrorist attacks in 2017).
  • Race hate crimes account for around 75% of such offences.
  • There were increases in all categories of hate crime:
  • religious hate crimes increased by 3%
  • sexual orientation hate crimes increased 25%
  • disability hate crimes increased by 14%
  • transgender identity hate crimes increased by 37%
  • Half (54%) of all hate crimes recorded by the police were for public order offences (such as public alarm or fear of distress).
  • One-third (36%) of all hate crimes recorded by the police involved violence against the person.
  • The most serious forms of hate crime (5% of all offences) involved criminal damage and arson.
  • And if your students need a little more background information about the concept of hate crime:

    Race and the Criminal Justice System

    Friday, December 18th, 2020

    Official statistics on the relationship between “race” (ethnicity) and the criminal justice system in England and Wales, as you probably secretly suspect, are the kinds of things that teachers and students tend to file under the “worthy but dull” heading.

    About half the complete infographic…

    On the one hand it’s a relationship that’s useful to recognise and broadly understand as part of a crime and deviance module.

    On the other it tends to be really dry and difficult to digest.

    When even the Executive Summary (the short introduction everyone skims through because they really can’t face trawling through the full Report, but which gives us a nice warm feeling inside, safe in the pretence that at least we tried) tends to be just a long list of statistical observations there’s not really much incentive for teachers – let alone their students – to take the time to get to grips with this information.

    Which is a shame, because you know there’s actually a lot of good stuff in the Report, if only someone would take the time and effort to present it in a way that’s both short and visual.

    Happily for everyone concerned that’s just what the Ministry of Justice (something that, in passing, sounds as though it should be headed-up by Judge Dread) has decided to do by producing a nice Infographic that contains all the information you’re likely to need to keep your students up-to-date with the latest developments in all things “Race” and, indeed, “Criminal Justice”.

    Which is nice.

    Despite their scary-sounding name.

    Sociological Research Articles

    Thursday, December 17th, 2020

    I found this document lurking on a hard drive and while I’ve absolutely no idea from where it originally came, the metadata says “2008” and since it’s called “Sociological Research articles (since 2000)” it’s a fair bet it contains articles published between those two dates.

    As you can see, very little gets past me.

    Digging a little deeper – i.e. I read the blurb inside the cover – it’s an old Connect Publications err…publication that seems to have once been part of a CD-Rom (remember them? Me neither).

    Anyway, Connect was a company originally created and run by Pete Langley before he moved on to bigger and Even Bigger things so I’m guessing it’s long out of print (if that’s the right way to describe a little piece of shiny plastic filled with digital data?) and no-one’s going to argue the toss.

    The involvement of Janis Griffiths, Jonathon Blundell and Steve Chapman (although the latter only rates a “Thanks”, not a “Name on the Door” credit, so I’ve no idea what his involvement was. I’m sure he’ll probably tell me sometime) suggests, to me at least, some sort of ATSS (RiP) involvement, but I could be wrong.

    The pack is basically a set of articles, drawn from what looks like an early 2000 AQA Spec. that covered stuff that’s still standard on most UK Sociology Specs (Families and Households, Culture and Identity, Poverty and Welfare, Education, Health, Religion and Beliefs, Mass Media, Crime and Deviance, Stratification and Differentiation), each of which is broken-down into a set of easily-digestible chunks running across no-more – and no-less – than 2 x A4 pages:

  • Context
  • Methods
  • Key Findings
  • Evaluation
  • Links to Key Debates
  • Each section has between 3 and 7 articles and these are roughly representative of the general popularity of the Module in question (crime and deviance has quite a few, poverty and welfare not so many…) and while the articles are around 15 years old there’s still some useful information here.

    Plus, if you’re so inclined, the general thinking behind the project is a neat template for presenting more contemporary articles to your students (or, at least, getting them to think in terms of the categories from which each article is constructed).

    Psychological Research Methods: A Practical Approach

    Thursday, December 17th, 2020

    I know I said the Teacher Guides were the “third and final” post in this series of Psychology Lesson Elements and Delivery Guides but I may have been caught up in the moment and hence guilty of slightly over-exaggerating things, vis-à-vis the finality angle.

    In other words, I’ve found another OCR Resource that both complements the preceding stuff and which, if you teach Research Methods, either as part of OCR or some other Specification – that will be everyone, then – you will probably find useful.

    A Handbook of Practical Investigations provides 14 ready-made Research Examples students can carry-out – online or within the classroom – broken down into the following areas:

  • Laboratory experiments x 2
  • Repeated measures design experiment
  • Laboratory experiment using independent design
  • Self-report methods (questionnaires) x 3
  • Self-report methods (interviews)
  • Observational methods x 3
  • Correlational methods x 3
  • Each section provides a research scenario such as the following for a laboratory experiment:

    “You are asked to design a practical project to investigate whether chewing gum improves concentration. Your project must use an experimental method, must have an independent measures design and must collect quantitative data.”

    Hint: your project could measure concentration by giving participants a page of text to read, and asking them to cross out every letter ‘e’ they read in a fixed time of 30 seconds.

    You will need: Several packs of chewing gum, photocopied page of any text/book.

    The scenario is followed by a series of questions students are required to answer about the research they’ve done. This covers things like the method and procedure of the research, advantages and disadvantages of their design, ethical problems and how they can be resolved and the like.

    If there’s nothing in the provided examples that particularly tickles your fancy you can, of course, provide your own for your students to carry-out, based on the principles outlined in the Handbook.

    And if your students need a little extra preparation before embarking on any, or indeed all, of the research examples, you might want to check-out the following short films, created specifically for A-level / High School Psychologists, that are available to rent (one week) or buy “at very reasonable prices”:

    Experimental Methods

    Experimental Design

    Ethics and Ethical Issues

    Correlations

    Laboratory Experiments

    Non-Experimental Research Methods

    Naturalistic Observation

    Sampling

    Self Report Research Methods

    Psychology: Teacher Guides

    Thursday, December 10th, 2020

    The third – and final – OCR A-level Psychology offering complements the two previous posts on Lesson Elements and Delivery Guides in the shape of a set of Teaching Guides designed to help teachers (yes, really) get to grips with essential course information.

    Criminal Psychology Guide…

    While the majority of Guides focus on providing detailed overviews of key psychological research studies (in terms of areas like methods, sampling and key findings) you’ll also find help on relating the core studies in the Specification to different areas and perspectives, question banks on different areas of the course and a couple on teaching and learning techniques.

    As ever, even if you don’t follow the OCR Psychology Specification there’s a load of stuff here that’s worth a rummage because some of it will undoubtedly relate in some way to whatever A-level / High School Specification you’re teaching.

    The Guides

    Areas and perspectives in a nutshell

    Core studies overview and how they provide new understandings of behaviour

    Child psychology key research guide

    Criminal psychology key research guide

    Environmental psychology key research guide

    Guide to core studies

    Guide to core studies (part 2)

    Relating core studies to psychological areas and perspectives

    How the contemporary study changes our understanding of individual, social and cultural diversity

    Issues in mental health key research guide

    Sport and exercise psychology key research guide

    Question bank: Psychological themes through core studies

    Question bank: Research methods

    Spaced review and interleaving

    Guide to flipped learning

    Psychology: Delivery Guides

    Wednesday, December 9th, 2020

    In keeping with the precedent established all of two days ago with the Sociology Lesson Elements and Delivery Guides, I thought it might be useful to add a range of Delivery Guides to complement to rather large number of Psychology Lesson Elements previously posted (and if you’ve kept up with all of that, you’re a better person than I).

    A bit like a workscheme…

    So what, you might be thinking (I know I would be) is the difference between a “Lesson Element” and a “Delivery Guide”? Well, the simple answer is:

    • Guides resemble Schemes of Work in that they break-down a general Specification component, such as Criminal psychology, into “Topics” (“What Makes a Criminal?”) and then suggest a range of tasks and activities to help you teach that topic.
    • Elements, on the other hand, are specific tasks, activities and the like designed to illustrate a concept, theory or whatever.

    While it doesn’t take much imagination to see that the latter may be incorporated into the former, the Delivery Guides are, as you might expect, a little more structured in terms of what they offer:

    1. Curriculum content: an introductory overview of what’s covered in the Module.

    2. Thinking conceptually identifies some of the key concepts involved in the Module in greater or lesser detail.

    3. Thinking contextually offers a series of teaching activities designed to get students thinking about the content being studied in terms of the various topics involved. The pdf document includes two types of Resource Link: external to stuff like YouTube and internal to Learner Resources for completing tasks / activities (the latter are included at the end of the document).

    While this is all geared towards a specific Exam Board, teachers of other Specs. will doubtless find a lot of what’s provided relevant, even though it might take to little looking around for…

    Click here to go to the guides…

    Psychology: Lesson Elements

    Tuesday, December 8th, 2020

    As with its sociological counterpart – except more-so, this set of resources from the OCR Exam Board is designed to support teaching and learning for their A-Level Specification and while some of the resources may fall outside the scope of other Specifications there will probably be plenty here that doesn’t.

    Ethics

    In other words, you can easily fill-your-boots with these Lesson Elements, whether or not you happen to teach OCR Psychology.

    And by “lesson elements” we basically mean small(ish) group and individual tasks, relatively simple classroom activities and worksheets.

    Lots of worksheets (although if you want to lighten the load a little I’ve added links to our Psychology films that I think might fit well with the worksheet. These are available to either rent or buy).

    A little oddly some of these are provided as “blank” activity sheets (i.e. questions are asked and the space for student answers is left empty) while others consist of instructions for teachers with sample answers (i.e. they contain suggested student answers). There’s probably a way around this problem, but’s its probably one that should have been easily avoided.

    But what the heck, this stuff’s free and we maybe shouldn’t quibble too much about what’s on offer, particularly when there’s so much of it (around 3 times more than what’s been provided for sociologists, by my calculations) distributed across three broad categories:

    Click for Lesson Elements,,,

    Sociology Delivery Guides

    Monday, December 7th, 2020

    At some point around 2015 – presumably just in advance of the new Sociology Specification – the OCR Exam Board burst into action by creating not just the Lesson Elements previously posted and a short-but-useful set of Topic Exploration Packs on various sociological perspectives, but, more-importantly for our current purpose, a series of Lesson Delivery Guides designed to, err, guide teachers delivery of lessons I guess.

    Unlike their elemental counterparts, the Delivery Guides cover the complete Specification in terms of Modules, though obviously not in terms of lessons because that would be asking a bit too much.

    For the sake of consistency and clarity, each Guide is structured in terms of three main categories:

    1. Curriculum content is a brief overview of what’s covered in the OCR Module. If you follow a different Specification you can happily ignore this section, although since most UK Specs have a degree of overlap it can be useful to check-out what’s being covered.

    2. Thinking conceptually identifies some of the key concepts involved in the Module in greater or lesser detail (Family, for example, has a comprehensive conceptual coverage, Research Methods not so much). Again, even if you don’t follow the OCR Spec. there’s a lot here that will be relevent to other Specs.

    3. Thinking contextually offers a series of teaching activities designed to get students thinking about the content being studied (although, for some reason, the Socialisation activities also include the aforementioned Lesson Elements, whereas the Globalisation activities do not. Go figure…).

    While the activities are tailored to the OCR Spec., teachers of other Specs. are likely to find some activities relevant to their own Spec. so it’s worth having a look through the relevant Guides just to see if there’s something worth pinching…

    Click to see the guides

    Sociology Lesson Elements

    Sunday, December 6th, 2020
    A Lesson Element…

    This set of resources from the OCR Exam Board is, as you might expect, designed to support teaching and learning for their A-Level Specification. While some of the resources may fall outside the remit of other Sociology Specifications this isn’t to say that teachers of the latter won’t, with a little bit of judicious editing, be able to adapt stuff here to their own particular teaching needs.

    Lesson elements are, by-and-large, teaching and learning activities presented in two forms:

    1. PowerPoint Presentations designed for whole class consumption.
    2. Word documents designed for individual and small-group work (most have accompanying teacher instructions packs that include model activity answers).

    As far as I’ve been able to find – and believe me I’ve been led a merry dance around the Internet trying to collect these resources before eventually finding most of them in various nooks and crannies on the OCR site – the Elements only cover two areas of the Spec.

    1. Introducing socialisation, culture and identity covers some basic Introductory ideas and concepts taught by all sociology teachers at the start of a course.

    2. Globalisation and the digital social world covers various aspects of globalisation as it relates to areas like social media, social inequality and education. While I think this is pretty-much an OCR-specific Module there are elements here that teachers of other Specs. will find useful.

    As far as I can tell (and, as noted above, I’ve really tried to find out) these are the only two Lesson Elements that have been created. If you know otherwise, I’d be grateful to be pointed in their direction. It may be that these were intended to be some sort of “starter resource” for teachers and no others were produced.

    Although when I’ve looked at the Psychology Lesson Elements available there seem to be roughly 3 times more.

    Not that I’ve actually counted them.

    That would be a little sad.

    Perhaps they just ran out of money, time, patience, interest or whatever (please delete or add-to as you see fit) when it came to Sociology?

    Either way, there are some interesting resources here that you might want to examine:

    Click to access the resources

    Freedom To Teach: Collins

    Thursday, November 26th, 2020

    Despite – or maybe because? – this blog offering “articles and information by teachers for teachers” being the brainchild of a major UK Publisher it’s one that can probably be best described as an eclectic mix of the Good, the Bad and the Downright Ugly.

    The Bad involves the fact that although its earliest post dates from 10 years ago (a link to a Gender video whose sound has gone awol in the upload – which is a shame because I recognise it as one of our’s even though I didn’t work on it), it only contains 28 subsequent posts and has years when nothing at all has been posted.

    I’m also at a loss as to why the blog’s called “Freedom To Teach“.

    Maybe it’s just me, but it seems rather, well, meaningless?

    The Ugly is definitely the navigation system. Although the site looks fine – and someone’s gone to a lot of trouble to “mobilise” it – it’s difficult to find the stuff you really need to find. A technological triumph of style over substance.

    The Good, however, makes it worth persevering with the intermittent updates and wobbly navigation. Not only has the blog seen a relative upsurge in the past couple of months (okay, it’s only 2 posts after a 2-year dry spell, but what the heck) but the posts themselves are useful and, by-and-large, interesting.

    They’re also a bit of mixed bag – anything from masculinity through challenging student learning to Sociology Outside the Classroom (“school trips” to you and me, although San Francisco is probably well beyond the budget of most state schools…) – but they’re generally on the right side of good.

    Which makes it a shame there aren’t more of them.

    Family PowerPoints Bundle

    Sunday, November 15th, 2020

    This collection of PowerPoints for Families and Households comes from a variety of sources, only one of whom I know personally.

    Like all of the other Presentations, however, I know not from where it came.

    The Presentations cover a range of family-related issues and ideas, from different family perspectives, through the role of the family to areas like diversity, childhood, stability and decline and while they might accurately be described as “Something of A Mixed Bag” in terms of both design and content, they might save you a bit of time and effort.

    I’ve added a very short description of each Presentation but this is only a rough guide to content…

    Browse the Presentations…

    The Media and Moral Panics: 3 Short Films

    Wednesday, November 11th, 2020

    These films developed out of a range of interviews we did with a number of leading academics on the topic of the media and moral panics, one of which subsequently became the film “The Cannibal on Bus 1170 (Rethinking Moral Panics)” featuring the Canadian academic Heidi Rimke:

    More-generally, a key theme coming from many of the interviews was the relationship between media-generated moral panics and childhood – a reflection of the contemporary idea that children, in particular, are increasingly seen as “vulnerable individuals” who require adult protection from a range of dangers, not the least being the twin-headed threat of video games and social media.

    Sociologically, however, I was more-interested in looking at the historical development of media panics around technology in general because I think it both highlights our ambivalent relationship to powerful media, such as cinema and television, and also illustrates how moral panics around childhood don’t simply reflect contemporary fears but are rooted in long-standing power relationships between those who consume media and those who want to regulate that consumption.

    These three films, therefore, provide a broad overview of debates about media consumption and its relationship to a supposedly vulnerable group: children.

    Although the series focus is specifically the media and moral panics, the films are also useful for teachers and students looking for a different take on audience effects – particularly those models, such as the hypodermic syringe / magic bullet, that argue for direct and long-lasting media effects on susceptible audiences.

    Clcik to watch the 3 films

    500 Free Education Images

    Friday, November 6th, 2020

    If you create your own resources it’s highly-likely you’re going to want to use some sort of images to give them a little sparkle.

    A seventh-grader walks by a Black History Month display at Sutton Middle School on her way to class.
    Photo by Allison Shelley for American Education: Images of Teachers and Students in Action

    And to do this you’ve either got to take the pictures yourself or “license” them from someone else. In other words, you Google what you need and no-one’s any the wiser (although if you’re lifting stuff from Corporate Entities like Ge**y – I’m not going to provide a link because they are an insufferably awful company – you’re going to have to contend with watermarked images that look a little naff).

    You’re also going to run the risk of a “Lawyer’s Letter” that, if we lived in an equitable world, would be seen as demanding money with menaces.

    But since we don’t, it isn’t.

    I’ve singled-out Ge**y but most, if not all, Corporate Image Mills behave in much the same sort of way.

    An additional problem is some schools and colleges laying-claim to copyright over the materials their employees (i.e. teachers) create for use in their classroom. Aside from a general managerial desire to be dickish, one reason for wanting to exert a copyright claim is that, somewhere down the line, an institution could market or license these resources without the need to get the agreement of the creator.

    Or, indeed, remunerate them.

    While this is a complex legal area in the UK – proving a teacher produced resources for use in their classroom on “school time” could be tricky – using copyrighted images in such resources would, at best, be problematic.

    There is, however, a Third Way (remember that?) and this involves sourcing images from organisations that operate under various Creative Commons rules and licenses.

    A sixth-grade math teacher writes on the board during a lesson about music and math.
    Photo by Allison Shelley for American Education: Images of Teachers and Students in Action

    All that’s generally required to use an image is to include a credit to the creator – in this case, step-forward “Allison Shelley” and her completely-free “American Education: Images of Teachers and Students in Action” pix.

    The collection consists of 500 “original print-quality photos” of people in a variety of educational contexts and categories – from pre-school to high school, computer labs to outdoor learning, teacher to – you probably get the picture (pun totally intended).

    Open Source

    If this isn’t enough, the burgeoning OER (Open Educational Resource) Movement – mostly, it must be admitted, based in and around the United States – provides a range of Open-Source textbooks including substantial volumes for Sociology and Psychology.

    An open-source text is one that anyone can use as is for free.

    Alternatively, you can take the base text and modify it – add stuff you need, take away stuff you don’t – to your heart’s desire. This could be very useful if you wanted to take and adapt some of the original text to create an original resource.

    As long as you acknowledge the source, you’re home free.

    Online Classroom: Family Study Packs

    Thursday, November 5th, 2020

    Back in the day, when I was working for a company called Online Classroom, we produced a range of booklets, for both GCSE and A-level, that were sold online (hence the name…).

    To cut a long story short, when Online Classroom was sold to a video distribution company called Clickview in around 2009 they weren’t in the market for ebooks and a number of proto-projects went into abeyance – or, if you prefer, into a black hole from which they were destined never to emerge.

    Until now, as I was searching through a load of Family resources to see if there was anything worth posting. And found these that, to be perfectly honest, I’d forgotten about.

    The Packs were written by Craig Chester and designed around 4 key areas:

    1. Key Theorists

    2. Summary of Key Research

    3. Evaluation

    4. 20 Questions (based on and around the information in the Pack)

    As far as I can tell the Packs covered 2 main areas, Family Diversity and Childhood. There may have been more but if there were, I can’t find them.

    Anyway, the Packs are short, colourful and hopefully informative – although, as I’ve suggested, they are around 10 years old so the information they contain may be a little bit dated.

    The Packs…

    Family Diversity: Marriage and Cohabitation

    Family Diversity: Divorce

    Family Diversity: Alternative Structures

    Family Diversity: Other Household Structures

    Family Diversity: Ethnicity

    Childhood: Social Construction

    Contemporary Childhood

    Study Skills Resources

    Tuesday, November 3rd, 2020

    The Welsh Exam Board site seems to have undergone a rather drastic culling of it’s once-outstanding sociology resources – all I could find was a rather sad Flash movie on gender socialisation that will cease to function on January 1st 2021, some interesting and extensive Crime and Deviance resources that are definitely worth digging around and a Research Methods section that’s quite substantial, looks very nice in all its html5 glory but which, when all’s-said-and-done, doesn’t actually offer very much more than you’d find on the (static) pages of a textbook.

    A Functional PowerPoint

    There is, however, an interesting Study Skills section – a mix of Word and PowerPoint documents – that seems to have survived and even though most of the documents were created a good few years ago (and then some – although we are at least talking 21st century) there’s no reason why some – or indeed all – couldn’t happily find a place in your teaching.

    The materials broadly cover things like essay-writing, evaluation and revision and while they’re clearly aimed at WJEC students they’re generic enough to apply to other exam boards.

    Although the materials are fairly basic in terms of presentation (and occasionally weirdly-strident in tone – the Guide to Revision reads like it was written by a teacher who was particularly frustrated by their students inability to follow simple instructions and is writing on the verge of some sort of apoplectic explosion…) but they’re generally functional enough and the PowerPoint’s in particular are informative and helpful.

    McDonaldisation resources

    Sunday, November 1st, 2020

    Ritzer’s concept of McDonaldisation is a well-known phenomenon that’s characteristic of modernity and modern societies and there are a range of simple resources that can be used to get the idea across to students:

    An Amazon Warehouse that could be anywhere in the world…

    This poster, for example, identifies and outlines 5 distinctive processes in the rationalisation of society and culture.

    This textbook has a short section (Focus on Research, page 20) that applies the concept to Higher Education.

    This PowerPoint includes McDonaldisation (among other useful things) linked into ideas about global culture.

    Global Homogeneity or Diversity is an exercise that uses McDonaldisation to illustrate the homogeneity side of the argument.

    Finally, “Our fake book exposed Amazon’s fatal flaw” is an article that provides a contemporary example of the application of McDonaldisation on a global scale and proves, once again, that Amazon is the sociological gift that just keeps on giving…

    New Media: The Rise of the Selfie

    Sunday, November 1st, 2020

    Sociology Media Specifications have, in recent years, started to focus a little more on the rise of new forms of media, particularly social media like Facebook and Twitter, but one area that’s not particularly well-covered is the idea of Selfie culture – either as a personally-shareable form or, increasingly, as an integral aspect of something like Instagram-culture (which is, as they say, a whole other story that’s probably better left to another day).

    If you want to explore Selfie-culture in a little more detail this set of 22 slides on the Sociological impact of Selfies is a useful place to start.

    Once you’re done with that, if you want to take things a little further, you can use incorporate selfies into a lesson plan as a tool through which to explore areas like Simulacra and Hyperreality.

    Global Development: The Purpose of Aid?

    Sunday, November 1st, 2020
    The Reality of Aid?
    Up-market flats and “east Africa’s largest shopping centre”.

    When looking at areas like Global Development and the “Aid vs. Trade” debate, it’s easy for students to simply assume that “Aid” involves richer nations donating money and resources to poorer nations which is then used to improve the general life and living-standards of their citizens (a sort-of “Comic Relief” version of Aid).

    The reality – at least when it comes to nations such as Britain – is that Aid not only involves “donated resources” being used to support the behaviour, activities and share price of private Corporations (the idea of “Aid as Big Business”)

    it may also involve “development aid” going not to those who probably need it most (the desperately-poor, in case there was any confusion) but rather to various forms of speculative enterprises: from expensive residential developments, through up-market hotel complexes to exclusive gated communities designed for and inhabited by the super-wealthy…

    Family and Personal Life: Tests for Husbands and Wives

    Friday, October 30th, 2020
    Download a Word copy…

    Historical comparisons are an interesting and illuminating way to teach about social change across a range of areas and, I would suggest, family life is no exception.

    When looking at reasons for divorce in contemporary societies, for example, it can be useful to get students to list possible reasons for divorce now, as compared to 100 years ago, and delete any reasons common to both lists (such as “falling out of love”). Once students have done that they’ll be left with a (small) number of contemporary reasons (such as the legal availability of divorce) they can use to explain historical changes in divorce rates.

    Comparative research, particularly in areas that are close to students’ own lives and experiences, can also be fun (in an academic-sort-of-way) because the differences they demonstrate between lives as once lived and lives as now lived can be both surprising and revealing – as illustrated by “Tests for Husbands and Wives”, a “marital-compatibility” test devised by Dr. George Crane, a psychologist and university professor in 1930’s America.

    The ”Tests” take the form of a simple questionnaire containing 50 questions completed by wives and 50 questions completed by their husbands that attempts to measure individual “merits” and “demerits” to arrive at a composite “marital rating scale” ranging from “very poor” to “very superior”.

    How you use the Tests in your class is, of course, entirely up to you but I’d suggest that even a brief analysis of the questions posed [tests for h and w.docx] will give your students a general understanding of the assumptions being made about a range of concepts – from cultural ideas about marriage, through marital norms and values in the past to masculine and feminine identities around and within family life – they can compare with their contemporary understanding of these ideas.

    Take the Online Test…
  • The Tests could be useful for understanding changing ideas about things like marriage, masculinity and femininity in the context of areas like family and personal life or changing family roles and responsibilities.
  • They could also be used to think about a range of methodological problems with historical documents of this type. They can, for example, provide valuable insights into past behaviour, but we need to be careful they’re not unrepresentative of different populations. The document, for example, cost 20 cents in 1930’s and that’s now the equivalent of $3.86 / £3.00 in current money – does this mean the Tests were likely to be applicable to a particular social audience and, if so, how representative might they be of people’s actual behaviour and ideas at the time?
  • In addition, students might also want to consider the authenticity of historical documents. While the provenance of Tests for Husbands and Wives is relatively easy to authenticate the same might not necessarily true of something like “The Good Wife’s Guide” that purports to describe the role of a “1950’s American wife”. This is a good opportunity to see if students can take advantage of the Internet as a way of trying to assess document authenticity.
  • Alternatively, as Dr. Crane wisely noted, both young men and young women “contemplating marriage might very profitably use this test as a valuable guide” and, to this end, there’s an online version your students can use to assess their own “marital rating”…

    Sociology Now: another free sociology text

    Tuesday, October 27th, 2020
    Click to download…

    Sociology Now is an American textbook currently on its 3rd edition of which this, probably-needless-to-say-but-I-will-anyway, isn’t it. Instead we have what may or may not be the 2nd edition hailing from 2012.

    I say “may or may not” because it describes itself as the “2010 Census edition”.

    And while this, in the words of the late, great, Ultravox “Means Nothing To Me”, I’m guessing it probably Means Something to Someone.

    In which case. You’re Welcome.

    I don’t know why I haven’t given this textbook a previous write-up (although it’s always possible I have and don’t remember doing it) but it seems to be a fairly standard text that, design-wise, occupies that slightly-weird space between tradition and modernity. In other words, there’s a lot of text on the page but, for some unknown reason that page is two-columns.

    One of which is white space.

    And sometimes there are pictures.

    And also some odd “space-age” box-outs labelled things like “MyLab” (which is either Pearson’s way of trying to sell teachers and students More Stuff by setting-up a proprietary Learning Management System (LMS) or a welcome extension of the teaching and learning experience. I’m sort-of leaning towards the latter).

    These look as though they were designed by someone like me (a, shall-we-say, enthusiastic amateur) rather than a professional designer.

    In fact, the whole book looks like something I’d design in Affinity Publisher. And that’s not really a recommendation (unless you’ve got far better design skills than me, in which case it’s actually a top piece of software).

    Once you get past the rather primitive visuals and general design the text covers pretty much all of what you’d expect from an A-level / High School / College book (from culture and society through family and media to crime, religion and science) in an accessible and fairly even-handed way.

    And while the emphasis is, quite reasonably, on American society and culture there’s still plenty here that will be useful for a European audience – particularly if you’re looking for a relatively-recent, free textbook to supplement the stuff you’re currently using.

    Family: Personal Life Perspective Resources

    Thursday, October 22nd, 2020

    Whatever your particular view of the Personal Life perspective in relation to families and households (as an exciting, contemporary, forward-looking development in our understanding of family dynamics, a slightly-cynical attempt to breathe new life into tired old social action / interactionist perspectives by rebranding them as something “new, exciting and cutting-edge” or merely another attempt to confuse the hell out of teachers and their students), if it’s on the Spec. – as either a semi-autonomous section, a la AQA, or folded into broader ideas about family diversity, roles and relationships – then, like it or lump it, it’s got to be covered.

    By-and-large this general perspective, as befits its social action antecedents, generally focuses (at least in textbooks) on inclusive forms of family definition that, following Goldthorpe (1987), argue we should define and understand family groups and structures as “complex relational networks” rather than as a specific set of clearly-definable:

  • attributes, such as “common residence” coupled with “economic co-operation”, or
  • relationships, such as “parents and their children”.
  • Contemporary families, in other words, represent a fluid set of social relationships and processes based around relationships that involve labels, such as mother, father, aunt and uncle, values, such as the belief dual parenting is superior to single parenting, norms, such as living together through marriage or cohabitation and functions, such as primary socialisation.

    This latter idea – that something called “a family” can be structurally defined in terms of the specific functions it performs – is something that’s important not to lose sight of when evaluating “personal life” perspectives. This is particularly pertinent when some textbooks over-differentiate concepts of “structure” and “action” when trying to show how “contemporary personal life perspectives” are different to “classic structural approaches”. Social actions, however you want to define them, always relate to some sort of structure…

    Keeping this in mind, I’ve managed to cobble together unearth a few resources you might find helpful when teaching this particular topic:

    Resources…

    Podcasts with Pictures: Esher Sociology

    Thursday, October 15th, 2020

    For some reason I keep stumbling across teacher-created YouTube accounts and the latest I’ve tripped-over is from Esher Sociology – a Channel that currently consists of 50+ films posted over the past 4 years, although the last was 7 months ago.

    Whether this represents a final roll of the dice or just a (summer-long) hiatus, only time will tell.

    Be that as it may, this decidedly no-frills approach to film-making offers a wide range of online lectures across a number of topics – Religion, Crime, Theory, Family and Education – the majority of which sit in the 15 – 30-minute time slot.

    The exception to this general rule is a series of “One Minute Key Concepts” slides focused on a single concept (meritocracy, anomie, social solidarity – there are currently 6 in all) that come-in at around 60 seconds. It’s an interesting idea that I wish we’d thought of (Oh. Hang on a Just A Minute…) and it generally works quite well for something that consists of a single screen of text.

    The main films themselves are fairly standard for the “podcasts with pictures” genre insofar as they consist of a series of narrated PowerPoint slides with bits of extra commentary on the side. The narration is either “a bit shouty” or “satisfyingly authoritative” depending on how you view (hear?) these things.

    One-Minute Anomie…

    Although the films are perfectly serviceable as online lectures students can dip into and out of at their leisure, some run to over 30 minutes and seemed, to me at least, a little heavy-going for a single-sitting: half-an-hour can seem a Very Long Time when you’re basically just listening to a teacher talk about something like Marxist and Functionalist Theories of the Family with very little visual stimulation to lighten the load.

    Technically the films are a little rough around the edges with some annoying sound glitches at times and while they arguably contain a lot of text / information to take on board, some might say that too-much is better than too-little – particularly if students are watching in their own time or as part of a flipped teaching process.

    More Podcasts with Pictures: Ms Sugden’s Online Classroom

    Saturday, October 3rd, 2020

    If you’re looking for video resources for online teaching or flipped learning (or possibly even a combination of the two) Alexandra Sugden’s YouTube Channel is worth checking-out if you’re teaching any or all of the following:

  • Crime and Deviance
  • Research Methods
  • Theory
  • Education
  • Religion and Beliefs
  • The Channel’s aimed at the AQA Spec. but some, if not necessarily all, of the films will be useful for other Specs (Research Methods, for example, is fairly uniform across most College / A-level Specifications).

    The format is a familiar “podcasts with pictures” one with Ms. Sugden narrating a series of static slides in a lecture-style format, with individual films ranging from 3 – 30 minutes, depending on the topic and what’s being discussed.

    This covers everything from general topic teaching to applying the PERVERT method to Research Methods exam questions or constructing example paragraphs when answering essay-type questions (although, personally, I’m not convinced by the claim students can apply strain theory to white collar crime using the concept of relative deprivation. It’s an innovative argument, perhaps, but one that stretches things just a little too far…).

    Gamified Homework: Climbing Homework Mountain

    Thursday, October 1st, 2020

    This gamified homework variation, although having a superficial similarity to its Climb Every Mountain counterpart, combines the idea of giving students a “free choice” of homework with clearly-structured limits as a way of achieving an ultimate homework goal (reaching the top of the aforesaid mountain).

    Game Board

    The basic idea here, therefore, is that students start at the bottom of Homework Mountain and gradual work their way to the top. How they do this – quickly and directly or slowly and indirectly – is entirely up to them.

    Instructions

    1. All students begin at the lowest level of Homework Mountain, on any Homework square they care to choose. The objective is to reach the Peak by answering questions as they climb.

    2. Once a student has answered a question in one round of homework they then select and answer an adjacent question in the next. This continues until they reach the top or no more homework is set. Students can move from one square to the next in whatever direction they choose and there are different possible routes up the Mountain, with varying levels of difficulty:

  • A “direct route” for example, involves a student starting at the central 10-mark question, followed by the 20-mark question above it and the final 20-mark question above that.
  • A more-circumspect route, on the other hand, might involve a student working their way up the left-hand side of the Board, answering questions worth 2, 2, 6, 6, 10 and, finally, 20 marks.
  • 3. Once a student completes the question at the Peak they have finished. A possible variation here, however, is that having ascended Homework Mountain you can require them to safely descend by a different route to the one they took to the top.

    I’ve included an example Homework Mountain Board with questions covering Families and Households. I’ve left this in PowerPoint format for easy editing if you prefer to set your own homework questions. It also makes it fairly easy to refresh the Board with different questions when you move-on to a different Module.

    Gamified Homework: Climb Every Mountain

    Tuesday, September 29th, 2020

    This second example of gamification takes a slightly different and less organisationally-complex approach to setting homework than its Earn-to-Learn predecessor.

    Click to download Game Board
    Families and Households game board

    It does this by adopting the mechanics of a game board: all students start at the same point and work their way to the top (or end-point) by traversing different levels. In this particular example I’ve created three levels, but there’s no reason why you can’t extend this to add more levels if required.

    To understand how the gamified design works, have a look at the PowerPoint Board file:

    1. The first level of the Board contains a set of relatively low-mark questions. Students can select as many as they like to complete for homework, with the objective being to “escape the level” by matching or exceeding a pre-specified “level mark”. In the example I’ve provided students need to score 15+ marks to go to the next level but this can, of course, be adjusted to whatever score you like.

    A student could, for example, select a couple of higher mark questions (10 and 6) to complete. If they score full-marks they complete the level. If, on the other hand, they score 12 marks they would need to complete further homework questions in order to successfully complete the level.

    2. Once a student has achieved the requirements for level 3 they have completed that set of homework tasks. If you want to extended individual students further you can, if you wish, set “advanced levels” for them to complete.

    I’ve provided the “Families and Households” question Board as a PowerPoint file to make it easy for you to tweak and edit it to suit your own particular course.

    Variations

    Click to download blank game board.
    Blank Game Board

    A variation you may want to consider is that instead of putting homework questions directly on the Board you simply indicate the marks available for each “question square”, as in this blank game board.

    When a student chooses, say, a 10-mark question you can give them a prepared question that corresponds to the mark box they’ve chosen. Alternatively, as with Earn-to-Learn, you could have a prepared list of 2 / 6 / 10 mark questions and students can select the ones they want to do from the list.

    This variation means that you don’t have to physically add questions to the game board, which makes it easy to reuse for other topics. All you may need to do is adjust the marks for each question box, depending on the topic being covered.

    Gamified Homework: Earn to Learn

    Monday, September 28th, 2020

    Although the basic idea behind Takeaway Homework is perfectly serviceable, teachers at Community College and A-level are more-likely to want to use homework as a way of getting students to practice exam-style questions.

    It is, of course, possible to tweak the Takeaway system to, say, require students to complete a single homework task each week, as with this example Takeaway Menu for crime and deviance (there’s also a blank template if you want to create your own questions) that starts with something relatively simple (“Mild”) and builds towards something more-difficult (“Extra Hot”). This is useful if you want to:

  • ease students into exam-type questions, starting small and easy and gradually increasing in length and difficulty.
  • encourage students to practice a variety of different types of exam question.
  • An alternative here, however, is to take this basic idea a step further by introducing an element of gamification (game-like) into the equation. This involves using some of the mechanics of games – rewards, progression towards a specified goal, individual and group competitiveness and the like – to spice things up a little.

    Read On For Instructions about “Earn to Learn”

    Takeaway Homework Menus: The Basics

    Monday, September 21st, 2020

    Takeaway Homework Menus are based on an original idea by “Twitter phenomenon and outstanding teacher” Ross Morrison McGill (100 Ideas for Secondary Teachers) – webmaster of the inspirational Teacher Toolkit site – and if you’re not familiar with the idea, the basic premise is a simple one:

    Starters and Mains…

    Instead of giving all your students a single “Homework Task” (an essay, a set of questions or whatever is appropriate to the course you’re teaching) you give them a menu of possible choices from which they can choose the homework they want to do.

    This could be as simple as a choice of doing one from a selection of 5 or 6 different essays or, as in the majority of Takeaway Homework Menus, students are required to select from different types of task. This usually involves the Menu being:

    1. Organised into sections, such as Starters, Mains and Desserts to maintain the Menu theme. Students may, for example, be required to do homework tasks selected from each part of the menu in the following ways (examples taken from this Express Crime and Deviance Takeaway homework menu, created by Miss Coleman to “Deliver fresh, hot and delicious homework tasks straight to your doorstep!”).

  • Starters may involve small and simple tasks (Write a tweet or no more than 256 characters explaining a Sociological key term covered in the Crime and Deviance unit).
  • Mains are usually more-involved and take longer to complete (Create a ten-question quiz for your classmates based on one area of the Crime and Deviance unit).
  • Desserts are again relatively straightforward tasks but can be used to test different skills to those included in Starters (Choose one piece of marked work in your book and re-do it, ensuring that you are responding to feedback and making improvements where necessary).
  • Desserts and Specials.

    What to include in each section is, of course, something for you to decide – Starters could include simple small-mark questions, while Mains could be a selection of essays – and the format’s flexible enough to incorporate a wide mix of practical and theoretical activities. If you want a further (sociological) example, the eponymous Miss Coleman has created a similar Takeaway Homework menu for social inequality.

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    Sociological Sims from Cengage

    Monday, September 21st, 2020

    I’ve continually argued that games and simulations have an important part to play in the sociology classroom – I’ve found, created and posted a fair number partly because they can be counter-intuitive in a way that forces students to confront and reassess their taken-for-granted ideas about social behaviour – from education to inequality – and partly because they have the potential to involve students more-deeply in the actual process of learning through experience and discovery.

    They have, in other words, the capacity to turn passive learning into active learning, something I consider A Good Thing.

    Although the vast majority of the sims I’ve collated are designed for offline use I’ve recently stumbled upon some sims designed, in the brave-new-words of their Publisher, to:

    Build the sociological imaginations of your students by showing them how social structures impact others’ realities”.

    Despite – or maybe because of – this rather bold claim, the reality is sadly a little more prosaic: the reach of online learning frequently exceeds its grasp. This isn’t to say the sims aren’t worth playing, but you do need to keep in mind they’re not particularly immersive and their subject matter can be a little esoteric (and aimed squarely at an American market: most of the evidence and examples cited are US-based).

    On the plus side, however, they combine useful sociological information with simple decision-making (there’s only ever two choices) that has both sociological consequences and provides interesting feedback and information that students might normally expect to learn through something like passive note-taking.

    If this sounds like I’m damning them with faint praise it’s not meant to read that way: I personally enjoyed playing the 4 available sims and I think your students will too.

    They should also learn something from them, which is probably the objective…

    1. Sociologically Strong? Do you have a strong sociological imagination?

    Sociologist C. Wright Mills defined the sociological imagination as the ability to understand the relationship between individual experience and the broader patterns of society. This means being able to examine people’s experiences within their social context.

    2. Second-Shift Ready? Can you manage the second shift?”

    Sociologist Arlie Russell Hochschild defined the second shift as the unpaid domestic labor, including housework and childcare, that people do after their “first shift” at a full-time job. Often, in heterosexual, two-parent families, women perform the vast majority of second-shift labor.

    3. Your Career, or Your Child? How free are your choices?

    Social structure is defined as the social institutions and social relationships that together constitute society. The social institutions that make up the social structure include the family, education, religion, the government, and the economy. These institutions and the patterns of inequality they contain shape individuals’ choices.

    4. How Would You Fare? How would you fare as a refugee?

    The Civil War in Syria, which began in 2011, is the worst humanitarian crisis of the 21st century. It has forced millions of Syrians to become refugees, seeking asylum in foreign countries.

    Psychology Teachers Toolkit(s)

    Friday, September 18th, 2020

    A few years back (around 7 or 8 to be precisely imprecise), Psychology Teacher Michael Griffin “with the help of TES forums and colleagues” put together a Teachers Toolkit

    running to around 100 pages of Lesson Notes, Starters and Plenaries, Introductions and Simulations, Studies and Theories, and Self / Peer assessment Strategies.

    Part of the Online Toolkit…

    While, in my less-than-humble-opinion, this remains something of a Gold Standard for teacher-collaboration (it’s well-worth grabbing because it’s likely to save you a lot of time, effort, trouble and tears. I’m not certain about the last one, but the first three definitely) the British Psychological Society (BPS) have teamed-up with the Association for the Teaching of Psychology (ATP) to create a new and slightly-different Online Teachers Toolkit designed to cover four main areas:

  • Open evenings: a host of ideas and activities ideal for face to face or virtual events
  • Classroom posters: ready to print and display – including “what is psychology?” and “common myths”
  • Mental health and wellbeing guidance: tips and advice to support positive wellbeing in your classroom
  • Practical activities: step by step guides for practical activities to enhance learning in your classroom
  • The payload for all of the above are Teacher and Student Resources (from an Open Evening PowerPoint to a range of Activity Packs on areas like Harlow’s Monkey experiments, Stroop Effect materials and so forth) that promise to build into a useful term-by-term collection.

    To be honest, the resources are currently a little, shall we say, underwhelming?, particularly when compared to its illustrious predecessor (no-relation) but everyone’s got to start somewhere so it’s worth giving it a butcher’s and a chance.

    And if this all seems like a lukewarm welcome to the new Toolkit, it’s not meant to be.

    At least the BPS is interested in – and seems to value – A-level teachers.

    Not something of which you could reasonably accuse its sociological counterpart

    The Crime Collection

    Tuesday, September 15th, 2020

    In a previous post I pulled-together all the free crime and deviance films we have available to create a simple one-stop-shop (so to speak) you could browse, rather than have to search individually for these films.

    I’ve extended this thinking to bring together all the posts we’ve made on Crime and Deviance – and since there’s “quite a few” I thought it might be useful to break them down into rough categories (Notes, Organisers, Activities, PowerPoints and Films) for your viewing convenience.

    Since I’ve discovered this is actually quite a task, I’ll add the different categories “as-and-when” I can, starting with:

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    Free Online Psychology Course

    Friday, September 11th, 2020

    In a previous post I drew your attention to the free online Saylor Academy Sociology 101: Introduction to Sociology course and you might be interested to know (or know a colleague who is) there’s also a free online Psychology 101: Introduction to Psychology course available.

    Free Online Course

    Although, as with the Sociology course, it’s aimed at American Community College students  – and the various credits and certifications available for completing the course will only be meaningful and useful to US students – this doesn’t mean that actually completing the course won’t help UK a-level students because the overall level is broadly in line with a-level studies. A quick look through the equally-free Open-Stax course textbook that accompanies the course should confirm this for you.

    Alternatively, have a quick trawl through the course syllabus that covers a number of Units that should be broadly familiar to a-level teachers (although whether the actual content is the same / similar is something you’ll need to check):

  • Unit 1: The History and Methods of Psychology
  • Unit 2: Neuroscience
  • Unit 3: Sensation and Perception
  • Unit 4: Learning and Memory
  • Unit 5: Development
  • Unit 6: Personality
  • Unit 7: Social Psychology
  • Unit 8: Industrial and Organizational Psychology
  • Unit 9: Health and Stress Psychology
  • Unit 10: Psychopathology
  • In addition to “read stuff from the textbook, think about it, make some notes and maybe answer some online comprehension questions” there are a number of other resources (such as PowerPoints and short Video Tutorials) liberally spread throughout the Units that might be useful even if you don’t want to go the whole hog with the online course.

    Broken Windows Revisited | 2

    Wednesday, September 9th, 2020

    Part 1 of this planned 3-part reassessment of Wilson and Kelling’s “Broken Windows” thesis outlined a selection of its general strengths and weaknesses and suggested we need to understand Broken Windows in the context of its origins in the ecological theories of crime initially developed in the early 20th century.

    Broken Windows: The Original Article

    Part 2 examines a key ecological strength of the thesis – that social disorder causes crime – through a re-examination of Zimbardo’s “Anonymity of Place” experiment. It then looks at the elephant in the room when talking about Broken Windows and crime: what causes social disorder?

    While Broken Windows has some distinctive breaks with the general ecological tradition on which it broadly rests, it’s important to understand the thesis in this context because it’s only by understanding the theoretical origins of Broken Windows that we can begin to question some of its central claims: that ecological factors are a sufficient explanation of crime development in this Part and the claim that small forms of disorder invariably lead to larger disorders in Part 3).

    THERE’S MORE. A LOT MORE.

    Free Online Sociology Course

    Sunday, September 6th, 2020

    If you’re looking to give your a-level students a little extra out-of-class tuition, the Saylor Academy

    Sociology 101…

    a non-profit initiative working since 2008 to offer free and open online courses to all who want to learn. We offer nearly 100 full-length courses at the college and professional levels, each of which is available right now – at your pace, on your schedule, and free of cost” might be worth checking-out.

    Although it’s aimed at American Community College students – and the various credits and certifications available for completing the course will only be meaningful and useful to US students – this doesn’t mean that actually completing the course won’t help UK a-level students.

    The overall level is broadly in line with a-level studies, as you’ll see if you have a look at the free Open-Stax course textbook. this This will give you a good idea what’s covered in the course whose syllabus covers 5 Units broadly familiar to a-level teachers:

  • Unit 1: Introduction to Sociology
  • Unit 2: Culture, the Socialized Self, and the Individual in Society
  • Unit 3: Social Inequality
  • Unit 4: Institutions
  • Unit 5: Social Change and Social Issues
  • Since not everything covered in them will apply to a-level you’ll need to check each out to point your students in the direction of stuff to cover / stuff you might find useful to cover / stuff that’s not on the a-level Spec.

    While the Sociology 101: Introduction to Sociology course doesn’t push any boundaries – a lot of it consists of “reading stuff from the textbook, thinking about it and maybe answering some online comprehension questions” – there are quite a few video tutorials liberally spread throughout the Units that, if nothing else, you might want to consider pointing your students in the direction of if you want them to have a little extra online help / revision.

    Recent Research Digested: Education and the Disadvantage Gap

    Tuesday, September 1st, 2020
    Download as Pdf file

    The Education Policy Institute’s Annual Report into Education in England, authored by Hutchinson, Reader and Akhal (2020), makes a number of observations and assessments about the state of education in England. Most of these do, however, fall into the “interesting but dull” category so I thought I’d save you a lot of valuable time by reading the document on your behalf and picking-out what I think are probably the most useful bits for sociology teachers and students relating to the “disadvantage gap” (the difference in attainment between “disadvantaged pupils and their peers”)

    You can, of course, always read the Report (or the summary if you prefer) for yourself if you’re so inclined, but if you’re not, these are four of the more-interesting bits:

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    Routine Activities Flipbook

    Sunday, August 30th, 2020

    A few months ago (around 6 to be precise) I did a blog post suggesting how you might want to evaluate a Routine Activities approach to crime.

    Then I left well alone and went away – not literally because we were well into the Covid lockdown by then – and did a load of other stuff (making films, mostly – all available at very reasonable rates if you’re at all interested in using video in the classroom) before finally getting around to converting the blog text to a Pdf format and, more-interestingly I think, to html5 Flipbook format.

    Or, to be very precise, two types of Flipbook:

    The first is your bog-standard “Read the text, look at the pictures and flip the pages” version.

    The second is as above (text, pictures, flipping…) but with the added bonus of a bit of streaming video that you – or indeed your students – can view if you want. The short clip focuses on explaining Routine Activities in a visual way in case your students need a bit of a recap before considering a couple of ways to evaluate the approach.

    And if you like the Flipbook Format (let’s be honest, who doesn’t?) and can’t wait to get your mitts on more to satisfy your hunger (or something) there are loads more available on Research Methods, Sociological Theory, Crime and Deviance, Revision and Mass Media if you follow the link.