Archive for April, 2019

Visual Notes

Tuesday, April 30th, 2019
Families and Households

The Sociology Guy has been busy putting together what he calls “quick glance revision notes” for his web site (which, apropos of nothing, is well worth a visit because it contains lots of good stuff) – what might be described as visual notes or mini learning tables / knowledge organisers tied to a specific idea, topic or theme.

And if this sounds like I’m struggling to do them justice, it’s probably easier just to look at the accompanying pictures because they’ll give you a much better idea about what’s involved.

And this, in a roundabout way, is probably as it should be, given the claim that “Research suggests that notes that are vibrant, colourful and have pictures or illustrations are 40% more likely to be recalled by students”.

While I’m not sure what this research might be, the idea does have an initial face validity, in that the combination of text and relevant graphics should help students make evocative connections.

Anyway, be that as it may, the Notes look attractive and deliver just the right gobbets (that’s actually a word) of information for revision purposes across 6 current areas:

There’s a Lot more to Follow…

Psychology Films 1 | Experimental Methods

Tuesday, April 30th, 2019

We’ve been adding some new films to the redesigned web site, starting with a batch of four films covering experimental research design and methods.

Natural Experiments
Natural Experiments

The films have been designed as relatively short introductions to a specific method or concept and each provides an overview of its chosen topic, how it has been applied in a particular study or studies and an evaluation of its strengths / weaknesses / limitations.

Experimental Design
(7 minutes)
The film starts with a simple research question – What is the most effective time of day for students to learn new material? – as a way of providing practical illustrations of the strengths and possible limitations of repeated measures, independent measures and matched pairs experimental designs.
This is subsequently developed by using three classic experimental studies (the Stroop Effect, Loftus’ eyewitness testimony experiments and Bandura’s bobo doll experiments to show why a particular experimental design was used in each case.

Lab experiments
Laboratory Experiments

Laboratory Experiments
(7 minutes)
This short film uses a number of well-known psychological studies (Watson, Asch, Bandura, Harlow, Loftus…) to explain the experimental method and illustrate how laboratory experiments are done. This includes evaluating their strengths and limitations and how these limitations do not apply uniformly to all experimental studies.

Field Experiments
(5 minutes)
Three classic studies – Hofling’s study of nurse obedience, Fischer’s test of the cognitive interview and the Pilliavins’ research on good Samaritans – are used to illustrate what field experiments offer psychologists compared to other experimental methods. The film also looks at the difficulties involved with setting up field experiments and examines their strengths and limitations.

Natural Experiments
(6 minutes)
In natural experiments, circumstances present researchers with an opportunity to test the effect of one variable on another in ways that could not be done in a laboratory experiment. This film looks at natural experiments in psychology to illustrate how they work, their differences from other methods, and their strengths and limitations.

Website Update

Friday, April 26th, 2019

The main part of our website (i.e. the bits that aren’t this Blog) features all of the Sociology, Psychology and Crime films we currently sell (at Very Reasonable Prices I might gratuitously add).

You can, if you’re so inclined, watch previews of all of these films, plus a few freebies thrown-in for good measure.

As you’ll appreciate if you’ve cast even a passing glance in the direction of the film pages, the site was starting to need a bit of a revamp to make it load a lot faster.

Although there are many good technical reasons for the lack-of-speed situation one of the most fundamental was down to the design.

In basic terms, since everything was on a single page and the film previews that accompany each title had to be loaded onto that page it could take a very long time indeed for everything to come down the tube. Particularly, but not exclusively, the Psychology page which has grown over the years to around 50-plus films.

And that wasn’t good.

So, while I was at a loose-end (not really) I decided a quick redesign was in order.

What we’ve done, if you take a quick peek (after reading this – there might be some interesting information in the next few lines) is replace the previews with “images that evoke the film” (or pictures as they’re sometimes called in non-technical circles).

Now, if you want to watch a preview or, better-still, buy a DVD or On-Demand version of the film, all you need to do is Click-the-Pic (or the More Details button – I prefer the first option because it appeals to my inner poet) to go to a separate page where you can watch and buy to your heart’s content.

And it should, of course, do all of this a lot more quickly.

That’s the plan, anyway.

One Minute Strain Theory | The Animated Version

Sunday, April 21st, 2019
Let the train take the strain?

Painstakingly hand-drawn.

Each frame individually-coloured to bring out the full liquid motion of the film.

Many days of patient, mind-numbing, editing.

Much wailing, gnashing of teeth and teensy-weensy temper tantrums.

That’s the way we would have had to do it in the past.

Now, it’s just a question of applying a filter and, 20 minutes later, we have an animated version of One Minute Strain Theory that looks-and-feels like a relatively cheap cartoon, circa 1994.

If I was feeling generous, I’d say that was the look we were going for but, not being known for my magnimanity, it was more a question of fiddling with a few options and hoping for the best.

We can do better.

We strive for greatness.

But mainly we settle for “Yeah, that looks quite interesting”.


While animated versions are all-well-and-good, if you prefer to get your teeth into something a little more solid we’ve made the non-animated version of Strain Theory available.

We’re nice like that.

New Sociology Learning Tables

Saturday, April 20th, 2019

It’s been a while since I last posted any Sociology Learning Tables / Knowledge Organisers (Psychology teachers and students have been better-served in the interim, even though I’ve still got a load more that I need to get around to posting), partly because I haven’t really been looking for any and partly because I haven’t found any.

The two could be connected

Luckily – for you and me both – TheHecticTeacher has been busy creating a whole host of new learning tables for your download pleasure in three areas:


Sociology Flipbooks

Saturday, April 20th, 2019

A Flipbook is a way of displaying a pdf document online so that it has the look-and-feel of a paper-based magazine, one whose pages you can turn using a mouse (desktop) or finger (mobile).

A Flipbook.
Not Actual Size.
Unless you’re using a mobile.
Then it might be.

That’s it, really.

I could talk about stuff like whether this creates a greater sense of engagement among students than the bog-standard static pages of a pdf file, but since I’ve got no idea (and I don’t know of anyone who’s bothered to try to find out) that would just be me trying to find a deceptively- plausible way to encourage you to try them.

So, if this Big Build-Up has piqued your curiosity and / or whetted your appetite for Flipbooks you’ll be pleased to know I’ll be adding a variety of the little blighters to this page on what might be charitably termed an ad-hoc basis (translation: whenever I can be bothered or can find the time).


Mass Media 4 | Representations

Friday, April 19th, 2019
Click to download pdf file.

The fourth chapter in what’s turning into, for me at least, an interminable churn through reams of notes and dtp design follows Defining and Researching the Media, The Ownership and Control Debate and The Selection and Presentation of News by focusing on Media Representations.

More-specifically, this set of personally hand-crafted (“artisan!”) notes looks at representations in terms of:

1. Class, Age, Gender and Ethnicity: The first part of the chapter focuses on identifying a range of key illustrative examples of various forms of media representation.

2. Explanations: The second part of the chapter looks at how different sociological approaches (Marxism, Pluralism, Feminism and Postmodernism) have explained the meaning of different forms of media representation.

The original notes that form the bulk of the chapter were produced around 5 or so years ago, but I’ve updated them with more-recent stuff as and where I felt it necessary.

This chapter is also now available as an online flipbook.

Revision Tips and Techniques

Sunday, April 14th, 2019

As you may be aware, The Daily Telegraph isn’t my go-to source for Education (in either the tightest or loosest sense of the word), but I did happen upon this set of revision tips and techniques they published a few years back (roughly 5 or 6 years ago). Although they’re a bit of a mixed-bag, the articles are relatively brief and to-the-point, so it’s possible you might find something useful that could be applied in either the short or long term.

In no particular order of relevance, significance or usefulness, these are the articles:

Top 10 last-minute exam revision tips:
Exactly what it says in the title – and while there are no earth-shattering revelations here, just a load (well, 10, obviously) of simple tips to help you come to terms with last-minute revision, the advice seems solid enough.

5 top tips for managing revision time:
Again, does exactly what it says: 5 simple tips to help students manage their revision time to best effect.

Revision techniques: how to learn complex concepts:
Break big ideas down into their individual component parts. Simple.

Revision techniques: The secret to exam revision success:
A number of simple tips and techniques to help improve memory and recall through revision.

Example of a Spider Diagram

Spider diagrams: how and why they work:
Spider diagrams (or Mind Maps if you’re planning to construct something much grander that includes diagrams etc.) are an incredibly useful tool that aids recall and planning in an exam. This short article shows you how to create them. If you want some AS / A2 sociological examples, you can find a selection by following this link.

Revision techniques: how to build a memory palace:
This technique, as featured in Sherlock, is not really something you’re going to pick-up as a last-minute thing, but it is a hugely-effective tried-and-trusted memory technique that’s been around for a long time. In basic terms, you make connections between related ideas by constructing a narrative around them. It’s not difficult, but it does require time to master.

The real test of learning? Not forgetting:
If you’re looking for a short-term revision fix this may be a little late. However, in the longer-term it’s an algorithmic process that uses a variation of the “spaced revision” technique that will stand you in very good stead once you’ve mastered it.

Revision techniques: How to learn boring facts:
Spoiler Alert: create mnemonics. And if you don’t know what they are, this article will show you. While I’ve always sworn by them – for reasons much too dull to mention – they’re not everyone’s cup of tea. But, on the basis you shouldn’t knock something until you’ve tried it…

Revision: from GCSE to A-level it is all about the scheme:
In a nutshell. Plan your revision. And if you don’t know how, this article has some tips and techniques to help.

Try to rise to the exam challenge:
A few simple tips focused on how to approach and handle revision, exam preparation and the exam itself. Nothing too revelatory, but every little helps. And if you’re reading this when you should be revising, you may find you need every little bit of help you can get.

10 ways to survive the exam season:

Some Very Sensible (this is the Telegraph, remember) ways to manage pre-exam stress.

Without giving too much away, one of these is sleep.

It’s so important we even made a film about it.

5 Research-Backed Studying Techniques:
This short article isn’t from the Telegraph but I thought I’d tack it on the end anyway, because it contains some useful study techniques (well, 5) to help you “avoid ineffective studying habits in favour of ones that increase learning outcomes”.

And you can’t say fairer than that.

Sociology in Focus for A2: Theory Resources

Friday, April 12th, 2019
Revision Map

It’s been a while since I posted anything (busy is as busy does) and since I’ve just finished editing a new sociological methods film I thought I’d turn my hand to posting the final set of resources designed to enhance your experience and enjoyment of the free A2 textbook.

This set focuses squarely on sociological theory.

Admittedly, theory’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but personally I find it fascinating and not a little challenging.

The two are probably not unconnected.

Anyway, since trying to make the challenge a little-less daunting is my middle name (it’s not, obviously. That would just be ridiculous – akin to, say, a Mr and Mrs. Johnson naming their child “Alexander Boris de Pfeffel”. Less a name, some might say, than a drunken slip of the pen) these resources might help.

Overview Map: This is just a simple one-page guide to what has to be covered. As such, it could serve as a useful introduction to the topic (or “overview” as it’s technically known).

Revision Maps: These are more-substantial and detailed content overviews, focused around keywords / concepts in a spider diagram format. Aside from a basic “What is sociological theory?” map the main focus is on an historical overview of modern / postmodern theories: from the classic (Marx, Durkheim, Weber) to the more-esoteric (Lyotard, Baudrillard) by way of globalisation, structure and action. You probably get the drift.

Activity Answers: The Textbook has a whole host of activities that include lots-and-lots of lovely questions to keep your students amused for hours. Marking their answers might not be quite so amusing, so I’ve included example answers to every question. That way you can get your students to mark their own work. Tell them it’s good for their soul. Or whatever.

Worksheets: If, for some reason, you run out of questions and yet still need a little more “me time” hit them with these worksheets (not literally. It’s probably a sad indictment of Our Times that I have to include this disclaimer, but there you go). Some are individual questions, some involve small group work and yet others can be used for whole-class teaching / discussion (probably the ones to be using should some passing member of SMT be nosing around).

Mass Media 3 | The Selection and Presentation of News

Monday, April 1st, 2019
News Values
News Values

Following hot on the heels of Defining and Researching the Media and The Ownership and Control Debate comes a new set of notes looking at The Selection and Presentation of News.

When I say “new”, the bulk of the text was actually written around 5 years ago but I’ve updated it slightly to take account of newer research on areas like:

  • News Values – more specifically, Harcup and O’Neill’s (2017) recent re-evaluation of their 2001 study that looked not just at possible changes to old media  news values but also news values related to new media – Facebook in particular.
  • Gatekeeping and the impact of computer algorithms on new media sites such as Facebook and YouTube
  • Neo-Marxism – a few statistical updates relating to concept of hegemony and levels of trust in old and new media.
  • New Right: I’ve expanded this section slightly to include new examples of anti-competitive behaviour in new media and I’ve added a short section on the Cairncross Review (2019) in the context of State attempts to regulate old and media to encourage competition and innovation.
  • Postmodernism: This section has seen a fewer minor changes to clarify things like Goffman’s ideas about Frontstage / Backstage applied to new media and how Baudrillard’s concepts of simulacra and hyperreality relate to news selection and presentation.
  • It’s quite a large file (18 or so pages) and, in places, a little complicated (particularly the postmodernism section). If you use this with your a-level students you may need to check that it’s an appropriate level.


    Happy Days!

    This chapter is also now available as an online flipbook.