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Introduction to Research Methods

Monday, June 18th, 2018

Pages from the University of Portsmouth suitable for a-level sociology students. The resources mainly cover research methods (questionnaires, interviews, observation…) and a little bit of methodology…

Over the past few months you may, or more-probably may not, have noticed that I’ve posted a range of crime and deviance resources on theories of crime, policing and so forth from the University of Portsmouth.

Despite the well-documented problems encountered in tracking-down and assembling these resources, I decided to have a look around to see if there were any further resources available on other topics suitable for a-level students. As luck – or what I prefer to call good solid detective work – would have it, there were. On the flipside, however, is the fact they relate to most people’s least favourite module, Research Methods (or as the Unit is self-described, an Introduction to Research Skills).

As with the majority of the resources across different topics, they’re a bit hit-and-miss when it comes to content and presentation: some pages and modules seem to have had a lot of care and attention lavished on them, while others are just a page or so of plain text. Whether this reflects a deliberate policy or the fact that money and / or enthusiasm for the project ran out I’ve no idea. The resources are, however, generally pitched at a level suitable for a-level students and could be used in a variety of ways (such as flipped learning) to help students get to grips with research methods. (more…)

Sociology Revision Booklets: 2. Theory and Methods

Tuesday, March 6th, 2018

The second batch of a-level revision booklets covers that ever-popular topic, theory and methods.

As with previous offerings, both design and content can, at times, be a little variable and for this I take no responsibility whatsoever. Because I neither designed nor wrote any of the content. I am technically distributing it for your revision pleasure, however, so I do feel a modicum of responsibility for the materials.

Not enough, obviously, to indemnify you in any way, shape or form for any losses you may occur through using any of these resources. But enough to advise you it’s something of the nature of the beast that there’s frequently a trade-off between getting your hands on free resources and the currency of those resources. You need, in other words, to go through the resources you decide to use to check they conform to your current Specification: things, as they are wont to do, sometimes change. You also need to make sure you find ways of covering newer material that may not be included in these revision booklets.

That said, I’ve picked out some resources I think you might find useful and, where known, I’ve credited the appropriate source. Some might say this is so you know who to complain to if there’s anything you don’t like or understand but I would respond that it does you no credit to think that I might think like that. Or something.

Anyway, without further ado, you can if you so choose pick-up these free resources:

(more…)

Knowledge Organisers: Media and Methods and Education

Tuesday, February 20th, 2018

Back by popular demand and with a brand-spanking new set of Tables covering media, methods and education. Each Unit is by a different author and the quality is, at times, variable.

Media

These are pdf files so unless you’ve got a programme that will edit them you’re stuck with the information they have to offer. That said, they’re fairly recent (2015) and so are probably reasonably up-to-date and in line with the latest Specifications. There is, unfortunately, no indication of authorship…

Ownership of the mass media
New media, globalisation and popular culture
Selection and presentation of news and moral panics
Mass media and audiences
Representations of the body
Representations of ethnicity age and class

Methods

These are a little older (2009) and again authorship is a little hazy. On the plus side they’re in Word format so they can be easily edited if necessary.

Experiments and Questionnaires
Interviews
Observation and Secondary Sources

Previous Tables you might find useful:

Table 1.

Table 2.

Table 3.

Education

Again, not sure who created these or indeed when they were created. However, they are in Word format if you want to edit them.

Functionalism and Marxism
Feminism, New Right, Interactionism
Cultural and Material Factors

Previous Tables you might find useful:

Table 1.

Table 2.

 

More Learning Tables: AS Research Methods

Saturday, December 16th, 2017

Today’s Table offering is everyone’s favourite revision topic (research methods in case you actually need to ask) and all of the Tables were written / assembled by Miss K Elles, except for those that weren’t.

The Tables cover the major research methods plus a little bit of research methodology (positivism and interpretivism plus stuff on choice of method, value-freedom, objectivity and subjectivity) and mainly focus on knowledge with little bits of application and evaluation thrown-in.

If I had guess – which I do because I don’t know for sure – I’d say these were early-version Tables where the more-complex structure of later Tables hadn’t been established.

Alternatively they may just have been knocked-out quickly to fulfil some necessary teaching and learning void.

Either way, you and your students may find the following Tables useful:

Secondary Sources
Experiments
Surveys
Sampling
Observations
Positivism and Interpretivism 1 (Georgia Banton)
Positivism and Interpretivism 2 (Georgia Banton)
Factors influencing choice of method (Isaac Carter-Bown)
Value-Freedom (S Dale)

Methods, Mobiles and Media

Monday, June 19th, 2017

Research Methods can be a little abstract and dry (teacher-speak for dull), particularly when opportunities to experience and apply what’s being taught are limited by things like time and a lack of easy access to suitable research subjects.

This is where Steven Thomas’ “Patterns of Mobile Phone Use” article might help. The research example it suggests takes advantage of a ubiquitous resource – student ownership of mobile phones – to promote a relatively simple and straightforward way of applying and evaluating a range of methods, from questionnaires to participant observation.

It does this by suggesting students (loosely) replicate Maenpaa’s (2001) examination of the impact of mobile phones on social interaction through a combination of quantitative and qualitative methods designed to monitor mobile phone use in a small case study scenario. The article suggests a set of general areas to study – from the simple quantitative, like the length of time people spend on their phones each day, to more qualitative questions relating to how people behave when using their mobiles.

Media: Context / Background

Although the article is mainly designed to help students get to grips with research methods, if you’re teaching media there is an additional aspect to the research you might find interesting: evaluating the social impact of new media.

The concept of “New Media” appears somewhere on all Sociology a-level Specifications, frequently in conjunction with an instruction to examine its role / impact / significance in contemporary societies, both local and global:

AQA: New media and their significance for an understanding of the role of the media in contemporary Society

OCR: The impact of digital forms of communication in a global context

WJEC: New media and globalisation

CIE: The impact of the ‘new media’ on society.

In Thomas’ article the student research is based around a contrast between Negreponte’s slightly gung-ho and highly-individualistic “digital optimism” and Maenpaa’s more-nuanced approach to communication and interaction.

One interesting aspect of Negreponte’s work is the claim that in a digital society of “email, fax and answering machines” (the fact he only said this in 1995 shows how rapidly the technology has changed) the world will become asynchronous. That is, in order to participate or communicate people do not need to be interacting at the same time. As he predicted (Wired, 1998):

“We’ll all live very asynchronous lives, in far less lockstep obedience to each other. Any store that is not open 24 hours will be noncompetitive. The idea that we collectively rush off to watch a television program at 9:00 p.m. will be nothing less than goofy. The true luxury in life is to not set an alarm clock and to stay in pajamas as long as you like. From this follows a complete renaissance of rural living. In the distant future, the need for cities will disappear”.

One way in which new media has become increasingly ubiquitous is through the exponential growth of mobile / cell phone ownership and you would think that if any technological development has created or expanded asynchronous interaction it would be this one: technology that even a few years ago could be used to symbolise wealth and social status is now pretty-much everywhere.

While Negreponte’s arguments have a ring of truth about them – a certain face validity as it were – others have not been so sure. Maenpaa’s (2001) examination of the impact of mobile phones on interaction is a case (study) in point, with his key findings summarised by Thomas.

Methods

If you just want to use the activity as a way of teaching research methods, researching mobile use could be used to devise and apply methods such as:

  • Questionnaires / Structured interviews
  • Unstructured interviews
  • Observation – non-participant
  • Participant – overt and covert

  • Equally you could use a combination of quantitative / qualitative methods if you wanted to illustrate concepts of triangulation.

    If you don’t have the time, opportunity or inclination to do this as a practical exercise, try doing a thought experiment where students have to imagine what it would be like to do the research. This particular route can be instructive if students already have a good grounding in different methods, their strengths, weaknesses, uses and limitations and you want to explore a range of more-theoretical issues (different research methodologies, different aspects of triangulation and so forth).

    NotAFactsheet: Miscellaneous Methods

    Friday, May 5th, 2017

    Another small batch of NotAFactsheets covering a miscellaneous melange of methods-related stuff – some essential, some less so (but probably nice to know, just in case you want to impress the examiner with your wide-ranging and perceptive grasp of all things methodological. Or maybe not).

    M9. Quantitative and Qualitative Data

    M10. Strong and Weak Feminist thesis

    M11. Types of Triangulation

    M13. Objectivity, Subjectivity, Value-Freedom

    Methods in Context: Overt Participant Observation

    Sunday, April 23rd, 2017

    For some reason I thought I’d already blogged this document, but it seems I’d put it on the Sociology Central web site but not here.

    To rectify the omission, therefore, this document uses Sudhir Venkatesh’s “Gang Leader For a Day” study as the basis for an outline and evaluation – the advantages and disadvantages – of the following key methodological concepts in overt participant observation:

    Access.
    Recording Data.
    Validity.
    Depth and Detail.
    Going Native.
    Observer Effect.

     

    NotAFactsheet: Interpretivist Methods

    Thursday, April 20th, 2017

    Continuing the Research Methods theme of recent posts, these NotAFactsheets focus on a range of methods associated with Interpretivist research:

    M4a. Research Methods: this outlines different types of interview: semi-structured, unstructured and focus groups.

    M4b. Research Methods: observational methods are one of the staples of Interpretivist research and this outlines non-participant observation, covert and overt participant observation.

    M4c. Research Methods: while experimental methods are not conventionally associated with Interpretivism there have been a number of very interesting and influential field and natural experiments carried-out over the years. This NotAFactsheet outlines these and also provides an outline of documentary sources (with a bit of content analysis thrown-in for good measure).

     

    Crime, Deviance and Methods: Self-report Questionnaire

    Thursday, January 5th, 2017

    Opportunities for students to link crime, deviance and research methods in a practical way are often limited by the constraints of time and space – but one simple approach that can be used effectively in the classroom is a self-report crime questionnaire. Although there are a few of these kicking around (from Ann Campbell’s onward…) this is a relatively recent one I’ve put together based on questions contained in the UK Crime and Justice Survey.

    It can be downloaded as a Word document so that you can amend it easily (you may not want to include all the 40+ questions and you may want to substitute some of your own…). 

    The document suggests some possible classroom uses for the questionnaire – from data and methodological analysis if you’re leaning toward research methods to using the data to think critically about official crime statistics based on categories like age and gender.

    Non-Experimental Methods in Psychological Research

    Friday, December 9th, 2016

    The second in a trilogy of related psychology research methods films (the first looks at Experimental Research Methods and the third goes “Behind the Statistics” to examine how these are socially constructed), Non-Experimental Methods is a three-part film that illustrates different dimensions of non-experimental research – Naturalistic Observation; Self-Report methods and Case Studies – using a judicious mix of classic and contemporary studies (Rosenhan, Hartup, LaFrance and Mayo, Phineas Gage, Genie Wiley…). Each self-contained film looks at how the method can be defined, as well as assessing their respect strengths and limitations.

    Non-Experimental Methods can be used in a number of ways inside and outside the classroom to promote student engagement with and understanding of how real psychologists use these methods to inform their work.

    Non-Experimental Methods is available on-demand: 48-hour rental or to Buy

    Experimental Methods in Psychological Research

    Thursday, December 8th, 2016

    The first in a trilogy of related psychology research methods films (the second looks at Non-Experimental Research Methods and the third goes “Behind the Statistics” to examine how these are socially constructed), Experimental Methods is a three-part film that illustrates different dimensions of experimental research – Laboratory, Field and Natural experiments – using a mix of classic and contemporary studies (Bandura, Hofling, Piliavin, McGuire, Loftus, etc.). Each self-contained film looks at how the method can be defined, as well as assessing their respect strengths and limitations.

    Experimental Methods can be used in a range of ways – both inside and outside the classroom – to promote student engagement with and understanding of how real psychologists use these methods to inform their work.

    Experimental Methods is available on-demand: 48-hour rental | Buy

     

    A2 Psychology: Research Methods Free Chapter

    Friday, November 4th, 2016

    holt-and-lewisOne of the simple pleasures of Wandering the Web™ for a living, made all the more enjoyable by that intangible sense of the unexpected (I know, I live my life through contradictions), is coming across Stuff That Is Free.

    My not-so-little face lights up at the mere thought of finding Something For Nothing, even though that “Something” invariably ends up stored somewhere on a half-forgotten hard drive, waiting for that magic moment when “it might be useful to someone, sometime”.

    This behaviour, which I’m calling “Simple Squirrelling Syndrome” – because I can – has a yet deeper dimension (I’m toying with the idea of “Simple Squirrelling Syndrome Squared”, but it may need some work). Some years after the initial find-and-save I get to spend further pleasurable hours sifting through multiple hard drives “looking for that study I know I saved somewhere, under a name that made perfect sense at the time but which is now largely meaningless”, during which I rediscover all kinds of things I’d forgotten I had. My pleasure is quite obviously redoubled. Probably. I’m not altogether certain I’ve quite mastered mathematical analogies.

    Anyway, be that as it may, the actual point of this rambling preambling is that I came across this sample chapter on Research Methods from Holt and Lewis’ “A2 Psychology: The Student’s Textbook” and thought of you.

    On the downside it looks like a chapter from the 2009 edition, but on the upside you have to ask yourself when was the last time a textbook said anything startlingly-new about the Hypothetico-Deductive Model? Or “the Research Process”? Sampling? Probability and significance? My case rests.

    The chapter also has a very pretty, colourful, layout, which in my book counts for quite a lot.

    Media Methods

    Monday, May 9th, 2016

    8lqm5uyGOne of the obvious ways to study the media is through Content Analysis and a classic – if now somewhat dated – application of the method was the Glasgow Media Group’s pioneering research, evidenced through a series of books – Bad News (1976), More Bad News (1980), Really Bad News (1982) – that examined “the ‘common sense’ acceptance of the neutrality of television news” and concluded: “Contrary to the claims, conventions and culture of television journalism, the news is not a neutral product. For television news is a cultural artefact; it is a sequence of socially manufactured messages, which carry many of the culturally dominant assumptions of our society”. (more…)

    Teaching A-level Research Methods: Part 3

    Monday, April 25th, 2016
    1. Talk the Walk

    At this point students need to get to grips with learning the basics of research methods. How you organise this is up to you, but one way is to get students to take ownership of their learning:

    If there are sufficient students, split the class into groups and give each group responsibility for one research method. Give the group a broad outline of how they should proceed in terms of:walk_template

    • Brief overview of the method

    • Primary / secondary data

    • Quantitative / qualitative source / data

    • Strengths

    • Limitations

    One way to do this is to use an evaluation template (this is for Focused (Semi-structured) Interviews – if you want a blank template download it here).

    (more…)

    Teaching A-level Research Methods: Part 2

    Monday, April 25th, 2016

    Virtual Research in a Real Location

    The idea here is that we use students’ knowledge of a real location as the basis for virtual research: while the scenario is real – a location such as a high street, shopping mall, school or college – students aren’t required to carry-out any real (time-consuming) research. Rather, they use their knowledge and experience of a real-world location to inform their understanding of research methods.

    1. Walk the Talk

    How to prepare the ground for the Border Walking and subsequent teaching is something for individual teachers, but a couple of things can be usefully observed.

    (more…)

    Teaching A-level Research Methods: Part 1

    Friday, April 22nd, 2016

    A few years ago I was asked to deliver a Conference on “Sociology and the Internet” to teachers interested in learning more about what was available on the Web and how to incorporate this material into their teaching. The “one proviso” stipulated by the commissioning company was that “there would not be any access to computers on the day”. I thought long and hard about this for all of 5 seconds before politely declining (even though the money was good, even I’m not that masochistic).

    “So what?” I hear you think (and yes, I really am that perceptive. And also in desperate need of a link between the first paragraph and the next).

    Well, since you ask, I was listening-in on a Twitter chat the other day about the difficulties involved in teaching research methods and I was reminded of the invitation to teach a bunch of people about all the brilliant resources available on the Web without giving them the ability to actually do any research for themselves.

    (more…)

    Methods in Context: Crime in England and Wales

    Wednesday, April 20th, 2016

    Keeping abreast of the various statistical sources and data on crime can be both time-consuming and somewhat confusing for teachers and students – both in terms of the volume of data and the reliability and validity of different data sources.

    For these reasons the Office for National Statistics statistical bulletin is a brilliant resource for a-level sociologists in terms of both crime statistics and the research methodologies underpinning their production (so it’s good for information covering both Crime and Deviance and Crime and Methods in Context).

    (more…)

    Methods in Context: Crime and Official Statistics

    Tuesday, March 15th, 2016

    blog_policeWhile the validity of Official Crime Statistics has long been questioned, their reliability has tended to be assumed.

    Recent pronouncements by the ONS, however, suggest students should look at the reliability of crime statistics more critically…

    Methods in Context: Crime

    Tuesday, March 15th, 2016

    When looking at statistical relationships, a useful student exercise to demonstrate how social factors underpin the production of crime data is to examine their underlying causes.

    This piece of research, from The Adolescent and Children’s Trust (Tact) and University of East Anglia, can be used to effectively illustrate this idea. It also has further interesting applications when looking at areas like the relationship between age and crime.

    blog_care

    Experimental Research Methods DVD

    Tuesday, July 14th, 2015

    Our latest Psychology DVD brings together 4 short films designed to clarify and consolidate the meaning of experimental methods by looking at the different ways psychologists carry out and design experiments and evaluate their comparative strengths and limitations. Illustrative case studies are used throughout for application and advice is given on key points of revision and exam technique.

    1. Laboratory Experiments (5 minutes 45 seconds). In the context of three major studies (Bandura, Maguire, the Stroop Effect) the film covers key:
    • definitions (aim, method and environment)
    • concepts (such as dependent and independent variables)
    • evaluations (identifying their strengths and weaknesses)
    1. Field Experiments (7 minutes 5 seconds). Uses a range of classic studies to take you through the key ideas and skills required to produce an excellent exam answer in terms of:
    • knowledge: the experimental method, field and natural experiments
    • applications: Hofling, Piliavin, Fisher and Geiselman
    • evaluation: the uses and limitations of field experiments
    1. Natural Experiments (7 minutes 10 seconds). Uses Costello et al’s Great Smokey Mountains study (Relationships Between Poverty and Psychopathology) as the basis for:
    • illustrating the unique features of natural experiments
    • showing how natural experiments differ from other types of experiment
    • identifying the strengths and weaknesses of this research method
    1. Experimental Design (8 minutes 45 seconds). Uses a real world example (the relationship between learning and time of day) to explore 3 different types of experimental design:
    • Repeated Measures
    • Independent Measures
    • Matched Pairs

    The film explores their respective strengths and weaknesses as each design is applied to the learning example.

    Length: 29 minutes | Price: £17.50 | Order online / offline

    Methods and Methodology

    Thursday, October 9th, 2014

    Jurgenson’s essay “On the cultural ideology of Big Data” will probably need some decoding for A-level students but it’s a worthwhile thing to do because it will:

    1. Give students a contemporary insight to (neo)positivist tendencies in data science.
    2. Provide some contemporary examples of positivism in the shape of “Big Data”.
    3. Introduce students to the concept of large data sets and the analysis of network relationships facilitated by new technologies.

    Research Methods: Experiments

    Tuesday, June 3rd, 2014

    If you’re looking for contemporary examples of experiments with sociological applications, this recent study might be useful at both AS (Culture and Identity) and A2 (Differentiation) levels.

    blog_phone

    Even More Online Crime Modules

    Thursday, June 21st, 2018

    These online Crime and Deviance learning modules cover situational crime prevention, white-collar crime and hate crime.

    After a brief detour down the side road that is Research Methods we’re back on the main Crime and Deviance highway with a serendipitous (i.e. totally unrelated but I needed to make this post a bit longer so I could fit some screenshots into it) set of modules developed by the University of Portsmouth, presumably to allow their students to enjoy the freedom to not bother attending lectures that is online learning (only joking. I’m pretty sure Portsmouth students are as diligent and industrious as the students from any other Palace of Learning you might care to name).

    The three modules are as follows:

    1. Situational Crime Prevention
    • Prevention Strategies
    • Situational Crime prevention theory
    • Target hardening and removal
    • Removing inducements
    • Rule setting
    • Surveillance (formal and informal)
    • Criticism of Situational Crime Prevention

    If you fancy delving a little deeper into this general area, the Situational Crime Prevention materials I’ve previously posted might help.

    2. Fraud
    • Fraud and Criminology
    • White Collar Crime

    3. Hate Crime
    • Definitions
    • Hate Crime Laws
    • The case for and against Hate Crime laws

    The By-Now Obligatory Tech Note: Depending on the age and type of your browser, you may find there are a few display issues with the resources. These issues, however, have a couple of work-arounds that should allow you to see the resources:

    1. If the main information window doesn’t load correctly you may see a blank window with a menu to the left. If this happens try refreshing your browser and the main window should load correctly. Alternatively, click the on-screen arrow to close the menu, click it again to open it and select an option. This seems to refresh the main window correctly.

    2. If you see an “access denied” message in the main information window click the module title link to the right of the page navigation menu (First, Previous, Next, Last…). This takes you to a page where you have the option to “View This Resource”. Clicking this link should make everything work okay.

    Youth Subcultures: The Changing Face of Gangs

    Thursday, June 7th, 2018

    Unlike in the USA, where the study of “gangs” and “gang culture” – from “Street Corner Society” to “Gang Leader for A Day” – is firmly embedded in the sociological mainstream, the empirical study of UK gangs is fairly limited.

    This makes it all the more interesting that, over the past 10 years, Waltham Forest Council in London has been responsible for commissioning two major Reports into gang behaviour in the Borough (and beyond) that give a valuable insight into the sociological background to both gang origins (including definitions and typologies) and development: the claim gangs are moving away from relatively simple “status models” that focus on the idea of “surrogate families” to a more-complex economic model that sees gangs as part of an illegal network economy that both shadows and, at some points intersects with, legal economic behaviour.

    If you have the time the two Reports are worth reading for the different insights they give into gangs and gang behaviour:

    The first, John Pitts’ “Reluctant Gangsters: Youth Gangs in Waltham Forest (2007), has a lot of useful information on areas like:

    • Defining Gangs
    • Explaining how and why gangs emerge
    • Youth Gangs and the Drugs Market
    • Gang Members, Culture and Violence
    • The Social Impact of Gangs

    Throughout the Report Pitts’ references a wide range of sociological studies that will be familiar to students studying crime and deviance, something that should help them make connections between wider sociological theories of deviance and the specific development of gang-based youth subcultures.

    The second – Whittaker et. al’s “From Postcodes to Profit: How gangs have changed in Waltham Forest” (2018) – is equally worth a read because although it covers a lot of similar ground to Pitt’s initial work, its focus is less on the sociological origins of gangs and more on locating them in the social and economic structure of the area, in this case Waltham Forest, in which they arise and are embedded.

    Although Whittaker et al necessarily look at ideas about gang structures and membership, from definitions, through typologies to an important and interesting section on a relatively-neglected area, the role of girls in gangs, this material is largely a scene-setter for a wider debate about the evolution of gangs in this area of London. More-specifically, the author’s central argument is one that sees contemporary gangs, at least in London, developing into what are primarily economic entities: the section on “Gangs, technology and social media”, which looks at things like “brand development and promotion” is particularly interesting and demonstrates how various forms of new technology – from mobile hardware to platform software – have been rapidly adopted and integrated into gang cultures and structures. An interesting measure of this rapid integration is that Pitts’ said nothing about the gang use of social media a little over 10 years ago.

    While both Reports contain a lot of useful information relating to both wider areas like Crime and Deviance and more-specific areas like Youth Subcultures (and, as an added bonus, are both written in language that’s very accessible to A-level students), if you don’t have the time or inclination to read them, the recent publication of “From Postcodes to Profits” has spawned some useful media coverage that captures some of the major ideas contained within the Report. In this respect, it’s worth looking at:

    1. Waltham Forest Council publishes ground breaking report that shows how gangs are more money than territory orientated compared to a decade ago.

    2. London gangs driven by desire to profit from drug trade.

    3. Gangs: More violent, ruthless and organised than ever.

    Introduction to Psychology: The Noba Collection

    Tuesday, May 15th, 2018

    The simplest way to describe The Noba Project is that it’s a collection of free Introductory Psychology (Psychology 101) modules designed to fulfil, in the words of its creators, three main aims:

    1. To reduce the financial burden on students by providing access to free educational content.
    2. To provide instructors with a platform to customize educational content to better suit their curriculum.
    3. To present free, high-quality material written by a collection of experts and authorities in the field of psychology.

    Each module is designed as a series of standalone texts covering a particular area of psychology (Science, Development, Personality and so forth), each containing a number of different chapters. Psychology as Science, for example, covers, among many other things:

    • Why Science?
    • Conducting Psychology in the Real World.
    • Research Design.
    • Statistical Thinking.

    Taken together, however, the modules are designed to replicate a complete Introductory Psychology course textbook, albeit one aimed at American undergraduates (Psychology 101). The level of these courses, however, is not dissimilar to the level found in A-level Psychology (particularly at A2).

    Customisation

    Aside from being both free and freely-available online, however, one really interesting feature of the site is that teachers are encouraged to take and customise the chapters in any way they want. This has obvious advantages for A-level teachers who may want to customise the basic text to meet the requirements of their own particular Specification and students. In this respect teachers may:

    • Copy the text
    • Paste it into Word or a favourite Desktop Publisher
    • Remove unneeded text.
    • Add their own text, pictures, illustrations.
    • Distribute personalised chapters to their students…

    This customisation aspect could prove a real boon to teachers who like to produce their own resources tailored to the requirements of their own teaching methods and students. While the Noba text serves as a time-saving basic template, all kinds of other information can be added to personalise the look, feel and content.

    Print Versions

    If you don’t have the time or inclination to do this – or you like your students to have a physical textbook in their sweaty little hands – there’s an option to buy printed versions of the chapters or, indeed, the complete textbook. While this can get a little expensive – particularly if you’re ordering copies from outside the USA – one interesting feature is that you can customise the printed textbook by only including the chapters you teach and excluding those you don’t.

    Overall, however, you decide to use the chapters available this is a potentially useful resource, either as a customised textbook or as a supplementary resource for your main psychology textbook.

    Sociology and You. Too

    Friday, May 4th, 2018

    A later (circa 2008) version of this American High School textbook that has a clean, attractive, design and some interesting content. Might well be worth considering as supplementary material to your existing resources, particularly because it is free…

    I’ve previously posted an earlier version of this American High School textbook that seems to have gone through a number of different editions, the latest of which may have been around 2014 before being “retired” (as they say in Contract Killer circles and also, apparently, American Publishing).

    This version dates from around 2008 and uses the same chapter categories as its predecessor. There are however design changes, although these are fairly cosmetic (a new picture here, a different typeface there) and, more importantly, changes to the text that brings it a little more up-to-date. Given it was originally published around 10 years ago, it’s never going to completely replace your current textbook / resources. Where it covers all the “standard stuff” (research methods, classic studies and theories…) this isn’t really a problem and I’d consider using it to supplement existing resources. There are, for example, opportunities for discussion, self-assessment and the like sprinkled liberally through the book.

    One thing you’ll probably note is that, by-and-large, there isn’t a great deal of depth or breadth to the coverage of different topics. This is partly a consequence of the design – the liberal use of pictures, graphics and tables allied to the “Creative Use of White Space” ethos leaves a lot less space for text – and partly, I assume, the level at which it’s aimed. On the other hand, some ideas / topics are dealt with in rather more depth than you might expect. A section on Ritzer and McDonaldisation in one of the Focus on Research sections, for example, goes into some depth and detail about the concept and it’s application to developments in Higher Education – something you’re not likely to see in the majority of UK textbooks.

    The sections I’ve read (admittedly not that many – I’m a Very Busy Person and I have “people” do that sort of thing for me) strike me as both interesting and very readable. Although most of the examples and illustrations have, understandably given the target audience, an American focus this might be turned to your advantage at times by providing students with a comparative edge to their studies. Alternatively just ignore them or replace them with UK alternatives… (more…)

    Sociology and You: A Free Textbook

    Monday, April 30th, 2018

    This American High School textbook just scrapes into the “published in the 21st century” criterion I set myself for finding free, out-of-print sociology texts, but I’ve included it because although it’s obviously a little dated – at least in terms of content if not necessarily design – Sociology and You (2001) was probably one of the first to push at the boundaries of textbook design for “Grades 9 – 12”. This, by my calculations, means 15-18 year olds and if you’re wondering, as we probably all are, how this fits into the UK grading system I’d say the text equates to “high GCSE” / AS-level. But this is only a rough guess – there are bits that could fit into A2 – so if you want to use it with your students it’s probably a case of suck-it-and-see before you let them have copies.

    The book itself exhibits most of the features we now take for granted in contemporary textbooks: short bursts of text, lots of big colourful pictures, key terms identified and defined, tables, boxouts, short readings, simple assessments and white space.

    Lots and lots of white space.

    In other words, anyone familiar with UK A-level texts over the past few years will see this as very familiar territory.

    Except, of course, most of the examples and illustrations are drawn from North America. Which is okay if you’re North American (or are really into comparative sociology / North Americana) but not quite so brilliant if you live and study elsewhere.

    Keeping this in mind, if you decide to have a look at the text I’ve made it available it as either a complete textbook or by chapter. I’ve provided the latter option because there are some chapters, such as those on “Sport” or “Political and Economic Institutions”, you may not need or want: put bluntly, you’re probably not going to teach stuff that’s not on the A-level Spec.

    You can also use the chapter option to see if or how the text might fit with your teaching because, as I’ve noted, judging the level is a little problematic given differences in both the US and UK grade system and the skill levels each requires of its students at different ages.

    (more…)

    More Free Sociology Texts

    Saturday, April 28th, 2018

    This post continues the Great Sociology Textbook Giveaway by stretching the definition of “textbook” to breaking-point with a dictionary, encyclopaedia and, in an SCTV first, an actual text published by a real UK publisher.

    Following hard on the heals of the first set of textbooks comes another batch of free Sociology texts I’d like you to think I discovered by digging diligently through the detritus of an untold number of obscure web sites, but actually found by Just Googling Stuff.

    This time, while there are some textbooks on offer, notably one from the UK, the net has been widened a bit to include a dictionary, encyclopaedia and a couple of texts devoted to family life and religion.

    Texts

    1. Sociology: 6th edition (2009): This is a slightly-ageing edition of Giddens’ long-running text, currently in its 8th edition (the latter has a website, if you’re interested, that could best be described as “satisfyingly-retro” in both design and content if you were being…errm…charitable). Despite it’s relative age, it’s still as text packed with all kinds of useful information. Some of it may, however, be a step too far for some a-level students, particularly at AS level, so discretion is required over how you use the text. In terms of current Specification coverage most of the usual suspects (Family, Education, Crime, Media…) are included, but so too are areas (such as Nations, War and Terrorism) that decidedly don’t need to be studied.

    If you don’t fancy the pdf version there’s also an online flipbook version which is quite fun in a flipbook kind of way.
    (more…)

    Culture and Identity: The Erasmus+ Project

    Monday, April 16th, 2018

    Although I’m not exactly sure what the Erasmus Project was – it seems to have come to an end in 2017 – but from what I can make out from its web site it appears to have been a collaborative project between non-profit organisations in England, Poland and Slovakia designed to create and distribute resources to young people to promote multiculturalism.

    These resources consist of six “scenarios” or Study Packs containing suggestions for a range of mini-lectures, activities – from how to create a Mind Map or Infographic to methods for activating student discussions – and simple games.

    The materials are based around a series of lesson plans designed to explore different areas and aspects of “multiculturalism” and while a-level sociology teachers probably won’t want to follow the plans precisely, there are bit and pieces that could be usefully extracted and integrated into lessons related to culture and identity.

    While nothing in the resources is going to radically change the way you teach, they might give you a few ideas to contemplate.

    Or indeed pinch.

    I’m going for the latter.

    Probably.

    1. Multiculturalism: What is it?

    2. Culture vs cultural identity

    3. Equality vs Diversity

    4. Human Rights

    5. From conflict to consensus

    6. Multicultural labour market

    The Sociological Detectives: Hiding in Plain Sight

    Friday, April 6th, 2018

    In this third outing in the Research Methods series, the Sociological Detectives investigate Overt Participant Observation through a simple piece of hands-on research.

    This PowerPoint Presentation – the 3rd in the Research Methods series (the others being The Research Process and Non-Participant Observation) – combines a hands-on approach to doing Overt Participant Observation with a classroom-based evaluation of the method.

    Students take-on the role of Sociological Detectives which, in this instance, means they are set “a Task” to complete (it’s probably no great secret that this involves doing a simple bit of Overt Participant Observation) outside of class time.

    Students can then use their (brief) experience of using the method to inform the evaluation work they then do inside the classroom.

    While actually doing the Observation is not essential (the Task Options document that outlines some suggestions for how the Observation might be carried-out includes a simple Thought Experiment option for classrooms where, for whatever reason, students can’t physically carry-out this type of observational research) it does, I think, represent a useful teaching and learning device.

    It is, in this respect, a relatively simple – and hopefully interesting – way for students to bring their personal experiences to bear on the more-theoretical aspects of sociological research. (more…)

    The Sociological Detectives: BOLO

    Monday, April 2nd, 2018

    In this research methods simulation students take on the role of Sociological Detectives to investigate formal and informal norms using non-participant observation.

    In the second simulation in the Research Methods series – the first, Trial and Error,  introduced the Research Process – students again take-on the role of Sociological Detectives. This time, however, they are investigating and evaluating a specific research method, Non-Participant Observation and the simulation offers two ways to do this

    1. Field research involves students actually carrying-out a short – typically 30-minute – observational study of their choice (although they are encouraged to check its appropriateness and safety with you). Once you have accepted their choice this is something they should be able to complete outside the classroom, in their own time. The remaining part of the sim – evaluating non-participant observation as a research method – can then be completed in class time when you’re available to provide help and assistance if necessary.

    Alternatively, you can run the sim as a whole-class exercise by looking at the respective strengths and weaknesses of non-participant observation as a class, with individual students able to illustrate key ideas with examples drawn from the observation they’ve done.

    (more…)

    Sociology Revision Booklets: 4. Crime and Deviance

    Thursday, March 22nd, 2018

    As you might expect, given its status as one of the most-popular a-level sociology options, when it comes to revision resources for crime and deviance both teachers and students are rather spoilt for choice.

    I’ve decided, therefore, to split this post into two parts (probably – there may be more): the first (this one) has a range of Word / Pdf resources aimed at students, while the second focuses on PowerPoint resources teachers are more-likely to find useful for delivering revision lessons.

    As ever, if you decide to use these resources you need to check:

    • the Specification: is it the one you’re following?
    • the date: has the Spec. you’re using been updated since these resources were created?
    • the content: even if you’re following a different Spec., there may well be a fair bit of information crossover which means revision material produced for one Spec. may still be useful in the context of another.

    Once you’re happy with this, I’ve found what I think are a number of useful revision resources:

    (more…)

    Sociology Revision Booklets: 3. Mass Media

    Wednesday, March 21st, 2018

    The third in our occasional series covering free revision resources on the web looks at the Mass Media (as you’ve probably guessed from the title).

    The number of resources is substantially less than previous offerings on Theory and Methods and Beliefs in Society but what they lack in number is more than made-up for by the depth of their content.

    Possibly.

    I may just have been making that up.

    Anyway, you can see for yourself by downloading any, or indeed all, of the following:

    1. Media Revision Pack [Word version | Pdf version]: Although I’ve called this a Revision Pack (because that’s what it is…) it wasn’t originally created in that form. Rather, it’s an amalgam I’ve put together of a range of media revision documents, authored by Mark Gill, that cover:

    • Ownership and Control
    • New Media
    • Representations
    • Audiences
    • Social Construction of News

    Part of the reason for making the Pack available in different formats is that if you’d prefer to break the document down into its constituent parts it’s a fairly simple job to do this in Word. It’s possible to do this with a pdf document but that would mean faffing around with software that splits pdf files and you’re probably much too busy to bother with stuff like that.

    The Notes themselves are coherent and competent, with good coverage of the major Specification areas (although it’s aimed at AQA there are parts that apply to other Specifications). (more…)

    Further Five-Minute Feedback

    Thursday, March 15th, 2018

    Whatever teaching methods you use it’s not always easy to know whether your crystal-clear, carefully-crafted, teaching has actually been understood by all of your students.

    This is something I’ve previously addressed with the original Five-Minute Feedback Form that allows you to quickly and efficiently collect some very simple, useful, information about the most important things students think they’ve learnt during a class.

    One drawback with this Form, however, is that although it can be used to inform your teaching – are students taking-away from a class the most important points you’ve made about a topic and, if not, what can I do about it? – the format means you can’t easily explore deeper questions:

    • What are my students learning?
    • What are they not learning?
    • Does my teaching always have clarity?
    • How could something be taught better?
    • What could students do to improve their understanding?
    • What teaching techniques do my students like?
    • What teaching techniques don’t my students like?

    To remedy this omission, the Further Five-Minute Feedback Form – an idea I’ve adapted slightly from “The One-Minute Paper” developed by the University of Waterloo’s “Centre for Teaching Excellence” – lets you ask different types of questions depending on the specific feedback you want for each lesson.

    • On some occasions you might want to ask a direct question to test student understanding (“What did you not understand in this lesson?” or “Was there anything in the lesson you found confusing?”). For this type of question where you might need to do some follow-up teaching with individual students, there is space on the form for them to add their name.

    • At other times you might want to ask more general questions (“How could the lesson have been improved?) that don’t require students to identify themselves by name.

    The Further Feedback Form follows much the same general principle as the original Form: you set-aside 5 minutes at the end of each class to allow sFurther Feedback tudents time to think about and complete the Form.

    While it’s possible to use both Forms at the same time this is probably too much to ask of your students – and having to sift through a lot of feedback at the end of each class probably defeats the objective of the exercise.

    If you keep the time students spend giving feedback to a minimum, a short, regular and expected session that closes the class for example, you’re more-likely to get honest and useful responses – particularly if your students can see you listening to and acting on their feedback. (more…)

    Sociology Sim: An Exercise in Inequality

    Friday, March 9th, 2018

    As you may have gathered, I rather like simulations and this is another one I’ve found that can be added to the expanding list.

    This particular one was created by Chris Andrews and is interesting, at least to me, because its focus on social inequality means it has applications right across the sociological spectrum; you can use this sim just about anywhere you need to illustrate structured social inequality.

    Apart from its flexibility, it satisfies what Andrews’ calls four criteria for running a successful in-class exercise. A sim should:

    • be simple and easy to learn,
    • sensitise students to central motifs or aspects of sociology versus specific theories or methods,
    • involve minimal preparation and resources
    • be usable within one-hour length class periods or less.

    You can, if you want, download the original article containing the full documentation for the sim that:

    • Provides a general overview of and rationale for the sim
    • Describes how to run the game
    • Includes a debate and debrief section that explores how the sim can be used to illustrate different aspects of structured social inequality.

    Alternatively, if you just want to view the instructions for running the sim and view some short Notes I’ve added about using the sim to illustrate and discuss structured social inequality in the context of Education, I’ve created a short booklet for just this purpose…

     

    Knowledge Organiser Updates

    Monday, March 5th, 2018

    For those of you who just can’t get enough of free Knowledge Organisers, Learning Tables or Activity Mats, here’s a quick update on new materials.

    The Hectic Teacher has added 30 new Beliefs in Society “Topic Summary Sheets” to the existing KO’s on Education, Family and Crime. This is for the AQA Specification, but a lot of the information can be applied to OCR, Eduqas or CIE (but this will obviously involve a bit of work on your part…).

    These are all in pdf format but if you contact her and ask nicely they should be available as PowerPoint slides that can be edited to your particular lesson requirements.

    Miss C Sociology on the other hand has been busy producing a new range of Organisers for both

    A-level (Socialisation, culture and identity, Research Methods, Researching inequality, Globalisation and the digital world, Crime and deviance – all aimed at the OCR Specification but, once again, there is a degree of information cross-over with other Specs.) and GCSE (Key Concepts, Families and Households added thus far, with many more promised).

    These are all available as PowerPoint Slides should you want to edit them in any way.

    More GCSE Sociology Revision Stuff

    Sunday, March 4th, 2018

    While it’s possible to put-together a very reasonable – and reasonably comprehensive – set of revision resources from stuff that teachers have put on the web, there are a couple of things you should do before committing yourself to using these materials:

    1. Check they are for your Specification – you don’t want to be revising the wrong Spec.

    2. Check the Specification year / series to which they refer, particularly if it’s changed recently (over the past year or so). In other words, check the resources cover the newer required material and exclude older, newly-irrelevant material, from your revision.

    Guides

    These comprehensive resources combine things like notes, activities and advice and generally cover a number of different areas of the GCSE Specification. Three I’ve found are worth a look:

    1. Whole Course Revision 2018: This is a serious, 100-page, GCSE Revision Guide, put together by Ian Goddard, that covers:

    • Introducing Sociology
    • Research Methods
    • Family
    • Education
    • Crime and Deviance
    • Social Inequality
    • Power and Politics

    Unlike a lot of the previous GCSE resources I’ve posted [link] this is primarily a revision schedule rather than a simple list of revision notes (although these are also included). In this respect the Guide covers:

    • How to revise
    • Revision schedule
    • Personal Learning Checklist [link]
    • Basic study notes to supplement other reading (the Guide refers to “Collins Revision GCSE Sociology” but if you don’t use this text substituting your usual textbook will be fine)
    • Keywords
    • How to answer questions
    • Past question practice

    2. Sociology Revision Guide: Although not as ambitious or comprehensive as the above – the focus is on key terms and Notes covering Methods, Family and Education, plus a short section in exam advice – this Guide by Debbie McGowan is nicely designed and makes a welcome addition to your revision armoury. Presupposing you have one. If not, you can start one with this.

    3. Revision Guide for Students: A nicely-designed and cleanly laid-out hyperlinked pdf by Jonathan Tridgell that covers:

    • Research Methods
    • Socialisation, Culture and Identity
    • Family
    • Education
    • Mass Media

    While the focus is on brief revision notes the Guide also includes information on:

    • Course structure
    • Exam technique
    • Revision Tips.

    (more…)

    GCSE Revision Booklets

    Friday, March 2nd, 2018

    As with A-level Sociology, I’ve previously posted some links to GCSE Revision Guides and Resources over the past year or so, since when I seem to have picked-up a whole slew of guides and resources that I though it would be good to post.

    So here’s the first batch of 10. They’re all in pdf format and I can take no credit (nor indeed blame) for the style and content – it’s a bit of a Curate’s Egg I’m afraid – but there’s something useful in all of them:

    Sociology Revision Guide: Mainly brief Notes covering the Inequalities in Society Options, but with a useful section at the end where “Sample GCSE Essays” are analysed and annotated.

    General Revision Guide: similar to the above but covering culture, socialisation, research methods and family (the latter ahs much more extensive Notes). Again, there’s a very useful section at the end where “Sample GCSE Essays” are analysed and annotated.

    GCSE Revision Guide: Social Stratification, Research Methods, Crime and Deviance, Power and Politics (James Pearson): A set of short Notes on these topics.

    Unit B671 Investigating Society Revision Sheet: less a “revision sheet” and more a comprehensive set of Notes for this Unit – Research Methods, Culture, Identity and Socialisation.

    Unit B672 Crime and Deviance Revision Sheet: as above but for all aspects of Deviance.

    Unit B672 Family Revision Sheet: And the same for the sociology of family life.

    Unit 2: Social Inequality, Crime and Deviance, Mass Media (Michael Ellison): some very basic notes.

    Mass Media Revision Guide: Lots of Notes covering all aspects of this topic.

    GCSE Education Revision (James Pearson): This is a “Revision Activity Booklet” for Education that combines Notes with short exercises and all manner of exam advice.

    Unit 2: Crime and Deviance Revision Activities: A whole booklet full of revision activities.

    A-Level Revision Booklets: 1. Beliefs in Society

    Thursday, March 1st, 2018

    A couple of years ago I posted some A-level revision booklets / guides, one from Greenhead College on education  and three from Tudor Grange Academy (Culture and Identity, Education, Research Methods).

    On the basis that you can’t have too many revision booklets (although, thinking about it, you probably can) I thought I’d post a few more I’ve somehow managed to collect, starting with three really-quite-comprehensive booklets covering Beliefs in Society (AQA), although they also cover useful stuff on Religion (OCR, Eduqas, CIE etc.).

    Beliefs in Society is a comprehensive revision booklet that covers: definitions, theories, class, gender, age and ethnicity, organisations, science, ideology. It’s mainly brief notes with some relatively simple evaluation exercises.

    Beliefs in Society too covers much the same ground, albeit in a less-detailed way. I’m guessing this is actually a series of teaching PowerPoints, based on the Webb et al textbook exported to pdf. I could, of course, be wrong (although admittedly I rarely am).

    Religion and Ideology is by the same author (the somewhat enigmatic “Joe”) and although it suggests a focus on the “Ideology” section of the AQA Spec. it seems to interpret this brief very widely to look at theories, organisations, globalised religion, fundamentalism and a whole lot more. While it covers a lot of the same ground as the Beliefs in Society 2 booklet it generally does so in less detail. Combine the two and you’re got quite an effective set of revision (and indeed teaching) Notes.

    Activity Mat

    Wednesday, February 28th, 2018

    To accompany the Generic Learning Mat, I’ve created a complementary Activity Mat focused around a few simple activities that range from practicing paragraph writing to making synoptic connections between concepts, theories and methods.

    This particular Mat contains 5 activities and it’s again been created in PowerPoint (use the Export function if you want it in a different format, such as a pdf file or Word document) to make it easy to edit. You might, for example, use a different mnemonic for the Paragraph Practice activity or want to replace some or all of the activities I’ve chosen with your own. (more…)

    Learning Mats

    Sunday, February 25th, 2018

    Learning mats – originally laminated sheets containing simple questions, learning prompts and drawing spaces – have been around for some time at the lower (particularly primary) levels of our education system, but with the increasing interest in Knowledge Organisers, which in many respects they resemble, they’re starting to gain some traction at both GCSE and A-level.

    Having said that, I’ve only managed to find a couple of examples of their use in A-level Sociology and none at all in Psychology. This may reflect a lack of knowledge about Learning Mats, a lack of interest in their application to A-level study or, more-likely perhaps, a lack of time to create them.

    (more…)

    Yet More Sociology Knowledge Organisers

    Thursday, February 15th, 2018

    The Learning Tables and Knowledge Organisers we’ve recently posted were all for the AQA Specification and while there’s a good deal of crossover between this Specification and OCR I thought it would be helpful to those following the latter if they had some KO’s to call their own.

    These Organisers, all produced by Lucy Cluley, are, however, slightly different in that while some – mainly those for Research Methods – are complete, the remainder are blank templates. That is, while the author has designed various categories in areas like Crime Reduction Techniques or Research Methods, the actual content is up to you – and / or your students – to create.

    While this has an obvious downside (someone else hasn’t done the work…) it does open-up interesting possibilities for revision work with your students, either individually or as a whole class.

    In relation to the latter you’ll note that most of the blank templates are in PowerPoint (PP) format but if you want to use them with individual students simply use the PowerPoint Export function to save them as pdf files.

    (more…)

    More Sociology Knowledge Organisers

    Wednesday, February 14th, 2018

    Knowledge Organisers, you may or may not be surprised to learn, are the classroom requirement de nos jours and while some (looking at you Michaela Community School) may like to casually lay claim to the concept / format as being something radically new and different they’ve developed, it really isn’t.

    Here, for example, is one I made earlier (about 20-odd years earlier…) and if past experience is anything to go by I probably stole the idea from someone else (or, as I like to think, my efforts were influenced by those of others).

    Be that as it may, if you’ve landed here looking for Knowledge Organisers, here’s another batch I’ve managed to find using my finely-tuned Sociological Sensibility (or “typing stuff into Google to see what I can find” as it’s more-commonly known. Probably).

    These KO’s are slightly different to the various Learning Tables (LT) we’ve previously posted, but they are, to-all-intents-and-purposes, the same in terms of what they exist to do.

    You will find, if you compare the two (otherwise you’ll never actually know), this batch is a little less ambitious in scope and design than the previous LT’s, so it may be a case of choosing which suits you and your students and sticking with those. Or not as the case may be.

    Although the original files I found were in pdf format, I’ve converted them to Word so that you can more-easily edit them if you want to. The only difference between the two files is that rounded bullets in the pdf file have been converted as square bullets in the Word file.

    (more…)

    Discovering Sociology and Psychology

    Saturday, February 10th, 2018

    If you’re an a-level sociology or psychology teacher / student an obvious first-port-of-call for inspiration and resources, aside from the Exam Board, is likely to be the websites of the British Psychological and British Sociological Associations – and both provide a range of materials that are worth exploring (and some that, quite frankly, aren’t…).

    Psychology

    The BPS, for example, has a diverse and extensive range of useful stuff, broadly categorised in 3 overlapping areas:

    1. The Psychologist is an online magazine that covers all things psychological – debates, reviews, articles and the like – in an a-level friendly sort of way. There’s also access to the BPS “History of Psychology” online interactive Timeline and a link to:

    2. The Digest  which, as the title suggests, consists of academic studies “digested” (i.e. most of the tedious, difficult and largely incomprehensible bits removed, leaving just the stuff students need to know). Although it’s helpful that each article links to the original research this is normally just to the abstract – if you want access to the full research you have to pay for it. However, if you do want to read the original study it’s always worth doing a search on the title because, this being the Internet, there’s always a reasonable chance that it’s been posted somewhere for free.

    3. PsychCrunch podcasts are the third element in the BPS triumvirate likely to interest a-level teachers. This section contains a selection of 10-minute podcasts on a range of topics and issues. Most seem to be aimed at a general audience, but there are one or two a-level teachers / students might find useful.

    Sociology

    Somewhat perversely, the BSA site doesn’t have the extensive range of resources of its psychological counterpart, but what it does have are two sections devoted explicitly to a-level sociology:

    1. Discovering Sociology is a short section with two items:

    What Is Sociology has a range of short articles looking at various aspects of what sociology is and . On the basis that if something’s worth doing once it’s probably worth doing twice, there’s also a completely different “What is Sociology” section on the main site that covers stuff like the Origins of Sociology, among other things.

    Sociology in Action provides half-a-dozen very short (and I do mean short) examples of sociological research in areas like the family and the media). Unfortunately it all seems a little half-hearted and not particularly useful…

    2. Teaching Resources, on the other hand, is likely to prove much more useful. The section has a drop-down menu containing subheadings for all the main areas of a-level sociology (education, methods, crime etc.) and this links to pages containing the free resources.

    Research Methods, to take one example, has resources on The Hawthorne Effect, Correlation vs. Causality, Validity and Reliability and more, while Theory has materials on all the major sociological perspectives.

    Each resource is built around some form of short exercise / lesson suggestion. This might be a simple experiment, article to read or video to watch:

    Reliability and Validity, for example, suggests a simple, but quite effective, classroom measuring exercise to firm-up the difference between the two concepts.

    Gender and Crime, on the other hand, points students towards a couple of online articles to read, from which they have to “create a table that outlines trends pertaining to women as victims of crime, women as suspects, women as defendants, women as offenders and women as CJS staff”.

    Postmodernism is based on students watching a short YouTube video and using it to identify some of the key features of postmodernism, which is quite a nice, simple, start (and edges towards a bit of flipped teaching). This then morphs into looking at the media and religion from a “postmodern perspective” through a couple of classroom applications.

    Although none of the resources on offer are particularly ground-breaking or earth-shattering but at least they’re free and it never hurts to check this kind of stuff out when you’re in search of inspiration…

    PsychoPepper: Approaches in Psychology

    Saturday, January 6th, 2018

    I first came across this Blog via a PsychoPepper Twitter post drawing attention to the availability of this Approaches in Psychology booklet that’s hard to sum-up in a simple statement. It mixes a range of formats – textbook, revision book, workbook – into something rather wonderful and, dare I say, exceptionally useful for both students and teachers.

    The closest thing I can compare the booklet to is the Psychology Teacher’s Toolkit although even here the comparison falls short; whereas the latter is a collection of lesson ideas loosely grouped around different themes the former is a coherently-structured 50-papge+ document focused on the notion of different psychological approaches. The blog’s well worth a visit just to get your hands on the booklet alone, but once you’re there take a bit of time to have a look around at the other free resources on offer.

    Classroom Resources, for example, contains Lesson Plans for a number of areas (such as Research Methods, Aggression and Biopsychology) that, at the very least, will save you a lot of time and effort.

    The Teaching Blog section, on the other hand, focuses on planning and pedagogy – schemes of work, teaching tips and so forth.

    There’s also a handy “Glossary” of key terms and a “Marking and Feedback” section designed to help students understand what they are being asked in exam questions and how to provide the answers…

    SociologySaviour Blog

    Monday, December 25th, 2017

    I was looking for pictures of Arron Cicoural for a new film we’re editing on Labelling Theory when I stumbled across the rather interesting SociologySaviour Blog,  that unfortunately now looks as though it hasn’t been updated since mid-2016. This is something of a shame because the material it contains seems well-written and useful – although this isn’t something the navigation system could be accused of being. It’s all a bit minimalist and confusing until you scroll to the bottom of the page where you’ll find links to four categories:

    Crime and Deviance: extensive notes on wide range of topics
    Beliefs in Society: notes on a smaller range of topics
    Sociological Theory: brief notes on a small range of perspectives
    Research Methods: doesn’t seem to have ever been developed.

    Basically, the site has a lot of notes on Crime, a lesser range on Beliefs and Theory and a short indication of notes that would have appeared under Research Methods but which, for whatever reason, never seem to have been added.

    Be that as it may – and we can only guess the reasons for the project’s apparent abandonment – the notes included are really quite good: short, to-the-point and, as far as I’ve read, accurate.

    AQA Family Questions Exam Pack

    Monday, December 11th, 2017

    Hot on the heels of the Education Questions Exam Pack  comes another set of exam-style practice questions, this time for the AQA Family Unit.

    According to the document metadata the pack was created by Miss K Elles and it contains a selection of practice questions based around the 5 different types of question students will encounter in the exam:

    • Define
    • Using one example, briefly explain
    • Outline three
    • Outline and explain two
    • Applying material from item and your knowledge, evaluate.

    You can download the pack in two formats:

    1. As a Word file if you want to add, delete, copy or modify the different questions.
    2. As a pdf file if you’re not particularly bothered about changing the document.

    Update

    These questions relate to AS Sociology 7191/2: Paper 2 Research Methods and Topics in Sociology, not the “full A-level” Topics in Sociology Paper…

     

    GCSE Psychology Notes

    Saturday, December 2nd, 2017

    As with its sociological counterpart, this is a set of short, to-the-point, GCSE Notes covering a range of topics:

    • Aggression
    • Development of Personality
    • Learning Memory
    • Non-Verbal Communication
    • Research Methods
    • Sex and gender
    • Social Influence
    • Stereotypes

    As with the Sociology Notes these aren’t something that will replace whatever textbooks you use, but it’s a handy resource nonetheless, that will complement your existing resources.

    GrudgeBallUK: Making Revision More Fun

    Thursday, November 30th, 2017

    I found this idea on a blog called Engaging Them All run by Kara Wilkins  and while I’ve made a few slight additions / modifications what I describe below is essentially her work.

    Grudgeball is basically a team-based revision quiz game with a twist. While teams gain points for answering questions correctly, they also get the opportunity to take points away from opposing teams by playing GrudgeBall – shooting the hoop using an indoor basketball set (see below).

    The game is designed for revision / review sessions – from one-off games played at the end of course, module or week to a “competitive season” played by the same teams throughout an academic year.

    You Will Need

    Indoor Basketball Set (such as this one). A relatively cheap set, consisting of a hoop with suction cups and foam rubber balls, that can be purchased from most toy shops should do the job.

    Attach the hoop to a surface (a wall, above a door…) around 6 – 8 feet from the floor, keeping in mind that the higher the hoop the harder it will be for students to score points. Mark two lines on the floor in front of the hoop using something like masking tape. The 2-point line should be 5 – 6 feet away, the 3-point line 7 – 8 feet away, although these can be varied to suit the class.

    Before you actually play the game for real it’s probably best to check these measurements with students of varying heights and basketball skills. You want to strike a balance between making it too easy or too difficult to score points by throwing the foam ball through the hoop.

    Variation
    If you want to minimise height advantages, try hanging the hoop about 3 feet above the floor. Instead of throwing the foam ball directly through hoop (as above) students have to bounce the ball into the hoop. If you use this variation you will probably need to move the throw lines further away.

    Question cards
    A set of prepared question cards (around 3”x3” – laminated if you can so they can be reused for other sessions) in sufficient quantity to fill the time you’ve set aside for the game, particularly if you’re running a session focused on a single topic, such as family, education or methods.

    A useful resource here is the Question Banks created by The Hectic Teacher covering Family and Education (with Methods), Crime and Deviance, Beliefs in Society and Theory and Methods. These give you a ready-made supply of around 100 questions on each topic and, if necessary, you can use them as basis for creating further questions.

    Dry Wipe board (or similar), marker pen and board eraser. While not essential this type of board allows students to physically remove points from their opponents and gives the game a further competitive edge. (more…)

    Children and Parents: Media Use and Attitudes

    Wednesday, November 29th, 2017

    The 2017 OfCom Report on “Children and Parents: Media Use and Attitudes” (2017) covers different types of on-and-offline media use by children in the UK and it’s quite a treasure trove of visual and verbal information that will repay careful analysis – although at around 300 pages it may prove a little hard-going for most students.

    Luckily, there’s a really good Executive Summary that pulls-together a shedload of interesting empirical / opinion data and disgorges them into concise, bite-sized and consumption-friendly chunks. This section is something you or your students can easily browse, taking whatever you want from what is actually a very rich menu.

    If you’re interested in media and methods – and, let’s face it, who is? – there’s extensive details about the overall research methodology. It’s actually quite useful (in a sort-of “you know you should be interested in this stuff, but…” kind of way) because this knowledge lets you assess the likely levels of reliability and validity of some parts of the Report (such as interviews with parents about the media usage of their 3 – 4 year old children).

    If you do decide to take the plunge and swim down into the deep waters of the main section of the Report you’ll find it contains some very useful charts, tables and summaries about all aspects of children’s media use.

    However, if you’re anything like me the main takeaway from the Report is this rather neat little chart summarising “Media lives by age: a snapshot” – perfectly poster-sized for pinning on that pristine wall.

    (more…)