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Hybrid Knowledge Organisers

Monday, July 5th, 2021

Knowledge Organisers (or Learning Tables if you prefer) have become something of a standard teaching and learning tool at both GCSE and A-level and while you may or may not find them helpful, one problem I’ve always found with them is the deceptively-simple one that they focus on knowledge.

But one of the key things at both High School and A-level is that “knowing stuff”, while necessary, is not sufficient. An important dimension to study at this level is what students are able to do with what they know, in terms of things like applying knowledge to sociological questions, the ability to use some forms of knowledge to criticise others, to draw conclusions from their applications and criticisms and so forth.

Hybrid Organiser Template

A potential weakness of knowledge organisers, therefore, is that they have a tendency to encourage students to see “knowledge” as the most important element of study at this level; as long as you “know the right stuff” everything will be okay – a mindset that can difficult for teachers to dislodge.

In thinking about how to resolve this problem I came across an idea by Paul Moss that combines the knowledge organiser with both retrieval practice and techniques of essay-writing.

Which, all things considered, is no small achievement.

And quite possibly an Act of Genius.

Although Moss originally developed and applied his hybrid Organiser to English Literature A-level I’ve adapted it to what I think fits more easily with the needs of Social Science teachers (although the example I’m going to use here is based on Sociology – because that’s the subject content I’m most familiar with – it’s equally-applicable to subjects like Psychology).

Where the original focused on a particular text (such as King Lear), my reformulation focuses on theories and theorists as the basis for getting students to organise their knowledge about a particular Module or Unit (most-likely the latter given the large amounts of knowledge content covered by Sociology (and Psychology) students).

(more…)

GCSE Sociology Knowledge Organisers

Friday, February 5th, 2021

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

Which must mean something.

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

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

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

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

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

Click to see the Organisers

Psychology Films 4 | Methodology

Wednesday, May 8th, 2019

The penultimate batch of films is once again methods-related, although the general focus with these four films is methodology in psychology.

Each has been designed to help teachers introduce different topics in a simple, visual, way.

Reliability and Validity 
5 minutes
Psychologists have told us a lot about human behaviour, but can we trust the findings? This film looks at the part played by reliability and validity in helping to answer this question. Reliability and external and internal validity are explained and the key tests of face, concurrent and ecological validity are illustrated with examples from major psychological studies.

Sampling…

Sampling 
6 minutes
Sampling is crucial in psychology but can be difficult to understand. This film offers a helping hand with a series of visual images that take students through target population, samples, representativeness and generalisability. It then looks at how sampling is done, illustrating differences between probability and non-probability sampling, why different techniques are used and their strengths and limitations. The final part looks at how this knowledge can be used to help evaluate any study based on sampling.

Reductionism 
4 minutes
This film illustrates both the importance and limitations of reductionism in psychological explanation using the example of research into diet and obesity. It compares reductionism and holism and cautions students against simply using reductionism as a critique to be compared unfavourably with holism.

Variables 
4 minutes
Although the idea of variables can seem dull and uninspiring, they are crucial because they’re everywhere in psychology. This film provides a clear introduction to this concept, explaining and illustrating the key questions of definition, types, reliability, validity and application.

Psychology Learning Tables | 8

Tuesday, March 19th, 2019

Another batch of lovingly-curated and assiduously alphabetised Learning Tables / Knowledge Organisers to keep your appetite for these very useful tools whetted, if not entirely satiated.

Graded PEEL Learning Table

As usual (if you missed the previous sets of Tables you can check them out here) the tables are a mix of styles – some are plain Notes, others are organised into a PEEL format and a few are PEEL Graded – and most are single or double A4 sheets. The exception is the Obedience Bundle, where I’ve gathered half-a-dozen or so Tables and bundled them together in one Word document. I’m not sure why. It just seemed the right thing to do at the time.

If you fancy branching out a little, these professionally-produced Factsheets might prove a useful addition to the teaching toolbox.

Psychology Learning Tables | 7

Sunday, March 17th, 2019

I haven’t posted any new Psychology Learning Tables / Knowledge Organisers* for a while (because I’ve been too busy / lazy**) so I thought it was about time I roused myself sufficiently to put another batch together based, once again, on the tried-and-trusted “alphabetical list” method (i.e. they’re in no particular order except that ordained by the alphabet).

Learning Table…

If you’ve missed any of the previous batches (Learning Tables 1 – 6), you can find them here.

Once again, they’re from a couple of authors (Miss K. Elles and Georgia Banton) and if you’re especially keen to discover “who done what” the metadata will tell you everything you need to know, including the year they were created in case you were wondering about their relevance to the Spec. you’re currently teaching / following.

As with previous Tables, they’re a mixture of formats (some are built around Assessment Objectives, some are built around PEEL and some are just Notes in no particular configuration). All, however, have been left in their original Word format in case you want to edit them for any reason.

Knowledge Organiser…

Cultural Variations in Attachment
Custodial sentencing
Data Types
Defining and measuring crime
Definitions of Abnormality
Descriptive Data
Differential association
Dispositional Explanations
Duck’s Phase Theory AO1 and AO3
Equity Theory AO1 and AO3
Evaluating Findings
Evolutionary explanations for food preferences
Experiments
Explanations for the success and failure of dieting
Eysenck’s theory
Factors Affecting Attraction – Filter Theory AO1 and AO3
Factors Affecting Attraction – Physical Attractiveness AO1 and AO3
Factors Affecting Attraction – Self-Disclosure AO1 and AO3
Features of the Memory Stores
Fight or Flight Response
Genetic and neural explanations
Infant Caregiver Interactions
Interference

* You say Po-tart-oh, I say Po-Tate-oh

** Please delete according to your current state of credulity.

Psychology Learning Tables | 6

Tuesday, November 13th, 2018

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

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

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

Psychology Learning Tables | 5

Thursday, March 8th, 2018

It’s been a while since I’ve posted any Psychology Learning Tables (Knowledge Organisers by any other name) so I thought I’d make a start on the backlog I’ve collected so far (if you want to see the previous Tables you can find them here).

If you’re unfamiliar with the format, Learning Tables are used to summarise a section of the course onto a single sheet of A4 (although some Tables do take minor liberties with this basic format). While the general focus is, as the name suggests, “knowledge” many of these tables interpret this quite widely to include examples, applications and evaluation.

Which, as far as I can see, is Quite A Good Thing.

If you’re not as convinced – or you want to edit the information contained in each Table to your own particular teaching and learning preference – I’ve left the Tables in Word format for your editing pleasure.

Slavishly following the precedent I foolishly set for myself, this next batch of Tables are in no particular order other than alphabetical:

(more…)

Psychology Learning Tables | 4

Thursday, January 25th, 2018

As I dig deeper and find more (and more…) examples of Learning Tables the initial “let’s post them alphabetically for convenience” plan seems both less and more appropriate – the latest batch being a case in point.

As you’ll see, they mainly come under the heading of “Alternative Theories” – which you’ll probably have noticed is alphabetically convenient but not very informative. This means I’ve then had to add a little bit of content explanation to save you having to download each file to see what it contains, which sort-of defeats the objective.

Some you lose and some you lose.

However, you can all be winners (see what I did there?) when you download these Tables (lovingly, I assume, created by various authors, which I’ve named where known).

In the main these Tables all tend to focus on (AO1) skills of knowledge and understanding, although one or two include helpful examples / applications. I’ll leave you to discover which does what. It’ll be our little secret.

As per usual the Tables are all in Word format, which makes it easy to edit them in whatever way you like:

1. Alternative theory: Atypical behaviour – Evolutionary theory (Gemma Ingram)

2. Alternative theory: Criminal Behaviour – Social Learning Theory (Miss K Elles)

3. Alternative theory: The Nativist Theory of Perception (Miss K Elles)

4. Alternative theory: Vygotsky’s Theory of Cognitive Development

5. Alternative theory: Non-Verbal Communication – The Evolutionary Theory (Miss K Elles)

6. Alternative theory: The Self – Eysenck’s Trait Theory (Miss K Elles)

7. Alternative theory: Sex & Gender – Psychodynamic Approach (Miss K Elles)

8. Application: The Self Real Life Application (Sara Callaghan)

9. Application: NVC (Sara Callaghan)

10. Applications of Research into Memory (Miss K Elles)

11. Application: Sex and Gender Research (Miss K Elles)

12. Applications: Research into Atypical Behaviour (Gemma Ingram)

Psychology Learning Tables | 3

Friday, January 19th, 2018

Another batch of Learning Tables to help you and your students organise their knowledge and understanding of various (alphabetically-presented) areas of the a-level course. These have all, unless otherwise stated, been created by Miss G Banton.

As with the Part 1 and Part 2 Tables these generally focus on presenting (AO1) knowledge followed by an Evaluation (AO3) Table constructed around a PEEL format.

Ainsworth’s Strange Situation and Types of Attachment [Miss K Elles]

Anger Management
Animal Studies of Attachment [Miss K Elles]

Anxiety [Miss K Elles]

Behaviourism
Behavioural Approach to Phobias [Miss K Elles]
Behavioural Therapy of Phobias [Miss K Elles]
Biological

Conformity – Asch’s Research
Conformity – Types and Explanations
Cognitive

Psychology Learning Tables | 2

Thursday, January 18th, 2018

Convention dictates this second set of Learning Tables, primarily the work of Miss G. Banton (with one notable exception that I’ll explain in a moment) follows the first set of Tables and since this is not a rule I’m overly-inclined to break it’s only seems right-and-proper this should be the case.

These Tables are broadly-designed to cover Knowledge (Assessment Objective 1) and Evaluation (Assessment Objective 3) and while the latter uses relatively simple “for” and “against” arguments, an added dimension is created using a “PEEL” design. This, in case you’re not familiar with the mnemonic has the further advantage of encouraging students to structure exam answers in a specific way.

Without further ado, therefore, the following Tables are available for your downloading pleasure:

Endogenous Pacemakers and Exogenous Zeitgebers AO1 and AO3
Ethical implications of research studies and theory AO1 AND AO3

Free Will vs Determinism AO1 and AO3

Gender Bias AO1 and AO3

Holism and reductionism AO1 and AO3
Humanistic psychology LT

Idiographic and nomothetic approaches AO1 and AO3

Localisation and Function of the brain AO1 and AO3

The final set of Tables, created by Melissa Yeadon, are slightly different in that they’re designed to take the student through the research process – from initial hypothesis to understanding ethical considerations – and involve some student input (mainly in the shape of having to answer questions at various points). In all there are 10 Tables in this set.

Learning Tables Planning Research 

Psychology Learning Tables | 1

Tuesday, January 16th, 2018

As with their sociological counterparts, Psychology Learning Tables come in a variety of styles, have been constructed for a range of different reasons and the ones I’ve scoured the web to find relate to different Specifications and exams. Keep these provisos in mind, however, and you’ll find some of these Tables useful – either “as is” or as inspiration for creating Tables of your own.

Since I’ve managed to find quite a few Tables on different areas of the Specification I thought it would be easier and more-convenient to post the first couple of batches alphabetically.

The Tables have been put-together by different authors at different times and I’ve indicated any significant differences and departures from the basic “Learning Table” format.

(more…)

Psychology Factsheets: Buy or DIY?

Monday, January 9th, 2017

A couple of months ago this blog featured examples of Sociology Factsheets created and sold by the Curriculum Press and this month it’s the turn of Psychology, of which I’ve found the following examples:

  • Eyewitness Testimony: New Research
  • Gifted Children
  • Stress at work
  • Eating disorders
  • Biological and psychological models of abnormality
  • Nature-Nurture debate
  • The Cognitive approach to psychology
  • Day Care
  • Offender Profiling
  • As with their sociological counterparts the basic design rules are relatively simple:

  • short topic notes focused on key knowledge points
  • illustrative examples
  • overviews of advantages and disadvantages
  • exam tips
  • short “test yourself” questions
  • There are around 200 Factsheets currently available – and their web site does some good deals on subscription purchases – but an alternative is to get your students to make their own.

    All you need is some simple DeskTop Publishing software and a little bit of planning and guidance from you…

    Psychology Review

    Saturday, July 25th, 2015

    This magazine, pitched at A-level Psychology students, has a long and venerable history of supplying good-quality articles and support materials designed to help students gain a deeper knowledge and understanding of both psychology and the requirements of the A-level exam.

    The publishers, Hodder Education, have started to develop a strong web presence for the print magazine, part of which involves offering some nice freebies related to each issue’s content, which you can check-out here:

    Sample Magazine allows you to browse a sample of Psychology review’s articles online. 

    Free Resources include activities, supplementary notes, posters, podcasts and short video clips.

    Psychology: Socially-Sensitive Research

    Saturday, April 25th, 2015

    Socially-Sensitive Research looks at ways to help you structure exam answers around three key questions:

    1. Should the research be done?
    2. How should research findings be used?
    3. How should research findings be communicated?

    The full film – now available for digital download to rent or buy – covers key:

    • knowledge: understanding social sensitivity, ethics
    • examples: Autism (Baron-Cohen, Auyeung), Kamin, Asbury and Plomin, Sieber and Stanley
    • application: understanding socially sensitive research through the examples of autism, genetics and education.

    Psychology: The Nature-Nurture Debate

    Tuesday, April 21st, 2015

    This revision film frames and explains the nature-nurture debate around two classic applications:

  • Bandura’s BoBo doll and
  • Fallon’s neuroscience experiments.

  • The full film, now available as a digital download to rent or buy, covers key revision:

  • knowledge: framing the nature-nurture debate, neuroscience
  • applications: psychological approaches, Bandura, Fallon
  • evaluation: the arguments for and against nature / nurture approaches

  • Psychological Applied Learning Scenarios (PALS)

    Tuesday, December 22nd, 2020

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

    Cognitive Scenario

    Or as the OCR Exam Board puts it:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    500 Free Education Images

    Friday, November 6th, 2020

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

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

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

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

    But since we don’t, it isn’t.

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

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

    Or, indeed, remunerate them.

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

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

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

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

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

    Open Source

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

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

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

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

    Teaching Techniques: Pre-Questioning

    Friday, May 15th, 2020

    “Asking questions” of students is pretty-much a staple of any teacher’s toolkit, which is fair enough, because as Jarrett (2107) notes:

    The “testing effect” is well-established in psychology: this is the finding that answering questions about what you’ve learned leads to better retention than simply studying the material for longer. Testing is beneficial because the act of recall entrenches learned material in our memories, and when we can’t answer, this helps us make our future revision more targeted”.

    Testing, therefore, has a range of educational benefits for both teachers – such as checking how effective their teaching of a particular topic has been – and students in that answering questions appears to encourage better information retention.

    This type of practice, for reasons that are somewhat obvious, can be called post-questioning: students attempt to learn something, by viewing a short film, for example, and are then questioned on what they’ve learnt “after the event”.

    This, you may be thinking, makes sense and is how it probably should be.

    And you wouldn’t be wrong.

    There is, however, another way of asking questions that is slightly more counter-intuitive in that it involves asking questions before students have studied something. This is known as pre-questioning and, on the face of things probably sounds a little pointless.

    Bear with me however, as I outline two types of pre-questioning and suggest exactly how and why they might be useful to your teaching in different contexts.

    Type of Pre-Questioning

    Education: 3. The Purpose of Schools

    Tuesday, May 5th, 2020

    The final part of the “Structure and Organisation of Education” trilogy (Part 1: Structure and Organisation and Part 2: Schools, Marketisation and Parentocracy are, as is the way of trilogies, also available) ends with a !Bang! (if by “bang” you mean “a slightly loud noise”) by looking at various forms of school organisation (from the formal curriulum to the informal curriculum, from streaming to cultural reproduction, from Here to Eternity etc.)

    Although the obvious answer to any question about the purpose of schools is “education”, the meaning of education is neither self-evident nor unproblematic: the former because “education” can encompass a wide range of formal and informal types of learning – from explicit teaching about ox-bow lakes in geography to implicit teaching about gendered relationships in the classroom – and the latter because what counts as “education” is always socially constructed and socially-contested. It always reflects, Weber (1922) suggests, what any society considers “Worthy of being known”.

    What constitutes education in any society, therefore – from how it is structured and organised to which ideas are actually taught in a classroom (or, increasingly, online) – is always the outcome of a power struggle between different interested parties: from business and media corporations through political parties to individual parents and teachers. It is, therefore, against this background of conflict and consensus that we need to outline and evaluate the purpose of schools.

    One way to start to do this is through Merton’s (1957) distinction between manifest and latent functions:

  • Manifest functions relate to the things schools are expected to do; in this instance teaching children the knowledge and skills required by adult society. This idea is explored in terms of the nature and organisation of the formal curriculum.
  • Latent functions refer to things not officially recognised as being part of the school’s purpose and may also be the unintended consequences of the way schools are formally organised – an idea explored in terms of the hidden curriculum.
  • (more…)

    Of Methods and Methodology 6 | Practical Research Considerations

    Tuesday, March 24th, 2020

    Sociologists do research for a wide range of reasons and in this post we’re looking at a range of practical research considerations relating to, firstly, choice of topic and secondly, choice of method.

    As luck would have it (you didn’t seriously think I planned this stuff, did you?), this all fits neatly into my “5 Things You Need To Know” patent-not-pending revision technique…

    choice of topic

    Decisions about what to study may be influenced by a range of personal and institutional factors:

    1. The interests of the researcher, for example, are likely to be a key influence on any decision about what to study., one that reflects their areas of expertise and specialism. To take a slightly extreme example perhaps, the Glasgow Media Group – and Greg Philo in particular – have specialised in research into mass media bias for over 40 years – from “Bad News” (1976) to “Bad News for Labour” (2019).

    2. A second area of influence involves things like current debates and intellectual fashions: the popularity of different research topics, for example, wax and wane for a range of reasons, not least being the availability or otherwise of research funding – an issue we’ll address in a moment.

    One driver of research choices in this respect, at least in the UK, is that institutional, departmental and personal funding in universities is sensitive to the popularity of a piece of research. An important way this is measured is in terms of how many other researchers around the world cite an individual’s research. The more the citations, the greater the measured popularity and the higher the level of future research funding for a university department.

    A research topic that is currently popular and / or intellectually fashionable may stand a greater chance of attracting citations because the pool of interest – among other researchers, the media and general public – will be that much larger than for a much smaller, more niche, research topic  (Southerton et al’s (1998) “Research Note on Recreational Caravanning” being a personal favourite).

    Money, money, money…

    3.  Funding is one of the more prosaic – but nevertheless hugely important – practical considerations in relation to topic choice. Research, in simple terms, costs money – whether, like Cant et al (2019), you’re emailing a questionnaire to sociology teachers to explore their opinions on the status of sociology in English schools, co-ordinating a group of academics and field researchers in a lengthy study of religion and spirituality (Heelas and Woodhead, 2004) or simply, like Ferrell (2018) or Venkatesh (2009), engaging in extensive and lengthy forms of participant observation.

    While finding the money to fund a piece of research that may last anything from a few weeks to, in Venkatesh’s case around 10 years, may dictate the researcher’s choice of topic – if the funding’s not available, it’s unlikely to be studied – a further dimension are the questions:

    Who pays?

    And why?

    Those who commission and pay for sociological research, from universities, through charities and private Think Tanks to government departments, are likely to want – and in some cases demand -an important say in the ultimate choice of topic to be studied. In both the UK and USA, for example, the trend over the past 30 – 40 years has been to commission sociological research designed to help government policymakers make decisions. If your choice of topic (and method…) doesn’t fit with this brief or aid in this process it may be harder to attract funding.

    There’s more. A whole load More

    Crime and Criminology: Free the Texts

    Saturday, February 1st, 2020

    Although criminology is a unique field of study focused on all things crime and criminal (yes, really), it invariably incorporates all kinds of sociological and psychological ideas, concepts and theories that makes criminology texts a potentially useful source of information.

    Mainly for teachers but, in some instances, a-level students as well.

    For this reason – and having absolutely nothing to do with the fact that in the course of finding all kinds of out-of-print sociology and psychology textbooks I stumbled across their criminological counterparts – I thought I’d do a post dedicated to all-things-criminal, albeit in the shape of a few orphaned texts that someone might find useful.

    Textbooks

    As with previous posts, only two criteria have been applied to the texts: that they were published “this century” (and depending upon which century you think you’re currently living, this may leave a little wiggle room) and they’re out-of-print. While I may or may not have collected a great many books that are currently in-print I’m not going to post them – presupposing I have them.

    Which I most certainly don’t.

    M’Lud.

    So, moving swiftly on from stuff I most-certainly haven’t found, to stuff I most-certainly have:

    Criminology: This 2006 text covers a lot of crime-related stuff (the clue is in the title) that’s not going to interest a-level social scientists, but there are areas (such as theories of crime, white-collar crime, hate crime, transnational terrorism…) that will.

    Explaining Crime and Its Context: The 7th edition of this text appeared in 2010 and has a couple of areas of major interest – crime statistics, the social distribution of crime, theories of crime – and some areas of minor interest (victimless crime, for example). The chapter on Crimes without Victims and Victims without Crimes is interesting but probably peripheral to most a-level sociology teaching.

    The Criminology of White-Collar Crime: Just about everything you might conceivably want to know about White-Collar crime (and plenty you probably don’t) explored in a variety of chapters by different authors in this 2009 tome. Probably more a reference guide for teachers, though.

    Criminology: A Sociological Introduction: Loads of chapters to interest sociologists from the relatively standard stuff (Functionalism), to the less standard stuff (Postmodernism) and the areas (green criminology, Terrorism, State Crime and Human Rights…) that most current textbooks tend to treat very lightly.

    Sociology of Deviant Behavior: As the title says, this – the 14th edition published in 2011 – focuses squarely on the concept of deviance – from explanations to types and taking in the concept of stigma for good measure. There is, however, a chapter on deviance and crime.

    Globalization & Crime: A useful book for teachers with a bit of time on their hands because this 2007 text goes into a lot of detail about various aspects of criminal globalisation.

    Sage Dictionary of Criminology: Although this just sneaks into the 21st century, it’s a dictionary so that probably doesn’t matter too much. It’s quite comprehensive, though, with each entry given a short overview followed by an analysis of it’s distinctive features and a brief evaluation.

    Clcik for textbook Chapters

    On Being Sane in Insane Places

    Friday, January 24th, 2020
    Rosenhan's Experiment: A new film
    David Rosenhan

    David Rosenhan’s “pseudopatient experiment” is a classic study for both sociologists and psychologists, that raises a range of interesting questions relating to areas like mental illness, labelling theory and ethics.

    Rosenhan’s research was designed to discover if doctors could correctly diagnose mental illness. If they couldn’t, this would tell us something very important about the relationship between mental illness and labelling – that mental illness is not an objective category but a subjective condition; it is, in other words, whatever medical professionals claim it to be – a situation that has hugely-important ramifications for contemporary ideas about crime and deviance, for example.

    (more…)

    Getting Your Revision On: The Appliance of Science

    Thursday, August 15th, 2019

    Although revision is probably the last thing on anyone’s mind at the start of a course, the science suggests that taking a structured, long-term, “little and often”, approach is the way to go…

    Retrieval Practice Guide
    Retrieval Practice

    While any revision is arguably better than no revision, I’d also suggest some forms of revision are more effective than others. And if you’re looking at introducing a more-structured approach to student revision in your classroom – one that’s built-in to a course of study rather than bolted-on at the end – you might find ideas like Retrieval Practice and Spaced Study interesting and useful.

    These are ideas I’ve written about in a previous post,  based on the work of the Learning Scientists and the short video-explainers they’ve produced to introduce these ideas.

    read more about retrieval practice

    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:

    (more…)

    A-Level Evidence Bank Template

    Tuesday, December 4th, 2018

    Instructions and Example

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

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

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

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

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

    Theory Bank Template

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

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

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

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

    Confirmation Bias | p1

    Monday, November 19th, 2018

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

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

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

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

    The beauty of the sim is its apparent simplicity.

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

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

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    SWOTing for Success

    Monday, October 22nd, 2018

    A flexible organisational tool to help students identify, apply and evaluate perspectives, theories, concepts and methods.

    A couple of previous posts (Make a Pitch and Selling Sociological Sausages) outlined a simple “branding activity” that could be used as a classroom-based exercise / simulation whereby students try to “pitch” or “sell” a perspective, theory or method and the pursuit of this idea led me, in a roundabout way, to SWOT – a standard type of organisational assessment-based tool built around four ideas: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats.

    The basic idea here is that by focusing on the key SWOT categories an organisation can assess:

    • the things they do well (strengths)
    • the things they do badly (weaknesses)
    • their future goals (opportunities)
    • the things that may prevent them reaching those goals (threats).

    It occurred to me that this kind of simple organisational tool could – with a bit of tweaking – be used to help students identify, apply and evaluate their knowledge and understanding to just about any perspective, theory, concept or method, albeit in a similar way to the “Selling Sociological Sausages” idea.

    However, on the basis that you can never have too many good ideas in your Teaching Toolkit, I thought it might be useful to at least outline the SWOT tool as a further option, mainly because it’s:

    • easy-to-understand
    • simple to apply
    • clearly-organised and consistent
    • applicable across any course (in this case sociology and / or psychology a-level).

    (more…)

    Problem-Based Learning: Childhood Obesity

    Wednesday, October 10th, 2018

    Although I’m quite a fanboy for Problem-Based Learning, if you’re not familiar with the approach it’s one that, in a nutshell, encourages students to explore a question (“The Problem”) by researching information and proposing an appropriate solution. If you want a slightly more detailed explanation this short piece by Genareo and Lyons should fit the bill.

    PBL is an approach I’m attracted to because it encourages students to think about and apply their knowledge to particular teacher-specified situations and, by so doing, evaluate the information they’re using. It represents a kind of holistic approach to teaching that involves the student directly in their own learning, guided at various points as-and-when required by their teacher. In this respect, PBL has what I like to think are a number of advantages:

    (more…)

    Learning Mats: A Generic Version

    Tuesday, February 27th, 2018

    The Learning Maps we’ve previously posted have rightly proven popular, both because of their quality and because they meet a need for tools that help students to structure their work in a simple and effective way – one that has the added bonus of providing a tightly-organised and highly visual method of revision.

    Good as they are – and I’d certainly recommend downloading them to see how they meet your teaching needs – they’re generally designed for a specific (AQA) Specification and while they can be edited to meet the requirements of different Specifications, students and teachers, this involves time and effort that might not always be readily available.

    This led me to wonder about creating a generic “one-size-fits-all” version of the Mats – one that involved teachers doing absolutely no work whatsoever in terms of creating Mats that could be used in a variety of situations and ways across a range of different Specifications.

    What I’ve tried to do in this Mat Template, therefore, is focus on what I think are the key elements students would need to cover for a good knowledge and understanding of a concept, theory or method (although, to be honest, I’m not sure about how well the version I’ve designed would work with the latter). In basic terms, this might involve:

    • Describing a concept / theory / method.
    • Identifying its key proponents, critics and studies.
    • Identifying its strengths and weaknesses.

    (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…)

    What’s in the Envelope?

    Friday, June 16th, 2017

    This activity from Sharon Martin is relatively simple to set-up and run and, as an added bonus, can be used with any area of the Specification (both Psychology and Sociology): this example is based on the Sociology of Crime and Deviance.

    The activity is mainly for revision / recap sessions, although there’s probably no reason why it couldn’t be adapted to areas of the course the students are about to study as a form of exploratory activity.

    Instead of asking students to display knowledge and understanding of concepts and theories with which they are already familiar they can be encouraged to research and report on these in some way.

    The instructions for the activity are straightforward and self-explanatory, but the activity does leave teachers a lot of scope to introduce their own variations.

    Postmodernity and Sociological Theory

    Wednesday, October 5th, 2016

    This is the second of a two-part series looking at the relationship between modernityClick to download as pdf, postmodernity and the development of sociological theory. If you want to “Start at the Start”, so to speak, with Modernity, feel free to access these Teaching Notes.

    Otherwise, if you’re just here for the Postmodernity stuff, in this set of Teaching Notes the focus is on two main areas:

    1 Identifying the basic economic, political and cultural characteristics of postmodernity.

    2, Outlining a range of sociological theories we can loosely associate with postmodernity.

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    Beyond Genetics

    Tuesday, August 2nd, 2016

    “Nature or Nurture?” is a long-running debate in psychology, one heavily-influenced by developments in genetics and a rise in the popular belief that “dna is destiny”: the idea human behaviour is broadly is determined by a “good” or a “bad” roll of the genetic dice.

    This 3-part film, featuring contributions from Dr Nessa Carey and Dr Guy Sutton, goes “Beyond Genetics” to explore recent developments in the field of Epigenetics that show the way genes actually work is shaped by environmental influences – a development that introduces a new and exciting dimension to the debate, for both psychologists and sociologists.

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    Weekly Round-Up

    Thursday, May 19th, 2016

    This week’s round-up of all the sites, scenes and sounds that piqued our interest…

    (more…)

    Common Exam Errors and How to Avoid Them…

    Friday, March 4th, 2016

    This list of common exam errors (and how to avoid them) was put together for a recent CIE Sociology textbook I wrote – although most of them were actually “lost in the edit”. Be that as it may, the majority of these common exam errors are applicable to both sociology and psychology students.

    Exams can be difficult social situations to negotiate precisely because they’re unusual; it’s not every day we willingly place ourselves under 1 1/2 – 3 hours of quite extreme, highly concentrated, levels of pressure and stress. The combination of strangeness and stress can mean you make avoidable errors that stop you gaining the overall mark your level of knowledge and understanding deserves. An awareness, therefore, of some common exam errors and what you can do to avoid them is always useful:

    Error: Not answering the question: This problem is not so much that a student lacks the knowledge to answer a question correctly but more a problem of focus; the student writes a great deal of information but they lose sight of what the question is asking.

    Avoid by: continually and explicitly referring to the question throughout your answer. (more…)

    A Modest Proposal for Structured Sociology Teaching: Part 1

    Tuesday, February 16th, 2016

    It’s a fair bet that sometime within the first few weeks of teaching you’re going to be talking, if only in very basic terms, about the distinction between structure and action and its significance in Sociology.

    I’ve done this a number of ways in the past, using something like Meighan’s concept of “haunting” as a relatively simple way to get students thinking about these concepts in their immediate, educational, context – sometimes expanding it as necessary to get them thinking about the structure of their course; how, for example, the exam board has determined what will be taught, how it will be tested and validated (through a range of performance criteria such as knowledge, interpretation and evaluation) and so forth.

    On a more practical level it’s also a good bet most teachers apply, at least implicitly, ideas about structure to help students fulfil these performance criteria in their examination work through the use of simple mnemonics, such as PEEL, that help students construct clear paragraph structures in line with performance criteria.

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    Sociology Review

    Sunday, August 2nd, 2015

    Like its A-level Psychology counterpart, Sociology Review offers good-quality articles and support materials designed to help students gain a deeper knowledge and understanding of both Sociology and the requirements of the A-level exam.

    The publishers, Hodder Education, have started to develop a strong web presence for the print magazine, part of which involves offering some nice freebies related to each issue’s content, which you can check-out here:

    Sample Magazine – actually, if you know where to look (and we do…), 4 free online sample magazines with articles based around the following themes:

    1. Family
    2. Culture and Identity
    3. Globalisation and Inequality
    4. Crime

    Free Resources  include activities, supplementary notes, posters and podcasts (but, unlike our more-privileged psychological cousins, there are no short video clips).

    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