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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).

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The Learning Scientists: Free Revision Resources

Monday, June 7th, 2021

Over the past 5 or so years I’ve posted a few times about the revision resources provided by The Learning Scientists: from retrieval practice and spaced study booklets to simple video explainers about the basic science behind successful forms of revision.

Poster…

This latest post brings together a new set of resources designed to help teachers and students develop successful revision strategies, grouped into 6 separate, but related, topics:

  • Spaced Practice
  • Retrieval Practice
  • Elaboration
  • Interleaving
  • Concrete Examples
  • Dual Coding.
  • Each of the above leads to a range of resources designed to help you teach / illustrate the topic:

  • A classroom display Poster
  • A PowerPoint Presentation that walks students through the basic ideas underpinning the topic.
  • Cut-out-and-keep Bookmarks that outline the basics of a topic and prompt students to reflect on information they’ve previously read.
  • A set of sticker templates you’re unlikely to use unless you and your students are Really Into Sticker Culture. And even then, I’d say it was probably marginal.
  • A short (2 – 3 minute) YouTube video explainer.
  • While it’s important to note that applying any or all of these revision techniques is no guarantee of exam success – as the Learning Scientists note, “We cannot guarantee success, and we cannot predict students’ grades based on the use of these strategies. There are a lot of variables at play during learning…” – their efficacy is at least based on cogitative psychological evidence about what does and doesn’t work when it comes to effective revision.

    Which is, you’ll probably agree, something.

    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

    Study Strategies: The Appliance of Science

    Thursday, October 13th, 2016

    It’s probably fair to say students and teachers are constantly bombarded with study advice – what to do, what not to do, why you shouldn’t do what someone else has told you is absolutely essential – and it’s equally fair to say that not all of his advice is necessarily impartial or, not to put too fine a point on things, useful.

    The Learning Scientists’ approach has the dual virtue of offering advice that’s free (which is nice) and backed-up by scientific evidence (the clue is in the name. Probably). Something that should be essential in this particular area but which is so often is treated as optional.

    So far they’ve released 6 short (1½ – 3 minutes) videos focused on helping students develop coherent study strategies through the application of techniques that have more than just a nodding acquaintance with logic and research.

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    Of Methods and Methodology 6 | 2: Ethical Research Considerations

    Wednesday, April 29th, 2020

    Ethics refers to the morality of doing something and ethical questions relating to sociological research involve beliefs about what a researcher should – or should not do – before, during and after the research in which they’re involved. This will, as a matter of course, include a consideration of both legal and safety issues:

  • for the researcher.
  • those being researched.
  • any subsequent researchers.
  • In this respect, therefore, ethical questions cover a range of possible issues, questions and problems relating to the conduct of sociological research that include:

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