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Some More (Free) Psychology Textbooks

Tuesday, August 25th, 2020

I’ve recently, for some reason, been collecting links to a number of free psychology textbooks – either books released under a Creative Commons licence, such as OpenStax Psychology and the almost-but-not-quite rude-sounding Noba Collection, or texts that, for one reason or other have gone out-of-print, been superseded by a newer, shiner, version or simply fallen off a publishing cliff – and thought it might be an idea to post the stuff I’ve collected in time for the New Academic Year (Sort of. Maybe.).

Introducing Social Psychology (2015): The 8th edition of this textbook covers a wide range of topics (research methods, aggression, deviant behaviour and more) from a social psychological perspective. Hence the title.

Probably.

Everything is also in Black and White.

Quite literally.

Essentials of Understanding Psychology (2009): Now in its 13th edition, this is the 8th edition of this Popular American Textbook (it says here). Chapters cover most of the usual suspects (Memory, Learning, Perception and the like), plus interesting stuff on areas like Neuroscience and there’s been a lot of thought given to presentation, layout and accessibility. Which, all-things-considered, is nice.

Discovering Psychology (2011) The 5th edition of Hockenbury and Hockenbury’s textbook (so good they named it twice. Or maybe there’s two of them…) – it’s now in its 8th edition – covers much the same ground as just about every other Psychology textbook (Research Methods, Neuroscience, Learning, Memory, Personality…) but you might find the page layout a little weird (and if you don’t believe me, take a look).

Introduction to Psychology: This series of texts may take a little bit of explanation, so bear with me. It seems that Charles Sanger created a free Introduction to Psychology textbook (2013) that, under some sort of Creative Commons license could be freely adapted by other teachers / colleges. This means Colleges could take Sanger’s somewhat basic layout and adapt it to their own particular needs – hence this (2018) version from Lake County College that actually looks a lot better than the “original”. There may be other versions, so it might be worth looking around.

Or alternatively adapting your own…

Psychological Science (2010): The third edition of a textbook that’s now well-into it’s 6th reincarnation covers much same stuff as every other textbook currently on the market, but its claimed USP is that it offers students a “thorough and interesting overview of contemporary psychological research using the best practices from the science-of learning research. It develops psychological literacy by presenting the material in a way that is directly related to their lives”.

The truth or otherwise of this bold claim is now something about which you can be the judge.

Psychology (2015) The 4th edition of this big, colourful, text is filled with pretty pictures, nice illustrations, self-tests, chapter summaries and video links (that only work if you’ve signed-up to the MyLab access feature that constitutes the main USP of the text). Even without the (very expensive…) MyLab, this is a perfectly serviceable text, even though you’ll have to forgo the “Student Voice videos” that introduce each chapter, where “Psychology students share personal stories about how the chapter theme directly applies to their lives”.

Which, to my untutored ear actually sounds like a plus-point.

But then, what do I know?

Free Sociology Textbooks: A New Chapter

Wednesday, January 29th, 2020
One of the texts looks like this.

Over the past two or three years I’ve occasionally posted links to free, orphaned, sociology textbooks (by which I mean texts that have either been superseded by later editions or which a publisher has allowed to go out-of-print), mainly in small batches (Free Sociology Textbooks, Sociology Textbooks for Free (quite a clever twist I thought) and the imaginatively-titled More Free Sociology Texts) but also as one-off publications (such as Sociology in Focus for AS  and for A2, or the mega-popular Sociology and You textbook.

It has, however, been a few months since I last posted anything useful on the Textbook Front, mainly because I’ve been doing other things, but where I come across them from time-to-time I save them up until there’s enough for a decent-length post.

And also because by listing a few texts at the same time I don’t have to say as much about each.

But mainly because hunting out orphaned texts isn’t my number-one priority.

What follows, therefore, is a quick trawl through some of the least-lit areas of the Internet (not really) to shine a light on a few sadly-neglected texts in the hope they might, once more, burn brightly in the eyes of budding sociologists.

Back to reality, what follows is a list of general textbooks and dictionaries a-level students and teachers might find useful.

Click here to see the textbooks

Free Sociology Textbooks: A New Batch of Contenders

Thursday, May 16th, 2019
Seeing Sociology

Those of you with long(ish) memories may recall the previous posts in a series that delivers a variety of slightly out-of-date sociology textbooks found gathering dust and mould in some unloved corners of the Internet to your desktop (Sociology Textbooks for Free and More Free Sociology Texts).

If you do remember them you’ll no-doubt be pleased to know that I’ve been out rummaging once more and have collected a further batch of out-of-print editions of once-loved textbooks-that-have-been-replaced-by-newer-shinier-versions.

And if you don’t, this should all come as a pleasant surprise.

As ever, I’ve held fast to only two basic criteria when selecting the books (three if you count the fact that there’s not, in truth, a great deal of selecting going on behind the scenes, or four if you include the proviso they must be freely available “somewhere on the web” – i.e. I’m just the messenger bringing them to you).

The first is they need to have been published in the 21st century (arbitrary I know, but you have to draw the line somewhere and that’s where I’ve drawn it).

The second is that they should be out-of-print. i.e. they’re not being sold anywhere or have been supplanted by newer versions.

Continue to the textbooks

Free Psychology Textbooks

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2018

Following soft on the heels of the open-source Psychology textbook comes a brief selection of additional psychology texts you and your students may or may not find useful. The list includes 4 complete textbooks, either released under a Creative Commons license or as an out-of-print edition a of current textbook. You need to be aware, if you use them, these texts are a few years “out of date” (I’ve avoided including anything more than 10 years old) and don’t exactly match any UK A-level Specification. While most, if not all, of the following are generally aimed at an American undergraduate “Introductory Psychology” audience the information is generally reflective of a-level psychology, albeit more A2 than AS.

1. Psychology: Themes and Variations (7th edition)
This American “Introductory Psychology textbook”, probably released around 2009 in this version, is mainly aimed at first year undergraduates (Psychology 101, at a guess) but its design and content probably makes most, if not necessarily all, of the information it contains suitable for a-level students.

2. Psychology: Themes and Variations (9th edition) Chapter 1
The opening chapter in the 9th (2011) edition of the textbook serves as a general introduction to the study of psychology.

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Sociology Textbooks From Around The Web

Tuesday, April 24th, 2018

A couple of days ago I posted a link to a free, open-source, textbook (Introduction to Sociology), the open-availability of which made me think about whether there were any other sociology books lying around in some dusty corner of the web just waiting to be found, dusted-down and presented to a wider audience.

And the answer, since you’re currently reading this post, is that clearly there was. I’ve managed to uncover 7 such texts that should be of at least some interest to a-level Sociology students and teachers. There are, however, a few things it might be useful to point out:

1. The texts I’ve listed aren’t the very latest versions in a series. While I’ve tried not to include very old editions (there’s nothing from the last century…) if you want the most up-to-date versions you’re going to have to buy them.

2. Most of the texts are from American publishers. They reflect American Sociological Specifications and preoccupations and invariably draw much of their illustrative material from American society. While this is not necessary A Bad Thing (depending, of course, on your view of Americentricity) it does mean you’re not going to find many references to non-American examples and illustrations. You’ll also find that data about areas like crime, marriage, education and so forth is pretty-much wholly-focused on North America. While this may be useful for comparative purposes you need to be careful students don’t assume such data necessarily reflects the situation in other countries around the world.

3. Following from the above, these texts are not likely to fit neatly with, for example, UK A-level Sociology Specifications. You will, however, find a lot of the content is universal: theories of crime commonly discussed in UK textbooks, for example, are also likely to be discussed in American textbooks.

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GCSE Sociology Workbooks

Wednesday, July 14th, 2021
Research Methods Workbook

This is a set of Booklets / Workbooks created, according to the metadata, by Jennifer Croft for the Eduqas GCSE Sociology Specification – a slightly-underwhelming introduction that doesn’t do justice to the scope of the resources and the amount of work that must have gone into creating them.

In all there are 8 Booklets, covering the Specification in full, although “Research Methods” actually covers two separate Modules (Applied methods of sociological enquiry and Sociological Research Methods) and Crime and Deviance is covered across 3 separate Booklets. Each Booklet is divided into 3 discreate sections:

1. The body of the resource is given-over to a wide variety of notes, tasks, questions and exercises, some of which refer to “the textbook” by page number – such as when students are asked to provide definitions of key terms. Given there aren’t a massive number of Eduqas textbooks available this will probably be a self-evident reference for most teachers.

For those using the resources with another Specification (such as AQA, WJEC or a non-UK Syllabus) or textbook, you will have to edit these references accordingly to fit whatever resources you use. For this reason I’ve left the Booklets in Word format to make them easy to edit. You can also add or remove material that you want to include / exclude.

While, as I’ve been at pains to point-out, these resources have been designed for Eduqas there’s plenty of convergence between this Specification and other Specifications. For teachers of the latter, some judicious editing should bring everything into line with whatever Specification you follow.

2. Retrieval Practice: This is an increasingly standard form of revision practice and each Booklet has space for students to practice their retrieval techniques – even though this just consists of blank pages…

3. Additional Notes: There’s further space at the end of each Booklet for students to add their own additional notes to the materials.

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Media Matters: Some Free Texts

Tuesday, March 30th, 2021

All of the stuff on offer here is what I’d generally call “Texts for Teachers” in the sense they’re likely to appeal – in all or more-likely part – to anyone teaching the sociology of the media. None are what I’d classify as “Media Sociology” texts, per se, but all in their different ways can be plundered for information that could be relevant to a-level / high school sociology – from simple reference material on stuff like media effects and audiences to more-specialised material on media violence and digital sociology.

Textbooks

Understanding Media and Culture: An Introduction to Mass Communication (2010): Released under a Creative Commons licence, which basically means you’re free to copy it, this text covers many different aspects of Media and Mass Communication (film, magazines, newspapers and the like) as well as looking at stuff like media ethics, the development of new technologies, media censorship and so forth. Of most interest to sociology teachers and students will probably be the chapters covering popular culture and media effects – but it’s an interesting read overall.

Key Themes in Media Theory (2007): If you want to get up-to-speed on a range of media theory – from the classic (2-step flow…) through the contemporary (various forms of postmodernism) to the culturally consumerist (Fiske, Bourdieu…) this may well help you out.

Understanding Violence: Contexts and Portrayals (2009): Pretty much everything – and then some more besides – you’d ever want to know about violence and the media covered in a wide range of discrete chapters you may want to dip into and out of.

The SAGE Dictionary of Cultural Studies (2004): If you need concise definitions of media terms (from active audience to media values) or potted histories of media theorists (Habermas, Hebdige, Hall, Haraway – other letters of the alphabet are available) this is a useful place to begin.

Communication, Cultural and Media Studies (2002): In a similar vein, the focus here is on Key Media Concepts (including things like culture, cultural capital, popular culture plus a whole load of other stuff that’s less-likely to be of interest to sociologists). Each Key Concept is explained at varying, if usually reasonable, length.

Media Studies 101 (2018): Another textbook released under a Creative Commons licence, this is both more-tightly focused on “Media Studies” than “Media Sociology” and aimed at a first-year undergraduate (American) audience. While most of the material isn’t particularly relevant to a-level teaching (unless you’re into critical dissections of Habermas), there’s plenty here on things like Audiences and Effects you might find useful.

Media, Society, Culture and You (2018): A relatively short (100+ pages) media text released under a Creative Commons licence that is not so much a media textbook as an interesting, fairly chatty, trawl through a range of media-related ideas, concepts and theories. Probably better filed under the heading of “an interesting and informative read” than “a textbook that’s going to get someone through an exam”. Although you never know.

Chapters

Perceptions of Media and Media Effects (2013): This chapter, unceremoniously ripped (probably) from the virtual pages of the massive “International Encyclopedia (sic) of Media Studies” offers a slightly-different take on standard “media effects” theories by outlining three broad theories (mainly, but not exclusively, with a definite psychological derivation) you might find useful and interesting: audience trust, hostile media and perceived media models.

Introducing Digital Sociology (2013): A chapter that eventually found its way into “Public Sociology: An Introduction to Australian Society”, Deborah Lupton provides an interesting, if not always very accessible, introduction to “digital sociology”, including a useful section on the digital optimism / pessimism debate.

Gender, Race and Media Representation: Quite an advanced text with a focus on a range of theoretical explanations for different forms of racial representation in North America.

Gender Stereotypes: Masculinity and Femininity (2004): An interesting trawl through a wide-range of masculine and feminine media stereotypes from which it’s possible to derive a whole shed-load of interesting ideas about how masculinity and femininity has been variously represented over the past 50 or so years.

The (Social) Magic of Sport?

Friday, March 19th, 2021

This Lesson Outline uses the analogy of top-level sporting achievement – and the economic, cultural and social resources needed to reach this level – to encourage students to understand and apply concepts of economic, cultural and social capital to explain how and why apparently “individualistic explanations” of behaviour can be more-coherently explained sociologically.

This is particularly useful to demonstrate how apparently “natural” individual attributes – such as sporting ability – invariably involve underlying social inequalities.

As a bonus, the Outline can also be used to introduce Bourdieu’s concept of social magic.

For many Modules in Sociology you will, at some point, invariably find yourself contrasting “naturalistic” explanations of behaviour with socio-cultural explanations:

  • family life – domestic labour as “natural” to women.
  • education – some children are just “naturally” more intelligent than others
  • social inequality – some people are born to be more successful than others
  • crime – some people are naturally predisposed to break the rules.
  • While contemporary sociologists are probably not as wedded to the kind of cultural determinism you find in some textbooks – there is clearly some interplay between the physical (biological, genetic) and social environments across a range of behaviours – it’s useful to be able to demonstrate how and why cultural factors have a massive part to play in explaining people’s behaviour.

    In this respect it makes sense to encourage students to explore how and why social factors underpin and influence apparently natural behaviours – and to do this in a way that can be repeatedly applied whenever they’re confronted by the claim that this-or-that behaviour is explicable by purely “natural” factors.

    In order to do this, this Lesson Outline uses an example of behaviour that appears to be wholly-natural – playing top-level (international) professional sport – to demonstrate how a variety of social factors have crucial roles to play in explaining how and why people come to play sport at this level.

    Lesson Outline…

    Sociology Revision Blasts

    Thursday, March 11th, 2021

    Having girded my loins, as you do, for this set of Tutur2U GCSE and A-level Revision videos I was quite prepared to be met with a series of “worthy-but-a-little-dull” screencasts that used a “Podcasts with Pictures” format to talk students through a range of sociological topics.

    Chatty. And Definitely Not Dull.

    In other words, someone talking over and around a series of static screens that, by-and-large, mirror whatever the narrator is saying.

    Some see this as reinforcement.

    Some see this as redundancy.

    You pays your money. Or not, in this case, because the screencasts are free (but you probably get the drift).

    Anyway, I digress.

    What we actually have here are a set of recorded webinars, featuring between 2 and 4 presenters, that run for around 40 – 45 minutes. Being a webinar, there’s also an (unseen) audience of students whose main role is to answer a wide range of different types of “revision-style questions” (multiple-choice, connecting walls, 30-second challenges and so forth) set by the presenters.

    Against all my, admittedly quite low, initial expectations I found the whole thing great fun, engaging and informative.

    This was helped, in no small measure, by the personable and chatty presenters who chivvied the unseen students into answering the on-screen questions and then provided a useful commentary on why they were (mostly) right and how this all connected to answering different types of exam question.

    While you’ll probably have to look through the webinars to see if the information tested fits with your current teaching – it’s mostly fairly generic stuff you’ll find in most GCSE / A-level textbooks, but there may be examples and references you’ve not taught or used alternatives for with your students – I think you’ll find them a really engaging way to mix-up revision sessions with your students, particularly if you’re teaching on-line.

    Webinars

    Sociology Texts: Another Big Bundle of Free

    Sunday, February 14th, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

    Free the texts…

    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.

    Family: Personal Life Perspective Resources

    Thursday, October 22nd, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

    Resources…

    Not Just Another Sociology Book

    Wednesday, August 19th, 2020

    A text that’s well-worth adding to your collection, even if it’s something you’re only likely to use infrequently when you want to give your students a bit of extended reading around a writer or topic.

    Baudrillard…

    From time-to-time I’ve posted links to a variety of Sociology and Psychology textbooks that, for one reason or another (because they’ve gone out-of-print, been superceded by newer versions and so forth) are no-longer current.

    The latest edition to the list is The Sociology Book, now in its 2nd edition if you’re interested in buying it,  that’s part of an extensive and diverse series themed around a basic, but attractive conceit:

    Take the “Big Ideas” that characterise a particular subject,  in this case Sociology, (but also Psychology, Religion and Feminism among many others) and explain them clearly and concisely – or as the Publisher’s blurb puts it:

    “The Big Ideas Simply Explained series uses creative design and innovative graphics, along with straightforward and engaging writing, to make complex subjects easier to understand.”

    As luck and an extensive search of the Internet would have it, you are now in a position to evaluate this bold claim using this free version of the 1st edition, published in 2015.

    The general format of the book involves:

  • dividing it into discrete categories – social inequalities, culture and identity, families, globalisation (plus a few more that are unlikely to interest a-level sociology students or teachers).
  • select a range of well-known writers (such as Parsons, Foucault, Stacey and Beck on Families, Mead, Baudrillard, Goffman and Anderson on Culture) and write some nicely-illustrated pages about their work in a way that’s generally accessible to a-level students.
  • Durkheim…

    The way each writer and their ideas is covered seems a little arbitrary – some, such as Weber, get 6 pages while others, such as Urry, get a single (not, it has to be said, very enlightening for such a deep and complex theorist) page – but overall the standard of writing and presentation is pleasingly good.

    While I’m not sure about the “creative design” (think Sociology Review) and “innovative graphics” (unless short, boxed, “Timelines” and a few colour pictures count as cutting-edge) I’m generally on-board with the “straightforward and engaging writing”.

    And while it’s not a text you’re likely to use everyday, I’d still argue it’s a useful one to add to your collection.

    Hate Crime

    Wednesday, August 12th, 2020

    Historically, Hate Crime isn’t something that’s featured prominently in most sociology specifications and this lack of prominence has meant that resources for teaching it have generally been a little lacking – so anything that helps to fill-in some of the many gaps is probably to be welcomed.

    The Report-it web site is one such general resource UK teachers and students might find helpful because it contains a range of relatively-simple – but accessible – materials. These have been created under the guidance of The National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC), a body responsible for the national coordination of UK law enforcement that broadly reflects the views of Chief Constables and Police Crime Commissioners across the UK.

    The materials range from legal definitions of different types of hate crime in relation to different social groups characterised by things like disability, race, religion, sexual orientation and transgender to Reports and Resources that include a range of downloadable materials students could be encouraged to explore as part of their wider reading.

    One of the useful things about this section is that it contains a number of relatively-recent Reports – such as “Homophobia, biphobia and transphobia in the UK (2016)”, “Attitudes to LGBT+ people in the UK (2019)” and data relating to Hate Crime prosecutions (2010-2015) – that goes a little way beyond what you’re likely to find in textbooks.

    If you’re into classroom decoration (presupposing there’s a return to classroom teaching any time soon…) you’ll also find a range of A4 posters to cut-out-and-keep.

    Alternatively, you can print them.

    And you might be interested to know some of these are available in Welsh and Polish.

    Research Methods Bonus!

    I came across this short (4 minute) film called “Homophobia Social Experiment” that you might find helpful in relation to Crime with Theory and Methods because it uses a simple observational method to carry-out an equally-simple field experiment.

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    Research Methods Booklet

    Thursday, May 21st, 2020

    This Booklet was created by Steven Humphrys, based on one of Ken Browne’s many Sociology textbooks. I don’t know which one but since the Booklet’s dated 2018 I chose the most recent.

    Probably.

    I can’t keep up.

    Also, when I say “guessing”, the Word version has a bank page that says “Ken Browne Scan”, which might be considered some sort of a clue.

    Be that as it may, the content covers pretty-much everything a student would need to know and revise about (AQA) research methods (other Exam Boards are available – but since its Research Methods the content’s going to be pretty much applicable across the board, so to speak), organised into a number of discrete sections:

  • Methodologies (positivism and interpretivism)
  • Practical, Ethical and Theoretical research considerations
  • Research design
  • Methods – from experiments to observation via questionnaires.
  • Sampling techniques
  • Triangulation (although this is treated minimally. And then some).
  • Each section is generally presented in terms of two categories:

  • keywords and concepts outlines the basic information required for the exam. This includes the aforementioned (visually signposted) key ideas, some elaborative material and, where relevant, a table of advantages and disadvantages.
  • exam focus provides a range of exam practice questions.
  • As you’ll see from the image I’ve used to decorate this Post, the document formatting is a step up from most booklet’s of this type – and therein lies a slight problem. Word is predominantly a word processor (there’s a clue in there somewhere) and while it has tried to evolve over the years into what it likes to think of itself as some-sort of all-round Desktop Publishing type program, it really isn’t.

    While you can DTP in Word, as this Booklet demonstrates, it’s not ideal because you have to be very careful about the options you set when anchoring text to graphics. To cut a long story short, if you get it wrong and the text moves slightly – which can happen when documents are uploaded to the web – so do the images…

    What I’ve done, therefore, is correct some of the formatting problems that appear in the original Word document and saved it as a pdf file. I haven’t changed any of the text, so both versions are identical (although I’ve removed the blank page from the pdf version). However, if you want a version to edit, choose the original Word one. If you want a version whose contents won’t slide around the page if you cough too loudly, choose the pdf one.

    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…)

    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

    Flipped Classroom Field Guide

    Tuesday, September 17th, 2019

    If you’ve been toying with the idea of flipping – but haven’t yet decided whether or not it’s right for you – this field guide (and associated videos) might help.

    Click to download Field Guide pdf
    Field Guide

    Flipped teaching / learning is one of those ideas that, in principle, should have some mileage for a-level teaching because of the way the course is structured and tested in terms of Assessment Objectives such as:

  • Knowledge and Understanding
  • Application
  • Analysis and evaluation
  • If you’re new to the concept, the basic idea is that in the “traditional classroom” the emphasis tends to be on ensuring students are taught the knowledge they need to complete the course while skills such as application, analysis and evaluation are largely taught outside the classroom: students, for example, will complete homework essays that test these skills and feedback is usually given through written marking and teacher comments.

    The broad argument here therefore is that “traditional” ways of organising teaching and learning mean teachers spend most of their time on an activity (knowledge production) that is generally the easiest skill for students to master and much less of their time on developing skills, such as evaluation, students find much harder to grasp (and which tend to be rewarded more in exams).

    Flipped teaching reverses these practices: knowledge production takes place outside the classroom. Students complete knowledge work (reading, watching filmed lectures and the like) before they come to class. Classroom work then focuses on the skills – analysis, evaluation, application – students find difficult. Teachers spend less of their class time “teaching knowledge” and more of that time – in small groups or one-to-one – teaching and assessing “skills”.

    Read on for guide download and videos

    Sociology Flipbooks: Free Textbook Previews

    Sunday, May 12th, 2019

    So. Here’s the thing.

    I like to occasionally root around on Pinterest   – mainly, it must be said, when I’m pretending to do “research” in order to avoid doing any actual work – because it’s a good source of interesting ideas and practices.

    Like stuff I’ve shared in the past, such as structure strips or the Crumple and Shoot revision game.

    Anyhow, while idly browsing doing important research the other day I chanced upon what turned out to be a flipbook preview of my CIE Sociology textbook that I never knew existed (I’m just the guy who wrote it).

    For reasons best known to themselves, Cambridge University Press, have not only uploaded a 77-page flipbook of Chapter’s 1 and 2 (The Sociological Perspective and Socialisation and the Creation of Social Identity respectively), they’ve also included, half of Chapter 3 (Research Methods).

    Which is nice. But why it abruptly stops half way through the chapter is anyone’s guess.

    Mass Media

    Be that as it may, not content with this rather extraordinary act of generosity, they’ve also added a further 48-page flipbook of the complete Media chapter.

    To put that into context, that’s around 30% of the actual textbook.

    For free.

    That’s extraordinarily generous of CUP with my time and effort.

    Anyway, my interest, not to mention my sense of grievance, having been piqued I decided to see if there were any other previews hanging around just waiting to be discovered and, sure enough, both CUP and Collins have been busy posting both A-level and GCSE materials. Those I’ve found can be viewed online as flipbooks or downloaded for offline use as pdf files. Most only seem to have a single chapter but, since they’re free, what have you got to lose?

    Click here to read more

    Understanding Media and Culture: Free Textbook

    Wednesday, July 11th, 2018

    Understanding Media and Culture: An Introduction to Mass Communication (to give it its full title) is a textbook, released under a Creative Commons licence by the University of Minnesota, that’s free to read, copy and share – which makes it especially useful for schools / colleges or students on a tight budget.

    Under this particular licence you’re also free to adapt the work in any way you like (“remix, transform, and build upon the material”) and what this will mostly mean is that if you want to chop chapters or sections out of the textbook you’re free to distribute these in any way you like (you just can’t charge anyone for the privilege).

    In terms of content, the main body of the text dates from 2010 but there has been some updating in 2016 (particularly around the impact of new technologies) which makes it pretty up-to-the-moment as far as textbooks go.

    The emphasis on media and culture means that most of the text is given-over to an analysis of the cultural impact of different types of media, both old (books, newspapers, film and television) and new (video games, entertainment, the internet and social media). Each type is given their own discrete chapter which, among other things, looks at their broad development, relationship to culture and, perhaps most-interestingly, how they have been impacted by the development of new technologies.

    The remaining chapters deal more generally with a range of areas: concepts of culture, media effects (there’s coverage of a range of theories dealing with direct and indirect effects), globalisation, the relationship between the media and government and a final section on the future of the mass media.

    Each chapter also has its own learning objectives, brief summary and short exercises. Whether or not you find these useful is, as ever, a moot point. I’m personally not a big fan, but Publisher’s love them so we probably have to learn to live with them.

    Or ignore them.

    It’s your choice.

    Finally, one obvious drawback, as far as UK teachers and students are concerned, is that the cultural focus is largely North American. This means that many of the chapters draw on materials and examples that will be unfamiliar to any but an American audience and UK teachers who decide to use these chapters may want to take advantage of the aforementioned editing privileges afforded by the CC license.

    If you think you might be able to live with this, the textbook’s available to:

    Read online
    • Download in a variety of ebook formats (such as mobi and epub) or as a pdf file.

    When All’s SED and Done: Write. Review. Revise

    Monday, May 21st, 2018

    Reviewing and revising student work at GCSE or A-level is a crucial part of the teaching and learning process and one way to encourage this is to use a simple formula: Save, Erase, Develop (SED). This post looks at how your students can review and revise their written work using this  formula. It can also, if you use them, be easily integrated into Structure Strips.

    As someone who writes stuff for a living – from sociology textbooks, through film scripts, and biographies to the odd – actually, very oddnovel in my spare time – one of the very few things I’ve learnt is the importance of reviewing and revising what I’ve written: what eventually appears on the printed page or screen is never what first appeared on my page. Everything I’ve ever written has gone through a process of review and revision that involves:

    • keeping stuff that works.
    • removing stuff that doesn’t.
    • developing stuff that needs more work…

    And if you’re wondering what this preamble has to do with your teaching and learning, wonder no more.

    I chanced across this basic idea on Pinterest through an idea called “Keep it, Bin it, Build it” broadly aimed at helping younger students redraft their work to bring it into line with various assessment objectives (such as “answering the question”…). I have no idea who originally created it but I thought it was a helpful idea that could be applied to just about any level of work or subject. As is my wont – and because I can – I thought I’d make it a little bit snappier (hence “Save, Erase, Develop”) and turn it into a simple mnemonic.

    Again, because I can.

    And also because it gave me a little pun to use as a title.

    Anyway.

    The easiest way to understand what SED involves (and like some of the very best ideas, it’s incredibly easy to understand and simple to use) is to have a look at it. I’ve created a couple of different versions you can use with your students, depending on how they create and submit work:

    (more…)

    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 a text packed with all kinds of useful information. Some of it may 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…)

    An Open-Source Psychology Textbook

    Monday, April 23rd, 2018

    A free (open-source) Psychology textbook (plus resources) that could be used to supplement your existing textbooks and classroom resources.

    As with the open source “Introduction to Sociology” textbook, “Psychology” is a free open-source textbook, now in its 2nd edition, created and distributed by the OpenStax College. It comes in a range of versions, most of them digital (although there’s also an option to by a paper version of the text for around £20 / $38) and will happily integrate an LMS such as Canvas.

    The book has been written by a number of contributing authors and seems to have been designed mainly as a primer for American undergraduates taking an introductory Psychology module (“Psychology 101”). The general level should be perfectly acceptable for A-level, although you may need to dip in and out of the book depending on the Specification you follow – the 700+ pages cover a wide range of options:

    • Introduction to Psychology
    • Psychological Research
    • Biopsychology
    • States of Consciousness
    • Sensation and Perception
    • Learning
    • Thinking and Memory
    • Lifespan Development
    • Emotion and Motivation
    • Personality
    • Social Psychology
    • Industrial-Organizational Psychology
    • Stress, Lifestyle, and Health
    • Psychological Disorders
    • Therapy and Treatment

    The book also comes with a range of Instructor resources (access to PowerPoint Presentations and Test Banks require you to sign-up for a free account), plus a host of free community-created resources.

    Other free textbooks you might want to notify subject colleagues about:

    • Mathematics (Algebra, Calculus, Statistics)
    • Biology, Physics, Chemistry
    • Economics
    • History

    An Open-Source Sociology Textbook

    Sunday, April 22nd, 2018

    A free (open-source) Sociology textbook (plus resources) that could be used to supplement your existing textbooks and classroom resources.

    While the idea of “open-source software” – programs created, modified and freely distributed to users who also contribute in various ways to their subsequent development – has long-been a feature of digital technology, it seems a little odd the concept hasn’t been applied to other areas, such as textbook publishing, given how easy it is to collaborate, design, publish and distribute books largely indistinguishable from those produced by professional publishers.

    Whatever the reason, the free textbook “Introduction to Sociology” – created and distributed by the OpenStax College and now in its 2nd edition – is the first sociology textbook I’ve come across organised around open-source principles (as opposed to simply being freely distributed by its author).

    What this means is that not only can you use the text as you would any other textbook (giving students individual digital or paper copies, for example, or integrating it into Canvas if you use this free LMS) you also have a wide range of format options, most of which (reading online, downloading to desktop, viewing on mobile devices) are free. If you really must have a properly bound copy this can be purchased for around £16 / $30.

    Once you get past the various viewing options you’ll find a textbook created by a number of different authors (all, I assume, employed by Rice University?) designed primarily as a primer for American undergraduates taking an introductory module in Sociology (“Sociology 101”). This level, from what I’ve read of the text, seems perfectly acceptable for A-level Sociology (which probably says something about either the American or the British education system).

    While you need to take into account both its target audience (most of the text, illustrations, examples and so forth reference American society – it is, in other words, pretty ethnocentric) and some of the preoccupations of American Sociology (a focus on areas like race and ethnicity, for example, that isn’t given such a central focus by A-level Sociology) the textbook covers areas that will be very familiar and useful to a-level sociologists. These include:

    • Culture and Socialisation
    • Family
    • Education
    • Health
    • Inequality
    • Religion
    • Deviance
    • Media

    Although most of these aren’t covered in any great depth – and you’ll find significant parts of UK Sociology Specifications aren’t addressed – there’s plenty of useful material here for a-level students and teachers. While it’s probably not going to replace your main sociology textbook it could be worth considering as an additional text to supplement the existing resources you use – particularly because of its portability across different devices.

    In addition, there are a number of Instructor and Student resources you can sign-up for. To access some – such as PowerPoint Presentations and the Test Bank – you need to register with a school / college email account, but the resources are free once you’ve registered.

    It’s also possible, even if you don’t want to contribute suggestions for future updates, to add “community resources” to support the text. While there’s not much available at the moment, one example of these resources is a series of short video lectures you may or may not find helpful.

    Quick Quizzing

    Friday, March 16th, 2018

    This simple ungraded quiz idea, one that can be used to test how much your students have actually understood by the end of a teaching session, has been adapted from (or, if you’re a stickler for accuracy, shamelessly half-inched) the University of Waterloo’s “Centre for Teaching Excellence (CTE)”.

    The reason I don’t feel bad about this – apart from the fact I am literally without shame – is that the idea itself just a simple variation on the Exit Ticket quizzes popular in American – and increasingly UK – schools and colleges.

    Be that as it may, like all good ideas it’s very simple and although it will involve a little more preparation than some other forms of feedback the information gathered will be worth the extra effort.

    The basic idea here is that, near the end of each class, students take a short quiz designed to test, at a very basic level, how much they’ve understood about the work they’ve just done. You should, however, make it clear that the test is diagnostic: its purpose is to inform your teaching not to grade your students with passes and fails (which is why the CTC calls the quizzes ungraded tests).

    The only interest you have in their answers is to help you understand what parts of the lesson were clearly understood and which aspects may need more work or explanation. The test is just a simple way to do this while everything is still fresh in their minds (or not, as the case may be). (more…)

    Sociology Revision Days with Dr Steve Taylor

    Wednesday, March 7th, 2018

    Crime & Deviance: updated to 21st Century

    Dr Steve Taylor, University of London & ShortCutstv

    Examiners reward students for writing about contemporary society but there are very few examples of contemporary theory & research on crime in the textbooks. This Workshop aims to fill that gap by linking the ‘familiar’ with the new.

    Approaches to Crime & Deviance: Key theories & concepts, consolidated, compared & evaluated.

    New Research: clear, easy to understand, up to date research examples to illustrate approaches.

    Globalisation & Crime: green, organised & state crime made accessible & illustrated with up to date examples.

    Theory & Method: simplified & illustrated.

    Handouts: include concise summarises of research examples used.

    Exam technique guidance, including introducing newer material into exam questions.

    Brand new free video “Sociological Theories of Crime” included.

    What Teachers say
    Our students came away inspired and were talking about the session for the rest of the year
    David Gunn, Camden School
    Excellent Day. He brings in contemporary evidence and great links to exam skills
    Ann-Marie Taylor, Coleg Cambria
    The students loved it. I’d recommend Steve to any teacher wanting to organise a revision day.
    Ian Luckhurst, Bridgewater College

    Cost (inclusive & regardless of no. of students):
    Day: £500
    Half Day £300

    For more information:
    Email: steve@shortcutstv.com
    Call: 07771-561521

    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.

    GCSE Sociology Notes

    Friday, December 1st, 2017

    Although this site describes itself as the UK’s leading educational website for GCSE and A-level it’s a little odd because it looks unfinished – loads of placeholder ”awaiting image” graphics, a Facebook page not updated for a year and the same with its Twitter feed.

    However, if you and your students can live with this you’ll find a range of Notes here that are relatively short, to-the-point and cover a number of different Specification areas and topics:

    • Introduction to Sociology
    • Families
    • Education
    • Media
    • Power
    • Social Inequality
    • Crime and Deviance
    • Sampling techniques

    While the material isn’t going to replace your textbooks, it’s a handy resource for students that complements, rather than detracts from, whatever sources you use.

    Free Resources: Napier Press

    Thursday, October 26th, 2017

    It’s probably fair to say that “A-level Sociology” by Webb et al is one of the best-selling textbooks for the AQA Specification and if you follow this Spec. or, more importantly perhaps, use this book the resources available on the Napier Press web site should come in handy.

    If you don’t use this text the site has a range of sample pages from both the textbooks (year 1 and year 2) and the accompanying Revision Guides designed to give you a general overview of what’s on offer and maybe tempt you into a purchase.

    Either way, there are still resources available that, with a bit of thought and tinkering, could be adapted for use with different texts. Whether or not you think it’s worth the effort is probably a matter of personal choice:

    Schemes of work covering both Year 1 and Year 2 are probably worth a look: at the very least they give an insight into possible topic timings and learning objectives. As you’d expect, the suggested activities and resources are squarely fixed on the textbook, although there are suggestions for a few wider – mainly video – resources.

    Similarly the Lesson Plans that, for some reason, begin and end with Education and Methods in Context are heavily reliant on the textbook. While there’s nothing particularly wrong with this, entirely-understandable, approach it doesn’t leave a great deal of scope for variety or imagination. Should you choose to ignore the content, however, they’re still a potentially useful resource as a template for lesson planning.

    Alongside this there are an extensive range of ready-made student activities for Year 1 and Year 2 topics, although, like the workschemes / lesson plans they’re all quite similar in scope and format (read some text, watch a bit of video, answer the questions…). There are some, however, that break this format to provide more-innovative activities.

    Finally, the site offers a number of workbooks, again divided into Year 1 and Year 2 topics. These are strictly tied to the text, which is great if it’s the one you’re using, but even if you’re not there’s plenty here to inspire – by which, of course, I mean steal and adapt – if you’re into the whole Workbook thing.

    Psych’d Magazine Issue 2

    Tuesday, August 22nd, 2017

    Psych’d is a twice-yearly (October and July) Psychology Magazine, published by WJEC (formerly the Welsh Joint Examining Committee) designed to support teachers and students studying for the WJEC and Eduqas A-level Psychology qualifications.

    While, as you might expect, the magazine contains material (CPD events, important dates and recommended textbooks) specific to these particular exam boards, it also features a range of short, concise, articles teachers and students following other psychology a-level qualifications will find useful.

    In this respect Issue 2 has the following articles focused on research methods:

    • An active way to teach ways of assessing validity
    • Personal Investigations: A Guide for the Terrified
    • How we conducted our experiment on bilingualism
    • Questionable Research Practices
    • An observation of gender differences in food choices
    • Skewed Distributions
    • An Insight into the Potential Issues of a Personal Investigation

    Psych’d Magazine

    Monday, August 21st, 2017

    Psych’d is a twice-yearly (October and July) Psychology Magazine, published by WJEC (formerly the Welsh Joint Examining Committee) and designed, in the words of its editor, “to provide key information, suggestions for teaching, updates and news as well as interesting features relating to our WJEC and Eduqas Psychology qualifications”. 

    Although the magazine contains stuff (applying to be an examiner, CPD events, recommended textbooks…) that’s only really going to be of interest to teachers following these qualifications there are also a number of articles that teachers and students following other psychology a-level qualifications will find useful.  

    Issue 1, for example, has the following:

    • The Psychology of Happiness
    • Understanding Psychological Approaches in Bowlby and Alfred Adler
    • Introducing research methods
    • Autism
    • Using technology

    Overall, the magazine is professionally produced with short, interesting, articles aimed squarely at the a-level student. It’s well worth a look, whether or not you teach WJEC / Eduqas psychology.

    Crime and Criminology PowerPoint 1

    Sunday, August 20th, 2017

    It’s probably fair to say that over the years attempts by different UK Exam Boards to provide teaching and learning materials for Sociology have, in the main, been somewhat half-hearted. The general position seems to be that while this new Internet-thingy confers a range of opportunities to provide teachers with information and guidance, providing teaching resources is probably best left to publishing companies (particularly those companies with which a Board has an “approved textbook” relationship).

    One shining exception to this generally-depressing situation is WJEC (formerly the Welsh Joint Examining Committee) who, to their great credit, have taken the provision of teaching resources seriously (even to the extent of commissioning their own AS Sociology and A2 Sociology textbooks that are distributed freely online).

    This generosity of spirit (or, more-probably, economic necessity) extends to the Board’s Criminology Specification and while the resources are by no-means as extensive as those available to Sociology teachers, I’ve managed to dig-out a few examples that might be useful to those teaching Crime and Deviance across different exam boards (either for the Notes they contain or, in some instances, the exercises they suggest).

    This first PowerPoint presentation outlines Biological / Physiological theories of crime using a mix of Notes, questions and simple interactive tasks / activities.

    The Notes take a fairly basic, no-frills approach, to describing the main ideas underpinning biological theories of criminality (or, if you prefer, they’re refreshingly “to-the-point”) and this material is complemented and extended by identifying a range of general criticisms of these types of approach.

    The presentation is completed by a sample of standard “discussion questions” and a rather more interesting “scenario” exercise. Here, students are presented with a simple scenario – in this instance youths menacing elderly residents – and are then required to apply their knowledge of biological approaches – and their criticisms – to assess and explain the situation.

    Super Sites for Time-Starved Teachers No.2

    Sunday, May 28th, 2017

    Free AQA Sociology Course Handbook

    Creating a Course Handbook for your students has probably never been easier: the software’s freely available (in some cases, literally so), there’s an almost unlimited store of graphics on the web to illustrate your creation and it can all be neatly packaged in a range of handy formats – from pdf files to online flipbooks. The only “problem” is the time it takes to produce…

    One way around this is to use an off-the-shelf Handbook, such as this excellent example produced by Kim Constable (the Hecticteacher – her website is well worth a visit even if you’re not in the market for a Course Handbook). This contains a range of information students will find useful – from an overview of course content, through information about course resources, to a variety of study tips and tricks.

    While most of the content applies to everyone following the AQA Specification there may be bits – such as the textbooks particular teachers like to use (not everyone uses Webb et. al.  for example) you’d like to change – and this is where the editable version of the file comes into play.

    Drop Kim an email via her Contact page and she’ll let you have a version of the Handbook you can customise to your heart’s content.

    Deviancy Amplification PowerPoint

    Thursday, May 4th, 2017

    Deviancy Amplification has become something of a classic example of an Interactionist approach to deviance, predominantly, but not exclusively, because of Jock Young’s seminal analysis (1971) of “The role of the police as amplifiers of deviance, negotiators of reality and translators of fantasy”.

    This is a little ironic given that Leslie Wilkins’ original formulation of an Amplification Spiral (1964) has much more positivistic overtones: for Wilkins, the Spiral (or “Positive Feedback Loop”) both described a particular social process – how control agencies unwittingly create crime through their unwitting actions – and, most importantly, was intended to predict how such behaviour would develop.

    While the predictive element is perhaps long-gone (if it actually ever really existed) deviancy amplification remains an important sociological model based on Lemert’s (1951) distinction between primary and secondary deviation.

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    Culture and Identity: Online Multiple-Choice Tests

    Monday, December 5th, 2016

    mc_coverAlthough I’m not a big fan of multiple-choice testing per se, they can have a place in the teaching and learning lexicon if you want a quick and easy way to test student knowledge – a task these online tests can do efficiently and relatively painlessly. If you want to make the tests even more relevant, try linking them into a student’s Personal Learning Checklist – a simple way to self-check knowledge of particular course concepts.

    These particular tests were originally created to complement the Sociology in Focus for AS textbook but their content is likely to be covered – in the main at least – by any Introductory Sociology chapter (with the possible  exception of the Leisure and Consumption test – that’s pretty-specific to AQA Specs / textbooks).

    The suite of 10 tests, ranging in length from 7 – 13 questions, is based around Culture and Identity and covers the following areas:

    • Culture
    • Socialisation
    • Self, Identity and Difference
    • Age and identity
    • Disabled identities
    • Ethnic identities
    • Global and National identities
    • Gender identities
    • Class identities
    • Leisure, consumption and identity

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    Simulacra and Hyperreality

    Wednesday, October 12th, 2016

    I’ve called this a “Lesson Outline” (rather than Plan) because it’s designed to introduce and to some extent explain the related concepts of simulacra and hyperreality using practical examples to illustrate the processes.

    What the Outline does is treat Baudrillard’s concepts of simulacra and hyperreality in much greater depth than is usually the case with most Sociology A-Level textbooks; this isn’t a criticism of these books, but rather an observation that there’s rarely enough space available in textbooks to treat the concepts with the depth I think they deserve (trust me, I know this from bitter experience).

    In this respect the Outline details 1st, 2nd and 3rd order simulacra and, in relation to the latter, hyperreality. Although it’s quite theoretical for A-level I’ve tried to include quite a bit of “practical stuff” you can use to illustrate the ideas. Alternatively, if you don’t want to go into too much depth you can just pick-and-choose (now, there’s an idea…) the bits you want to use.

    Whether or not you go with the practical stuff is really up to you – it’s indicative rather than prescriptive – and there are no fancy timings or whatever to restrict your use of the materials.

    I’ve also included a short (3 minute) video resource  you can use alongside the printed resource – again, nothing too fancy or prescriptive, just 6 short (around 30 seconds) clips you can integrate into your lesson if you so choose.

    Milgram and Obedience

    Thursday, April 28th, 2016

    Psychology – and to a lesser extent Sociology – teachers and students generally need to have an understanding of both the mechanics of Milgram’s classic “obedience experiments” and their general implications. However, as recent research has argued (Social psychology textbooks ignore all modern criticisms of Milgram’s “obedience experiments”) this understanding has not necessarily been advanced by a reliance on standard psychology (and indeed sociology) textbooks.

    More recently, however, the work of Alex Haslam and Steve Reicher has been instrumental in reassessing both historical and conventional interpretations of Milgram’s work (Milgram and the historians) and in “Questioning Authority” (Haslam, Reicher and Birney, 2016) they take this argument further using historical evidence and the application of social identity theory. This approach is also reflected in their filmed contributions to Beyond Milgram: Obedience and Identity.

    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).

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