Methods Mat

Methods Mat

A generic Methods Mat template that might be useful for both Sociology and Psychology A-level Research methods teaching. 

The Research Methods Tables created by Liam Core got me thinking about how to present a similar level of information in a Learning Mat format (such as Stacey Arkwright’s Sociology Mats, the Psychology Studies Mat or the generic Sociology / Psychology Mat).

What I’ve come up with is Learning Mat template – an A4 page available as either a PowerPoint or Pdf document – focused on a single research method. I’ve included the PowerPoint version for a couple of reasons:

Firstly, if you’re in the habit of displaying stuff for your students it’s much easier to do this in PowerPoint.

Secondly, if you want to edit the template – to create, for example, a worked illustration – it’s a lot less work to do it in PowerPoint.

Although the Mat should be fairly straightforward to use (it includes space to note the Key Features, Strengths and Weaknesses of a Research Method) I’ve added / adapted a couple of sections from the original:

The first is fairly minor: the addition of a way to indicate if it’s a primary or secondary research method).

The second is a little more interesting.

Where the original tables included space to note Practical and Ethical issues, I’ve added a third dimension (Theoretical) and rolled all three into a Limitations section.

One reason for this was to include the PET acronym in the table because this is widely-used by teachers.

Stroop Test

A more-important reason, perhaps, was to encourage students to think about how all research methods have limitations that can, under some circumstances, be overcome or negated. In other words, while limitations may, in some circumstances, be considered research weaknesses, in others they are not.

For example, when considering laboratory methods students may, rightly, argue that an “artificial environment” is a weakness of the method because it potentially reduces research validity. Not all laboratory experiments, however, necessarily have this weakness. Something like the Stroop Effect or Libert’s experiment are examples where research validity and findings are not likely to be affected by the setting.

While I like the idea of including Limitations and Weaknesses as separate categories (I find discussion of Limitations is more evaluative and less didactic) if you’d rather not open that particular can of worms with your students, simply edit the PowerPoint and replace “Limitations” with “Issues”.

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