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Posts Tagged ‘a-level’

Psychology Transition Materials

Thursday, July 1st, 2021

As with their sociological peers, Psychology teachers have also been busy producing a wide range of materials designed, in the main, to ease the transition between GCSE and A-level and this means there’s plenty of resources freely available to either use “as is” or, more-likely perhaps, to inspire the creation of your own transition resources.

Transition Pack: Prep Work 2

I’ve tried to provide a fair spread of different types of transition resource, but while some teachers provide materials that take a slightly off-beat and novel approach, most of the stuff is fairly standard, straightforward “research and make notes” material. This doesn’t, of course, somehow make it bad or less useful but I do like to see a bit of innovation…

Summer Work 2021: This features a simple “complete the table” activity of psychological perspectives combined with 4 exam-style questions that test mathematical understanding.

The Stanford Prison Experiment: General plan from which students are required to research and write 600-word essay on the SPE.

Chelmer Valley Transition Tasks: These consist of three types: a Creative Task based on a mini experiments; a Writing Task that involves producing a handout on Milgram’s Obedience Experiment and a Reading Task that involves producing a Mind Map from a specified article.

Summer work: Students research and answer questions on two major psychological approaches.

A Level Summer Work 2021: YouTube podcast designed to introduce students to the “Fundamentals of Psychology” while also trying to assess independent study and written communication skills through a range of tasks (from written work to watching YT videos). The podcast makes reference to “study sheets” that aren’t available to the casual viewer but if you find this approach interesting you’ll probably find a way around this problem. If you want to go down the more-traditional transition route, there’s also a short pack available with activities mainly based around research methods.

Psychology Transition Pack: The basic Pack consists of 4 tasks with varying degrees of difficulty- from researching different approaches, through creating an historical timeline to opening a Twitter account, following a few suggested accounts and making notes on any interesting news that appears relevant to psychology. There are, however, some further optional Packs: Bridging the Gap “gives you a flavour of what A level Psychology is all about” by introducing some core psychological concepts and processes via a range of tasks (do a bit of research, answer some questions…) and exercises (such as designing a piece of research). Prep Work 2 involves a variety of tasks (from 15 minutes to 2 hours…) that variously involves watching things like TED talks and summarising the arguments, producing a handout or PowerPoint and the like. Prep Work 3 offers more of the same (although some of the links are broken).

Psychology Induction Summer Work: Designed to introduce the skills and some of the content required for A-level, this pack offers a wide range of activities designed to “Introduce Psychology”. There’s also a recommended reading and viewing list for good measure.

Year 12 Transition 2017: 3 tasks built around researching some key studies and writing about them in a structured way.

Psychology Summer Work: Another “Time Line” activity (I find it interesting that while Time Line creation features in a lot of the psychology transition materials, it’s something that’s entirely absent from the sociology transition materials) plus creating factsheets to illustrate different psychological theories (from attachment to BoBo dolls…).

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Sociology Transition Materials

Wednesday, June 30th, 2021

If you’re unfamiliar with the idea, Sociology transition materials are resources designed to help students transition from either GCSE to A-level or from A1 to A2.

Sociology Work Pack

In the normal course of events they consist of notes, readings, activities and exercises that students complete during the long months of their summer holidays when they would otherwise be engaged in looking at their mobile phones, lazing around on the beach, getting into all kinds of mischief or whatever it is “The Kids” do these days when not being closely supervised.

I’m exaggerating a bit (possibly) because, quite honestly, I’ve no idea what Young People do with their spare time. We all suspect, however, they could be using it more-productively, hence, this batch of Transition Materials I’ve cobbled-together from a wide variety of sources to help you keep your students occupied and prepare them for whatever it is you have planned when the new teaching year begins.

And that, of course, is Always Closer Than You Think.

While, like me, you could be forgiven for thinking this is yet another “new initiative” designed to “improve student performance” across a “range of educational parameters” (Prop. G. Williamson), there’s actually quite a long(ish) history of providing students with preparatory work for A-level, although I’m guessing the materials are much more tightly focused on the curriculum than they were in the past.

In my case, my first introduction to Sociology was a Reading List supplied by my putative teacher that ran to a couple of pages and consisted of a variety of texts, some explicitly sociological (such as Berger’s classic Invitation to Sociology), some generally sociological (such as Akenfield, Blythe’s social history of an English village) and some just of broad sociological import – Capote’s “factionalised” novel In Cold Blood being a case in point). This summer work consisted of “reading as many of the texts as possible” and while it was never marked – or indeed mentioned again – it was an interesting and informative use of my time.

Speaking of which, times change and I hope you find it interesting to see the different approaches taken by a lot of hard-working teachers to either prepare their prospective a-level students for their new course or to ease the transition between the first and final year of the course.

Whether you use the materials “as is” or simply as the basis for the development of your own specific materials is, of course, entirely up to you. Either way, having a quick look through what I’ve collected might save you a bit of time and effort.

And since I’ve somehow managed to gather quite an extensive range of materials I’ve divided them into two broad categories (GCSE – A-level and A1 – A2) and provided a brief overview of their contents. This should go some small way to helping you find the materials that best-fit your purpose.

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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

The D.O.V.E. Protocol: 4 Functions of Religion

Friday, February 21st, 2020
Four Functions of Religion PowerPoint: Click to download
Four Functions of Religion…

Classical functionalist theories of religion, associated with the work of writers like Durkheim (1912), Malinowski (1926), Alpert (1937), Parsons (1937) and more-latterly Luhmann (1977), generally see religion as a cultural institution: one mainly concerned with the creation and promotion of cultural values that function to support and maintain social order.  Underpinning the notion of order, in this respect, are two ideas:

1. Religion serves a structural or collective role in bringing people together “as a society”.

2. Religion serves an action or individual role in giving meaning and purpose to people’s lives.

The Functions of Religion Presentation is designed to introduce students to these general ideas by encouraging them to think about “religious functions” in terms of four broad categories:

1. Discipline involves the idea a sense of shared beliefs and values is created by following a set of religious moral rules and codes.

2. Organisation reflects the idea of people being brought together as a society through shared rituals, ceremonies and meanings.

3. Vitalisation reflects the idea common values and beliefs represent vital dimensions of culture, socialisation and control.

4. Euphony recognises there are times of pain and crisis in life that require individual or collective efforts to re-establish harmony.

Each category in the D.O.V.E. protocol contains:

  • a few pointers to examples of each,
  • 30 seconds of video clips that illustrate some aspects of these ideas.
  • a simple question you might want to use to stimulate a bit of further debate (which you can obviously edit / change if you want to add a question or two of your own).
  • Are you feeling lucky?

    Saturday, September 14th, 2019
    Well, do you?

    When it comes to Sociology Knowledge Organisers I’m starting to feel like Clint Eastwood in Dirty Harry: in all the excitement I’ve kinda lost track of what I have and haven’t posted.

    So, moving quickly past the stuff about “44 Magnum’s” and their undoubted ability to separate parts of your body from other parts, we can go straight to the bit where you’ve got to ask yourself just one question:

    “Do I feel lucky?”

    And if the answer’s “yes” then this small batch of A-level Organisers and Guides from Kate Henney (to add to the GCSE Family and Education Revision Guides I’ve previously posted) should be a very welcome addition to your growing pile. Presupposing you don’t already have them from some other post I’ve forgotten about. In which case, please ignore what follows:

    Family Organiser

    Families includes two types of KO – blank and completed – on:

  • Structures
  • Diversity
  • Nuclear families
  • Alternatives
  • Functions
  • Divorce
  • Changes
  • Education covers the following:

  • Functionalism
  • Marxism
  • Interactionism
  • Types of Schools
  • Social Class
  • Gender
  • Ethnicity
  • Question Guide

    Beliefs includes two types of KO – completed and cloze (fill-in-the-gaps):

  • Ideology
  • Religious Change
  • Organisations
  • Social Characteristics
  • Secularisation
  • A-Level Exam Guides – simple overview of question types and how to answer them.

    Key Studies – a list of key names plus a one-line summary of their work for:

  • Families
  • Education
  • Beliefs
  • Crime and Deviance
  • Question Planning Sheet – detailed walkthrough showing how to successfully answer 10 mark education questions.

    Introduction to A-Level Sociology: Cultural Differences

    Sunday, July 28th, 2019
    Click to download as pdf
    Introduction to AS Sociology

    For reasons that will become clear in a moment, I was searching for a document or two about Sherbit Culture to accompany a 5-minute film clip I’d assembled from some old (2000 – 2002-ish) HSBC adverts. The idea was to use the film as a light-hearted way to introduce the concept of cultural differences to GCSE or A-Level sociologists and, from there, create a springboard to the introduction of basic concepts like values, norms and roles – the kind of stuff most teachers do at the start of the course.

    While that’s still the intention, I happened to stumble across a couple of useful little resources you might also find helpful and, indeed, complementary:

    The first, An Introduction to AS Sociology from Ullswater Community College (2007, hence the “AS” reference) has a range of notes and tasks on areas like the Sociological Imagination, Identity, Nature and Nurture and Shirbit Culture.

    The second is a free PowerPoint (“Meet the Shirbits”) created by Jacqueline Ryan (2010) as part of a short Introduction to Sociology quiz. The latter uses a supplied reading taken from the Collins Sociology AS for AQA textbook.

    Anyway, to complement these resources – or just to use as a standalone introduction from which you can spin-off whatever ideas and issues (from basic norms and values to discussion of cultural stereotypes…) – this is the “cultural difference” clip I’ve created (the quality of the original film isn’t great and I’ve edited-out the original HSBC idents. Because I felt like it).

    Losing Their Religion? Using Statistical Evidence to Evaluate Secularisation

    Thursday, July 18th, 2019

    The secularisation debate in A-level Sociology, encompassing a wide diversity of ideas around pro, anti and post-secularisation positions, is an increasingly complex area for students to cover. Although this can make it a somewhat daunting topic, it also provides significant opportunities for students to critique these different positions (and gain solid marks for knowledge, application and evaluation into the bargain).

    Given the argumentative nature of a debate that so often seems to turn on interpretations of different opinions, this, somewhat perversely perhaps, opens-up interesting opportunities for students to apply statistical data to different aspects of the debate and, by so doing, introduce highly-effective forms of evaluation into exam answers.

    In this respect the latest British Social Attitudes Survey (2019) covering religious beliefs, attitudes and practices is a useful teaching resource in the sense it provides some interesting empirical evidence students can apply to evaluate two areas of the secularisation debate:

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    Mass Media 4 | Representations

    Friday, April 19th, 2019
    Click to download pdf file.
    Representations…

    The fourth chapter in what’s turning into, for me at least, an interminable churn through reams of notes and dtp design follows Defining and Researching the Media, The Ownership and Control Debate and The Selection and Presentation of News by focusing on Media Representations.

    More-specifically, this set of personally hand-crafted (“artisan!”) notes looks at representations in terms of:

    1. Class, Age, Gender and Ethnicity: The first part of the chapter focuses on identifying a range of key illustrative examples of various forms of media representation.

    2. Explanations: The second part of the chapter looks at how different sociological approaches (Marxism, Pluralism, Feminism and Postmodernism) have explained the meaning of different forms of media representation.

    The original notes that form the bulk of the chapter were produced around 5 or so years ago, but I’ve updated them with more-recent stuff as and where I felt it necessary.

    Update
    This chapter is also now available as an online flipbook.

    Gender and Subject Choice

    Thursday, November 8th, 2018

    Another little bonus to add to yesterday’s offering from the work I’m currently doing on the concept of school climate and its possible effect on achievement.

    This one comes in the form of a couple of pieces of research commissioned by the Institute of Physics that cover gendered subject choices at A-level.

    Closing Doors: Exploring gender and subject choice in schools (2013) provides a raft of information on male-female representation across 3 “comparable pairs” of 6 A-level subjects:

    • English and Mathematics: both core subjects at GCSE
    • Biology and Physics: two science choices at A-level
    • Psychology and Economics: A-level subjects not normally taught in earlier years.

    Although the presentation, findings and commentaries are probably a little too dense to be given directly to students, there’s plenty here for teachers to get their teeth into and selectively use. There is, however, a neat summary of the research right at the start that students will find helpful.

    It’s Different for Girls (2012) is a companion piece to Closed Doors focused much more tightly on Physics A-level. Once again, probably not something to simply hand-out to students but, again, it’s a piece of research that teachers’ might find selectively rewarding.

    If, for example, you were looking for examples of a “school climate” effect in relation to gender, it’s interesting that while the socio-economic background of a school has, as you might expect, a significant effect in terms of the raw numbers of those studying physics at A-level, there is little effect on cohort proportions. That is, the proportion of girls and boys studying a-level physics is similar across all socio-economic groups – an observation that suggests factors additional to social class impact on subject choice.

    Shortcuts to Crime and Deviance: Women and Crime

    Thursday, September 6th, 2018

    While the first film in the Gender and Crime series looked at the ideas of Gendering Crime (in every society males commit far more crimes than females) and masculinity as an explanation for greater male criminal involvement, this second film – once again built around interviews with Professor Sandra Walklate – focuses on women and crime (hence the title “Women and Crime”).

    The first part identifies some reasons for the increase in female crime and criminality over the past 25 years (albeit from a very low base. Historically women commit far fewer crimes than men so even a relatively small increase in female crime results in quite large percentage increases). These include:

    • Greater female freedoms
    • Binge drinking
    • Increased public domain participation

    • Changing criminal justice practices
    • Less judicial tolerance of female criminality
    • Economic and demographic changes.

    The second part looks briefly at the impact of 2nd wave feminist perspectives on criminology over the past 50 or so years, particularly in relation to issues of sexual and domestic violence. This part covers:

    • Patriarchy
    • Male power
    • Sexual and domestic violence
    • Empowering women
    • Hidden deviance
    • Expanding the criminological agenda.

    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:

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    Sociology Revision Booklets: 2. Theory and Methods

    Tuesday, March 6th, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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    A-Level Revision Booklets: 1. Beliefs in Society

    Thursday, March 1st, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

    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.

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    Why Did No-One Help James Bulger?

    Monday, February 26th, 2018

    “We’ll probably never really know what made two 10 year olds, Robert Thompson and Jon Venables, abduct, torture and then kill two year old James Bulger on a terrible February day a quarter of a century ago.

    But there’s another question arising from the James Bulger murder that has implications for all of us.

    Why did no-one intervene to help the defenceless toddler? “

    In this short article, “Why Did No-One Help James Bulger?”, Steve Taylor looks at the case in the context of Bystander Intervention.

    The Memory Clock

    Friday, February 23rd, 2018

    Although revision, in all its different forms and guises, is an integral part of any a-level sociology (or psychology) course it’s sometimes difficult to know how to help students revise in the most efficient, effective and productive way – and this is where the Memory Clock comes into play.

    The Memory Clock is a revision system developed by Dr Caroline Creaby of Sandringham School, a mixed Comprehensive situated in St Albans, Hertfordshire that’s fast-developing into a hot-bed of interesting teaching and learning research led by practicing teachers.

    If you want to know more about the work they do inside and outside of the classroom have a look at the Sandagogy web site. The excellent Learning Journals they publish are well worth a read.

    Anyway, back to the main point of this post.

    The Memory Clock is an easy-to-learn revision routine designed to help students structure their time in such a way as to make revision focused and productive. The pdf I’ve posted is a cut-down version of Training Manual that focuses on three things:

    1. The various elements in the clock.

    2. A short explanation of these elements.

    3. A practice session based on a Sociological question. Although this example is “the future of childhood” you can obviously change this to whatever question you want your students to practice. Similarly, if you’re teaching Psychology just substitute your own question of choice.

    Try it.

    You (and your students) won’t regret it.

    Update

    If you want to save a bit of time (pun intended) there are a lot of “Memory Clock Templates” dotted around the web. Given the constraints imposed by having to stick to a clock system, however, these are much-of-a-muchness, so there’s probably no great advantage to be had searching for them. However, since some kind of pre-prepared template is better than none (unless you’re really into revision procrastination – making the materials you need to “properly revise” means you have to spend less time actually doing the boring revision part) I’ve found some examples you might find helpful:

    Revision Clock PowerPoint
    Revision Clock Picture
    Revision Clock PowerPoint templates (a selection of slightly different templates).

    Example Revision Clocks

    Sociology Revision Clock

    If you want an example or two of how the Memory Clock can work, Vicki Woolven has created a set of Sociology clocks in both PowerPoint and Pdf formats you might find useful.

    These cover major course areas – Family, Education, Stratification, Methods, Crime – subdivided into 5-minute revision segments.

    Completed Revision Clock

    You can, of course, tailor these to the specific requirements of your particular course by editing the PowerPoint…

    If you want to see an example of how a teacher has used this particular Revision Clock in the context of the sociology of education, you’ll find a nice one on Kate Flatley’s Instagram feed

    Knowledge Organisers: Media and Methods and Education

    Tuesday, February 20th, 2018

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

    Media

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

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

    Methods

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

    Experiments and Questionnaires
    Interviews
    Observation and Secondary Sources

    Previous Tables you might find useful:

    Table 1.

    Table 2.

    Table 3.

    Education

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

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

    Previous Tables you might find useful:

    Table 1.

    Table 2.

    Then and Now

    Wednesday, November 8th, 2017

    A few months ago I ran a couple of blog posts that featured the work of Dr Julia Russell under the headings “Hard to Find Classics”  and “More Hard to Find Classics”.

    These files came from an online column she wrote, for a video-distribution company called Uniview, that I saved with a degree of prescience that, quite-frankly, surprised me. What was less-surprising is that I promptly managed to forget about the remaining files and they stayed unposted on my hard drive.

    But that was then and this is now.

    Which is spookily interesting (or maybe not) because the latest batch of files I’m posting goes under the “Then and Now” heading. The basic idea here was to take a “classic but dated” study and update it with contemporary evidence.

    The format for each file is deceptively similar:

    1. Identify and outline a classic psychological study (although, to be fair, the “outline” seems to have gone AWOL somewhere along the line. If you use the file you’ll probably need to give your students a basic idea of the original study).

    2. Show how the original study has been updated, criticised, revised by later studies.

    3. Add a glossary of key terms.

    4. Finish with a range of activities to test student understanding.

    I’ve a feeling there were only ever 5 “Then and Now” files created. Although I could be wrong I’m probably not because I was quite methodical in the stuff I saved. Anyway, the 5 files for your teaching and learning pleasure are:

    Bandura, Ross & Ross’ (1961) “classic study demonstrating the acquisition of aggression through social learning”.

    Dement and Kleitman’s (1957) “classic study which explored sleep and dreaming using electronic recording as well as observation and diary methods”.

    Piliavin, Rodin & Piliavin’s (1969) “classic study investigating social behaviour”.

    Samuel and Bryant’s (1984) (presumably classic) “study which evaluated the procedure Piaget had used to investigate children’s understanding of physical quantities”.

    Freud’s (1909) “Analysis of a phobia in a five-year-old boy” describes and interprets the experiences, dreams and fantasies of a young boy who was studied by Freud and treated for his fears and anxieties”.

    8 | The Research Process: Part 1

    Thursday, September 14th, 2017

    While Research Methods at a-level aren’t everyone’s cup of tea they can be interesting if students are given the time and space to bring together the theory with the practice. Unfortunately I can’t help you here with the practice (although I can give you a few pointers about how to carry-out a range of cheap ’n’ cheerful activities), but I can help with the theory.

    This chapter kicks things off by looking at the idea of research design – from choosing a problem to research, through developing a testable hypothesis or research question, to data collection and analysis. Along the way the chapter takes in a range of research-centred ideas students will have to understand if they are to make the most of methods:

    • Research respondents
    • Types of representative sampling
    • Types of non-representative sampling
    • Pilot studies
    • Concept operationalisation
    • Reliability and validity
    • Primary and secondary data
    • Quantitative and qualitative data and methods
    • Ethics

    Rethinking Obesity: Nature via Nurture?

    Wednesday, September 13th, 2017

    This new film, featuring contributions from Dr Giles Yeo and Dr Clare Llewellyn, examines the evidence for and against the influence of environment and genetics in explaining obesity.

    The 16 minute film is split into three sections:

    The first focuses on “Nurture” – the influence of environmental factors, from advertising to food processing, as an explanation for the huge mean weight increases in Western societies such as America and Britain

    The second looks at “Nature” – genetic factors such as the FTO gene – as a way of explaining why some individuals appear to gain weight more easily than others.

    The final section examines the idea that to truly understand obesity we need to think in terms of the relationship between our genetic make-up and our social ad physical environment.

    The complete film is available to rent or buy On-demand.

    Categorising Situational Crime Prevention Strategies

    Thursday, June 1st, 2017

    Situational crime prevention is an area that has grown in significance over the past 30 years, both in terms of social policies towards crime and sociological / criminological solutions to “the problem of crime”; it involves, according to Clarke (1997), a range of measures designed to reduce or eliminate “opportunities for crime” in three main ways:

  • The measures are “directed at highly specific forms of crime”.
  • They involve “the management, design or manipulation of the immediate environment in a systematic and permanent way”.
  • They “make crime more difficult and risky, or less rewarding and excusable”.

  • One potential difficulty for a-level students new to the concept, however, is the number and variety of different examples of situational crime prevention – from spatial and environmental controls (Designing Out Crime), through different forms of target hardening, to various types of formal and informal population surveillance and beyond.

    To help students organize and make sense of this material, therefore, it can be useful to categorise it in terms of different situational crime prevention:

    Strategies – the primary level of organisation and
    Techniques associated with these strategies – the secondary level of organisation.

    In this respect the work of Cornish and Clarke (2003) is instructive here because they identity 5 strategies that can be used as a primary level of organisation for ideas about situational crime prevention:

    1. Increase the effort required to commit a crime: This deters a wide range of opportunistic crimes if the time and effort to commit them is increased.
    2. Increase the risks associated with the crime: Increasing the likelihood of apprehension lowers the likelihood of a crime being committed.
    3. Reduce the rewards of crime: If the value gained from offending can be lowered there is less incentive for crime.
    4. Reduce stimulus that provokes crime: Careful management of the social and physical environment reduces incentives for criminal behaviour
    5. Remove excuses: Clearly signposting behavioural rules and laws removes the argument that people did not know they were behaving deviantly or illegally.


    The secondary level of organisation identified by Cornish and Clarke involves 25 different crime prevention techniques (5 associated with each strategy) that can be introduced to students if you want them to dig deeper into situational crime prevention.

    These ideas are introduced and explained in a subsequent post (Situational Crime Prevention Techniques, with illustrative examples)

    Psychology: Hard-to-Find Classics

    Sunday, May 7th, 2017

    For a number of years Dr Julia Russell wrote a Psychology Column for a film distribution company called Uniview and when this company decided to call it a day all the resources she’d created disappeared from the web with nary a sound to indicate they’d ever been there.

    However, with a display of foresight that, quite frankly, surprised me, I decided to save as many of the resources as I could because I think their scope and quality deserves a wider audience.

    I decided to group the resources into a range of categories (studies, revision, science etc.), with the first batch being a series of commentaries on a number of “Hard-to-Find” classic studies.

    Each file is professionally-produced and covers 5 areas of the selected study in some detail:

    Aims, Procedure, Findings, Conclusion and Comments.

    The file concludes with questions, activities and resources related to the study.

    Held and Hein (1963) Movement-produced stimulation in the development of visually guided behavior

    Van Ijzendoorn and Kroonenburg (1988) Cross cultural patterns of attachment. A meta-analysis of the Strange Situation

    Jones MC (1924) A Laboratory of Fear

    Palmer SE (1975) The effects of contextual scenes on the identification of objects.

    Sociology ShortCuts F’sheet

    Tuesday, April 4th, 2017

    I’ve posted a couple of times about the Sociology Factsheets produced by Curriculum Press –  particularly about how it might be an idea for teachers to get their students to make their own versions as both a revision aid and teaching resource for future sociology students – and I thought it might be interesting to have a go at something along these lines myself: particularly because having written a number of books for different exam boards over the past 10 or so years I’ve accumulated a large stock of words that could possibly be put to some more – and probably better – use as a revision-type resource.

    The upshot of playing-around with various words and pictures is my first ShortCuts Sheet on “Approaches to Research: Positivism” (for no better reason than the fact I had some underutilised text lying around that I thought might be easy to adapt to this format).

    If you’ve got any comments, suggestions etc. about why it’s brilliant / shite / could be improved please don’t hesitate to let me know…

    Free Chapter: The Psychology of Addictive Behaviour

    Tuesday, January 10th, 2017

    The third – and probably final – free chapter from Holt and Lewis’ “A2 Psychology: The Student’s Textbook”, this one covers addictive behaviour in terms of main areas:

    1. Models

    Biological, cognitive and learning models of addiction, including explanations for initiation, maintenance and relapse

    Explanations for specific addictions, including smoking and gambling

    2. Factors affecting addictive behaviour

    Vulnerability to addiction including self-esteem, attributions for addiction and social context of addiction

    The role of media in addictive behavior 

    3. Reducing addictive behaviour

    Models of prevention, including theory of reasoned action and theory of planned behaviour

    Types of intervention, including biological, psychological, public health interventions and legislation, and their effectiveness.

     

    If you want something a little more hands-on to complement the above, why not try a little Eyskube?

    CIE A-Level Sociology Wiki

    Thursday, December 8th, 2016

    For those unfamiliar with this Specification, Cambridge International A-level Sociology is largely aimed at – and followed by – students outside the UK (although around 150-odd UK schools do enter students for the exam). It’s a fairly “traditional” Specification by contemporary UK standards,  but if you want to know a bit more about it, have a look at this post  that gives details about the Spec., the structure of the exam and so forth (you might be interested in the fact that unlike its UK equivalent the CIE Board still supports AS and A2 Sociology as stand-alone qualifications).

    Anyway, the main point of this post is to draw your attention to a new Wiki created by CIE students to support A-level Sociology students in their studies and the opportunities this provides for: 

    Adding your contributions to the development of content

    Making contact with a range of students and teachers across the globe (China, India, North America, Africa…).

     

    Sociology ShortCuts: Labelling Theory

    Wednesday, September 21st, 2016

    Labelling is a staple theory in the sociology of crime – both in its own right (Becker’s concept of the Outsider, for example) and in terms of its incorporation into other theoretical explanations (Radical Criminology, for example) – and in this ShortCut Professor Sandra Walklate outlines some of the theory’s key ideas:

    • Outsiders
    • Social interaction and shared understandings
    • Labelling process
    • Social contexts
    • Social reaction
    • Primary and secondary deviation
    • Tolerance levels
    • Deviant labels
    • Self-worth and self-identity

    (more…)

    Understanding Crime and Deviance in Postmodernity: Part 1

    Monday, March 21st, 2016

    blog_crime1Although the concept of a “postmodern criminology” is, for various reasons, highly problematic this doesn’t mean that newer approaches to understanding and explaining crime don’t have something to offer the a-level sociologist. In this two-part extravaganza, therefore, we can look at two (yes, really) dimensions to this criminological shift through the medium of a couple of lovingly-prepared workbooks.

    The first workbook – a critique of conventional criminology – helps students understand some of the points-of-conflict between conventional (positivist) and postmodern criminologies, with the focus on areas like:

    • The ontological reality of crime

    • The myth of crime

    • Criminalisation, punishment and pain

    • Crime control

    The workbook identifies and explains these ideas and also includes space for students to test their knowledge and understanding through relatively simple critical tasks.

    A second workbook, Deviance as Harm, is also available.

    Beyond Milgram: Obedience and Identity

    Monday, March 7th, 2016

     

    In the early 1960s two apparently-unrelated events, separated by thousands of miles, took place that, in their own way, shocked the world.

    The first, in early 1961, was the Jerusalem trial of Adolph Eichmann. He was accused – and subsequently convicted – of being one of the organisers of the Nazi Concentration Camps in which millions of innocent victims were sent to their deaths.

    The second, a few months later, was a series of experiments carried out in and around Yale University, by Stanley Milgram.

    What connects these two events is obedience and, more specifically, the idea of “blindly obeying” orders given by those in authority.

    • In Eichmann’s case “blind obedience” was manifested in his defence – both during and after the trial – that he was merely the agent of a higher, more-powerful, will. He was, he claimed, guilty of nothing more than being a loyal soldier; one who simply “obeyed the orders” he was given.
    • In the case of Milgram’s “Teachers”, “blind obedience” was apparently manifested in the willingness of two-thirds (66%) of his volunteers to deliver what they believed were lethal electric shocks to “Learners”. Were Milgram’s Teachers simply “obeying the orders” given to them by Milgram’s experimenters?

    (more…)

    Exam check list: do’s and don’ts

    Saturday, March 5th, 2016

    Another checklist put together for the CIE Sociology textbook. No great revelations, but probably helpful to know.

    Do:

    Practice answering questions under exam conditions. The more you practice the better you become.
    Sleep on it Memory functions best when activity, such a revision, is followed by sleep; during sleep the brain consolidates learning and retention.
    Read each question carefully Be clear about what each question is asking and how you plan to answer it.
    Answer all parts of a question If the question has two parts then each part will carry half the available marks.
    Relate your effort to the marks available Don’t waste time chasing one or two marks if it means you run out of time to answer higher mark questions.
    Spend time planning your answer to extended questions This will structure your answer and help to ensure you use all the assessment criteria.
    Review your answers When you’re writing at speed under pressure you will make mistakes; of spelling, punctuation and grammar as well as content. By taking a few minutes to read through your answers you can rectify these mistakes.
    Double space your answers (leave a gap between each line in your answer booklet). When you review your answers in the final few minutes of the exam you will find mistakes; it’s easier and neater to correct mistakes or add missing words on the blank line above your answer.
    Present your answers clearly and neatly

     

    Buy new pens for the exam – old pens often leak and make your answers look messy. Only use black or blue ink. Punctuate properly and avoid abbreviations. Check your spelling and grammar when you review your answers.

    (more…)

    A-Level and AP Psychology DVDs

    Friday, March 4th, 2016

    Our “Revising Psychology” series of short films are now available on DVD.

    There are currently 5 DVDs in production and each has 4 short (typically 5 – 8 minutes), self-contained, psychology videos designed to introduce students to key theories, concepts and methods in contemporary contexts.

    Each DVD is competitively-priced at just £17.50, including post and packaging.

    You can also buy all 5 DVDs at the Special Price of £75.00, including post and packaging.

    Series Titles and films

    Issues in Psychology [26 minutes: Ethics / Socially Sensitive Research / Usefulness of Research /Ethnocentrism]

    Debates in Psychology [25 minutes: Nature-Nurture / Psychology and Science / Situational Psychology / Free Will and Determinism]

    Non-Experimental Research Methods [21 minutes: Naturalistic Observation / Cases Studies / Self-Report Methods / Correlations]

    Experimental Research Methods [23 minutes: Laboratory / Field / Natural Experiments / Experimental Design]

    Core Concepts in Research [24 minutes: Reliability and Validity / Sampling / Reductionism / Variables]

    All DVDs are available to order online.

    A Modest Proposal for Structured Sociology Teaching: Part 3

    Tuesday, February 16th, 2016

    The previous post identified and briefly outlined the 5 categories that make-up the Structured Teaching scheme and in this post we can look at each category in a little more detail by way of a “worked example” based around Differential Educational Achievement.

    We can start with a visual example of what a mind-mapped structure might look-like, keeping in mind it’s just a simple representation of part of an overall structure for what is quite a large Module (it covers Outside School factors and Social Class).

    If you’d like a more-interactive version of this graphic you can download a pdf version that includes some sample Notes to schema3accompany each of the Items I’ve included in the example.

    1. Problematise: The questions we could ask here are many and varied; this is a particularly wide issue that can, if it’s more convenient, be broken down into a number of different, specific, questions. However, for illustrative purposes we could specify something like “How is class, gender and ethnicity related to differential educational achievement?” as a very general way of framing the problem.
    2. Contextualise: The general purpose of this category is to generate links between how the problem is framed and how it can be explained and as with different possible questions there are a range of ideas that could be examined as part of the contextualising process. These include:
    • how achievement is defined: this is significant because different definitions impact on how we understand and explain achievement differences.
    • how achievement is measured: this conventionally involves looking at exam grades, such as GCSE and A-level in the UK, but this is not the only measure of achievement. Different measures, therefore, will similarly impact on our understanding and explanation of different achievement.
    • statistical evidence based on categories like class, gender and ethnicity. This may, for example, involve using a range of Key Stage data (including GCSE and A-level) to highlight achievement differences that can then be examined trough different theories / explanations.

    (more…)

    Differential Educational Achievement

    Wednesday, November 18th, 2015

    One aspect of the debate surrounding explanations for differences in achievement is the idea of material deprivation – and while this has, in recent times, fallen out-of-favour (particularly with politicians and media organisations, a new report from the Children’s Commission gives a new impetus to the idea that poverty remains a hugely-significant factor in any understanding of achievement differences.

    You can download:

    1. The full report
    2. Guardian article

    Maths in Psychology

    Monday, September 28th, 2015

    The 2015 A-level Psychology Specifications place a new emphasis on students’ ability to both understand and, more-importantly, apply a range of statistical tests to psychological problems.

    This new set of short films, written and presented by Deb Gajic (UK Psychology teacher and examiner) covers the main statistical tests students encounter in psychology: Chi Square, Sign Test, Spearman’s Rho, Probability, Mann Whitney U Test, Wilcoxen Signed Ranks Test. Each film takes students through the basic steps needed to calculate and apply the tests to various research methods. The films are available as a:

    Digital Download: All 6 films available for download.

    Although, for some reason, YouTube pretends the trailer can’t be found, it actually can.

    Just click Play as usual…

    Amoral Panics: Part 3

    Wednesday, June 10th, 2015

    While the two previous posts looked at moral panics from two different perspectives (“from below” in the case of interpretivist approaches and “from above” in the case of hegemonic neo-Marxist positions) a different way of looking at the concept, developed by Waiton (2008), is to consider contemporary forms of panic in the context of a changing moral order; one where the “moral certainties” of modern society is replaced by the “moral uncertainties” of late/postmodern society.

    Amoral Panics

    Waiton argues, in this respect, that late/postmodern societies are characterised by amoral panics. Moral panics are increasingly rare because there is no-longer a clear and coherent sense of moral order to protect – something he attributes to “a collapse in the ‘faiths’ of the right and left, that cohered society in the past”. If there is no clear sense of a moral order, just a number of competing moral interpretations, there can be no sense of moral panics being engineered.

    This doesn’t mean panics no-longer occur, merely that their quality is amoral “a form of moralising without any wider system of meaning”. In other words, while panics have a moral dimension – they involve ideas about what is good or bad for society – they are not specifically related to any sense of an overriding moral order. (more…)

    Revise Psychology: Reductionism

    Monday, April 27th, 2015

    Psychology Revision series for A-level and AP Psychology teachers and students.

    This revision film uses the example of obesity to outline and evaluate reductionist and holistic approaches in psychology.

    The full film is available to rent (7 days) or buy from and covers key:

    • definitions: reductionism, scientific parsimony, holism
    • applications: obesity,
    • evaluations: uses and limitations of reductionist and holistic approaches.

    Psychology: Reliability and Validity

    Tuesday, April 14th, 2015

    Reliability and validity are two important methodological concepts in both Psychology and Sociology because they address the problems involved in “doing research” – and while this film is aimed at A-level and AP psychology students (who are required to cover the issues in much greater depth), it should also be useful for sociology teachers who want to firm-up their students’ understanding of these concepts.

    This short film looks at the key aspects of these important methodological concepts – from simple definitions, through an understanding of different types to examples of how they can be applied to different types of exam question – in terms of key:

    • definitions: reliability (internal and external),validity (internal and external)
    • examples: different types of validity, Bandura, Rosenhan
    • applications: where and how to apply these concepts in exam answers

     

    Flipped Classrooms

    Wednesday, April 1st, 2015

    The Flipped Classroom is something of a rarity in contemporary educational thinking and practice in that the concept is based on a reasonably-sound argument (at least as far as something like a-level study is concerned), namely that in an exam system designed to test a range of weighted skills (knowledge, understanding, application, evaluation…) it makes sense to organise teaching time around the best possible ways to teach and learn these skills. In other words, where something like evaluation is highly-rewarded in the exam it makes sense to devote precious classroom time to developing and honing this skill, rather than using said time to focus on something (like acquiring knowledge) that can be usefully carried-on outside the classroom via various forms of guided learning.

    While flipping the classroom may (or may not) be “the future”, 10 Reasons Flipped Classrooms Could Change Education is an interesting overview of why you might want to look at this idea further (and includes some reasons why you might not…).

    False Memory

    Saturday, March 29th, 2014

    Here’s a clip from one of the Psychology videos we made (for ourselves this time) with Elizabeth Loftus. If you’ve ever wondered about her “Lost in the Mall” technique (and let’s face it, who hasn’t?) then wonder no more because this tells you all about it in around 3 minutes 42 seconds…

    The complete (23 minute) “Elizabeth Loftus on False Memory” is also available on DVD.