здесь

Blog

Posts Tagged ‘methods’

Routine Activities Flipbook

Sunday, August 30th, 2020

A few months ago (around 6 to be precise) I did a blog post suggesting how you might want to evaluate a Routine Activities approach to crime.

Then I left well alone and went away – not literally because we were well into the Covid lockdown by then – and did a load of other stuff (making films, mostly – all available at very reasonable rates if you’re at all interested in using video in the classroom) before finally getting around to converting the blog text to a Pdf format and, more-interestingly I think, to html5 Flipbook format.

Or, to be very precise, two types of Flipbook:

The first is your bog-standard “Read the text, look at the pictures and flip the pages” version.

The second is as above (text, pictures, flipping…) but with the added bonus of a bit of streaming video that you – or indeed your students – can view if you want. The short clip focuses on explaining Routine Activities in a visual way in case your students need a bit of a recap before considering a couple of ways to evaluate the approach.

And if you like the Flipbook Format (let’s be honest, who doesn’t?) and can’t wait to get your mitts on more to satisfy your hunger (or something) there are loads more available on Research Methods, Sociological Theory, Crime and Deviance, Revision and Mass Media if you follow the link.

Lessons In A Tube

Wednesday, August 5th, 2020

A YouTube to be exact because this post reintroduces TheTeacherSociology Channel that I first posted about a couple of years ago in relation to their extensive range of (AQA) exam-help videos.

TheTeacherSociology has recently expanded her repertoire – presumably in response to the current need for on-line teaching – to create a range of tutorials focused on Theory and Methods. While again aimed at AQA teachers / students there’s plenty here that is relevant to teachers / students following other Specifications. They’re generally relevant to any sociology course that includes Theory and Methods (which, all-things-considered, is likely to be pretty much all of them).

The tutorials tend to come-in at between 25 and 35 minutes (although reliability and validity, for example, is around 5 minutes, probably because once you’ve outlined the basics there’s not a lot more to add) and they can be used as off-the-peg lessons for teachers to use in a variety of ways, depending upon the circumstances in which they find their teaching.

The tutorials generally follow the “podcast with pictures” format but in addition to the general explanation of a topic the tutorials include activities and exercises (with accompanying resources if necessary) students can do to consolidate their (individual) learning.

The currently-available tutorials are:

Postmodernism…

Postmodernism

Social Action

Feminism

Marxism

Functionalism

Reliability and Validity

SHS Sociology Resources

Friday, May 22nd, 2020

Padlet, in case you don’t know it, is a file-sharing site that lets you organise files into Boards, the contents of which can then be shared with anyone who happens to want them.

Topic Sheets…

You can upload all kinds of files (such as documents or videos), or link to files on other web sites. It’s a very visual and a very handy way to organise files and would probably be my go-to site for sharing stuff if it hadn’t decided to charge for the privilege.

While there is a free version, last time I looked it was limited to 3 Boards for new users – which sounds okay(ish), but for teachers who want to organise information into Specification categories for their students it’s not really much cop (the Padlet I’m about to feature here, for example, consists of 66 Boards…).

And there are alternatives, such as Wakelet, that do much the same sort of thing for free.

Nor do they display anoying and somewhat baffling messages like “Don’t forget to drink water” when I log-in.

Like breathing, this is not something I regularly forget to do.

Go figure.

Just some of the Boards…

Anyway, the purpose of this rambling preamble is simply to draw your attention to this very useful set of Padlet Sociology Boards from shs_sociology (Laura Lakin).

The aforementioned 66 Boards are broadly organised into half-a-dozen (or “6” as it’s sometimes known) Specification-friendly categories:

  • Education
  • Family
  • Methods
  • Theory
  • Beliefs
  • Crime and Deviance
  • These, in turn, contain all kinds of resources and links that are well worth exploring, although one of the most interesting, for my money, is to the different Topic Sheets available. These are a bit like a Knowledge Organiser / Learning Table in the sense they include key concepts and their definitions, but they also expand this a little more to include stuff like links to other topics, practice questions and the like.

    If you’ve got a bit of time to spare and enjoy nosing around other people’s files these Boards are worth the effort.

    Of Methods and Methodology 6 | 3: Theoretical Research Considerations

    Thursday, April 30th, 2020

    Theoretical research considerations – from methodological perspective to questions of reliability and validity – form the third part of the P.E.T. (Practical, Ethical, Theoretical) triumvirate of research considerations and they represent an important counterweight to the idea that sociological research simply involves choosing the right tool for the job.

    In everyday life, when faced with a problem like hanging a picture on a wall, most of us would reach for a hammer – mainly because we consider this the most appropriate and efficient tool for the job.

    When carrying out sociological research, therefore, it would make sense to do something similar: choose a research topic and then select the most appropriate method with which to collect data.

    Seeing research methods as tools – what Ackroyd and Hughes (1992) called the “Toolbox Approach” to sociological research – is, on one level, a perfectly sensible approach: if you want to collect quantitative data about some form of behaviour it’s not a great idea to use a method better-suited to collecting qualitative data – and vice-versa.

    (more…)

    Year 12 Sociology

    Wednesday, March 25th, 2020

    A web site that is both a name and an accurate description of what it contains, Year 12 Sociology has a range of resources created by Stephanie Parsons, mainly based around what seem like Lesson Plan PowerPoint slides that have been saved as pdf documents.

    What you seem to get in each resource is a complete lesson on a particular topic, one that includes things like short notes, questions and student exercises, but without the teacher talking.

    Obviously.

    The Resources…

    Of Methods and Methodology 6 | Practical Research Considerations

    Tuesday, March 24th, 2020

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

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

    choice of topic

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

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

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

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

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

    Money, money, money…

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

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

    Who pays?

    And why?

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

    There’s more. A whole load More

    Discovering Psychology

    Monday, February 10th, 2020

    Discovering Psychology was “A video instructional series on introductory psychology for college and high school classrooms and adult learners” consisting of 26 30-minute TV programs narrated by Philip Zimbardo and produced in association with the American Psychological Association.

    The programs were originally aired in 1990 and a set of “updated resources” to accompany the programs were created in 2001. Although they’re obviously a little dated, both technologically and pedagogically, in some respects, in others they represent an interesting resource for teachers and students alike.

    I don’t know where the original films now reside, but it’s possible to find some of the programs on YouTube if you want to search for them.

    Whether any search is going to be worth the effort is a moot point, but the resources now available probably are worth exploring for their mix of Notes, classic experiments and key word glossaries.

    Podcasts With Pictures | GCSE

    Monday, May 20th, 2019

    I’ve been meaning to do a post on the growing number of teachers creating video resources for some time and now I’ve finally managed to drag myself away from Far Cry 5 make a bit of time I thought I’d start with a set of GCSE resources from MTO Sociology aimed at the AQA Specification. When I get around to it I’ll do a follow-up post on A-level video resources of which, you might not be surprised to learn, there are many more available.

    Anyway, at the time of writing the MTO Sociology YouTube Channel has 15 or so Sociology resources divided into 4 main playlists:

    Exam Ready takes you through all the information you need to cover in terms of revision in areas like Methods, Family, Education, Deviance and Stratification. These films are 30 – 60 minutes long.

    Themes focuses on concepts (socialisation, gender, class and ethnicity) that crop-up right across the sociology specification and the podcasts focus on how to apply your knowledge of these themes to questions in different areas (such as family or education). These resources are much shorter – between 10 and 20 minutes – to reflect their tighter focus.

    Perspectives provides a brief introduction to Functionalism, Marxism and Feminism and how these perspectives can be applied across different areas of the Specification. Again, these are relatively short films that come-in around the 10-minute mark.

    Questions and Answers seems to be a bit of a pot-luck resource based on whatever MTO Sociology’s students requested. If you’re having problems understanding concepts like the glass ceiling, for example, this resource will be helpful. If you’re not, it probably won’t. Which isn’t a criticism, more a heads-up. The films in this section are around the 15-minute mark.

    Finally, there are a couple more Sociology resources tucked away on the GCSE Humanities playlist that are worth checking-out: How do I answer exam questions? and Model answers and exam feedback.

    Psychology Films 4 | Methodology

    Wednesday, May 8th, 2019

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

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

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

    Sampling…

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

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

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

    Visual Notes

    Tuesday, April 30th, 2019
    Family
    Families and Households

    The Sociology Guy has been busy putting together what he calls “quick glance revision notes” for his web site (which, apropos of nothing, is well worth a visit because it contains lots of good stuff) – what might be described as visual notes or mini learning tables / knowledge organisers tied to a specific idea, topic or theme.

    And if this sounds like I’m struggling to do them justice, it’s probably easier just to look at the accompanying pictures because they’ll give you a much better idea about what’s involved.

    And this, in a roundabout way, is probably as it should be, given the claim that “Research suggests that notes that are vibrant, colourful and have pictures or illustrations are 40% more likely to be recalled by students”.

    While I’m not sure what this research might be, the idea does have an initial face validity, in that the combination of text and relevant graphics should help students make evocative connections.

    Anyway, be that as it may, the Notes look attractive and deliver just the right gobbets (that’s actually a word) of information for revision purposes across 6 current areas:

    There’s a Lot more to Follow…

    Sociology in Focus for AS: Methods Resources

    Wednesday, March 13th, 2019
    Overview Map

    The final set of resources to accompany the free Sociology in Focus AS textbook is for Research Methods aka “Everyone’s Favourite Module” (Said no-one. Ever).

    Although the textbook is aimed at AQA, everyone, everywhere, does research methods so there’s little here that won’t be familiar, whatever the Specification.

    Probably.
    I’d be inclined to check, though.
    Just-in-case.

    If you’ve been following these posts over the past few weeks (and if you haven’t you might want to think about Registering with the Blog to ensure you’re notified whenever a new post happens along) you’ll be familiar with the format – activity answers, spider-diagrams, worksheets and teaching tips – and so won’t be disappointed that this is exactly what you’re getting here.

    Or maybe you will. Who really knows?

    To be a bit more specific, the bundle features:

    Worksheet

    An Overview Map that sets out the broad content of the Unit in terms of the different Modules. This can be useful as a way of introducing the Unit and giving students a broad outline of the content they will be expected to cover.

    Revision Maps: These spider diagrams map-out the textbook content on a module-by-module basis. This makes them useful for both end-of-Unit revision (the focus is on identifying keywords in the text and relating them to other, linked, content) and for introducing the basic content of each Module.

    Teaching Tips: These include suggestions for some hands-on, “Doing Sociology”, approaches to research methods, plus a general introduction to what was, at the time (around 10 years ago) a new and highly-innovative type of research method called Visual Sociology. It’s moved on a bit in the meantime and while it’s not exactly a mainstream method it’s something you might want to investigate if you have the time and / or inclination.

    Activity Answers: If you set your students any of the activities / questions in the book, a set of standard answers would be quite a handy thing to have. Luckily, I’ve written some handy suggested answers to all the questions so you don’t have to.

    Worksheets: In moderation worksheets can be a useful little weapon in your teaching armoury, particularly for small-group work / flipped learning. The worksheets involve a combination of individual and group-based tasks that can be used to consolidate and check learning.

    (Knife) Crime, Deviance, Media and Methods

    Monday, October 29th, 2018

    Because. LONDON!

    “Knife Crime” as you’re probably aware, is increasingly in the news, particularly, but not exclusively, in London (because, quite frankly and a little rhetorically, is there anywhere else of any great significance in England?).

    And while there are Definitely | Maybe | Probably (please delete as inapplicable) all kinds of reliability issues surrounding what counts as “knife crime” (and, indeed, how what counts can actually be counted) that you could explore if you were so inclined, a more pressing social (and, as it happens, sociological) problem is “Who’s responsible?”.

    This, of course, is not an idle question and happily, if that’s the right word, both the social and the sociological problem meet around the notion of “gangs” (and “youth gangs” in particular).

    However, before we start to develop some sort of hypothesis that might explain the relationship between “youth gangs” and the increase in serious knife crime (“knife crime with injury”) you might want to try this simple, single question, quiz on your students as a prelude to the serious stuff of explaining the data.

    As befits my sociological inexactitude I’ve formulated the quantitative quiz in either of two ways (one open-ended, the other closed-ended):

    And you call that a Staffie? Really? Sort it out!

    Either:

    Q1. In your own words, what percentage of “knife crime with injury” in London is committed by youth gangs?

    Or:

    Q1. In London, what percentage of “knife crime with injury” is committed by youth gangs?

    1. 45%?
    2. 4%?

    (more…)

    The Crime and Deviance Channel

    Thursday, August 30th, 2018

    The Crime and Deviance Channel now offers a wide range of free Text, PowerPoint, Audio and Video resources organised into 5 categories:

    1. Theories
    2. Social Distribution
    3. Power and Control
    4. Globalisation
    5. Research Methods

    Each category contains a mix of content:

    Text materials range from complete pdf chapters to a variety of shorter “Update” materials (quizzes, research synopses, items “In the News”) related to key sociological theories, concepts, issues and methods.

    PowerPoint resources range from single slides designed as a high-impact visual background to the explanation of key theories and concepts, to complete Presentations that can be used to introduce or illuminate a particular general theme.

    Audio materials consist of 17 podcasts designed to provide background briefing material, talking points (comparing different theories for example), updates on new research and revision exercises.

    Video resources generally consist of short clips (currently around 30 separate films ranging in length from 1 to several minutes) designed to illustrate key concepts, introduce new research and researchers and stimulate classroom-based thinking and discussion.

    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:

    (more…)

    Spaced Study: What It Is (and How To Do It)

    Tuesday, November 28th, 2017

    Spaced Study or Spaced Practice is a theory of learning that argues, in a nutshell, that students study more effectively and retain more of the information they learn if the study period is “spaced” – or spread out over a number of hours / days – than if studying is “crammed” into short intensive blocks.

    Interestingly, unlike so many “contemporary study techniques” this technique not only sounds like it should be effective, there’s also a lot of scientific research both historic and contemporary, that actually supports the basic idea.

    If you can’t be bothered to read this document (or, as I prefer to think, you’ll take my word for it…) the Very Wonderful Learning Scientists have helpfully distilled the basics into a teacher / student friendly form.

    While this is all-well-good-and-worth-a-try, you might be thinking, do you have the time – spaced or otherwise – and, more-importantly, resources to convince your students that Spaced Study is more effective than something like Cramming?

    If you don’t – and I’ve a feeling you’re probably not alone in this – the equally-wonderful Hectic Teacher has come riding to your rescue because she’s produced a neat Spaced Study Guide (including PowerPoint and Teacher Notes).

    There’s also a Families and Households Spaced Study booklet that might give you some further pointers.

    Which is nice.

    Trial: And Error: Online version

    Monday, October 30th, 2017

    While PowerPoint is fine for displaying via desktop devices it’s not quite so clever when it comes to the different devices, from tablets to mobiles, potentially being used inside and outside the a-level classroom.

    If, therefore, you want a portable (html5) version of the Sociological Detectives Research Process Simulation that has the same functionality as the PowerPoint version, I’ve created an online version that you’re more than welcome to try. Although it doesn’t do anything different to the PowerPoint version it’s a version that students can access at anytime, before or after the particular lesson in which the simulation is used.

    In the case of the former you might want your students to familiarise themselves with the sim before you link it to Popper’s Hypothetico-Deductive model of research. This involves a kind of flipped learning where students familiarise themselves with the basic analogy used in the sim and which can then be applied and evaluated in a lesson.

    Alternatively it can be used after a lesson as a way for students to recap the ideas you’ve introduced.

    11 | The Research Process: Part 4

    Monday, September 25th, 2017

    The final part of the Research Methods chapter covers the use of mixed methods in the context of sociological research and is split into three theoretically-discrete, but related, areas:

    1. Methodological pluralism involves the idea of combining methodologies, methods and data types to arrive at a more-rounded, reliable and valid insight into social behaviour.

    2. Types of Triangulation outlines how researchers can use different types of triangulation – specifically, methodological, researcher and data – as a practical way of improving research reliability and validity.

    3. The final section look at a range of Practical. Ethical and Theoretical research considerations and how these relate to both choice of topic and method.

    Although the chapter relates directly to the OCR Specification there should still be plenty here for teachers and students following other Specifications.

    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

    Methods, Mobiles and Media

    Monday, June 19th, 2017

    Research Methods can be a little abstract and dry (teacher-speak for dull), particularly when opportunities to experience and apply what’s being taught are limited by things like time and a lack of easy access to suitable research subjects.

    This is where Steven Thomas’ “Patterns of Mobile Phone Use” article might help. The research example it suggests takes advantage of a ubiquitous resource – student ownership of mobile phones – to promote a relatively simple and straightforward way of applying and evaluating a range of methods, from questionnaires to participant observation.

    It does this by suggesting students (loosely) replicate Maenpaa’s (2001) examination of the impact of mobile phones on social interaction through a combination of quantitative and qualitative methods designed to monitor mobile phone use in a small case study scenario. The article suggests a set of general areas to study – from the simple quantitative, like the length of time people spend on their phones each day, to more qualitative questions relating to how people behave when using their mobiles.

    Media: Context / Background

    Although the article is mainly designed to help students get to grips with research methods, if you’re teaching media there is an additional aspect to the research you might find interesting: evaluating the social impact of new media.

    The concept of “New Media” appears somewhere on all Sociology a-level Specifications, frequently in conjunction with an instruction to examine its role / impact / significance in contemporary societies, both local and global:

    AQA: New media and their significance for an understanding of the role of the media in contemporary Society

    OCR: The impact of digital forms of communication in a global context

    WJEC: New media and globalisation

    CIE: The impact of the ‘new media’ on society.

    In Thomas’ article the student research is based around a contrast between Negreponte’s slightly gung-ho and highly-individualistic “digital optimism” and Maenpaa’s more-nuanced approach to communication and interaction.

    One interesting aspect of Negreponte’s work is the claim that in a digital society of “email, fax and answering machines” (the fact he only said this in 1995 shows how rapidly the technology has changed) the world will become asynchronous. That is, in order to participate or communicate people do not need to be interacting at the same time. As he predicted (Wired, 1998):

    “We’ll all live very asynchronous lives, in far less lockstep obedience to each other. Any store that is not open 24 hours will be noncompetitive. The idea that we collectively rush off to watch a television program at 9:00 p.m. will be nothing less than goofy. The true luxury in life is to not set an alarm clock and to stay in pajamas as long as you like. From this follows a complete renaissance of rural living. In the distant future, the need for cities will disappear”.

    One way in which new media has become increasingly ubiquitous is through the exponential growth of mobile / cell phone ownership and you would think that if any technological development has created or expanded asynchronous interaction it would be this one: technology that even a few years ago could be used to symbolise wealth and social status is now pretty-much everywhere.

    While Negreponte’s arguments have a ring of truth about them – a certain face validity as it were – others have not been so sure. Maenpaa’s (2001) examination of the impact of mobile phones on interaction is a case (study) in point, with his key findings summarised by Thomas.

    Methods

    If you just want to use the activity as a way of teaching research methods, researching mobile use could be used to devise and apply methods such as:

  • Questionnaires / Structured interviews
  • Unstructured interviews
  • Observation – non-participant
  • Participant – overt and covert

  • Equally you could use a combination of quantitative / qualitative methods if you wanted to illustrate concepts of triangulation.

    If you don’t have the time, opportunity or inclination to do this as a practical exercise, try doing a thought experiment where students have to imagine what it would be like to do the research. This particular route can be instructive if students already have a good grounding in different methods, their strengths, weaknesses, uses and limitations and you want to explore a range of more-theoretical issues (different research methodologies, different aspects of triangulation and so forth).

    Participant Observation: “Old Pat”

    Tuesday, May 9th, 2017

    While clearing out an old fling cabinet (not something I normally do but every once in a while I find it therapeutic to interrupt my International Jet-setting Lifestyle to do the kinds of things ordinary people do. I find it keeps me grounded) I came across a cutting I’d saved about Pat Moore, an American Industrial Designer, and her experimental form of covert participant observation.

    In order to gain an insight into the “problems of contemporary life” faced by the elderly, the then 26-year-old didn’t simply observe or ask questions; she physically transformed herself into an 85-year-old woman called “Old Pat”.

    Over a 3-year period between 1979 and 1982 Moore played “Old Pat” in three different ways: as a wealthy dowager, as a reasonably comfortable granny and as an almost destitute bag lady (which added a class dimension to those of gender and age).

    Her experiences were detailed in a book published in 1985 (Disguised: A True Story) but if you just want an overview of what she did and discovered there are a couple of sites worth visiting:

    Designer Pat Moore Learned About Old Age the Hard Way

    How an Industrial Designer Discovered the Elderly

    While you need to keep in mind this wasn’t a sociological study, as such, it’s a good example of covert participant observation that can be used as a way of getting students to think about the strengths, weaknesses and limitations of the method.

    Connecting Walls Collection

    Monday, April 24th, 2017

    CBSC Sociology has been busy creating and posting a huge number of revision Connecting Walls on Twitter and, in the spirit of “pinching other people’s stuff and sharing it with a wider audience”, I’ve pulled all their tweets together into one handy blog post for your – and your students’ – greater convenience.

    So, if you’re looking for a fun way to spice-up classroom revision with a bit of competitive tension, try some or all of the following:

    Education

    Education Wall 1

    Education Wall 2

    Education Wall 3

    Education Wall 4  

    Education Wall 5

    (more…)

    Crime, Deviance and Methods: Self-report Questionnaire

    Thursday, January 5th, 2017

    Opportunities for students to link crime, deviance and research methods in a practical way are often limited by the constraints of time and space – but one simple approach that can be used effectively in the classroom is a self-report crime questionnaire. Although there are a few of these kicking around (from Ann Campbell’s onward…) this is a relatively recent one I’ve put together based on questions contained in the UK Crime and Justice Survey.

    It can be downloaded as a Word document so that you can amend it easily (you may not want to include all the 40+ questions and you may want to substitute some of your own…). 

    I have, for example, marked some of the more problematic questions (such as “Have you made a false insurance claim, deliberately added items or increased the value of items on a claim”) in brown ink. If you want to keep them, just change the ink colour. If you think they’re likely to be irrelevant to your students, just delete and / or replace the questions accordingly.

    The document suggests some possible classroom uses for the questionnaire – from data and methodological analysis if you’re leaning toward research methods to using the data to think critically about official crime statistics based on categories like age and gender.

    Sociology Factsheets: To Buy or DIY?

    Tuesday, November 22nd, 2016

    fsheetLike all good ideas, this one is simple but effective.

    Distil topic notes into key knowledge points, add illustrative examples and brief overviews of advantages and disadvantages, throw in some exam tips and short “test yourself” questions, call it a factsheet and sell it at a very reasonable price to teachers – which is exactly what the Curriculum Press (http://www.curriculum-press.co.uk) has done.

    If you want samples of the various factsheets (their web site lists around 160), there are a few scattered around the web that I’ve cobbled together and presented here for your viewing pleasure:  (more…)

    7 Sims in 7 Days – Day 6: For My Next Trick…

    Sunday, October 2nd, 2016

    This sim involves a bit of very gentle trickery on your part as you use your little-known ability to mind-read as a way of enlivening some of the “possibly less interesting?” aspects of research methods.

    As with some of the other sims in the series this is a building-block resource; while it’s not very useful, in itself, for teaching, it’s possible to integrate it into curriculum content in a number of innovative and, I hope, interesting ways.  

    The specific instructions for this version of the sim relate to research methods generally and research design specifically. The background reading that’s included, at no extra cost, relates to Popper’s Hypothetico-Deductive Model of science and you can build the sim around a range of general and / or specific research method issues (replication, variables, hypothesis construction and testing etc.) depending on your own particular needs and preferences. For more advanced levels the sim can be used to illustrate the difference between Positivist and Realist approaches to understanding social phenomena and action. (more…)

    7 Sims in 7 Days – Day 4: The Anomie Within

    Friday, September 30th, 2016

    sim_anomieThis short (5 – 10 minute) sim can be used whenever you want to introduce the concept of anomie, such as if you’re introducing Merton’s Strain Theory or looking at Garfinkel’s breaching experiments.

    The package includes a little bit of background on breaching experiments and a couple of different anomie variations – mild and strong – depending on the type of short, sharp, dose of anomie you want to impart to your students.

    7 Sims in 7 Days – Day 3: Window Shopping / The Art of Walking

    Thursday, September 29th, 2016

    sim_shoppingAlthough these are two different sims I’ve included them together because both involve thinking about the “rules of everyday social interaction”, albeit in different ways:

    Window shopping is designed to encourage students to think systematically about the “underlying rules” of relatively mundane behavior. It can be used to simulate sociological research (such as field experiments and naturalistic observation) and introduces what some teachers might feel is a practical element into research methods.

    The Art of Walking relates to Berger’s argument that sociology involves making “the everyday seem strange” in that it involves looking at something students take for granted (how to walk in public) to see if they can work out “the rules” by which it is underpinned. It’s a simple sim that can be used at different points in a course but can be very effective right at the start as a way for students to “do sociology” in a relative safe environment.

    Seven Sims in Seven Days: The Introduction

    Monday, September 26th, 2016

    I’ve long been interested in the idea of using simulations (and games – see Disclaimer below) as teaching tools – there were a couple of online efforts I created many moons ago when the Internet was still young and frames seemed such a good idea:

    1. Education and Differential Achievement: The Sociological Detective was an attempt to embed the idea that “studying sociology” at A-level can be a bit like being a detective – you identify “suspects”, develop theories to explain social phenomena and collect / evaluate different types of evidence. I’ve since had to retire the original version, but it’s spirit has since been resurrected here if you’re interested.
    1. Crime, Deviance and Methods: The Great Chocolate Bar Theft, also long-since retired, was an online crime and methods sim that I might, at some point in the future, resurrect (but don’t bet on it).

    One of the problems, aside from having the time and ability to think them up, has always been the difficulty of finding materials that not only delight, surprise and occasionally befuddle students but which also have teaching content that repays all the time and effort required to set-up and use them effectively in the classroom.

    The Internet has, to some extent, made this easier in terms of finding stuff and it has to be noted that just about everything that’s presented here has been invented by someone other than myself. Where I know who created the materials they’re given appropriate credit but in some instances I don’t have the first idea about the identity of their creator, so if you are that person I’d just like to say “Sorry”, “Thank You” and “I’ve hidden all my money in off-shore trusts, so don’t bother suing”.

    (more…)

    Weekly Digest

    Thursday, May 12th, 2016

    All the links that caught our eye this past week in one handy post…

    Sociology

    Education

    Failure discourse: Govt must launch royal commission into ‘failing’ state system, says private school head”

    Methods in Context Mark Scheme

    Government backs down over plan to make all schools academies

    Thousands of supply teachers could lose out on more than £200 a month owing to changes to tax relief rules

    Professionalisation of governance: “Without parent governors, schools face uphill battle to engage families”

    The impact of longer school days

    I’ve seen the future and it doesn’t look good: “I Teach At A For-Profit College: 5 Ridiculous Realities”

    Students who use digital devices in class ‘perform worse in exams’

    Genes that influence how long you stay in education uncovered by study

    Crime

    Manchester’s Heroin Haters – Vigilante violence?

    Insecure working as social harm? Some thoughts on theorising low paid service work from a harm perspective

    Revealed: London’s new violent crime hotspots

    Chief Constable confirms election expenses probe involves 2 Cornish MPs, and his own boss

    Street crime resources

    Extending the Web: “Legal highs brought low as councils use banning orders to curb use”

    Tough talk on crime has led to a crisis in Britain’s prisons

    Corporate / White-collar crime “David Cameron to introduce new corporate money-laundering offence”

    Wealth, Poverty, Welfare

    Poverty by Design? “Sink estates are not sunk – they’re starved of funding”

    Top 25 hedge fund managers earned $13bn in 2015 – more than some nations

    Media

    18 Baffling Tropes Hollywood Can’t Stop Using

    Selling Shame: 40 Outrageous Vintage Ads Any Woman Would Find Offensive | Mental Floss UK

    The General Strike to Corbyn: 90 years of BBC establishment bias

    How to Fabricate Front Page News

    Social Inequality

    Class, Culture and Education – a good discussion piece for students: “Why working-class actors are a disappearing breed”

    Example of different type of discrimination: “Blacklisted workers win £10m payout from construction firms”

    Tax havens have no economic justification, say top economists

    A Sandwich and a Milkshake? Interesting discussion point for UK inequality / tax cuts for wealthy

    Methods

    Statistical Artefact: Useful research Methods example “Fewer people die in hospital at weekends, study finds”

    Family

    Childhood / sexualistion  /media: “Magazine under fire for swimsuit tips for pre-teen girls”

    Psychology

    Epigenetics: “Identical twins may have more differences than meet the eye”

    Esteller study: “How epigenetics affects twins” | The Scientist Magazine

    The uses and misuses of “growth mindset”

    Miscellaneous

    The way you’re revising may let you down in exams – and here’s why

    A psychologist reveals his tips for effective revision

    Britain at a glance – lots of lovely data in easy-to-read formats!

    How to create better study habits that work for you

     

    Media Methods

    Monday, May 9th, 2016

    8lqm5uyGOne of the obvious ways to study the media is through Content Analysis and a classic – if now somewhat dated – application of the method was the Glasgow Media Group’s pioneering research, evidenced through a series of books – Bad News (1976), More Bad News (1980), Really Bad News (1982) – that examined “the ‘common sense’ acceptance of the neutrality of television news” and concluded: “Contrary to the claims, conventions and culture of television journalism, the news is not a neutral product. For television news is a cultural artefact; it is a sequence of socially manufactured messages, which carry many of the culturally dominant assumptions of our society”. (more…)

    Keyword Revision Mapping

    Saturday, April 9th, 2016

    revmap1Although revision techniques are many and varied one of my favourite techniques is based on keywords because it’s so highly-adaptable; it’s equally suited to on-course as it is to post-course revision (although I actually believe the former is both more effective and encourages a greater depth of revision).

    In basic terms keyword revision simply involves identifying and recording the most important (or key) ideas you encounter on the course. In this respect – and to use a currently-fashionable concept – keywords represent a form of metadata; ideas that provide an underlying structure to further ideas by describing how and why such ideas relate to one another.

    To use a simple example, at the end of teaching a family module it should be possible to write the word “FAMILY” at the centre of a whiteboard and expect students to generate masses of relevant data simply by focusing on the keyword and using it (and their underlying knowledge of the topic) to produce further, linked, information. This, in turn, generates further keywords, further data and so forth.

    (more…)