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Posts Tagged ‘positivism’

Research Methods Booklet

Thursday, May 21st, 2020

I came across this Booklet on the Padlet site of Mrs. Booker-Parkinson and, I’m now reliably informed, it was created by Steven Humphrys, based on one of Ken Browne’s many Sociology textbooks. I don’t know which one but since the Booklet’s dated 2018 I chose the most recent.

Probably.

I can’t keep up.

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

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

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

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

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

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

    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.

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    Of Methods and Methodology: 2. Interpretivism

    Saturday, February 29th, 2020

    A methodology is a framework for research that focuses on how it is possible to collect reliable and valid data about, in this instance, the social world. It’s shaped by two main considerations:

    1. Our beliefs about the fundamental nature of the social world (ontological concerns).

    2. How we believe is possible to construct knowledge about the world (epistemology).

    In turn, these ideas shape our choice of research methods when we come to actually collect data.

    Basic Principles

    Unlike their positivist counterparts, for interpretivists the crucial difference between the objects of study for social and natural scientists is that people have consciousness.

    This is significant because this awareness of both Self and our relationship to Others gives people the ability to act; to exercise what we might loosely call free will over the choices they make about how to behave in different situations, rather than simply react to external (structural) stimulation.

    People, therefore, are “inherently unpredictable” in the sense they do not necessary react in the same way to the same stimuli. Unlike a natural world governed by linear progressions – A causes B causes C – the social world is a non-linear system that makes individual behaviour difficult to predict. The best we can do is suggest a range of probabilities about what will occur in terms of people’s behaviour in the context of different situations.

    A further complication here is that behaviour is not simply a condition of the Self: that is, someone choosing to do – or not to do – something. Rather, it’s also a condition of the Other. How other people define and interpret someone’s behaviour is just as – if not – more important.

    Read on MacDuff…

    Sociology Video Tutorials

    Sunday, September 29th, 2019
    Functionalism Tutorial
    Functionalism Tutorial

    These short video tutorials are basically a variant on “podcasts with pictures”: a talking head tutor in one corner of the screen explains something while the occasional picture or real-time whiteboard illustration is displayed.

    In other words, the 40+ films available here are relatively simple video lectures of the “listen and learn” variety – which is not necessarily a criticism, merely an observation that this is what’s on offer.

    More tutorials

    New Sociology Learning Tables

    Saturday, April 20th, 2019

    It’s been a while since I last posted any Sociology Learning Tables / Knowledge Organisers (Psychology teachers and students have been better-served in the interim, even though I’ve still got a load more that I need to get around to posting), partly because I haven’t really been looking for any and partly because I haven’t found any.

    The two could be connected

    Luckily – for you and me both – TheHecticTeacher has been busy creating a whole host of new learning tables for your download pleasure in three areas:

    (more…)

    Sociology Flipbooks

    Saturday, April 20th, 2019

    A Flipbook is a way of displaying a pdf document online so that it has the look-and-feel of a paper-based magazine, one whose pages you can turn using a mouse (desktop) or finger (mobile).


    A Flipbook.
    Not Actual Size.
    Unless you’re using a mobile.
    Then it might be.

    That’s it, really.

    I could talk about stuff like whether this creates a greater sense of engagement among students than the bog-standard static pages of a pdf file, but since I’ve got no idea (and I don’t know of anyone who’s bothered to try to find out) that would just be me trying to find a deceptively- plausible way to encourage you to try them.

    So, if this Big Build-Up has piqued your curiosity and / or whetted your appetite for Flipbooks you’ll be pleased to know I’ll be adding a variety of the little blighters to this page on what might be charitably termed an ad-hoc basis (translation: whenever I can be bothered or can find the time).

    (more…)

    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…)

    More Learning Tables: AS Research Methods

    Saturday, December 16th, 2017

    Today’s Table offering is everyone’s favourite revision topic (research methods in case you actually need to ask) and all of the Tables were written / assembled by Miss K Elles, except for those that weren’t.

    The Tables cover the major research methods plus a little bit of research methodology (positivism and interpretivism plus stuff on choice of method, value-freedom, objectivity and subjectivity) and mainly focus on knowledge with little bits of application and evaluation thrown-in.

    If I had guess – which I do because I don’t know for sure – I’d say these were early-version Tables where the more-complex structure of later Tables hadn’t been established.

    Alternatively they may just have been knocked-out quickly to fulfil some necessary teaching and learning void.

    Either way, you and your students may find the following Tables useful:

    Secondary Sources
    Experiments
    Surveys
    Sampling
    Observations
    Positivism and Interpretivism 1 (Georgia Banton)
    Positivism and Interpretivism 2 (Georgia Banton)
    Factors influencing choice of method (Isaac Carter-Bown)
    Value-Freedom (S Dale)

    9 | The Research Process: Part 2

    Saturday, September 16th, 2017

    The focus here is quantitative data and research, with the free chapter split into three discrete, but necessarily related, parts.

    The first part outlines a selection of primary quantitative research methods (questionnaires, structured interviews and content analysis) and evaluates their strengths and weaknesses.

    The second part does something similar for secondary quantitative methods (official and non-official statistics).

    The final part turns the focus onto quantitative research methodology with an overview and analysis of positivist approaches. In addition to identifying and explaining some of the main features of this approach the link with research design in the first chapter is maintained through an overview of a classic positivist design: Popper’s Hypothetico-Deductive model of scientific research.

    As with previous chapters printer’s marks are visible and some chucklehead at the publisher has added some obvious pictures and even-more-obvious captions…

    Clarke and Layder: Let’s Get Real

    Thursday, May 11th, 2017

    Continuing to clear-out the filing cabinet that is fast-assuming legendary status in both my life and the sociological world (pretty much the same thing, actually) I came across a copy of an article by Clarke and Layder originally published in the November 1994 issue of Sociology Review called “Let’s Get Real: The Realist Approach in Sociology”.

    While a 23 year-old article’s not usually a source I’d recommend for contemporary students, in this particular case the age of the content’s not especially significant because it deals with the general principles of realist methodology – and these haven’t really changed much over the past 25 years. The article’s also one of the most accessible explanations of sociological realism for A-level students I’ve read or indeed written – although, to be fair, this probably isn’t actually saying that much in terms of the competition.

    Be that as it may, if you teach Realism alongside “Other Alternative Research Approaches” such as Positivism and Interpretivism this article should prove helpful, not just in terms of clearly-identifying the key principles of Realism but also in terms of highlighting the key similarities and differences between these competing approaches. And even if you don’t teach Realism, you should find the stuff on Positivism and Interpretivism helpful.

    As you might expect, given its age and provenance (it’s been in a filing cabinet for most of the past quarter century…) the actual document is a little bit the worse for wear. This hasn’t been helped, it must be admitted, by the various annotations to the text I presumably added in my “Underline everything and hope something sticks” phase of critical unawareness.

    Sociology Shortcuts: NotAFactsheets

    Sunday, April 9th, 2017

    Over the past few weeks I’ve published a small selection of Curriculum Press Sociology Factsheets and the response to these set me thinking about creating some of my own, using a similar format – although I’ve decided not to call what I’ve produced “Factsheets”, mainly because they aren’t.

    Anyway, I posted my first attempt at a NotAFactsheet a week or so ago and since then I’ve been developing and refining the format in terms of both design and content. Whether or not I’ve managed to capture something useful is something for you to judge but I thought I’d post my first batch of NotAFactsheets anyway.

    The basic idea, in case you’re not familiar with the general format, is to use NotAFactsheets in a range of possible ways, as:

  • basic introductory documents.
  • an extra source of student Notes.
  • a source of information when students miss part of a course.
  • a revision document.
  •  
    These are all based around “Approaches to Research” and, in the main, focus on an outline of different approaches. I have, however, included one on research methods to see if and how that works (at 5 pages it’s significantly longer than each of the others and I’m not sure if this format works as a NotAFactsheet).

    You can download the following NotAFactsheets:

    Positivism

    Positivist Research Methods

    Interpretivism

    Realism

    Feminism

    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…

    PowerPoint: The Hypothetico-Deductive Model

    Monday, February 27th, 2017

    This is a simple one-slide PowerPoint presentation of Popper’s classic model of scientific research. The presentation contains two versions:

    1. Click-to-advance: this allows teachers to reveal each element in the model at their own pace. This is useful if you want to talk about each of the elements before revealing the next.
    2. Self-advancing: if you want to just show a class how the model develops this option slowly (there’s a two-second delay before each reveal) displays each element in turn.

     

    If you want to give your students some notes to accompany the presentation the following should help:

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    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…)

    Seven Sims in Seven Days – Day 5: Trial by Jury

    Saturday, October 1st, 2016

    sim_trailAs with some of the others in this series, “Trial by Jury” is a building block sim that gives you a basic template that can be used to organise and run a wide range of possible simulations. In basic terms if there’s an area of the Sociology / Psychology course that involves comparing and contrasting two opposing viewpoints it can be adapted to the Trial by Jury format using this template.

    As a way of exampling this the package uses the (sociological) example of “Positivism On Trial” (effectively a debate between Positivism / Interpretivism at As-level).

    This is quite a time-consuming simulation and it’s probably best-suited to occasional use (unless you’ve completely flipped your classroom, in which case it’s something you could frequently use).

    For example, it could be used at the end of a specific teaching session (such as “secularisation”) as a way of bringing all the different arguments and evaluations together. Alternatively you might find it useful for a series of “end of course” sessions as a way of structuring student revision.

    Podcasts for AS and A-level Sociology

    Tuesday, May 17th, 2016

    With the growth of video, podcasts seem to have fallen out of fashion in recent years which is a bit of a shame because they can be useful teaching / learning aids. From a production point-of-view they’re also cheap to create and easy to distribute so it’s perhaps surprising that more aren’t made.

    Be that as it may, one accusation that can’t be levelled at AQA is jumping on a bandwagon before the train has left the station; so, a little late admittedly, comes these podtastic offerings for your listening pleasure. Atm there are only 4 casts (3 if you discount the “Overview”) and whether there will be any more is anyone’s guess (and mine, for what little it’s worth, is that there won’t be, but I’m prepared to be surprised).

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    Teaching A-level Research Methods: Part 3

    Monday, April 25th, 2016
    1. Talk the Walk

    At this point students need to get to grips with learning the basics of research methods. How you organise this is up to you, but one way is to get students to take ownership of their learning:

    If there are sufficient students, split the class into groups and give each group responsibility for one research method. Give the group a broad outline of how they should proceed in terms of:walk_template

    • Brief overview of the method

    • Primary / secondary data

    • Quantitative / qualitative source / data

    • Strengths

    • Limitations

    One way to do this is to use an evaluation template (this is for Focused (Semi-structured) Interviews – if you want a blank template download it here).

    (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.