The Sociological Detectives: We Have A Situation…

This PowerPoint Presentation brings together a couple of ideas, one of which – the idea of “students playing the role of detectives” I’ve previously explored in a slightly different way. The other – a situation-based application – is one I’ve adapted from a couple of recent sources:

Firstly, the AQA Crime and Methods exam question that presented students with a scenario and then required them to assess the suitability of a particular research method for studying it.

Secondly the WJEC / Eduqas Criminology Specification that requires students to look at a situation – such as the behaviour of unruly youth – and show how a sociological explanation of their choice might understand and explain it.

The Situation

What this Presentation does, therefore, is set-up a situation – the behaviour of the aforementioned “unruly youth” – which students have to explain using a sociological approach of their choice. This can, of course, be adapted to your own particular teaching by, for example, asking different students to apply different approaches (Marxism, Feminism, etc.) and bringing their ideas together as a class. Alternatively, you may want the whole class to focus on a particular approach, such as Right Realism.

Where the exam / specification situation is one that’s simply described, either in words (exam) or words and pictures (specification) this version takes advantage of PowerPoint’s ability to display video – in this instance a relatively short (2 minutes 30 seconds) piece of film designed to do a couple of things:

The first minute of the film “sets-the-scene” by describing some aspects of a fictional town (“Castleton”) in terms of its broad social and economic make-up.

The remainder of the film outlines some of the “problems of unruly youth” whose behaviour students will have to explain by applying a criminological approach of their choice to the events they have viewed.

Aside from describing a situation, the film contains a number of simple visual and verbal clues students can pick-up on and use when they come to the “Report Stage” of the presentation. It includes, for example, the idea of social and material deprivation (Marxism), economic strains (Functionalism), Masculinity (Feminism) and broken windows (Right Realism).


How you decide to use the Presentation is, of course, entirely up to you but it is sufficiently flexible to be used in a range of different ways – from whole-class teaching that might involve presenting the material to the class and exploring how different approaches (Marxism, Feminism, Interactionism, Realism, etc.) might understand and explain it (individually, in small groups or through various forms of instruction) to flipped teaching where students work through the presentation and plan how they would explain the situation using one or more approaches in their own time. Classwork here might involve variations on essay planning, writing, feedback and the like.

However you use the Presentation, you need to take a few minutes to understand / explain how it works because I’ve tried to avoid using a simple menu system. While this gives a more fluid (I hesitate to say “realistic” because obviously it’s not…) feel to the simulation it does mean you have to become familiar with how you progress through the file.

Once you’ve opened the Filing Cabinet (click on it…) things should move relatively smoothly.

At the moment the only version available is the self-running Basic Version (i.e. it’s saved as a PowerPoint Show (.ppsx) rather than Presentation (.pptx). You can still edit this file in PowerPoint etc. but if you want to give individual copies to your students it’s easier to provide this format, particularly if they don’t have PowerPoint.

The main downside here is that because the video is embedded in the PowerPoint the overall file size is large – in this instance around 108mb.

Depending on this one goes I might add an alternative linked version where the video is streamed from YouTube – although this means you need an Internet connection to view it from within the Presentation. If you don’t have a connection the Presentation doesn’t work…

Extended version

You should think of this as a Basic version of the Presentation, partly because it’s a little bit experimental and partly because I want to see how things work before adding more stuff. Plans for an Extended version, for example, involve:

1. Adding the option to watch further videos (probably from an online source because embedding video into PowerPoint rapidly balloons the file size). This might involve adding short films about Marxism, Strain Theory, etc.

2. Adding the ability to read / download notes covering different theoretical approaches. This might involve general notes on Marxist, Feminist, etc. approaches to crime and deviance or it might be Board specific (e.g. AQA, OCR, Eduqas, etc.).

3. Adding more interactive elements using VBA code that mean I could use variables to give the Presentation more flexibility. The downside to this is that it means enabling macros in PowerPoint – and since these can contain viruses people are rightly loathe to do this without placing a great deal of trust in the source (and even then it’s risky…).

Stay Updated

Enter your email to be notified when we post something new:

Archived Posts