AS Sociology Education Short Answer Question and Answers

Some examples of possible short answer question and answers for the education section of AS Sociology Paper 7191 (1)

Examples of ‘define’ questions (2 marks)

Question: Define the Term ‘meritocracy’ (2)

Answer: where an individual is rewarded on the basis of ability and effort – a fair system of reward

Question: Define the ‘the reproduction of class inequality’ (2)

Where social class based differences in income, education and wealth are carried on from one generation to the next

E.g. – Where working class children fail in education and go on to get working class jobs, and vice versa for middle class children.

Question: Define the term ‘neoliberalism’ (2)

Answer: A theory that believes in societies being run according to market principles. The idea that the government should be as small as possible and keep out of the affairs of private enterprise (businesses)

Examples of ‘using one example, explain what is meant by’

Question: Using one example identify and briefly explain what is meant by the term ‘Role Allocation’ (2)

Where individuals are sifted and sorted into appropriate jobs based on the qualifications they achieve – E.G. someone passes a law degree to get a job as a lawyer.

Question: Using one example identify and briefly explain what is meant by the term ‘correspondence principle’ (2)

Where what pupils learn at school prepares them for future exploitation at work – E.G.  accepting authority of teachers at school then accepting the authority of managers at work,.

Question: Using one example identify and briefly explain one way in which neoliberal ideas have influenced education policy (2)

Answer: The idea that businesses should play more of a role in running the education system – E.G. The setting up of academies

How I Would’ve Answered Yesterday’s AS Sociology Exam Paper (7191/1 – Education)

A few thoughts on how the AQA’s 7191 (1) Education AS exam from May 2017 –

If any teacher finds this annoying because they like to keep these papers back for next year’s mock exam, forget it –

  • Any student can find out the questions on social media, very easily
  • The AQA seems to be publishing last years’ exam on their public access web site earlier, rather than keeping them secure.

You can easily just make up yr own exam papers and mark schemes using adobe editor. Also, I’m not giving the exact questions (well, with the exception of Q01) 

Question 01 – Define term hidden curriculum

Boom! Easy starter – in my 13 key concepts for the sociology of education

The norms and values taught at school which are not written down as part of the formal curriculum – for example the norm of respecting authority and being punctual.

Question 02 – Selection policies and social class

Covered here

Some oversubscribed schools select by catchment area – pupils have to live in a house within a certain distance from the school to stand a chance of getting in – this has resulted in covert selection by mortgage – house prices near the good schools increase and so poorer, working class families cannot afford to move into those areas, thus they have no real choice of getting into the best schools.

Question 03 – Three ways in which school mirrors capitalism

Classic Marxist correspondence theory: see here for three ways, explain school – work…

  • hierarchy
  • authority
  • motivation by external rewards
  • even the reproduction of class inequality 

Question 04 – Education policy and ethnic minorities’ experience of education 

Looks awful, but I’m assuming the policies don’t have to be about ethnicity in particular.

Policy 1 – Tony Sewell’s Generating Genius Programme – linked to positive aspirations for black boys, pro-school subcultures. 

Policy 2Banding and streaming – linked to institutional racism, Steve Strand, Gilborn and Youdell, educational triage. 

Question 05 – In school factors, the gender gap and educational achievement 

Simple really – It’s covered here and you could’ve bolstered it with this stuff

  • Point 1 – teacher labelling and evaluations 
  • Point 2 – Feminisation of teaching and evaluations
  • Point 3 – Subcultures – laddish ones obviously, also hyper-feminine and evaluations
  • Point 4 – Gender identities – I’d use sexual harassment of girls as an evaluation
  • Overall evaluations using out-of school factors and changing gender roles linked to in-school factors, probably concluding that schools really don’t change very much! 

Question 06 – Questionnaires and class differences in educational achievement.

It’s quite similar to this question here

My answer would have focused on the strengths of the method for making comparisons, and the ease of measuring material deprivation compared to the problems of measuring things like cultural deprivation and cultural capital and gaining access to working class parents. 

I would’ve covered all of Theoretical, ethical and practical of course. 

Interestingly the item didn’t give you very much….

You may have noticed that if you follow this blog, you can pretty much game the sociology exams just by memorizing the content. Personally I’ve no problem with this, being good at exams and being able to think sociologically are two different things, and one of these is a useful life-skill, the other isn’t!

Game on!

Analyse two reasons for gender differences in subject choice (10)

The trick here is to pick two broad (rather than very specific) reasons, which will give you the most scope to develop

 The first reason is gendered differences in early socialisation

Fiona Norman (1988) found that most parents socialise boys and girls in different ways – they tend to be more gentle with girls, protect them more, and encourage them in more passive activities, such as reading with them, whereas ‘typical boys’ are encouraged to run around and ‘let of steam’ more.

Later on in school, this might explain why more boys do active subjects such as P.E. and why more girls do reflective, academic subjects such as English and sociology.

A further gender difference in socialisation is the toys boys and girls play with – dolls for girls and cars and tool sets for boys, which could explain differences in vocational subjects – health and social care subjects (working with children) are very female dominated, engineering (making and fixing) are very much male dominated.

However, Postmodernists would say that these stereotypes are breaking down, and that gender stereotypes in socialisation are much less common than in the past, hence why we are seeing more gender diversity in subject choice today.

Peer group pressure might also encourage boys to do ‘typically boys subjects’ and girls to do typically girls subjects.

This linked to hegemonic (dominant ideas about) masculinity – stereotypically, ‘real men’ are good at sport, and so boys are under pressure play sport to fit into their male peer group, this doesn’t apply to girls and could explain why more boys do PE later in their school careers.

Similarly hegemonic femininity also requires that girls ‘look good’ (as Louise Archer found) which could explain why it is mostly girls who do hair and beauty courses.

Verbal abuse is one way these peer groups reinforce dominant gender identities. Boys choosing girls’ subjects can be accused of being ‘gay’, and vice versa for girls, and this may steer them away from subjects which don’t fit in with their gender domains.

To analyse this even further all of this is especially true of working class girls and boys, and for younger children, less so for middle class and older children (doing A level for example).



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