A Level Sociology Revision Webinars starting April 2019
I will be running a series of 12 A-level sociology revision webinars to cover the entire two year A-level sociology specification (AQA) including exam technique for the various question formats on the three AQA A-level sociology exam papers (7192/1, 7192/2 and 7193/3).
The webinars are scheduled for 19.00 every Monday (with one on a Thursday) and will run from Monday 1st of April to Monday 20th June, 2 days before the last exam (crime and deviance with theory and methods). Webinars are scheduled early so that we can get through the entire specification BEFORE the first paper (on May 22nd).
NB Registration will only be open during March and the first two weeks of April, then it will close!
Schedule (please see below for a more detailed version)
Monday 1st April – Education 1
Monday 8th April – Education 2
Monday 15th April – Families and Households 1
Monday 22nd April – Beliefs in Society
Monday 29h April – Crime and Deviance 1
Monday 6th May – Crime and Deviance 2
Monday 13th May – Research Methods
Thursday 16th May – Social Theories
Monday 20th May – Education and Theory and Methods 3 (exam on 22nd June )
Monday 27th May – Request webinar, content TBC
Monday 3rd June – Families and Beliefs 2 (exam on 4th June)
Monday 10th June – Crime and Deviance with Theory and Methods 3
All of these webinars will last 45 minutes to one hour during which I will provide a brief overview of some of the content within each topic, and a discussion of at least three specific exam practice questions. Students will be able to ask questions during the Webinar, via text, and there will also be time for students to ask questions at the end.
I will be conducting the Webinars via Click Meeting, which allows students to download support materials in advance of the seminars, ask questions during the seminars via ‘chat’, and which will also allow students to review the seminar afterwards as they will be recorded and stored on the site. Recordings will be available until the 16th of June (several days after the final A-level sociology exam).
Webinar Support materials
The first eight revision Webinars are supported by a PowerPoint, revision notes and exemplar exam questions, and the education, families and methods topics (basically the first year content) have gapped revision hand-outs too, so these really are being offered at a bargain price!
NB – if you have purchased any of my revision bundles, some of these resources are the same. If you’ve already purchased one or more, please let me know and please contact me by email and I can arrange a partial (10% per bundle refund) via PayPal only.
The link will take you to a registration page for my ‘Permanent Room’ on the ClickMeeting platform. This is the room I will be running all revision Webinars from, every Monday (and one Thursday) from April 1st.
Once registered you will receive an email from ClickMeeting which will provide you with an access link which will allow you access my permanent room for March-June 2019. (NB I will only be using this at the scheduled times, as outlined in the schedule.)
Following registration I will also send you an email containing all the relevant revision resources for the 12 Webinars. These will also be downloadable during and immediately after each revision session.
Reminder emails will be sent out the day in advance of each of the 12 Webinar Revision Sessions, and also watch out for a bonus ‘introducing revision Webinars’ session on the final Monday in March, to give you an opportunity to familiarise yourself with how ClickMeeting works.
Payment is via PayPal only!
About your Tutor
I’ve taught sociology for 20 years, 16 of those in a successful sixth form college between 2002 and 2018 (10 years as Head of Department).
In 2014 I set up this blog, and managed to save enough off the back of it to quit working for the ‘man’ and now I work independently, developing non-corporate support materials to facilitate the teaching and learning of A-level sociology.
I also see myself as something of a trail-blazer in developing 16-19 online education: in 2019, we should be doing better than 20 teenagers all having to travel to a central location and then ‘sitting in a room’ for an hour or two. To my mind this all seems a bit 19th century. These Webinars are a move towards making A-level education more flexible and decentralised.
Here’s a print version of the stats in case the above isn’t that legible! (If it’s not, I might try and sort it out laters!).
What’s particularly encouraging about this is that this in the context of declining numbers of 17-18 year olds in the corresponding birth years stretching from 1996-2000, and the corresponding decrease in overall A-level entries.
It’s also interesting to note that more traditional subjects such as History and English are losing out to ‘newer’ more critical subjects such as Sociology. Psychology also saw a similar trend.
Below is an example of an actual marked response to a 10 mark ‘analyse with the item question’.
The example is taken from the 2017 Education with Theory and Methods Paper (paper and mark schemes available from the AQA website) and the specific question is as follows:
Read Item A below and answer the question that follows.
Since the 1980s, a major aim of government policy has been to increase parental choice in education. There is now a wider range of school types, and league tables on school performance are also publicly available.
Increased parental choice has had many effects on pupils’ experience of education.
Applying material from Item A, analyse two effects of increased parental choice on pupils’ experience of education (10)
While this example is taken from a 10 mark ‘applying material from the item’ question taken from the education paper, the general advice below on how to answer such questions applies equally to the same format of 10 mark questions that you will get in both sections A and B of paper 2, and on paper 3.
Marked exemplar of a 10 mark ‘applying from the item’ question
NB the second picture is a continuation of the first, same response on both pictures!
A great example in the first paragraph of ‘how not to do it’….
Despite the rather scathing final commentary from the examiners, the second paragraph still gest five marks, and it does make three development points – so it’s got breadth rather than depth.
Hint: go deeper, develop further!
If you can’t be bothered to think of how you might improve it for yourself, click here for an example of a 9/10 answer, but if the first bit of this sentence applies to you, I don’t rate yer chances of ever getting more than middle mark band!
Question: What would you do to get another 5 marks….Comments below please!
mind maps in pdf and png format – 9 in total, covering various topics within the sociology of education
short answer exam practice questions and exemplar answers
how to write sociology essays, including 7 specific templates and model answers on the sociology of education
Feedback on the Examinations
Student responses and commentaries: Paper 1 7192/1 Education with Theory and Methods
Published: Autumn 2017
NB – this document is NOT available on the AQA website, but any teacher should have access to it via eaqa. I’m sharing it here in order to make the exam standards more accessible, and to support the AQA in their equality and meritocratic agendas, because there will be some poor students somewhere whose teachers aren’t organised enough to access this material for them.
‘Methods in Context’ questions appear on A Level Sociology Paper 1 (Education with Theory and Methods) and AS Sociology Paper 1 (Education with Methods in Context).
Methods in Context questions will ask students to evaluate the strengths and limitations of any of the six main research methods for researching a particular topic within the sociology of education, applying material from the item.
Students often struggle with these questions and so it is useful to have exemplars which demonstrate how to answer them. Thankfully the AQA has recently released some of these, with examiner commentary, and below I’ve reproduced a top band 18/20 answer to one particular methods in context question!
NB – I’ve take this directly from the AQA’s feedback to the 2017 AS sociology exam series (specific source below), but I’ve repositioned the comments on each paragraph to make them more accessible (at the end of each paragraph, rather than at the end of the whole essay.
The specific question below appeared on the June 2017 AS Sociology Paper 1 – the whole paper is now publically available from the AQA’s web site.
Read Item B below and answer the question that follows.
On average, working-class pupils underachieve in education compared with those from middle-class backgrounds. Some sociologists believe that material deprivation is one factor that causes working-class underachievement. Other sociologists argue that values and attitudes in working-class homes may cause underachievement. School factors may also affect achievement.
Sociologists may use written questionnaires to study working-class educational underachievement. Using written questionnaires enables the researcher to reach a large number of pupils, parents and teachers. Also, those who complete the questionnaire can usually remain anonymous. However, not all those who receive a questionnaire will complete it.
Applying material from Item B and your knowledge of research methods, evaluate the strengths and limitations of using written questionnaires to investigate working-class educational underachievement.
The Mark Scheme (Top Band Only: 17-20)
Answers in this band will show accurate, conceptually detailed knowledge and good understanding of a range of relevant material on written questionnaires.
Appropriate material will be applied accurately to the investigation of the specific issue of working-class educational underachievement.
Students will apply knowledge of a range of relevant strengths and limitations of using written questionnaires to research issues and characteristics relating to working-class educational underachievement. These may include some of the following and/or other relevant concerns, though answers do not need to include all of these, even for full marks:
the research characteristics of potential research subjects, eg pupils, teachers, parents, (self-esteem; literacy skills; attitude to school)
the research contexts and settings (eg school; classroom; home environment).
the sensitivity of researching working-class underachievement (eg schools’ market position; negative publicity; vulnerability of participants; parental consent; teacher reluctance).
Evaluation of the usefulness of written questionnaires will be explicit and relevant. Analysis will show clear explanation and may draw appropriate conclusions
Student Answer – Awarded 18/20 (AS standard!)
Paragraphs as in actual student response, numbers added for clarity.
Examiner comments appear in red after each paragraph.
ONE – Written questionnaires are a type of survey where questions are standardised and distributed to large numbers of people. This is useful in an educational setting because it means they can be given to numerous students in numerous schools, something which is very important when investigating working class pupils as there are many regions which are predominantly working class.
First paragraph – general advantages of written questionnaires – standardised and large distribution. Attempt to link to topic
TWO – One major advantage of using questionnaires is that they pose relatively few practical issues. They are fairly cheap to create and distribute and they quick to fill out, especially if all questions are closed ended. This means that access is not usually an issue for the researcher as they will not disrupt lessons as much as other methods such as structured interviews, meaning that the researcher is more likely to received permission from the gatekeeper. Furhtermore, working class pupils are more likely to need to take on paid work and so the quick-nature of questinnaires which are not very time consuming means that they are useful for investigating working class underachievement.
Para 2 – advantage of Wc related to context of research in schools (gatekeepers).
THREE – However, when investigating working class pupils there may be the issue of cultural deprivation, particularly language issues. Berciler and Englemann argue that the language spoken by the working class is deficient, a particular issue when trying to interpret the questions on a written question questionnaire. When coupled with the fact that questionnaires are written in the elaborated code but working class pupils (and parents) tend to speak in the restricted code this can be a major problem in gaining accurate results; unlike with other methods, questions cannot be clarified
Para 3 – good link to topic and WQ re language and speech codes.
FOUR – As well as posing few practical issues, written questionnaires do not pose many ethical issues. This is because the respondent can remain anonymous if they so wish and they can also leave any intrusive or sensitive issues blank. When studying working class underachievement this is a particular advantage because some pupils may be embarrassed to discuss their home lives, particularly if they live in poverty.
Para 4 – ethical issues discussed – anonymity developed with reference to topic
FIVE –Even though there are relatively few ethical uses, the researcher must be aware of harm to respondents. For working class children there may be a stigma attached, and for sensitive issues such as home life, the use of questionnaires can still cause distress. Nevertheless, the fact that respondents are not obligated to respond means this ethical problem is easily overcome.
Para 5 – further developed with reference to topic
SIX – From the perspective of a positivist, written questionnaires are a useful way to investigate working class underachievement because the data produced when using standardised questions is quantitative and high in reliability. This makes questionnaires useful for investigating working class underachievement because it allows cause and effect relationships to be established, for example whether or the not the structure of the education system reproduces working class underachievement, or whether there is a correlation between family background and achievement. However, the nature of written questionnaires can be an issue if the researcher’s meaning is imposed onto the questionnaire so it is another fact that must be taken into account
Para 6 – various positivist concepts – good on usefulness of WC – but not unique to topic
SEVEN – From the point of view of an interpretivist, written questionnaires are not useful when investigating working class underachievement because the data lacks validity. While questionnaires may be able to identify that factors such as material deprivation may influence the achievement of working class pupils, it does not get to the heart of the matter. Written questionnaires do not investigate the meanings that pupils may attach to the reasons they may underachieve, and do not let the respondent communicate their ideas freely. Because of this lack of validity interpretivists do not favour the use of written questionnaires to investigate working class underachievement.
Para 7 – interpretivism and validity – not related to topic specifically (generic)
EIGHT – Ultimately, written questionnaires can be useful to investigate working class underachievement because the data is easy to analyse and compare, which may be useful as the data could be used over time to look at whether government policies put in place to reduce working class underachievement really work. Not only that but they are representative, so generalisations about the wider population can be made in a way that methods favoured by interpretivists cannot.
Para 8 – attempt to relate strengths of WQs to topic
Overall COMMENT – very strong on method with some (2/3) clear links to topic
Theory and Methods A Level Sociology Revision Bundle
If you like this sort of thing, then you might like my Theory and Methods Revision Bundle – specifically designed to get students through the theory and methods sections of A level sociology papers 1 and 3.
74 pages of revision notes
15 mind maps on various topics within theory and methods
Five theory and methods essays
‘How to write methods in context essays’.T
Paper 1 Education with Methods in Context
Tuesday 16 May 2017
7191/1 Education with Methods in Context
Final Mark scheme
Feedback on the exam(s)
Student responses and commentaries: Paper 1 Education with Methods in Context
Published: Autumn 2017
Applying material from Item A, analyse two changes in the position of children in society over the last 100 years (10)
Parents today spend a great deal of time and money trying to make sure that their children enjoy a comfortable upbringing. They want their children to have opportunities that they themselves never had. ‘March of progress’ sociologists argue that these changes in family life have led to an improvement in the position of children in society.
How to answer this question?
It’s pretty obscure (IMO) but the item gives you TWO obvious ‘hooks’:
Time/ money/ comfortable upbringing which is pointing to ‘improving living standards’
Improved opportunities – education being the most obvious!
The above two should be your two points, analysed in both cases from the March of progress view (how have these improved the position of children), and to my mind this question is also screaming for you to evaluate each of these points (unlike the not item outline and explain 10 mark questions, you do get marks for evaluating in these ’10 mark with the item’ question.
You might like to review these two posts before attempting this question:
I advise developing each of the points below still further!
Point 1: As it says in item A, one change in children’s position in society is that parents spend more time and money on them, and so they have a more comfortable life… the average child now costs about £250K to raise, much more than 100 years ago.
Development – this is because of economic growth over the last 100 years, parents now earn more money and so are able to spend more on children’s toys and ‘educational experiences’ which can further child development; as well as more nutritional food, which means children are healthier.
Further development – parents are also more involved with the socialisation of their children; this is especially true of middle class parents who invest a lot time ‘injecting cultural capital’ into their children.
Further development – lying behind all of this is the fact that children are no longer seen as economic assets: they no longer have to work, but rather there has been a cultural shift in which children have rights and should be allowed a lengthy childhood in which they are cared for.
Evaluation – However there are critics of this ‘march of progress view’ – not all parents are able to afford products for their children (lone parents for example) which can create a sense of marginalisation; also there is a sense in which parents spend time with their kids because they are paranoid about their safety in a risk society – Frank Furedi for example argues that this might stifle child development by preventing them from becoming independent.
Point 2: The second social change which can be said to have improved the lives of children is improved opportunities for children – such as with the expansion of education.
Development – 100 years ago (early 19th century) schooling was only compulsory up until about the age of 14, and this was gradually extended through the decades until today children are expected to be in education or training until the age of 18.
Further Development – From a functionalist point of view, education is meritocratic today and so provides opportunities for all children to achieve qualifications and get jobs appropriate to their skills. Children also benefit from the secondary socialisation schools provide, which many uneducated parents may not be able to provide effectively. We now have National Curriculum which ensures all children learn maths English and a broad range of other subjects
Further development – The expansion of education has been combined with the expansion of child welfare more generally – so schools are about improving child well being and safety more generally, meaning children have more opportunities to escape abuse than in the past.
Evaluation – However, from a Marxist point of view, not everyone has the same opportunities in school, and from a Feminist perspective gendered socialisation and stereotyping in school means that girls do not have equality of opportunity with boys.
A Level Sociology Families and Households Revision Bundle
Applying material from item C analyse two ways in which the nuclear family might perform ideological functions (10)
Marxist sociologists have long argued that the traditional nuclear family performs ideological functions for capitalism, through for example, socializing children into thinking that hierarchy normal and inevitable.
However, radical Feminist sociologists argue that the main function of the nuclear family lies in maintaining inequalities between men and women through promoting patriarchal ideology.
A brief model plan…
Point 1: One ideological function = socialising children into thinking inequality is normal, this is done through ‘age patriarchy’ – children are expected to be obedient to parents.
Development – much like the correspondence principle in education this gets children ready to be obedient to their bosses in work and also to accept inequalities in broader society, class inequalities which exist between bourgeois and proletariat for example.
Further development – According to Marxist Feminists, traditional gender roles further encourage obedience to the rules at work – if man thinks he is ‘the provider’ and women are dependent at home, the male worker is less likely to go on strike because it undermines his provider role.
Further development – According to Marxists the family might also passify children by acting as a unit of consumption – they are taught to ‘find their identity’ in the products they consume, not in thinking and questioning, thus this might contribute to ideological control.
Evaluation – a problem with this specifically performing functions for capitalism is that ‘age patriarchy’ within families typically occurs in pre-capitalist societies.
Point 2: Radical Feminists argue the traditional nuclear family normalises gender inequality
Development – women stay at home look after the kids, men go to work, women are thus financially dependent on men in this situation
Further Development – This can also be reinforced by the way dads tend to police daughters more than sons (differential gender socialisation)
Further development – the privatised nuclear family also allows male violence against women to go unnoticed
Evaluation – HOWEVER, liberal fems and postmodernists would point out that gender norms are changing and the above is all much more likely in the age of the negotiated family and the pure relationship.
A Level Sociology Families and Households Revision Bundle
This is the 10 mark question in the crime and deviance section of the AQA’s 2016 Specimen A-level sociology paper 2: Topics in Sociology, section A: Families and Households option.
In this post I consider a ‘lower middle mark band’ student response (4/10 marks) to this question and the examiner commentary (both are provided by the AQA here) before considering what a ‘top band’ answer might look like.
The Question (with the item!)
The Mark Scheme:
Examiner Commentary: (4/10 marks)
This is taken straight from the AQA’s own specimen (2016) material. NB I think the commentary actually misses out the most significant thing the candidate does not do, see below for my commentary on the commentary…
What the candidate does well
Two reasonable suggestions are offered
There is no problem that they are “opposites” in that both situations may occur in different families.
The response provides a competent explanation of each change, explaining how and why older people may impact on female members of the generation beneath them (unfortunately, this is not what the question has asked for).
What the candidate does not do well
The response fails to fully answer the question because it does not explicitly connect the change in the position of women to family structures – implicit links to roles are as far as the response gets.
This answer does not have a strong knowledge base and concepts are limited
The second paragraph could do more to explain how/why the ageing population will lead to more grandparents who are able to provide the suggested role.
Both knowledge and application to family structures could be much stronger in this response however there is enough material of partial relevance to access the middle band.
This answer is a little too brief, given that around 15 minutes of an examination should be allocated to a 10 mark question.
How you might improve on this response to move up to the top band….
This is my input:
NB – WHAT THE EXAMINERS RESPONSE DOES NOT SAY IS THAT THE POINTS MADE DO NOT SEEM TO COME EXPLICITLY FROM THE ITEM…. IF THE CANDIDATE WAS USING THE ITEM, THEY WOULD HAVE ONE POINT ABOUT ‘INCREASING LIFE EXPECTANCY’ AND ONE POINT ABOUT ‘DECLINING BIRTH RATES’ AND THEN LINK THESE TO CHANGING FAMILY STRUCTURES.
TO MY MIND THE RESPONSE ABOVE IS BASICALLY ‘THE MIDDLE BITS’ – WHAT’S MISSING IS CLEAR REFERENCE TO THE ITEM (THE BEGINNING BITS OF BOTH POINTS) AND ESPECIALLY THE END BITS, ON FAMILY STRUCTURE!
Anyway, if you’d like to submit an improved answer in the comments which takes on board the above feedback, I might even mark it!
A Level Sociology Families and Households Revision Bundle
There are a lot of documents available and it can be time consuming to analyse them qualitatively
Taking news for example, there are thousands of news items published every day.
You also need to distinguish between ‘real and ‘fake news’.
Also, in the postmodern age where fewer people get their news from mainstream news it is necessary to analyse a wide range of media content to get representatives, which makes this more difficult.
Because there are so many documents available today, it is necessary to use computer assisted qualitative analysis, which effectively quantifies the qualitative data, meaning that some of depth and insight are lost in the process.
With personal documents, gaining access might be a problem
Personal diaries are one of the most authentic sources of information because people write them with no intention of them being seen.
However, they may not be willing to show researchers the content because they say negative feelings about people close to them, which could harm them.
Blogs would be easier to access but the problem is people will edit out much of what they feel because these are published.