I’ve been designing some sociology of education summary grids to try and summarise the AQA’s A-level sociology of education specification as briefly as possible. I’ve managed to narrow it down to 7 grids in total covering…..
Perspectives on education (Functionalism etc)
In-school processes (labelling etc.)
social class and differential achievement
gender: achievement and subject choice
Globalisation and education (I couldn’t fit it in anywhere else!)
Here’s a couple of them… I figure these should be useful for quick card sorts during revision lessons. And let’s face it, there is only ONE thing students love more than filling in grids, and that’s a card sort!
Perspectives on education summary grid:
Education policies summary grid:
Of course I couldn’t resist doing fuller versions of these grids too, but more of that laters!
‘Ranking is an academic exercise; through the exchange of opinion thinking is exercised and personal understanding is achieved of key issues and concepts. This results in deep rather than shallow learning.’ (1)
Ranking research methods, concepts, or even simple value-statements against some pre-set criteria is (IMO) one of the most efficient and useful* ways of developing students’ evaluation skills.
As with just about everything in life – all of this is explained much better through the use of examples, below are a few of my favourite ranking exercises:
At some point, hopefully very soon I’ll get around to putting the actual resources I use online somewhere so you can download them!
EXAMPLE ONE: Rank the RESEARCH METHOD according to the criteria…
Obviously provide students with the above cards so they can sort them!
Additional instruction/ criteria slides might include ‘validity’, ‘representativeness’ etc.
EXAMPLE TWO: Rank the RESEARCH TOPIC according to the Methods criteria
Very useful for Methods in Context this!
(Display on PPT):Rank the following topics according to how easy YOU would find it to gain access to conduct research.
Cards you could use (each bullet point on a separate card)
Researching how the values, attitudes, and aspirations of parents contribute to the achievement of certain groups of children
Why boys are more likely to be excluded than girls
Why white working class boys underachieve
Exploring whether teachers have ‘ideal pupils’ – whether they label certain groups of pupils favourably
Looking at whether the curriculum is ethnocentric (racist/ homophobic
Exploring the extent to which sexist ‘bullying’ disadvantages children
Examining how ‘gender identities’ enhance or hinder children’s ability to learn
Assessing the relative importance of cultural deprivation versus material deprivation in explaining underachievement
Example 3: Rank the ’causes’ of the social change
(Display on PPT):Rank the following reasons according to how significant they are in explaining the long term decline in the birth rate.
Cards you could use (with this topic I might actually include a bit more detail on the backs)
Changes in the position of children
Changing gender roles
Example 4: Rank the Example to how far it applies to men and women AND how liberating/ oppressive it is
I’m claiming this ‘double whammy’ ranking exercise – never seen it before. NB If you ‘spatialise’ this by making students hold one card each and go to different places in the room, you can even add in a third axis by getting them to hold the cards high or low.
(Display on PPT): Along the horizontal axis rank the cards according to whether it applies exclusively to men or women, or equally to both; along the vertical axis rank according to whether the experience is oppressive or liberating:
Suggestions for cards (I use about 20 for this)
Becoming a police officer
Becoming a nurse
Becoming a soldier
Going to jail
Becoming a politician
Becoming a CEO
Being the primary child carer
Being a victim of sexual harassment
Hints and tips for using ranking activities effectively
Use them – they are very efficient – all you need is a set of cards with the words on that need ranking and a power point slide with the criteria and instructions **.
I recommend having no more than 8 cards (it gets tiresome with more than 8), and you probably don’t want to do more than ‘4 rounds’ of matching with the same cards, students tend to get a bit sick of it after that.
Technically I’m sure you can match and rank nearly anything against anything, so mess around with it, you might even get some lateral thinking going!
Do I really need to remind you to make yer cards real perty and laminate ’em???
Sources and Further Notes
(1) Ginnis (2002) Teachers Toolkit
*There are maybe more useful ways, but for the busy teacher in mainstream state education, ranking exercises are extremely quick to produce.
**You could do this on paper, and just get students to write in the order (say 1-10), or I’m sure there are online versions too, but personally I like cards – they’re nice and tactile!
Matching exercises or ‘sentence sorts’ simply involve students matching the concept/ sociologist/ perspective/ method to a definition/ statement.
Decide whether the sentences are below are Functionalist or Marxist – simply write ‘F’ or ‘M’ next to the sentence.
1. Education reproduces inequality by justifying privilege and attributing poverty to personal failure.
2. The education system plays an important part in the process of encouraging individuals to have a sense of loyalty and commitment to society as a whole.
3. The teaching of subjects such as history enables children to see the link between themselves and wider society. The National Curriculum, with it’s emphasis on British history shows pupils that they are part of something larger than their immediate social group.
4. Although school presents itself as being meritocratic, the hidden curriculum produces a subservient workforce, who accept hierarchies of power.
The easiest way to format these is simply as above – a title, brief instruction, and anywhere from 10 (or less if you like) to 20 (more is probably too many) statements/ definitions. You might like to use a grid (as in example 2 over page) for paper versions as it provides a more obvious space for students to write into. For more difficult topics, provide a jumbled list of concepts at the bottom.
Obviously if you’re designing your own, do the answer version first, then just delete the single or short-phrase answers. Numbering the definitions/ statements makes feedback easier!
Topics matching exercises work well especially for
After Functionalism, Marxism and Feminism, or all the perspectives for any of the topics within A-level sociology.
For material deprivation/ cultural deprivation and social/ cultural capital in class and education.
For the main changes with different waves of education policy
For strengths and limitations of any research method – one of the best I’ve seen is a range of sentences which are either strengths or limitations for either lab or field experiments.
Any sub-topic that’s very conceptual – such as childhood within the family.
Different ways of administering sentence sorts
Personally I still like the one-side of paper method – simply needs about 12 definitions/ statements and students just write in the concept/ method or whatever next to it.
These days of course, you can always put sentence sorts online – Quizlet, or Socrative work very well for this.
A way of adding in ‘stretch’ to this is to add in a third column in which you ask students to ‘give an example’ or ‘the opposite’ or to provide supporting evidence, or even criticise the concept/
NB The ‘gap fill exercise’ – don’t be fooled by a gap-fill paragraph exercise, it’s basically just a matching exercise/ sentence sort in disguise.
Three examples of Sentence Sorts for A-level sociology
The examples below show three typical applications of this method…. perspectives, ‘match the stat’ (which is quite good to introduce a new topic) and concepts. Unforunately they don’t format very well on a blog, but they’re just to give you an idea – they’ve all been designed to fit on one side of A4 paper.
Example 1: Sociological perspectives on the role of education
Sort the following statements into either Marxism, Functionalism or Feminism, simply write in F/M or Fem….
Girls may follow the same curriculum as boys, may sit side by side with boys in classes taught by the same teachers and yet emerge from school with the implicit understanding that the world is a man’s world, in which women take second place.
Education reproduces inequality by justifying privilege and attributing poverty to personal failure.
The education system plays an important part in the process of encouraging individuals to have a sense of loyalty and commitment to society as a whole.
The teaching of subjects such as history enables children to see the link between themselves and wider society. The National Curriculum, with it’s emphasis on British history shows pupils that they are part of something larger than their immediate social group.
Classroom interaction reflects the sexist attitudes and male dominance of the wider society.
By transmitting and reinforcing the culture of society to new generations, education helps to ensure the continuity of rules and values.
Although school presents itself as being meritocratic, the hidden curriculum produces a subservient workforce, who accept hierarchies of power.
The classroom is a ‘mini-society’ which provides a training ground for the wider society and eases the transition from childhood to adulthood.
Education has an important role of society reproduction, meaning that it is involved in the reproduction of new generations of workers appropriately schooled to accept their roles in capitalist society.
Schools help to abridge the gap from the ascribed status of the family to the achieved status of society as a whole.
Schools promote the shared value of achievement – at school young people are rewarded for academic achievement with good exam results. This, in turn, socialises young people for their adult roles.
The education system is the main agency for ideological control. People accept their situation in life because at school they have learn that capitalism is just and reasonable.
The hidden curriculum, including the social relations in the classroom and the attitudes and expectations of teachers, prepare girls for male domination and control.
Schools prepare pupils for their roles in the workforce. Most are trained as workers and are taught to accept future exploitation and are provided with an education and qualifications to match their future work roles.
The hidden curriculum produces a fragmentation of knowledge so that ordinary workers do not become educated and overthrow the ruling class.
Schools reinforce gender inequality in wider society.
Example 2: Key facts and stats about families and households in Modern Britain
Match the stat to the question. All of these issues come up at some point over the next eight weeks of the course.
What percentage of marriages end in divorce? 42%
How many children do the average family have? 92
How much does it cost to raise a child to the age of 18? £230,000
What is the average age which women have their first child? 30
When did rape in marriage become illegal? 1991
On average, how much more money a year does it cost to live a year if you are a single person living alone? £250,000
What percentage of households with children in are single parent households? 25%
What proportion of relationships consists of same-sex couples? 152 000
What percentage of men have been victims of domestic violence? 13%
OBVIOUSLY I’ve given the answers here, the numbers would be at the bottom, I’ve also been lazy and missed out sources.
Example 3: Key Concepts in the sociology of the family
The number of babies born per thousand per year.
The legally or formally recognised union of a man and a woman (or in some countries two people of the same sex) in a committed relationship.
Two people living together in the same household in an emotionally intimate, committed relationship without being officially married.
The number of deaths per thousand members of a population per year.
Thinking about the emotional well-being of other members of the family and acting in ways which will be of emotional benefit to others. For example, hugging and reassuring children when they have nightmares, organizing Christmas and birthday parties so that everyone feels included and has a good time.
The process where individuals have more freedom to make life-choices and shape their identities because of a weakening of traditional social structures, norms and values. For example, secularization means people have more choice over whether they should get married or simply cohabit.
The provider or breadwinner role which involves going out to work and earning money for the family – the traditional male role within the family.
A family structure in which mothers are the heads of household and fathers have less power and control in family life and the allocation of resources.
The difference between the numbers of people immigrating to and emigrating from a country.
A man and a woman and their dependent children, either their own or adopted.
A society where men hold the power and women are excluded, disadvantaged or oppressed. An example of a patriarchal society is one which women are not allowed to vote, but men are.
The first stages of learning the norms and values of a society; learning basic skills and norms, such as language, and basic manners.
Where an individual has a string of committed relationships, one after the other.
Social Construction of Childhood
The idea that the norms and values and social roles associated with childhood are influenced by society, rather than being determined by the biological age of a child.
Where social changes, especially the invention of new technologies, does increasing amounts of harm to children. For example, the internet and mobile phones results in screen saturation with increases anxiety and reduces attention spans.
NB – If you print this off, the grid format is much easier on the eye than the non-grid version.
How useful are sentence sorts in teaching and learning sociology?
Open question.. please do lemme know what you think!
Useful sources of quantitative and qualitative data for teaching and learning about the sociology of education… with a focus on the United Kingdom. The point of this post is to provide a range of links to resources and ‘hub sites’ which are updated on a regular basis.
This page will be gradually populated with more links as I get the time to update it! Last update April 2018!
Best Hub Sites (IMO)
The Institute for Education (IOE) – 25% of research into the UK education system takes place through the IOE. The link just above takes you to their research page where you can access details of a range of research on pretty much every aspect of education within in the UK.
The Sutton Trust – established in 1997 the Sutton Trust’s main aim is to improve social mobility through evidence based research, programmes and advocacy. Most of its thorough, mixed-methods research is focused on the causes, consequences and experience of inequality of education opportunity.
Quantitative Sources of Data on Education
Education and Training Statistics for the UK, Department for Education (link to 2016 Publication) – this document provides ‘the basic’ information on the UK education system – the number of schools, teachers, qualifications, basic info about levels of attainment and education expenditure. Published annually in November.
School Workforce in England – covers teacher numbers and pupil-teacher ratios in primary and secondary schools in England and Wales. Published annually in June.
Special Education Needs in England – details of children with special education needs, by type of need, and broken down by school type and gender (statistics derived from the ‘schools census’).
Other statistical sources of information about education
Education Datalabs – In their own words they are ‘a group of expert analysts who produce independent research on education policy and practice’. The main pages (and thus the main topics under investigation) are devoted to school accountability, exams and assessment, pupil demographics, admissions, post-16 education and teacher careers.
Education Datalabs provides a number of excellent infographics on many of the above topics, and seems to be committed to open source research – they make their data and code available so that others can develop their research. BIG THUMBS UP for this site!
Education Infographics – A hub site for lots of useful infographics summarising stats on numerous aspects of education, especially the future of elearning.
Some of the sources below also draw on and generate quantitative data, but to mind they mainly focus on using and generating qualitative data.
TED Talks on Education – There seems to be something of a consensus within the TED community that education systems around the world are broken, and that the concepts of education and school need re-imagining somehow. The link just above takes you to ten talks from different speakers which all re-imagine school in some way… there’s lots to think about here, and plenty to criticise too.
Youth Employment UK – An organisation set up to help tackle youth unemployment in the UK. They work mainly with 14-24 year olds and aim to give every young person a voice. They produce their own research on what young people think about how well education is preparing them for work, and link to the latest research on youth employment produced by other, similar agencies.