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  • 1. Strategies for challenging high ability students in Sociology Made by Mike Gershon – mikegershon@hotmail.com
  • 2. Bloom’s Taxonomy - Synthesis Combine Integrate Compose Merge Construct Organise Create Plan Devise Propose Design Synthesise Formulate Unite HypothesiseExample Question Stems:How might you combine…What might an experimental design for this look like?How might you go about uniting this with…Can you construct an alternative explanation to…How might you organise the different concepts…Example Tasks:Design an experiment which could test the validity of this theory.Create an advertisement which conveys the different levels of meaningin concept X.Propose three different ways one might explain X.Devise an alternative lesson for teaching what we have learnt today.
  • 3. Bloom’s Taxonomy - Evaluation Appraise Inspect Argue Judge Assess Justify Critique Rank Defend Rate Evaluate Review Examine Value GradeExample Question:What do you feel is the best explanation for phenomena X and why?How might you value concept X as an explanatory tool?How might you rank the studies in relation to validity?How might a sociologist seek to defend theory X?Example Tasks:Assess the strengths and weaknesses of the studies we have looked at.Write a defence of theory X, highlighting its strengths.Evaluate the arguments for and against proposition X.Judge how accurately you feel theory X explains this aspect of society.Explain your judgement.
  • 4. Some philosophical questions inherent to the discipline.Epistemology (Theory of Knowledge)How does one create knowledge?To what extent can we know the truth about society?Is it right for any knowledge to be claimed as generally applicable?Can sociologists trust the data they derive from their senses?Must sociological knowledge accord to reason?Is the fact that something has happened in the past proof that it will happen in thefuture?Political PhilosophyDo governments have a duty to use the findings of sociological research?Ought governments to fund sociological research to try and help improve society?What does it mean to say society needs to be improved? For whom? How?Should the condition of those in society be a concern for politicians? Why?Should everyone in society be treated equally? Why? What evidence do you have forthat?EthicsWhat responsibilities does a researcher have?Is it right to deceive people in order to get high quality data? What if it is for a goodcause?Should sociologists try to change society?To what extent is sociology a subject built on the idea of changing how people live?Is there anything which is too sensitive for sociologists to investigate? Why?Do sociologists have duty to help those whom they study?How might the desire for career advancement influence the studies which a sociologistchooses to undertake?
  • 5. Ethical Dilemmas1) A sociologist is studying teenage attitudes to crime and deviance. They are conducting interviews and have made it clear that all information will be taken anonymously. An interviewee reveals that they were involved in selling class A drugs. What should the sociologist do? What if the drugs were class C? What if they were being sold to middle-aged people?2) A newspaper gets hold of the results of a sociological investigation before they are published. The results make some startling claims about society. Without proper sociological explanation they sound more shocking than they actually are. The newspaper will print a sensational story using only the results. What should the researchers do?3) A sociologist hears that a bizarre new youth subculture has sprung up. An informant tells them that the group is very secretive and not open to outsiders. However, they do let slip one of the locations where the group meet. Is it right for the sociologist to visit this location and make a covert study? What if they claim it is for the good of society?4) A sociologist is studying the lives of homeless people. They are struggling to get participants. Many of the homeless people they talk to refuse to take part. The sociologist is reasonably wealthy. They consider trying to get participants by offering money, though to be paid only after the study is concluded. Is this right? Why?5) A sociologist is asked by a research participant to give their honest opinion of a professional colleague they do not like and have previously argued with. The relationship between the sociologist and the participant relies on trust in order to be successful. What should the sociologist do?
  • 6. Exam QuestionsAsk students to produce exam questions for the topicthey are studying. These could be scaffolded by criteria,or left open.Extension:- Students go on to create model answers to thequestions they have set.- Students swap questions with one another and thenanswer these.- Questions are taken in by the teacher andredistributed at random. After writing answers studentsmeet up with the question author to mark the work.
  • 7. Research MethodsStudents are asked to design an experiment which couldbe used to test the validity of:- What they have learnt- Their opinions- Their arguments- The ideas of othersStudents should plan out their experiment, consideringwhat methodology they will use and how they will go aboutgenerating their data.Extend by asking students to think about the limitations oftheir methodology, the limits to what we can know or thedifficulties of conducting experiments.Super Extension: Ask students to consider the ethicalimplications of their research.
  • 8. Tube Line Give students a blank tube map and place a key concept at one or both ends. Ask them to fill in theSocial rest of the stations so that there is aClass clear connection between each consecutive concept. Students must be ready to explain their connections and give legitimate reasons for their choices. Extend by giving interconnecting tube lines with different starting concepts.
  • 9. ExtensionsSet extension tasks for students to complete once they have finished the mainpiece of work. These should be challenging. Base them on the top two levels ofBloom’s taxonomy, philosophical issues or conceptual thinking.Once students have completed the extension, set them a Super Extension. Theseshould appear to have been thought up on the spot. This creates a sense of dramaand personalisation which encourages students to engage.Overarching questions concerning the discipline work well as Super Extensions. Forexample:• How might a sociologist use concept X to influence Government?• What defines Sociology as a subject?• How might one decide if something ought to be studied in Sociology?• Under what circumstances might a sociologist use what we have studied today in the day-to-day lives?• Why might a sociologist deem what we have studied today to be an area of greater importance than area X?If students complete the Super Extension, set them an Outer Space Extension.These should be big questions which require a developed answer. Forexample:• Is Sociology a force for good?• Is it enough for Sociologists to describe the world, or should they seek to change it?• How does Sociology relate to History/Psychology/English?• What is society? Does it exist? How can you prove that?• Should individuals be prioritised over the collective?
  • 10. Big QuestionsBig questions are those which concern major issues or the discipline as a whole.They may include questions about:- Morality (a)- Politics (b)- The ultimate use(s) of knowledge (c)- The relationship between thought and action (d)- The relationship between thought and language (e)As well as much else.Some examples:(a) In sociology there are many areas where people make value judgements. Theseare assessments about what is right and wrong. To what do these refer? Is there auniversal good and bad? Why?(b) Sociology reveals much about the inequality present in society. If so much isknown about inequality, why does it persist?(c) Should a sociological study only take place if the researcher can indicate clearlyin advance why the knowledge generated will be of use? Why?(d) To what extent do people’s thoughts and actions marry up? What might be theimplications of this for sociological research?(e) Choose one or two sociological concepts. Analyse them in detail. To what dothey refer? How do you know? Would others agree with your analysis? Why? Howprecise are the terms? What happens to the meaning of the terms if the context inwhich they are used changes?
  • 11. ArticlesGive students articles to read. These could be accompanied by a task, forexample:-Summarise the article for an alien-Create a short explanation of the article for a peer-Turn the article into an advert aimed at Year 9 studentsOr:-To what extent do you agree with the author’s view?-What problems can you identify concerning the author’s argument?-How might you critique the argument made by the author?Websites for articles and extracts:www.guardian.co.ukwww.bbc.co.ukwww.glasgowmediagroup.orgwww.jrf.org.ukwww.opendemocracy.netwww.marxists.org