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Teaching Sociological Skills: Application From an Item


Last updated 16 Oct 2017

Useful guidance from a "secret examiner" about how students should apply material from the item.

As highlighted by Tutor2U’s own analysis of the exam results, the main questions that students are underperforming on nationally are the 10-mark application questions and the methods in context question. Here I will at how to approach methods in context separately, but in this post, I am going to look at some of the ways in which students can practice their application skills by using items. 

  • The Quick Starter

This is a simple and effective way of getting students to practice their skill of application from an item. Write an item with at least two explicit hooks for students to develop and give them a question to answer. Recent changes to items make this a very easy way to get students to explore items and apply their knowledge of sociology to a question. I have written a sample item and question below: 

Item X 

Educational policies over the past thirty years have looked to address some of the inequalities in wider society and their impact on educational achievement. Some policies have offered incentives to students for staying on in education, whilst others have looked at changing the content and methods of assessment.

These changes have impacted on a range of different social groups and have had varying degrees of success.

Applying material from Item X, analyse two ways in which educational social policies have impacted on the experience of education of different social groups (10)

There are several hooks that could be used in this item. Some are explicit, such as EMA or changes to a more multi-cultural curriculum that students may pick up on. But there are more than just two, and this could challenge some of your more capable students to look deeper and discover GCSEs and coursework, changes to linear examination (both impacting on gender), and university scholarship schemes (working class and ethnic minority). It is a quick and easy way to get students using the item and should only take 5-10 minutes of your lesson. 

Case Studies

This is a favourite method of mine for getting students to apply their knowledge of sociology. It can be done by creating your own case study (e.g., working-class boy, not doing well in school, joins a gang, doesn’t attend school or work hard – why?) or by using a selection of resources in the media. 

There are many articles tweeted by the textbook authors, sociology teachers and ourselves at tutor2u that could be used. Simply print off the article and ask students – which theories/concepts are at work here?

These are just two quick methods for getting students to practise their application skills from an item. There are more resources available in the tutor2u digital store, including lesson solutions, posters, and concept worksheets that can help with these skills.   

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