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Discussion Topics and Written Assignments 1-3: Social Class Differences in Educational Achievement.

The following sets of questions may be used as discussion topics and/or as written assignments. As written assignments the sets of questions are designed for completion in approximately 30 minutes although you may take more time if you wish.

You may choose to answer the questions using only your existing knowledge . However you may click the links below for information from the relevant sections of my teaching notes and you can, of course, also find additional information in your textbooks

 

 

Discussion Topic/Written Assignment 1

It has often  been argued that social class differences in educational achievement are determined primarily by social class differences in inherited intelligence.

  1. Give a definition of intelligence. [4 marks]

  2. Carefully describe the main elements of so-called IQ theories.[4 marks]

  3. On what grounds have sociologists emphasised the possible limitations of IQ theories as explanations of social class differences in educational achievement. [4 marks]

 

Discussion Topic/Written Assignment 2.

Table 1: Gender, Free School Meal Eligibility and Percentages of Pupils gaining 5 or more GCSE A*-C Pass Grades

Pupil Category % gaining 5 or more A*-C GCSE Grades in 2002 % gaining 5 or more A*-C GCSE Grades  in 2008
Boys FSM 18.8 35.4
Boys NFSM 42.2 62.5
Boys Unclassified 24.8 46.9
Boys All 43.7 59.1
Girls FSM 27.3 44.7
Girls NFSM 59.3 71.6
Girls Unclassified 31.8 56.0
Girls All 54.6 68.2

 

 

  1. What  percentage of boys eligible for Free School Meals in 2008 gained 5 or more A*-C GCSE pass grades in 2008? [1 mark]

  2. List 2 economic factors which might help to explain the relative educational underachievement of pupils eligible for Free School Meals. [2 marks]

  3. Sociologists have often argued  that relative working class educational underachievement might be explained in terms of working class cultural deprivation. Explain the meaning of the term " working class cultural deprivation. [4 marks]

  4. Explain the meaning of the phrases "strong present time orientation"  and " unwillingness to defer gratification." [4 marks]

  5. Why have some sociologists criticised theories suggesting that relative working class educational underachievement might be explained in terms of working class cultural deprivation? [4 marks]

 

Discussion Topic/Written Assignment 3.

Percentages of 18-21 Year Olds Participating in Higher Education and Type of Parental Occupation.

Parental Occupation

1960

1970

1980

1990

1995

2001

Non-Manual  %

27

32

33

37

47

50

Manual %

4

5

7

10

17

19

Total %

5

8

12

19

32

35

 

  1. For purposes of this assignment I am assuming that parents in non-manual occupations and parents in manual occupations can reasonably be described as middle class and working class respectively. Is this a reasonable assumption? [4 marks]

  2. What percentages of 18-21 year olds from non-manual and manual backgrounds respectively were participating in Higher Education in 1960 and 2001 respectively? [4 marks]

  3. The sociologists Pierre Bourdieu has argued that social class differences in educational achievement can be explained to a considerable extent by social class differences in the possession of cultural capital. Explain the meaning of the term " cultural capital" .[ 4 marks]

  4. According to Pierre Bourdieu working and middle class families  may be culturally different but this should not be taken to mean that working class families are culturally deprived, Explain the difference between cultural difference and cultural deprivation. [4 marks]