Resources: 47,XYY kayrotype and criminality

Souce: wikimedia. Creative commons license.

Here’s a lesson on the 47,XYY karyotype (XYY syndrome) using the jigsaw format. It starts with a factual learning check and some slides to support an explanation of three different explanations of the association between XYY and offending. The jigsaw element is oriented towards using research into 47,XYY as a way of discussing various issues and debates in psychology. These are based on some of those specified by Edexcel (reductionism, socially sensitive research, development of knowledge over time and nature/nurture) but I imagine they’re fairly broadly applicable. There’s a slideshow, a Socrative true/false quiz on XYY and a set of jigsaw materials on XYY for four groups.

8 thoughts on “Resources: 47,XYY kayrotype and criminality”

  1. Hi, my students were fab when it came to social explanations (e.g. self-fulfilling prophecy) but biological explanations have caused a great deal of confusion – which I was quite surprised about considering the overlap with Year 1! (Although this was taught by a colleague, and not myself.) I’m not sure if it’s the scare of ‘biology’ for those students who are more humanities oriented but I was wondering how you usually cover the limbic system and explanations of crime and anti-social behaviour (e.g. how many lessons you spend on this and what they involve?) Any tips would be much appreciated as my techniques are close to being exhausted, cheers! 🙂

    1. Hi Tas. I’m teaching biological explanations at the moment. I’m giving it 4 hours of contact: (1) a lesson on XYY/Themes, issues & debates (main activity is Jigsaw); (2) A lesson on brain structure/function including amygdala (main activity is reciprocal teaching); (3) a lesson on Research Methods and Stats and planning for different types of essay question (main activity is attempt and discussion of exam-style questions); (4) a lesson on traumatic brain injury (main activity is a simulation/role play where students have to assess an offender and report on whether a history of TBI should be considered during sentencing; haven’t yet planned the whole thing). Around this I’m setting reading and preparatory note making so I’m not doing a whole lot of presenting new knowledge and I’m relying quite heavily on their revising the brain/aggression topics from Year 12. I’m not sure how helpful that is – what sort of issues are your students encountering? If you can indicate what the block is I might have some ideas. –Aidan

      1. Hi Aidan. Thank you for your quick and detailed response – and as usual, your lessons sound fantastic 🙂 I found that students were struggling to grasp the concept of the function of each brain structure. For example, there was lots of confusion about how a lack of insight into emotions and fear (due to an impaired limbic system) might result in criminal or anti-social behaviour. For some reason, students were adamant that the limbic system was for planning and those higher order processes, confusing it with the frontal cortex. I’m not sure if this is a result of what they were taught last year but I’ve spoken to my trusted colleague who’s certain she didn’t get that mixed up! As a result, I tasked them with revisiting the Year 1 content outside of lesson using textbooks etc. to try to resolve this but in the next lesson – again no luck! Whilst I’m now pretty certain they understand each function for the relevant brain structure having spent an hour going through it, the next challenge is getting them to apply that to criminal behaviour. The problem seems to be not so much understanding the content now, but being able to identify connections and applications. I therefore scribbled up some scenarios where I described a situation (e.g. Person X is unable to predict the consequences of their behaviour) and asked my students to identify what part of the brain could be contributing to this (e.g. impaired frontal cortex). This proved to be much trickier for them than anticipated, leaving me pretty baffled since I was assured they were confident after I went through Year 1 brain structure again. Maybe it might just need a little more practice, but I didn’t expect it to cause so many issues and has certainly caught us all off guard. I’m now contemplating whether to spend more time on this (I’ve currently spent 3 hours on brain structure alone) but of course, there’s the shadow of all the topics in the spec that have not yet been covered and the handful of students who have now got it desperate to move on. My apologies for such a lengthy and ‘Agony Aunt’ kind of reply, but I hope that gives you an idea of the current situation and as always, your expertise are much anticipated and appreciated. Cheers!

        1. Hi Tas. You’ve pretty much done what I would do. Seems to me like the issue they’ve got is that, somewhere along the line, they learned the wrong functions for the different brain structures. Problem is, those wrong ideas remain in memory and compete with the more recently learned correct ones, so I’d suggest plenty of spaced retrieval practice. Whether to move on is tricky; I really dislike moving the whole class on before everyone’s ready but there is always time pressure. Your idea of using scenarios could drive a differentiated lesson that all could benefit from. You’ll need some relatively simple scenarios e.g. one where the offender can’t stop himself from grabbing someone’s phone even though a police officer is standing nearby, one where the offender over-reacts to perceived provocation, one where the offender is indifferent to the pain of the victim. Dress them up in ‘realistic’ scenarios to give a bit of challenge but don’t make them so obscure they’re impossible. Give them all the task of analysing the scenarios. The goal is for everyone to arrive at a sound analysis but you can add extra layers of complexity for those who can already do this e.g. (1) support their analysis with relevant evidence; (2) identify evidence that challenges; (3) evaluate the methdology of the studies cited; (4) draw a suitable conclusion. That way, the ones who are already on top of the basic ideas get practice at developing their extended writing/evaluative capacities. Personally, I would organise the class according to how well they are dealing with the topic, so you can concentrate yourself where the biggest need is, and ping over to the others to check progress and add more challenge. If you’ve already exhausted this avenue, then I would probably run an extra class for those who still don’t get it, but also throw the occasional short analysis task (as above) at them every few lessons to keep them thinking about it. I’m sorry I can’t think of a magic bullet but if it makes you feel any better your take on the issue seems pretty similar to mine. Please do let me know how you get on! –A

  2. Hi Aidan. Once again, thank you. I’m currently wrapping up tomorrow’s lesson as I’ve had to change things around due to this slight hurdle. Will definitely take your comments and suggestions on board, all of which have been so useful! The idea of a differentiated lesson sounds brill and coincidentally what I had planned. Hopefully with the additions you’ve suggested, students will soon have mastered the topic. Will update you on how it goes – many, many thanks for your help and as always, your detailed response is greatly appreciated… fingers crossed tomorrow will be the last hour spent on brain structure! 🙂 cheers!

      1. Good news! A successful lesson – students managed to understand all of the scenarios. I began by working through one scenario together as a class, then let them work at their own pace as I circulated around the room offering guidance when necessary. The extra time spent proved to be worth it, ending with myself and the class beaming… Always a good feeling at the end of a long week 🙂 Thank you for all your support, your suggestions were just fab!

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