The Model Seminar: Teaching Critical Thinking in a Large Introductory Sociology Class

DS Aoki, MS Jackson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

Abstract

This article presents a strategy for teaching introductory sociology to large classes (up to 160 students). It replaces the lecture, the foundation of the standard introduction course, by the “model seminar”: about a dozen students, together with the instructor and teaching assistant, discussing a text and its sociological issues in front of the rest of the class. The aim is to introduce students to sociology by teaching them to think critically, motivated by the conviction that such thought, more than any “core” knowledge, is the most vital fundamental for the discipline. Methodologically, our project is not a standard empirical one that measures the effects of particular interventions or compares such effects with those of other pedagogical approaches. Instead, it both theorizes teaching through its concrete practices and demonstrates the pedagogical consequences of poststructuralist theory. Considering the difference between a conventional textbook and a primary source leads to a reevaluation of the status of knowledge in introductory sociology. Despite the close-coupling of classroom practice to “high” theory and the sometimes radical implications, the model seminar strategy is actually a dedicated return to tradition in multiple ways.
Translated title of the contributionThe Model Seminar: Teaching Critical Thinking in a Large Introductory Sociology Class
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1 - 11
Number of pages11
JournalEducational Insights
Volume11 (3)
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2007

Bibliographical note

Publisher: University of British Columbia Press
Other: Peer reviewed, open access

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