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As a discipline, sociology has produced a rich understanding of social processes, and yet the pedagogical implications of this scholarship remain largely untapped. In this paper, we employ a framework of sociology as pedagogy to show how sociology can enhance and inform teaching and learning. We select examples from a range of classical and contemporary social thought to highlight the connection between sociological theory and the practices of teaching and learning. We use these theories to demonstrate a broad application of our notion of sociology as pedagogy; however, we believe that all sociological knowledge can be mined for its pedagogical significance. Furthermore, recognizing how sociological phenomena shape the classroom experience is conducive to a more reflexive pedagogy in line with the tenets of the sociological imagination.

SUNY New Paltz

SUNY New Paltz

IN RECENT YEARS, there has been a bur- Hanson 2005a; Lucal et al. 2003) and an geoning interest in the Scholarship of ASA-sponsored SoTL conference in 2000. Teaching and Learning (SoTL) (see In addition to the SoTL literature, there is a Delivered by Ingenta wealth to of :materials on strategies for effecHutchings, Babb, and Bjork 2002 for an State University of New York at New Paltz and learning. Most of teaching annotated bibliography). Whether the re- tive college Wed, 08 Oct 2008 18:43:49 search focuses on student or faculty atti- this work stems from such disciplines as tudes, assessment procedures, institutional education, English, and psychology. Sociolimpediments, or teaching strategies and ogy is notably underrepresented in this littechniques that can be implemented in the erature, despite the attention to teaching and classroom, the goal is always to enhance learning among sociologists. We find this teaching and learning. Since Baker (1985) omission puzzling given that the foundation noted the link between sociology and teach- of sociology is the examination of social life ing, our discipline has begun to develop a and education is part of the social world. By sociology-specific SoTL with a growing viewing the classroom as a social space, our body of literature (Albers 2003; Chin 2002; discipline can explore a range of sociological themes such as interactional dynamics, *We would like to thank Liz Grauerholz and identity formation, institutional effects, the editorial staff of Teaching Sociology as well structural inequalities, and knowledge proas the anonymous reviewers, whose recommendations helped us improve this article. We duction, among others. If sociologists alwould also like to acknowledge the members of ready study these levels of social analysis, the faculty writing group at SUNY New Paltz why not capitalize on this for the betterment for their support and encouragement. Please of teaching and learning? address all correspondence to the authors at In this article, we make a case for sociolSUNY New Paltz, Department of Sociology, ogy as pedagogy by exploring the implica600 Hawk Drive, New Paltz, NY 12561; etions of various social theories for the procmail: or kaufmanp@new ess of teaching and learning. Sociology as pedagogy is a model that encourages us to Editors note: The reviewers were, in alphabetical order, Jan E. Thomas, Chris Wilkes, use our sociological knowledge to reflect on and Mary Wright. and address the social dynamics of educa-

Teaching Sociology, Vol. 36, 2008 (October:301-317)




tion. With such sociological insight we are instructors have suggested innovative, creabetter equipped to develop effective strate- tive, and engaging ways to convey both gies that answer the challenges and tap into classical and contemporary social theory to the potentialities of educational processes. students. Some of these teaching strategies Analyzing teaching and learning sociologi- have used active learning (Holtzman 2005), cally should be as fruitful as any other so- actual conversations with theorists (Sturgis ciological analysis. By examining the class- 1983), television programs (Donaghy room from a sociological perspective, we 2000), participant observation (Silver and could understand interactions, institutional Perez 1998), literature (Gotsch-Thomson context and dynamics, structure, identity, 1990), video (Fails 1988), music (Ahlkvist and culture as they emerge in the class- 2001), and even puzzles (Lowney 1998). roomand ideally we could use such in- Although these strategies have informed sights to improve the teaching and learning how we teach social theory, we still know very little about how social theory may inexperience of our students and ourselves. By discussing how major works of socio- form our teaching. In the following, we focus on five well logical theory can inform teaching and learning, we attempt to bridge what Hanson established sociological theories and demon(2005b) describes as the intellectual gap strate how these ideas can guide us in our between what we do in the classroom and pedagogy. The five theories are: rationalizawhat we do as scholars. Whereas Hanson tion and McDonaldization (Weber and calls for a more theoretically grounded Ritzer), solidarity and anomie (Durkheim SoTL that incorporates the sociological and Merton), symbolic interaction (Blumer imagination, we take the integration of the and Goffman), feminist standpoint theory (Smith), disciplinary perspective and studies of eduDelivered by Ingenta to and : cultural capital and symbolic University New York at New Paltz violence (Bourdieu). We selected these cational processes a step State farther. We do of not Wed, 08 Oct 18:43:49 theories for two main reasons. First, they intend to position sociology as pedagogy as 2008 a partisan interjection into the debate that represent a broad range of sociological perensued from Hansons article (Hanson spectives. In addition to including classical 2005b; Kain 2005; McKinney 2005); rather and contemporary as well as micro and we envision sociology as pedagogy as a macro theories, our selections reflect an broader approach to pedagogy that links the array of political and epistemological orieninsights of SoTL, the sociology of educa- tations. Second, most sociologists are familtion, and the discipline as a whole. Our iar with these theories since they are comwork builds on Pescosolido and Aminzades monly found in the curriculum. These theo(1999) effort to collect examples of the inte- ries demonstrate the suitability of sociologigration of teaching and research in the so- cal ideas for enhancing pedagogical proccial sciences and analyze the social aspects esses; however, as we will discuss later, we of college. We take their project a step fur- believe that most, if not all, sociological ther by demonstrating that the sociological theories can help us become better teachers outlook not only helps us analyze and un- and learners.1 derstand higher education, but it can also be We recognize that there are diverse ways put into practice in the classroom. In effect, 1 In selecting theories for this paper, we were sociology as pedagogy brings the connecprimarily concerned with demonstrating how tion between the scholarship of teaching and one could locate pedagogical insights in social learning, the sociology of education, and theories. To that end, we chose wide-ranging, sociology as a discipline full circlefrom yet familiar theorists instead of the most recent the classroom to the larger social realm theorists. Nevertheless, we reiterate our conback to the classroom. viction that the model of sociology as pedagogy Much attention has been given to how can be applied to the most current social theosociologists teach theory. Over the years, ries and we encourage our readers to do so.

in which sociologists approach teaching. Some lecture, some discuss; some sociologists draw on feminist and/or postmodern epistemologies and pedagogies, while others subscribe to a positivist paradigm. We do not presume to know the full range of pedagogies practiced; however, many sociologists do share the goals of encouraging critical thinking, sociological awareness, and social justice (Grauerholz and Gibson 2006; McKinney et al. 2004). It is from this perspective that we will discuss how drawing on sociological insights may promote a more reflexive pedagogy that makes evident the implicit interrelationship between sociological practice and teaching.


are lost. McDonaldized education is, like other McDonaldized experiences, dehumanized and deindividuated. In a McDonaldized world, students cannot ask to be graded based on unique circumstances, faculty cannot use nonstandard forms of evaluation, just as you cannot ask that your burger be cooked medium-rare. Looking at teaching and learning sociology through the lens of McDonaldization underscores the rationalization, standardization, and commodification of higher education. The impact of McDonaldization on higher education is undeniable. Ritzer (2004) offers several examples: computer-graded testing, the use of textbooks and publishers lecture notes, the quantification of the evaluation of students (e.g., GPA) and facRATIONALIZATION AND ulty (e.g., ranking of publications, number MCDONALDIZATION of publications, weight of tenure dossier, In one of the central texts of classical socio- number of citations), and technology medilogical theory, Weber (1930) identified ra- ated and delivered instruction (e.g., distance tionalization as a key characteristic of mod- learning, computer-based training). The extent to of : rationalization is so great that Delivered by Ingenta ern life. Rationalization remains such a State University New Yorkhave at New Paltz contemporary institusome described commanding force that it is not difficultof to Wed, 08 Oct 2008 18:43:49 recognize its impact on teaching and learn- tions of higher education as knowledge facing. While the modern condition is such that tories (Aronowitz 2000) and McUniversities we cannot naively hope to create a class- (Hayes and Wynyard 2002). While colleges room free of rationalism, nor do we neces- and universities may be aptly described as sarily want to, developing a critical aware- such, faculty also participate directly in the ness of its impact will likely make us better rationalization of higher education. Increassociologists and teachers. Today, the para- ing pressures to rationalize teaching and digmatic example of rationalization is learning often constrain the choices faculty Ritzers concept of McDonaldization. As make, despite the sanctity of academic freeRitzer (2004) explains, Weber described dom and autonomy. At the institutional how the modern Western world managed to level, the movement towards greater acbecome increasingly rationalthat is, domi- countability and assessment compels faculty nated by efficiency, predictability, calcula- and students to rationalize teaching and bility, and nonhuman technologies that con- learning. Similarly, the multitude of detrol people. McDonaldization is an am- mands postsecondary institutions place on plification and extension of Webers theory faculty results in an academic time bind that of rationalization (p. 25). By examining pushes faculty to adopt efficient, and often the McDonaldization of education, we can standardized, pedagogical strategies (Wright discern the pedagogical implications of so- et al. 2004). Though in some ways rationalization can ciological ideas like rationalization. For all that may be gained in a McDon- be viewed as beneficial to the educational aldized institution, there are some funda- process (for example it may be useful in mental elements of experienceelements negotiating the time bind and increasing quite important to teaching, learning, criti- productivity), social theory and research cal thinking, and social consciousnessthat have long pointed to the direct correlation



between rationalization and alienation standardized testing in elementary school. (Alexander 1987; Weber 1930). Typically, This assignment mirrored the process of alienation limits students motivation, which sociological analysis we as researchers use, in turn stifles engagement with course mate- and it gave students a way to develop inrials and curtails the development of their sight into a subject that interests them. Fursociological imaginations. If teaching prac- thermore, it gave them an opportunity to tices contribute to alienation among students exercise their sociological imaginations, (and faculty), then the students may become resulting in papers that were far more spirdisengaged, making teaching more a chore ited and enjoyable for both the reader and than a calling (c.f., Davis 1993, chapter writers. Unlike homogeneous, predictable 23). Under such circumstances faculty are papers that merely regurgitate course mateprone to compartmentalize research and rial, these papers required thinking outside teaching, resulting in the estrangement of the box in terms of how to evaluate them. our professional lives and the rationalization While the extra effort needed for evaluation of our pedagogies. By contributing to alien- may seem irrational given the time conation, McDonaldized teaching methods pro- straints faculty face, grading these papers mote the further rationalization of our aca- turned out to be far less onerous than the demic practices. In effect, a vicious cycle of seemingly rational compare and contrast assignment. rationalized higher education ensues. Hudd (2003) presents another example of The rationalization of teaching and learning also tends to produce uniformity rather the rationality of a seemingly irrational than independent, critical thinking. So often pedagogical technique. She asks her stuwe complain about students producing dents to collaborate with her on constructing the syllabus cookie-cutter responses to essay quesDelivered by Ingenta to : and designing the assignments State University of New York at New Paltz for their course. In the process, students tions. This complaint can be heard through08 Oct 18:43:49 take greater ownership of the course and out academia, from communityWed, colleges to 2008 doctoral programs (Bean 2001). But before assignments. Here, relinquishing control we place the blame solely on students, we over the course turns out to be a rational should ask what role rationalized, cookie- and effective pedagogical strategy to foster cutter pedagogical strategies play in this student engagement. In addition to the apphenomenon. In what ways do we plications described above, Beans (2001) (unintentionally) limit the development of Engaging Ideas offers a wide range of creacritical thinking? Being aware of the tive assignments and activities designed to McDonaldization of education may illumi- foster critical thinking and student engagenate the irrationality of rationalization as ment. Research indicates that nonwell as the rationality of seemingly irra- McDonaldized pedagogy, including active, tional pedagogical strategies. In one of our collaborative, and service learning techcourses, for example, following a conven- niques, enhances student engagement and tional compare and contrast assignment that learning (Umbach and Wawrzynski 2005). produced lackluster, cookie-cutter pa- Moreover, recognizing the manifestations of pers, students were given a less standard- rationalization and McDonaldization in the ized and less predictable assignment. Stu- classroom and experimenting with ways to dents were asked to select a current event, counter them helps us maintain what Freire piece of literature, film, or television epi- (1998) describes as epistemological curiossode and analyze it according to a contem- ity, a trait critical to scholarly and pedaporary social theory of their choice. Stu- gogical effectiveness. dents wrote about a wide range of topics SOLIDARITY AND ANOMIE including the Black Panthers, the Tamagachi popular culture fad, female suicide bombers, and the increasing emphasis on Of all the sociologists we explore in this



paper, Durkheim is one of the few who has strongly encouraged because rules, proceactually addressed pedagogy. In Education dures, and policies are being established. and Sociology (1956) and Moral Education Although this type of mechanical learning (1961), Durkheim presents his ideas about environment has its benefits, we believe that the role of education in maintaining stabil- a classroom reflecting Durkheims ideal ity, discipline, and a harmonious social or- typical organic solidarity offers distinct adder. Much like the argument we put forth in vantages. Here, interdependence would be this paper, Durkheim believed sociology strong, cooperation would be expected, and informed the pedagogical process more than positive individualism in the form of invenany other discipline. Although Durkheims tiveness, innovation, and imagination would thoughts about education are still invoked be welcome. A classroom modeled after today (c.f., Walford and Pickering 1998) Durkheims organic solidarity would demand his ideas about moral education have onstrate cohesiveness, reciprocity, and rebeen foundational for many theorists work- spect among teachers and learners. When individuals in an organic society do ing in this area (Piaget 1999; Power, Higgins, and Kohlberg 1989), most sociological not feel wholly integrated the threat of anodiscussions of Durkheim concentrate on his mie is always present. Anomie encompasses views on societal integration. We focus on social disintegration ranging from complete some of Durkheims most well known con- chaos to the breakdown of norms such that cepts, specifically solidarity and anomie, in individuals no longer share the same goals order to demonstrate how we may locate and/or the same means to achieve goals. Although higher education does not often pedagogical value in the sociological canon. In one of his most famous passages, suffer from the stark breakdown of societal norms,to anomie could still manifest in subtle Durkheim (1984) makes a distinction beDelivered by Ingenta : State University New York For at New Paltz listening to many of our ways. instance, tween mechanical and organic solidarityof to Wed, 08 Oct 2008 18:43:49we notice there is a growing colleagues capture the essence of the changing nature of society. For Durkheim, mechanical so- sense of feeling bogged down, overworked, cieties are characterized by small, relatively and progressively more powerless due to homogeneous social units bound by tradi- the corporatization and commercialization tion, whereas organic societies are more of the university (Aronowitz 2000; Bok individualistic. In the face of modernization 2004). Universities are getting more and the move toward organic societies, greedy, expecting faculty to demonstrate Durkheims great concern was how social enthusiastic citizenship by serving on cencohesion would be maintained. Although tral committees, attending campus-wide Durkheim developed this dichotomy to sup- meetings, and participating in fund-raising port his vision of history, the distinction activities, among other things (Wright et al. may be relevant to pedagogy. If we view 2004). Being aware of these organizational the classroom as a type of society, we may strains helps us address such anomic tensay that as the semester begins our classes dencies. For example, building what Baker reflect quasi-mechanical solidarity. In our (1999) calls a learning community may experience, students appear to enter the remedy feeling overextended, robotic, or classroom with weak social bondsboth dispirited. By focusing on communication, among themselves and with the teacher. The mutuality, and mindful engagement, learnglue that holds the class together is the ing communities go a long way in promotstrong collective consciousness of educa- ing connectedness, cultivating integration, tional customs; through years of socializa- and stemming the tide of anomie. Students too may feel a greater sense of tion, students and professors know their roles and act them out dutifully. In the early disconnectedness from the educational procstages of this mechanical classroom, origi- ess. With a rise in adjunct instructors and nality, creativity, and change may not be online classes, and with an increase in class



sizes, it is increasingly unlikely that strong the exception of Rafalovichs (2006) collective ties with other students and fac- breaching experiments and the application ulty will be formed. By studying Durk- of strain theory to studies of academic misheims ideas and contemplating how his conduct (Brezina 2000; Vowell and Chen theoretical framework informs the peda- 2004), the pedagogical insights of Mertons gogical process, we will be in a better posi- idea have been largely ignored. We believe tion to adopt teaching strategies that may that strain theory can be used to better comcounter these macro-structural forces. For prehend some key processes of teaching and example, in our experience learning all of learning. Higher education is a goal-driven our students names and working to ensure endeavor. Instructors are aspiring toward that the students know each others names tenure, promotion, publication, and merit help foster a more organic classroom char- pay raises. Students are driven by GPAs, acterized by cohesion, reciprocity, and re- degrees, graduate school admissions, and spect. One exercise we use at the beginning career credentials. With all of this goalof the semester is to place students into oriented behavior a strain toward anomie groups of two with the task of identifying and deviant behavior is likely, especially if eight things they have in common. After the the social structure rigorously restricts or groups introduce each other to the class and completely closes access to approved modes report on their commonalities they then join of reaching these goals (Merton together into groups of four with the same 1968:200). This last point is an important task. The groups of four introduce each component of Mertons analysis and it may other, identify their commonalities, and help us better comprehend and address the then join together into groups of eight. This various modes of adaptation among teachers and learners. snowballing exercise (see another variation Delivered by Ingenta to : State University of New York at New Paulsen andPaltz Feldman (1995) point out in Brookfield and Preskill 1999) continues 08 Oct 2008 that18:43:49 to understand how the teaching of until the class is back together Wed, as a whole. Although such an exercise may take up a individual faculty members can be imwhole class period, it goes a long way in proved, a good place to start is an examinaestablishing a more cohesive and intercon- tion of organizational forces within the university (p. 121). For example, when comnected community of learners. Building on Durkheims notion of ano- petency in the classroom is an institutional mie, Mertons Social Structure and Ano- goal and we are provided with the means to mie has long been an integral part of the achieve this goal, the classroom has the sociological canon. In this classic article potential to be a dynamic site of learning. Merton develops strain theory to explain When teaching is deemed secondary and the how individuals adapt to various social con- institutional means necessary to be an effecditions. By focusing on the acceptance of tive teacher are limited, some sort of innocultural goals and the institutionalized vation (or retreatism) on the part of the inmeans to achieve such goals, Merton de- structor will be necessary. Merton reminds vised a typology of five modes of individual us of the need to be cognizant of how teachadaptation: conformity, innovation, ritual- ing is impacted by the stated goals of the ism, retreatism, and rebellion. Merton academic institution and the extent to which (1968) explains that the social structure the school grants access to the legitimate produces a strain toward anomie and devi- means to achieve these goals. A critical ant behavior because [t]he pressure of insight we can gain from strain theory then such a social order is upon outdoing ones is an understanding of the way in which competitors (p. 211). Mertons strain the- institutional conditions shape pedagogical ory has been used and modified by count- adaptations. Using Mertons framework may offer less researchers to explain a wide range of behaviors and social processes. Yet, with even more pedagogical value by examining



how students behaviors are affected by the sume-enhancing internships and fieldwork, cultural goals and the institutional means. and educating them about the importance of Because college serves as a building block doing quality undergraduate work given the for students future orientations, the typical increasing competitiveness of graduate goal is to graduate with a strong academic school admissions may all help students record. However, the students goal may be better adapt to the rigors of college life different from the goal of their professors, without as much strain or anomie. who may be aiming to instill an appreciation SYMBOLIC INTERACTION and comprehension of the subject matter. The students goal may also be different than the stated goals of the college adminis- As the theoretical perspective that considers trators, who may be more interested in re- how society is produced and reproduced tention rates and years students take to com- through social interaction, symbolic interacplete their degrees. Even if there is some tion has much to offer us pedagogically. By consensus on the stated goals, the students positing the classroom as a site of social may not have the means to achieve such interaction, we can critically analyze the goals. The need to undertake paid work processes of teaching and learning from a because of cuts to financial aid, the desire micro-sociological orientation. From this to build ones resume through extracurricu- perspective, the foundation of the educalar activities and volunteer service posi- tional process can be accurately charactertions, and the emphasis on social life are all ized as the exchange of significant gesfactors that may inhibit students ability to tures (Mead 1934). Much like all social embrace the institutional means to their de- encounters, teaching and learning are communicative sired ends. Delivered by Ingenta to : practices. Because the literature State University of New York at New Paltz of symbolic interaction is replete with obWhen professors contemplate students Wed, 08why Oct 2008 18:43:49about how individuals traverse servations conduct in the classroom, for example, some seek shortcuts whereas others are this interactive landscape, it is particularly highly motivated or why some may doze off well suited to developing our awareness of whereas others are attentive and focused, it the classroom environment. A logical starting point for revealing may be useful to return to Mertons typology of individual adaptation to comprehend some of the pedagogical insights of symthese different behaviors. The insights we bolic interaction is with Blumers classic gain from strain theory can help us recog- statement. Blumer outlined three premises nize the influence of institutional constraints of symbolic interaction each of which proon our pedagogical choices and the corre- vides a glimpse into some of the practices sponding adaptations among our students. of teaching and learning. First, Blumer For example, a straightforward strategy we (1969) suggests that human beings act toutilize to understand student behavior is to ward things on the basis of the meanings go right to the source. If we want to know that things have for them (p. 2). Blumers why students conform, innovate, ritualize, initial premise is especially salient when retreat, or rebel, we simply ask them. Once instructors and/or learners attempt to underwe have this information we can provide stand, much less change, the dynamics of students with legitimate means to accom- the classroom. By recognizing that we all plish their goals without compromising the approach the classroom based on our pregoals of the faculty or institution. Teaching conceived notions and identities, we are students about what constitutes plagiarism, better situated to engage in mutually supshowing them how to skim for content and portive social interactions. If we accept comprehension, incorporating a variety of Blumers suggestion that the meanings that assignments designed to tap into students things have for human beings are central in different strengths, offering credit for re- their own right (p. 3), then we are more



likely to validate the behaviors and experi- an interpretive process. This final premise ences of others instead of disrespect and is the defining characteristic of symbolic neglect them. This is a crucial point for a interaction and it has great resonance for the successful educational experience because classroom. Beyond the many innovative good teaching and learning is unlikely to teaching techniques that reflect this interpreoccur if students and/or teachers feel dis- tive construction of reality (Obach 1999; counted or ignored (Hirschy and Wilson Roberts 2001; Rodgers 2003), Blumers 2002; Karp and Yoels 1976; Major and theory reminds us that teachers and learners Palmer 2002). It is difficult to give voice to enter the educational setting with a set of the experiences of individuals if we resist preconceived connotations of the situation, understanding from where such individuals but these meanings are not rigid. Through are coming. This point is particularly rele- the interactions that transpire in the classvant when it comes to students learning room our understanding of education can styles. As Powers (1999) suggests, if we and does change. We can challenge students fail to comprehend how students learn (i.e., to entertain alternative meanings of learning how they act toward learning), then we are just as we can challenge ourselves to conunlikely to employ pedagogical strategies sider alternative meanings of being a that maximize learning. Incorporating as- teacher. For example, in smaller classes we signments and activities that are geared to- can rearrange the seating, have students wards a wide range of learning styles, such lead discussion, and invite students to deas group work, individual writing assign- velop assignments. In larger classes, we can ments, peer teaching, and experiential invite students to generate critical questions learning, enables us to reach more students about the course material, a select few of which to may than teaching in only one or two Delivered modalities by Ingenta : be used to begin (or end) each State University of New York Some at New Paltz class. instructors even transform the (Hirschy and Wilson 2002). Wed,on 08 Oct 18:43:49 normative meanings of teacher and student Blumers second premise builds the 2008 first one, stating that the meaning of things by having students construct the syllabus, is drawn from our social interactions. This select the course content, and rewrite the point underscores the idea that meaning is a grading system (Bickel 2006; Eby 2001; social product. The meaning of things Hudd 2003). All of these examples are atincluding the classroom, the role of teacher tempts at de-centering the authority of the or student, the course materialare not teacher by altering the roles and statuses intrinsic or inherent; rather, we learn that students and teachers conventionally through our social interactions what these occupy. As Blumer suggests, this renegotithings are and how we are expected to re- ated environment can only arise from the spond to them. Blumers second premise reinterpretations of classroom interactions. Blumers framework is one of many ideas reminds us there is nothing innate about how we respond as teachers or learners, from symbolic interaction that may be usemuch less how the classroom is constructed. ful pedagogically. As another example we Blumer argues that our behavior in social can examine some of Goffmans insights. settings is built on a process of interaction. Goffman may not have considered himself a As individuals we have the potential to symbolic interactionist but his dramaturgical change what it means to be students and analysis is often discussed within this teachers just as we can change the meaning framework. Goffmans (1959) discussion of how people engage in impression manageof teaching and learning. The potential to transform the educational ment and face-saving techniques is well process through our social interactions is known by most sociologists and is often the key pedagogical benefit from Blumers taught in introductory sociology classes. As paradigm, and it brings us to his third point: teachers, it is helpful to consider how self that meanings are used and changed through presentations play out in the classroom.



Being aware of how we manage our impres- ing the reciprocal influence of individuals sions to students as well as how they man- upon anothers action (p. 15). To address age their impressions to us and to each this situation it may be helpful for us to other may allow us to better appreciate the consider many of the aspects that Goffman differences we experience. For example, identified in his theory of self presentations: discussion-oriented classes often have a our initial projections; our practices, both dynamic whereby some students are loqua- defensive and protective; our overall percious whereas others are quiet and reserved. formance; and even our appearance and Some might explain this behavior by relying manner. Fobess (2006) account of physical on psychological explanations of innate per- and emotional risk-taking in front of her sonality traits such as extroversion and in- students offers one example of how the troversion. Research confirms the feedback learning environment can benefit if we are we hear from students: their reticence ema- more mindful of our self presentations. By nates in part from a fear of appearing stu- not managing her impressions to the extent pid, while talkativeness stems from a desire that we typically try to do in the classroom, to sound knowledgeable (Auster and Fobes demonstrated her vulnerability which MacRone 1994). In other words, students allowed her students to trust her and see her are engaging in impression management. as a full human being, not just as a teacher. Along with other sociologists, we have used Reflecting on our own impression managethis feedback to develop strategies to ment strategies may shed light on the ways counter these impression-management ten- in which we encourage or obstruct social dencies, such as engaging the class in a si- interactions with students, and by extension, lent discussion (Kaufman 2008) or online how our self presentation may affect the learning discussion (Wolfe 2000), assigning discusDelivered by Ingenta toprocess. : of New York at New Paltz sion roles to students State (e.g.,University summarizer, Wed, 08time Oct 2008FEMINIST 18:43:49 STANDPOINT THEORY questioner, facilitator, exemplifier, keeper), and setting classroom rules of engagement such as having everyone speak at Feminism has made notably strong and exleast once before anyone speaks twice (for plicit connections between theory and pedamore strategies see Brookfield and Preskill gogy (Macdonald and Sanchez-Casal 2002; [1999], pp. 171-93). By recognizing these Maher and Tetreault 1994; Mayberry and underlying dramaturgical processes, we are Rose 1999). Unfortunately, for many socibetter equipped to help one group find their ologists these potential insights remain unvoice while helping another group temper derutilized. In light of the richness of feminist pedagogy and the constraints of space, theirs. The ideas of self presentation are also we limit our discussion to standpoint theory valuable for our own understanding of how as articulated by Dorothy Smith. For Smith, we navigate the social landscape of acade- the distinct experiences women have and the mia. Students are by no means the only roles they play shape the perspectives with ones who engage in impression manage- which they approach a situation. She argues ment. Teachers also utilize interactive that the male-centered sociological world strategies to get students to react to them in has failed to fully incorporate womens a particular way. As such, it might be use- lives, experiences, and perspectives. To ful for us consider how we are presenting remedy this, she calls for an acknowledgeourselves and what impressions we are giv- ment of the distinct experiences that shape ing off to students. At times we may feel womens lives and perspectives as comfrustrated that what we are trying to achieve pared to mens. For Smith (1974), an alis not being accomplished. In Goffmans ternative sociology must preserve in it the (1959) terms we are not controlling the im- presence, concerns, and experience of the pressions of our students nor are we achiev- sociologist as knower and discoverer (p.



389). This results in the need to make our can be easily employed in both small and direct embodied experience of the everyday large classes. Students are asked to answer world the primary ground of our knowl- the question Who am I? with 20 singleedge (Smith 1974:389). In other words, word responses. By contemplating this experience as prior knowledge becomes the question, students have an opportunity to identify what attributes are salient to their foundation for learning. Smiths approach keys teachers into gen- own standpoints. More importantly, it illuder dynamics in the classroom, such as the minates the invisibility of privilege that silencing of women. Despite the number of dominant groups often take for granted. The studies that address this issue, it remains a point in these suggestions is to demonstrate problem in many classes (e.g., Hall and to students that knowledge does not emanate Sandler 1982; Jones and Dindia 2004; Sad- from a single perspective or common set of ker and Sadker 1994). To the extent that experiences. Standpoint pedagogy fosters Smiths characterization of sociology as the idea that all students have the capacity male-centric is accurate, the silencing of to contribute based on the distinct experiwomen in the classroom may be explained ences they bring to the classroom. While Smith concentrated on women and in part by the disconnection between their experiences and the perspective implicit in gender, we can extend her approach to enthe course materials. When students are compass the myriad standpoints we develop presented with material that fails to resonate through embodied experience. Social theowith their lives, it is difficult for them to rists writing before and after Smith have develop as both knower and discoverer. elucidated standpoint theories addressing Furthermore, without a curriculum that re- various dimensions of diversity, such as race, ethnicity, sexuality, nationality, religlates to their lived experiences, students Delivered by Ingenta to : University of New York at New Paltz ion, class, and ability (e.g., Appiah 1993; may lack the confidenceState or desire to enter Wed, (2004) 08 Oct 2008 18:43:49 Davis 1981; DuBois 1903; Fanon 1967; the dialogue. Thomas and Kukulan argue that the dearth of women in the socio- Hill Collins 1990; hooks 1981). Encouraglogical cannon, especially in social theory, ing students and faculty to recognize their reflects the limited attention graduate multiple positionalities pulls us away from courses pay to women theorists, since our the traditional monofocal perspective doctoral training often shapes who and what (white, male, heterosexual, etc.) and better we teach. Thus, breaking the cycle of ex- reflects the diversity of contemporary sociclusion often requires a conscious effort to ety. Like feminist standpoint theory, this heterogeneous perspective has important diversify the curriculum. Bringing in readings by women is perhaps implications for the classroom. Just as the most obvious strategy to address this women may feel silenced in a male-centered issue. Beyond this, instructors can take curriculum, diverse students may be alienother measures such as drawing on research ated and frustrated by the disconnect they and examples that specifically address feel from their educational experience womens experiences and remaining cogni- (Hirschy and Wilson 2002; McCarthy and zant and equitable in how one responds to Crichlow 1993; Weis and Fine 1993). Inand encourages student involvement. A spe- structors wanting to address privilege and cific example we use involves a critical ad- inequality in the classroom have countless aptation and analysis of the classic Twenty strategies from which to choose. For examStatements Test developed by the Iowa ple, Schuster and Van Dyne (1999) outline School of Social Psychology (Kuhn and six stages of curriculum development to McPartland 1954; Wellman 1971). This transform courses characterized by excluexercise, similar to Brookfield and Pre- sion and invisibility of certain groups into skills standpoint statements (1999), high- courses that reflect balance and inclusion of lights the insights of standpoint theory and all groups. Similarly, Chesler, Lewis, and

Crowfoot (2005) offer a comprehensive template to move ones course from monoculturalism to multiculturalism. By focusing their recommendations on the interaction among subject matter, instructors, students, classroom techniques, and larger institutional contexts, these authors offer decidedly sociology as pedagogy applications of standpoint theory.


such as the educational system, as symbolic violence. Schools tend to value the dominant class culture resulting in the legitimation and perpetuation of stratification. Those students socialized with the habitus, cultural capital and practices of the dominant class are more likely to succeed in the educational field than those who find the cultural codes foreign and more difficult to acquire (Carson 1993; Roscigno and Ainsworth-Darnell 1999). According to CULTURAL CAPITAL Bourdieu and Passeron (1970), testing is the AND SYMBOLIC VIOLENCE archetypical manifestation of cultural capital We end our discussion by considering the in schools and thereby serves as the main sociology of Bourdieu who, through his mechanism of symbolic violence: In imconcepts of habitus, cultural capital, and posing as worthy of university sanction a symbolic violence, offers instructors ana- social definition of knowledge and the way lytical tools to help further cultivate a re- to show it, it provides one of the most effiflexive approach to the classroom. In keep- cacious tools for the enterprise of inculcating with the French sociological tradition, ing the dominant culture and the value of Bourdieu (1989) bases his theory on the that culture (p. 142). Not only do exams premise that individual behavior and per- disguise the relationship between the school ception are constrained and guided by the and the larger social structure, but more generally all forms of assessment are inherhierarchical world of structures we inhabit, Delivered by Ingenta to : University of New Yorkbiased. at New For Paltzexample, essays tend to ently structures independent State of the consciousOct 2008 18:43:49 favor eloquent writers regardless of their ness and will of agents (p. Wed, 14). 08 Social structure takes shape in fields, or competi- comprehension of substantive material. tive marketplaces where we accumulate and Similarly, students skilled in memorizing marshal economic, social, symbolic and material generally have an advantage in cultural capital to gain relatively favorable short-answer questions. Charismatic, confipositions. Of particular importance in edu- dent students may present themselves excation is cultural capital, the legitimate and ceptionally well in public speaking assignlegitimated knowledge that shores up or ments. We believe that these attributes increases ones position in a field. Cultural largely derive from ones habitus and culcapital may be objectified (in material tural capital. This point is reflected in goods), institutionalized (e.g., diplomas), or Anyons (1981) and Lareaus (2000) reembodied (in language, habits, and taste). search, which both tie school knowledge Bourdieu argues that economic and cultural with social class location, demonstrating capital are powerful principles of differen- how academia is not a level playing field. tiation in that these forms of capital direct Teachers and students may be unaware of us into the objective social position which how cultural capital favors those who posconditions our disposition, the generative, sess it and disadvantages those who do not. unifying principle of conduct and opinions Given that educational credentials are he calls habitus (Bourdieu and Passeron largely based on test performance and are 1970:161; see also Bourdieu 1987); in turn, presumed to reflect individual achievement, it is important to recognize the extent to habitus reinforces position. Bourdieu and Passeron (1970) describe which cultural capital is mistaken for merit. Undoubtedly, some will disagree with the the seemingly consensual assertion, legitimation, and naturalization of the hegemonic foregoing analysis and reject the argument culture carried out by powerful institutions, that their exams are biased and unfair



much less that they contribute to the repro- exchanges between students and professors duction of social inequality. But Bourdieus exemplify such asymmetry. By being mindsociology encourages us to suspend such ful of how classroom interactions may reimpulsive reactions and instead implores us flect such imbalances, we can deconstruct to be reflexive about our social practices. and de-center this locus of power. For exBy understanding the propensity of school- ample, a professor we spoke with at a diing to be a site of symbolic violence, and by verse, urban community college with a high acknowledging our potential role in this proportion of first-generation college enrolprocess, we will be better positioned to con- lees discusses the issue of linguistic capital struct an educational environment that is with her students each semester. She exwelcoming and receptive to all students. To plains to students that standard written Engthis end, we may challenge ourselves with lish is the language of the academy and in the following pedagogical questions: How large part the workplace; thus language is are our classroom strategies and assessment not simply a matter of pride, style, or even techniques shaped by our habitus or the value, but also a matter of successfully oplevel or types of cultural capital we possess? erating in powerful gate-keeping instituAre some students inadvertently excluded or tions. Moreover, language signals status, disqualified because they do not share the which is equally important for students and institutionalized signals that we rely on to faculty to be aware of. She is careful not to transmit information and knowledge? Can demean forms of expression less valued in we use alternative measures of evaluation academia and discusses code-switching to including participation, oral presentations, navigate between the fields in which stupeer evaluations, group work, field re- dents are positioned. Her point is not to advocate search, self reflections, and of course writDelivered by Ingenta to the : continuing legitimation of stanUniversity of New York at New English Paltz at the cost of other dard written ten work such as papers,State journals, and reacWed, Oct 2008 18:43:49 forms of expression, but rather to provide tions instead of relying solely on the 08 traditional methods of exams and quizzes? students with the knowledge necessary to Would these alternative measures help us understand the consequences of their accommodate a wider range of learning choices, specifically in terms of how they styles and mitigate the differences in cul- use language. Engaging in dialogues about tural capital accumulation? In short, the role of linguistic and cultural capital in Bourdieus reflexive sociology reminds us academic and professional success is one to think about the ways in which we may be strategy to make the subtle mechanisms of unwitting accomplices to symbolic violence. inequality more transparent to students (for In educational institutions, language other exercises that help students understand emerges as a key component in reproducing the role of cultural capital in social life and the social hierarchy (Carson 1993). Schools their education in particular, see Dundes enforce institutionally and often state- and Spence [2007], Isserles and Dalmage sanctioned forms of language and systems [2000], or Wright and Ransom [2005]). Bourdieus framework reminds us that of meaning while de-legitimizing popular and subcultural vernaculars. In this way, the language, especially as it plays out in the legitimation of class-encoded linguistic capi- classroom, is a complex matter. Linguistic tal constitutes another example of symbolic capital that is valued in one field may not be violence (Bourdieu 1999 [1991]). Bourdieu recognized in another (Bourdieu 1984). and Wacquant (1992) note that [e]very This insight becomes particularly salient as linguistic exchange contains the potentiality students navigate between their peers and of an act of power, and all the more so their teachers. Though a command of slang when it involves agents who occupy asym- may gain students respect within youth submetric positions in the distribution of the cultures, it becomes a liability when sturelevant capital (p. 145). Written and oral dents cannot master the dominant language


313 12

of academia. College students must learn prominence by studying institutional struchow to talk smart if they hope to succeed tures and explicating the processes of indiin the dominant culture (Kaufman 2003). As viduals navigating the social landscape. instructors we can play a crucial role in What goes on in the educational arenaat either assisting or obstructing students from both the institutional and the individual acquiring linguistic competency and, subse- levelreflects the underlying analytical quently, gaining important cultural capital. orientation of sociological inquiry. As such, For example, by purposefully using aca- we believe that because of our disciplinary demic jargon and obfuscating language, we expertise, sociologists are uniquely posireify dominant cultural codes and extend tioned to understand didactic processes and our institutional power over students. In formulate ways to improve them. Although we focus on select theories, we doing so we may make our students feel inferior or disinclined to participate in class argue that all sociological knowledge has (Karp and Yoels 1976). Our point here is potential pedagogical applications. To fully not to promote a dumbing down of the appreciate our argument, one should look academy; rather, we hope to encourage beyond the specific theories and theorists intellectual interactions between students we discuss. For example, although we did and professors that will enable students to not discuss Marx, in part because his ideas gain legitimate cultural capital. Through are foundational to many of the theories we attentive pedagogical means such as defin- analyzed, we believe there is as much pedaing terms contextually, inviting students to gogical value to be gained from his ideas as ask questions, creating a list of key words, there is from others we did not examine and promoting epistemological inquiries, we such as Anthony Giddens, Michel Foucault, or Arlie Hochschild. Furthermore, can help students penetrate theDelivered dominant by Ingenta to Russell : State University of New York at New Paltzis not limited to paradigpedagogical value linguistic codes. In short, by recognizing Wed,as 08well Oct 2008 18:43:49 matic theories and findings. Indeed, we the potential for symbolic violence as the advantages of accumulating legiti- encourage our colleagues to explore the mated linguistic and cultural capital, we can ways in which the full range of sociological help students negotiate the educational field theoryand even researchmay be mined more effectively and enhance our own abil- for pedagogical insights. As Durkheim argued, if sociology studies social life and the ity to interpret classroom dynamics. school is a microcosm of society, then there is much to discover about teaching and SOCIOLOGY AS PEDAGOGY: learning from our disciplinary knowledge. A NEW PARADIGM OF By drawing on the literature of sociology TEACHING AND LEARNING? as pedagogy, we can further integrate pedaIn this paper, we employ a framework of gogy and scholarship. When people want to sociology as pedagogy to highlight the ways connect their teaching and research, they in which sociology can enhance and inform usually incorporate their scholarship into teaching and learning. The theories we dis- the curriculum. Certainly, this helps stucussed exemplify the insights we can gain dents gain an appreciation of the methods from using what we teach to learn how to and findings of the professional sociologist. teach more effectively. By examining the But what we are advocating here is somepedagogical implications of these social thing quite different. We suggest that using theories, we draw out the connection be- sociological ideas to inform our pedagogy is tween the theoretical insights and practices an effective and underutilized way to exof teaching and learning, and between our pand the modes of integrating teaching and work as scholars and our work as educa- research. Not only does sociology as pedators. Our analysis is based on the premise gogy offer potential benefits for faculty but that the discipline of sociology has gained it also enhances the learning experience of



students. Ultimately, we hope that by recog- Auster, Carol J. and Mindy MacRone. 1994. The Classroom as a Negotiated Social Setnizing sociology as pedagogy instructors ting: An Empirical Study of the Effects of will feel compelled to be more reflexive Faculty Members Behavior on Students Parabout their teaching practices and positionticipation. Teaching Sociology 22(4):289ality. 300. Reflexivity involves a continual process Baker, Paul. 1985. Does the Sociology of of simultaneously looking inward and outTeaching Inform Teaching Sociology? Teachward. We should reflect upon our actions, ing Sociology 12(3):361-375. the reactions we elicit, and the interactions Baker, Paul. 1999. Creating Learning Communities: The Unfinished Agenda. Pp. 95-109 in constituted by this negotiation between our The Social World of Higher Education: Handselves as actors, as processors, and others. book for Teaching in a New Century, edited by Comprehending how our own experiences Bernice A. Pescosolido and Ronald Aminzade. and positionality shape the way in which we Thousand Oaks, CA: Pine Forge Press. interact with the social world begins to capi- Bean, John C. 2001. Engaging Ideas: The Protalize on the benefits of reflexivity. Along fessors Guide to Integrating Writing, Critical these lines, sociology as pedagogy suggests Thinking, and Active Learning in the Classthat we need to be cognizant of how what room. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. we study informs how we teach as well as Bickel, Christopher. 2006. Cultivating Orchids: Promoting Democracy in the Classroom. Pp. the forms of learning we facilitate. As 93-107 in Critical Pedagogy in the Classroom, teachers and learners, we should strive to 2nd Edition, edited by Peter Kaufman. Washbecome aware of the manifestations of raington, D.C.: American Sociological Associacial, ethnic, gender, class, and other struction. tural dynamics in classroom interactions. Blumer, Herbert. 1969. Symbolic Interactionism: Sociology informs us of these Delivered structural by Ingenta to : and Method. Berkeley, CA: UniPerspective State University of New York atof New Paltz Press. dynamics and the classroom is by no means versity California 08 Oct 2008 18:43:49 immune to them. In our questWed, to become Bok, Derrick. 2004. Universities in the Marketplace: The Commercialization of Higher Edubetter teachers and learners, much can be cation. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University gained from using sociology as pedagogy. REFERENCES
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