In my classroom, I seek to provide an engaging learning environment, going beyond simply reiterating readings, but incorporating outside sources to facilitate a deeper understanding of the material while also making it relevant. I integrate both academic and non-academic sources to provide a more concrete understanding of the sociological concepts students are learning. For example, in an Asian American Family course, I add applicable research from Sociology scholars on the achievement of Asian students and what constitutes a “normal” American family. Using these and other articles, I walk students through how to read a peer-reviewed article, teaching them how to read academic papers efficiently and effectively. I also work hard to foster critical thinking in my courses, rarely giving direct answers, but instead helping students navigate through arguments and apply what they learn to their daily lives. In the Family and Intimate Relationships class, I assign podcasts on subjects ranging from adoption to immigrant families to divorce, fostering the application of concepts learned in lecture to real life stories and encouraging them to start thinking about the world around them with a sociological eye.
In my Introduction to Sociology classes I regularly pause to give students time to write a a few sentences reflecting on concepts they are learning and how they see that in the world around them. This aids students in thinking critically about what they are learning and gives every student the opportunity to think about what they could add to the discussion even if they are not inclined to share aloud. For a final project, students record a short video-blog that examines two topics discussed in class using a grand theory, and ties that to personal experiences.
In upper level classes I incorporate student-led discussion that requires a deeper understanding of the assigned readings. Thinking of substantive questions to facilitate discussion increases the critical thinking while reading and leading discussion boosts engagement and ownership of the material throughout the course.
With each pedagogical decision I make I strive to engage students and provide an environment that promotes critical thinking and application of material to every facet of students’ lives.