Yale Center for Teaching and Learning


Sociology’s intellectual breadth and depth - especially its commitment to exploring race, class, and gender - lends core research findings to education studies. Instructors have a wealth of teaching strategies at their disposal, including literature reviews of sociology teaching and learning scholarship, critical pedagogies, and active learning strategies.

Journals and Websites

Articles and Papers

Hatteberg, S., & Steffy, K. (2013). Increasing Reading Compliance of Undergraduates: An Evaluation of Compliance Methods. Teaching Sociology, 41(4), 346-352.

Abstract: “A common source of frustration for college instructors is getting their students to read. Since the 1970s, studies have shown that no more than 30 percent of students complete a reading assignment on any given day. But what can be done? What strategies can instructors use to make certain that their students read? Do pop or announced quizzes work better? Does it help to call on students randomly in class? To date, little systematic evidence exists concerning the relative utility of the many methods instructors use to encourage reading compliance. This study begins to address that lacuna. Specifically, using survey data collected in introductory sociology classes (N = 423), we examine how students evaluate seven commonly used methods ranging from announced quizzes to short writing assignments to being called on randomly in class. We find that students perceive mandatory and/or announced methods to be more effective in motivating them to complete reading assignments than unannounced or optional methods.”

Packard, J. (2013). The Impact of Racial Diversity in the Classroom: Activating the Sociological Imagination. Teaching Sociology, 41(2), 144-158.

Abstract: “Diverse college campuses have been conclusively associated with a variety of positive outcomes for all students. However, we still know very little empirically about how student diversity directly impacts the core task of the university: classroom learning. While students vary based on race along a broad spectrum of experiences and backgrounds, we have yet to establish how those varying backgrounds might impact the ways students engage with course material. In this study, I examined student journals in order to understand how race influenced the ways students engaged with course material and found that black students are much more likely than their white student peers to find connections between course material and daily life, a central task of the sociological imagination. The results of these findings are important for sociologists in particular and educators in general as we seek to maximize the effects of increasingly diverse educational settings.”

Whitley, C. (2013). A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Words: Applying Image-based Learning to Course Design. Teaching Sociology, 41(2), 188-198.

Abstract: “Although images are often used in the classroom to communicate difficult concepts, students have little input into their selection and application.This approach can create a passive experience for students and represents a missed opportunity for instructors to engage participation. By applying concepts found in visual sociology to techniques identified in the scholarship of teaching and learning, I created an image- based learning model to address this disconnect. I used discussion board image selection, posting and critique exercises (image-posts), and personal meaning maps (PMMs) as core assignments.This combination increased student comprehension, challenged and altered perceptions of key topics, and gave them a greater sense of agency through reflexive learning. Additionally, students’ reception of this model was favorable, with 97 percent reporting that the course met or exceeded their expectations and 95 percent reporting that they learned more in this class than in any previously taken college-level courses.”

Driscoll, A., Jicha, K., Hunt, A., Tichavsky, L., & Thompson, G. (2012). Can Online Courses Deliver In-class Results? A Comparison of Student Performance and Satisfaction in an Online versus a Face-to-face Introductory Sociology Course. Teaching Sociology, 40(4), 312-331.

Abstract: “This study uses a quasi-experimental design to assess differences in student performance and satisfaction across online and face-to-face (F2F) classroom settings [… .] Results indicate that differences in student performance between the two settings may be accounted for by the presence of a selection effect and that student satisfaction does not significantly differ across the two settings. These findings are interpreted to mean that when online courses are designed using pedagogically sound practices, they may provide equally effective learning environments.”

Eisen DB. (2012). Developing a Critical Lens: Using Photography to Teach Sociology and Create Critical Thinkers. Teaching Sociology 40(4), 349-359.

Abstract: “Sociology instructors strive not only to teach their students the essential aspects of sociology but also to help students develop their critical thinking abilities. One way to help students become better critical thinkers is to assign projects that encourage students to critically assess their world by relating the course content to their everyday world.This article details a photography project that has been assigned in lower level sociology courses at a four-year university and a community college.The project has been successful in encouraging students to develop their critical thinking skills and locate course material within the context of their everyday lived experiences. Examples from projects and a content analysis of 87 anonymous reflection papers demonstrate that the project allows students to (I) relate the course material to their everyday world, (2) engage in an intellectually challenging assignment, (3) critically examine their taken-for- granted worlds, and (4) have fun while completing a challenging academic exercise.”

Paino, M., Blankenship, C., Grauerholz, L., & Chin, J. (2012). The Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in Teaching Sociology: 1973-2009. Teaching Sociology, 40(2), 93-106.

Abstract: “This article updates and extends research by Baker and Chin, who tracked changes in studies published in Teaching Sociology from 1 973 to 1 983 (Baker) and 1 984 to 1 999 (Chin). The current study traces manuscripts published in Teaching Sociology from 2000 to 2009. We examine both who publishes in the journal and what gets published. In particular, we explore change in the systematic assessment of teaching methods and techniques since Baker’s and Chin’s studies and the extent to which publications in Teaching Sociology reflect improved assessment. We find that while there has been improvement, not all articles reflect the growing scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL) movement. While the mission of Teaching Sociology is to publish materials that would be “helpful to the discipline’s teachers” (see the journal’s mission statement at http://asanet.org/journals/ts/index.cfm), the most useful information is arguably that which is supported by the kind of systematic assessment that SoTL requires. We also discuss implications for assessment and sociological SoTL.”

Fobes C and Kaufman P. (2008). Critical Pedagogy in the Sociology Classroom: Challenges and Concerns. Teaching Sociology 36, 26-33.

Abstract: “Although critical pedagogy has been discussed in the Teaching Sociology literature for nearly twenty years, dialogues about the difficulties in practicing and implementing critical pedagogical strategies in everyday classroom life are less common. In this note, we discuss a predominant theme of our workshop: challenges and concerns that may arise when one attempts to do critical pedagogy. We focus on both challenges and potential solutions for learners, instructors, and institutions of higher education. Understanding what some of these obstacles are and how they manifest in institutions of higher learning goes a long way in devising strategies to assuage their deleterious effects.”

Parker-Gwin, R., & Mabry, J. (1998). Service Learning as Pedagogy and Civic Education: Comparing Outcomes for Three Models. Teaching Sociology, 26(4), 276-291.

Abstract: “Two primary goals of service learning for students are positive civic and academic outcomes. Most research has focused on service learning’s effectiveness as civic education. In this study, we examine both civic and academic outcomes for 260 students participating in three models of service-learning courses. After one semester, student outcomes were mixed. We consider two pedagogical issues: requiring student participation in service learning and the role of reflection activities in positive outcomes. Faculty members should consider carefully whether to require participation in service learning. Students’ academic outcomes may be enhanced by regular critical reflection and extensive integration of service activities with course material throughout the semester. As with any teaching strategy, service learning’s value depends on its implementation.”