What students need to know and do
First year students also need to learn and be able to explain the terminology of the discipline. Develop the capacity to conceptualise and explain sociological ideas, principles and knowledge in contexts outside the discipline itself, for example:
- in a range of employment arenas in the public and private sectors, in social policy and programs;
- as citizens; and
- as advocates and activists.
Student barriers to learning
First year students often have difficulty with the terminology used in Sociology and this hinders their ability to communicate concepts effectively. Students may not appreciate the existence of different audiences and communicative strategies applicable to the different audiences. They may not understand the key role that communication will plays in furthering their ideas and theories, in securing funding and in influencing their future audiences.
Our teaching strategies
Help students articulate and communicate about sociology’s role across society to a variety of audiences:
- Ensure that the ways in which sociological questions, perspectives and research contribute in multiple social arenas (public/social policy, politics, range of employment, civil society) are explored and discussed systematically through undergraduate units.
- Use social media such as blogs, Twitter to encourage students to express and communicate sociological ideas: e.g. using Twitter to comment on programs such as Q and A; writing a sociological blog “one sociological thought per day” e.g. http://www.podology.org.uk/#/the-impact-of-new-media/4563962604 ;
- Ask students to write “reader’s comments” from a sociological point of view on current news articles;
- Use peer exchange activities (rather than class presentations) to develop confidence in communication of sociological ideas to a small group;
- Use small group or online activities to have students set up a glossary of terms used in sociology with explanations that are suitable for a non-specialist audience;
- Create short downloadable “think alouds” by academic staff unpacking sociological texts/ideas and terminology.