Teaching Resources

Posts that contain tips about various aspects of teaching sociology.

Here’s a link to another awesome compilation of Soc Images content for an Introduction to Sociology course, Developed by Gwen Sharp, Nevada State College.









via Sociological Images.

Teaching Sociology of Gender this semester?

Came across this fantastic compilation of Soc Images content for designing a Sociology of Gender class, developed by Mary Nell Trautner, PhD at University at Buffalo, SUNY.










via Sociological Images.

This blog post, written by Lyndi Hewitt, originally appeared on the Mobilizing Ideas blog and appears here with the author and institute’s permission. We liked it so much we just had to share! 


For those of us prescient enough (wink) to plan a social movements course for this semester, it’s been quite a ride.  I’ve been teaching a first year seminar on global justice movements and, like many other instructors, altered my carefully planned syllabus in response to the unexpected wave of activism that emerged before our very eyes.

As the students in the course simultaneously processed core social movements scholarship and news coverage of the Occupy Wall Street protests, I was particularly struck by the fact that many students had very specific and often inaccurate ideas about who the protesters were (and what it cost them to be there) even after extensive, theoretically informed class discussion and news analysis.  So I decided to invite the students to join me for a visit to Zuccotti Park.  Newly equipped with social movements concepts, along with requisite iPhones and video cameras, the students and I ventured into the park on a chilly Saturday evening in early November.  We observed a general assembly, discussed the various issues and frames represented among the signs, and interviewed protesters about their views.  Despite the fact that most of the students were initially skeptical of Occupy Wall Street, they exhibited both intellectual curiosity and great respect for the protesters.  One especially enthusiastic student prepared a short video documenting the protesters’ responses to his questions (which I share with his permission):

The two gentlemen featured prominently, both veterans, had a significant impact on the students. Their remarks around 5:50 encapsulate the disruption of students’ pre-existing assumptions: “I’m tremendously excited by what I see here. These people are extremely sophisticated people. They’re very intelligent people. They’re not bums. Don’t believe the media that we have nothing better to do, okay. We would like to be productive members of society. We were at one time and we would like to be again. We have a lot to contribute.”

Although we’d been discussing the Occupy Wall Street protests and applying social movement theories in the classroom for weeks, the experience of being in the park, seeing the encampment alongside the police, and talking with protesters proved to be a far richer learning opportunity for students. It blew the students’ minds that OWS protesters could be older, hard working, and patriotic; moreover, hearing movement grievances articulated face-to-face catalyzed a depth of understanding that wasn’t achievable simply through reading and watching video clips about those same grievances. Interestingly, our debriefing after the field trip revealed that over half the students had changed their opinions of the protesters as well as the legitimacy of the movement as a whole (all, it turned out, from an unfavorable to a more favorable opinion).

Seeing the OWS protesters through the eyes of my students reminded me how powerful a teacher experience is, and that more time spent in the midst of the action would be valuable for most of us.

Here is a list of miscellaneous teaching resources that the graduate students at the University of Minnesota have compiled.  We hope it’s helpful!

SOCNET: Sociology Courses and Curricular Resources Online – This website has links to all kinds of sociology courses, activities, syllabi, and other curricula online.

ASA Online Bookstore – Includes resources on teaching techniques, ASA Syllabi Sets, research briefs and volumes, social policy volumes, reference materials, national department information and management resources, and special journal issues and indexes (all for sale as hardcopies).

Reaching the Second Tier: Learning and Teaching Styles in College Science Education, by Richard Felder – This is an article about learning styles and how to teach students with different ways of understanding information.

Good Teaching: The Top Ten Requirements, Richard Leblanc – An article with tips for effective teaching.

Good Teaching Practices, Barbara Gross Davis – A compendium of classroom-tested strategies and suggestions designed to improve the teaching practices of all college instructors, including beginning, mid-career, and senior faculty members. The book describes 49 teaching tools that cover both traditional practical tasks–writing a course syllabus, delivering an effective lecture–as well as newer, broader concerns such as responding to diversity on campus and coping with budget constraints.

Teaching Effectiveness Program, University of Oregon – The Teaching Effectiveness Program provides a wide range and variety of valuable resources for instructors. Among the materials included in this section are general classroom resources, information focusing on diversity, articles about featured University of Oregon teachers, library listings, and web links.

Good Teaching Ideas from the University of Oregon – This site is from the University of Oregon’s Teaching Effectiveness Program. It has links and ideas for group learning, teaching large classes, service learning, and creating a teaching portfolio.

Teaching through Distance Education: An article from Cause/Effect teaching journal – This article, “An Emerging Set of Guiding Principles and Practices for the Design and Development of Distance Education Combining Good Teaching with Good Technology”, is an excellent resource for faculty and instructors considering this option and/or using WebCT.

The Nine and a Half Commandments of Good Teaching – In addition to the nine and a half commandments of good teaching, this site has articles and advice on lectures, teaching methods, and classroom management.

Working Conceptualization of ‘Good Teaching’ Introduction – This article is an attempt to define good teaching. It focuses on beliefs and dispositions, the importance of professional and political knowledge, and good teaching practices and skills.

Inside the Mystery of Good Teaching – This article also focuses on good teaching and closing the performance gap, and the resources available to teachers in their path to good teaching.

WebCT Tools and the Good Teaching Principles They Support – This site outlines the tools available through WebCT and the learning and interaction goals they help students and instructors meet.

Teaching Tips Index – This useful index includes information and articles about learning styles, motivating students, course design, dealing with difficult students and behavior, the first day of class, assessment techniques, lesson plans, syllabus design, and much more.


KL Twin Tower with a twist
Photo by Rushdi13 via flickr.com

Many instructors wonder if they are teaching concepts students can actually apply in their daily lives outside of the classroom.  Chris Uggen, a professor at the University of Minnesota, decided to find out through a bonus question on the final exam in his sociology of deviance course.  Specifically, he asked students to provide particular examples of how they used class material outside of the course sometime during the semester.  And, he received good news–students shared many ways in which they used course material.  To view them and view more of his reflections on this simple but powerful idea, see his blog here.

Lindsay Lohan

Rebecca Tiger’s culture review “They Tried to Make Her Go to Rehab” (about the reaction to Lindsay Lohan’s struggles with drugs and alcohol) would be useful in any deviancy course or for organizing a discussion on addiction discourses or media/online interaction.

We recommend having the students read the article and then conducting their own review of comments about celebrity addiction that they can find online (like Rebecca Tiger’s review of Perez Hilton’s coverage). Have them bring examples of what they find to class to get a discussion going on how celebrity addiction is portrayed and how these discourses relates to drug policy and rehabilitation for the rest of us.


You could also bring up Amy Winehouse, whose recent death reinvigorated the public discussion of the causes, cures, and consequences of addiction.

Students love to analyze popular culture because it allows them to think about and write about the music, movies, TV shows, or books that they already love (or love to hate!) A fun way to use popular culture in the classroom is to have your students re-examine one of their favorite shows, movies, albums, etc. from a sociological perspective.

We recommend using Rebecca Hayes-Smith’s book review “Gender Norms in the Twilight Series” as a guide for your students (from the Spring 2011 issue of Contexts). Have your students read and discuss this short review and then go out and write one of their own!

day15 twilight saga

That wayThe grand majority of  the undergrad students in our classes will not end up working in academia, and many will ask, “What can I do with a degree in Sociology?” We recommend our “Embedded Sociologists” feature–where Hollie and Kia, as well as Suzy Maves McElrath and Sarah Shannon take a closer look at sociologists who work outside of the academy–to help your students get a sense of a sociological perspective  and what a background in sociology can offer them in the job market.

We think this article would work well in an Intro class because it offers a rich description of how a sociological imagination can be used outside of the classroom in future careers. It would also be a good addition to a senior thesis class, for those students who want to go to graduate school, but may not want to work in academia. We hope this article will also be useful to graduate students thinking about taking an alternative path.

Read the full text online!

A few questions to get a discussion of this article started:

1) Were you surprised at the range of careers sociologists can have?

2) According to the sociologists interviewed in this article, how can the sociological imagination be used to address real-world problems and solutions?

3) What are some ways that you have used your sociological imagination outside of the classroom?

4) Why have academic sociologists and non-academic sociologists generally not worked together? According to the authors, what are the possible consequences of such a disconnect?



U.S. families have adopted tens of thousands of children from other countries in the last decades (many of whom are sitting in our college courses).

International adoption is a great topic for a class or lesson on race and culture because, for international adoptees and their families, race, ethnicity and culture often do not line up neatly.

We recommend the Culture Review “Culture Goes to Camp” by Lori Delale-O’Connor in the Winter 2011 issue of Contexts to get a conversation going in your classroom about ethnicity and culture–and the challenges international adoptees may face with merging the two in their own identities.

To use this article in class, have students search the web and read up on culture camps like the ones discussed in the article and address these questions:

1) What types of activities are advertised on the websites? Put yourself in an adopted child’s shoes. How do you think a child would experience these “cultural” activities?

2) Imagine you adopted a child from another culture. Do you think that you would encourage activities like a culture camp? How important do you imagine it would it be to you to have your child “stay connected to his/her roots”? Why?

3) What culture do you identify most with? Is the culture of your ancestors important to you or present in your life? Did your parents encourage you to learn about it?




Encourage your students to look at marriage in a new light with Greg Scott’s photo essay “Matrimony” in the Winter 2011 issue Contexts. Scott’s article details his ethnographic short film centered on the marriage of two homeless heroin addicts. He encourages readers to explore their biases on what a marriage is or should be by asking of this couple, “Is this a real marriage?

Homeless couple, April 9 2011This article and short film would would fit well in many types of courses: on the family, marriage, sexuality, poverty, or drug use.

Have students read the article and watch the film before class, and write a short reaction paper. Then, use their responses to get a discussion going on marriage in contemporary America.