Radical Pedagogy

Radical Pedagogy (2014)

Volume 11 Issue 2

ISSN: 1524-6345

The Pedagogy of the Real: Teaching "Animals in Society" to Undergraduates through Doing Research and Disseminating the Results

Angela Cora Garcia

Bentley University

Waltham, Ma USA

Email: agarcia@bentley.edu


     In this paper I propose a "learn by doing" approach for teaching undergraduate sociology courses which I refer to as the "pedagogy of the real."  Instead of traditional assignments, students in the course produced individual and group visual ethnographies on the subject matter of the course (sociological perspectives on the relationship between humans and animals), which were presented to the public as a gallery show at the end of the semester.  Students learn some of the basic skills of doing qualitative research (such as designing and conducting interviews and writing ethnographic field notes) while exploring a topical area in sociology and learning to read and understand original sociological research.  While courses in which undergraduate students do research are fairly common, courses that incorporate public dissemination of the results of the research are not.  The student is thus motivated to learn about the subject matter of the class, not just to get a good grade on assignments, but to produce good ethnographic data, which will be presented to the general public.  The class is thus engaged in doing real work rather than artificial assignments created by the instructor.  The course also incorporates visual sociology techniques (such as photographing humans with their animals), which have an obvious appeal for today's undergraduates, given their high rates of media and technology exposure.  In this paper I will describe the course, give examples of student work (e.g., photos and field notes handed in by the students), and discuss the results of a survey I gave to students in the class to learn about their experiences in and reactions to the course. 

     Keywords: pedagogy, active learning, experiential learning, sociology,

animals in society, visual sociology, undergraduate education