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Dr. Phillipa Chong, Sociology 2RR3: Case Studies of Social Inequality (approximately 50 students)

Dr. Chong used many different types of active-learning activities, including:

  • case studies
  • breakout groups
  • video analysis (i.e., watching video where someone gives advice on interviewing/hiring employees; from this students learn about how employers construct the ideal employee in ways that have nothing to do with educational credentials)
  • small group discussions
  • online surveys/multiple choice throughout the class, to check students' learning, and also have them make particular decisions when presented with options as part of a case study

Approximately 30-40% of the course was devoted to these activities.  She developed these active-learning activities by researching active-learning online, and also from discussions with colleagues.

The main practical challenges of implementing active-learning activities were:

  • the time it took to develop them
  • keeping the activities creative
  • making sure all students are participating

Student participation in these activities was evaluated on the basis of:

  • their attendance
  • online submissions of a written component derived from activities
  • online survey where students were asked about what activities they enjoyed the most or would like to see

Dr. Chong’s advice to other instructors is that, while it is possible to integrate active-learning methods into an existing course, it is easier to design an active-learning course from the ground up.