January Homework

My active learning strategy is a case study. I will use it to help students describe the trajectory of food movements in the United States. The case study allows students to see the effort required to change the status quo and how there can often be one step forward and two steps back. In other words, the trajectory is often uneven. The case study also provides students with an example of how to use social theory to understand data. The sociologist who conducted the case study uses contemporary social theory to understand the data he collected on industrial farming.

Case study: “Contested Globalization of the Agrifood System: A Missouri School Analysis of Sanderson Farms and Seaboard Farms in Texas” by Douglas H. Constance. Southern Rural Sociology 24(2):48-86 (2009).

After reading the case study, students will complete in-class group quizzes. This activity assumes two active learning strategies: one, the case study and, two, the group quizzes. In the groups students will address questions I generate about how Constance has applied social theory to the industrial farms in Texas. They will pick out quotes that they think illustrate how he has applied social theory. They will also select quotes that they think illustrate how a social movement trajectory is uneven.

In groups of no more than four students, students must agree on their answers and then I will ask each group to report their answers to the class. We will discuss similarities and differences in the answers and I will indicate the most useful answers. We will also discuss any disagreements in their groups, if any. I will not collect any written material from students, but I will give class participation points only to those who have read the case study. Before we begin this class exercise, I will ask who has read, encouraging them to be honest.

I hope this gets to the blog…


innovative course building group goal and activity map.ppt

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One Response to January Homework

  1. Dr. Metzker says:

    This is excellent Sandra! I might be slightly biased because this is for a course that we will teach together in Maymester but I am really looking forward to seeing this activity in action. The “active” pedagogy of asking the students to deconstruct the case study is a great way of applying new found knowledge of social theory. Have you used the technique of awarding points for an honest admission before. I am probably cynical but it seems that not all students will be honest. Of course, this depends significantly on the class… One thought I had was to have the group turn in surveys addressing the groups preparation and then assign points to a group. That preserves some anonymity and introduces a group level of responsibility. Perhaps some one else has something that works (or doesn’t work) for them. -Julia

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