Angela M. Thatcher's Graduate Defense Seminar
Angela M. Thatcher, PhD Candidate, Rural Sociology, will present Three Sociological Analyses in University Level Teaching as her Graduate Defense Seminar in 245 Kottman Hall.
After a growing emphasis on research and publishing as the most important indicator of scholarship during the second half of the 20th century, and into the 21st century, recognition of scholarship centered on teaching and learning is becoming increasingly emphasized. For my dissertation research, I conducted three sociological analyses related to the scholarship of teaching and learning. The first study examines a group exercise about survey research administered in an introductory rural sociology class and makes recommendations for reducing social loafing (i.e., “free rider”) in collaborative learning environments. The results from this study suggest that while social loafing persisted, there are a number of steps instructors can take to reduce its effect. The second study uses a pretest/posttest design to measure the environmental attitudes and behaviors students bring with them to an introductory rural sociology class and the consequential effects of the environmentally-related course material. Contrary to other studies, this analysis found no significant differences between the pretest and posttest on changes in their attitudes, based on Likert style measures from the New Ecological Paradigm. Finally, the third study utilizes interviews to investigate the formal and informal mechanisms instructors use to develop their teaching “personas.” Results indicated that informal mechanisms and personal experience were most important; however, formal mechanisms often facilitated space and resources for the other factors to flourish. Broader implications for sociology and the scholarship of teaching and learning are discussed.