A Sampling of What Psychologists Engaged in SoTL Might Learn From Sociology

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Abstract

Recognizing the overlap between the disciplines of sociology and psychology, we focus on 3 areas in sociological scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL) and sociology that offer potential contributions to psychologists engaged in SoTL research. We begin by offering some grounding of our ideas in the history and literature on teaching and SoTL in sociology as well as more generally in the field of SoTL. Drawing from analyses of content in the journal Teaching Sociology, we then review some of the recent trends in SoTL in sociology, including what research methods are used, the topics covered, and a few common findings. Next, we address the utility of the “sociological imagination”—as well as 2 related, example theories that involve social structure, stratification, and social interaction—as a perspective for further understanding of teaching, learning, and SoTL. On the basis of the sociological imagination and sociological level theories, we urge psychologists doing SoTL to include demographic or subcultural, interpersonal, and contextual measures as a way to improve SoTL research, understand findings, and increase teacher effectiveness and student learning. We then discuss the value and sociological examples of qualitative methods for SoTL research given their focus on experience, process, and personal accounts. Finally, we conclude with a few additional sociologically based research ideas that psychologists might consider in doing their SoTL research.

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