Article: Responding to Wobbly Classrooms through Scaffolded, Peer-Led, Small-Group Presentations of Personal Learning Goals: The Beyond the Book Tool

This article in Teaching Sociology discusses a pedagogical technique I developed while teaching my SOCI/GSFS 203: Sociology of Sexuality.

Illustration by Peter Hoey

Teaching topics that implicate student identities, traumas, and/or activism is challenging because students often come with very personal attachments to curricular and extracurricular topics, such as in courses on sexualities, race, gender, and/or social movements. These classes may be described as “wobbly,” responding to outside events and occasionally tipping over. Wobbly classes present an opportunity, however, to meet students where they are while achieving broader course and learning objectives. This teaching note presents a curricular innovation, Beyond the Book (BtB). BtB directs students to articulate a personal learning goal and groups students into collaborative teams to peer teach peer-reviewed scholarship on common themes in scaffolded sessions. This framework allows students to develop their personal learning goals in the context of shared course materials, fosters collaboration and trust, develops their research and presentation skills, and exposes learners to a broad range of research relevant to them.

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