SAGE Journal Articles
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Abstract: Focus group interviewing is widely used by academic and applied researchers. Given the popularity and strengths of this method, it is surprising how rarely focus group interviewing is taught in the undergraduate classroom and how few resources exist to support instructors who wish to train students to use this technique. This article fills the gap in the teaching and learning literature in sociology by addressing focus group research. I describe how to integrate a complete research project with student-led focus groups into a single semester course. I outline the various stages involved in the research process and then consider how this approach enhances three specific areas: learning, teaching, and scholarship. The effectiveness of the focus group project was assessed through a one-group pretest-posttest survey of the student-researchers’ experiences. I conclude with a reflection on the practical limitations as well as the considerable advantages of training students to conduct focus group research.
Abstract: Few evaluated classroom exercises to date have addressed one of the most cited and compelling explanations of gender formation over the life course: interactionist gender theory. This theory posits that people actively “do” or “perform” their gender in every interaction, and as such, they often subconsciously reshape their public gendered personas based on the degree to which they find social acceptance within a given social context. This paper presents a highly engaging and temporally compact classroom exercise utilizing simulated speed dating to illustrate and generate discussion about interactionist gender theory among undergraduate social sciences and gender studies students. An evaluation study indicates that the exercise improves students’ perceived understanding of interactionist gender theory and that it is both highly helpful and enjoyable.