Thursday, November 15, 2012

The sociology of Sociology 101 (or "Psych 101" 101)

I just had a really great chat with a professor here, and it got me thinking. I've been pondering the idea of doing my PhD  at some point (I will be finishing my third masters this December, and I'm declaring a moratorium on masters degrees after that.) Having taken many of my classes for this past degree online, I'm fascinated by educational technology, but that doesn't quite cover what I want to research. What I'm *really* interested in is the sociology/psychology of learning behavior in college students.

In the last five years or so, I have gotten really passionate about learning. I want to learn. I need to learn. I take classes, and get degrees, not for a line on my CV, but to learn. This is a sharp about face from my undergraduate years, when skipping classes and bullshitting my way through classes was the norm. I'm not proud of it, and I'm sure my feminist card will be revoked for this, but I even cried my way into a passing grade once. OH THE SHAME!

::ahem:: Aaaaanyway. There came a time in my educational career, when the joy of learning hit me hard, and now, I finally *get* it. But that's not to say that I never have classes where it's just too easy to fall back into old habits. Multiple-choice quizzes, required forum posts with extremely restricted topics that are of no interest to me, slides that the professor has copy-pasted from another source, and formulaic group projects (especially when I can't pick the topic *or* my group members) send me reeling back into "just-get-it-the-fuck-over-with-with-a-passing-grade" mode.

So that's what lead to my discussion with the professor this afternoon. We talked about what factors could seemingly change a bright class into a dull one (time of day, class troublemakers, strict lesson plans created by a third party, unclear performance expectations, banning of technology, etc.)

Educational technology is powerful, but it's not a cure-all. You have to be very pragmatic about what tools you use to teach certain curricula, and you have to understand that it's all a work in progress, always. How your students use technology, and what kinds of technology they use are ever-changing things, and the most important aspect of any class is engaging them. Getting them interested, getting them involved in the learning process, getting past remembering and into *understanding*; that is the ultimate goal, and sometimes you have to sacrifice quantity for quality (that's just a fact of life, right?)

Does anyone know of anyone doing research in this area, or any pertinent books or articles on the topic of psychology in post-secondary education?