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Alienating students

Marxist theory in action

Megan Thiele, Yung-Yi Diana Pan, and Devin Molina

Abstract

Karl Marx’s revolutionary call, ‘Workers of the World Unite’, resonates with many in today’s society. This article describes and assesses an easily reproducible classroom activity that simulates both alienating, and perhaps more importantly, non-alienating states of production as described by Marx. This hands-on learning activity gives students the opportunity to experience and process these divergent states. In reflecting, students connect their classroom experience to societal forces surrounding wage labour. A quasi-experimental design implemented across eight sociology classes at two U.S. university campuses – one two-year and one four-year college – points to the effectiveness of the activity. Evidence suggests that students are better able to grasp Marx’s theory of alienation, retain the knowledge over time and apply it to their own lives with this experiential learning activity.

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Assessment rubrics

Thinking inside the boxes

Cary Bennett

Abstract

Assessment rubrics are being promoted and introduced into tertiary teaching practices on the grounds that they are an efficient and reliable tool to evaluate student performance effectively and promote student learning. However, there has been little discussion on the value of using assessment rubrics in higher education. Rather, they are being gradually and (seemingly) uncritically mainstreamed into tertiary teaching expectations and practices, often through professional development workshops. This article investigates the pedagogic value and validity of criteria-based assessment rubrics and the instrumental rationality and goals informing them. Drawing on a small body of criticism, the article explores an emerging discourse that contends that assessment rubrics are not capable of measuring and evaluating complex thinking skills. Rather, they limit the independent responses of students and the professional judgement of markers, encourage compliance jeopardising student commitment and creativity, and promote a false sense of objectivity in the marking and grading of student work.

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Sintayehu Kassaye Alemu

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Penny Welch and Susan Wright

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From steward to leader

A decade of shifting roles for the PhD student

Corina Balaban

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Making the best of an inappropriate textbook

Using an ‘international edition’ to teach critical thinking and intercultural understanding

Kristina C. Marcellus

Abstract

In this report, I outline and provide examples of an approach to using an international edition of an introductory sociology textbook to facilitate cross-cultural learning and critical thinking skills in an EFL (English as a foreign language) environment at a small engineering university in the United Arab Emirates.

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Naïve scientists and conflict analysis

Learning through case studies

R. William Ayres

Abstract

Much of our teaching about conflict relies on theoretical ideas and models that are delivered as finished products. This article explores the supposition that what students need is not already-formed theoretical ideas, but exposure to more real-world cases of conflict from which to build theory. The article presents an experiment in pedagogy: teaching a conflict resolution class using only case studies. This approach was expected to have two benefits: better understanding of the underlying concepts and a significant contribution to students’ knowledge about the world. The case-only approach appears to be at least as good as the theory-based version of the class, with some significant side benefits beyond comprehension of the material.

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Jennifer Dodge, Richard Holtzman, Merlijn van Hulst, and Dvora Yanow

Abstract

The ‘interpretive turn’ has gained traction as a research approach in recent decades in the empirical social sciences. While the contributions of interpretive research and interpretive research methods are clear, we wonder: Does an interpretive perspective lend itself to – or even demand – a particular style of teaching? This question was at the heart of a roundtable discussion we organised at the 2014 Interpretive Policy Analysis (IPA) International Conference. This essay reports on the contours of the discussion, with a focus on our reflections upon what it might mean to teach ‘interpretively’. Prior to outlining these, we introduce the defining characteristics of an interpretive perspective and describe our respective experiences and interests in this conversation. In the hope that this essay might constitute the beginning of a wider conversation, we close it with an invitation for others to respond.

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Anders Sybrandt Hansen and Stig Thøgersen

Recent years have seen a tremendous increase in transnational education mobility. The two trends of international integration and marketisation of higher education have made for a situation in which increasing numbers of aspiring young people worldwide seize the opportunity to study abroad as part of their higher education. No other nation sends more students abroad than China. In 2014, 459,800 students left the country to study abroad (Ministry of Education 2015); and 22 per cent of all international students enrolled in tertiary education in OECD countries in 2012 came from China (OECD 2014: 350). To explore the many dimensions of this huge wave of educational migration we hosted a conference at Aarhus University with the title Chinese Students Abroad: Reflections, Strategies and Impacts of a Global Generation in March 2014. The initial versions of the first three articles in this issue by Heidi Ross and Yajing Chen, Kirsten Jæger and Malene Gram, and Qing Gu were presented at this conference.2 The fourth article, by Naomi Yamada, examines the education of ethnic minorities inside China and thereby throws light on another, but related, effect of the marketisation of Chinese education.

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Karolina S. Follis and Christian R. Rogler

In 2004, Susan Brin Hyatt reported from a roundtable session organised by the American Anthropological Association ‘a dispiriting picture of academic life in the early years of the 21st century’, due to, amongst other things, ‘the casualization of the academic workforce’ (Hyatt 2004: 25–26). Less than a decade later, Joëlle Fanghanel notes that the ‘increased casualization of academic staff [has] significantly affected the evolution of academic work and working patterns’ (2012: 5). Casualisation takes different forms in different academic contexts, from the ‘adjunctification’ of teaching in the U.S.A. to precarious grant-funded postdoc positions common in Europe and the U.K. and the efforts to introduce other forms of temporary academic employment in New Zealand (Shore and Davidson 2014) and Australia (Barcan 2014). Seeking to contribute to these and other current discussions on the future of research and higher education in the era of privatisation and funding cuts, Hana Cervinkova and Karolina Follis convened the panel Anthropology as a Vocation and Occupation, held on 3 August 2014 at the 13th Biennial Conference of the European Association of Social Anthropologists (EASA) in Tallinn, Estonia.