Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Should we be asking students for their opinions?

I'm using a new reader this fall, and it has helpful "Questions to Consider" at the beginning of every reading. I LOVE this kind of thing, but I'm finding that most of the questions ask students for their opinions, rather than to recall information from the reading, or apply the information to another domain, etc. My main concern is that sociology (especially classes focusing on inequality) is often about showing students where their opinions end and good science begins, so I typically shy away from such opinion-based questions. Sometimes I will start with opinion questions, but I quickly steer the discussion towards empirically-based assertions (or try to).

I'd be curious to know what other teachers do. Do you start with opinion-based questions? Do you avoid them at all costs? And, if you do use opinion-based questions, how do you steer your students towards thinking about the sociology behind the topic at hand?