Aarhus University Seal / Aarhus Universitets segl

Using questionnaires as preparation

Subject: Educational Sociology. Course: Upbringing and education 1: Socialisation and individualisation. Study level: 8th semester. Size of class: 55.

Motivation for the activity

The objective of the questionnaire is to train the students’ metacognition. In other words, their thoughts regarding how they are thinking. My wish was to plan teaching activities which challenge the students’ understanding. I wanted to ensure that the teaching does not only act as a continuation of the understanding developed by the students during their own practice, but contribute to rendering this understanding more critical, theoretical and academic.

Brief facts about the course

The course introduces theories on socialisation and individualisation and develops the students’ ability to analyse issues relating to upbringing and education. Moreover, the course should contribute to developing the students’ research-related skills when working with theory and empirical data.

The objectives of the activity

  • Introducing the students to sociological and historical perspectives on inclusion
  • Introducing the students to the theory of social representations and relating this to the theory of emotional management and other sociological descriptions of inclusion
  • Discussing the relationship between society, science and pedagogics.

Description of the activity

I begin by preparing a brief questionnaire with the following items:

  • Describe what you understand by inclusion (you may include descriptions and a definition)
  • Consider where your understanding of inclusion derives from (you may give examples)
  • What is your experience of working with inclusion? (You may give examples).

Then I hand out the questionnaire at the teaching session scheduled two weeks before my class on inclusion. The students have 10 to 12 minutes to respond to the items. The students then send their responses to me in an email. I read the responses and process them before the class. From the students’ responses I get an idea of their understanding of inclusion.

As an introduction to my teaching in class, I present the different types of understanding of inclusion appearing from my analysis of the questionnaires. Then I introduce the students to my understanding, referring to field work I have conducted as well as three different theories which explain what inclusion is. Finally, I ask the students to reflect on the following after class:

  1. How do you view inclusion now?
  2. What is the difference between your previous understanding reflected in the questionnaire and your understanding now?
  3. What are the fundamental differences between the two understandings?

      Outcome of the activity

      Through the exercise, the students externalised their own understanding and viewed this from a theoretical perspective in the course. In doing so, they exemplified the difference between a professional understanding of inclusion and inclusion understood from an academic and theoretical perspective. I believe that I was able to discuss the fundamental aspects of this with the students; that when studying educational sociology, they should be careful not to maintain the definitions and understandings derived from their professional degree programme and their own practice.

      Worth considering

      This approach is time consuming, so it is unlikely that this exercise can be repeated several times in a module. It is therefore important to focus on a general aspect in the type of learning aimed for so that this can be used as an example when lecturing on other subjects.

      Activities

        Examples of Practice


          Links and materials for this example of practice: