Engaging Students and the importance of Research Methods – an interview with Alex Seal


Ideas and questions raised in this video as to the way of teaching sociology that I liked:

1. Lecturer or seminar leader should meet the coordinator or program leader and gets a feel of what he/she wants at the begining of the term. It’s very important to be coordinated and together with students pull all in the same direction.

2. Lecturer are not there specifically to teach, but to facilitate discussion and help students participate.

3. “Have you found difficult to facilitate discussion than instead of teaching?” The more you do it the more you get used to it. Alex talks about the need of “knowledge transparency”. Being an expert on certain field of knowledge doesn’t make you a good communicator. For this reason, he considers that the lecturer or seminar leader must always put him or herself in the place of those who are listening and wonder whether oneself would understand what is being said.

4. “What do you want from students?” Developing critical and reflexive thinking.

5. “How to engage students?” First trying to change the methodology every week. One week they must work in pairs, the following week in groups, the following they might be working in large groups etc. In other words, avoid creating a “monoteaching environment” Secondly (to my way of thinking crucial), making them see that what they are learning is relevant to their lifes.

6. The importance of teaching research methods. But not just as the methodological part of any dissertation, but also to make students see that the things they are doing normally may be useful. You can become an ethnographer just looking, observing when you go to a coffee. This is also related to the previous point. Students will engage in class once they start to relate what they learn in class and what they observe in their own lifes.


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