Embracing the Sociological Imagination: A Study of University Students' Perceptions of Sociology

By Mitra, Aditi; Sarabia, Daniel | College Student Journal, December 2005 | Go to article overview

Embracing the Sociological Imagination: A Study of University Students' Perceptions of Sociology


Mitra, Aditi, Sarabia, Daniel, College Student Journal


A central concept employed when introducing students to the discipline of sociology is the sociological imagination. The premise that human experiences are socially and historically contextualized is often the point of departure instructors take when introducing the discipline. Understanding the connections between individual experiences and wider structural and historical forces, C. Wright Mills (1959) argues, provides individuals with a greater awareness of themselves and others. It then becomes of interest to examine if indeed, students find the sociological imagination, along with other concepts and theories introduced, applicable to understanding or resolving, both personal and social, events they come into contact with in everyday life. We use data collected from a survey questionnaire administered to 250 students enrolled in Introductory Sociology at a large Mid-western university. This study, although focused on the development of the sociological imagination, gives coverage to student perceptions of sociology. Specifically, student assessments of the utility of sociology, in terms of an academic discipline, as well as a career enhancer, are examined. Additionally, the results reflect that students link sociology with civic responsibility.

INTRODUCTION

The selection of a major by students is influenced at times by pre-established ideas about an area of study, and their introduction to a discipline. Introductory courses as an initial orientation and source of information become important. Students develop perceptions that have a long lasting impact in various introductory courses. After completing a lower division course that introduces major concepts, theories, methodologies, and their application, students walk away with an impression. This study examines the imprint that remains with students after being introduced to sociology. Specifically, we analyze student perceptions of sociology as an academic discipline as well as a professional-enhancer, the impressions students develop of sociologists and the effectiveness of teaching the 'sociological imagination' as a liberal concept proposed by C. Wright Mills (1959). Introduction to Sociology is clearly the obvious course for researching the above areas, at least in terms of initial perceptions of students taking sociology at a foundational level.

Sociology as a discipline invites holistic teaching and learning approaches that inspire deep understanding (Eby and Rioux, 1999). Introductory Sociology, the first level sociology course at most universities, presents a special challenge to the sociology department as well as its instructors. It is often a general education course, which contributes to broad interdisciplinary liberal learning objectives. At the same time, it is typically the introductory course for Sociology majors. It draws students with a wide range of abilities, backgrounds and interests (ibid. 1999). In addition to responding to both the range of students and the diverse purposes and functions of the course, the instructor must balance the interests of various constituents. Practitioners call for students to learn applied sociology, while Academicians want content knowledge (McGee 1994).

Previous studies by Hanson (1980, 1987) on student perceptions of sociology as a major indicated that teaching quality and departmental reputation while important, are not pre-eminent in students' choice of a major. However, recent studies and discussion about teaching sociology reveal a movement toward a broader understanding of what constitutes sociological knowledge. Steele and Marshall (1996) suggest this broad understanding when they predict that the work force will demand a more practical sociology that prepares students for jobs. Applied sociology and sociological practice will become increasingly important (Eby and Rioux, 1999). As instructors of sociology, it has been our endeavor to help students connect sociology with various dimensions of their lives that also include the mundane. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • A full archive of books and articles related to this one
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Embracing the Sociological Imagination: A Study of University Students' Perceptions of Sociology
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

    Already a member? Log in now.