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Bringing Global Issues Into the Classroom Vividly. Curriculum Revisions in Sociology. Sociology is part of the STP Major at WPI. SS1202 “Introduction to Sociology and Cultural Diversity “ was designed to be I “Good preparation for the “IQP””. An Opportunity for STP?. The IQP

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Bringing global issues into the classroom vividly l.jpg

Bringing Global Issues Into the Classroom Vividly

Curriculum Revisions in Sociology


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Sociology is part of the STP Major at WPI

SS1202 “Introduction to Sociology and Cultural Diversity “ was designed to be

I

“Good preparation for the “IQP””


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An Opportunity for STP?

  • The IQP

    • Junior year project required for all students

    • Examine the “Interaction” of Technology and Society

  • SS1202 A great success in the 1980’s

    • Social methods and concepts

    • STS case studies from Domestic issues filled the course illustrations


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An Opportunity for STP?

  • WPI shifted toward being the“Global” University among Technical Schools. The IQP drifted from being an S-T project to being a Cross-cultural consciousness raising project in about 1992


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An Opportunity for STP?

  • Now it was no longer so clear how to prepare people for the IQP as it was not always an S-T project anymore

  • SS1202 Course had to change back into a more standard Intro. to Sociology and Cultural Diversity


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An Opportunity for STP?

  • I considered just changing the cases

  • Bhopal for the Buffalo Creek Flood

  • Chernobyl for TMI but it took too long to provide the social context for the students to see the S-T or policy point.


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An Opportunity for STP?

  • Achebe’s book “Things Fall Apart” became the cross cultural reading.

  • But 30-50% of my classes did not get the S-T point as it was not contemporary but dealt with the culture clash associated with the European Colonization of Africa.


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An Opportunity for STP?

  • Perhaps the students could teach each other about a variety of different modern nations and then debate an S-T issue from the standpoint of their nation?

  • Live Role Playing Game introduced into the course- focused on Space Policy. In effect, the Space Faring Nationals of the World try to work together to devise an Asteroid Deflection Device. As an add-on to the course it proves distracting


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An Opportunity for STP?

  • Studies of the LRPG and the course as using MBTI based learning styles data, indicated that the course as a whole favored one type of students (Intuitives) the ones that read between the lines- and tended to get the point of the “Things Fall Apart” book.


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An Opportunity for STP?

  • However, the LRPG, with all its direct experience processing, seemed to help the other students (Sensors) learn about cultural diversity. Further, it did so without an educational tradeoff. The S gain was not an the expense of the N’s. However, the logistics of the game were daunting and the course was too busy and lacked integration.


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Starting Over

How SS1202 became a Macro-sociology course on Modernization, with a focused cross regional comparison between the experience of Western Europe and the Middle East-with little if any attention to the USA.


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Choosing a Text

  • Nolan and Lenski Text Adopted- to describe the Western experience and put it in an evolutionary perspective. Middle Eastern Nations are presented as “agrarian” rather than a modern states.


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Bernard Lewis

  • “What Went Wrong?:The Clash Between Islam and Modernity” was read to set the stage for a “class discussion”

  • Book blamed lack of Middle Eastern modernization on Islamic cultural issues

  • Lewis blind to idea of modernization as a structural transformation, in the European Experience. (The purpose of Sociology was to make sense of this structural change.)

  • Middle Eastern nations diverse, not uniform as presented by Lewis (over-generalization)


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Comparative Modernization

A live role playing game exploring the differences between Europe and the Middle East


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Purpose

To explore the interaction between the Middle East and Europe in terms of differential rates and reactions to modernization and build a live role playing game (LRPG) around it


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Game Format

  • Model UN debate—UNESCO conference

  • 5 European countries

    • England, France, Germany, Italy, (Spain)

  • 5 Middle Eastern countries

    • Iran, Iraq, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Turkey

  • Students given choice between LRPG or term paper

    • All but 2 of 50 students chose the game


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Conference Structure

  • 3 days

    • 2 - 1 hour in class sessions

    • 1 final 2 hour session

      • Opening / closing statements

      • Open debate

      • Meetings with international counterparts

      • Unstructured time

  • Instructor and coaches (an IQP team) also participated as UN representatives.


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Student’s Responsibilities

  • Character sheets

    • Resume

    • Biography

    • Letter of acceptance

  • Individual research

  • Develop and simulate role

  • Write a Diary, day be day “in role”.


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Coaches’ Responsibilities

  • Prepare country specific briefings

  • Prepare students for roles (diplomat, bureaucrat,technical advisor, scientist)

  • Provide additional info. on culture, power structure, etc.

  • Coached ( Middle Eastern) teams drastically outperformed European teams.


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Game Experience

  • Nations discussed possible foreign aid arrangements and program goals.

  • They could agree on:

    • Infrastructure improvements

    • Improved health care

    • education and literacy programs

      (They struggled with who would be educated and where- as well as who decides how the money would be spent.)


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Grading Metric

  • Students graded on written submissions

    • Character sheet and background

    • Most of the grade was from a diary style journal, written by students after each day

    • Journal required students to reflect on the events of the game in-role, especially the struggle over the education of women, and whether “becoming like the West” was the goal, or was it creating, not just a more stable and prosperous Middle East, but inventing a Modern Islamic nation not based on existing models.


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Myers-Briggs Type Indicator

  • MBTI Dimensions

    • Extravert / Introvert

    • Sensing / iNtuitive

    • Thinking / Feeling

    • Judging / Perceiving

  • Only interested in E/I and S/N dimensions


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Extravert

  • Act first, think/reflect later

  • Feel data deprived when cutoff from interaction with the outside world

  • Usually open to and motivated by outside world of people and things

  • Enjoy wide variety and change in people relationships


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Introvert

  • Think/reflect first, then Act

  • Regularly require an amount of "private time" to recuperate

  • Motivated internally, mind is sometimes so active it is "closed" to outside world

  • Prefer one-to-one communication and relationships


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Sensing

  • Mentally live in the now, attending to present opportunities

  • Using common sense and creating practical solutions is automatic-instinctual

  • Memory recall is rich in detail of facts and past events

  • Learn best when the specific facts are presented first, get the general concept later.

  • Like clear and concrete information; dislike speculation, estimation and ambiguity.


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Intuitive

  • Read between the lines

  • Using imagination and creating new possibilities is instinctual

  • Memory emphasizes patterns, contexts, and connections

  • Learn best after conceptual overview, theoretical understanding first, then factual details.

  • Comfortable with ambiguous data and with guessing its meaning


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WPI MBTI Distribution

2002

2001

2003

2004


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WPI vs. US MBTI Distribution

WPI MBTI Distribution 2001-2005

WPI MBTI Distribution 2001-2005

Estimated US MBTI Distribution

Estimated US MBTI Distribution


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Why use MBTI?

  • Balance course based on personality types

    • Previous course revision had a bias

  • Accommodate different learning styles


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Team creation

  • Teams formed based on MBTI data

  • Class given opportunity to choose

    • Diverse groups

      • Adds conflict potential within groups

    • Similar groups

      • Groups tend to “settle” too easily

  • Class chose to create diverse groups

  • All teams split on E/I and S/N dimensions


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Prior Findings

  • Game used to expose cultural diversity

    • Different themes over the years

      • Nuclear proliferation

      • Space collaboration

  • Course biased towards intuitive students

  • LRPG helped sensing students

  • George Spino et. al.


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Analysis

  • Introverts outperformed Extroverts in the new Modernization of M.E. game

    • Introvert-Intuitive specifically performed the best

  • Extraverts performed uniformly

    • Both Intuitive and Sensing


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Why Introverts?

  • Extraverts would seem likely to perform better in an LRPG modeled on a UN meeting, but …

  • Students were primarily graded on journal entries

    • Journal entries required reflective thought

    • More tuned to Introvert style





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Class Feedback

  • Class completed surveys on the game

    • Note: Introverts created the game

  • Overall Students were satisfied

    • Student complaints-(from ES students)

      • More organization, instructions

      • Provide character sheets, don’t make us write them.


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    Conclusions

    • Previous “ Asteroid threat” Version of game helped Sensing Students

    • New ‘Modernization” revision did not, as Introverted Intuitive students were stars.

    • Only one major difference between them.

      • IN authors thought it would be more fun if the students created their own characters

      • Criticism focused on that decision


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    Conclusions

    • LRPG’s with Model UN elements are a powerful way to bring Global issues into the class room vividly and allow students to prepare for overseas project work. But...

      • Games can but do not automatically balance the class for S-N and E-I types of learners.

      • The Critical Pedagogical Decision involves scripting through briefing papers and character sheets.



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