Helen Brethauer-Gay: Using Mapping the Environment with Sensory Perception in Introduction to Sociology at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University

About this Course

An introductory course for all majors.

68 and 69
One class met twice a week for 75 minutes each and one class met once a week for 2 1/2 hours

Course Syllabus for Introduction to Sociology (Acrobat (PDF) 165kB Jun15 18)

I used this module in an Introductory to Sociology course that contains students from all disciplines. I placed it right after our section on scientific method and made it very hands on, giving them class time for a large portion of it. They worked first independently and then in groups.

The students really enjoyed the process (the data collection) and the creation of the project (the map). I did too. I always enjoy teaching more when I can get the students to enjoying the learning experience and 'hands on' works most of the time. The report section was, as writing seems to be, more challenging.

Once you build some interest in the experience, I find that a few motivated students can function to motivate the others.

My Experience Teaching with InTeGrateMaterials

I had to shorten and condense the materials much more than I really wanted to due to time constraints. The ideas contained within the module and the basic elements of the process were maintained.

Relationship of InTeGrate Materials to my Course

The course was a typical 16 week semester. I placed the module as the third topic in, right after a brief scientific methods/statistics/research methods section. The idea was to give students some experience collecting data which would reinforce the prior section on 'science.' I covered our textbook section on the environment toward the end of the semester, after other core topic sections, and connected the sensory module to it. This worked because sociology is all about the connection between the individual and social structures. The geography we live in is a social structure because the creation of our living spaces is a human endeavor. The 'environment' does not just include the air and water around us but the people and agencies that affect the environment.


I used the summary assessments one through four, bur cut them a bit short due to the time constraints. They were used as a final grade rubric and as in-class reflections on each unit as we completed the unit. For example, the class was given 15 minutes of class time to explore the local area around our class room and write field notes on what they discovered with all five of their senses. Next, each wrote a five minute reflection note on their experience. Each group then developed a mapping plan for the type of sense they were to utilize in their data collection and where they were going to look for it at different on-campus areas. Over a weekend, the groups were to meet up and collect their data based on the plan they had developed. The data was then used to create the map they submitted as part of the final project. The final project also required a formal final report. A five minute reflection note on the group work occurred the first class period after their field work. After submittal of their final project, a final in-class reflection note focusing on the overall project and group dynamics was completed.


I received feedback that indicated most of the students really enjoyed doing the project. It got them to think about the different types of data one can collect, qualitative or quantitative, and gave them an experience where they had to really begin to look around them and pay attention to what was in the world around them. Some seemed amazed to think this, in itself, a possibility (must be the cell phone/internet addiction issue). The work load was more than most expected because of the need for precise documentation and final reporting required. I do think the module, as is, would fit much better in a Research Methods class. I am envisioning a couple of other possibilities for this Intro class which may incorporate a reduced version of this module.

Classroom Context