Dr. John Lamberton, Clinical Sociologist
Putting Sociology to Work

MY TEACHING PHILOSOPHY
for college and university instruction


"
Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn."  Benjamin Franklin

"If you're teaching today what you were teaching five years ago, either the field is dead or you are." Noam Chomsky
 

I am a Clinical Sociologist working in the private sector who also enjoys teaching in higher education.  My practice significantly influences the way I teach college and university courses.   My teaching philosophy requires that students take ownership of their own educational process and practice self-regulated learning. My teaching methods support student-regulated learning by "Putting Sociology to Work."  I put sociology to work by applying sociological theory and research methods to every-day life situations in order to facilitate, operationalize, and maximize student learning outcomes.  My instructional strategy is supported by Barry J. Zimmerman’s “Self-Regulated Learning and Academic Achievement.”  Zimmerman is a pioneer of self-regulated learning theory which concludes that when students become engaged, they take greater responsibility for their learning outcomes and their academic performance greatly improves. 

I seek to build on Zimmerman’s theory by promoting intellectual curiosity.  According to Seth Godin in his book, Tribes, “A fundamentalist is a person who considers whether a fact is acceptable…...before he explores it.  As opposed to a curious person who explores first and then considers whether or not he wants to accept the ramifications.” 

Godin continues to write, “Groups (college classes) create vacuums……with no motion.”  I have found that self-regulated learners “figure out how to step into those vacuums and create motion.”  Self-regulated students “can take the initiative and lead.”  Godin believes that “participating isn’t leading……. showing up isn’t sufficient.”  Self-regulated students “work hard to generate movement.”  They “can provoke and question and ask for more.”

I prefer to encourage, stimulate, and facilitate student learning rather than continuously lecturing as if I was the only person in the classroom capable of operationalizing course content.  My lectures are embedded with focused class discussions to encourage a climate of reasoning and questioning.  I change the pace of my instruction by including diverse learning strategies.  Community resources are regularly mined and included in class content.  Guest speakers and field trips are extremely important to the learning process by bringing sociological theory and research methods to life.

I use technology, i.e., films, power points, internet resources, etc. to support the traditional body of sociological knowledge.   Writing assignments, i.e., papers, short quizzes using open ended questions, class notes, etc. are an important part of the class instruction.  Formal class presentations include a visual aid, i.e., a power point (or equivalent) component.  These presentations encourage students to organize and present their ideas in a formal activity that is creative, interesting, concise, and well-reasoned. 

I construct strong, clear, concise and thoughtful syllabi blending my expectations as a teaching professional, expectations of the academic department and teaching institution, and general expectations of the discipline into a cohesive document that details the processes for attaining specific and attainable student learning outcomes.  Attendance is required although there are strategies in the syllabus for successfully addressing unanticipated interruptions.

Statistics, research methods and research literature are a significant part of course content.  Library professionals help provide students’ with a capacity to evaluate library resources and understand the differences between opinion, fiction, advocacy and peer-reviewed literature. 

In addition to utilizing several teaching platforms like Blackboard and D2L, I use my own time-tested instructional website which blends transformational learning pedagogies with accepted course content.  Drjohnlamberton.com features sociological videos, blogs, podcasts, webinars, and video conference capabilities concentrated on Putting Sociology to Work applied instruction.

I enjoy putting sociology to work in the classroom in order to encourage students to reach their full academic potential through the portals of sociological knowledge and practice.