Faking sociology?: A content analysis of an introductory sociology student photography assignment

  • Stephanie Medley-Rath Indiana University Kokomo
Keywords: Visual Sociology, Photography, In-depth Knowledge, Preexisting Knowledge, TRAILS, Common Sense


I analyze student submissions from a photography-based assignment in introductory sociology. In this exploratory study, I address the patterns found in student submissions in order to uncover what sociological concepts students observe in their everyday lives. My primary research question, therefore, is what do introductory sociology students see when they are given few guidelines as to what they “should” see? The intent of this research is to focus on what concepts students identify, not my interpretation of students’ meaning. Students identify a range of concepts, yet tend to focus on broad (e.g., norms) rather than specific (e.g., folkways) or abstract (e.g., sociological imagination) concepts. By analyzing student submissions across semesters, I can illuminate where students are successful and where they are struggling. Moreover, this analysis demonstrates that students are superficially meeting the standards of the assignment, but it is still unclear whether students are demonstrating a grasp of sociological knowledge or relying on pre-existing common-sense knowledge to complete the assignment. 

Author Biography

Stephanie Medley-Rath, Indiana University Kokomo

Assistant Professor



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How to Cite
Medley-Rath, S. (2019). Faking sociology?: A content analysis of an introductory sociology student photography assignment. Teaching & Learning Inquiry, 7(1), 18-33. https://doi.org/10.20343/teachlearninqu.7.1.3