Weeklong Goffman Workshop: Using Journal Assignments, Lectures, and In-Class Discussions to Teach Impression Management


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This activity teaches Goffman’s concepts of definition of the situation, expressions given, expressions given off, deference, demeanor, and face-saving behaviors through a weeklong workshop. The centerpiece of this weeklong workshop is a journaling assignment that combines intellectual and affective responses to Goffman’s ideas. The take-home points of this workshop include the conceptual knowledge related to Goffman, the ability to apply theoretical concepts to everyday lives, and the ability to acknowledge that cultural and structural forces shape people’s experiences. This project begins with planning steps including placing the impression management within the larger corpus of sociological knowledge the instructor wishes to teach and choosing readings that illustrate the basic concepts of impression management and other readings that demonstrate how social forces limit certain people’s abilities to manage their impressions. In the write-up that follows, I list learning goals and assessments, explain how the weeklong workshop unfolds, and include example handouts, assignment sheets for the journaling assignment, and in-class activities to structure discussions.


Resource Type(s):
Assignment, Lecture 
Clayton D. Thomas 
Date Published:
Subject Area:
Social Psychology 
Class Level:
College 100 
Class Size:

Learning Goals and Assessments:

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Goal 1:
Students will define concepts related to Goffman’s ideas of impression management, including definition of the situation, expressions given, expressions given off, front stage, back stage, and face-saving behaviors.
Assessment 1:
Instructors can create quiz or exam questions to test students’ recall and memorization of these concepts.
Goal 2:
Students will be able to apply Goffman’s ideas to their everyday lives.
Assessment 2:
Instructors assign and grade journaling assignment.
Goal 3:
Students will explain how social interactions differ for people of different social backgrounds.
Assessment 3:
Instructors can assign and review Reading Responses and Minute Papers or Muddiest Points in preparation for class discussions.

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