Bringing Text to Life: Enhancing Introduction to Sociology with the Memoir “I Am Malala”


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In this Text to Life assignment prepared for undergraduate, Introduction to Sociology courses, students read the memoir "I Am Malala: How One Girl Stood Up for Education and Changed the World" by Malala Yousafzai with Patricia McCormick; write an essay that summarizes the memoir and then examines Malala’s story from a sociological perspective; prepare for and participate in an active, in-class discussion; and lastly, reflect on the assignment as a whole. Memoir is certainly a non-traditional type of text to include in Sociology courses (Florida and Hall 2006), which often rely most heavily on textbooks, edited readers, journal articles, and sociological books. That said, researchers document the benefits of using non-traditional texts like fiction (Hartman 2005) and narratives (Lewis 2016) as additions to more traditional texts in undergraduate sociology courses. For instance, scholars state that non-traditional texts are well suited to “bring the real world into the classroom” and “provide reassurance for students’ experiences” (Lewis 2016: 392). Non-traditional texts give students insights into different cultures while at the same time providing a “shared reality within which they [students] can relate and discuss sociological concepts in a common context” (Hartman 2005: 317). Additionally, traditional texts are more accessible to students, meaning students may be “more likely to do the readings and engage in class discussion” (Lewis 2016: 393). Perhaps not surprisingly, given this rather impressive list of benefits, students who read non-traditional texts in Sociology courses have been shown to outperform students who read only traditional texts on course learning...


Resource Type(s):
Assignment, Class Activity, Essay 
Jamie Oslawski-Lopez 
Date Published:
Subject Area:
Introduction to Sociology/Social Problems 
Class Level:
College 100 
Class Size:

Usage Notes:

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The Text to Life assignment begins with the instructor introducing the assignment by listing it on the syllabus and discussing it during the first-class meeting, then reviewing the assignment more thoroughly in-class about a month before the due date(s). Students proceed to read the memoir, write an essay that summarizes...

Learning Goals and Assessments:

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Goal 1:
Students will 1) apply the sociological perspective and concepts to lived experiences and 2) communicate their sociological insights both in written and verbal formats.
Assessment 1:
Learning goals are assessed as students 1) complete the essay, 2) prepare for and participate in the class discussion, and 3) reflect on their experiences.

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Text to Life Usage Notes Assignment.docx