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Teaching the Sociological Imagination with SAT Data
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Sociological Imagination
SAT Scores

How to Cite

Byron, Reginald. 2015. “Teaching the Sociological Imagination With SAT Data”. TRAILS: Teaching Resources and Innovations Library for Sociology, August. Washington DC: American Sociological Association.


A growing body of scholarship suggests that sociologists who teach undergraduate students must first confront students’ preconceived ideologies and misconceptions before teaching them how to think sociologically (Garoutte and Bobbit-Zeher 2011; Goldsmith 2006). This in-class activity builds on the work of Goldsmith (2006) to assess students’ perceptions...

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Subject Area(s):
Resource Type(s):
Class Activity
Class Level(s):
College 100
Class Size(s):

Usage Notes

Time: 65 minutes
Preparation - Print out one exercise handout (included below) for each student in your class and put the average SAT scores on three different Powerpoint slides (one for gender, one for ethnicity, and one for family income). Average SAT scores can be found at the following link:...

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Learning Goals and Assessments

Learning Goal(s):

  1. Students will learn about the sociological imagination as a concept.
  2. In the short term, students will be able to explain if and/or how learning about the sociological imagination has altered their perceptions of SAT score distributions compared to those they held before our discussions of the sociological imagination.
  3. In the longer term, students will be able to apply their sociological imaginations to SAT scores, critique SAT score gaps, and produce sociological answers to explain them.

Goal Assessment(s):

  1. Students will answer a multiple choice exam question asking them to identify tenets of the sociological imagination. Ninety three percent of the students in my classes were able to do this correctly.
  2. In step #6, I asked the students to turn their papers over and answer one final question. Ninety five percent of students suggested that the sociological imagination discussions affected their ideas about the distribution of SAT scores and explained how.
  3. On their midterm exam (over one month after our discussion), I asked students to answer an essay question about the sociological imagination and how it helps them to evaluate SAT score gaps. Seventy three percent of students gave sociological answers.

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