Learning Exercise: Women’s Studies, Curiosity and the Value of Asking Questions

The following is a learning exercise for use in an introductory Women’s Studies classroom. I have constructed this assignment to be brief–only taking up 12-15 minutes. However, ideally it would serve as the introduction to a longer class session/discussion. You can download an abbreviated version of the assignment here.

Because I am always interested in experimenting with different techniques for using the blogs in (and as) the classroom, I decided to put this learning exercise on my blog. Anyone reading this blog is welcome to do the exercise. Try it out and then tell me what you like/don’t like, what works and what doesn’t work. You can post a comment to this entry or any of the 4 parts of the exercise.

Click on the links in order to “do” this exercise.

A. What makes you curious about this image/object?
B. Why aren’t we curious? Feminism and the importance of curiosity
C. What questions can we ask about this image/object?
D. A Final Exercise

POSSIBLE IMPLEMENTATIONS: This exercise is designed for use in a wide range of classrooms.

In a face-to-face classroom, I envision using this exercise as the introduction to a larger discussion about curiosity and some different ways that feminists are curious about the world. In this version, the students could break up into groups after this exercise and discuss their various questions. Then, as a group, they would report on one question (or line of questions) that they find particularly compelling and we would have a large group discussion about the various questions.

In a hybrid classroom, I envision using this exercise as the foundation for students’ engagement with the lesson for that section. Students would spend time on the exercise, clicking on the various links and reading the articles (indicated here on the final part of this exercise) that are related to the exercise and topic of discussion. They would post an entry on their own questions and comment on other students’ post (at least 2). Finally, we would have a face-to-face session in which we discuss the readings and our questions.

In an online classroom, I envision using this exercise in many of the same ways as in the hybrid classroom. However, instead of meeting face-to-face, students would actively engage more with each other on the blog and through online discussions (of their questions and comments). Students might also be required to post their own links to images, blog sites, media examples that connect with their own questions.

One other important note about the design of this exercise: It is designed to accommodate a wide range of students and their various levels of interest, time and ability. I deliberately provide a lot of information for students who want to learn more, but I don’t make reading and engaging with all of that information a requirement of the assignment. Additionally, I provide a wide range of different perspectives on topics, so as to reach as many different students (and their varied experiences and interests) as possible. Whenever I use assignments like this one, I always try to be clear about this aspect of the design so that they are not overwhelmed by the assignment.

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