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'To actually be sociological': Autoethnography as an assessment and learning tool


Cook, PS, 'To actually be sociological': Autoethnography as an assessment and learning tool, Journal of Sociology, 50, (3) pp. 269-282. ISSN 1741-2978 (2014) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2012 SAGE

DOI: doi:10.1177/1440783312451780


As a qualitative and experiential research method, autoethnography enables students to explore the relationship between their personal, lived experiences with wider social structures and forces, thus actively developing and engaging their sociological imagination. However, while various studies advocate the use of autoethnography as a learning and assessment tool, no study explores the acquisition of knowledge and learning from the studentís perspective. This is the first study that explores student reactions to and experiences of autoethnography as an assessment and learning tool in sociology. Through the feedback of 15 undergraduate students on qualitative open-ended surveys, this article shows that autoethnography actively engaged the students and enhanced their sociological learning by stimulating their critical thinking on the relationship between their lived experiences and the social. While there are some ethical issues that need to be considered when assigning an autoethnography as an assessment item, the potential benefits for students, as identified by them, far outweigh the possible negatives.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:assessment, autobiography, autoethnography, experiential learning, sociological imagination, teaching of sociology
Research Division:Education
Research Group:Curriculum and pedagogy
Research Field:Humanities and social sciences curriculum and pedagogy (excl. economics, business and management)
Objective Division:Education and Training
Objective Group:Learner and learning
Objective Field:Learner and learning not elsewhere classified
UTAS Author:Cook, PS (Dr Peta Cook)
ID Code:79177
Year Published:2014 (online first 2012)
Web of Science® Times Cited:15
Deposited By:Sociology and Social Work
Deposited On:2012-08-21
Last Modified:2014-11-25

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