At a Glance


  • Social sciences

Instructional Level

  • College & CEGEP


  • Individual and Society

Tasks in Workflow

Social Plane(s)

  • Group
  • Whole Class

Type of Tasks

  • Discussing
  • Solving problems
  • Analyzing
  • Creating & designing
  • Writing
  • Presenting

Technical Details

Useful Technologies

  • Interactive Whiteboards

Class size

  • Small (20-49)


  • Single class period (< 90 mins)

Instructional Purpose

  • Application & knowledge building
  • Consolidation & metacognition


This activity is used to introduce students to the structure and essence of the theoretical frameworks that then will be covered more in depth throughout the rest of the course. Through this activity, students get a taste of what it means to theorize.

Instead of being given the theoretical frameworks with all their associated assumptions and points of interest, the instructor creates a list of 4-5 statements related to each theoretical framework. These statements are cut up individually and mixed together in an envelope. Students, in groups, work in class to find patterns among the statements, and try to organize them back into coherent groups. They also give a name (the ‘framework’’) and a symbol to each grouping. Students, as a class, then discuss the reasons for how they divided the statements. They identify patterns and highlight core assumptions that group certain statements After class, the instructor sends students a photo of their work and the ‘correct’ theoretical frameworks with their accompanying statements and an application of the frameworks to one example.

For the rest of the course, the instructor can refer and link to the names students picked to describe the theories (instead of the standard ones), which creates a “class language” that supports bonding and community. As well, the symbols can be used a visual cues in any visual aides.

Activity content: Introduction to four major sociological (theoretical) frameworks: functionalism, conflict theory, feminism and symbolic interactionism.

Instructional Objectives

Students will be able to:

  • Identify similarities and differences between four major sociological theoretical perspectives: functionalism, conflict theory, feminism and symbolic interactionism;
  • Apply the 4 theoretical frameworks to consider sociological issue.

Workflow & Materials


Activity Workflow

View on CourseFlow

Contributor's Notes

  • The act of “creating” the theoretical frameworks instead of having them delivered in a “top-down” approach makes students remember the essence of the theories much better;
  • It introduces students to thinking in frameworks, which is a valuable ability to have throughout an academic journey;
  • By getting students engaged in thinking inductively by discovering patterns themselves they learn to theorize.
  • Students learn to reconstruct the authors theory (from unsorted data) in order to foster a sense of co-authorship
  • The active group work and discussion is a bonding experience for the class. Using students’ favourite “new” names for the theoretical frameworks supports a class culture/personality through the use of a new language.
  • Creating the activity “kit” – the statements, envelopes and instructions – can take a lot of time the first time!
  • Ensuring full participation of each student within the group in the activity – instructor circulating between groups throughout the activity can help guide the discussion and encourage full engagement
  • Setting up instructions so that people really share the work – dividing statements equally among students and asking the person who is “least busy” (meaning the one who is participating less) to write down the statements pushes everyone to participate equally;
  • If there are no boards in the classroom, then students can use large pieces of paper;
  • To make the activity part of the course, it is important for the instructor to take pictures of each group’s work, share it among students and possibly use the new names students came up with;
  • To ensure improved understanding and retention, the instructor can then post the “classical” names of the theories with the right statements under them and then ask students to apply to an example relevant to class (i.e. advertising of toys and gender socialisation).
  • Each perspective could have subcategories such as general statement, statement about sociologists, socialisation, social change etc… (each sentence reflects one of these subcategories). Each perspective will have one of each of the represented subcategories which will help students in the sorting process.

Applied Strategies


  1. Hi Cory, This is an incredible activity. It does lots of the scaffolding for engaging students in deep thinking and building their conceptual knowledge. Can’t wait to try it out with my own content. Thanks for sharing!

  2. I just wanted to come back and say thank you for this activity. I have been using it in my introductory sociology classes both in person and online for years and it always goes over so well! Students absolutely love it and it really helps with understanding these major theories. I cannot thank you enough for this wonderful activity!

  3. Bыплaтa нa вaш cчёт 99 684 Pyблeй =>> # RP332 says:



Leave a comment! Activities get better when we receive feedback and understand how they might be adapted and reused. Please let us know what you think after using this Activity, or if you have questions about how it might be used differently.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *