“This Class Isn’t Just about Older People, This Class Is about Everybody”: Pedagogy, Ontology, and Interdisciplinary Learning in an Undergraduate Social Gerontology Course

By Wendy Geller.

Published by The International Journal of Aging and Society

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Teaching social gerontology within the undergraduate curriculum can be challenging. Teaching social science to Nursing majors can sometimes make it more so, especially when students with social science backgrounds share the classroom, bringing together diverse viewpoints and alternative approaches to material. Students in general, at times, may feel distanced from the subject or look for “relevance” in their lives or connections to their other studies. For Nursing majors, moving from medically-based courses into the social sciences can bring both epistemological and ontological hurdles as students struggle with the fact that there might not be any “right” answers. Likewise, students with social science backgrounds may meet with difficulty in recognizing physiologically-based arguments and ethics of care. Exploring students’ reflective journal writing, this paper discusses successes and failures in teaching undergraduates in an upper-level social gerontology course. It critically examines the pedagogical practices and insights gained from reorienting the classroom to a more student-focused approach. It underscores the ways engaging students from different majors facilitated a more meaningful, holistic learning environment, and offers these as points of discussion for reflection on future teaching praxis.

Keywords: Pedagogy, Student-Focused Classrooms, Interdisciplinary Approaches, Care, Undergraduates

The International Journal of Aging and Society, Volume 4, Issue 2, January 2015, pp.11-22. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 496.220KB).

Dr. Wendy Geller

Visiting Assistant Professor of Sociology, School of Justice Studies and Sociology, Norwich University, Northfield, Vermont, USA

I completed my PhD (2011) at the National University of Ireland Maynooth where I was affiliated with the National Institute for Regional and Spatial Analysis (NIRSA). I have been a Visiting Assistant Professor of Sociology at Norwich University back home in Vermont since 2010, where I teach undergraduate sociology courses, including Aging in Society. I am affiliated with the Center for Research on Vermont and co-chair the Rural Policy Research Interest Group at the Rural Sociological Society. My research interests are broad, my areas of specialty falling within the remit of stratification, globalization, community sustainability, and social policy analysis. I'm particularly interested in interdisciplinary approaches to studying community viability, social inequality, and the way that structural and material environments impact social relations.