Alison M. Thomas

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Research Interests

  • gender and family roles
  • ‘threshold concepts’ in sociology
  • transformative learning

Academic Introduction

PhD (University of Reading, UK)
MA (University of Cambridge, UK)
BA (University of Cambridge, UK)

Canadian Sociological Association
British Sociological Association
British Psychological Society
International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning
Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education

Douglas College Faculty member 2005 - 2020.

I began my academic career in the UK, then immigrated to Canada in 1996, teaching for eight years in the Sociology Department at the University of Victoria before joining Douglas College in 2005. I currently teach courses in Introductory Sociology, Gender, Family, and Research Methods. After spending many years conducting research on gender (including an analysis of how Mother’s Day and Father’s Day cards portray gendered roles in the home), I have more recently been engaged mainly in research on teaching and learning. I participated in two collaborative studies with Douglas College colleagues (the first exploring student engagement, and the second, student experiences in our summer ‘field schools’) and then in 2012 embarked on a solo research project investigating student learning in the introductory sociology course I teach. Specifically, my three-year study employed the concept of learning thresholds to examine how students’ exposure to the 'sociological imagination' can have a transformative effect on their worldview. This research revealed important variations in students’ initial ability to develop a sociological imagination and also in its long-term impact on them, and (in keeping with the ethos of SoTL) these findings have ultimately led me to revise my approach to teaching this concept.

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