The Center for Learning and Teaching Newsletter Teaching News

Author's Department

Center for Learning and Teaching (CLT)

Document Type

News Article

Publication Title

New Chalk Talk

Publication Date



Despite the fact that I taught for several decades in a sociology department and believed that I had attained a degree of professionalism in this field, it was Gilly Salmon, a leading British pedagogist who teaches at the Open University (UK) that recently drew my attention to the importance of the work Emile Durkheim, a leading French sociologist, in respect to my quest to enhance quality learning in my classes. Writing more than a century ago, and with reference to his seminal work on collective representation, “Durkheim showed that a sense of security and progress depends on broad agreement both on the ends to be pursued and on the accepted means of attaining them.” (Salmon, 2000: 28) Thus, it was Durkheim’s work, a sociological account of the consequences of socialization and its implications for human behavior that motivated me to explore the benefits to be derived from perceiving my class as a “learning community” with its own distinct learning culture, formal and informal rules and norms and behavior.