Head of Social Science

The Social Science discipline covers subject areas that impart knowledge to facilitate practical understanding in a wide range of spheres. The skill set acquired by students of Social Sciences is crucial for their careers as it broadens their thinking in a multitude of directions thereby instilling an insatiable curiosity and the quest to constantly learn and discover new things.

In the current education system, the ‘digital literacy imperative’ is embedded throughout the curriculum. The Social Science faculty allows for the much discussed ‘humanification’ (World Business Forum 2018) in this rapidly growing digitised world through promoting collaboration and cooperation in the classroom. ‘Cooperative learning is the instructional use of small groups so that students work together to maximise their own and each other’s learning’[1]. Furthermore, Thom Markham opines that for students, “collaboration has become the chief way of how things are done. ” The Social Science pedagogy interweaves transformative technology into the classroom through the use of a range of educational web tools which support cooperative learning.

Sir Ken Robinson has very aptly stated that human beings are “inherently creative”. Research strongly indicates that cooperative learning environments lead to higher achievement and productivity. Group tasks sustain motivation and facilitate innovation through peer learning and mutual transference of ideas. Students have a ‘bottomless capacity of imagination’ and the consequential innovation stems from their brainstorm of creative ideas within their groups. This was apparent in the ‘Egg Drop Challenge’ as well as the ‘Commerce in the Quad’ program, where students’ thinking was challenged to adopt ecologically sustainable means for their sale of goods. Use of taco bowls to serve nachos, piroulines in lieu of straws, half orange peels as bowls for smoothies as well as bamboo cutlery, were some of the initiatives implemented.

Cooperative learning is distinct from mere collaboration as it can be formal or informal. The Social Science discipline enables both types of cooperative learning. Formal cooperative learning involves students working together on a task for a set number of lessons to achieve shared learning outcomes. The Year 11 Economics group task on Labour Markets is one example where students incorporate a range of technological tools to create an interactive workshop. Similar methodology is used in the Year 9 Commerce ‘Buying Your First Car’ task as well as the Year 10 Commerce Political Involvement presentations. Such learning experiences reinforce the iteration in the Educational Researcher journal that ‘small group work improves attitudes towards school, fosters achievement, develops thinking skills, and promotes interpersonal and intergroup relations’.

Informal cooperative learning occurs when students work in ad hoc groups for a short task in a lesson. These are often seen in the Geography classes with creative activities like ‘Building a Mountain in a Box’ or the use of VR goggles to provide a 360-degree virtual experience of the topography of sites. The Social Science faculty itself role models the collaborative approach through team-teaching and extensive sharing of resources.

Hence cooperation is deeply entrenched within the realm of Social Sciences.

[1] Johnson, Johnson & Holubec, 2008 as cited in ‘21st Century skills” (Bellanca & Brandt 2010, p.202)

 

Ms Gauri Gupta

Head of Social Science