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Relevant in many academic contexts, recent scholarship in sociology has challenged departments to improve the public face of the discipline through introductory classes. However, this scholarship has not addressed how departments can improve the discipline’s public face while maintaining student performance. It is one thing to create an engaging introductory class; it is another to create an engaging introductory class that ensures student learning. One way to possibly achieve the latter is to implement innovative instructional methods that promote active learning. As documented in various fields, one such method is Team-Based Learning (TBL), an active-learning strategy that uses student groups to teach concepts and their applications. Literature has highlighted the success of TBL on students’ perceptions of classes, but reported ambiguous results concerning improved students’ performances. In this article we deviate from previous research, by examining the effect of TBL on students’ attitudes toward sociology (e.g. the public face of the discipline) as well as students’ performances. Results indicate that, as opposed to lecture-based classes, students in TBL classes have much more positive attitudes toward the discipline, while demonstrating equivalent performances. Consequently, we argue that, as long as students’ performances are maintained, academic departments should put time and effort into converting introductory courses into environments of active learning in order to improve the discipline’s public face.
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