Feature Article: Critical Issues: A Survey of Topic Popularity among University Students

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Robert Ó’Móchain and Robert Perkins



This survey study investigates the possibility of mismatches between critical pedagogical initiatives and learner expectations or fields of interest. Our opinion survey of 200 first and second-year undergraduate students at two universities in western Japan, explored preferences regarding 21 discussion topics. Fourteen of the topics were related to critical sociocultural (CS) issues while seven topics were related to interpersonal and intrapersonal (IP) concerns. The principal findings of the survey showed a significant preference for IP topics over CS topics. These initial survey findings may indicate a need for critically minded pedagogues to lay more groundwork in the classroom before initiating a syllabus that focuses on CS topics. Further research will provide qualitative data to explore reasons why learners may feel an aversion to sociocultural topics for classroom discussion.