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This article details employing music as a pedagogical tool to enable introductory students to relate personal experiences to larger social structures such as class, race, and gender through a creative yet rigorous exercise. The authors review earlier uses of music in the classroom, and expand on that framework, adding a number of crucial elements. The exercise includes the selection of a song by students, then a review of the sociological frameworks influencing the song, culminating in a formal research paper to enhance critical thinking and a presentation where students educate their classmates. The exercise enables the popularity of music to act as biographical proxy for students, allowing them to broach sociological topics that might be personally relevant through the medium of the song. The authors utilize two different assessment measures of student learning and their employment in relation to the objectives. The article further discusses the assignment’s limitations and concludes by assessing the effectiveness of this exercise.



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