PUSH(ing) Limits: Using Fiction in the Classroom for Human Behavior and the Social Environment

Natasha S. Mendoza, Kimberly Bonta, Philip Horn, Erin Moore, Allison Gibson, David Simmons

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


The use of fiction and autobiography in social science course work has been shown to enhance students' learning experience. Using the novel PUSH, by Sapphire, we designed a curriculum supplement for the social work course, human behavior and the social environment (HBSE) that encourages students to integrate course content in an innovative way and enables them to apply the material to life-like situations. The HBSE supplement allows students to explore poignant and problematic issues that push them past intrapersonal and interpersonal limits. Classes are infused with energy and the critical consciousness of the students. Final projects are a systematic case study of a chosen character (or characters) in the book and are a testament to student critical thinking and creativity. Methods, assignments, and student experiences in an introductory BSW course are described.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)376-391
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Teaching in Social Work
Issue number4
StatePublished - Sep 2012


  • HBSE
  • PUSH
  • case study
  • curriculum
  • popular literature
  • social work assignments

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Sociology and Political Science


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