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This set of prompts has been used in an Introduction to Sociology course to conclude the text chapter/lectures on research methods. After spending several class sessions talking about the various methods sociologists use to conduct research, as well as the pros and cons of the various methodologies, students get the opportunity to try their hand and designing a study taking into consideration the strengths and weaknesses of the methodology they choose. This exercise is typically carried out in two steps. First, students work in small groups to design a study in response to a specific, shared prompt. After small group work, the students discuss the various approaches they outlined and defend the methodology they chose. Second, students are provided a series of prompts and are asked to choose one and write a 3–5 page paper discussing the methodology they would use, detailing their variables, steps in the process, and rationale for the chosen methodology. The in-class activity and subsequent individual assignment help them understand the advantages, disadvantages, and appropriateness of various methodologies in relation to the research questions, population to be studied, variables, and other opportunities or constraints.
This class activity casts students in the roles of researchers and research respondents. Students learn basic practical and epistemological distinctions between quantitative and qualitative research traditions in sociology by collaborating in the production of knowledge about their own social world.