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These assignments are intended to provide Introductory Sociology students an opportunity to gain a better understanding of the hypothesis testing process by analyzing General Social Survey data available at the Survey Documentation and Analysis website. Students are provided with a series of paired independent and dependent variables from which they choose any four pairs. Students are required to write a hypothesis regarding the possible relationship between those pairs, in addition to providing a brief rationale behind each hypothesis. Students are then directed to U.C. Berkeley’s SDA website to run the relevant statistical procedure to test their hypotheses. Students must summarize the results of these statistical tests, decide whether or not their hypotheses were supported, and include copies of their statistical output with their completed assignment. While the assignments (or variations of them) can be used in a variety of sociology courses, the assignment is designed particularly for online Introductory Sociology courses.
Many, if not most, sociology majors do not attend graduate or professional school after graduation (Spalter-Roth et al., 2010). Further, most sociology graduates find themselves in occupations largely unrelated to sociology (Spalter-Roth et al., 2010). As such, sociology majors are an important conduit for the spread of the sociological imagination and sociological toolkit in society. Fife (2008) contends that the many corporations are not simply consumers of information, but are the producers of information in a big data society. As such, the research methods course becomes an important nexus for the development of the skills sociology graduates will take with them into various occupational settings after graduation, many of which are non-sociological in their orientation. Schutt and colleagues (1984) suggest that research methods cannot be a series of well-devised laboratory exercises; rather, research methods courses should require students to complete a total research project for them to best develop an appreciation for the process, pitfalls, and nuances of research. Beyond completing a research project, students should also come away from research methods courses with a working understanding of the tools in a social scientists’ methodological toolkit as well as an understanding of the advantages and disadvantages of the various methodologies. The assignment presents students with the opportunity to trace down the original research reported by a mainstream news outlet. In my experience teaching research methods, students are entirely unfamiliar with the idea or existence of scholarly research.
This resource includes a Word template for students to organize their research and thoughts in the process of developing a five-source mini-literature review. Students asked to write a literature review for the first time typically struggle to move beyond “book report” style writing and toward literature synthesis. The template builds on a chart developed by the library at California State University--San Marcos (http://library.csusm.edu/course_guides/education/literature_review_chart...) to help students identify key elements from the literature, but goes beyond it to help students locate the common ideas among their sources and use these common ideas to develop a conception of what is known and what is not known in the prior literature. The resource has been used in undergraduate and graduate research methods courses in sociology and psychology but would also be appropriate for courses in sociological writing, capstone courses, or any other course in which literature review, research proposal, or grant proposal assignments are used.