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The four sources of evidence

This in-class activity is designed to introduce beginner-level students to the four major sources of evidence (ethnography; surveys; experiments; and archival documents/texts) used in most sociological research. Although it could be performed as a stand-alone activity, I usually include it as part of a larger module on research methods within Introduction to Sociology. After students have read the assigned textbook chapter on methods and heard a lecture about the same subject I distribute the four activity sheets (“Methods Activity A/B/C/D”). Each includes a brief abstract of a fictional research project that describes the methods for gathering data without explicitly identifying the source of evidence. Students are then asked five questions that ask them to apply the information about research methods learned via the textbook and lecture. When students are done performing their individual activities, I display each activity sheet and ask groups to provide their answers. In this way, all students are exposed to each sheet. For additional practice, instructors may also lead students in a discussion using the “sources of evidence chart” by having them fill in each of the cells.

Transnational Online Student Collaboration: Does It Work?

This article reports findings of a transnational online student collaboration between the Sociology departments at GVSU and the Pedagogical College of Schwaebisch Gmuend in Germany from May to July 2006. A U.S. instructor taught two parallel 14-week Soc Intro and Globalization classes in Germany. A German instructor taught a 6-week Spring section and a 6-week Summer section of a Soc Inequality course at GVSU. Each of the 11 teams--consisting of four students (two Germans and two Americans)--were asked to write a term paper about a specific research question related to globalization and inequality. Blackboard, Discussion Boards, and Chat rooms were used to post work and exchange information in English as lingua franca. The goal was to experiment with new online collaboration tools that foster transnational exchange and understanding through interaction with students from a different societal and cultural background.