Student Learning Objectives

The Sociology Department curriculum is organized around what we would like sociology majors to learn.  The six key learning objectives are discussed below, along with the courses from the curriculum that we believe help students achieve those objectives:

1.  Sociological Perspective: 

  • grasp how sociology uniquely contributes to an understanding of the social world and human experience
  • apply a sociological perspective and sociological concepts and principles to substantive areas addressed by sociologists (see Substantive Content of the Discipline below)
  • understand how patterns of thought and knowledge are influenced by social, political, economic structures

Objective most directly addressed in: 100-level courses, all of which introduce sociology, and some 200-level electives.

2. Critical Synthesis of Existing Literature:

  • locate information about the social world (from the library, existing data, internet, etc.); for library resources, differentiate between professional literature and other sources
  • synthesize information from various sources, including synthesis of the professional literature
  • present the results of such synthesis in a logical and coherent manner

Objective most directly addressed in: Soc 204 and 300-level junior/senior research seminars.

3. Social Research:

  • formulate research questions with clarity; identify the significance and implications of those research questions in the context of review of existing scholarly literature
  • identify and contrast the basic assumptions underpinning positivist and interpretive approaches to social science, and their relation to various methods used by sociologists
  • accurately use the basic vocabulary common among social science researchers
  • describe basic techniques for the collection of original data using each of the following methods: standardized survey; content analysis; field observation; qualitative interviewing; historical and comparative methods; community-based research methods
  • systematically analyze some of the types of data noted above, including quantitative data analysis techniques using statistical analysis software (elementary univariate, bivariate, and multivariate analyses); coding and systematic analysis of qualitative data using qualitative data analysis software (coding and elementary queries)
  • present the results of analyses of some of these types of data, using synthesis of scholarly literature and evidence from data analyses to construct an argument about the social world
  • design a research project to address a given research question, including plans for sampling, data collection, and analysis

Objective most directly addressed in: Soc 205 and junior/senior research seminars.

4. Social Theory:

  • describe the role of theory in building sociological knowledge, and identify major theoretical orientations recognized by sociologists; identify and contrast underlying assumptions in particular theoretical orientations
  • discuss how theories reflect the historical and social contexts of the times and cultures in which they are developed
  • apply theoretical orientations to the social world
  • apply theoretical orientations to some of the substantive areas addressed by sociologists

Objective most directly addressed in: Soc 204 and junior/senior research seminars.

5. Substantive Content of the Discipline:

  • describe major contours of some substantive issues represented by at least two substantive areas covered in departmental courses (e.g., criminology, sociology of law, economic sociology, comparative sociology, medical sociology, sociology of gender, social inequality, political sociology, etc.).

Objective most directly addressed in: the range of electives required of majors.

6. Application of Sociological Perspective, Methods, and Theory within a Substantive Area:

  • apply a sociological perspective to at least one substantive area within the discipline through the completion of research projects in junior/senior research seminars (could be proposals, seminar papers, or both)
  • apply a sociological perspective to a substantive area within the discipline through the completion of a senior thesis that involves a critical synthesis of existing literature, the collection and analysis of some sort of data, and the logical presentation of the results of that literature review and data analysis
  • demonstrate oral proficiency, presenting ideas from seminar projects with clarity and intelligence

Objective most directly addressed in: junior/senior research seminars (Soc 395); thesis (Sociology 457/458), and the requirement that Soc 204 (Theory) and Soc 205 (Methods) and at least one junior/senior research seminar be completed prior to the thesis.

OPTIONAL: apply a sociological perspective to the challenges or issues faced by groups or organizations through community-based research and internships; community-engaged work now offered in many of our electives and, at least one of our junior/senior seminars [Soc 395K, Knowledge, Action and Social Change].