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 most directly connected to each.

1.  Sociological Perspective: 

  • grasp how sociology uniquely contributes to an understanding of the social world, social problems, 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)

Objective most directly addressed in: 100-level courses, all of which introduce sociology, some 200-level electives, and Soc 405.

2. Critical Synthesis of Existing Literature:

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

Objective most directly addressed in: Soc 205 and 300-level seminars.

3. Social Research Methods:

  • formulate research questions with clarity; identify the significance and implications of those research questions in the context of review of existing scholarly literature
  • 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; observation and ethnography; qualitative interviewing; focus groups; historical and comparative methods; case studies; community-based research methods
  • systematically analyze some of the types of data noted above, including secondary data sets; use both quantitative and qualitative data analysis techniques; develop basic proficiency with software for quantitative/ statistical analysis (elementary univariate, bivariate, and multivariate analyses) and qualitative analysis (coding and systematic analysis of qualitative data)
  • design a research project to address a given research question, including plans for sampling, data collection, and analysis
  • present the results of analyses of some types of data, using critical synthesis of scholarly literature and evidence from data analyses to construct an argument about the social world

Objective most directly addressed in: Soc 205, Soc 206, and some 300-level seminars.

4. Social Theory:

  • identify major foundational orientations used in sociology; compare and contrast the underlying assumptions of those orientations
  • understand 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
  • understand how theories inform substantive areas of current sociological research

Objective most directly addressed in: Soc 204 and most 300-level seminars.

5. Substantive Content of the Discipline:

  • gain understanding of a range of substantive issues and debates within several specialty areas covered in departmental courses (e.g., criminology, economic sociology, comparative sociology, medical sociology, sociology of gender, social inequality, political sociology, urban sociology, sociology of immigration, etc.)

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

6. Application of Sociological Perspectives within Substantive Areas:

  • apply a sociological perspective to substantive areas within the discipline through the completion of research projects in most 300-level seminars (could be one or more of a variety of types of project, such as literature reviews, proposals, seminar papers, policy briefs, products produced for community partners, digital or public works, or other project types)
  • apply a sociological perspective to a substantive area within the discipline through the completion of a senior thesis that is focused around a research question or questions, integrates theoretically and empirically-informed ideas from sociology in framing and defining the question(s), and offers an argument with systematically-analyzed empirical evidence to support it
  • demonstrate oral proficiency, presenting ideas with accuracy, clarity and professionalism

Objective most directly addressed in: 300-level seminars and thesis (Sociology 457/458).

In keeping with the college’s academic integrity policy, the department does not allow students to submit “the same work to satisfy the requirements of two different courses without getting permission from the instructor of the second course or permission from both instructors if the same work is submitted in two courses during a single semester.” This is particularly relevant to the kind of work assigned in some 300-level courses in sociology, which may overlap between such courses or may overlap with senior thesis work in sociology. Such overlap is often legitimate as long as additional work is added within each separate credit-granting course. When students pursue work that overlaps in these ways, they must receive prior permission in order to ensure they are not in violation of the academic integrity policy.