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Sociology

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Program Goals and Learning Outcomes

For our program to be successful in educating students for careers and pursuit of advanced degrees, students should leave with the basic knowledge in many key areas within the discipline of sociology. During SY 499 Sociology Senior Seminar, we measure the proficiency of our students in these areas and report them to the Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences. Success is determined through aggregate scores as well as a comparison with sociology seniors at universities across the United States. 

Our program student learning outcomes are that students recall infomation about, demonstrate understanding of, apply and evaluate information in these key areas:

  1. Critical Thinking
  2. Sociological Research Methods and Statistics
  3. Social Theory
  4. Social Institutions
  5. Criminology and Deviance   
  6. Race, Class and Gender
  7. Social Stratification
  8. Gender

Below are explanations of specific content associated with each learning outcome: 

Critical Thinking

Definition:  “Critical thinking is the…process of actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and/or evaluating information” (Scriven and Paul 2013).  It involves recognizing the stated premise, the assumptions, potential counterarguments, and the evidence used to support one premise over another. In sum, you will make [i]nformed decisions are based on evidence we can trust, can be explained to others, and have a good chance of achieving the effects we want.”  (Brookfield 2012: 160).   Ultimately, to be a critical thinker means to engage the question:  Do I do well to hold the positions that I do?  To demonstrate competency in critical thinking students will: 

  • Identify and demonstrate understanding of the argument/assertion.
  • Identify major concepts used to support the argument.
  • Describe, explain, analyze and evaluate the evidence used to support the argument
  • Apply sociological knowledge to new problems/social issues.
  • Identify, explain, analyze and evalute the embedded assumptions of the argument.
  • Identify, explain, analyze and evalute the counter arguments/other perspectives and how they would be tested.
  • Analyze information in relation to course material and previous sociological courses
  • Propose solutions for problems identified in the argument. 
  • Combine/Integrate material in a new way

Sociological Research Methods and Statistics

Definition Sociological research methods are “A collection of methods and methodologies that researchers apply systematically to produce scientifically based knowledge about the social world” (Newman 2006).  Methods are any application of methodology, and methodology attempts to answer the question: how do you know?  Sociological methods are commonly divided into qualitative or quantitative methods.  Qualitative methods tend to focus on the emic perspective (local, within).  Quantitative methods privilege the etic perspective (observer, cross-cultural, removed).  Each methodological approach has the purpose of furthering (producing and building) sociological knowledge based on theoretical principles.   Methods must also address ethical guidelines which govern research.  To demonstrate competency in sociological research methods students will:

  • demonstrate understanding of quantitative and qualitative methods.
  • appropriately select which methods to employ.
  • interpret and analyze data and charts.
  • determine the significance of research findings.
  • critically assess research findings.
  • compare/contrast research methodologies and research findings.
  • Demonstrate understanding of ethical issues in sociological research

Definition:  Statistics are techniques that sociologists and other social scientists use to organize summarize and communicate numeric data. The topics include frequency distribution, central tendency, variability, probability theory, and estimation. Descriptive statistics includes procedures that help us organize and describe data collected from either a sample or a population. Inferential statistics is concerned with making predictions or inferences about a population from observations and analyses of a sample.Statistical techniques include hypotheses testing for group differences in means (z test, t test), association between two variables (correlation, chi-square test), and regression analysis.  To demonstrate competency in sociological statistics students will:   

 

  • Describe the key concepts, constructs and statistical techniques.
  • Explain the differences among various statistical techniques and identify an appropriate technique for a given set of variables and research questions;
  • Demonstrate competency in statistical software packages in data analysis using frequencies, correlations, cross-tabs, t-tests, chi square, anova and regression.  
  • Represent output in a table/graph and explain in writing steps and findings for statistical techniques.
  • Apply knowledge of statistics in thinking critically about scholarly research and popular press reports of data and research.
  • Demonstrate understanding of the ethical issues in statistics.

Social Theory

Definition:  Sociological theories are systematic explanations of social phenomena; abstract explanations that help us understand and predict events in the world.  Sociological theory is testable and probabilistic.  It is a framework from which we analyze the diverse selection of social phenomena of humans found throughout the world. It is useful because it not only aids our perception of reality but also provides us the ability to see things we have never known.  To demonstrate competency in social theory students will at the micro, meso and macro levels:*

  • List and demonstrate understanding of sociological theories.  
  • Demonstrate understanding of, analyze and evaluate how theories are impacted by social and historical conditions.    
  • Demonstrate understanding of, apply, analyze/categorize, evaluate and propose improvements to sociological theories.    
  • Demonstrate understanding of, apply, analyze, evaluate and propose improvements to theories of inequality/stratification using a social justice perspective. 

*Micro level includes identity and interactions, meso level focuses on organizational practices, policies, and cultures; macro level focuses on institutions and culture.  Each level includes historical and cross cultural variations.

Social Institutions

Definition:  An institution is a patterned regularity designed to meet the needs of society. Examples include: Education, Political/State, Religion, HealthCare, Family, Media, and Work/Economy. To demonstrate competency in the area of social institutions students will at the micro, meso and macro levels of analysis*:

  • List, demonstrate understanding of, and analyze major social institutions.
  • Demonstrate understanding, apply, analyze, evaluate and propose improvements for theories of institutions.  
  • Demonstrate understanding of, analyze and evaluate how inequality/stratification mitigate experiences of individuals within institutions.  
  • Demonstrate understanding of, analyze, evaluate and propose solutions to reduce problems within institutions using a social justice perspective.  

*Micro level includes identity and interactions, meso level focuses on organizational practices, policies, and cultures; macro level focuses on institutions and culture.  Each level includes historical and cross cultural variations.

Criminology and Deviance

Definition: Criminology is the study of the making, breaking and society’s reaction to the breaking of laws (Sutherland & Cressey 1960).  Deviance “refers not only to attitudes, behavior, and conditions that lie outside the margins of acceptability, but to the very norms that cast them out, to the power structures of how folkways, mores, and laws are created, and to the way that social control is attempted and achieved” (Adler & Adler 2006:145). To demonstrate competency in the area of criminology and deviance students will  at the micro, meso, macro levels of analysis*:

  • Define and demonstrate understanding of crime and deviance.
  • Define, demonstrate understanding of apply, analyze evaluate and propose improvements to theories of crime and deviance.  
  • Demonstrate understanding of how inequality/stratification mitigates/enables/sustains crime and deviance.
  • Demonstrate understanding, analyze and evaluate institutions formulation of power that aid in social control.
  • Demonstrate understanding, apply, analyze, evaluate and propose actions designed to reduce problems of deviance and crime using a social justice perspective

*Micro level includes identity and interactions, meso level focuses on organizational practices, policies, and cultures; macro level focuses on institutions and culture.  Each level includes historical and cross cultural variations.

Race, Class, Gender

Definition:    Race, class, gender are different yet interrelated axes of social structure. They are relational systems of power and subordination embedded in social interaction and social institutions within society. To demonstrate competency in the area of race, class and gender students will at the micro, meso and macro levels of analysis*:

  • Define and demonstrate understanding of race/ethnicity/class/gender and race/class/gender inequality.
  • Define and demonstrate understanding of, apply, analyze, evaluate, and propose improvements to theories of race/class/gender/inequality.   
  • Demonstrate understanding, analyze and evaluate institutions formulation of power that aid in creating and sustaining race/class/gender inequality.
  • Demonstrate understanding, apply, analyze, evaluate and propose actions designed to reduce race/class/gender inequality using a social justice perspective. 

*Micro level includes identity and interactions, meso level focuses on organizational practices, policies, and cultures; macro level focuses on institutions and culture.  Each level includes historical and cross cultural variations.

Social Stratification

Definition:  Social Stratification is a system of structured social inequalities. More specifically, it can be described as the ranking of categories of people into hierarchical strata who have differential access wealth, power, status, and privilege. Systems of stratification are shaped by other factors including: occupation, race, gender, sexuality, region of residence, ethnicity, national origin, age, ability and other social locations.  To demonstrate competency in the area of social stratafication students will at the micro, meso and macro levels of analysis*:

  • Define and demonstrate understanding of stratification.
  • Define, demonstrate understanding of, apply, analyze, evaluate and propose improvements to theories of stratification.
  • Demonstrate understanding of, analyze and evaluate relations of power that aid in creating/sustaining stratification.
  • Demonstrate understanding of, apply, analyze, evaluate, and propose actions designed to reduce stratification.

*Micro level includes identity and interactions, meso level focuses on organizational practices, policies, and cultures; macro level focuses on institutions and culture.  Each level includes historical and cross cultural variations.

Gender

Definition: Gender refers to those social, cultural, and psychological traits linked to males and females in particular times and through particular social contexts.  Gender is an achieved status because it must be learned.  Gender is a source of stratification, where men have more access to socially produced rewards than do similarly situated women.  To demonstrate competency in the area of gender students will at the micro, meso and macro levels of analysis*:    

  • Define and demonstrate understanding of gender/ inequality.
  • Define, demonstrate understanding of, apply, analyze, evaluate and propose improvements to theories of gender/ inequality.  
  • Demonstrate understanding of, analyze and evaluate how gender inequality/stratification is created/maintained. 
  • Demonstrate understanding of, analyze, evaluate and propose actions designed to reduce gender inequality.
*Micro level includes identity and interactions, meso level focuses on organizational practices, policies, and cultures; macro level focuses on institutions and culture.  Each level includes historical and cross cultural variations.
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