For our program to be successful, 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 demonstrate understanding of and recall information about these key areas:
Below are explanations of specific content associated with each learning outcome:
Social Theory is the framework from which we analyze the diverse selection of social phenomena of humans found throughout the world. It is a means by which we draw upon to aid in our perception of reality. Social Theory also provides us the abilities to see things we have never known. After completing course work in sociology students will be able to:
Sociological Research Methods
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). This perspective typically includes ethnographic and phenomenological efforts. Qualitative researchers evaluate their work on the lines of credibility, transferability, dependability, and confirmability. Historical and archival research strengthens this perspective. Quantitative methods privilege the etic perspective (observer, cross-cultural, removed). Quantitative researchers evaluate their work in its validity and reliability, and they claim statistical generalizability. 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 be competent in sociological research methods students should be:
Students will develop knowledge of the many factors involved in multiculturalism.
A sociological emphasis on multiculturalism generally refers to understanding cultural differences and how culture impacts how societies are organized and how individuals view the world. Through an emphasis on cross-cultural studies students should gain not only an appreciation of cultural differences, but an understanding of the relationship between culture and structure (macro), culture and interaction/organizations (meso) and culture and identity (micro). Cross-cultural research also helps us understand our own cultural assumptions of what is 'natural' by showing the wide diversity of the way people organize their lives around the world.
Deviance and Criminology
Students will have a working knowledge of deviance, its influences, trends, and patterns, as well as means of correcting such behavior if warranted. You should know the diverse perspectives, such as statistical deviance, absolutist deviance, relativist deviance, pathological deviance and normative deviance. Because the study of deviance in sociology is highly theory driven, it is best also to be aware of the many theories involved in the study of deviance such as Differential Association, Neutralization Theory, Labeling Theory, Control Theory, Anomie theory, social constructionism, feminist theory, queer theory, feminist disability theory, and standpoint theory as well.
With regard to social problems, most of our courses address social justice issues. As part of this, you will be exposed to the many variables involved in social life, as well as the critical thinking to recognize social problems, and the means to find their cure.
A social institution is a patterned regularity designed to meet the needs of society. Examples of social institutions include the state (maintains social order), religion (gives a sense of common purpose), the educational system (trains individuals to be productive members by passing on the necessary skills), science (solves problems), the media (gives people a sense of common purpose), the economy (produces and distributes goods necessary for physical existence) and the family (births and socializes the young). Institutions are society's enduring (permanent) system of relations comprised of specific roles (what individuals must do) statuses (the amount of prestige delegated to each role), and normative expectations. A society's institutions are created by people that interact with each other and thereby maintain the institutions. In this way, institutions are both created by interacting individuals and enable and impede individual interactions. Finally institutions are linked together in a social system. Sociologists examine this social system as 'sui generis' or greater than the sum of its parts.
While theoretically, social institutions are patterned regularities designed to meet the needs of a society, whether or not they do is a research question. In research, sociologists examine specific institutions and test whether or not these institutions are in fact meeting the needs of their members. Alternatively, sociologists may investigate whether the institutions are meeting the needs of some members better than, or at the expense of, others. In the sociological sense, institutions (e.g. the educational system) pattern the way organizations (e.g. Jacksonville State University) work.
Adapted from "The Practical Skeptic: Core Concepts in Sociology," by Lisa J. McIntyre
Students will develop an understanding of the dynamics of gender in everyday life.
Gender is one of the most important areas of human development and human relations. Gender, as a master status, influences people throughout their lives, how they form their identities and frame their experiences, how they are treated, and how they treat others and their access to resources.
Gender has many dimensions. For example,
Adapted from Patricia Yancey Martin, as well as Chafetz, Janet. 1990. Gender Equity: An Integrated Theory of Stability and Change.
To be a critical thinker means to ask the question: "Do I do well to have the beliefs that I do."
“Critical thinking is concerned with explicit criteria of epistemic adequacy.” To be critical means to be more discerning in recognizing faulty arguments (hasty generalizations, assertions lacking evidence, claims based on unreliable authority and other logical fallacies). Thinking critically involves recognizing the kind of claim being made as well as the appropriate evidence we need to say that ‘we do well to have the beliefs that we do.’ Critical thinking aims at “…..freeing us from unwarranted control of unjustified beliefs”. (Harvey Siegel)
Critical theory "regards specific belief claims, not primarily as propositions to be assessed for their truth content, but as parts of systems of belief and action that have aggregate effects within the power structures of society. It asks first about these systems of belief and action, who benefits? The primary preoccupation of critical pedagogy is with social injustice and how to transform inequitable, undemocratic or oppressive institutions and social relations. They are in the service of demonstrating how certain power effects occur, not in the service of pursuing truth in some dispassioned sense" (Burbules 1992/1995).
Critical theory uses critical thinking but critical thinking does not necessarily use critical theory. A critical pedagogy would use critical theory and critical thinking in the classroom.