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Sociology 301

Introduction to Methods and Research


Dr. Stephen Sills
sjsills@uncg.edu

SOC 301 02 WI
Instructor: Stephen J. Sills
Office: GRAM 320
Office Hours: M W 9:00-12:00
Email: sjsills@uncg.edu
Location: GRAM 424
Class Times: T R 2:00 -3:30

Required Texts: Earl R. Babbie


The Basics of Social Research
Thomson-Wadsworth 4th Edition
©2008

William M.K. Trochim 2006


Research Methods Knowledge Base
http://www.socialresearchmethods.
net/kb/contents.htm

Catalog Course Description:


SOC 301 Introduction to Methods and Research (3:3). Pr. 101 and one additional
sociology course; or permission of instructor SOC majors only. Topics include the
function of theory in research, concept formation, study design, data collection, and
analysis strategies. (Fall & Spring)

Goals and Objectives:


This course is intended to be a practical survey of research methods. Instruction will
take the form of lectures, discussions, and an applied research project. This
semester the theme will be on integration and incorporation of the immigrant
community in the Triad.

We will use observations, interviews, and surveys to gather data from those who
work in institutions serving the immigrant community including: administrators of
local social service agencies; Center for New North Carolinians Americorp members,
interpreters, research fellows, and staff; ESL teachers in Guilford County Schools;
members of the UNCG Spanish-American Latino Students Organization (SALSA);
and the UNCG International Student Association (ISA).

This course will teach you the basics of social research. After completing this course
you should be able to:
• Critically read and evaluate a research article
• Engage in basic qualitative and quantitative data collection (interviewing and
surveying)
• Provide simple descriptive analysis of quantitative and qualitative data
• Write a research report

Evaluation:
Evaluating what you understand will happen in individual research assignments,
exams and your group project. There are 1000 pts available. Grades are will be
calculated as the sum of:
• Homework 10% (100 pts)
• Individual Assignments 45% (450pts)
• Group Report 20% (200 pts)
• Online Quizzes 20% (200 pts)
• Attendance 5% (50 pts)

Homework:
You are expected to read all of the assigned articles and chapters.
Homework will be assigned for most chapters in the text. Students will be expected
to answer multiple choice questions reflecting information from the readings. These
questions will be available through the UNCG Blackboard website and should be
completed prior to class. The homework assignments are randomly generated
from a pool of questions supplied by the publisher. Some of these questions may
appear on your quizzes. You will receive 10 pts for each completed assignment for a
total of 100 pts (10% of the overall grade). Assignments received after the class will
be considered late and penalized 10% each day. For example a 10 pts assignment
turned in 3 days late would be worth a maximum of 7 pts. AFTER TEN DAYS NO
CREDIT WILL BE POSSIBLE. After ten calendar days, no credit will be given.
Students will be required to discuss the reading materials and should come
prepared.

Quizzes:
There will be four timed quizzes administered online. Each quiz is worth 25 pts.
Quizzes will cover the information from readings, lectures, discussions, and
assignments. The quiz format includes multiple choice, short answer, and essay
questions. These quizzes are designed to evaluate your basic knowledge of
research methods.

You will have one hour in which to complete them. You may not log off and on.
Quizzes must be completed in one sitting. If you have inconsistent internet
connections, I suggest going to a lab on campus. You will not be allowed to
collaborate, though you may use the text and online resources. However,
plagiarism will not be tolerated. Students will be required to acknowledge the UNCG
Honor Code before beginning the quiz. You may see the UNCG Academic Integrity
Policy at http://academicintegrity.uncg.edu/complete/ for details.

A study-guide will NOT be provided (don’t ask). Your homework should serve as
very effective preactice for questions derived from the text and your notes will
cover what we discuss in class. There is no excuse for missing a quiz as they
are offered online and with a 48 hour window.

Assignments:
This course is organized around participation in a research team. You will work
individually on assignments that will be combined together to produce a final group
report. Each member of the team will be evaluated on the individual assignments
as well as receive a grade for the group report. Following are the breakdown of
research groups. Additional information on these assignments will be provided in
class.

Guiding Research Question: What needs to be done to facilitate immigrant


integration and incorporation in the Triad?

In order to answer this research question we will collect data from the following
populations:

Group 1: Members of the SALSA Mentoring Program


Group 2: UNCG Faculty and CNNC Research Fellows
Group 3: Administrators of Community Social Service Agencies
Group 4: Guilford County ESL Teachers & Teachers at the New School
Group 5: CNNC Americorp Members and Interpreters

Individual Assignments
Complete each of the following individual assignments by their scheduled due
dates (see course schedule). These assignments are designed to supplement the
text and lectures and train you for the tasks of the group project. Scoring rubrics
and additional information will be provided in class.

1. NIH Certificate for Human Subjects Research (100 pts. Due Sept 9)
Complete the computer-based CITI Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative -
Basic Course at https://www.citiprogram.org. This may take some time, so plan
accordingly. Once registered you may return to the site over several sittings to
complete the course. Once you have successfully answered the quizzes at the end
of each module, you will be given on option to print a certificate of completion. Print
two copies of the certificate; keep one for your records and bring the second to
class.

2. Annotated Bibliography Assignment (100 pts. Sept 25) You will select five
articles for review from the list of approved articles (or relevant approved academic
journals you find on your own and submit for approval) These articles are based on
empirical research for evaluation and assessment of mentoring or ESL programs.
Read the articles with special attention to the methods and findings. DO NOT RELY
ON THE ABSTRACT ALONE. You will write an annotated bibliography (see
http://www.library.cornell.edu/olinuris/ref/research/skill28.htm). Your annotation
should include the following information and should be no less than 300 words:
• Citation in ASA Style;
• research question;
• population characteristics;
• research method;
• primary findings; and
• critique or comments.

3. Nonparticipant Observer Assignment (50 pts. Due Oct 9)


We will be conducting observations of the International Student Association Friday
Fests (http://www.uncg.edu/ipg/fridayfest.html)1. In particular we would like to
document cross-national interpersonal interactions. Before going to a fest,
complete the readings on non-participant observations also look at “Setting up
one's work site”. Follow Dr. Varenne's notes (especially III. Inevitably: field notes A.
Types). Dr. Varenne provides examples from scratch notes to narrative field notes.
In conducting your own observation you will take scratch notes You will later
transform your scratch notes into proper field notes. See conventions on field notes:
http://varenne.tc.columbia.edu/class/common/fldnt/fldnt_conv.html. Submit copies
of your scratch notes (handwritten) and narrative field notes with personal
observations/comments (electronic). We will use your notes in class for discussion
on October 9th.

4. Interview Assignment (100 pts.) As a class you will help in developing


questions to add to an interview protocol. Some class time will be devoted to
developing questions pertinent to your group’s population. We will also practice the
techniques of interviewing during class time. You will then be assigned a person to
contact for an interview. You will receive a grade for three separate elements: A)
questions for the protocol (25 pts due Oct 14); B) conducting the interview (25 pts
due Oct ); and C) transcribing the interview (50 pts due Oct ).

5. Survey Assignment (50 pts) As a group you will refine and focus on some
aspect of immigrant incorporation into the community (e.g. access to resources,
English proficiency, jobs, housing, education, etc.). You will be allowed to contribute
about five survey questions to an instrument that will be administered to the
various groups being studied. We will compile these questions into a single paper
survey. Once these are returned, each class member will be responsible for helping
to enter the data into a spreadsheet on Google Docs (template to be provided in
class). You will receive credit for: A) assistance in developing the questionnaire (10
pts); and B) performing data entry (40 pts).

6. Quantitative Analysis Assignment (50 pts) Using the dataset created in


Assignment 5 you will generate a report using descriptive statistics. This will include
the frequency distribution (see Ch 14) and averages (mean, mode, median). You will
complete a worksheet in class that will help you compile a summary table of this
information. Using the summary table, you will individually prepare in a brief
narrative report (2-3 pages of text or approximately 600 to 900 words, example to
be provided in class).

Group Report (Total 200 pts):


Individual grades will be assigned by evidence of group participation (50 pts total
from 25 pts. self evaluation in half page report of your role in your group’s report
and 25 pts from an evaluation from other group members), by the quality of the
final group research report (150 pts). The quality will be judged by the instructor’s
review (100 pts) and the teaching assistant’s review (50 pts).

The entire report should be between 25 to 30 pages of text (with additional figures
and tables as needed). There are four to five authors in each group, thus you will
need to discuss how to divide up the work of writing the paper. You will need to

1
Optionally you may observe any group that includes a mix of immigrants and native born persons
interacting together. This could include a church group, a school organization, a club, a sports team,
etc. You must ask first to have this option approved.
coordinate with one another on how to communicate and possibly meet outside of
class.

Report elements:
Your report should be structured like a research article in the social sciences. This
means it will have an introduction, a literature review, a review of methods, a
presentation of findings, and a conclusion section:
• Introduction: The introduction of your report will attempt to “hook” the
reader, present the critical questions and hypotheses, and provide a synopsis
of the remainder of the report. The introduction should be around 2-3 pages.
• Literature Review: Building upon the annotated bibliographies of academic
journal articles provided by your peers, your group will create a review of
current social science research in your topic area. It is expected that your
group will develop a well written, well researched review (around 5 pages) to
be included in after the introduction of the class report. This review will be a
synthesis of the existing literature. A few resources:
o Review of Literature
http://www.wisc.edu/writing/Handbook/ReviewofLiterature.html
o How to Write a Literature Review
http://library.ucsc.edu/ref/howto/literaturereview.html
o The Literature Review
http://www.deakin.edu.au/library/findout/research/litrev.php
o The Literature Review: A Few Tips On Conducting It
http://www.utoronto.ca/writing/litrev.html
• Review of Methods: This section (around 3 to 5 pages) will detail the methods
you’ve employed in your project (interviews, observations, surveys). You will
also note the population studied and how they were recruited. Finally, you
will discuss the strengths and limitations of the methods employed.
• Findings: This section is the “meat” of your paper (anywhere between 10 and
20 pages). You will present the findings relevant to your research topic. You
will need to provide findings from both your interviews as well as the survey.
Weave these findings together to present an argument that either supports
of refutes your hypothesis. Use quotes from interviews to support the more
generalizable findings of the survey. Use graphs, charts, and figures
judiciously.
• Summary and Conclusions: This section (anywhere between 3 and 5 pages)
reviews the significant points presented in the paper and draws conclusions
relevant to the research topic. You may choose to discuss the importance of
the findings, the problems with the findings, and the direction of future
research. You may also discuss any implications or suggestions for the
program you’ve studied.

Policies

Attendance:
Attendance is required. Attendance is vitally important for the understanding of the
material and participation in the class discussions. Participation in the reading
discussions is mandatory. Evidence of reading and contribution to the conversation
are required.
Religious/Cultural Holidays:
You have the right to observe major religious/cultural holidays without penalty. At
least one week before the holiday, you should submit a written statement that
includes both the date of the holiday and the reason why class attendance is
impossible. Prior arrangements must be made. If prior arrangements have been
made, you will not be penalized.

Illness:
If you are absent due to personal illness, or illness of a dependent, you must
provide written documentation to that effect. Acceptable documentation includes
doctor’s note (on office letterhead), hospital record, or records from a recognized
medical/healthcare agency.

Extra Credit:
You will be given the option of up to four 10 pts extra credit assignments (40 pts
total or +4% to final grade). Throughout the semester there will be the possibility of
writing 2-3 page (typed) reaction papers for outside lectures and presentations,
special TV programs, and other events that will be announced in class.

Special Needs and Considerations:


Please let me know at the beginning of the semester if you have a physical or
learning disability that may need accommodations. The college will make
reasonable accommodations for persons with documented disabilities. Students
should also notify Student Services of any special needs.

Cell Phones & Laptops


Please turn your cell phones off. Please do not answer cell phone calls in class. If for
some reason you must have a cell phone on, advise me before class and switch the
phone to silent mode.

Laptops are encouraged in class. However, chatting, checking e-mail, surfing, etc.
are to be discouraged. If your are not using your laptop for legitimate class
activities, please turn it off.

Course Schedule
Date Lecture Topic Readings HW Assignments
#
What is social research?
8/26 Introduction to the course - - -
8/28 What is science? Babbie Chapter 1 1 -
Trochim Foundations -
The language and philosophy Language or Research
9/2 of research Philosophy of Research - -
Reality, intersubjectivity, and
9/4 theory building Babbie Chapter 2 2
Babbie Chapter 3 & Trochim
Foundations - Ethics in Assignment #1
9/9 The ethical social scientist Research - Due
Complete Quiz #1 Online between 9/12 and 9/15
Where do we begin?
Designing the research Babbie Chapter 4 & Trochim
9/11 project Design 3
Conceptualization,
Operationalization, and Babbie Chapter 5 & Trochim
9/16 Measurement Conceptualizing 4 -
Pan Preparing Literature
Reviews Chapters 3 & 5 (on
9/18 How to search the literature Blackboard) - -
Babbie Chapter 15, How to
Prepare an Annotated
Bibliography, & Literature
Literature Reviews & Reviews for Applied Research
9/23 Annotated Bibliographies (Chapter 5 only) 5
Complete Quiz #2 Online between 9/26 and 9/29
Preparing for the field
Assignment #2
9/25 Qualitative Field Research Babbie Chapter 10 6 Due-
Schensul, Schensul, &
LeCompte. Essential
Ethnographic Methods:
Observations, Interviews, and
Questionnaires Chapter 5
9/30 Observations -The Basics [Blackboard] - -
Observations - Field notes/
10/2 Practice Observation Varenne Fieldnotes -
Schensul, Schensul, &
LeCompte. Essential
Ethnographic Methods:
Observations, Interviews, and
Questionnaires Chapter 7
10/7 Interviews - The basics [Blackboard] -
In-depth Interviews on
Interviews - Sensitive Topics Emotionally Sensitive Topics:
and Probing and further Guidelines and Assignment #3
10/9 elicitation Considerations - Due-
Complete Quiz #3 Online between 10/10 and 10/13
Entering the field
Class time to develop Assignment #4A
10/14 interview protocol - - Due-
Class time to practice
10/16 interview protocol - -
Assignment #4B - Conduct your interviews between 10/16 and 10/23
10/21 NO CLASS - FALL BREAK
Collecting generalizable data
6: Indexes, Scales, and Babbie Chapter 6 & Trochim Assignment #4C
10/23 Typologies Scaling 7 Due-
Babbie Chapter 7 & Trochim
10/28 7: The Logic of Sampling Sampling 8 -
Babbie Chapter 8 & Trochim
10/30 8: Experiments Types of Designs 9
Babbie Chapter 9 & Trochim
11/4 9: Survey Research Survey Research -
11/6 NO CLASS
Complete Quiz #4 Online between 11/07 and 11/10
Assignment #5A
11/11 Class time to develop survey instrument Due-
11/13 Class time to finalize survey instrument
Understanding the Results
11/18 13: Qualitative Data Analysis Babbie Chapter 13 10
14: Quantitative Data
11/20 Analysis Babbie Chapter 14 -
11/25 Lab Time - -
Assignment #5B
11/27 NO CLASS - THANKSGIVING BREAK Due-
Writing the report
12/2 Lab Time
15: Reading and Writing Babbie Chapter 15 & Trochim Assignment #6
12/4 Social Research Write-up Due-
12/9 Lab Time
Final Draft of
12/9 Reading Day NO CLASS Report