Before we begin…

Introduction

This course, SSC300 – Doing Social Science, gives the novice investigator an overview of the process of social research. Studying the social sciences will encourage you to ask difficult questions and challenge assumptions about your everyday life. Many subjects come under the social science umbrella: Psychology, Sociology, Geography, Communications, and Geography. While this one course will not make you an expert researcher in all of these areas, it will teach you the basic concepts and research process inherent in all of the social sciences. The course is designed to be very ‘hands on’ with significant time spent completing exercises and working on a research project.

But, first we will begin with inquiry into the ways in which we know things (aka epistemology) and discuss the basic paradigms or viewpoints of social research. We then move to a discussion of the ethical issues involved when conducting research with humans. At this point we move on from our grounding in the philosophical roots to the practice of social research. From research design to data collection and analysis we move through a research project in which you will, thorough a series of exercises, conduct your own primary research. You will begin with a rigorous review of social scientific literature. Next, we will walk through refinement of a research question into an operationalized research plan with a testable hypothesis. After learning about a variety of data collection methods, you will design and implement an online survey and then analyze the results using basic statistics. Finally, all of these components will come together into a report that will be disseminated to a group of your peers for critique and feedback before a final copy is turned in for the course.

Quizzes

Success in this course relies on your preparations for class. You are required to read the text and other assigned materials before each of the exercises. For each textbook chapter there is a corresponding online quiz.  You must complete the quiz BEFORE moving on to the quizzes. You may attempt the quiz as many times as you like, retaking it until you receive the score you would like, but the quiz will no longer be available after the start of exercises for that module. Dates will be posted in the course schedule.  Each attempt is a different randomized quiz from a pool of question. After the scheduled date/time there will be no make up allowed. Your last grade recorded will count as your final quiz grade. You may work ahead in the text. There are 13 quizzes, each worth 20 points for a total of 260 pts or 26% of your final grade.

Discussions

Threaded discussions will occur throughout the course. Discussions are kind of like class participation… Since we don’t meet in person, this is where we get to exchange thoughts on the topics we are reading about. This is where you can show the application of the themes and concepts. In other words, you should be using social science vocabulary and apply the theoretical concepts you are learning to the topics being discussed.

One definition of discussion is, “an extended communication (often interactive) dealing with some particular topic.” Posting will require students to address one another’s comments and not simply declare an opinion or conclusion about a topic. You should post your comments as early as possible so that you can get a chance to respond to comments made about your post.

Your grade for this section will be based on how well you respond to others comments as well as how often you discuss the topic with others in the class. Discussion with others is important!

Word count and content will also be factored into grading. Go to the discussion forum. You will see a list of topics. Click on the topic that is due.   Be sure to post your initial commentary on or before the due first post deadline. Find the Post button, write your commentary OFFLINE. Copy and paste your responses into the DISCUSSION posting field. Do not attach a file. This makes it more complicated than necessary for those who will comment on your post.  Now, read through the other posts, and comment on them. Try to engage in discourse with the others about their posts. You should make at least three or four comments per topic. All comments must be online before the last posting deadline.

Exercises

Each module has several online  activities or exercises. These exercises are hands-on opportunities to explore research methods and techniques. Point values vary based on the amount of involvement required. Exercises will count for a total of 280 pts or 28% of your final grade {CONFRIM}. Some exercises will feed into the project.

Research Project

Throughout the course we will be conducting a research project. The project will involve the development of a literature review, analysis of secondary data (GSS), as well as primary data collection (survey and interview) and analysis. In each module you will work to compose a report of findings. These reports will be compiled into a final report and presentation of findings. The project will count as one-third of your final grade (330 pts).

Tell me who you are…

Now that you know where we are heading in the course, let’s learn a bit about you… Please go to the Discussion Forum on Blackboard and complete the Icebreaker. Introduce yourself to your classmates (name, background, reason for taking this course/major, etc.).

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