University of Mary Washington
Methods of Social Research (WI)
MWF 10-10:50 (Trinkle 106A)
LAB: R 11-12:15
12:30-1:45 (Annex B 106)
GW Hall 205
MWF 9 to 10, TR 2-3 and by appointment
See One … Do One … Teach One
This course is like no other that you have or will take in sociology – it is focused not on substantive
knowledge, but on learning about activities used to gain substantive knowledge. In common medical school
parlance, to learn fully one must “see one, do one, teach one.”
In order to become a bona fide sociologist –
to appreciate the sociological imagination – you must know how to investigate social reality empirically,
including the use of statistical packages to analyze quantitative data.
However, you also must first watch
someone else “perform the operation” before you can do it yourself, much less teach the procedure to
To that end, the bulk of the semester will be spent in observing and assisting practical social
What you can expect from me
Gathering data to meet the needs of a community organization is a more immediate, timelier,
and ultimately more rewarding way to be engaged in social research and social activism.
semester we’ll be working with District 16’s Probation and Parole office.
We will consult with
our community “client,” develop a sample and write a survey predicated on their needs, and
begin writing a research proposal for the organization. We will examine literature reviews,
hypothesis development, survey instrument construction, and sample design, going over these
areas in class and the rationale behind them.
We will then proceed to collect and analyze data.
We will also analyze secondary data in several SPSS data sets.
There is a certain amount of
basic information that you must be exposed to.
This means that there are times during the
course during which I will simply have to lecture.
However, this should never be an attention to
relax and become passive.
I can offer you my valued expertise, which runs the gamut of sociological research methods and
I’ve worked for three large-scale survey projects, on the workforce of mental
hospitals, school reform in Chicago, and poverty in Philadelphia neighborhoods.
ethnographies of law and business schools, interviewed neighborhood activists about gangs,
analyzed data for studies of high-powered corporate executives and the parents of critically ill
I’ve even content analyzed messages posted on the Internet.
Studying research methods can be fun, but also sometimes intimidating.
Please make full use of
my office hours and our class discussions.
As the semester proceeds and as I deem necessary, I
will also make myself available in the computer lab for optional lab work.