Lab work is an important part of this course, providing you with hands-on experience in sociological inquiry. You will utilize the World Wide Web and an introductory workbook and disk to analyze data from the General Social Survey using SPSS (Statistical Package for the Social Sciences). Lab attendance, exercises, and exams constitute 20% of the course grade directly and indirectly another 25% for your group projects . All lab assignments are due on the date indicated.
Remember to make a copy of your Healey et al. Exploring Social Issues disk and bring it and the workbook to lab.
Additional Lab Assignments
Besides the lab analyses you will be doing in the Healey et.al book, Exploring Social Issues using SPSS for Windows, you will be doing some other lab assignments. Since this is an introductory sociology course, there are several useful resources and skills you will explore that may be very useful to you in subsequent social science courses and hopefully even after college.
Some of the other lab assignments you are asked to do will introduce you to major sociological ideas and scholarly resources. They include:
1) For Th. 1/24: Comparing how sociology is conceived and taught
in other universities. Using the
WWW Virtual library Sociology Institutions and Departments
at: http://socserv2.mcmaster.ca/w3virtsoclib/institut.htm please divide
up the continents in lab among different classmates, and within each continent,
examine how introductory sociology is taught in one particular university.
1) What topics, issues, or questions is the course considering?
2) What readings are they doing? (You may attach printed
copies of the webpages you find.) 3) How does the content of that
sociology course compare with the content of the one you are taking? 4)
How do you explain any differences you observe? 5) What are the
limitations of this method of investigating how sociology is taught in other
parts of the world.
2) Assessing Websites [with thanks to Paula Hammett. 1999. "Teaching Tools for Evaluating World Wide Web Resources." Teaching Sociology 27 (January): 31-37.]
1. Ask a sociological question. Write
it down. Is this a descriptive or an analytic question?
2. What words/terms are you going to search for on the web to locate relevant information for
addressing this question? Write down those terms.
3. What search engines are you going to use? Rank the top three in the order you will try them.
4. Perform your search.
5. What are the three or four most promising sites you found? Give their complete web addresses.
6. Select the best of these sites, and give your reasons for choosing it.
7. Cite this page completely, in American Sociological Association (ASA) format. See example
8. Print a copy of this web page and attach it to your evaluation.
9. Write an evaluation of the site you chose, applying the six criteria (of authority, purpose and
coverage, accuracy, timeliness, integrity, and objectivity) developed by Paula Hammett,
available at: http://libweb.sonoma.edu/web/eval.html
Pay particular attention to the sociological location and credibility
of the author.
For further resources about evaluating web sites, see: http://libweb.sonoma.edu/web/evalsources.html
. NYU pays a license fee so that students and faculty may use
which contains many thousands of sociological abstracts. It is available electronically in Bobst library or on the web, for anyone logging on with an NYU ID, at: http://www.csa3.com/htbin/ids52/procskel.cgi?fn=f_advselect.html&ctx=/wais/idstmp/ctxAAAabFj7a&cat=socialsci
Find an abstract in Sociological Abstracts that deals with one of the concepts or theories you have encountered so far in the course. To do this, you will need to learn how to access Sociological Abstracts, search for key words in it, scan the results of your search, and tag and print the abstract you want. You will be shown how to do this in lab on Tues. 2/25 or Th. 2/27, and your assignment will be due that day.
For 3/4 and 3/6 in lab, have at least two people in your project group read each abstract and type up answers to the following questions: 1) Is this an abstract to a published paper or something else? 2) Is it primarily a research paper or a theoretical paper? If it is an abstract for a theoretical paper, find another abstract for a research paper and use it. 3) What is the question being addressed in the paper? Is it a descriptive or an explanatory question? 4) What is the independent and dependent variable? 5) What data were used? 6) What is the sample and the population? 7) When were the data gathered? 8) What is the design of the study? 9) What is the major finding or claim of the paper? 10) What theory or theories are used in the paper? 11) What further questions does this abstract suggest to you? Please be sure to give a full citation to the abstract.
4) Accessing and analyzing the General Social Survey (GSS) on the world
wide web. Because the GSS was funded by the National Science Foundation
with public monies, the data are now in the public domain. All of the variables
you have been analyzing in the smaller dataset from the GSS in your Healey
book, plus many more asked almost every year since 1972, are available at:
Go to this site and perform one of these types of analyses:
1) Look at some variable (perhaps an attitude) that relates to your project and analyze how the representative samples over the years have felt about that attitude or issue. Or,
2) Compare people who differ on a key variable (e.g., race, gender, age, political party, or something else) with respect to their behavior or attitude.
You can run simple cross-tabulations right at the site. If you wanted to perform more complex analyses, you could download the variables you wanted for the years you wanted and save them on your own computer as an SPSS file (or as a file compatible with some other statistical package such as SAS). Obviously, you will need to learn how to search the codebook for the names of variables on issues that interest you, and how to ask the computer at the website to perform the analysis you want. You will learn how to do this in lab. You will also learn about the bibliography of published papers using the GSS that exist on various issues.
Print the table(s) you generate and type up a brief summary in your own words of what you have learned from the analysis. What further questions does it suggest to you?
at: http://www.censusscope.org/ Go to the CensusScope
web page. You can find information on race, population growth, family
structure and income there. You can examine maps for the U.S., states,
and counties, showing their racial/ethnic diversity. You can also get
numbers for the counties you identify in the rankings section. Before
3/11, try this in lab where you can get help if you have any problems
before you need to use CensusScope for your class assignment due 3/11.
I hope you will take with you from this course knowledge of these resources, how to access them, and how to analyze them critically.