Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts
Wheaton College
Sociology

Academics

Learning Outcomes

The Department of Sociology has set fundamental learning objectives. They center on the development of inquiry and critical analysis, ethical reasoning, quantitative and qualitative skills, written and oral communication, and knowledge about the global world.  Our main goal is to enable our students to develop and deepen their understanding of Sociology as “a way of seeing”; we do this through building fundamentals beginning with Soc190 Self and Society, which emphasizes a theoretical and disciplinary foundation.  Students then take increasingly more challenging courses in the areas of institutions, inequality and social change, and deviance and social control. The foundational core includes Soc 272 Analyzing Social Trends, Soc301 Sociological Theory, Soc302 Research Methods, and Soc402/403 Senior Capstone.  The students are given the option of taking either Soc402 Senior Seminar, which requires conducting empirical research and writing of a thesis, or Soc403 Senior Proseminar, which focuses on theory and writing of a conceptual thesis.

Elements of Learning Objectives

Inquiry and Analysis - Complex issues are explored and examined in the contexts of evidence to arrive at informed conclusions and judgments.  Thinking critically is nurtured through a habit of inquiring mind.

Information Literacy – Quantitative and qualitative data are examined to identify, locate, evaluate, and effectively and responsibly use information to solve the problem at hand.

Written and Oral Communication - Express ideas coherently and clearly in both writing and speaking.  Different writing technologies, a mix of texts and images, and purposeful presentations are designed to foster understanding and to promote varied ideas and perspectives.

Knowledge of the Global World– Understand the importance of cultural and historical contexts (whether local, national or transnational) that shape varying social identities, relationships and systems.

Sociological Perspective - Demonstrate imagination and proficiency in the analysis of social relations and processes.  Understand the patterns of continuity and change in social life that either confirm or modify sociological theories and perspectives. Deepen the understanding of sociology as a discipline and how sociological knowledge is created.

Research Design ­– Grasp the relationship between theory and research by operationalizing key concepts from sociology and related disciplines and create research instruments (surveys, interviews, participant observation, content analysis, ethnographic field notes, etc.)  Demonstrate an understanding of relevant populations and samples by addressing issues of representativeness, generalizability and selection strategies.

Quantitative and Qualitative Data Analysis – Develop analytical skills using statistical software (such as Minitab and GIS) and conduct secondary analyses using databases (such as the GSS). Also understand a grounded, inductive approach to analyzing themes that emerge from qualitative data.

Ethics – Understand that sociological research is framed by ethical guidelines for the protection of human subjects and through the honest and transparent collection, analysis and presentation of data.  Students deepen their ethical understanding in research and data collection through individual projects and peer review.

Synthesis—Bring together theories, concepts, perspectives, and data for a nuanced understanding of social life.  Be able to synthesize relevant concepts within a theoretical framework and evaluate competing theories and perspectives in a convincing way.

 

 

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