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Because active class participation is so important for the success of this class, I have designed the assignments to facilitate deeper engagement with the readings and richer discussions. The class is structured around frequent, shorter assignments which allow me to provide you with regular feedback and enable you to develop your writing and analytical skills. I will cover important concepts and arguments in class, but I would like to spend most of our time together in discussion and interactive learning exercises rather than lectures. This requires that you come prepared to think critically, articulate ideas coherently, listen attentively and respect the diversity of experiences and perspectives of your classmates.
Class participation (100 pts. -- 10%)
Class participation will include regular attendance, informed and thoughtful contributions to discussion, in-class exercises and homework assignments. You are expected to keep up with the readings and come to class prepared with comments and questions. Periodically, I will assign short homework assignments designed to enrich understanding of the readings through applications to your current social world (i.e., I may ask you to interview a roommate or friend, observe social interactions in your dorm, or collect data from the TV or Internet and then report your findings to the class).
You are expected to attend every class session and to let me know the reason for absences, preferably ahead of time. Students who miss more than four classes (regardless of excuses) will have their grades penalized. The attendance sheet will be passed out at the beginning of class for students to sign.
Midterm (150 pts. -- 15%)
The midterm will be in-class and involve short-answer and essay questions.
Participation on Class Discussion Board (200 pts. -- 20% total)
The class will have an electronic discussion board that will enable us to engage in an ongoing conversation in and out of the classroom and to draw connections between concepts and debates over the course of the semester. I will ask you to participate on the discussion board in two ways: 1) as a discussant; and 2) as a respondent.
- Class Discussant Memo (100 pts total - 10%). You will sign up to be a class discussant for one week's readings. This will involve writing a short memo (roughly 2-3 pages), analyzing and critiquing (not merely summarizing) the assigned readings from MSL, posting it to the discussion board, presenting your arguments briefly to the class (roughly 5 minutes), and responding to questions and comments. You must post your memos by Tuesday, noon, of the week that we are discussing your assigned readings in order to give your classmates a chance to read and think about your memos before class on Wed. In Wednesday's class, we will discuss your memos and you will have a chance to respond.
There will one or two other discussants who will present on the same readings, so you will meet with me as a group prior to your class session to discuss your memos. You are responsible for scheduling a time with me during office hours or at another time when you can all come together. In addition, I strongly encourage you to meet on your own and prepare your comments in collaboration (eg. One of you can address the strengths, the other focus on the weaknesses; one of you can agree, the other disagree with certain key debates). You will each, however, submit, your own written memo..
- Respondent Comments (10 times, 10 points each, 100 points total - 10%). You will post short, informal but thoughtful responses (roughly 2-3 paragraphs) to the discussion board during 10 different weeks (out of a total of 15 in the semester). Your comments should be posted to the board by Thursday, noon (although you are free to post them anytime earlier) and they should offer further thoughts, insights, and provocations on the week's readings, the class discussants' memos and issues raised in the preceding MW class sessions.
(Basically, you know those late night and dinnertime conversations you have with your friends and roommates about what happened in class that day? Sometimes after class do you have an epiphany or come up with a response to a question that you wish you had given in class? Well, I want you to share those ruminations with me and the rest of the class!) Your responses will be ungraded but you must post them in a timely and conscientious manner.
Click here to read the Guidelines for Writing and Responding to Memos (Will open in a pop-up window).
How to Cite References in Your Paper (Will open in a pop-up window)
Two Short Essays (50 points each, 100 pts total - 10%) (2-3 pages)
You will write two short, analytical papers summarizing and critiquing two of the four assigned books. You have a choice of writing about any of the books except for the one you are researching for your group project (see below). For example, if you are doing your research and group presentation on Erikson's Everything in Its Path, then you can choose to write about two of the other three books, Thorne's Gender Play, Duneier's Sidewalk or Hochschild's The Managed Heart. These essays are due the day of the group presentations on that particular book.
Click here to read the Guidelines for Writing Short Essays (Will open in a pop-up window).
Group Research Project (250 points - 25% total)
This assignment is designed to help you synthesize and apply the readings toward understanding you own social worlds, to foster collaborative learning, to develop public presentation skills, and to get you out of the classroom and into the streets! Students will work together to design a research project based on one of the four assigned books, gather observations, analyze findings, and report them in both oral and written form. You are not expected to collect huge amounts of data, but rather to walk through all the steps of conducting sociological research. In effect, you will be taking the arguments from one of the books and seeing how they apply in your own social contexts. The project is divided into: 1) a group presentation; and 2)an individual written report as follows:
- Group Presentation (100 pts - 10%). You will work together with a group of about five students to organize and lead a class session in which you will apply the concepts and arguments from one of the four case studies (the full-length assigned books) toward understanding a contemporary social issue. I will divide you into groups according to your choice of books and you will work together to decide on a topic, research it both in the library and through original data collection, and then present your findings to the class. The data collection need not be extensive (one interview and one participant observation session). You will then write up your findings in an individual research report (see below). The group presentations are all scheduled for two weeks after we finish reading the assigned book. Possible projects are as follows:
- If you choose Thorne's book, Gender Play, which explores the construction of gender by elementary school children, your group could examine government policies, media reports and other studies of current gender relations in public schools. You could then conduct interviews and observations at schools and day care centers in Grinnell and/or interview students about the gender dynamics in their elementary schools.
- If you select Duneier's Sidewalk, which chronicles the everyday experiences of "public characters" who live and work on the streets of New York City, your group could compile data on how other cities have responded to the proliferation of street venders. Your original data collection could include observation of sidewalk interactions in downtown Grinnell as well as interviews with local officials about the history and enforcement of local zoning ordinances.
- Finally, a group study of Hochschild's The Managed Heart, which introduces the concept of "emotional labor" in her study of flight attendants, could investigate other occupations in which human feelings are increasingly bought and sold in the performance of service work. You could interview and observe waiters and waitresses at local restaurants or secretaries at the college to see how they package and commercialize their emotions in their workplace interactions.
- Whatever book you choose, I encourage you to use this project as an opportunity to engage more deeply with members of the college and local community. You could connect with local organizations and/or attend events and activities pertaining to your topic (eg. A PTA meeting; a gathering of the Grinnell business association; an event sponsored by a college club or community group). I also encourage you to use visual aids, multimedia, role plays, etc. to make your class presentation original and engaging. You can regard your group presentation as an opportunity for you to present the arguments and findings from your own research (see below) while drawing connections between your research, the work of your classmates and the book studied in class.
- Individual Research Report (150 pts - 15% total) (5-6 pages).
Your research report will describe the data collected for your group presentation, the strengths and weaknesses of your methods, and how your findings support or refute the arguments in your assigned case study. You are not expected to conduct extensive research of secondary sources, but you must synthesize the course readings and discussions, include relevant background sources, and present your own and your groups' findings and arguments.
You will hand in two components. The class period preceding your presentation, you will turn in a draft report (ungraded) for other students to read and comment on. A week after your presentation, you will submit a final revised written report of your research that also describes your individual contribution to the class presentation, critiques the effectiveness of your group effort, and responds to any questions raised in class discussion.
Final (200 pts. -- 20%)
Like the mid-term, the final exam will be in-class and involve short-answer and essay questions. The final exam will be cumulative, focusing on material from the second half of the semester but also asking you to demonstrate knowledge of material from the entire course.
It is very important for you to adhere to the rules of academic honesty as outlined in the Student Handbook (pp. 11-14), which states that you must "acknowledge explicitly any expressions, ideas or observations that are not" your own. Plagiarism is a serious offense and, unfortunately, with electronic access to so many different kinds of sources, is on the rise. Lack of awareness of the proper rules of citation is not an excuse. Thus, you must acknowledge any assistance of any kind on your papers, including collaboration with other students and help from the Writing Center.
(I strongly encourage you to use the Writing Center as a valuable resource to improve your writing skills. Again, just make sure you acknowledge their assistance.) There are a number of appropriate citation styles, but I recommend that you use the American Sociological Association reference guide, which I will make available to you. See me if you are unsure of proper protocol in acknowledging contributions to your ideas.
|935 - 1000 pts||A||94 - 100%|
|895 - 934||A-||90 - 93%|
|865 - 894||B+||87 - 89%|
|825 - 864||B||83 - 86%|
|795 - 824||B-||80 - 82%|
|770 - 794||C+||77 - 79%|
|725 - 754||C||73 - 76%|
|695 - 724||C-||70 - 72%|
|665 - 684||D+||67 - 69%|
|625 - 664||D||63 - 66%|
|595 - 624||D-||60 - 62%|