SOC 4510
Introduction to Social Research
3 credit hours

Course Information
Course Description: Social research is the foundation for the scientific understanding of social phenomena. This course introduces students to the theory and methods of social research. Although the course content focuses on sociology, the research methodology covered in this course is applicable to other social science disciplines (and science in general). Students can expect to learn the entire process for conducting scientific research and evaluating research conducted by other researchers. Course activities involve library research (this can be accomplished on-line), practical assignments that lead to the development of research skills and a research proposal, and participation in discussion groups to practice research communication skills.
Course Objectives: The primary objective of this course is to give students the skills needed to design research projects to answer questions about social phenomena and to evaluate the research that others have conducted. Upon successful completion of this course, students will be able to design research projects to: 1) examine a variety of social science topics concerning group/individual attitudes and behavior, and 2) evaluate the effectiveness of groups, programs, and organizations.
Prerequisites and Corequisites: Course prerequisites include Introduction to Anthropology, Psychology, Political Science, Sociology, or other social science. While not a prerequisite, some background in social statistics is suggested. An introductory social science course (preferably Sociology) is an important prerequisite because it introduces students to social research subject matter, and the theoretical perspectives and research techniques used in social research. An understanding of social statistics will help students better understand and critique existing social science research.
Course Topic: Topics covered in this course include the meaning of social science, selecting an appropriate research topic, reviewing and critiquing research, formulating hypotheses, developing a study design and sampling plan, data collection techniques, data analysis, and technical writing.   
Specific Course Requirements: Students should be proficient in the use of a word processor for completing course assignments and papers--preferably Microsoft Word or WordPerfect, and an Internet browser for accessing the course and surfing the Internet, such as Netscape or Microsoft Explorer.
Textbooks, Supplementary Materials, Hardware and Software Requirements
Required Textbooks:

Please visit the Virtual Bookstore to obtain textbook information for this course:

Supplementary Materials: None
Hardware Requirements: Pentium 133 or better; 32 Megabytes of RAM or better; Windows 95 or higher; CD-ROM; communications software; a 28.8 modem or faster; and a dependable internet service provider (ISP).
Software Requirements: Microsoft Word or WordPerfect
Assessment and Grading
Testing Procedures: Students are required to complete two timed online examinations that may consist of any combination of multiple choice, true or false, short answer, and essay questions. Students will also need to complete 6 short quizzes that cover the material in 6 of the assigned chapters.
Grading Procedure: Assignments, exams., paper, and class participation and quizzes will be used to assess the expected learning outcomes. Students will be evaluated against a class norm (average). High achievement in this course is performance that is significantly better than the class average.

10 assignments @ 10 points each 100
2 exams. @ 100 points each 200
1 paper @ 100 points 100
Class Participation 100
6 Chapter quizzes @ 10 point each 60
TOTAL 560 points

Grading Scale: 504-560---A
below 336---F
Assignments and Participation
Assignments and Projects: ASSIGNMENTS:
1) Learning WebCt, Research Tools, Scientific Process;
2) Study Purpose and Selecting a Research Topic;
3) Grounding Research in Theory;
4) Research Questions and Hypotheses;
5) Conceptualizing and Operationalizing Variables;
6) Sampling Plan;
7) Experimental Research Design;
8) Questionnaire Construction;
9) Data Analysis Plan: Selecting Appropriate Statistics;
10) Reviewing Literature.

The ten (10) required assignments illustrate different steps in the scientific research process. They are designed to help students understand, and develop skills in, each of these steps.

In addition, the ten assignments together will form the skeleton of the research proposal-the paper project. Therefore, students should treat each assignment as leading to this final paper. Hints for revising assignments for inclusion as sections of the research proposal include:
1) Use comments from instructor's evaluation of assignments to improve on that step of the research process;
2) add additional support from the research literature for arguments, ideas and decisions expressed in assignments; and
3) rewrite, rewrite, and rewrite to improve the presentation of ideas.

PROJECT: A 7-10 page paper that is a Research Proposal for a study that the student would like to conduct.

Class Participation: Students must communicate with other students using the bulletin board to post insights gained from reading the textbook and reviewing published research articles. To receive full credit for class participation, students must contribute a minimum of 3 questions, insights, or answers to classmates' questions each week. Posts to the bulleting board must reference/discuss specific theories, findings or methods of social research, and must reference the relevant chapter and/or sources to count toward class participation points.
Punctuality: Reading assignments are due Mondays by 4:00 p.m., chapter assignments are due Fridays by 4:00 p.m., and examinations and papers must be completed and submitted (when appropriate) by the scheduled dates and times. There will be no late submissions, make-ups, or extra-credit. If a scheduling conflict is anticipated, arrangements should be made in advance of due dates.
Course Ground Rules
Students are responsible for what they achieve in this class--neither cheating nor plagiarism will be tolerated.

Students with learning disabilities or any other conditions which may necessitate accommodations to be made on exams or other assignments are to notify the instructor by the second week of class.

Students must access their course account at least every other day and stay abreast of new developments ("pop" quizzes, questions, assignments, course changes). Participation is required.

Students are expected to Learn how to navigate in WebCT, must use the assigned class e-mail address as opposed to a personal e-mail address, address technical problems immediately, and observe course etiquette at all times.

Guidelines for Communications

The following are examples of email etiquette:

Always include a subject line.

Remember without facial expressions some comments may be taken the wrong way. Be careful in wording your emails. Use of emoticons might be helpful in some cases.

Use standard fonts.

Do not send large attachments without permission.

Special formatting such as centering, audio messages, tables, html, etc. should be avoided unless necessary to complete an assignment or other communication.

Respect the privacy of other class members.

Discussion Groups: The following are examples of discussion group etiquette:

Review the discussion threads thoroughly before entering the discussion. Be a lurker then a discussant.

Try to maintain threads by using the "Reply" button rather starting a new topic.

Do not make insulting or inflammatory statements to other members of the discussion group. Be respectful of other's ideas.

Be patient and read the comments of other group members thoroughly before entering your remarks.

Be positive and constructive in group discussions.

Respond in a thoughtful and timely manner.


The following are examples of chat room etiquette:

Introduce yourself to the other learners in the chat session.

Be polite. Choose your words carefully. Do not use derogatory statements.

Be concise in responding to others in the chat session.

Be prepared to open the chat session at the scheduled time.

Be constructive in your comments and suggestions.

Web Resources:

Columbia Guide to Online Style by Janice R. Walker and Todd Taylor

Citation Styles Online\


The Tennessee Board of Regents Virtual Library is available to all students enrolled in the Regents Degree Program. Links to library materials (such as electronic journals, databases, interlibrary loans, digital reserves, dictionaries, encyclopedias, maps, and librarian support) and Internet resources needed by learners to complete online assignments and as background reading must be included in all courses. 

Students With Disabilities

Qualified students with disabilities will be provided reasonable and necessary academic accommodations if determined eligible by the appropriate disability services staff at their home institution. Prior to granting disability accommodations in this course, the instructor must receive written verification of a student's eligibility for specific accommodations from the disability services staff at the home institution. It is the student's responsibility to initiate contact with their home institution's disability services staff and to follow the established procedures for having the accommodation notice sent to the instructor.

Syllabus Changes

The instructor reserves the right to make changes in the syllabus if necessary due to time constraints or other unforeseen events.   If this is necessary, members of the class will be notified as soon as possible BY E-MAIL and posted on the BULLETIN BOARD.

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