Skip to Navigation | Skip to Content

Department Programs

Sociology Department Writing Program

The Sociology Department understands writing as a crucial component of the education process.  Having revised its writing program in 2002, the department here reaffirms this commitment and further adjusts its program to meet the new curricular goals of the College and to comply with the criteria outlined by the Academic Writing Program's Advisory Board in February 2004.  As stated in the 2002 document, the “Department Faculty believe that writing is not only a constructive mechanism for more profound learning, but also a tool for the development of clear thinking and articulate speech.”  In light of the Academic Writing Program Advisory Board’s February 2004 document, the sociology department has revised its writing program in order to meet the new college curricular goals.  Department faculty remain committed to teaching writing throughout sociology courses and support the addition of oral and visual rhetoric to its considerations.  When honed, written, visual, and oral communication skills will improve student’s critical thinking skills, and ultimately make students more effective agents of change and renewal.

Rationale for the writing proposal
The department believes that a standardized writing program will be beneficial to the department and its students in the following ways:

  • Faculty will have a complete knowledge of the structure of the departmental writing program and will be better informed as to how individual courses are used to serve those ends/expectations and contribute to a sequencing of writing expectations at the department level. 
  • Faculty will have a clear sense of the types, length, and frequency of writing that sociology majors are doing in all the sociology courses, and therefore a better understanding of “reasonable” writing requirements.
  • Faculty will be aware of the integration of research fluency in the writing process.
  • Students will have a clearer sense of departmental writing expectations and research requirements
  • Students will follow a comparable progression of writing and research expectations within the major and will have an opportunity to increase writing competence through the program. 
  • Students will develop skills for writing and research that enhance effective communicating in further academic study or in public service.

I. Compliance with the Goals of the College Academic Writing Program.

Summary of Sociology Department Writing/Rhetoric Program

Course

Type of Writing

# of pages

Location within Semester (by thirds)

Feedback

151

Book review

Essay exams

Book review

Research project

5 pages

1 page (x3)

5- 7pages

5-10 pages

Middle

Beginning, middle, end

Middle

End

Peer review

Instructor grade with comments

Instructor grade with comments

Instructor grade with comments

153

Interview paper

Essay exams

8-10 pages

8 pages (x2)

Middle

Middle, end

Instructor grade with comments

Instructor grade with comments

210

Group research project

Short papers

Book review

Essay exams

5-7 pages

3 pages (x3)

5-7 pages

4 pages (x2)

End

Beginning, middle, end

Middle

Middle, end

Instructor grade with comments


Instructor grade with comments

Instructor grade with comments

Instructor grade with comments

250

6 journal entries

Test essays

Academic paper

10 pages

6 pages

5-7 pages

Beginning, middle, end

Middle, end

End

Instructor comments

Instructor grade with comments

Instructor grade with comments

252

Reading summaries

Group project

Research Project

9-18 pages

10-15 pages

10-15 pages

Beginning, middle, end

Middle

End

Written comments

Written comments

Written comments with revisions

253

Case studies (x2)

Oral group presentation

Essay exam questions

Reading responses

2-4 pages total

15 minutes


8 pages (x2)

½ page per article (x25)

Beginning, middle

End


Middle, end

Beginning, middle, end

Instructor grade with comments

Instructor grade with comments/peer evaluation

Instructor grade with comments

Instructor comments

255

Test  essays

Structured research report

1 page (x2)

20 pages

Beginning, middle

End

Instructor grade with comments

Instructor grade with comments

302

Literature review

Mass transit journal

Essay exams

Community project reflection

5 pages

5 pages

10 pages

6 pages

Middle

Middle

Middle, end

end

Instructor grade with comments

Instructor grade with comments

Instructor grade with comments

Instructor grade with comments

303

Essay questions

Reading responses

Research paper

3 pages per test (x3)

1 page per article (x30)

15 pages

Middle, end

Beginning, middle, end


Beginning, middle, end

Instructor grade with comments


Instructor comments


Instructor comments on drafts/final grade and commetns

304

Essay questions

Literature review

Book review

3 pages per test (x3)

8-10 pages

5-6 pages

Middle, end

End

Middle

Instructor grade with comments


Instructor grade with comments

Instructor grade with comments

306

3 short papers

ethnographic interview/theory integration paper

essay exam questions

3 pages (x3)

8-10 pages

 

4 pages (x2)

Beginning, middle, end

Middle

 

Middle, end

Instructor grade with comments

Instructor grade with comments

 

Instructor grade with comments

308

Reflective writing

Book review

Final exam

Essay exam

Report

Research/Presentation

13 pages total

4-6 pages

8-10 pages

4 pages

4 pages

6-8 pages

Beginning, middle, end
Middle

End

Beginning

Middle

End

Instructor feedback


Instructor feedback

Instructor feedback

Instructor feedback

Instructor feedback

Instructor feedback

311

Reading responses

Research project

1 page per reading

15 pages

Beginning, middle, end

15 pages

Instructor feedback

Instructor feedback and grade

316

Weekly journal


Literature review

2 pages (per week)


15 pages

Beginning, middle, end


Middle, end

Instructor feedback (check or check-plus)

Instructor verbal feedback on annotations handed in during process, instructor feedback on final paper

317

Artifact assessment

Thesis driven research paper

5 pages/5-8 minute oral presentation

15 pages

Beginning, middle


Middle, end

Instructor feedback


Instructor verbal feedback on annotations/draft/instructor feedback on final draft

318

Reading responses

Research project

1 page per reading

10 pages

Beginning, middle, end

end

Instructor feedback

Instructor feedback and grade

319

Essay questions

Paper

4 pages per test (x3)

6 pages

Beginning, middle, end


End

Instructor grade with comments


Instructor grade with comments

320

 

 

 

 

395

3 integrative papers

weekly reflection papers

perspectival paper/presentation

4-5 pages

2-3 pages

20 pages/presentation 15 minutes

Beginning, middle, end

Beginning, middle, end


Checkpoints throughout the semester; due at end of semester

Written feedback on final product

Used for discussion in seminar


Brief written feedback at checkpoints; peer review of rough draft; input from class at presentation; written comments for instructor on final paper

II. Integration throughout the major curriculum.

151 -- In the introductory course, writing methodologies will build off of the knowledge gained from writing and research taught in English 101.  Further, informants/interview methodologies and ethnographic writing styles will be introduced. 

255 – In this course students are introduced to statistics and computer applications within the social sciences.  Students will be introduced to writing styles in empirically based research.

318 – The social theory course assumes a strong background in writing, and uses the semester to further develop literature based research methods through a lengthy, written theoretical paper. (See the “Research Objectives” at the end of this document)  In this course requirement the hope is that students will strengthen their ability to integrate theoretical orientations with real world issues.

320 – The social research course further develops the format of scholarly writing styles in both qualitative and quantitative research.  Students develop skills in literature reviews, as well as data collection and analysis.  Formal oral presentations are given to organizations involved in the research project. (See the “Research Objectives” at the end of this document)

395 - In the sociology capstone, students are provided with an opportunity to understand and analyze the implications of a Reformed worldview with the basic assumptions and concepts of the discipline of sociology. (See the “Research Objectives” at the end of this document)  In particular, the perspectival paper requires that students bring together these two large areas of inquiry.  This requirement is intentionally open-ended to allow students a wide berth in pursuing an area of concern that is of interest to them personally and/or professionally.  Students are required to present their findings through oral and written venues, building from what they have learned about writing in their previous coursework. 

III. Consideration of the role of departmental offerings in the core

The department has six courses in the core curriculum:  151 and 210 are placed within the Societal Structures in North America core category.  153 is in the Global and Historical core category.  Soc 250 is housed in the Persons and Community category, and 395 is in the Integrative category.  The frequency and diversity of rhetoric requirements in Sociology 151, 153 and 210 are well suited for students not majoring in sociology.  Sociology 250 has added a more discipline-based approach to rhetoric in sociology, but still maintains a diversity of writing assignments.  Sociology 395 reconsiders not only the core themes within the major but also requires written skills developed in students throughout the major.   

IV. Faculty Awareness and Development

  1. The Department’s Rhetoric Document will be incorporated into the faculty packet that is distributed to all new faculty.  The assigned mentor for the new faculty member will be responsible to review the document with the new faculty. 
  2. The Department’s Rhetoric document will be available for faculty and students on the department’s web site.
  3. New majors will be encouraged to refer to the department’s web site and review the rhetoric document.
  4. The department’s rhetoric liaison will be responsible for reminding faculty of their responsibilities regarding the Rhetoric Document, and in particular the requirement for adequate feedback and the need to save copies of student papers for department assessment.
  5. The department will review/assess the Rhetoric Document every five years. 
  6. The department will maintain a high profile of the Rhetoric program by using scheduled departmental development meetings to discuss rhetoric program. 
  7. The department’s rhetoric liaison will announce campus-wide development opportunities to the department. 

V. Assessment

A Rhetoric Committee will be formed with the rhetoric liaison as the chair of the committee as well as two additional department members.  The committee will assess the Department Rhetoric Program every years. Every five years a written report will be prepared by the committee and presented to the department.  The report will have two aspects:

  1. Descriptive Assessment
    1. Results of alumni and senior exit survey questions regarding the writing program.  The senior exit questionnaire will also ask a series of open-ended questions about students’ experiences with writing and rhetoric related to specific assignments.  The goal of these questions will be to assess what assignments were most useful to students in learning to write in a discipline-specific manner.
    2. Results of a survey of department member’s compliance with and observations of the writing program.  The survey will include questions that consider changes in course content, and course pedagogy/assignments to the current campus rhetoric standards. 

  2. Outcome Assessment
    1. Committee review of selected assignments:  The committee will assess five freshman student writing assignments from 151. The students will be students likely to declare a sociology major.  The five students will be tracked through out the major and have writing examples collected from each required course in the major.  These sample portfolios will be used by the committee to determine whether student’s writing skills have improved in the course of the sociology major. 
    2. Grading rubrics will be composed and used for students in these assignments as well as used by the committee in determining improvement. 

  3. A rubric for oral presentations will be used by students in preparing oral presentations.  Professors who require oral presentations will be responsible to compose a brief assessment of student’s oral presentations based on their fulfillment of the requirements in the rubric.  These brief assessments will be collected by the rhetoric liaison.