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Guidelines, Procedures and Best Practices for Sociology Coursework

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General Guidelines express best practices, general procedures, and efficient student strategies for learning sociology.

Sociological Imagination
Social Facts
Information Literacy
Wikis, Comments

Assignment Guides

guideEach course activity/assignment is described in a 1-2 page Assignment Guide found below. These guides provides step-by-step instructions to completion of the respective activity. Read through each guide to familiarize yourself with the assignment requirements, and then refer to the guide as you begin your work. Students who carefully follow these guides and rubrics will learn the course material thoroughly and, as a result, will earn the highest possible grade for the activity.


Assignment Rubrics      

A Rubric is a "definitive rule of procedure" - each assignment rubric will help you identify primary aspects of the assignment, as well as specifying exactly how the assignment will be graded. These rubrics are not meant to limit your creativity in fulfilling the assignment, but as you become familiar with using them you will recognize how critically helpful they can be as you study and learn.

Collaborative Learning Team Plan Team Presentation Essay Blogging
Evaluation (Self
or Group)
(Research Article)
Notes and Summary
Outline and Summary Research Paper

       * the little "+" at bottom left of the Rubric will open a full-screen window to view or print

RUBRICs use a similar 4-6 column format from Optimal; Very Good; Competent;
Acceptable; Below Average to Unacceptable
Evaluation (Self or Group) and Research Paper are based on percentages, whereas all other
grading rubrics utilize a point scale.

Learning Aids

include short videos and other visual, as well as additional 'How To' documents to help 'fill in the gaps' between what you have read in the Assignment Guides/Rubrics and the methods and practices you may already be familiar with in MyClasses. Reviewing these will reinforce what we have covered in class or that you have discussed with other students in Forum or in group work.

How To Videos



Writing Assignments provide an oppor-
tunity to share your understandings of weekly required materials. Achieving the Week's Learning Goals will be reflected in your writing.


Note-Taking  View Video

The process of writing or typing notes results in more efficient retention and understanding. Notes provide a record of key elements of written, visual and/or oral material. Notes create a ‘template’ for your study which prepares you to think critically about new material and how it relates to what you already know.


Outline and Summary  

Outlines and Summaries reveal individual students' learning of new information in General Course Work and individual investigation. Outlines and Summaries organize student thinking about new information by integrating it with existing understandings and prepare them for participation in classroom activities. Format reflects thinking organized around sociological themes, demonstrates connections to relevant glossary terms and provides evidence, appropriately cited and referenced, to support the themes and reveal engagement in scientific inquiry and learning sociology.


Team Plan and Presentation  flowchart thumbnail

Team Plans and Presentations require cooperation and a high degree of engagement from team members. The Team’s job is to design an interactive learning experience for the class on a relevant topic or issue of their choice in cooperation with me. Each week, you will be exposed to a variety of issues to focus on and pursue; the choice is yours. My role is to guide the development of your Plan.

thumbnail     Suggested Semi-Scholarly Resources for General Course Work

The following are suggested resources for Weekly General Course Work; expect to make use of them throughout the semester. This is far from an exhaustive list of acceptable Semi-Scholarly sources but it is a place to start. All sources listed here are well-respected, use systematic and scientific information collection procedures, and report socially relevant details with clarity, and in a largely unbiased manner. You may find and use other sources with similar qualities; the best of those will be added to this list.

    Public and Not-for-Profit Media Sources -- US and Global


PBS (Public Broadcasting Service)  US based; television broadcast.
  • The Newshour.   PBS's nightly news, now airing on Saturdays and Sunday's as well as weekdays.
  • Frontline.   PBS's Weekly Investigative Report; all Frontline videos are free and provide GREAT information on a wide range of topics.

  • The BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation)    The BBC is The UK's Public Television

    Deutsche Welle    Germany's Public Television; it airs on Link TV if you have satellite.

    Center for Investigative Reporting    is a not-for-profit independent, California based news organization with multiple ongoing projects. The CIR produces video as well as print reports. The CIR works with other public media sources in the US so stories here may also be aired on public television and covered by public radio. Check out 'investigations' for their ongoing projects and reporting including Food for 9 Billion,   covering food production for a growing global population;   Heat and Harvest,  covering the effects of climate change on food production;   Dirty Business and Carbon Watch, both covering energy production and climate change; Waking to Warming. Check out their videos page and topics pages for other ways to organize their information. Topics include: Business and Technology, Crime and Justice, Education, Environment, Global Conflict, Health and Welfare, Money and Politics, National Security.


  • NPR (National Public Radio)    National Public Radio produces a wide range of high quality news programs and stories.
  • Public Radio Delmarva   All the local Public Radio Stations on the Peninsula
  • WAMU   is the Public Radio station in DC from American University
  • The Diane Rehm Show (radio from WAMU)
  • This American Life (radio, some television)
  • PRI (Public Radio International)   Public Radio International produces independent stories for Public Radio Stations with a distinctly global focus.
  • The World a partnership program between WGBH (public radio station in Boston), and the BBC.

  • paper     Newspapers, other Commerical Media -- US and Global

    Newspapers are commercial news sources, not public, which means that increasingly access to their online information requires a subscription. SU has subscriptions to these newspapers (and others) so using Blackwell Library's links will allow you to print and access complete site resources.

  • The Guardian (British newspaper)
  • The New York Times (US newspaper)
  • The Washington Post (US newspaper)
  • Al Jazeera America    is commercial news from the Doha, Qatar-based Jazeera Media Network; it launched August 20, 2013.
  • ∴ Check out Al Jazeera America's trends to find current information; the Sections, specificially         International;     Economy;     Environment;     Education;   and   Health.
  •     Sociology Blogs and other Non-Scholarly Resources

    This is a new section; the resources listed here are intended to deepen your understanding of complex sociological concepts and issues. In addition, they demonstrate the sociological imagination of the authors: how they think about things in their daily lives, the questions they ask, the information they seek, and ultimately, how they use sociology, sociological terms and sociological theory to make sense of their daily lives. Their blog posts demonstrate critical thinking, and sociological imagination and therefore provide examples of the kind of systematic and organized, evidence-based thinking and scientific logic I'm expecting you to demonstrate in General Course Work and particularly with formal writing assignments.

  • Everyday Sociology Blog (W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.) Multiple authors in conjunction with Norton's Sociology Textbooks.
  • Sociology in Focus (Pearson) also has multiple authors from another publishing company, Pearson, in conjunction with their Sociology Textbooks.
  • The Grumpy Sociologist also posts for Pearson; here, the focus is on sports, masculinities, popular culture and violence.
  • Montclair Socioblog from some members of the Sociology Department at Montclair State University (in New Jersey). This blog also has a sociological blogroll; check it out.
  • The Society Pages is also sponsored by W.W. Norton and Company, Inc. but is more broadly focused on social science and more in depth than introductory sociology.
  • Sociological Images one of my favorite images is this one
  • A Backstage Sociologist doesn't so much offer sociological analysis as a distinctly sociological interpretation of very specific issues.
  • Girl w/Pen! is a blog 'bridging feminist research and popular reality'.

  • U.S. Government Bureaus, International Organizations and other Non-Profit Organizations

    These sites are extensive and include data as well as reports. In SOME cases, for some topics, these reports may qualify as sociological sources. Many of these organizations are UN (United Nations) affiliated and those affiliations are noted below. All collect information and report it in accordance with their missions which should be prominently displayed on each site. Check the mission (likely part of 'About Us' or similar link) of ANY organization whose information you are considering; bias, if there is any, is likely to be revealed there.

    U.S. Census Bureau
    The US Census Bureau maintains an extensive web-site with access to lots MORE than census data. Check out the U.S. and World Population Clock on this site also. On the same page are several graphics including a population pyramid for the US; this one is for a very limited time period but it demonstrates how populations change over time.

    U.S. Agricultural Census   
    The Ag Census site provides lots of information about food and agriculture in the US.

    Population Reference Bureau
    An independent international not-for-profit organization with vast resources on the world's population and demographics. Check out: the World Clock, and the World Population Infographic, in particular, World Graphics, and the World Population Data Sheet.

    Pew Research Center
    "Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan fact tank that informs the public about the issues, attitudes and trends shaping America and the world. It conducts public opinion polling, demographic research, media content analysis and other empirical social science research. Pew Research does not take policy positions. It is a subsidiary of The Pew Charitable Trusts" ( Check out: Social Trends, and Internet and Tech as well as Global for results of their Global Attitudes Project. The Pew Research Center also maintains a set of interactive graphics to demonstrate much of their research findings.

    World Resources Institute   
    "WRI is a global research organization that works closely with leaders to turn big ideas into action to sustain a healthy environment—the foundation of economic opportunity and human well-being" (from their homepage). "WRI’s mission is to move human society to live in ways that protect Earth’s environment and its capacity to provide for the needs and aspirations of current and future generations" ( the WRI is affiliated with the World Bank and the UNDP as well and relies on their data in producing its reports.

    The OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) reports on the developed countries.
    Check out: The Bettter Life Index for member-countries and how the US and others compare on the index. A brief look at the OECD's topics in comparison with the UNDP's gives a pretty good picture of the different issues facing developed and developing countries. For example, the OECD tracks information on it's work with the G20, Health, and Education, specifically PISA, the Programme for International Student Assessment in member countries. In addition to work on Corporate Governance, the OECD is home to the International Energy Agency which has a special section for students, the the Nuclear Energy Agency, and the International Transport Forum. The OECD also maintains a Data Lab accessible through the 'Statistics' link with some really great graphics.

    The United Nations and its Affiliates

    The United Nations is the premier international organization and arguably the hub of Global Civil Society, and central to institutionalization processes of global governance. The information available through the UN and its affiliated organizations is fundamental to understanding not only what is going on in the world today but also to gaining a global sociological perspective. Global inequalities and their causes, as well as how those inequalities are related to the function of major global social institutions is revealed in UN mission statements and the work of affiliated organizations. In addition, the information available through the UN and its affiliates does a great job of connecting the local (micro) to the global (macro) and of showing connections between history and current social contexts (required elements of sociological imagination) as well as revealing the meaning (Verstehen) of roles in the global political-economy.

    United Nations (English, main page). Check out the Structure and Organization and Chart for more information about the UN, it's affiliated organizations, programs and projects.


    United Nations Development Programme (UN affiliate).
    Check out: Millennium Development Goals as well as the following focus areas; Fighting Poverty, Building democratic societies, Preventing crisis, enabling recovery, Protecting the environment, HIV/AIDS, and Empowering women, and Growing national capacity.

    The World Food Program (UN affiliate).
    In particular, check out the WFP Hunger Map an interactive map showing rates of hunger and WFP activities. Also check out: School Meals, Nutrition, Cash and Vouchers, Purchases for Progress, Procurement, Focus on Women, HIV/AIDS, and Food Security Analysis.

    UNESCO (UN affiliate) is the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization.
    UNESCO organizes its work by theme; they include: Education for the 21st Century, Fostering Freedom of Expression, Protecting Our Heritage and Fostering Creativity, Learning to Live Together, Building Knowledge Societies, One Planet, One Ocean, and Science for a Sustainable Future. What I really like about UNESCO's information is that the subsections on each themed page can each be connected to one or more of the other themes. For example, check out Education for Sustainable Development, the first link under One Planet, One Ocean, or Sport and Anti-Doping under Learning to Live Together.

    United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN affiliate).
    Check out: Population Facts as well as the following focus areas; Development Beyond 2015, Population Division, Sustainable Development, News, which you can view by topic, and Publications.

    United Nations Environment Programme.
    This site has some videos, and apparently its own YouTube page. Check out the various topics the UNEP focuses on: Climate Change, Disasters and Conflicts, Ecosystem Management, Environmental Governance, Harmful Substances, and Resource Efficiency.






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