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Senior Assignment

Sociology 495 – Senior Assignment Seminar

Fall, 2005

Office Hours: T/TH  12:30-2:00

Office:  1228 Peck Hall

Phone:  650-2451





This course is a required course for all general sociology majors.  You must receive a grade of C or higher in this course in order to graduate.  The purpose of this course is to assess the extent to which you have attained the learning goals for the sociology major, as listed below:

Statement of Major Goals

The undergraduate major in Sociology seeks to foster the development of the following knowledge and skills while encouraging students to become well-informed, active citizens who appreciate creativity and diversity.

·     The ability to understand, use, and apply social theory

·     The ability to understand, use, and apply social research methods

·     The ability to communicate effectively orally and in writing

·     The ability to search and use relevant sociological literature

·     The ability to understand diversity and its impact on society, social theory, and social research

·     The ability to define a problem, generate appropriate sociological data, and propose logical solutions

This assessment is performed through the Sociology Faculty’s evaluation of a research project which you carry out and write up in this class.  There is also an oral presentation concerning your project, which forms the basis of the assessment of the oral communication component of the Department’s learning goals.




In the event of snow or other inclement weather, a decision will be made by University officials as to whether or not the University should be closed for a specified period. My policy is that, unless there is an official University closing, the class will meet as scheduled. This means, specifically, that all student presentations, formal and informal, and assignment due dates will occur as scheduled unless there is an official university closing. Should there be a closing on an assignment due date or presentation date, the presentation/due date will automatically be re-scheduled at the next regularly-scheduled meeting of the class.


Plagiarism means representing the work of others as your work. This includes unacknowledged copying from any book, journal article, the Internet, or any paper written by someone else. If you use anyone else's direct words, it must not only be cited and referenced but also placed in quotes. Any such use (including close paraphrases) that is not in quotation marks constitutes plagiarism and is a serious violation of academic honesty. Any instance of plagiarism will result in an automatic failing grade for the assignment in which it occurred. Repeat violations will be referred to the appropriate University office for disciplinary action.  University policy provides that plagiarism be punished by failure for the course and possible suspension from the University.  In this class, any instance of plagiarism in the final Senior Assignment paper will result in an automatic grade of F for the course.   As a general rule, all of your work must be your own and written in your own words. Short, acknowledged quotations are permissible, but that is all.



As stated above, you must receive a grade of C or better in this course in order to graduate in the general sociology major.  Your grade for the course will be determined as follows:


A) Grades on your final Senior Assignment paper from your two readers (average of the two readers’ grades):  50%


B) Grades from the Sociology Faculty on your Senior Assignment presentation (average of grades from all Faculty present): 10%


C) Timeliness and quality of your work in this class, including all items next to “turn in” sections on the class schedule and dates to meet with professor.  This grade comes from your instructor: 40% (Note: Timeliness is an important component of this part of your grade.  Failure to meet the deadline dates will be penalized in all cases.  This penalty may be up to one full letter grade for each deadline date that is not met.)



Because of the importance of getting an early start in the Senior Assignment Seminar class, please be advised that any student with an unexcused absence from the first class meeting of Sociology 495 will be deleted from the class list and will receive a grade of WR (Withdrawn by Registrar at the request of the instructor.)


Please also be advised that the “timeliness and quality of your work in this class” component of your grade for this course includes attendance.  You are expected to attend all regularly-scheduled classes and mandatory appointments with your instructor, including FINAL PRESENTATION dates!  Failure to do so will negatively impact the “timeliness and quality” component of your grade.






Class Schedule


Please Note:  You must have a photocopy of your sources available for your professor and readers.  Such copies will be used to make sure students are using the readings appropriately!


August 25th


IN CLASS:  Discussion of Senior Assignment process and expectations.  Students will state their research questions, as developed in Sociology 302, to the class, and turn in short statements of their research questions to the instructor.   We will discuss PLAGAIRISM, QUOTING and other fundamental information about how to write.  Students without suitable research questions meet with instructor to evaluate feasibility of completing Senior Assignment this semester.


September 1


TURN INSubmit 3 copies  (for your instructors and two readers) of your REVISED research proposal from Sociology 302  and Sociology 301.   Further, turn in the previous drafts of the 302 and 301 papers so I can be sure you revised the papers as indicated by your instructors.  You must sufficiently cover the sociological literature to demonstrate at this stage that your research question is appropriate and relevant to sociological theory and past research.  BEWARE:  Do not simply cut and paste the two papers together.  You MUST  revise materials from Sociology 301 and 302 as suggested by the professors and as appropriate.  However do not change your basic research question except in very rare circumstances and as approved by your instructor. 


IN CLASS:  Students present research questions and methodologies, as developed in Sociology 302, to class.  Instructor will announce assignments of students to readers.  Instructor will also explain procedures for the required Human Subjects online training, along with related IRB procedures.


September 8th


TURN IN: By this time, you must have completed Human Subjects online training, and present a copy of your certificate to your instructor in this class.  Keep another copy of the certificate for yourself.



Guest Speakers will discuss various methodological and statistical approaches, including how to use secondary data, interviewing and content analysis.  Instructor will also discuss methodological strategies for qualitative research and conducting team-based surveys, with this discussion geared to the topics students identify in their research proposals.


You will get comments back from your instructor at this time, and in some cases from your readers. 

September 15th


TURN IN: In this class, you will present preliminary versions of your revised research methodologies based on comments from your instructor and in some cases from your readers.  You may be cleared by your instructor at this time to submit paperwork for IRB approval of your projects.  In other cases, you will need one more week to revise.  In this class, your instructor will also discuss the proper format for citations and references in  your papers.


September 22


TURN IN:Revised literature review and research methodology due in written form – including 3 copies, one for your instructor and one for each of your readers.  Remember to include all of your citations and references in the proper format.    Also,  turn in previous drafts so I can be sure you incorporated changes suggested by your readers.


Also, all of you who have not done so must have your paperwork ready to submit for IRB approval of your project.  If you miss these deadlines the likelihood of your successfully completing your project before the semester will rise sharply.  In this class, individual appointments will be scheduled during class time and during my office hours for the following week to review the status of your project.


September 29th


In Class:   Individual appointments to review the status of your project.  I will give you comments based on your revised literature review and research methodology turned in the previous week, and you may ask me any questions you have concerning moving forward on your project.  Once you have clearance from me and from the IRB, you may begin work on your research project.


October 6th


In Class:  Presentation by instructor on format for the Senior Assignment paper and presentation procedures.  Discussion of procedures for evaluating Senior Assignments and presentations.  Opportunity for students to ask questions that may arise in the process of doing your research.


October 13th


TURN IN: You should be prepared to make a 5-10 minute update to the class on the progress of your project as well as any challenges you are experiencing in carrying it out.


  Also,  turn in typed-written progress report status of your research project. 



October 20th


TURN IN:  Target date for completion of data collection or qualitative observation and analysis of data.  Students will turn in a typed written report of  preliminary findings and discuss them with the class.  All students who have not completed data collection/observation/analysis stage must meet individually with instructor.


October 27th


TURN IN First draft of Senior Assignment paper is due. Furthermore,  turn in previous drafts so I can be sure you have incorporated the changes of your readers.  Provide 3 copies, one each for your instructor and your two readers.  Discuss findings, conclusions, and relationship of findings to sociological literature in informal 5-10 minute presentation in class.  Today is the final “drop dead” date for completion of the data collection/observation/analysis phase of your project .


IN CLASS:  Instructor will discuss Powerpoint and other methods for formal audio-visual presentation of your Senior Assignments, due very soon now!  At this time you will be informed as to your presentation date.


 November 3rd


Meet individually with instructor for feedback on your first draft.  Also contact your readers for their comments this week.  As soon as you receive comments from your instructor and your readers, you should begin making appropriate revisions. 


November 10th


 In class:   Practice presentations for your formal audio-visual oral presentation for students scheduled to present on December 1st .  Bring your presentation on disc to class.


November 17th


In CLASS - Practice presentations for your formal audio-visual oral presentation for students scheduled to present December 8th  .



November 24th:  Thanksgiving BREAK


December 1 and 8th – Formal oral audio-visual presentations.  Submit 2 copies of your Senior Assignment paper on April 27.  STUDENTS MUST ATTEND BOTH DATES!


December 17th – FALL Commencement.  Celebrate your accomplishments in the Senior Assignment Seminar course, and as an SIUE sociology major!