Senior Experience Options

As the capstone course in sociology, the senior experience gives you an opportunity to apply what you have learned up to this point in the major. It will show your level of mastery in:

  1. Developing the capacity to think sociologically, cultivating a “sociological imagination” with which to interpret the social world;
  2. Developing the ability to recognize and apply multiple theoretical perspectives to an understanding and analysis of human agency and social structure;
  3. Developing the tools needed to think methodologically about how to gather and use data to study social life;
  4. Cultivating and strengthening your ability to think critically and write analytically;
  5. Planning and implementing an original research project through which you demonstrate an integrated understanding of sociological thinking, theory, and research and analysis methods.

The department offers three senior experience options that are described below. Internship and seminar are open to all majors while thesis is available to eligible honors students (3.7 major gpa and 3.5 cumulative gpa).

Sociology 495 Internship

Students work at selected social service and community organizations supervised by on-site staff.  This option provides opportunities to observe the operation of agencies, to engage in field research, to analyze organizational behavior through the lens of sociology, and to develop interpersonal skills.  Students will spend 12 or more hours a week (for a total of 120 hours) interning and will also participate in a student-run seminar offered by Professor Linda Heuser.

Course requirements consist of a journal (which includes both a log of internship hours and daily detailed fieldnotes that become data for your final paper), a “staged” research paper (15-20 pages with 15-20 appropriate and useable references), class discussion and facilitation, oral presentation of research, resume, and senior portfolio.  Students are responsible for locating and making their own internship arrangements.  See the Department of Sociology and Office of Community Service Learning websites for internship possibilities.

(A list of previous internship sites is available here.)

Sociology 499 Seminar

Through an original research project, students apply the theoretical and methodological knowledge gained in the major to a concrete research question (or issue) studied throughout the semester.  This option allows students to consider the range of sociological sub-specialties comprising the discipline, collect and analyze data to enhance sociological knowledge, and effectively discuss research and the research process.  The seminar also makes use of and develops students’ own sociological interests by selecting a topic within the framework of this discussion-centered course taught by Professor Stas Vysotsky. 

Students will spend 6-8 hours a week on their projects as they collect and analyze original data (80 hours) and conduct library research (40 hours).  Course requirements include classroom discussion and facilitation, oral reporting and presentations of research, a “staged” research paper (20-25 pages with 20-25 appropriate and useable references), resume, and senior portfolio.  See the attached course description for the 2011 seminar entitled Subcultures and Countercultures.

SOC 499: Sociology Seminar: Subcultures and Countercultures

This course will focus on the detailed study of subcultures and countercultures.  Potential topics include, but are not limited to: the presentation of self, the development of individual identity, group cohesion and group dynamics, and the relationship between subcultures and countercultures and systems of power (based on class, race, gender, and sexuality). The study of subcultures will reflect a diversity of theoretical perspectives used in contemporary sociology.  Students will research a subculture or counterculture of their choice and develop an analysis of some element of the subculture or counterculture under study grounded in sociological theory.

 Sociology 497 Thesis

(Available to members of the Sociology Honors Program who have a 3.7 major gpa and 3.5 cumulative gpa)

The senior thesis involves the design and implementation of an IRB approved mixed method (qualitative and/or quantitative) research study of a topic chosen by the student and discussed with a faculty member in the department.  Students enroll in Soc 495 Internship or Soc 499 Seminar as well as register for an independent study in sociology (for a total of two credits) as they complete a rigorous, in-depth research project that includes the collection and analysis of primary or secondary data grounded in relevant theoretical and empirical literatures.  A written thesis (30-35 pages with 35-40 appropriate and useable references), oral presentation of study findings at Student Scholarship Recognition Day, resume, and senior portfolio are required.

 

Senior Internship Proposal

To apply for the Senior Internship, you must write a 4-5 page proposal in which you address the following:

1)      Internship Site: Provide the following information about your chosen internship: name of organization, organization’s mission, and activities/tasks/projects to which you will be assigned. 

2)      Research Question: Describe your preliminary research topic, research question, or area of interest that you might explore at your internship site and that also enables you to integrate and apply your sociological knowledge and skills.  In others, what are you tentatively trying to uncover and investigate about the social world there?

3)      Sociological Framework: What makes this proposed topic, question, or area of interest sociological?  How will you frame it or conceptualize it sociologically?  What might it allow us to learn and understand about our society?

4)      Methods:  How will you propose to collect data to address this topic, question, or area of interest?  Specify the research method(s) that you may use along with possible sample/s and data collection procedures.  For example, if you plan to conduct semi-structured interviews with a population, indicate who that population is, and how you will have access to interview them; or describe the specific field site you have selected for ethnographic research; or identify an existing data set that you will use and manipulate for quantitative analysis.  Also, tell us what experience you already possess in carrying out what you propose here. 

5)      Theory: What specific sociological concepts and theories could help you to understand the social phenomenon you are investigating?  Be specific.  Also, what sociology courses have you taken that may provide you with the materials and perspectives to effectively engage this research topic, question, or area of interest?

6)      The Sociological Self: Analyze how your interests in this internship site and this topic, question, or area of interest relate to both your personal and professional goals; why do you believe the senior internship is the most appropriate capstone option for you?

Senior Seminar and Thesis Proposal 

To apply for the Senior Seminar or Senior Honors Thesis, you must write a 4-5 page proposal in which you address the following:

1)      Research Question: State your topic and research question(s) that enables you to integrate and apply your sociological knowledge and skills; what are you trying to uncover and investigate about the social world?

2)      Sociological Framework: What makes this proposed topic, question, or area of interest sociological?  How will you frame it or conceptualize it sociologically?  What might it allow us to learn and understand about our society?

3)      Methods:  How will you collect data to answer your research question?  This is the most specific (detailed) section in this proposal, as it lays out how you will gather data to test your research question(s).  Specify the research method(s) you will use, how you will gather data, and your specific site/sample.  For example, if you plan to conduct semi-structured interviews with a population, indicate who that population is, and how you will have access to interview them; or indicate the specific field site you have selected for ethnographic research; or indicate an existing data set you will use and manipulate for quantitative analysis.  Also, explain how your proposed research project is feasible based on your skills, resources and timeframe.  Feasibility can be shown in a number of ways:  provide confirmation that the group under study has granted you access, include a letter of support from the group under investigation, describe how specific times, places, and other dimensions impact the successful completion of your proposed project, and outline specific factors, needs or resources (e.g. transportation, supplies, equipment, conflicting obligations, time constraints) that influence how you will go about your research.  Essentially, you must “convince” us that your proposed research study is possible.

4)      Theory: What specific sociological concepts and theories could help to understand the social phenomenon you are investigating?  Also, what sociology courses have you taken that may provide you with the materials and perspectives to effectively engage this research topic, question, or area of interest?

5)      The Sociological Self: Analyze how your interests in this topic/question relate to both your personal and professional goals; why do you believe this senior seminar or honors thesis is the most appropriate capstone option for you?

Key Dates

TUESDAY, OCTOBER 23      You must electronically submit a 4-5 page (typed and double-spaced) proposal to your DROP BOX in the WISE site called Senior Experience 2011-12 by 5:00 p.m.

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 2             A faculty member will notify you of the department decision regarding your proposal.