Sociology has become, for a fair number of our majors, a refuge within the university system from the onslaught of mathematics. Despite the misconception, the study of society is rooted in empirical observation and statistical analysis. After all, we are a Social Science, not a Humanity. This pattern is particularly vexing as roughly 10% of sociology majors are quite accomplished mathematicians.
This reality produces a true challenge for teachers in sociology, and one that may be solved through the hybrid environment. SOC 316 teaches students the conceptual under pinning of statistical analysis, their practice through an industry standard statistical program, and their application through the completion of research project. These goals divide the class into three sections: conceptual lectures, labs, and the paper.
By using recorded, online lectures, students with math-phobia can watch the process over and over until they understand the process, while students with stronger math skills can fast forward and not waste their time. For both sets of students, their understanding will be evaluated through a series of weekly homework assignments collected through blackboard. After the homework due, a document appears showing students how to properly do the work.
The process for the lab is largely the same, using videos to help bridge the gap between students who are very comfortable with computers and those who are largely perplexed by them. Due to the complexity of the software, and the fact that unlike math which might be used daily there is little opportunity to use the software outside of class, a pair of weekly homework assignments will evaluate students’ skills. Rather than using a document, short videos are recorded walking the students through the steps.
The final object of the class is evaluated through a series of weekly assignments that mirror the process of producing the analysis section of a journal article. The sit in parallel to the skills taught both in lecture and lab.