SOC 6620 - QUANTITATIVE RESEARCH DESIGN

INSTRUCTOR: J. Brandon Wallace, Ph.D.
TIME AND LOCATION:W 6:00-9:00 PM, Peck Hall 320
INSTRUCTOR'S OFFICE, PHONE, AND EMAIL: TODD 330, 898-5976, jbwallae@mtsu.edu
OFFICE HOURS: MWF 8:00 AM - 9:00 AM and 10:15 AM - 1:15 PM.  Other times by appointment.

It is the responsibility of each student to read and understand the syllabus. It serves as an agreement between the student and the instructor, specifying the rights and responsibilities of each. Be sure to clarify any questions you may have about the syllabus the first week of class.

COURSE STRUCTURE:

This course is a graduate level seminar designed to facilitate learning by encouraging participants to take an active role in a focused discussion of quantitative social science research methods. Seminar sessions will include lecture, discussion of assigned readings, and discussions of assignments. Students are expected to complete all readings and assignments in advance so that they may actively participate in class discussions.  Participants should feel free to express their opinions and ideas and must respectfully allow others to do so. Questions are encouraged and positive criticism is welcomed. Active participation in the seminar will have a positive impact on final grades.

REQUIRED AND RECOMMENDED READINGS:

Two texts are required for the course:  The Practice of Social Research, by Earl Babbie and the Sociology Student's Writer's Manual (6th Edition) by Johnson, Rettig, Scott, and Garrison.  The latter is available in the bookstore.  The former is expensive, but widely available.  I recommend trying to find a used copy at a local bookstore or online.  You might even be able to borrow a copy from a sociology faculty member.  The most recent edition is the 12th, but recent older editions are very similar.  For example, the 12th edition costs  $120 new and $103 used on Amazon.com, but you can by the 10th edition for $30.  Readings in the syllabus are from the 12th edition, but I think you can figure out what to read from earlier editions easy enough.  Use the table of contents from the 12th edition as a guide.

Additionally, you may want to consider the following recommended resources for more detail on research design:

John Creswell, Research Design: Qualitative, Quantitative, and Mixed Methods Approaches, 2nd Edition. (Text emphasizing the organization and writing of social science research.  Also discusses qualitative and mixed methods.  Strongly recommended.)
Earl Babbie, Survey Research Methods, 2nd Edition.  (Babbie's near classic text on survey methods.)
Don Dillman and others, Internet, Mail, and Mixed-Mode Surveys, 3rd Edition.  (Good, more recent text on survey methods.)
Donald Campbell and Julian Stanley, Experimental and Quasi-Experimental Designs for Research.  (Classic text on experimental design.  Click here for an excerpt of the first half
of this publication.)
Robert Weber, Basic Content Analysis, 2nd Edition.  (Good treatment of methodological issues in quantitative content analysis.)
William Trochim, Research Methods Knowlege Base.  (Decent online research methods resource. You can read straight through from beginning to end by clicking "Next" at the bottom of each page (start with "Foundations"), or you may jump to specific topics of interest from the table of contents.)

REQUIREMENTS AND ASSIGNMENTS:

Students are expected to attend class, take notes, keep up with assigned readings, and participate in class discussions. There will be two take-home essay exams, each requiring students to assimilate information from the readings, lectures, class discussions, and assignments. A set of study questions will be made available before each exam. Students will have 2 weeks to answer four essay questions.  The first exam will be given approximately 6 weeks into the semester.  The second exam will be given near the end of the semester.

Each student also will complete and discuss ten assignments relating to research design. Students will generally have one week to complete the assignments and should be prepared to discuss them at seminar session in which they are due.

Finally, students are expected to design an individual research project on a topic of sociological interest and write a research proposal describing the project. Each student will make a brief presentation of their project near the end of the semester. Students are not required to carry out the research, but the proposal should contain a thorough discussion of the project, including a summary of the relevant research literature and a detailed description of the methods and instruments to be used to collect and analyze the data. The proposal is due December 8. Students are encouraged to use this opportunity to develop a proposal that could become their Master's Thesis proposal.

GRADES:

Each exam is worth 100 points. Each exercise is worth 10 points. The individual research proposal and presentation is worth 200 points. A total of 500 points is possible. The total points received will be divided by 5 to determine final scores. Grades will be assigned according to the following scale:  90-100%=A, 87-89%=B+, 83-86%=B, 80-82%=B-, 77-79%=C+, 73-76%=C, and 70-72%=C-.  Any score less than 70% will be considered failing.

ACADEMIC HONESTY:

Having someone complete exams, assignments, or projects for you and plagiarism (claiming another's written work as you own, including materials obtained from the internet) will be considered cheating. Students engaging in such acts may not only be given a zero on the exam or assignment in question, but may fail the course as well. Additionally, the professor may report such actions to appropriate university officials for subsequent action, including probation or suspension. (See theStudent Handbook.)

MISCELLANEOUS:

If you have a disability that requires assistance or accommodation, or if you have any questions related to accommodations for testing, note taking, reading, etc., please speak with me as soon as possible.  You may also contact the Office of Disabled Student Services (898-2783) with questions about their services. Students registered with the Office of Disabled Student Services will be accommodated as best as possible.

The Department of Sociology and Anthropology at MTSU hosts an Undergraduate Social Science Symposium each Fall to give undergraduate students an opportunity to present papers they have written in various social science classes. This year the Symposium is November 2 and 3.  If you are interested in helping with the symposium as a session organizer or moderator, please contact Dr. Brian Hinote at bhinote@mtsu.edu or Dr. Meredith Dye mdye@mtsu.edu.  

Additional information of interest to sociology graduate students, majors, and minors is available on the Department of Sociology and Anthropology web page at http://www.mtsu.edu/soc.

If you are not already, I encourage you to get involved in the Graduate Student Sociology Association (GSSA).  For more information, contact Dr. Angela Mertig (amertig@mtsu.edu) or visit their web site at http://frank.mtsu.edu/~gssa/.