Research projects are a common type of assignment in sociology courses. Often, however, students are tasked to collect and analyze data without much preparation for these tasks. In this article, I propose an interview practice exercise that involves group work in pairs and role-play to help students that have to submit an interview-based research paper...
- Subject Area(s):
- Cultural Sociology, Education, Introduction to Sociology/Social Problems, Qualitative Methodology, Research Methods, Small Groups, Sociological Practice, Teaching and Learning in Sociology
- Resource Type(s):
- Assessment, Assignment, Class Activity
- Class Level(s):
- Any Level
- Class Size(s):
For an undergraduate Introduction to Sociology course, have the students write a research paper after interviewing 6-14 individuals about why they (the interviewees) decided to go to college. The students may work either alone or in a team of up to five. If they work alone, have them interview at least 6 people; if they work in...
Learning Goals and Assessments
- Goal 1: Students should be able to interview their peers (and eventually real subjects in the field) with increasing confidence.
- Goal 2: Students should be able to conduct interviews with increasing competence.
- Goal 3: Students will be able to understand and apply the concepts of dependent and independent variables, case identification and selection, and sampling strategies and apply them as methods after this exercise.
- Goal 4: Students will see a real-world connection between theory (more specifically those related to the decision to go to college) and their own lives and research as a result of this assignment and exercise, since they also made the decision to attend college.
- Assessment 1: A post-exercise survey circulated to students to capture whether students believe they have become more comfortable with the research interview format and methodology as a result of the proposed exercise.
- Assessment 2a: A session of self-assessment and feedback at the end of each practice round where the instructor and students can discuss and learn about how to rectify pitfalls or share tips and best practices.
- Assessment 2b: Short reflection pieces from students after the 2nd and 3rd rounds of this exercise that will prompt them to think where they could improve and how they might have acted differently during the practice rounds after hearing the feedback and best practices from the discussion during 2a.
- Assessment 3: The students’ final research papers and its contents; more specifically, whether the students, in their research papers, identified the right dependent variable (reasons for going to college), chose a relevant independent variable, and justified their sampling method but also acknowledged limitations.
- Assessment 4: The Discussion and Conclusion section of their final papers; whether the students analyze their results and findings from the interviews they conducted in light of the theories covered in the readings and connect it to how and why they made the decision to go to college.