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Teaching Research Methods with Love
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Quantitative Qualitative Research Methods Data

How to Cite

McElmurry, Kevin. 2013. “Teaching Research Methods With Love”. TRAILS: Teaching Resources and Innovations Library for Sociology, November. Washington DC: American Sociological Association.


This class activity cast students in the roles of researchers and research respondents. Students learn basic practical and epistemological distinctions between quantitative and qualitative research traditions in sociology by collaborating in the production of knowledge about their own social world.

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Subject Area(s):
Research Methods
Resource Type(s):
Class Activity
Class Level(s):
Any Level
Class Size(s):

Usage Notes

I generally use this exercise when discussing the empirical nature of our discipline with my large introduction to sociology courses. This exercise is also effective for framing a research methods course that surveys both quantitative and qualitative research techniques. Doing this exercise in the first weeks of a methods course serves as a reference...

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Learning Goals and Assessments

Learning Goal(s):

  1. 1. Distinguish between the two major research traditions in the discipline, qualitative and quantitative research designs, and recognize specific research techniques within those traditions.
  2. 2. Understand the links between research questions and the appropriate techniques for gathering data to answer those questions.
  3. 3. Apply knowledge of the basic distinctions between these two research traditions to a current research question.

Goal Assessment(s):

  1. 1. Present hypothetical research scenarios and ask students which tradition best describes the research design and which techniques are the researchers likely to employ. Examples included.
  2. 2. Assess the second and third learning goals with the enclosed take-home essay assignment.

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