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Theory Syllabus
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classical theory
contemporary theory
writing intensive courses
written assignment
applied assignment
doing theory

How to Cite

Pelton, Julie. 2012. “Theory Syllabus”. TRAILS: Teaching Resources and Innovations Library for Sociology, May. Washington DC: American Sociological Association.


This course traces the intellectual history of sociology as a discipline, covering the important theoretical contributions of established classical and contemporary theorists. A significant portion of the class is devoted to Marx, Weber, and Durkheim, but a number of other theorists whose work lies largely outside of the classical cannon – lesser known...

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Subject Area(s):
Resource Type(s):
Class Level(s):
College 400
Class Size(s):

Usage Notes

This is an upper level course required for all Sociology majors at UNO. Because it is a writing-intense course, ideal enrollment is between 20-25 students. I have found that success in the class requires discussing learning strategies, the various modalities of learning, and reading comprehension strategies with students early on in the semester. I know...

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Learning Goals and Assessments

Learning Goal(s):

  1. To learn about the origins of the field of sociology, to understand how key sociological theorists understand the nature of modern society, and to grapple with the theories that emerged from their observations.
  2. To understand how classical and contemporary theories inform current debates in the discipline and to trace the evolution of sociological ideas.
  3. To develop the capacity for ‘critical thinking’ and to refine the advanced writing skills necessary for success in upper level courses

Goal Assessment(s):

  1. Theoretical understanding can be demonstrated in class discussion, on reading guides, through the student’s role as discussion leader, and in written assignments.
  2. Class discussion is largely used to assess understanding of how theory informs the field of sociology. Quick-writing assignments may also be used. Student projects in a capstone class serve as the ultimate test of this objective.
  3. Written assignments serve as the primary mechanism for assessing growth in critical thinking and writing skills. Critical thinking skills can be demonstrated in writing through the ability to evaluate, synthesize, analyze, and apply theoretical ideas.

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