Approved by Faculty Senate.



Sociology 499 Senior Seminar in Sociology


Instructor: R. Stevens Office: Minne 232

Office Phone: (507) 457-5427 Hours: 11-12 MWF

E-mail: 2-3 p.m. T&R

Course Description: A culminating experience for senior sociology majors designed to synthesize, integrate and assess what students have learned with respect to the stated goals of the B.A. Sociology Program. Prerequisites: Soc 150, Math/Stat 110, Soc 376, 377, 378, admission to B.A. Sociology Program and Senior standing.

Major Focus and Objectives: The major focus of this course will be the stated goals and objectives of the B.A. Sociology Program and will include requirements and learning activities designed to satisfy the University Studies Oral Communications flag outcomes as indicated below. A significant portion of this course will be devoted to work designed to reflect this emphasis and to enable students to demonstrate proficiency in these areas. It will also involve a review of previous course work in the major and will culminate in developing the Major Portfolio. Whereas most courses in the major tend to be discrete in terms of topics and issues studied, this is to be a capstone experience designed to build on these discrete learning experiences. Thus, the major objectives are to integrate knowledge and skill, build on what you have already accomplished, and to give a sense of completion to your undergraduate experience. The complete portfolio developed in this class will be available to you for inclusion as part of your resume. It will also be used as part of the overall assessment plan for the B.A. Major in Sociology.

Oral Communication Flag Outcomes:

This course includes requirements and learning activities that promote students’ abilities to . . .

  1. Earn significant course credit through extemporaneous oral presentations. A significant portion of this course will follow a read and present format combined with student-based discussion. An unstated goal of the class is to create an atmosphere for academic discourse to grow and where students gain confidence and the ability to develop and express their thoughts orally. Students will regularly make extemporaneous oral presentations and discuss ideas and issues.
  2. Understand the features and types of speaking in the discipline. Sociologists are expected to be able to synthesize and integrate information distilled from abstract theoretical ideas in order to clarify social issues, conceptualize research problems, and interpret research findings. This class provides opportunities for students to use sociological concepts and theoretical insights when discussing current national and international issues. Other assignments are aimed at developing the ability to distinguish peripheral material from key points in academic sources and integrate those points in a coherent oral summary.
  3. Adapt their speaking to field-specific audiences. Many assignments will involve tasks that require individual students to assume responsibility for digesting the material and imparting it to other students. In these instances presenters are encouraged to recognize that their audience is other students for whom this is new material. In the required exit interview, students will be asked to discuss subject matter pertaining to the program goals to what they can assume to be an audience of professionals (i.e.,,other faculty).
  4. Receive appropriate feedback from teachers and peers, including suggestions for improvement. Student response groups will frequently be used to provide an additional audience from which students can receive immediate feedback as they prepare their presentations for the entire class. An oral presentation rubric (see attached) is provided for this purpose. The same rubric will be used to evaluate the final presentation.
  5. Make use of technologies used for research and speaking in the field. The class will rely on traditional sources of information for sociologists, many of which are now retrievable through computer on-line data base systems. The use of appropriate visual aids is also be encouraged as is the video taping of class presentations for possible inclusion in the required final portfolio. The Sociology Student Writer’s Manual will serve to introduce library and internet sources.
  6. Learn the conventions of evidence, format, usage, and documentation in the field. The ability to locate valid and reliable information will be emphasized along with methods of retrieval for major sources of information in sociology. The Sociology Student Writer’s Manual will serve to acquaint students with proper formats based on those endorsed by the American Sociological Association and published in the ASA Style Guide.

Course Requirements: In this course you will expected to complete the assignments associated with each of the goal areas outlined below, submit a completed portfolio, participate in a video taped exit interview with program faculty, and complete the post program assessment inventory. Your grade will be based on the various projects assigned, in-class oral presentations, and the written narrative that you prepare to accompany your portfolio. The exit interview and program assessment inventory are a course requirement but will not be graded.

Daily Assignments and Weekly Oral Presentations

Sociology and the Media

Most people in U.S, society get most of their information about the social world from the media. A sociology student needs to be able to think critically about such information. For this reason, in addition to your usual reading, listening and viewing habits, make it a point everyday to read the news and editorial sections of a major daily newspaper or listen to at least one hour of PBS news and information broadcasting on radio or watch The News Hour on PBS television. Write a sociological commentary of about 150 words (due every Tuesday) and make a three minute extemporaneous oral presentation on a current news story as seen through the "eye" of the media during the previous week. This presentation should highlight the relevant sociological concepts in the story and reflect the topic area emphasized during the week.

Sociology in Global Perspective

In today’s interconnected world, a sociology student needs to apply the sociological imagination beyond national borders. Use sociological thinking and make certain that at least half the commentaries and oral presentations you prepare describe the possible global implications of a major news event from the previous week.

Reading: THE SOCIOLOGY STUDENT WRITERS MANUAL by Johnson, Rettig, Scott, and Garrison is recommended. Additional books and articles will be provided by the instructor.

Course Outline:

  1. Introductions and Review of Foundation Areas if Sociology: Concepts, Theories
  2. and Methods

    -Prepare and share resumes

    -Demonstrated knowledge of basic concepts, theories and methods

    -Oral presentation and additional assignment

    -Written narrative to accompany portfolio entries for this goal

  3. The Sociological Perspective
  4. -Demonstrated ability to apply the sociological perspective

    -Oral presentation and video taped assignment

    -Written narrative to accompany portfolio entries for this goal

  5. Knowledge of Specialized Area(s)
  6. -Demonstrated knowledge of one or more major sub fields within the discipline

    -Oral presentation and additional assignment

    -Written narrative to accompany portfolio entries for this goal

  7. Understanding Diversity
  8. -Demonstrated understanding of the nature of social differentiation based on gender, age, race, and ethnicity within U.S. society and internationally

    -Oral presentation and additional assignment

    -Written narrative to accompany portfolio entries for this goal

  9. Social Inequality
  10. -Demonstrated understanding of the effects of social stratification within U.S. society and internationally

    -Oral presentation and additional assignment

    -Written narrative to accompany portfolio entries for this goal

  11. Career and Graduate School Readines

-Update resume, graduate school and career exploration exercises