UMM Sociology

Assessment Update of Student Learning for 2008-09


Program Design Summary Statement:

The sociology major and minor at UMM provide undergraduate students with an introduction to and an overview of the discipline. We introduce students to basic sociological principles as well as areas of focus such as sociology of aging, childhoods, development and modernization, the environment, deviance, gender, family, systems of oppression, and world population. We encourage students to study abroad and learn more about cultures and regions of the world beyond students’ own background and experiences. Required and suggested coursework provides students earning a major or minor in sociology with a global perspective which will benefit her or him with future career and educational goals. Sociology courses are designed to meet the University’s General Education Requirements and other needs of liberal arts students, as well as sociology majors and students preparing for graduate schools.


Learning Objectives for Sociology Majors:

 (1) The sociology curriculum (with support from anthropology courses) is designed to acquaint students with the concerns, theories, and methods of the science and to foster an understanding of social groups, societies, and interpersonal relations of human beings. Specifically, sociology requires students to comprehend basic data, theoretical perspectives, and methods for interpreting and evaluation the concerns, theories, and methods of the field. The development of reading, writing, critical thinking, and analytical skills is central to our mission.

(2) In addition to gaining familiarity with—and competency in—sociology as a science, students are expected to understand how human values relate broadly to the theories, methods, and data of the field. Specifically, our program repeatedly explores the values of our own and other societies or cultures, the social consequences of these values, and the degree to which these declared values are actually enacted or, in fact, evaded. Simultaneously, we teach students to examine how values influence the alternative theoretical perspectives in sociology and anthropology, as well as how students' personal values affect their reception to the data and perspectives of the discipline.

(3) Sociology courses are designed to meet the University’s General Education Requirements (GERs) and contribute to the liberal arts mission of the institution. Each sociology course incorporates materials on social institutions, and/or different cultures and non-Western cultures. These central concerns of the general education program are integral to the discipline as well as to a liberal arts education. We place considerable emphasis on writing in all of our courses, including (to a lesser degree, generally) the largest ones.


UMM Mission Statement and the Sociology Major:

The University of Minnesota, Morris (UMM) provides a rigorous undergraduate liberal arts education, preparing its students to be global citizens who value and pursue intellectual growth, civic engagement, intercultural competence, and environmental stewardship.

As a public land-grant institution, UMM is a center for education, culture, and research for the region, nation, and world. UMM is committed to outstanding teaching, dynamic learning, innovative faculty and student scholarship and creative activity, and public outreach. Our residential academic setting fosters collaboration, diversity, and a deep sense of community.

The sociology major and minor contribute to the UMM mission in the following ways: Our program examines diversity and societies throughout the world, teaches intercultural competence, and fosters a global perspective. Sociology provides a broad perspective on environmental issues. Our faculty work closely with students in and outside of the classroom, encouraging critical thought, responsible and ethical action, and innovative problem-solving.

Our major is supplemented by the anthropology discipline.

The sociology and anthropology faculty have identified the following number of courses that contribute in these key areas:

a.       Diversity:

In addition to the survey courses in both the anthropology and sociology majors, we teach 20 courses that contribute to this part of the mission. (Pelletier-5, Gilanshah-2, Rothchild-3, Dean-3, Chollett -4, Gashaw -3)

b.      Environmental concerns:

eight courses (Pelletier -1, Gilanshah-1, Rothchild-1, Dean-2, Chollett-3)

c.       Global citizenship:

three courses (Pelletier-2, Gilanshah-2, Rothchild-3, Chollett-3, Gashaw-3)

d.      Commitment to research:

13 courses (Pelletier-1, Gilanshah-2, Rothchild-5, Chollett-2, Gashaw-3)



Further Contributions to the UMM Mission

We also contribute to the mission of UMM by serving the Division of Social Science and campus communities through our involvement in interdisciplinary programs at UMM. Specifically, Solomon Gashaw not only coordinates the sociology/anthropology discipline, but he also works closely with the African American Studies minor. Jennifer Rothchild coordinates the Gender, Women, & Sexuality Studies (GWSS) Program. All three sociologists (Gashaw, Gilanshah, & Rothchild) serve on the Liberal Arts for the Human Services (LAHS) major committee.   


General Education Requirements:

With anthropology, we teach courses that meet the following GenEd Requirements: HDIV, SS, SCI-L, E/CR, ENVT, and IP.

Specifically, we offer the following courses from the sociology discipline to prepare students to complete their GER requirements:

SOC 1101 - Introductory Sociology (SS)
SOC 2101 - Systems of Oppression (HDIV)
SOC 3103 - Research Methodology  (SS)
SOC 3111 - Sociology of Modernization (IP)
SOC 3112 - Sociology of the Environment and Social Development (ENVT)
SOC 3121 - Sociology of Gender (HDIV)
SOC 3122 - Sociology of Childhoods (HDIV)
SOC 3131 - World Population (ENVT)
SOC 3141 - Sociology of Deviance (E/CR)
SOC 3204 - Culture, Food, and Agriculture (ENVT)
SOC 3251 - African Americans (HDIV)
SOC 3252 - Women in Muslim Society (IP)

SOC 3403 - Sociological Theory (SS)
SOC 4901 - Independent Project Seminar (SS)


Assessment Measures:

* sociology capstone course

-Soc 4901/Soc 4902 (Independent Project Seminar) is sociology’s capstone course and serves as the primary assessment vehicle. In this course, students produce a 30-page research paper and give a 25 minute public presentation of their original arguments, theoretical frameworks, literature reviews, methodologies, findings & analysis, and conclusions. In the past, it has been a one-semester course, but in the 2007-2008 academic year, it was a year-long course. Starting in 2008-09, the capstone has returned to a one-semester course.

-The capstone has the following learning objectives:

(1)   to introduce the nature, uses, and objectives of research by turning an interest or idea into research questions and even problem solutions;

(2)   to construct an argument by taking claims and qualifying them appropriately;

(3)   to think about and evaluate sources with a visionary and critical (yet constructive) mind;

(4)   to discuss the complexities of planning, organizing, and writing a research paper;

(5)   to understand the ethical issues and problems in the research and writing process; and

(6)   to learn how to communicate research effectively and efficiently.


* course embedded assessment:

-Pre-test and post-test data are collected in the following sociology courses:

                   Introduction to Sociology

                  Sociology of Deviance

                  Sociology of Gender & Sexuality

                  Sociology of Childhoods

                  Sociology of the Environment and Social Development

                  Women in Muslim Society


Implementing assessment techniques that include qualitative and quantitative measures will enhance our discipline assessment. We will continue to rely significantly on course-embedded assessment in which qualified instructors test and evaluate student understanding and mastery of relevant course material. The sociology faculty, in conjunction with colleagues from anthropology, is continuing to develop a formal assessment plan.


Examples of Changes

* Two research methodology courses (Soc 3101, Research Methodology I & Soc 3102, Research Methodology II) and two theory courses (Soc 3401, Classical Sociological Theory & Soc 3402, Contemporary Sociological Theory) have been collapsed into two required courses: SOC 3103 Research Methodology in Sociology and SOC 3403 Sociological Theory.

* We have added new courses to meet the changing interests and needs of students:

o    Sociology of Aging

o    Sociology of the Environment and Social Development

* The website is undergoing regular updates of changes already noted and to meet new UMM requirements and recommendations for an improved and consistent web presence.


Plans for Changes

Š          Assessment measure data will be incorporated into future assessment reports.

Š          Exit survey will be designed (using anthropology’s as a model) to be administered in the sociology capstone course. Data from the to-be-developed exit survey will be incorporated in future assessment reports.

Š          Sociology faculty will meet annually in the spring to compile, analyze, and respond to assessment data.


Recommendations for Improving Assessment Processes:

Š          Clarify discipline goals and break down goals into specific and measurable learning objectives, in conjunction with UMM’s defined learning objectives.

Š          Place discipline goals and learning objectives on the discipline website.

Š          Review course goals and learning objectives, and consider them in light of both UMM’s defined learning objectives and designated discipline-specific goals.

Š          Develop a formal assessment plan for the major that clearly delineates how courses within the major meet the learning objectives for the discipline.

Š          Conduct yearly assessment meetings to discuss the major.