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​Writing in the Discipline​

Sociology

RIC students writing

1. W​hy or in what ways is writing important to your discipline/field/profession?

Writing is an essential activity to the discipline of sociology in terms of demonstrating an understanding of the relationship between sociological theory, research design, and sociological interpretation. It is also a means to communicate sociological arguments, whether to other sociologists or to a general public.

2. Which courses are designated as satisfying the WID requirement by your department? Why these courses?

There are two sociology courses that satisfy the WID requirement: Sociology 302: Social Research Methods I and Sociology 460: Senior Seminar in Sociology. These two courses were selected as they bookend a student’s research trajectory within the major. Sociology 302, one of two required research methods courses for the major, introduces students to aspects of research design, analyzing data, and making sociological conclusions. Sociology 460 is where students apply analytical and writing skills to various projects designed to reflect their maturation as sociology majors over the course of their time at RIC.

3. What forms or genres of writing will students learn and practice in your department’s WID courses? Why these genres?

Students will engage in research writing consistent with the sociological research method particular to our academic discipline, which involves research questions, data and methods, analyzing patterns of relationships in data, and making sociological conclusions. These genres are consistent with traditional sociological research and will prepare students to participate in the discipline as both producers and readers of research.

4. What kinds of teaching practices will students encounter in your department’s WID courses?

Some of the teaching practices students will encounter will be journaling, low stakes and high stakes writing assignments, fishbowl feedback, peer reviews, scaffolded assignments, and opportunities for revisions and incorporating feedback into later drafts.

5. When they’ve satisfied your department’s WID requirement, what should students know and be able to do with writing?

Students should know that writing is an iterative process—we get better at writing the more we do it; feedback and revision matters, and our writing improves as our reading increases. They should also know that participating in the discipline as producers, readers, and teachers of sociology, involves a familiarity with sociological writing, the ability to communicate sociologically in written form, and a familiarity with sociological research design.

Justice Studies

1. Why or in what ways is writing important to your discipline/field/profession?

In Justice Studies students learn to critically engage with ideas of equity, fairness and equality as it relates to the broader domains of both social and criminal justice. In its academic and applied settings writing is a significant skill students acquire to demonstrate their understanding of  sociological and criminological fundamental concepts and ideas, theoretical, and research literacy. Writing also helps them connect all these components to an applied setting in their capstone classes.

RIC students writing

2. Which courses are designated as satisfying the WID requirement by your department? Why these courses?

There are two Justice Studies courses which meet the WID requirement:

  1. Sociology 309: The Sociology of Delinquency and Crime
  2. JSTD 466: Senior Seminar in Justice Studies.

Soc 309 and JSTD 466 provide a cumulative academic experience for students while they prepare to embrace a career in the field or pursue a graduate degree. In Soc 309 students are introduced to different tenets of criminological theories, the knowledge of which is demonstrated through several long and short writing assignments. In JSTD 466 students take this learning from their theory class as well as required research classes (including SOC 302, which is the WID requirement for Sociology) to work on a senior project (research paper, grant application, etc.).

3. What forms or genres of writing will students learn and practice in your department’s WID courses? Why these genres?

In SOC 309 students learn a wide range of theoretical concepts and their application to contemporary social justice issues. Typically, the class requirements include an extensive term paper which is built on relatively shorter writing assignments. The class works on providing students with the opportunity for faculty feedback on their articulation and application of theories through these shorter assignments throughout the semester.

In JSTD 466 the final term paper is more extensive and detailed and integrates theory, a literature review, a research method, data, data analysis, discussion, and conclusion. Similar to most social science research projects, students should be able to formulate a research question, seek out relevant literature, work on relevant research design and revisit the literature and theory after data analysis. Alternative assignments include research grants, which require a more in-depth literature review and a justification of the grant in an applied context. Irrespective of the type of assignment, writing is pivotal for students in being able to make the academic connection between scholastic literature and the practical context. 

4. What kinds of teaching practices will students encounter in your department’s WID courses?

In both SOC 309 and JSTD 466, short writing assignments assess understanding of theories, definitions of research problems, brief reviews of literature, and proposed research designs. Case studies and discussion board prompts also support this learning process. The longer term papers required at the end of the semester in each course build on these different types of learning and are supported by consistent and systematic instructor feedback.

5. When they’ve satisfied your department’s WID requirement, what should students know and be able to do with writing?

Writing is a both a fundamental and advanced skill set that will enable students to thrive in life opportunities beyond their undergraduate degree. Students will build their articulative capacity to make the connections between daily experiences which pertain to the social world and the underlying social science knowledge surrounding the same. This can manifest itself in a variety of ways in students’ career paths—communication with peers, working on projects that ensure vertical mobility in careers, advocating for a diverse workplace, and career planning, amongst others. For students pursuing an advanced degree, these undergraduate writing experiences clearly set forth the academic path where writing as a skill set works to their advantage to seek out more profound scholastic endeavors and succeed in these attempts.​

Page last updated: August 26, 2019