Writing in the Disciplines
Frequently Asked Questions About Writing in the Discipline of Sociology
1. Why 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.
WID in Justice Studies
Justice Studies majors meet the WID requirement through a series of 4 courses. First of all, they complete research methods courses (Sociology 302 and 404 for most students, except double-major in psychology or political science who take slightly different requirements). In the research methods courses, students learn to write literature reviews, research proposals, empirical research papers, and explanations of data and findings.
In Sociology 309, the required theory course for the Justice Studies major, students learn to write about theoretical ideas and connect them to empirical research findings. Finally, in Justice Studies 466, the capstone course in the major, students complete a sustained research project, grant proposal, or other writing assignment that enables them to practice and bring together their writing skills to produce a polished piece of work.