John Green

John Green

Center for Population Studies

Department of Sociology and Anthropology

A sociologist and Director of the Center for Population Studies focuses on quantitative-research-based writing, helping students collect, analyze, and report statistical research data.


Background

Writing is a key component of SOC 501-Statistics and SOC 502- Research Methods, yet students are underprepared to think critically and write about data, especially in our “big data” and information rich culture. The learning outcomes for the Statistics course are to “critically explore issues relevant to quantitative research in the social sciences generally and sociology in particular; examine and apply statistical techniques for data analysis; assess the meaning of research findings and their application to generating knowledge; apply methodological and statistical knowledge using relevant and timely data; address the strengths and weaknesses of quantitative methods in constructing knowledge; assemble a quantitative research methods ‘tool box’ for use in addressing research questions; and engage in real-world quantitative research as part of an applied research project.”

Implementation

I implemented several ideas in my fall classes that we learned as a result of the Faculty Seed Grant and our network. Although the main course I am working to integrate more writing in will not be offered until the spring semester, I was able to plan over the summer and implement changes in both my fall undergraduate-level Social Change course and graduate-level Research Methods course. My primary initiatives included:

  • Frequent discussions of writing as part of thinking and problem solving;
  • Periodic in-class non-graded writing to develop and articulate ideas;
  • Several revisions of a section of a paper (literature review in both classes) to practice the process of revising; and
  • Student in-class peer-review of a section of a paper.

Student Work

The activities worked well, with the toughest being the peer-review. I expected this to be the case, based on our collective readings and discussions last spring. This is something I will continue to work on. Several of the students also struggled with differentiating between and transitioning from an annotated bibliography to a literature review. I am still struggling with how to help students in this regard.

Reflections

This coming spring, I will further develop and implement some of the ideas in my undergraduate Society and Population Health course and upper division undergraduate/graduate Statistics course. To supplement the textbooks, I am requiring The Chicago Guide to Writing About Numbers (ISBN 9780226185774) for the Statistics course.