Methods assignments

1.    Case study- a full case study would take an entire semester however the national center for case study teaching in science has put together a data base

of assignments that allow you to see a good example of a case study and work through it. Choose one of the case study topics below and complete the

assignment given
A.    Abnormal psychology in the hundred acre woods case study assignment

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B.    Transexualism and gender stereotypes

2.    Life history €“ conduct a short interview with 2 to 3 people and get their basic life history.  Write a one page summary of these histories that shows

common themes and experiences as well as key differences.  Possible ideas for life histories.
A.    Interview people of different ages to find out their childhood experiences and about their transition into adulthood
B.    Interview people of similar ages but of different sex or race about their childhood experiences and transition to adulthood
C.    Interview older people about their experiences aging and their perspective of history through their experiences.
D.    Interview people that were born in another country about their childhood experiences and transition to the U.S.
E.    Some other topic that relates to your interests- clear it with professor first

3.    Content analysis- A common type of social science research is the examination of existing information sources for patterns. Choose 1 of the following

topics and write a 3-5 paragraph response.
A.    Examine a copy of a newspaper that gives information about business and finance. Look at the pictures of people selected for executive positions. What

do these tell you about race and gender patterns of hiring? Explain your findings.
B.    Find media reports of conflict associated with ethnic nationality. What terms are used to describe the participants? Which sides do the media favor, and

C.    View Saturday morning kids TV for two hours. Time the commercials, noting gender of participants, product, who the product is aimed at, and the title of

the show. Present results as a table.
D.    Sample issues of your local newspaper to see how it has discussed immigration and immigrants over the last 50 years.
E.    Look through magazines or popular internet sites for images and stories about older people. What are the themes of these stories or images? What do

they tell us about ageing? How common are they compared to images of people of other ages? What does this tell us about the place of older people in society?
F.    Go to a department store. Visit the baby section and the toy section. Answer the following questions.
€¢    Where did you go how long were you there?
€¢    What do you observe about the clothes and other things in the baby section?
€¢    What do the girls clothes, blankets etc. look like? (colors, what is portrayed on the clothes- objects, animals, words etc.)
€¢    What do the boys clothes look like?
€¢    Did you find any gender neutral clothes? What did these look like?
€¢    What messages does the baby section give you about what girl babies should be like? About what boy babies should be like?
€¢    What is the layout of the toy section?
€¢    What are girl’s toys like? Boy’s toys?
€¢    Did you find gender neutral toys? How did you know they were gender neutral? What kinds of toys were they?
€¢    What messages does the toy section give you about what girls should be like? About what boys should be like?

4.    Observation choose one of the below activities  write a few paragraphs of field notes then when you are finished with the observation write a few

paragraphs  of conclusions about patterns  that you witnessed.
A.     go to a park, mall, or other place where there are children and parents. Observe the interactions between parents and children for 30-60 minutes. Try to

observe children of various ages. Are their differences in the treatment of boy and girls? Are their patterns you can see in your observations? What conclusions can

you draw from these patterns?
*Note!!!!- People get nervous when they notice someone watching their children, particularly if you are male. I recommend that you avoid just sitting on a park bench

and staring at kids for half an hour. I recommend that males observe at malls and move frequently rather than go to a park alone. Try bringing a friend and doing

something like eating or shopping while you observe. You could bring a friend or relatives child to the park; this will make your observations more natural. If you do

get stopped or questioned bring a copy of this assignment with you to justify your presence.  Keep notes and write them up later
B.  Go to a bar or restaurant that has a happy hour and a good crowd of men and women. Please observe age requirements- no underage drinking while doing

homework!!! Observe men and women. Write some field notes about your observations-where, what you saw etc. How do men interact with their friends? How do

women interact with their friends? How do women interact with other women that are not their friends? How do men interact with other men that are not their

friends? How do men and women interact? Are their patterns you can see in your observations? What conclusions can you draw from these patterns?
C. Go to a place where elderly people hang out together- observe their interactions with others their age and with others of different ages.
C. Choose another interesting public space where you can easily observe interactions and make notes like a coffee shop or public transportation. Try to find a

particular theme for your observation like interactions between people that are of different ages or races or how people react when there is a group that is

speaking a different language in the same space as English speakers. Try to find themes in those observations and make some conclusions about the general

patterns you see.

5.    Participant observation- choose one of the activities below  write a 3 to 5 paragraph field not about your observation. Write a 2 to 3 paragraph summary

that talks about patterns you see and some conclusions about those patterns. How doe being an insider in this group impact how you see think about the

A.    Invite a group of your friends to discuss the latest movie they’ve seen. Ask them about how women and men are portrayed in the movie, is there any

stereotyping? While they are talking, watch the gendered dynamics of their talk who speaks most, and who interrupts. Report both on the conversation and on the

dynamics of how men and women interact during the conversation

B.    Attend an event  of family or friends that includes people of mixed ages observe how people interact with the older people in the group.

C.    If you participate in a regular activity with a group of people- a sports club, a game group, a book or craft club observe this group pay attention to how

the people in this group interact- are there differences by race, gender age? Are there  differences between new members and established members? Are there

certain unspoken rules or understandings that operate in the group?

6.    Survey-  Surveys that are analyzed using quantitative methods tend to have more questions and the questions are more general and less -ended.

This allows questions to be placed on a questionnaire and asked anonymously or quickly to many people. Generally survey questions can be mathematically

tabulated. Methods of research that can be mathematically evaluated are called quantitative methods. Take a look at survey questions used in a social science

survey (The General social survey or a survey from the U.S. census). Observe how questions are asked. Create your own survey (don’t use questions from other

surveys write your own) on one of the topics listed below.  Print it out for 25 people and tabulate the results (create a table with each question and the

percentages of how people answered- break these down by demographics such as age or gender of participants).  Turn in your survey (blank), your tabulated

answers, a short summary of conclusions you can draw from your survey answers, and a brief paragraph on your thoughts about survey construction.
A.    Prepare a questionnaire that measures what people consider to be the most important challenges faced by gays and lesbians.
B.    Develop a short questionnaire measuring what young people expect from their future marriage and parenthood.
C.    Devise a questionnaire on how people’s religion influences or connects with their political attitudes.
D.    Devise a brief questionnaire to measure public support for public provision of a social or health service that is currently private. What kinds of people are

most supportive of the change?
E.    Create a survey on Internet use. What are the most common uses ( e. g., e- mail, social networking, gaming, news, etc.) and how much time do they spend

on Internet use? How many are information producers via the Internet in aIDition to being information consumers?
F.    Create a survey for older adults and ask about experiences with ageing.
G.    Create a survey for grandparents and ask about their interactions with grandchildren? Do they live with their grandchildren? Do they probide childcare or

other support for their grandchildren?
H.    Conduct a survey on some other social science topic that you are interested in- clear this with the professor first.
7.    Experiment €“ an experimental design would be difficult to do in this class do to the need for irb approval. However there is a television show dedicated to

quasi experimental design that gives us a way to look at experiments.  Watch a 1 hour episode of €œWhat would you do?€  You may choose any episode.  This show is

available online in several places including Hulu. Write a 3-5 paragraph response paper. Talk about the experiments in the show and what you learned from them.

Then answer the following questions- Why are these not scientific? What makes them different from actual experimental design? Is there merit to these even if they

are not fully scientific expirements?
Choose one of the segments from the episode you watched and design a scientific experiment that tests the same topic. (Do not perform your experiment just

write up an explanation of design- refer to your readings for examples of experiments) Do you think your results would be the same? Why or why not?


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