Qualitative Methods


This course is a graduate-level introduction to qualitative methods in sociology, with a focus on participant observation and in-depth interviewing. Readings and class sessions will focus on both theoretical foundations and techniques of qualitative research. Class sessions will be devoted to discussion of assigned readings, guest lectures on the use of qualitative methods, practical exercises, and student research projects. By the end of the course you will design and complete a qualitative project and you also will also learn how to write a journal article (modeled on articles in the Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, a highly ranked inter-disciplinary journal that publishes ethnography) based on qualitative research.


Although the overwhelming focus of this course will be on ethnographic immersion and the method of participant observation, we will spend time addressing in-depth interviewing as a useful complement to field research.  This course aims to guide you through the actual practice of ethnography, from the initial steps of choosing a research question and developing a research design to the final steps of writing a paper, anchored within the research literature that fuses data and analysis.  The goals are to hone your observational and interviewing skills, strengthen your writing of field notes, encourage your “reflex” reflexivity, and develop your interpretive instincts.  In a typical class session, we will discuss assigned readings, workshop students’ field notes, and collectively problem-solve the issues that have arisen that week in your ongoing research projects.  This is an intensely collaborative class that offers the benefits of close faculty mentorship and collective support and engagement.

Quantitative Methods


This course will cover the elementary statistical techniques most commonly utilized by social scientists. Our goal is to understand the logic of quantitative social research and gain hands-on practices in statistical analysis of social data. You will learn how to answer a particular research question of your own choosing, and will start to build the foundation of knowledge from which you can critically evaluate the quality of statistical evidence produced by social scientists.


The emphasis in this course is on how to think about conducting social research. Objectives for this methods course are to practice critiquing the relevance, reliability, and validity of published scholarly work; to understand ethical issues in research, and practice human subjects review; to practice formulating testable research questions;  and to assess the strengths and weaknesses of a full range of quantitative research designs and methodologies.  We will work as a group to collect, enter, and analyze original data using SPSS – and present the results to our client.  This exercise will allow students an additional opportunity to understand and practice skills related to univariate and bivariate data analysis.  Students will also work individually to write, revise, and present a do-able individual research proposal.


This course provides an introduction to multivariate statistical techniques that are applicable to social science data.  After a brief review of introductory social statistics, we will focus on understanding ordinary least squares (OLS) regression, including estimation, assumptions, and modeling strategies.  Logistic regression will also be introduced.


This course introduces some advanced methods in multivariate analysis to graduate students who have already learned linear regression. Main topics are categorical data analysis and some selected topics on longitudinal analysis. The focus is on applications of the techniques and interpretation of results. We will spend time in reading and discussing empirical and methodological papers in sociological literature that use those methods.

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