Data Across the Curriculum: Teaching Data Skills in Sociology

Casey Oberlin, Assistant Professor of Sociology, understands the importance of using data in the classroom, especially in such a discipline as Sociology, which is commonly viewed by others outside the discipline as a field with less real-life application of hard skills (e.g. data analysis). This conception is far from the truth, and Oberlin’s approach with data in the classroom gives her students a very holistic and interactive view of data analysis in the field that shows how data is part and parcel to the discipline.
Oberlin uses both her introductory Sociology courses and Research Methods courses as opportunities for students to get deeply entrenched with the data-rich, multi-tiered research process of the field. Data in Sociology is very diverse, as it involves both quantitative and qualitative measures, so Oberlin’s approach focuses on getting students exposed to the vast array of data types, as well as the techniques, technologies, and methods used to interpreting each type.

oberlin1_001

At the introductory level, Oberlin focuses on data consumption as a first step to data concepts. Students study infographics (see Figure 1) and other data visualizations to learn how to present data and interpret the data being presented. Oberlin’s Research Methods courses are reserved for her experiential-based approach with data that teaches students two data software programs throughout the semester, one quantitative (SPSS) and the other qualitative (Nvivo), shows students the wide range of data utilized by Sociology, and has students grapple with the entire research process for themselves. In Research Methods, students create research questions, hypotheses/expectations, clean or assess the dataset, analyze their results, and present their work in a professional manner. Her heavy guidance through the research process helps to mitigate understandable anxiety about trying new techniques and presenting their ongoing work, setting her students up to then develop their own sustained research project throughout the semester. Oberlin states this immersive method is beneficial to and enthusiastically received by students, as the practice in research opens doors to internships, jobs, and grad schools.

All in all, Casey Oberlin’s utilization of data in the class gives students exposure to the intensive research process that is integral to Sociology and teaches important data skills and concepts that are applicable both in the real-world and in a classroom setting.

Enter your e-mail address to receive notifications of new blog posts.
You can leave the list at any time. Removal instructions are included in each message.

Powered by WPNewsman

Please like & share:

Visualizing Marriage and Social Inequality

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, it’s a good time to take a look at data on marriage in the United States. It’s been a hot topic lately not just among demographers and sociologists, but also among economists and others who are worried about economic inequality. Although it’s now old news that marriage rates in the United States are declining, with people waiting until later to marry and an increasing number not marrying at all, the class differences that have appeared in marriage rates have not been as widely discussed. DASIL has created two visualizations that let you explore aspects of these changes from the 1970s to the present.

bachelorsmenwomen

Less-educated Americans are now less likely to be married than more-educated Americans. The visualization above shows marital status by education and gender for Americans 1976 to present, based on data from the General Social Survey.

Americans who are not married tend to have lower incomes than those who are.  This visualization shows the median income of Americans age 18 and over by marital status, race, and gender, 1974 to present, based on data from the Current Population Survey.


Enter your e-mail address to receive notifications of new blog posts.
You can leave the list at any time. Removal instructions are included in each message.

Powered by WPNewsman

Please like & share: