Topic Selection and Data Collection
By successfully completing this assignment, you will demonstrate your proficiency in the following course competencies and assignment criteria:
Competency 1: Describe theoretical ideas of power in relation to policy.
Choose a research method that is appropriate and sociological in scope and describe this method.
Competency 2: Identify historical and contemporary influences of discrimination in American culture.
Summarize the issue and explain its importance.
Summarize three sources that will be used.
Competency 3: Analyze the effects of social policy using aggregated data.
Select and discuss an appropriate measurement tool.
Competency 4: Analyze how laws are applied based on race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, age, and social class.
Refer to relevant sociological theories or concepts from the course reading.
Competency 6: Communicate effectively in a variety of formats.
Write coherently to support a central idea in appropriate format with correct grammar, usage, and mechanics.
This assignment is the proposal for your final course project, Measuring Diversity in a Social Environment. Listen to Final Project Overview, located in the Resources, for a description and expectations for the final project. You should also review the course project description so that you can better judge how this assignment will fit into it.
The first step in preparing your proposal is to select a topic that interests you, which should be a topic that connects to the themes and concepts of this course. For the final project, you will collect data based on your topic and use this data to understand how people perceive or react to elements of diversity: race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, age, or social class. A few examples include:
Focusing on perceptions of a policy, such as affirmative action or early retirement.
Examining a particular social issue, such as gender or age discrimination in the workplace, racial profiling, or interracial relationships.
Analyzing how different social groups interact with one another in a particular setting, such as a shopping mall, the workplace, a concert, a sporting event, et cetera.
Observing how children of different races, ethnicities, or genders play and interact.
There is a fair amount of flexibility for the setting and variable of interest you choose, as long as the topic connects to the sociological study of diversity. Contact your instructor if you have questions or need assistance with topic selection. See the Resources section for help on how to do observations, questionnaires, and content analysis.
Once you have chosen your project topic and a tentative data collection tool, complete your proposal by including the following four sections, clearly labeled in your proposal:
Introduction: Write a paragraph that explains what your topic will be, why you have chosen it, and why it is important and relevant to the sociological study of diversity.
Data Collection: Discuss in detail (in 2–3 paragraphs) how you plan to collect data on your topic. Describe the observation tool or the questionnaire you will use to collect your data. A more detailed explanation of this component can be found below, or in the Measuring Diversity in a Social Environment course project description, located in the Resources section.
Resources: Locate three sources you plan to use for your project. Briefly describe each source and why it will be helpful for your understanding your topic. You may use up to two chapters from the course texts or two of our assigned articles. At least one source should be a scholarly article or book from the Capella library. One source can be a popular media source, such as a newspaper article, radio, program, or television news segment found online. Do not use Wikipedia, Buzzle, About, or other encyclopedia-style Web sites, as these are often incorrect and are not considered academically valid.
Theories: Identify at least three sociological concepts or theories that you plan to use to interpret and analyze your findings. Include a sentence or two describing how you will apply these concepts or theories. These concepts or theories should come from the assigned course readings. Examples of concepts include prejudice, stereotypes, minority groups, sexism, cultural pluralism, assimilation, structural mobility, modern racism, social distance, et cetera. Examples of theories include Marx’s and Weber’s theories of inequality, Park’s race relations cycle, Gordon’s theory of assimilation, human capital theory, the scapegoat hypothesis, and the theory of authoritarian personality.
Submit your paper in APA format, with a title page and a reference page. Include in your references the full citations of each of the resources you discussed in Sections 3 and 4 of your proposal.
Provide a summary of the project focus and present its importance and relevance to the sociological study of diversity.
Choose a current research method that is appropriate and sociological in nature.
Select an appropriate measurement tool: an observation checklist, content analysis, or questionnaire (see Resources).
Summarize three academic sources.
Make a reference to applicable sociological theories and concepts from the course.
Cite sources in correct APA format.
Ensure the proposal length is 2–3 pages.
Course Project Data Collection Guide
For this proposal, you will identify the topic you have chosen, describe the research method and collection tool you will use, and discuss resources you plan to use for your project. To see how you will be graded on this assignment, view the Topic Selection and Data Collection Proposal Scoring Guide.
There are three basic research methods that you can use to collect the data for this project. You can choose one of these methods or a combination of two methods, depending upon your topic and how you wish to approach your project. If you do not want to collect your data using these methods, request approval from the instructor first to be sure that you are meeting sociological expectations in your methodological approach.
OPTION 1: Questionnaire
Using this option, construct a questionnaire to measure your subjects’ attitudes toward a specific topic. When constructing this questionnaire, it is important that you keep the respondent’s time in mind. A 30-question survey is a bit much to ask someone to complete. You should instead include 10–12 questions. At least one of the social categories we are discussing in this course should be incorporated into your questions (race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, social class, age, or religion). Include other demographic variables that you consider important to your topic (such as education level, occupation, or income level, for example). These demographic questions are additional questions and do not count toward the 10–12 questions on the topic of interest. See the Guide to Constructing a Questionnaire in the Resources for an example of data collected using this method. Include a draft of your full questionnaire in an appendix (following the reference list) with your proposal.
OPTION 2: Observation
Choose any social setting or specific variable that you want to observe. Define the behaviors that you will use to indicate this specific variable as clearly as possible, and create a “checklist” that will allow you to remain consistent across observations. See the Observation Guide in the Resources for an example of data collected using this method. If you choose this method, describe in your proposal how and where you will observe, including how you defined your key variables as a researcher, so that the reader knows exactly how you collected your data. Include a draft of your checklist in an appendix (following the reference list) with your proposal.
OPTION 3: Content Analysis
Choose a visual medium (videos, magazines, television commercials, and so on). Keep in mind that you need approximately 15–20 observations, and choose something that is accessible and manageable (for example, watching 15–20 full-length movies or episodes of a television sitcom is too time-consuming, but examining 15–20 print or television advertisements is more feasible). See the How to Do a Content Analysis guide for an example of data collected using this method. Create a list of variables you will be looking for and include a draft of this list in an appendix (following the reference list) with your proposal.
Note: Your instructor may also use the Writing Feedback Tool to provide feedback on your writing. In the tool, click on the linked resources for helpful writing information.