Two problems are encountered by faculty when teaching introductory social science courses. First, most students are only passive recipients of the information made available to them; second, they seldom appreciate the relevance of this information to their own lives. The primary objective of the project described in this paper is to involve students actively in research while learning course content by having students define and apply major social concepts, use traditional and alternative data sources, and learn computer data analysis skills. Through the completion of four lessons covering the major stages of research, students learn about the source of the facts presented during the course. A field test of the lessons was carried out on one class during the two semesters in 1987. Students (N=44-51) evaluated the utility, difficulty, and contribution to learning for each lesson. The highest marks by students were given for the lessons' introduction to and experience with research skills. The majority rated the lessons' tasks as unrelated to understanding the rest of the course content; while at the same time, they said that the lessons would contribute to learning and help understanding in other courses. The lessons provided students in introductory sociology courses with insight into the research process behind the social facts, contributed to more analytical skills, and increased comprehension of the social structure's impact upon their lives. A 13-item bibliography, 4 tables, and an appendix describing the lessons and supportive materials are included. (Author/JB)
Paper presented at Annual Meeting of Southwestern Sociological Association (Houston, TX, March 23-26, 1988).