So much to do, So little time to do it

I often feel this way as I plan my research methods class and think about activities to assign. Of course, I’ve sort of created the problem in Investigating the Social World by including far more exercises and other activities for students than they can do (or than I could review) within just one semester.  There are seven sets of exercises/activities at the end of each chapter, three special activity-oriented highlights in each chapter (Research That Matters, Questions That Count; Research in the News; Careers and Research), and eight different sets of activities on the Student Study Site for each chapter.

From the standpoint of a text author, it makes a great deal of sense to provide all these options, because different colleagues at different colleges and universities will have different preferences and confront different constraints.  But from the standpoint of an instructor, I find all the exercises and other activities to be so interesting that I struggle to force myself not to assign too much.

Here are some instructional alternatives for you to consider:

If you prefer to lecture and put on an engaging show for students, work the study site videos into your lectures as well as the entries on my blog site that develop “research in the news” points about research.  (Go to the home page, at At the end of each week, or whenever you finish a chapter, review the chapter highlights and key terms and then have students take the online quiz for that chapter.  You can direct students to the chapter highlights and pertinent chapter sections to review material that they misunderstood.

If you prefer to encourage student discussion–whether everyday or on preannounced days–then you will want to encourage students to come to class prepared to discuss the “discussion questions” at the end of each chapter, as well as the questions at the end of the Research That Matters, Questions That Count vignettes and at the end of the Research in the News vignettes.  As they discuss these questions, point students to the text material that they should be considering as they develop their answers.

If you prefer to develop students’ skills in quantitative data analysis, assign the SPSS exercises at the end of every chapter.  You can demonstrate the required steps in class; if students are working in a computer lab, you can discuss their work as they complete it.  If students carry out the analyses on their own, choose one student each week to present their results to the class.

Or let the students decide.  Different students will have different learning preferences, so consider letting them choose their own approach.  Have students choose to be a “talker”–they prepare answers to discussion questions; a “doer”–they work on practice exercises; a “listener”–they review the video interviews; an “ethicist”–they answer the ethics questions; a “grantsperson”–they carry out the proposal development steps.  You can have students take different roles in different chapters and give presentations in class.  Or you can have students choose a role for the semester and write a final paper that reviews what they have learned from taking this standpoint.

This entry was posted in Chapter 1, Chapter 16, Chapter 3, Chapter 9, Overview, Teaching Tips and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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