Writing in the Social Sciences: Sample Syllabi

by Dr Davis on October 1, 2008

This syllabus from Penn State has as a scheduled beginning exercise watching Fight Club. They also read parts of Fast Food Nation. This is definitely a writing class first, with social sciences second. There is quite a bit of rhetorical theory, including Toulmin and claims (Aristotle).

A unit on writing and inquiry in the social sciences

Unit II – Writing and Inquiry in the Social Sciences
Objectives of Unit II: To familiarize students with the issues debated in the social sciences, and writing skills used in the social sciences. To increase student confidence in reading and writing in the social sciences. The successful completion of an experiment in the social sciences.

Class …
“Issues in Social Science – Social Science in Perspective”
Introduction to the Social Sciences Unit
Reflection and in-class writing on science unit. Introduction to the social sciences.
Relating social science to lived experience. Topics in Social Science.
Homework:
Read: “Behavioral Studies in Obedience” “On ‘Obedience to Authority’” “Interpersonal Dynamics in a Simulated Prison” Optional: “Some Conditions of Obedience and Disobedience …” Write: Personal Reaction Essays. 1-2 page on each experiments.

Class…
Experimentation in the Social Sciences
Class discussion of the articles on the Stanford Prison Experiment and the Milligram experiment. Discussion of the way knowledge is achieved through experimentation in the social sciences. Discussion of the purpose of such knowledge. Opinion vs. Evidence. Discussion of potential experimental topics for the Social Science Paper.
Homework:
Read: “On the Ethics of Intervention …” Survey Building Complete: Ethics Survey/ Certification: http://hstraining.orda.ucsb.edu
Write: Proposal for experimental topic.

Class …
Refining and Conducting a Social Science Experiment / Experimental ethics.
Share experimental ideas. Discussion of ethics in the social sciences. Group the students into optional experimental teams. Workshop on writing effective survey questions.
Homework:
Conduct: Experimental Survey

Class …
Interpreting and Presenting Data
Discussion of collected data from surveys. How to interpret information. How to craft raw data into a polished report. Group work on organizing and presenting results effectively. Discussion of experimental form.
Homework:
Read: “Field Study and Reports” Write: Individual Rough draft of Social Science Experiment.

Class …
Social Science Report Workshop
Peer review and workshop of Social Science Experiment. Class discussion of common difficulties or problems. Volunteers to share portions of Social Science Experiment.
Homework:
Write: Final Draft of the Social Science Experiment.

This course requires as a text
Behrens, Laurence and Rosen, Leonard J. Writing and Reading Across the Curriculum. 8th ed.
New York: Addison Wesley Longman, Inc., 2002

The social sciences unit:

Unit 1: Social Sciences
Monday 9/30: Introduction and diagnostic

Wednesday 10/2: The basics of writing a college paper
Distribution of the assignment for paper 1
Reading: “Group Minds” (WRAC pp.306-8) and “The Organization Kid”
(WRAC pp.365-74)

Monday 10/7: Summary
Reading: “Opinions and Social Pressure” (WRAC pp.309-15)

Wednesday 10/9: Paraphrase and quotation
Reading: “The Perils of Obedience” (WRAC pp.317-28)

Monday 10/14: Critique
Reading: “Review of Stanley Milgram’s Experiments on Obedience” and
“Obedience” (WRAC pp.329-45)

Wednesday 10/16: Peer review of rough drafts

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