Sociology | Sociological Research Practicum I
S566 | 3803 | Walters

The 2001-02 Sociological Research Practicum will have issues in
sociology of education as its primary focus. Education is one of the
main social institutions in modern society, and the amount and type
of education one receives has a large effect on one's life chances.
Not surprisingly, sociologists have paid a great deal of attention to
education. Much research has focused on the determinants and
consequences of educational attainment. At a more aggregate level,
sociologists have also addressed questions about how educational
resources and opportunities are distributed and what shapes systems
of education. It will not be possible to cover the whole field of
sociology of education in this SRP, but we will read about and
discuss several different research traditions in sociology of
education. The main goal is to prepare students to do a piece of
their own original research, either in sociology of education or a
related area.

To make it possible for students to choose among a broad range of
topics for their own research, this SRP will make available to
students a number of different existing data sets that, taken as a
group, can be used to investigate a diverse set of questions about
educational processes and outcomes. Actually, the data sets can be
used to investigate a number of other related processes as well, such
as family structure, employment, health, poverty, and the like. While
most data sets commonly used for research on education are individual
level, we will also make available some data sets that have
information at the school and school district level. Some of the data
sets pertain to elementary and secondary education and some pertain
to higher education. Still others are longitudinal, following
students throughout their educational careers. We are also planning
an original data collection effort. Our preliminary plans are to
conduct a survey of adults concerning their attitudes about public
education (including higher education) and their support for a
variety of educational policies. Final planning for the data
collection effort will be done during the SRP itself, to allow
students to have a hand in the planning. SRP students will
participate in the interviewing for the survey.