1. Course name and number (indicate whether this is new or existing course):
  2. Name of person submitting proposal:
  3. Semester in which writing-centered designation should become effective:
  4. Please attach a copy of WU Course Proposal Form.

The Writing Program as adopted by the faculty includes goals in five areas (revised November 2001). Your proposal should address those goals which are appropriate to the level of your course. The Writing Program Advisory Committee particularly looks for the following features in all course proposals:

  • opportunities both for polished formal writing and for exploratory and for spontaneous, exploratory, or less formal writing;
  • peer and faculty review followed by opportunities for revision.

In addition, writing-centered courses at a level of disciplinary specialization are expected to include work which will assist students to become both aware of and proficient in the discourse of their discipline.

5. On the opposite side of the page, please describe the writing assignments you expect to employ, explaining how these assignments embody the features above and serve to meet relevant goals of the program. If it will help to clarify things, include a course syllabus.

Proposal for a Writing-Centered Course

Course name and number: SOC 495 Internship in Sociology

Name of person submitting proposal: Linda Heuser

Semester in which writing-centered designation should become effective: Spring 2005

Attach a copy of WU course proposal form: Please find copies of the WU course proposal form and the course syllabus included here.

Description of writing assignments:

As described in the syllabus, the internship course is one of three possible capstone experiences for students majoring in sociology. Representing the final stage in their careers in sociology, the written work in this course intends to demonstrate the theoretical and methodological knowledge base that they have acquired along with providing them with the opportunity to compose a scholarly paper applying, synthesizing, and integrating what they have learned. Realizing that the production of a scholarly paper involves a recursive process, the following assignments have been developed to give students adequate time and feedback before the finished work is due.

Assignment 1: Fieldnotes

In some ways, fieldnotes could be considered a journal of more informal writing that students keep documenting their observations, thoughts, feelings, and reactions to what takes place at their internship site. Since they spend 120 hours at this site over the course of the semester and since they record extensive detail about ongoing interactions there, the fieldnotes become a substantial body of writing.

To provide students with feedback and focus for their fieldnotes, the professor and peer reviewer carefully read and comment (both orally and in writing) about the contents, direction, and themes evident in this piece of writing. The key aim of this review is to help the student identify a possible focus for the analytic paper that grows out of these recorded notes.

Assignment 2: Thesis Statement

Students have four tasks to complete in preparing a thesis statement. First, they must identify and describe the main focus of their analytic paper including, as the second task, the various subcategories or themes that may emerge out of this focus. Next, students must offer possible sociological theories and concepts that may prove fruitful in understanding and analyzing the findings derived from their fieldnotes in Assignment 1. As the final task, they submit a reference page, using the American Sociological Association style guidelines, citing a minimum of 15 references that will comprise the sources for their literature review and analysis in the final paper.

Just as in Assignment 1, the professor and peer reviewer carefully examine all materials supplied by the student and offer feedback both orally and in writing. The reviewers’ major responsibility includes suggesting ways that the student might link their thesis with sociological theories and concepts. It is at this juncture that the professor schedules conferences with each student to discuss their thoughts and ideas for their analytic paper in greater depth.

Assignment 3: Draft of Analytic Paper

Students now produce a draft of an approximately 15 page analytic paper that synthesizes and interprets sociologically the idea originally presented in the thesis statement. Modeled along the lines of a qualitative research paper, the students’ composition contains the following sections: introduction, literature review, methods, findings/analysis, discussion, and conclusion. In preparing this draft, students refer to samples of qualitative research articles appearing in a book about work that they have read over the course of the semester and for which they have assumed primary responsibilities as discussion leaders.

As in the two previous assignments, the professor and peer reviewer each receive a copy of this draft for their critical oral and written comments. Besides paying close attention to the structure and sociological contents of this paper, reviewers also assess the basic mechanics of writing.

Assignment 4: Final Version of the Analytic Paper

Students submit their final version of the analytic paper incorporating the suggestions made by their reviewers. Ultimately, this paper, having gradually evolved over the course of the semester, should demonstrate a relatively high level of sophistication in applying sociology to the analysis of their thesis.

Writing Program Goals

Given that the internship represents one of several capstone experiences in the major, the writing assignments included in the course embody the five goals of the Writing Program. Students come to understand that the fieldnotes, thesis statement, and analytic paper serve diverse purposes in communicating what they have learned in sociology. Furthermore, they begin to recognize what trained sociologists expect when they are reading a scholarly paper based on information collected qualitatively. Moreover, they become familiar with the conventions associated with writing for a professional audience in mind. Since they are developing an interpretation and analysis of their experiences at their internship site, students must provide evidence and examples to support their claims taken from their fieldnotes and the existing literature. Finally, they become aware of the need for sociologists to fluently, precisely, and competently convey their ideas in formal English. As a result, these assignments meet the five goals laid out by the Writing Program.

Willamette University

Writing Center

900 State Street
Salem Oregon 97301 U.S.A.

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