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SOCY U341 Sociology of Families: Assignment


Final Paper and Presentation Assignment: Sociological Review of a Book about Family Life

Assignment Overview

In this course you will work either individually or with a one collaborator to write a paper that reviews and critically assess a book related to family life through research and analysis applying a sociological perspective. This resource provides an excellent guide for developing a critical review, and serves as a basis for this assignment.

The book should be non-fiction, and preferably an academic book that covers content related to family life.  You are free to choose the book you want to write about but should discuss the book with your professor as you choose it, to be sure it will fit the assignment well.

While the paper is expected to demonstrate a thorough and precise critical analysis of the book, the length of the final paper is relatively brief: 1,000-1,250 words for individuals or 1,250-1,500 words for groups. The final paper should make concise but effective arguments. The project is scaffolded into separate stages and time will be given during several class meetings for students to develop their project.

The final review paper will:

  • Describe the book, including any research method and findings, major themes, and arguments
  • Evaluate the book for both its relevance and credibility in relation to accepted disciplinary standards in sociology, and supports this evaluation with evidence from the text and by comparing and contrasting the book with sociological research on relevant issues
  • Incorporate information and scholarly arguments from several sources:
    • For individuals:
      • 5 sources must be scholarly sources (of these, 1 should be the course text)
      • 2 additional sources should be popular press news articles
    • For groups:
      • 8 sources must be scholarly sources (of these, 1 may should be the course text)
      • 2 additional sources should be popular press news articles.
  • Be presented in class
  • Be uploaded to the appropriate link on Blackboard.

Steps of Assignment

This project is scaffolded into a few steps. Working through each of these steps will help create a solid presentation and paper. Students will receive feedback from the professor and peers on each of these pieces and will have several opportunities to revise their work throughout the project. The assignments and their proportional value to the overall assignment grade is as follows:               

  1. 1 page outline                     15%                                                       
  2. Presentation:                       35%
  3. Final Paper:                         50%

Paper Presentation

The presentation component of this project is designed as a means for you to explain your critical review paper to an interested audience. The presentation should directly reflect the work you have already done towards this paper.  The following are the parts that should constitute your oral presentation. 15 minutes will be allotted for each presentation. The presentations should be about 10 minutes in length, with about 3 minutes for questions from the class. The following are important aspects of the presentation:

  • Introduction – What are the key arguments of your presentation, and what should the audience expect?
  • Describe the book and theme: What is the perspective and argument of the book? What are the methods? How do these characteristics of the author’s approach shape the book?
  • Relate the book to other scholarships: Evaluate the book’s relationship to other scholarship using specific evidence from both the textbook book and from related sociological scholarship.
  • Evaluate the book: How successful was the author in accomplishing what they set out to do, and why?
  • Clarity of Presentation: Student should give presentation in a clear and professional manner. Presentation should be organized and must fit the time constraints.
  • Question Response: Each student is expected to provide thoughtful, succinct response to peer questions at the end of their presentation.
  • Participation as Audience Member: Students are expected to be attentive during other student’s presentations. Each student is expected to ask at least one presenting student a well-informed question during discussion.