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EPPL751Su2012

EPPL 751 Sociology of Higher Education

Summer 2012


Instructor: Monica D. Griffin, Ph.D., Director, Engaged Scholarship & the Sharpe Program


Adjunct Associate Professor of Education


Office: Blow Hall, Room 326


Meeting Room: School of Education, Room 2021


Meeting Time: Mondays, 4:30- 8 p.m.; Wednesday (on-line modules)


Phone: 221-2669 (office); 303-3211 (mobile)


E-mail:mdgrif@wm.edu


Office Hours: Monday 1:30-4:15 (Blackboard virtual chat) or by appointment



*All assignments or plans within this syllabus are subject to change according to the professor’s discretion, as appropriate for teaching/learning needs.

Course Description: This course explores the intersection of sociological issues and interests in the study of higher education. Students will be introduced to sociological lines of inquiry and major theoretical schools of thought that advance particular sociological perspectives. The course will analyze issues central to the study of higher education through frameworks that consider social and cultural processes at work in higher education, structural and contextual factors that impact practice and participation, and implications for educational policy rising out of discipline-based approaches to higher education.

Course Objectives:

To explore the intersection of sociological issues and interests in the study of higher education

To introduce sociological lines of inquiry and major theoretical schools of thought that advance particular sociological perspectives


To understand social foundations of education in terms of the social and cultural processes at work in higher education


To examine and evaluate structural and contextual factors that impact practice and policy in education


To develop students’ skills for developing academic and/or action research plans that potentially form a productive practice-based partnership with other organizations or institutions connected with higher education fields and/or settings


To synthesize theoretical modeling with organizational dimensions of practice in education as a basis for forming research inquiry


To evaluate social scientific approaches and methods for studying higher education in order to advance student progress toward developing a Master’s or Dissertation thesis proposal.


Required Course Texts:


Craig, Dorothy V. 2009. Action Research Essentials. San Francisco, Jossey-Bass.

Massey, Douglass S., Camille Z. Charles, Garvey F. Lundy, and Mary J. Fischer. 2003. The Source of the River: The Social Origins of Freshmen at America’s Selective Colleges and Universities. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press.


In addition to articles, selected readings (also posted on Blackboard) will be drawn from the following texts as required readings for this course:

Lemert, Charles. 2009. Social Theory: the Multicultural and Classical Readings. Boulder, Colorado: Westview Press.

Sadovnik, A. (2011). Sociology of Education: a critical reader, 2nd ed. (pp. 3-21). New York: Routledge.


Recommended Course Texts:

Booth, Wayne C., Gregory G. Colomb, and Joseph M. Williams. 2008.The Craft of Research, Third Edition. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Hacker, Diana. A Writer’s Reference, Sixth Edition. New York: Bedford St. Martin Press.


Course Assignments & Evaluations

Discussion Participation 15%

All students will be expected to attend In-Class Meetings regularly and complete readings in a timely manner, prior to class meetings, in preparation to actively contribute to the content and value of the classroom discussion. During some meetings, the professor will actively observe pre-assigned discussion leadership by students and guide the discussion to address critical topics as needed. Adequate preparation is the key to a successful participation evaluation.

Research Praxis Journal (5 major entries) 30%

All students will complete 5 major entries of a Research Praxis Journal (approx. 3 pages each), which is a relatively informal, reflective accumulation of notes, ideas and resources that ultimately lead to a productive research process. Students will be given flexibility for exploring topical areas in which to complete a research project, opportunity to explore various theoretical frameworks, methodologies or resources for completing projects, and structure for documenting their progress in both academic and applied organizational settings.

Topic Statement & Annotated Bibliography 20%

Students will be guided through the process of honing a research topic from broad areas of inquiry into narrowed fields of intended study, using their own conceptual development of the topic and the existing body of scholarly resources. They will demonstrate their progress in this process by developing a polished Topic Statement for their research and annotated bibliographic references that correspond to an outline for study (approx. 5 pages).

Final Project Proposal 20%

Students are expected to complete the beginning of a literature review for intended research, whether it will contribute to a Master’s or Doctoral thesis, or continue as part of an action research project within an institutional setting. Student interests, degree and career paths will determine the format and content for the Final Project Proposal (approx. 10 pages).

Class Presentation 15%

Students will give a time-limited presentation to fellow classmates, a presentation that outlines their academic/action research plan, identifies sociological and theoretical frameworks adopted by their research in the context of a larger body of literature, summarizes key findings to this point, and charts continuing plans.




Grading and Evaluation


Because The College requires instructors to assign grades according to the student’s performance, grades will be predicated on the overall quality of the work submitted throughout the semester. The student’s final grade in the course is intended to reflect the student’s mastery of the course material, and their ability to critically analyze the social, cultural, philosophical, and historical issues in education. This includes individual preparation and participation in class discussions. The following is a framework to assist students in understanding the instructor’s expectations regarding their work for the course.

A An A is awarded in recognition of exemplary work, reflecting a high level of proficiency. An A- designation denotes exemplary work with some minimal mechanical or organizational problems.
B A B+ designation denotes satisfactory work with some evidence of exemplary analysis. In most cases, B+ work offers intriguing and original analysis, but may have some notable mechanical and/or organizational problems. A B is awarded in recognition of satisfactory work, reflecting an acceptable level of proficiency. A B- designation denotes satisfactory work with substantial mechanical and/or organizational problems. In most cases, B- work has a somewhat clear focus and demonstrates a basic understanding of the relevant concepts and arguments, but has limited evidence of originality or depth.
C A C is awarded for developing work, reflecting marginal or limited evidence of proficiency. In most cases, C work fails to offer a coherent, original or compelling thesis; the work has excessive mechanical and/or organizational problems; and the author has demonstrated a basic understanding of key concepts and arguments.
D A D is awarded for work that is superficial, demonstrates very little effort, and limited in depth regarding the course materials and student’s overall thinking. In addition, D work also fails to adhere to instructions in the syllabus and contains numerous significant grammatical, syntactical, and/or spelling errors.

F In addition to being work that is superficial, it demonstrates very little effort, and is limited in depth regarding the course materials and student’s overall thinking. In most instances, F work also fails to adhere to instructions in the syllabus, as well as, contains numerous significant grammatical, syntactical, and/or spelling errors. In addition, the student fails to address or meet the basic requirements of the assignment.


Criteria for Evaluating Written Assignments



In addition to the above grading scale, written assignments will be assessed according to the following criteria:
  • Author expresses a clear, detailed, and coherent argument, as well as, demonstrates critical thinking. A mere summary of the reading does not meet this criterion.
  • Author supports position with appropriate examples from the reading. Anecdotes and/or unsupported opinions do not satisfy this criterion.
  • Author incorporates additional empirical based claims and positions to support argument. Additional support from scholarly and/or credible sources satisfies this criterion.

Grading Scale


A: 95-100%; A- 90-94.9%; B+87-89.9%; B: 84-86.9%; B- 80-83.9%; C+77-79.9%; C: 74-76.9%; C-70-73.9%; D+67-69.9%; D: 64-66.9%; D-60-63.9%; F: 59% or below

Incompletes (I): Are strongly discouraged and are assigned only under the most extreme or tragic circumstances, such as the death of a family member. As stated in the School of Education’s Catalog: “An ‘I’ grade automatically converts to an ‘F’ if the work is not completed by the end of the regular semester following the course, or at the end of an additional semester if an extension is granted.”

Late Policy: There is a penalty for late assignments. One day after the due date—the highest grade you can receive for an assignment is a B letter grade. Two days after the due date—the highest grade you can receive is a C letter grade and so forth. There are no make-up opportunities for class presentations unless a documented medical emergency occurs. Documentation MUST come from Student Health Services or the Dean of Students.