Psychology of Learning

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Short paper guidance ** Spring 06

Short essay guidance: The following provides some practical information and general guidance on the writing requirements for this course.
Two short essays are required for this course. Each essay is worth 15 points, or 30 points total, and comprise 30% of your grade. The first paper, due on 17 February, should be drawn from any of the suggested topics for Chapters 1 – 3, or 7 – 9. The second paper, due on 21 April, should be drawn from any of the suggested topics listed for Chapters 10 – 13, 15, or 16.

Your short essays should reflect your role of student as interpreter, thinker, and explainer of the topic you have chosen. The essay inevitably has about it a whiff of argument; it is not simply description or opinion.

The paper should be about 1200 – 1500 words, or 3 ½ -- 4 ½ pages when double spaced with a standard font size and standard margins. Put your name, course and section number, and turn in date at the top right of the first page. Next, to ensure the reader/grader is clear about your topic, type out the chapter number/title and topic you have selected for your essay as it appears below. Number the pages on the bottom right side of the paper. Before you turn the paper in, proof read it, do a word count, a spell check, and make sure it looks okay. Make sure the completed paper is stapled together at the upper left corner.

Chapter 1: Perspective, theory and methods
•The sociological perspective helps us recognize that the lives of individuals are shaped by the forces of society. Explain, in a short essay, how the sociological perspective reveals "the general in the particular." To illustrate, explain how society played a part in your own decision to attend college. •Point out what the approach of a sociologist who is influenced by the structural-functional approach (say, Emile Durkheim) has in common with the approach of a sociologist influenced by the social-conflict approach (say, Karl Marx). That is, what makes them both sociological? At the same time, how does each represent a somewhat different assumption about the nature of society? In each case, what is the purpose of sociological study? What is the link(s) between the three methodological approaches to sociology and the three theoretical approaches?

Chapter 2: Culture
•Highlight the different insights about culture that come from the structural-functional approach, the social-conflict approach, and sociobiology approach. Do you think that the differences in how we understand culture using each of these approaches is a matter of being more right than the others? Or do they all offer some correct insights? Why do you say this? •Identify the types of societies in Gerhard Lenski's analysis. In what sense does technological advance mean "progress"? In what sense does it not necessarily mean this? •Film: Brokeback Mountain (2005)

Chapter 3: Socialization from infancy to old age
•Explain the "nature-nurture debate." How do the ideas of Sigmund Freud and George Herbert Mead differ in this regard? •Summarize Freud's theory of human personality, Piaget's approach to human development, and Mead's view of development of the self. What do all have in common? What are the main differences between them? •Film: Full Metal Jacket (1987); One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975)

Chapter 7: Deviance
•Explain the limitations of biological and psychological explanations of crime. Expand the essay by explaining the strengths of a sociological approach to understanding crime. •The U.S. government provides a great deal of data about crime in the United States. Drawing on FBI data, what can we say about the "typical street criminal" in terms of age, gender, social class, and race and ethnicity? In each case, what can to say to explain the pattern? Finally, point to several reasons why we must treat criminal statistics with caution. •Film: Bowling for Columbine (2002)

Chapter 8:...
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