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March 29th 2014

Measuring College Learning in Sociology: An Initial Conversation with Faculty

On March 29, 2014, the SSRC brought together a group of distinguished sociology faculty to discuss ways to define and measure learning outcomes for sociology undergraduates. This was the first in a series of sociology-focused meetings for the Measuring College Learning Project (MCL), a new Education Research Program initiative that aims to develop faculty’s capacity to understand and improve undergraduates’ field-specific learning. Click here to learn more about MCL.

The meeting’s main objective was to engage faculty in a consensus-oriented discussion about what sociology students should learn at the introductory and major level. The goal was not to generate an exhaustive list of learning outcomes, but rather to think about a small set of empirically measurable “essential representative competencies”—i.e., skills and habits of mind—that sociology students should be expected to develop over time. Drawing on previous work on this topic (e.g., the American Sociological Association’s Liberal Learning and the Sociology Major report and the recently released C3 Framework for Social Studies State Standards), participants considered a range of ways to conceive of “essential representative competencies” for sociology undergraduates. 

This meeting generated a number of new ideas about how to characterize learning outcomes for students of sociology and set the stage for a second meeting, where the group will engage in an in-depth discussion about how to design a high-quality tool that can measure sociology undergraduates’ learning over time.

Location: Social Science Research Council