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Info Comp - Exercises
Exercises in Information Competence

** A few of the following projects/exercises are based in the Teaching Resources Depository Website. Please note that the New TRD is not yet completed, some of the following projects/exercises may have outdated or incorrect links, or may not fit the same formatting as the rest of the site. Thank you for your patience. 
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Original Statements of Projects

Critical Thinking 1 | Critical Thinking 2 | Critical Thinking 3 | Critical Thinking 4 | Library Database Searching
Neighborhood and Community | Religion 1 | Religion 3 | Religion 4 | Critical Thinking 5 Web Credibility | Critical Thinking 7 Periodical Credibility | Steps in the Scientific Method
Critical Thinking 1 [Problem Definition, Analysis]
The data set used in this exercise is RELG9800 which is a combination of the 1998 and 2000 General Social Surveys.  (Some of the variables in the GSS have been recoded to make them easier to use and some new variables have been created.)  The goal of this exercise is to learn how to state hypotheses involving two variables, develop arguments to support these hypotheses, use SPSS to get the tables to test these hypotheses, and to interpret these tables and decide if the data support the hypotheses.  The exercise uses CROSSTABS in SPSS. (includes powerpoint presentation) 
Critical Thinking 2 [Problem Definition, Analysis]
The data set used in this exercise is RELG9800 which is a combination of the 1998 and 2000 General Social Surveys.  (Some of the variables in the GSS have been recoded to make them easier to use and some new variables have been created.)  The goal of this exercise is to learn how to develop hypotheses involving three variables, develop arguments to support these hypotheses, use SPSS to get the tables to test these hypotheses, and to interpret these tables and decide if the data support the hypothesis.  The exercise uses CROSSTABS and RECODE in SPSS. (includes powerpoint presentation) 
Critical Thinking 3 [Evaluation]
This newspaper exercise has students compare a scientific and popular media perspectives by picking examples of mass media and scientific articles from recent newspapers then discuss why each article is an appropriate choice. In the concluding paragraph contrasts are made between the two types. As a start, I usually have students bring sample articles to class and discuss their article choices in their group. After the papers are turned in make the following available on the web and discuss in class a comparison of diffirences between science and popular media is discussed with the class as a whole. Thhe overall goal is to get the class to think critically and create their own criteria rather then simply apply one I give.
Critical Thinking 4 [Problem Definition, Analysis]
The data set used in this exercise is RELG9800 which is a combination of the 1998 and 2000 General Social Surveys.  (Some of the variables in the GSS have been recoded to make them easier to use and some new variables have been created.)  The goal of this exercise is to create measures of tolerance.  Once we have created these measures, we will see how they are related to some other variables.  The exercise uses CROSSTABS and COMPUTE in SPSS. 
Libarary Database Searching [Problem Definition, Access]
What is Sociological Abstracts? How is Sociological Abstracts organized? and How to search Sociological Abstracts
Neighborhood and Community [Analysis]
Collecting quantitative and qualitative data to develop typologies. This exercise is used in a “Neighborhood and Community” course. Students are asked to collect quantitative data (statistics from Census 2000) and qualitative data (observations) on their own neighborhood. They also collect the same Census data for the city as a whole, for comparison. The minimum required census data elements are specified in the assignment. Ideas for focusing observations are generated by students in class after reading about the empirical bases of neighborhood typologies published by others. Students write a paper which includes descriptions of the data collected, and drawing from assigned reading, analyses of the functions emphasized in their neighborhood, and the construction of an ideal type that exemplifies their neighborhood. 
Religion 1  [Problem Definition, Analysis]
The data set used in this exercise is RELG9800 which is a combination of the 1998 and 2000 General Social Surveys.  (Some of the variables in the GSS have been recoded to make them easier to use and some new variables have been created.)  The goal of this exercise is to create a measure of religiosity.  We will also validate our measure. Validity refers to whether we are measuring what we think we are measuring.  If we can show that we are measuring what we say we are measuring, that we have validated the measure.  Once we have validated the measure, weâll see how it is related to other variables.  The exercise uses CROSSTABS, RECODE, and IF in SPSS. 
Religion 3  [Problem Definition, Analysis]
The data set used in this exercise is RELG9800 which is a combination of the 1998 and 2000 General Social Surveys.  (Some of the variables in the GSS have been recoded to make them easier to use and some new variables have been created.)  The goal of this exercise is to explore the relationship between religiosity and other variables using crosstabulation.  This exercise will focus on two-variable relationships and then on three-variable relationships.  The concepts of explanation, spuriousness, and replication will also be explored.  The exercise uses CROSSTABS and RECODE in SPSS. 
Religion 4  [Problem Definition, Analysis]
The data set used in this exercise is RELG9800 which is a combination of the 1998 and 2000 General Social Surveys.  (Some of the variables in the GSS have been recoded to make them easier to use and some new variables have been created.)  The goal of this exercise is to think about a concept typically called religious fundamentalism and to consider how we might measure this concept using data from the General Social Survey.  Once we have decided on a measure, then we will explore the relationship between this variable and various forms of religious behavior and opinions on various social issues.  The exercise uses CROSSTABS, RECODE, and SELECT CASES in SPSS. 
Critical Thinking 5 Web Credibility [Evaluation]
Evaluating Web Resources by looking at Purpose, Authority, Currency, and Content. This exercise also includes a web evaluation checklist and a listing of additional sites that allow for the practice of web evaluation skills. Check my comments on these links.
Critical Thinking 6 Newspaper Credibility [Evaluation]
Evaluating Newspaper Resources Students pick one mass media and one social science article from a recent newspaper. They then contrast and compare the approaches in order to develop criteria that identify the diffirences between the two approaches. After papers are turned in I have a class discussion around one possible set of diffirences between mass media and social science approaches Some diffirences between popular media and social science
Critical Thinking 7 Perodical Credibility [Evaluation]
Evaluating Periodicals as Resources This is an in class exercise. Students in groups are distributed copies of academic journals, interest publications and popular magazines. They then contrast and compare these diffirent sources in order to develop criteria that identify diffirences between these sources.
Steps in The Scientific method [Problem Definition, Access, Analysis, Presentation]
This exercise is designed to teach/practice the steps of social science with quality data. Students use the web based General Social Survey data at Berkley to write a research report. I use this with introductory Sociology students as a culminating exercise for the class. Suggestions for using this exersize are available at suggestions.

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