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Program Learning Outcomes

Be conversant with the substantive areas of sociology and the variety of theories and research methods associated with these substantive areas.

Course Learning Outcomes

This course should enable you to do the following:

  1. Examine the construction of social problems and understand why these problems cannot just be seen from an objective standpoint.
  2. Use major sociological theoretical perspectives to understand and analyze contemporary social problems.
  3. Evaluate and understand research on social problems.
  4. Manifest an understanding of the scope (who, what, where, how) of contemporary social problems.
  5. Show an ability to look at problems from all sides and to form your own educated opinions on social issues.
  6. Assess the relationship between social policy (conservative-liberal) and social problem solutions.

Academic Honesty

In keeping with the principles of the BYU Honor Code, you are expected to be honest in all of your academic work. Academic honesty means, most fundamentally, that any work you present as your own must, in fact, be your own work, and not that of another. It also means that you are honest in following instructions; closed book quizzes should be taken without consulting your textbook or notes. Violations of these principles will result in a failing grade in the course and additional disciplinary action by the university. Please contact the Honor Code Office if you have questions about those standards.

Required Texts

You will need these resources for the course:

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Course Structure

This course is structured very similarly to the way the course would be taught on campus at Brigham Young University. Begin each lesson by first reading the online lesson material. I often use questions, games, and experiments at the beginning of the lesson to help spark your interest in the day’s subject. Sometimes reading the assigned chapter in Macionis’s Social Problems text will dilute the impact of the material I provide (because of the added knowledge you will gain). So, read my materials first and Macionis’s second.

Following my lesson, I often include a section titled “An LDS Perspective.” This section contains quotes, talks, and scriptures related to specific social problems. You will not be tested on this information; however, you may find it helpful as you begin to form your own opinions about current social problems.

I wrap up most lessons with a few review and think-tank questions. You do not have to turn in your answers to these questions. They are there primarily as a tool to help you assess whether or not you understand key sociological concepts and ideas. Unlike the review questions, the think tank questions ask you to think more philosophically about the ideas that are presented. I encourage you to take these questions seriously. Social theorists often make assumptions about how the social world operates that cannot be empirically verified or substantiated. Hopefully, the think-tank questions will help you consider the ramifications of the theoretical assumptions we cover.

At the end of each lesson, there is a Self Check. This is a short quiz, covering the material from the lesson and the required readings. These quizzes are not graded, but I would suggest taking them very seriously. They are made up of questions very similar to the ones you will find on your graded quizzes and exams.

You will find the reading assignment from the text and any other sources in each lesson. Note that we will not read every chapter in Macionis’s text, and that we will not go through the chapters in the same order they are presented in the textbook. Make sure that you follow the reading assignments as they are presented in the lesson. Macionis’s Social Problems text is one of the best. It is essential that you read and understand the textbook in order to do well in the course. Pay particular attention to the scope of each problem. Ask yourself questions like, “Who does this social problem affect the most?” “Which of the sociological theories do I think best explains this social problem?” “How would conservatives or liberals try and solve the problem?”


Grading will be based on three quizzes, a research project that will be divided into six assignments, and three exams.


There will be three quizzes in the class. These quizzes are following lessons 12, 17, and 23 and will help assess your retention and comprehension of the material covered in the class.

Take these quizzes right before the exams. Most students will recognize early in the course that the quizzes are prototypes of the exams, so use them in a way to help you prepare for the types of questions you will be expected to answer on the exams. The questions on the quizzes cover the material in the lessons as well as the textbook and any other required readings. Each quiz consists of 10 multiple-choice questions worth 2 points each. The quizzes will be taken online. Upon completion of the quiz, the computer will immediately generate your score. The quizzes are closed book.

Research Project

I find that students tend to retain more of the information they learn if they are required to verbally express their thoughts and ideas in writing. I would also like this class to be an opportunity for you to learn more about a social problem that is of specific interest to you.

Throughout this course, you will work on a research project that will allow you to study one social problem, more in-depth. This project will be due in six sections. The project will be worth a total of 300 points. For your project you will be required to do the following:

I suggest that you complete these parts of the assignment after Lessons 5, 9, 13, 15, 19, and 21, but you should be working on the project throughout the course. You can find an overview of this assignment after Lesson 5. For right now, I would suggest thinking about social problems that interest you and what you might like to do your project on.

Formatting Written Work

To make sure I can open and read your papers, please save them as Word .DOC or .DOCX files.

Use the course number, your first and last name, and the assignment name for the filename. For example, SOC112_JaneSmith_ResearchProjectProposal.docx.

Submitting Your Written Assignments

Here’s how to submit your completed assignments:

  1. Open the assignment page.
  2. Click on “Show Dropbox” at the bottom right of your screen.
  3. Click on “Choose File.”
  4. In the window that pops up, navigate to the document you want to submit.
  5. Select the document and click “Open.”
  6. In the comment box below, add any comments you have or any comments required by the assignment.
  7. Once everything is ready, click “Submit.” A small icon will appear in the top right corner of the screen and on the navigation menu informing you that the assignment has been submitted and is ready for grading.

I will leave many of my comments to you online. If I make comments on your paper itself, I will send it back to you as a .PDF file. That way I can be sure that you can read the comments that I make.

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You will be expected to demonstrate your familiarity with the course material by way of formal exams 3 times during the course.

Each exam consists of fifty multiple-choice questions worth 2 points each. The exams are closed book and have no time limit. Questions on the exam will be similar to the questions in the Self Check sections at the end of each lesson, the graded quizzes, and the multiple-choice questions in the Sample Test Question section at the back of your textbook.

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Here is the point breakdown for the course:

Assignment Points
Quizzes 1–3 20 points each (60 points total)
Exams 1–3 100 points each (300 points total)
Research Project Proposal 10 points
Research Project Service 50 points
Research Project Movie/Book Review 50 points
Research Paper Rough Draft 40 points
Research Project Informing Others 50 points
Research Paper Final Draft 100 points

Grading Scale

Here is how the letter grades are assigned:

Grade Percent
A 94 to 100%
A– 90 to 93%
B+ 87 to 89%
B 83 to 86%
B– 80 to 82%
C+ 77 to 79%
C 73 to 76%
C– 70 to 72%
D+ 67 to 69%
D 63 to 66%
D– 60 to 62%
E 59% and below

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Copyright Notice

The materials used in connection with this online course are only for the use of students enrolled in this course for purposes associated with this course and may not be retained or further disseminated. Any copying or further dissemination of these materials may be subject to applicable U.S. Copyright Laws. For questions or more information, please visit the BYU Copyright Licensing Office website.

“Members of the BYU community who willfully disregard this Copyright Policy or the BYU Copyright Guidelines place themselves individually at risk of legal action and may incur personal liability for their conduct. The unauthorized use or distribution of copyrighted material, including unauthorized peer-to-peer file sharing, may subject individuals to civil and criminal liabilities, including actual and statutory damages, costs and fees of litigation, fines, and imprisonment

Violations of the Copyright Policy may result in university disciplinary action including termination of university enrollment or employment.” (Emphasis added. Excerpt taken from the BYU Copyright Policy)

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University Policy - Title IX Statement

Preventing & Responding to Sexual Misconduct

In accordance with Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, Brigham Young University prohibits unlawful sex discrimination against any participant in its education programs or activities. The university also prohibits sexual harassment—including sexual violence—committed by or against students, university employees, and visitors to campus. As outlined in university policy, sexual harassment, dating violence, domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking are considered forms of "Sexual Misconduct" prohibited by the university.

University policy requires all university employees in a teaching, managerial, or supervisory role to report all incidents of Sexual Misconduct that come to their attention in any way, including but not limited to face-to-face conversations, a written class assignment or paper, class discussion, email, text, or social media post. Incidents of Sexual Misconduct should be reported to the Title IX Coordinator at t9coordinator@byu.edu or (801) 422-8692. Reports may also be submitted through EthicsPoint at https://titleix.byu.edu/report or 1-888-238-1062 (24-hours a day).

BYU offers confidential resources for those affected by Sexual Misconduct, including the university’s Victim Advocate, as well as a number of non-confidential resources and services that may be helpful. Additional information about Title IX, the university’s Sexual Misconduct Policy, reporting requirements, and resources can be found at http://titleix.byu.edu or by contacting the university’s Title IX Coordinator.

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Accessibility Notice

BYU is committed to providing a working and learning atmosphere which reasonably accommodates persons with disabilities who are otherwise qualified to participate in BYU's programs and activities. In this spirit, BYU Independent Study aspires to improve web accessibility for users. While not required by law, the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 Levels A and AA provide a wide range of helpful recommendations to make Web content more accessible. BYU Independent Study strives to apply WCAG 2.0 recommendations where feasible, but may deviate from any recommendations that would result in an undue hardship to BYU Independent Study or alterations to program and course content and objectives. If you have questions about accessibility, or if you need to report problems with any accessibility features please see our Accessibilities and Accommodations Web Page.

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