Touchstones are projects that illustrate your comprehension of the course material, help you refine skills, and demonstrate application of knowledge. You can work on a Touchstone anytime, but you must pass your Milestone before you submit it. Once you’ve submitted a Touchstone, it will be graded and counted toward your final course score.
This Touchstone provides an opportunity for you to build on the work you developed in Unit 1 by conducting your literature review and developing a hypothesis and proposed research plan. By articulating your research plan, you will be educating others on the problem solving process you have applied to your topic. You will also strengthen your relationship building and self and social awareness skills by providing a thorough explanation of a sociological concept.
SCENARIO: Your supervisor has approved your research question and plan for studying some aspect of diversity and/or collaboration in a community group. Now it is time to conduct your literature review and develop your hypothesis and research plan.
ASSIGNMENT: In the first Touchstone, you developed a research question and prepared a preliminary bibliography for your literature review. You will now conduct your literature review, formulate your hypothesis and research plan, and develop a set of notecards that summarize your work.
REQUIREMENTS: You must create 8-11 notecards using the touchstone template below. Your notecards will include:
- introduction card
- research question card
- literature review (4–6 cards)
- hypothesis card
- operational definitions card (if needed)
- research method card
When you have finished, submit the Touchstone template. Before you get started, let’s look at how you’ll build your notecards, step by step.
First, return to the community group description, research question, and proposed bibliography that you submitted in Touchstone 1, and make any necessary changes based on feedback from the grader. You will likely want to refine your reading list based on the feedback you received and what you learned about diversity and collaboration in Unit 3.
Next, complete your reading for your literature review.
Reminder of attributes of good readings for your literature review:
- They are academic, scholarly works about research findings or they are reliable journalistic reporting based on scientifically credible and reliable data.
- They should have been published in the last 20 years—unless they are a landmark work on the topic and provide important background or as a comparison.
- They look at different sides of the argument and a variety of perspectives.
As you complete each reading, take notes. Some of the questions you could ask about each reading include:
- Who wrote this article? Is it the researchers themselves, or is it a journalist writing about their findings?
- Where was it published? Is it a scholarly publication like an academic journal, or is it for a popular audience? If the publication is for a popular audience, how would you characterize the audience?
- Do they have an academic affiliation? Are the researchers sociologists, or are they of a different discipline?
- When was the research conducted?
- What question were the researchers attempting to answer?
- How does this question/topic relate to my question/topic?
- What methods did they use to study their question?
- What conclusions did they draw from their results?
- How do their conclusions impact my research question, hypothesis, or research plan?
As you did for your first Touchstone, you will include five key elements for each source, with each element separated by a period:
- Author’s name(s)
- Publisher and publication date
- Title of the source, in quotation marks
- Page numbers (if applicable)
- Source’s location for web-based texts (URL)
Alireza Behtoui. Journal of Sociology, 2015. “Beyond social ties: The impact of social capital on labour market outcomes for young Swedish people.” p. 711-724. journals.sagepub.com/
Step 3: Formulate a Hypothesis, State Your Operational Definitions, and Choose a Research Method
Next, formulate a hypothesis for your research question and choose a sociological research method appropriate for testing your hypothesis. While you won’t be conducting the research, you will write up a description of how you plan to conduct your research. (HINT: Refer back to Lesson 1.3.5: Formulating a Hypothesis, Lesson 1.3.6: Collecting Data: Quantitative Approaches , and Lesson 1.3.6: Collecting Data: Quantitative Approaches for help.)
A formal hypothesis states the relationship between two variables—one is independent (IV) and one is dependent (DV). It must also be formatted as an If/Then statement, for instance:
- If people eat chocolate (IV), then they will get pimples (DV).
- If people go to the gym (IV), then they will be fit (DV).
Operational definitions identify important concepts related to the research. For example, If your community organization includes students, are they K-12? College? Medical? Or are students defined as: young adults between the ages of 18-21 who are attending a particular college or university?
Deciding on a research method will also take some thought and planning:
- Will you use qualitative or quantitative research or a combination?
- How will you engage subjects or find your data?
- What kinds of tools and assessments will be used to gather the data?
Finally, incorporate Steps 1-4 to prepare a set of notecards for your proposed research study. Use the template provided to create 8-11 notecards that present the work you completed in Steps 1-4.
|Introduction||Your introduction notecard should introduce your audience to the community group being studied.|
|Research question||Your second notecard will state your research question.|
|Literature Review (4-6 cards)||Now that you’ve introduced your community group and research question, it’s time to add information to your literature review notecards. Each source should have one notecard. The notecard should describe the information and analysis you performed in Step 2.|
|Hypothesis||Your hypothesis notecard should describe your hypothesis.|
|Operational definitions||Your operational definitions notecard should include and explain any operational definitions you developed for your study. You may skip this card if you have none.|
|Research method||Your research method notecard should introduce your proposed research method and explain how you propose to conduct your research.|
|Advanced (100%)||Proficient (85%)||Acceptable (75%)||Needs Improvement (50%)||Non-Performance (0%)|
Literature Review: Sources and Feedback
Sources are of good quality and feedback was applied.
|4-6 sources appropriate for a sociological literature review are provided; all feedback on the Unit 1 Touchstone bibliography was addressed.||At least 3 sources appropriate for a sociological literature review are provided; most feedback on the Unit 1 Touchstone bibliography was addressed.||At least 2 sources appropriate for a sociological literature review are provided; some feedback on the Unit 1 Touchstone bibliography was addressed.||Only 1 source appropriate for a sociological literature review is provided; there is little evidence that feedback on the Unit 1 Touchstone bibliography was addressed.||Did not identify any appropriate sources or submitted so little work that no credit can be given.|
Literature Review: Description and Analysis
Sources are described and analyzed.
|Sources are described thoroughly and accurately, and relevance to research topic is identified.||Most of the sources are described thoroughly and accurately, and in most cases the relevance to research topic is identified.||Most of the sources are described thoroughly and accurately. Relevance to research topic may be absent.||Most of the sources are minimally described or contain inaccuracies in their descriptions. Relevance to research topic may be absent.||Sources are not described or analyzed.|
Hypothesis and Operational Definitions
A well-developed hypothesis is provided and operational definitions are identified.
|Hypothesis is well-aligned to the research question, is testable, and predicts outcomes between two or more identified variables. All concepts needing operational definitions are identified and definitions are provided.||Hypothesis achieves two of three: is well-aligned to the research question; is testable; predicts outcomes between two or more identified variables. Not all concepts needing operational definitions are identified or defined.||Hypothesis achieves one of three: is well-aligned to the research question; is testable; predicts outcomes between two or more identified variables. Concepts needing operational definitions may be unidentified or undefined.||Hypothesis is not well-aligned to the research question; Concepts needing operational definitions may be unidentified or undefined.||Did not submit a hypothesis or submitted so little work that no credit can be given.|
A suitable research method is selected and described.
|A qualitative or quantitative research method that is suitable to the research question is selected and explained. Specific instruments are identified.||A qualitative or quantitative research method that is suitable to the research question is selected and explained.||A qualitative or quantitative research method is identified and explained but is not suitable for the research question.||A decision to use qualitative or quantitative methods is made but is not specified or explained.||Did not submit an explanation of a proposed research method or submitted so little work that no credit can be given.|
Writing follows conventions for standard written English.
|There are 0-2 errors in grammar, punctuation, spelling, and capitalization.||There are 3-4 errors in grammar, punctuation, spelling, and capitalization.||There are 5-6 errors in grammar, punctuation, spelling, and capitalization.||There are 7-10 errors in grammar, punctuation, spelling, and capitalization.||There are more than 10 errors in grammar, punctuation, spelling, and capitalization.|
The following requirements must be met for your submission:
- Use a readable 11- or 12-point font.
- All writing must be appropriate for an academic context.
- Composition must be original and written for this assignment.
- Plagiarism of any kind is strictly prohibited.
- Submission must include your name and the date.
- Include all of the assignment components in a single file.
- Acceptable file formats include .doc and .docx.
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