American Sociological Association

Making It Count: Using Real-World Projects for Course Assignments

Previous scholarship has demonstrated the value of high-impact practices of community engagement, inquiry-based pedagogy, and collaborative learning for engagement and learning in sociology courses, especially undergraduate research methods and statistics. This article explores the changes made to an upper-division undergraduate course focused on applied research practices and community-level interventions. After teaching the course once as a lecture-based course with assignments that simulated real projects and receiving poor student evaluation scores, I revised the course by partnering with local nonprofit organizations that were in need of research assistance. I turned the major graded assignments into real-world research projects that would ultimately be presented to the local organization, thus making everything actually count—in the real world. The findings from surveys of students, course evaluations, and assessment of group projects suggest that students found this to improve their experience of the course and to increase their learning and engagement of the material and confidence in their ability to conduct applied research on their own.


Jason Wollschleger





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