Student Learning Outcomes

Student Learning Outcomes

In a recent internal review process, the faculty of the Department of Sociology agreed on the following statement of its mission, goals, and learning outcomes:

The Sociology Department seeks to develop in students the sociological knowledge and skills that will enable them to think critically and imaginatively about society and social issues. Through coursework, internships, independent studies and collaborative research with faculty, the Department encourages a commitment to social justice based on an appreciation of social and intellectual diversity and an awareness of social inequality.

The major in sociology is intended to serve as preparation for careers in teaching, delivery and administration of social and health services, urban and environmental studies, law, government service at local, state and federal levels and related occupations. The major also provides training for advanced graduate work in sociology, social work and other social sciences. Sociology is also recommended as a second major or minor for students of all other social sciences; for business; for the humanities; especially literature and theatre arts; for ethnic and area studies; for journalism and other various applied arts and sciences (CSULB 2003-2004 Catalog).

Core courses provide students with a solid grounding in the fundamentals of the sociology discipline. Upper division concentrations in Deviance and Social Control; Interaction and Group Relations; Medical Sociology; and Social Change and Global Issues allow students to further focus and develop their understanding of specific fields within sociology.


The following learning goals and outcomes identify the means by which the preceding general statements of purpose are to be accomplished. The order of presentation reflects no priority or hierarchy.

Sociological Imagination

To understand the discipline of sociology and the sociological perspective, and the contribution to our understanding of social reality, such that the student will be able to:

  • Describe how sociology differs from and is similar to other social sciences and give examples of these differences and similarities.
  • Apply the sociological imagination and sociological concepts and principles to her/his own life. Participate actively in civic affairs.


To understand the basic concepts in sociology and their fundamental theoretical interrelations, such that students will be able to define, give examples, show interrelationships, and demonstrate the relevance of the following:

  • Culture
  • Social change
  • Socialization
  • Stratification
  • Social structure
  • Institutions
  • Social differentiation by race/ethnicity, gender, sexuality, age, and class.


To understand the role of theory in sociology, such that the student will be able to:

  • Define theory and describe and illustrate its role in building sociological knowledge.
  • Compare and contrast basic theoretical orientations in reference to social phenomena.
  • Understand and show how theories reflect the historical and social contexts of the times and cultures in which they were developed.


To understand the role of evidence and qualitative and quantitative methods in sociology, such that the students will be able to:

  • Identify basic methodological approaches and describe the general role of methods in building sociological knowledge.
  • Compare and contrast the basic methodological approaches for gathering data.
  • Design a research study in an area of choice and explain why various choices were made.
  • Use computers and statistical procedures in gathering, analyzing and interpreting data.
  • Critically assess a published research report and explain how the study could have been improved.
  • Understand ethical codes that govern the conduct of sociologists and how sociological knowledge may be applied to people and lives.

Social Structure

To understand how social structure operates, such that the student will be able to:

  • Demonstrate how global processes shape local social structures and the effects on individuals.
  • Show how institutions interconnect in their effects on each other and on individuals.
  • Demonstrate how social change factors, such as population, urbanization, or technology affect social structure and individuals.
  • Demonstrate how social structure varies across time and place and the effects of such variations.
  • Demonstrate how social change affects social structure and individuals and show how structure is constantly in a process of becoming.

Social Interaction

To understand reciprocal relationships between individual and society, such that the student will be able to:

  • Explain how the self develops sociologically and compare this to psychological, economic and other approaches.
  • Demonstrate how societal and structural factors influence individual behavior and the self’s development.
  • Demonstrate how social interaction and the self influences society and social structure.

Inequality and Diversity

To understand and gain an awareness of:

  • The internal diversity of U.S. society and the significance of variations by race/ethnicity, gender, sexuality, class, age.
  • The effects of globalization on inequality and diversity.
  • The cultural diversity among societies.
  • The social construction of race/ethnicity, gender, sexuality, age and class.
  • The importance of reducing the negative effects of social inequality.

Critical Thinking

To think critically, such that the student will be able to:

  • Apply critical thinking skills to sociological data and theory.
  • Easily move from memorization to analysis and application to synthesis and evaluation.
  • Identify underlying assumptions in particular theoretical orientations or arguments.
  • Identify underlying assumptions in particular methodological approaches to an issue.
  • Show how patterns of thought and knowledge are directly influenced by political-economic social structures.
  • Present opposing viewpoints and alternative hypotheses on various issues.

General Goals

To understand in depth at least one area within sociology, such that a student will be able to:

  • Understand the macro-micro emphasis and compare and contrast theories at one level with those at another.
  • Show how social issues can be better understood by emphasizing the micro/macro connections.
  • Describe and apply some basic theories or theoretical orientations in at last one are of social reality.
  • Design a research study in an area of choice.
  • Summarize basic questions and issues in the area.
  • Compare and contrast basic questions and issues in the area.
  • Show how sociology helps understand the area.
  • Summarize current research in the area.
  • Develop specific policy implications of research and theories in the area.
  • Synthesize information by pulling together disparate pieces of the sociology major.