Syllabus sociology of Aging Fall 2009 mwf 9: 00-9: 50am Professor Davida M. Harris, ma office: Social Sciences Room 252 Telephone: (912) 356-2379 Email

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Sociology of Aging

Fall 2009

MWF 9:00-9:50am

Professor Davida M. Harris, MA

Office: Social Sciences Room 252

Telephone: (912) 356-2379


TEXT: Social Forces & Aging, An Introduction to Social Gerontology. 10th Edition, Robert Atchley & Amanda S. Barusch  (ISBN: 9780534536947) approximate cost: 40.00-90.00 internet prices
Several Supplemental Readings TBA
COURSE DESCRIPTION: A cross-cultural exploration of aging as experienced in the United States. Ageism, societal attitudes regarding the elderly, and the process of aging itself is examined. Resource and service availability is also assessed.
COURSE GOALS: The purpose of this course is to gain a greater understanding of the range and nature of the bio-psycho-social responses to aging over the life course, with an emphasis on how the sociological dynamics of aging impacts the biological and the psychological. A variety of theories related to the aging process will be presented. Public policy implications as the national and world population ages will also be examined. Fieldwork will be conducted in order to delve firsthand into the issues on aging and the kinds of resources available to our senior population.

This course is assisted by the information literacy team from the Asa Gordon Library here at Savannah State University. Our library staff member is Lauren Kirkland. You will meet her on August 21st during our normal class period. Below are the objectives and outcomes for this course (* denotes objectives correlating with Information Literacy):


    1. To be able to think critically

      1. Be able to present opposing viewpoints and alternative hypothesis on a social issue

      2. *Be able to critically appraise (i.e., identify strengths and weakness) a piece of sociological research.

      3. *Be able to examine one’s own practices, beliefs, and values

    2. To have basic computer and library skills necessary to find and analyze sociological knowledge and information

      1. *Be able to use library and computerized/on-line databases to locate published work

      2. *Be able to use the Internet, Email and Web pages to communicate to others and find information

    3. To be able to write effectively in order to communicate with others in one’s work, civil and personal life

      1. *Be able to write clear and concise sentences and paragraphs that are grammatically correct and contain correctly spelled words

      2. Be able to write a clear and concise sociological analysis and account of a social event, topic, issue, or problem


    1. To understand the role of theory in sociology and to know the major theorist and perspectives

      1. Be able to show how theoretical ideas reflect the time and place in which they develop

      2. Be able to identify and describe the basic ideas of the major sociological theorist, (e.g., Durkheim, Marx, Weber) and perspectives (e.g., Functionalism, Conflict Theory, and Symbolic Interaction)

      3. Be able to compare and contrast the basic ideas of the major theorist and theoretical perspectives

      4. *Be able to read something about a social issue or problem and identify the theoretical perspectives on which the argument is based

      5. *Be able to use basic theoretical ideas to better understand a social issue or problem

    2. To understand the basic concepts in sociology

      1. Be able to define and give examples of culture (e.g., norms, values) social structure (e.g. statuses, roles, groups) socialization, stratification, institutions, and differentiations by race/ethnicity, gender and social class


    1. To have an appreciation of sociology as a distinct discipline and the role that the sociological imagination plays in contributing to our understanding of social reality

      1. Be able to describe how sociology is similar to and different from other social sciences.

      2. Be able to show how one’s personal life is shaped by the time and place one lives

      3. Be able to demonstrate how institutions like family, education, and the economy are interrelated.

      4. Be able to discuss how social structure or institutions can affect individual behavior

      5. Be able to demonstrate how individual and social interaction influence society and social structure

      6. Be able to distinguish between individualistic, cultural and structural explanations of social events


    1. To understand to role of evidence and research methods in sociology

      1. Be able to discuss how the scientific method is used in social sciences

      2. Be able to distinguish between scientific evidence and ideology

      3. Be able to describe the general role of theory and methods in the accumulation of sociological knowledge

      4. *Know how and when to generalize research findings

      5. Be able to identify the basic methodological approaches used by social sciences

      6. Be able to compare and contrast the basic methodological approaches for gathering data

      7. Be able to evaluate the research designs used by others

      8. Be able to differentiate between independent and dependent variables

      9. Be able to understand the basic statistical tests that are often used by sociologist

      10. Be able to prepare a data base from raw data in diverse forms (e.g. questionnaires, observations, official records, etc.)

      11. Be able to organize data for presenting descriptive statistics and relationships

      12. *Be able to interpret and critically analyze relationships between variables using appropriate statistical techniques (e.g., correlation, cross-tabulations, etc.)

    2. To be aware of ethical issues in research

      1. Be able to identify what constitutes ethical conduct in research


    1. To have an appreciation for the diversity in American society

      1. Be able to describe the importance of race/ethnicity, gender, and social class in society

      2. Be able to recognize and critique stereotypes and comparisons across groups

      3. Be able to demonstrate the societal and/or cultural benefits gained from having a diverse society


All students must obtain the required text as described above by the 3rd class meeting. There are NO Exceptions. You will receive deductions in class participation grade for every day you are not prepared. This rule is non-negotiable. If you have any problems obtaining a text by the time allotted please see me with an operable plan of how you will keep up. This course requires heavy reading with assignments to accompany. It is important that you keep up with the assignments.

Counseling and Disability Services (356-2202) King-Frazier Student Center 233. Disability Services is committed to providing an equal educational opportunity for all qualified

students with permanent or temporary disabilities which are physical or mental. Accommodations are academic adaptations that do not compromise academic standards or the mastery of essential course elements, but provide students with disabilities, an equal opportunity to succeed. In order to receive support and accommodations in the classroom and for testing

purposes, students are required to provide clinical documentation and receive prior approval

through this office. It is the student’s responsibility to contact us prior to the start of the semester in order to seek accommodation and discuss his/her needs.


Campus Police under the direction of the Chief of Police, Creighton Roberts can be reached at 912-596-2186. Please contact campus police for any safety issues. The campus police are located in Harris Hall.

SPECIAL NOTE TO ALL STUDENTS: Technology glitches do occur, so plan submission of all of your work with this in mind. Late assignments will not be excused due to computer/web problems. Points will be deducted for late work. Suggestion: Give yourself at least 24 hours to submit work prior to deadline.

CHEATING AND PLAGERISM: (Please see contract) The term cheating includes but is not limited to: (i) use of any unauthorized assistance in taking quizzes, tests, or examinations; (ii) dependence upon the aid of sources beyond those authorized by the instructor in writing papers, preparing reports, solving problems, or carrying out other assignments; (iii) acquisition or possession without permission of tests or other academic material belonging to a member of the University faculty or staff; or (iv) knowingly providing any unauthorized assistance to another student on quizzes, tests, or examinations.

The term plagiarism includes, but is not limited to: (i) use by paraphrase or direct quotation of the published or unpublished work of another person without fully and properly crediting the author with footnotes, citations or bibliographical reference; (ii) unacknowledged use of materials prepared by another person or agency engaged in the selling of term papers or other academic materials; or (iii) unacknowledged use of original work/material that has been produced through collaboration with others without release in writing from collaborators.


Any successful learning experience requires the mutual respect of the student and the instructor. No behavior is allowed that is in any way distracting, disruptive or rude. Distracting, disruptive or rude behavior includes the following: receiving beeper or cell phone calls during class, leaving early or coming to class late, leaving the classroom for bathroom during lecture, eating in class, talking out of turn, whispering or giggling during lecture, doing assignments for other classes, use of the computer that is not related to class, reading the newspaper, sleeping, and engaging in other activities that distract from the instructor and the classroom learning experience.

Students are expected to attend class regularly, come to class on time and stay until the class is dismissed. Late arrivals and early departures demonstrate a lack of concern for the instructor and your classmates. It is your responsibility to arrange your schedule to allow you to attend the class. Excessive disruptions, from whatever source or for whatever reason, will not be tolerated.
If you need to arrive late to class or leave early, or if you need to leave during class for bathroom for medical reasons, you should notify your instructor.

NEWS REVIEWS: This assignment consists of obtaining two current news articles on the web via a reputable news source (e.g. NY Times, LA Times, Wall Street Journal) on a gerontology-related topic. Thoroughly summarize and provide analysis on the issue raised in the article (remember, analysis does not mean opinion only!). Approximately two pages of summary and one page of analysis (about 750 words total) will be acceptable. A high quality summary and analysis, however, may consist of more than this average minimum, depending on the length and complexity of the article. The quality of your writing will contribute to your overall score, so take care to do spell check and grammar check. Proof read all of your work as well. Late papers cannot receive full point credit. Also attach the article and cite all work. Citing and Plagiarism information will be discussed in the Information Literacy Class with Lauren Kirkland.
PRESENTATION & PAPER: This is a major assignment in collaboration with information literacy. The assignment is designed to serve several purposes: 1). To introduce you to information literacy; 2) To introduce you to the sociological factors that relate to biological and psychological aging; 3) To enlighten you on the study of aging (benefits, burdens, lifestyles, ailments, etc.); and 4) To have fun completing research and exploring your creative sides.
The Written Report

Your report should be approximately 5 pages, typed, and double-spaced and a 12point font. Inevitably, you will have a vast quantity of information and will not be able to integrate all of it into the paper, but will have to select excerpts from the research findings to illustrate points of interest. The paper should consist of the following sections:

1. An Introduction to the paper in which you discuss briefly what you see as your central finding or the most interesting issues about aging and the life course that emerged from your searches. The introduction should include a brief description of the older person diseases. Like any introduction, yours should provide an overview of what you intend to discuss in the paper. This is a group assignment; however, each person in the group should have an individual part in the paper. The final paper should not read like a bunch of individual papers, but one group assignment dealing with what ever ailment your group has been assigned.

2. Presentation and Analysis of the research findings will form most of this paper. You should describe and discuss your understanding of the ailment using examples from your notes to illustrate the general finding. You must tie the biological and psychological ailments associated with older adults to some social factor. Suggested areas include: adult family life and changing family roles over the life course; intimacy, friends, religion, and other social supports; gender roles and gender-role socialization; experience with social inequality and cultural diversity; work experiences and retirement; change and continuity of values over the life course. Integrate your thoughts on themes, concepts, and issues from the readings and class discussions to enhance your presentation and to highlight the insights you have gained about life experience and the aging process.

3. The Conclusion should very briefly summarize your experience researching the ailment.

You should use ASA, APA or MLA writing and citing style. You will be heavily penalized if you do not cite all of OTHER AUTHORS works.

The Presentation

Your group’s presentation will consist of simulating the symptoms of the ailment assigned to you. You are to spend 20 minutes in the day of the life of an older adult. This means you must stay in character. If you require any assistance to make sure your presentation is successful please let me know in a timely fashion. You are to create a brief powerpoint presentation naming your ailment and the symptoms, so that your classmate may grade your simulation.

MIDTERM AND FINAL: The format will be short answer and essay. Content will include text material, teacher supplemental materials, and discussion topics. BRING A BLUE EXAMINATON BOOK. Blue books can be purchased in the campus bookstore for about $.35. I sell them on exam day for $2.00. You cannot take the exam without this examination book. Do not wait until exam day to purchase these booklets.


5 quizzes @ 10 pts. each 50 points

2 News Reviews @ 25 pts. ea. 50 points

Simulation of Older Adult Issue

  • Presentation 50 points

  • Paper 50 points

2 Exams (Midterm & Final Exam) @ 100 points ea. 200 points

Attendance 50 points

Class Participation 50 points
TOTAL 500 points


A=90-100% 500-452

B=89-80% 451-340

C=79-70% 339-297

D=69-60% 296-257

F=below 59% 256 AND BELOW
COURSE OUTLINE (Very Tentative)


F August 14th Meet your professor. Introduction to course content and teaching style. READ: Chapter 1 & 2.

M–August 17th Discussion Chapter 1 & 2

W – August 19th continued discussion of Chapter 1 & 2

F- August 21st Meet in the Library for Information Literacy Class with Lauren Kirkland. Read Chapter 3. Quiz 1 is on elearning. Test Window open from August 21st 10:00am Until August 24th 8:59 am.

M– August 24th Discussion chapter 3. Read Chapter 6.

W- August 26th Discussion Chapter 6. Read Chapter 7 and 8

F- August 28th Discussion of Chapter 7 & 8 Quiz 2 is on elearning. Test Window open from August 28th 10:00am Until August 31st 8:59 am.

M– August 31st Presentation on Caregiving. Read Chapter 9

W- September 2nd Presentation on Retirement

F- September 4th Discussion Chapter 9. NEWS REVIEW #1 (turn in via elearning attachment) Deadline for submission September 9th @ 8:59 am Read Chapter 10.

M – Spetember 7th No Class Labor Day Holiday

W- September 9th Discussion Chapter 10. Read Chapter 11

F- Spetember 11th Meet in the Library for Information Literacy Class with Lauren Kirkland. QUIZ Quiz 3 is on elearning. Test Window open from September 11th 10:00am Until September 14th 8:59 am.


M – September 14th Discussion Chapter 11. Read Chapter 12.

W – September 16th Presentation & Speaker on Death and Dying and end of life issues.

F- September 18th Discussion of chapter 12. Read Chapter 13.

M –September 21st Discussion Chapter 13. Read Chapter 14 & 15.

W- September 23rd Discussion Chapter 14 – 15. Read Chapter 16.

F- September 25th Discussion Chapter 16 Quiz 4 is on elearning. Test Window open from September 25th 10:00am Until September 28th 8:59 am.


M – September 28th Review for Midterm Exam

W-September 30th MIDTERM: On chapters 1-16.

F-October 2nd Read Chapter 17

Monday –October 5th Discussion Chapter 17. Read Chapter 18

W-October 7th Discussion Chapters 18. Read Chapter 19

F- October 9th Discussion Chapter 19 NEWS REVIEW #2 (turn in via elearning attachment) Deadline for submission is October 12th @ 8:59 am
WEEK 10:

M-October 12th Continued Discussion Chapter 19. Read Chapter 20

W-October 14th Discussion Chapter 20.

F- October 16th Quiz 5 is on elearning. Test Window open from October 16th 10:00am Until October 19th 8:59 am. Read Chapter 4 NO CLASS FALL BREAK
WEEK 11:

M-October 12th Continued Discussion Chapter 19. Read Chapter 20

W-October 14th Discussion Chapter 20.

F- October 16th Quiz 5 is on elearning. Test Window open from October 16th 10:00am Until October 19th 8:59 am.
WEEK 12:

M-October 19th Discussion Chapter 4.

W-October 21st Continued Discussion Chapter 4.

F- October 23rd Guest Speaker on Biology of Aging. Read Chapter 5
WEEK 13:

M-October 26th Class Activities

W-October 28th Class Activities

F- October 30th No Class Homecoming Activities
WEEK 14:

M-November 2nd Discussion Chapter 5.

W-November 4th Continued Discussion Chapter 5.

F- November 6th Guest Speaker on the Psychology of Aging
WEEK 15:

M-November 9th Group Meetings to discuss Presentations

W-November 11th Group Meetings to discuss Presentations

F- November 13th Group Meetings to discuss Presentations
WEEK 16:

M-November 16th Group 1 & 2 Presentations

W-November 18th Group 3 & 4 Presentations

F- November 20th Group 5 & 6 Presentations
WEEK 17:

M-November 23rd Group 7 & 8 Presentations

W-November 25th Thanksgiving Holiday

F- November 27th Thanksgiving Holiday
WEEK 18:

M-November 30th Last day of classes
WEEK 19:

FINAL EXAM On December 7th at 8:00 am -10:00 am

Statement of Academic Dishonesty and Disruptive Behavior
I _______________________________ have received a copy of the code of academic ethics and I have had the contents regarding academic dishonesty and disruptive behavior read to me by my professor Davida Harris. I understand that if I violate any of the contents I will be immediately BE PROCESSED FOR WITHDRAWAL FROM THIS CLASS. I have been informed that if I refuse to sign this statement, I will be administratively dropped from this class.

______________________________________ ______________________________

Printed Name Signature


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