Effective: Early Spring 8-Week 2018/2019

SOCI 214: Family

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  Course Description

Survey of structures, functions, processes, and problems in the contemporary family.

Prerequisite: None

Proctored Exams: Final



  • Ciabattari, Teresa. (2017). Sociology of Families: Change, Continuity, and Diversity.Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.  
    • [ISBN-9781483379029]

MBS Information

Textbooks for the course may be ordered from MBS Direct. You can order

For additional information about the bookstore, visit http://www.mbsbooks.com.

  Course Overview

This is an introductory course in the sociology of the family, taking an in-depth look at the history of the family, social class characteristics, marriage, divorce, parenthood, and alternative marriage forms. A theme throughout the course is the diversity expressed in modern marriage and family experiences. This course introduces basic sociological research in the area of marriage and family, helping you to become familiar with topics of concern in the discipline. This course also examines the dynamics of family relationships, providing material that is useful to your own lives.

  Technology Requirements

Participation in this course will require the basic technology for all online classes at Columbia College:
  • A computer with reliable Internet access
  • A web browser
  • Acrobat Reader
  • Microsoft Office or another word processor such as Open Office

You can find more details about standard technical requirements for our courses on our site.

  Course Learning Outcomes

  1. Demonstrate a sociological understanding of the family as a historical and social construction.
  2. Explain the sociological perspectives on the family, particularly functionalist, symbolic interactionist and conflict perspectives on the family.
  3. Critically analyze the effect of inequality on families.
  4. Demonstrate an understanding of the effects of social policy and other social change on families.


Grading Scale

Grade Points Percent
A 900-1000 90-100%
B 800-899 80-89%
C 700-799 70-79%
D 600-699 60-69%
F 0-599 0-59%

Grade Weights

Assignment Category Points Percent
Discussions (16) 320 32%
Papers (2) 300 30%
Quizzes (3) 150 15%
Final Exam 230 23%
Total 1000 100%

  Schedule of Due Dates

Week 1

Assignment Points Due
Introduction Discussion - Sunday
Discussion 1 20 Wednesday/Sunday
Discussion 2 20

Week 2

Assignment Points Due
Discussion 3 20 Wednesday/Sunday
Discussion 4 20
Quiz 1 50 Sunday
Proctor Information N/A

Week 3

Assignment Points Due
Discussion 5 20 Wednesday/Sunday
Discussion 6 20
Paper 1 150 Sunday

Week 4

Assignment Points Due
Discussion 7 20 Wednesday/Sunday
Discussion 8 20

Week 5

Assignment Points Due
Discussion 9 20 Wednesday/Sunday
Discussion 10 20
Quiz 2 50 Sunday

Week 6

Assignment Points Due
Discussion 11 20 Wednesday/Sunday
Discussion 12 20
Paper 2 150 Sunday

Week 7

Assignment Points Due
Discussion 13 20 Wednesday/Sunday
Discussion 14 20
Quiz 3 50 Sunday

Week 8

Assignment Points Due
Discussion 15 20 Wednesday/Saturday
Discussion 16 20
Final Exam 230 Saturday
Total Points: 1000

  Assignment Overview


The discussion questions are designed to help you understand key concepts in the readings. Your answers should be in an essay format, between 200 and 400 words, and answer the question posed. Your essay should be based on the assigned readings, and you are required to use ASA style. Each discussion question is worth 20 points.

Additionally, read posts of fellow classmates and respond to at least two classmates by adding substance and sociological insight to the class discussion. Responses to classmates' posts should be between 100 and 300 words. Simply agreeing and/or posting “Good point” are not substantive posts.

The initial discussion posts are due by 11:59 p.m. CT, Wednesday, and responses to classmates' posts are due by 11:59 p.m. CT, Sunday, except in Week 8, when posts to classmates are due on Saturday. Discussion posts and responses to classmates' posts made past the due date will receive no points.

Posts and responses to classmates' posts are graded by how well you understand, integrate, and apply the concepts under discussion. Do not copy examples from the textbook; instead develop your own. Only posts and responses that address the questions clearly, correctly, completely, are void of excessive spelling and grammatical mistakes, and are on time, will earn full credit.


There are two scholarly, college-level papers in which you will integrate and apply course material. You should compose papers concisely and clearly, and include key information obtained from the course material. All papers must be submitted with complete paragraphs with proper sentence structure and adhere to all the rules of punctuation, grammar, ASA citation, etc.

All papers should be 850 to 1000 words in length. Submit all papers in Microsoft Word (.doc or .docx) or Rich Text Format (.rtf) to the Dropbox by 11:59 p.m. CT on Sunday of their respective weeks. Paper 1 is due in Week 3. Paper 2 is due in Week 6.

All papers should be in your own words, not directly copied from segments of the course material and/or other scholarly sources. All work for this class must be original; no work will be accepted if it was originally composed for another class and/or an earlier version of this class. Each paper is automatically submitted to Turnitin.com to detect plagiarism. Documentable plagiarism will result in zero points.

Late papers may be accepted up until one week past the due date and are subject to a one-letter grade reduction.


There will be three, 50-point quizzes due during the course in Weeks 2, 5, and 7. Questions are multiple-choice, and you will have one hour to complete each quiz.

  • Quiz 1 covers Chapters 1 through 3.
  • Quiz 2 covers Chapters 4 through 6.
  • Quiz 3 covers Chapters 7 through 9.

Each quiz opens at 12:01a.m. CT, Monday, and is due by 11:59 p.m. CT Sunday of their respective week. Late quizzes will not be accepted. Only one attempt is allowed.

Final Exam

There will be one Proctored Comprehensive Final Exam due by 11:59 p.m. CT Saturday of Week 8. The exam will open 12:01 a.m. CT,  on Tuesday of Week 8.

The final exam consists of 48 multiple-choice questions and 12 short answer questions from Chapters 1 through 10. You will have 2 hours to complete this exam. Only one attempt is allowed. No notes, textbooks, or other resources are allowed. No late exams will be accepted.

You must submit the “Student Proctor Information Submission Form” to the Proctor Information Dropbox by the end of Week 2. This form and additional information about Proctoring is located in the Content area of the course. Each Columbia College site has its own hours and methods for handling proctoring.


  Course Outline

Click on each week to view details about the activities scheduled for that week.

Ciabattari: Chapter 1
Introduction Discussion
Write a brief bio; include your occupation(s), hobbies, interests, how many online classes you've taken, your field of study, and any other information to help us get to know you. Secondly, as Ciabattari does in Chapter 1, list your primary roles in your family (i.e. mother, father, daughter, brother, partner, etc.) Lastly, state what information from the syllabus is most important to you.
Discussion 1

Throughout this session we’ll discuss the expanding definition of family. For this first discussion question, discuss your definition of family and compare it to the sociological definition offered in the text. Secondly, based on the historical information provided in Chapter 1, discuss one example of how the family has changed since the 19th century and one example of how it has stayed the same. Do not duplicate examples in this discussion board. Be sure to use the information you gained from reading the course material to bolster your analysis.

Discussion 2
Marriages and families underwent major changes during the last half of the 20th century; however, few people link these changes to larger societal changes. Identify one major change that has taken place during the past 100 years. Discuss its impact on contemporary marriages and families. Thirdly, reflect on your own family and consider how this change has affected your family. Do not duplicate familial changes within this discussion board. Be sure to the use the information you gathered from reading the course material to bolster your analysis.
Ciabattari: Chapters 2 & 3
Discussion 3
To further our discussion of defining family, in Chapter Two Ciabattari offers, “Instead of expanding marital privilege to include same-sex couples…we should dismantle marital privilege all together.” (p. 23). In the American society, we’ve continually defined family based on two major components, marriage and children. Moving forward will this change? Should marital privilege be reconsidered? Be sure to use the information you gained from reading the course material to bolster your analysis.
Discussion 4
Consider one aspect related to marriage and family behavior that is of interest to you. Develop a simple hypothesis related to this behavior. Describe the relationship between the two specific variables identified in your hypothesis. Thirdly, which research methodology would be most appropriate to test your hypothesis? Lastly, describe how one of the theoretical perspectives described in Chapter 3 can be used to understand your hypothesis better. Use the information presented in your text to support your analysis.
Quiz 1

Quiz 1 is 50 multiple-choice questions and covers Chapters 1-3. You have 1 hour to complete it.

It is worth 50 points and is due by 11:59 p.m. CT, Sunday.

Proctor Information
Submit your proctor form to the appropriate Dropbox folder by the end of the week. Remember to “Save” the form before placing it in Dropbox. See the Content area for more information.
Ciabattari: Chapter 4
Discussion 5
In the U.S. the transition into adulthood often involves dating. Online dating sites have provided another avenue of access to romantic partners. Identify and describe one way online dating has changed from the traditional notion of calling as described in Chapter Four. Do not duplicate examples in this discussion board. Be sure to use the information you gained from reading the course material to bolster your analysis.
Discussion 6
Identify and describe one way the relationship between young adults and their parents have changed in the last fifty years. Secondly, link the change to your personal experience with transitioning into adulthood. Be sure to the use the information you gathered from reading the course material to bolster your analysis.
Paper 1
The very foundation of sociology is rooted in social science research. Using the resources provided by Stafford Library, find a scholarly journal article related to the course content. Provide a brief summary of the article. Then, discuss why you selected this article and its relevance to the course material. Thirdly, discuss how the information presented in the article helps you better understand the dynamics of family relations. Lastly, how does the information presented in the article relate to how Ciabarrari discusses the same topic? The paper is due by 11:59 p.m. CT, Sunday of Week 3.
Ciabattari: Chapter 5
Discussion 7

Ciabattari contends couples that cohabitate are less likely to marry. This dynamic is counterintuitive. Review this section in Chapter Five and describe the complexities of cohabitation and why data indicates marriage is less likely to result from cohabitation.

Discussion 8
Diversity takes many forms when discussing marriage trends. Diversity includes gender, race, age, sexuality, educational level, etc. These differences are highlighted in Chapter Five and are used to discuss various trends in cohabitation and marriage. Select one difference and discuss how it impacts rates of cohabitation and/or marriage.
Ciabattari: Chapter 6
Discussion 9
Identify and describe one specific way parents can reduce the negative impacts of divorce on children. Be sure to use the information you gained from reading the course material to bolster your analysis.
Discussion 10
There are various rituals associated with marriages, including the engagement, bridal shower, bachelor party, rehearsal dinner, and the ceremony. These occasions include much support from family and friends. Conversely, the divorce process is often a solitary affair. Why is the case in American society? What would divorce rituals look like if instituted? Be sure to the use the information you gathered from reading the course material to bolster your analysis.
Quiz 2

Quiz 2 is 50 multiple-choice questions and covers Chapters 4-6. You have 1 hour to complete it.

It is worth 50 points and is due by 11:59 p.m. CT, Sunday of Week 5.

Ciabattari: Chapters 7 & 8
Discussion 11
Discuss one specific economic issue that influenced the changing expectations of mothers and fathers in the 20th century. Do not duplicate issues in this discussion board. Be sure to use the information you gained from reading the course material to bolster your analysis.
Discussion 12
When you were growing up, how were household tasks divided in your family? What was the basis for this division of labor? Did family members  this division as equitable? Is this division of labor replicated in your current family? Why or why not? Lastly, identify and describe one way the division of household labor relates to marital functioning and satisfaction. Be sure to use the information you gathered from reading the course material to bolster your analysis.
Paper 2
Marriages and families today are faced with a myriad of challenges, many of which we discussed in this session. Imagine that you are a member of a team charged with developing social policy pertaining to American families. Identify and describe one aspect of family life you would focus on. Discuss how you would research this topic. Lastly, discuss one specific policy related to your aspect you might suggest to policy makers that would contribute to improving marriages and families. Be sure to incorporate ideas you've gained from reading the course material. The paper is due by 11:59 p.m. CT Sunday of Week 6.
Course Evaluation
Please evaluate the course. You will have an opportunity to evaluate the course near the end of the session. A link sent to your CougarMail will allow you to access the evaluation. Please note that these evaluations are provided so that I can improve the course, find out what students perceive to be its strengths and weaknesses, and in general assess the success of the course. Please do take the time to fill this out.
Ciabattari: Chapter 9
Discussion 13
Applying knowledge and insight from the course material, identify and describe one social issue associated with growing old. Do not duplicate issues in this discussion board.
Discussion 14
Find a representation of family dynamics associated with older age in popular culture. Post a link to your example and discuss its relationship to family lives of older adults. Does your example represent your experience with aging family members? Be sure to the use the information you gathered from reading the course material to bolster your analysis.
Quiz 3

Quiz 3 is 50 multiple-choice questions and covers Chapters 7-9. You have 1 hour to complete it.

It is worth 50 points and is due by 11:59 p.m. CT, Sunday of Week 7.

Ciabattari: Chapter 10
Discussion 15
Look ahead and describe what you think families will look like in 200 years. Describe the parental structure and the roles of children and grandparents. What social institutions will play a part in families lives? Be sure to use the information you gained from reading the course material to bolster your analysis.
Discussion 16
Identify and describe one aspect associated with families and intimate relationships that has been altered or modified by the information provided throughout this class. Secondly, describe how adopting a sociological understanding of families and intimate relationships will impact your familial associations in the future. Use the information presented in the reading to support your analysis. Be sure to the use the information you gathered from reading the course material to bolster your analysis.
Final Exam

The Final Exam covers Chapters 1 through 10. It will be a combination of multiple choice and essay questions, and you will have two hours to complete it.

It is worth 230 points or 23% of the final grade and is due Saturday. No late exams will be accepted.

  Course Policies

Student Conduct

All Columbia College students, whether enrolled in a land-based or online course, are responsible for behaving in a manner consistent with Columbia College's Student Conduct Code and Acceptable Use Policy. Students violating these policies will be referred to the office of Student Affairs and/or the office of Academic Affairs for possible disciplinary action. The Student Code of Conduct and the Computer Use Policy for students can be found in the Columbia College Student Handbook. The Handbook is available online; you can also obtain a copy by calling the Student Affairs office (Campus Life) at 573-875-7400. The teacher maintains the right to manage a positive learning environment, and all students must adhere to the conventions of online etiquette.


Your grade will be based in large part on the originality of your ideas and your written presentation of these ideas. Presenting the words, ideas, or expression of another in any form as your own is plagiarism. Students who fail to properly give credit for information contained in their written work (papers, journals, exams, etc.) are violating the intellectual property rights of the original author. For proper citation of the original authors, you should reference the appropriate publication manual for your degree program or course (APA, MLA, etc.). Violations are taken seriously in higher education and may result in a failing grade on the assignment, a grade of "F" for the course, or dismissal from the College.

Collaboration conducted between students without prior permission from the instructor is considered plagiarism and will be treated as such. Spouses and roommates taking the same course should be particularly careful.

All required papers may be submitted for textual similarity review to Turnitin.com for the detection of plagiarism. All submitted papers may be included in the Turnitin.com reference database for the purpose of detecting plagiarism. This service is subject to the Terms and Conditions of Use posted on the Turnitin.com site.


There will be no discrimination on the basis of sex, race, color, national origin, sexual orientation, religion, ideology, political affiliation, veteran status, age, physical handicap, or marital status.

Student Accessibility Resources

Students with documented disabilities who may need academic services for this course are required to register with the office of Student Accessibility Resources. Until the student has been cleared through this office, accommodations do not have to be granted. If you are a student who has a documented disability, it is important for you to read the entire syllabus as soon as possible. The structure or the content of the course may make an accommodation not feasible. Student Accessibility Resources is located in Student Affairs in AHSC 215 and can be reached by phone at (573) 875-7626 or email at sar@ccis.edu.

Online Participation

You are expected to read the assigned texts and participate in the discussions and other course activities each week. Assignments should be posted by the due dates stated on the grading schedule in your syllabus. If an emergency arises that prevents you from participating in class, please let your instructor know as soon as possible.

Attendance Policy

Attendance for a week will be counted as having submitted any assigned activity for which points are earned. Attendance for the week is based upon the date work is submitted. A class week is defined as the period of time between Monday and Sunday (except for week 8, when the work and the course will end on Saturday at midnight.) The course and system deadlines are based on the Central Time Zone.

Cougar Email

All students are provided a CougarMail account when they enroll in classes at Columbia College. You are responsible for monitoring email from that account for important messages from the College and from your instructor. You may forward your Cougar email account to another account; however, the College cannot be held responsible for breaches in security or service interruptions with other email providers.

Students should use email for private messages to the instructor and other students. The class discussions are for public messages so the class members can each see what others have to say about any given topic and respond.

Late Assignment Policy

An online class requires regular participation and a commitment to your instructor and your classmates to regularly engage in the reading, discussion and writing assignments. Although most of the online communication for this course is asynchronous, you must be able to commit to the schedule of work for the class for the next eight weeks. You must keep up with the schedule of reading and writing to successfully complete the class.

Discussion posts and responses to classmate’s posts made past the due date will receive no points. Late papers may be accepted up until one week past the due date and are subject to a one-letter grade reduction. Late quizzes or exam will not be accepted.

Course Evaluation

You will have an opportunity to evaluate the course near the end of the session. A link will be sent to your CougarMail that will allow you to access the evaluation. Be assured that the evaluations are anonymous and that your instructor will not be able to see them until after final grades are submitted.

Proctor Policy

Students taking courses that require proctored exams must submit their completed proctor request forms to their instructors by the end of the second week of the session. Proctors located at Columbia College campuses are automatically approved. The use of ProctorU services is also automatically approved. The instructor of each course will consider any other choice of proctor for approval or denial. Additional proctor choices the instructor will consider include: public librarians, high school or college instructors, high school or college counseling services, commanding officers, education service officers, and other proctoring services. Personal friends, family members, athletic coaches and direct supervisors are not acceptable.

  Additional Resources

Orientation for New Students

This course is offered online, using course management software provided by Desire2Learn and Columbia College. The course user guide provides details about taking an online course at Columbia College. You may also want to visit the course demonstration to view a sample course before this one opens.

Technical Support

If you have problems accessing the course or posting your assignments, contact your instructor, the Columbia College Helpdesk, or the D2L Helpdesk for assistance. Contact information is also available within the online course environment.

Online Tutoring

Smarthinking is a free online tutoring service available to all Columbia College students. Smarthinking provides real-time online tutoring and homework help for Math, English, and Writing. Smarthinking also provides access to live tutorials in writing and math, as well as a full range of study resources, including writing manuals, sample problems, and study skills manuals. You can access the service from wherever you have a connection to the Internet. I encourage you to take advantage of this free service provided by the college.

Access Smarthinking through CougarTrack under Students -> Academics -> Academic Resources.