Methods for Social Research

Dec 2019

I had a fantastic time legend from the LEGEND, Dr. Abascal. As a sociology major, I knew I'd have to take Methods for Social Research so I just jumped in thinking it'd be a basic required course. But, it was so much more! Professor Abascal creates a lecture that has great flow, is coherent, and has purpose for any future research endeavors/to critical think about data and the way research is conducted in the world. Professor Abascal may seem a little distant but she opens up throughout the course and showcases her brilliance! It is pretty paramount that you do the readings since she ~will~ wait for someone to speak up or answer her questions when asked in the lecture, but it's all in good confidence to ensure that folks are genuinely engaging with the course material. I found her teaching style, plus the aid that the TAs provide in section, really each to follow and informative. If you're looking to take Methods in the Fall, I would 12/10 recommend taking Dr. Abascal's course.

Apr 2019

Methods for Social Research with Marnie Brady is easily the worst class I have taken at Columbia. After doing the absolutely ridiculous amount of reading assigned prior to the first assignment and finding that none of it was helpful or particularly relevant, I promptly gave up and only read when the TA's mentioned specific sections or readings that might be helpful. Based on my discussions with classmates when asked to discuss the readings or lecture content, no one read or paid much attention in lecture, and we were all able to have discussions based primarily on common sense. The only reason I bothered attending lectures was for the unannounced quizzes, all of which were easy to pass based on common sense and a vague understanding of what general research for any subject entails. I was never certain of what was expected in assignments, and instructions, due dates, and resources were difficult to find and comprehend. Marnie seemed disorganized and asked more questions than she gave answers. The assignments were easy, but again I found myself unsure of what exactly I was supposed to be doing. The content was exceedingly boring, and Marnie's teaching style and unenthusiastic lectures didn't help. The lectures also barely touched on what we actually needed to know in order to conduct our own research and analyze it for assignments. Professor Brady also assumed that we had all been doing extensive sociology research prior to this course, which was odd as it is a required course for the major that many use as an introduction to sociology. Because of this, I often found myself teaching myself basic terminology and methods that she had assumed we all knew. I would like to say that the TA's were excellent. Although they, like us, often didn't seem to understand what Marnie wanted or expected, they did their best to help, and discussion sections were really engaging and helpful. This is, unfortunately, a required course for sociology majors, but if you can take it with someone other than Professor Brady, I would recommend that, at least.

Aug 2017

This professor was one of the absolute worst that I've ever had in my entire life. He was disorganized, his powerpoints were useless, and he the most unrealistic expectations of any professor that I've ever seen. From reading 200+ pages in one week (which you didn't really need to read anyways because he hardly went over the material and instead just made up stuff as he went along) to 8 page papers where you're supposed to fit over 20 sections of detailed analysis. This class is an absolute disaster. Do not take this class, in fact, do not register for *any* class with this professor unless you want to be lost, confused, and overwhelmed. If you're a sociology major, you're basically putting yourself at a severe disadvantage by taking this class if you want to do post-grad studies because you will learn nothing. If you're not a sociology major, run for the hills. You deserve better than this class.

Jan 2017

Very good professor. She was my most enthusiastic lecturer that I've had so far, and I really enjoyed going to her class (I took Methods for Social Research with her). The writing assignments for the class are reasonable and educational. My only gripe is that I wish we did more work with the readings (i.e: if you're going to assign 3+ hours of reading a week, at least give students a good chance to show that they've read it). I didn't really like the haphazard nature of the pop-quizzes. But other than that --- she really is an excellent lecturer and I'm glad that Columbia has her hired.

Jan 2017

I am deeply baffled by the claims that Professor Kesler "doesn't care at all about her students" and "assumes that everyone knows her overly excessive complicated vocabulary." She is both a passionate sociologist and that rare, rare species among professors, an actual teacher. I loved her and this class. Prof. Kesler lectures clearly and systematically, listens to and then actually answers questions, and works heartbreakingly hard to help everyone understand the material. If her class was ever boring, it was because she made people feel comfortable asking stupid questions, which she answered with impeccable patience. This was my first sociology class, and I didn't have any trouble keeping up. Also (despite being a quantitative researcher who does data analysis in depth), she explained the statistics concepts we used so that they were accessible to someone who has never taken stats. We learned a little bit of R (statististical software) for data analysis, which I found super empowering. The Empirical Reasoning Center is your friend--go get help, don't spend hours trying to find a programming glitch and getting nowhere! I took this class as an Urban Studies senior to inform my thesis and was able to double-use some of the projects for my thesis research. Without that, this would have been a really heavy workload--but the projects are spaced out manageably and should be fun if you're excited about doing social research!

Sep 2015

Just noticed that there's no review for Shamus's methods class, so thought I'd throw one in there. I took Social World with Shamus and thought it was just okay, but his Methods class (taken Spring 2015) was really superb. Shamus does what more teachers should but do not do - assign clear projects with deadlines and then present all the information needed to succeed. If you need help, you can seek it out. If you blow it, he does not care, but you know you had everything you need to succeed and then some. This is a refreshing and quite frankly generous mentality. And he really loves Methods. This class did a phenomenal job of presenting lots of different methods as unique ways of understanding problems that are better or worse in certain contexts (ex. ethnography provides detailed insight that survey data does not; experimental methods are the best way to test causality but often cost too much/are not feasible). He has you try each method and reflect on it in a "lab report." I also appreciated how rigorous his approach to science is - he wasn't trying to make us into the budding genius researchers that lots of people thought they were, but rather meticulous investigators who hesitated to jump to any conclusions. It made me a more skeptical and rigorous thinker and I appreciated it. This is a class taken mostly by sociology majors, and you probably don't want to take it if you're not one. That said, if you have to take Methods, take it from Khan. This was the only college class I regret not doing more work for, and I still learned a lot. Thanks, Shamus!

May 2015

Professor Tran is amazing, and genuinely cares about teaching and his students. He's funny, engaging, and really, genuinely wants his students to not only succeed in his class, but to also enjoy the assigments and the course material. This is especially important for a methods course, where the material can be dry (and at times, it was, even for Tran). That having been said, the course was not an easy one, even if Tran wants you to succeed. The assignments are time-consuming and can seem a bit daunting or tedious at times, but you find ways to make them work. The readings started off as monstrous, with easily 150-200 pages of reading per week, but when he realized that the amount of reading he was assigning was unrealistic, he showed up at the next lecture with revised syllabi with fewer readings on them. Again, he really cares about his students. In a class of ~50, he managed to learn everyone's name (or, at the least the names of the people who showed up), and also read (but did not grade, that was the TAs' job) all of our assignments, and even remembered some of the observations we made and talked about them during class. If you can, take a class with Professor Tran. He'll make you want to care about the material as much as he does.

Apr 2012

There's nothing worse than a professor that's just as bored of a terrible course as his students are. Methods is already a dreary class that requires memorization of survey types, variable classifications, standard deviation calculation, etc., and Professor Iorga doesn't make it more stimulating at all. Possibly the most annoying part of the course is constantly being asked questions with obvious answers, or when he states something and basically just asks that the class re-state it out loud. This definitely shouldn't be a 4-point course. A good-intentioned guy, Iorga simply shouldn't be a professor in this area. Go to class, take notes and you'll get an A.

Jan 2010

Okay, Methods for Social Research was not exactly the most exciting topic to take a class on, but I think that Professor Fisher did as much as she could to make it bearable. The book was extremely dry (emphasis on "Methods"), save a couple of interesting case studies. The nice part was that Prof. Fisher did a decent job summarizing the readings and going through the main points. Class wasn't always boring since we always went off topic, though she always managed to cover the material (sometimes by speeding through it). I think that people ran into problems in her class because they failed to understand the simple nature of the class: if you do what she tells you to do, exactly how she tells you to do it, you'll do fine. People tried to over-complicate studies and assignments. Really, they were really simple and one could get away with doing the bare minimum. As long as you grasp the main points (at minimum), you'll do fine. Grading was not subjective: there was always a rubric. If you complete everything on the rubric, you'll do fine. If you're thinking about taking this class, do it. It's really easy, sometimes time-consuming (if you try to scramble to finish stuff last minute -- and I did), but Prof. Fisher is a really enjoyable person. Honestly, she's funny and really easy-going -- someone other professors should try to learn from.

Nov 2009

I completely disagree with the negative review of Fisher below me. Dana is not a life-changing lecturer, but she is friendly and and clear, and she does a good job of presenting material that is somewhat dry, but also necessary and important to learn for sociology majors. I have no idea what this talk of "favoritism" is. I have never seen Dana choose favorites. And yes, she does encourage doing simple experiments rather than big grand ones because the point of the class is to obtain a strong understanding of the METHODS for social research. She encourages students to conduct a concrete foolproof experiments that tackle smaller questions than faulty ones that attempt to be groundbreaking and have a ton of holes. This definitely hasn't been my favorite class at Columbia or in the sociology department, but for a requirement on fairly dry subject matter, it definitely hasn't been a negative experience either.