Sociology 112
American Family: Change and Diversity

Section 8 Fall 2008



Lecture Notes
Internet Resources
Review Sheets
for Exams

How to Study

Exam and Quiz
Instructor's Web Site

Course Description

This course presents a critical analysis of the diversity of American family organization and experience. It starts by separating the reality of how families are structured from the ideal images of "the family" that are commonly portrayed. Next, we examine the historical context in which family patterns have developed. Throughout the course, students learn about social science research showing how family organization and experience vary by social class, gender, race, and sexuality.

The course stresses both social structure and human agency.  A central assumption in the course is that families are influenced by social forces within society.  A second assumption is that family members actively create their family worlds by coping with, adapting to, and changing social structures to meet their needs.

Required Texts

Diversity in Families (Eighth Edition) 2008 by Maxine Baca Zinn, D. Stanley Eitzen, and Barbara Wells.

Web Site

The web site for this course contains:

You can access the web site from a link on the instructor's home page listed below, or go directly to:


Exams will cover material in the text and lecture as well as information presented by guest speakers and included in videotapes and handouts. Four equally weighted objective exams will be given during the semester. Each exam will be worth 100 points. All four exams are required of all students. Failure to take all four exams will result in a failing grade for the course. Examinations will be taken on the dates and at the time scheduled.

Make-up exams will be allowed only for those students who experience serious personal illness or immediate family emergency on the date of the exam and who meet all of the following requirements.

  • Students must notify the instructor of the reason for their absence prior to the exam. Students who make false or misleading statements will receive a failing grade for the course and be referred to the Office of Community Rights and Responsibilities.
  • Students must provide written documentation of serious personal illness or immediate family emergency on the date of the exam. This written documentation must be presented within one week of the exam date.
  • If the documentation is confirmed, the make-up exam will be given during finals week (see schedule below). Students who present false or misleading documentation will receive a failing grade for the course and be referred to the Office of Community Rights and Responsibilities.

This examination policy is consistent with the university policies on class attendance and student absence notification.

Extra Credit

There will be several unannounced short essay quizzes requiring students to relate reading and lecture material to presentations by guest speakers, classroom exercises, or videotapes shown in class throughout the semester. Each quiz will be worth approximately 3 points extra credit. These extra credit quizzes are intended to provide students with a chance to earn the "benefit of the doubt" when grades are assigned at the end of the semester (in case their total number of points from exams comes out four or five points below the next higher letter grade). These extra credit opportunities are offered only to students who are seated in the classroom at the beginning of the class period. No additional extra credit work will be offered to, or accepted from, any student.


The following scale, based on 400 possible points, will be used to determine your grade for the semester. Grades are assigned at the end of the semester by adding the total points earned on the four exams plus any extra credit quizzes, and then applying the grading scale below. The percentages in the table below are included only to clarify how grade levels are determined. Semester grades are not calculated by averaging individual exam scores or by percentage of total points. The grading scale will not be modified or changed for any student.


380 or more total points

95% and above


340 - 379 total points

85 - 94%


300 - 339 total points

75 - 84%


260 - 299 total points

65 - 74%


259 or less total points

64% and below


Attend class regularly.

Most students find the lecture topics, handouts, videotapes, and guest speakers to be the most interesting parts of the course. Lectures will generally not duplicate material found in the textbook. Since you will be responsible for this information on the exams, it is to your advantage to be here and take your own notes. Relying on a classmate's interpretation of the lecture material or not having the notes at all, are both likely to result in poor exam scores. In addition, the only way to earn extra credit is to be in class for the unannounced short essay quizzes.

Keep up with the reading schedule.

If you have completed the assigned reading on time you should experience the following benefits. The relevance of the lecture material will be obvious and note taking will be easier. You will be able to ask questions in class that will increase your understanding of the material. Exam scores will be higher because more information is retained by incremental reading followed by a full review prior to the exam (rather than trying to read all the material just before the test). Extra credit quiz scores will be higher because some of them will require you to relate information from the current reading and lecture material.

Don't come into the classroom late or leave early.

This is disruptive for the class and an act of disrespect to your classmates and the instructor. The introduction and summary of each day's lecture are intended to help students identify main points they will be responsible for later. Designated seats in the back of the classroom are reserved for students arriving late. Students arriving after all of the "late seats" are full will not be admitted to the classroom and will be required to meet with the instructor after class. Students that have a very good reason for leaving early should inform the instructor in advance. If a student must leave the classroom as a result of serious and unexpected circumstances, the student should give one of the T.A.s his/her name and briefly explain the reason for leaving. Students who leave the classroom will not be readmitted to the classroom. Students arriving more than 25 minutes late or leaving more than 25 minutes early will be considered absent for that class meeting.

Be engaged in the classroom interaction.

Don't assume that the instructor does not care who you are or what you do. You will be treated as an individual who has both rights and responsibilities. Feel free to ask relevant questions or share your comments when given the opportunity. If you feel that the lecture could be more interesting, it is your responsibility to tactfully bring that to the instructor's attention. Expect to be confronted if you behave in an offensive or rude manner (sleeping, reading the Vidette, excessive or loud conversations, using your cell phone, text messaging or writing notes to classmates, frequent or extreme tardiness, leaving the classroom, etc.).

Be honest in your academic work.

Academic dishonesty will not be tolerated. All cases of suspected cheating, computer dishonesty, plagiarism, collusion or any other form of academic dishonesty will be reported to the Office of Community Rights and Responsibilities. Lack of academic integrity is grounds for failure of the course and dismissal from the university.

Take advantage of office hours.

You are encouraged to meet with the instructor and teaching assistants whenever you have questions or if you need help preparing for exams. If you want to go over an exam or quiz you have taken, you must do so before the date of the next exam or quiz.

Reading and Exam Schedule



Preface, Chapter 1

August 21

Chapter 2

August 28

Chapter 3

September 4

First Exam

September 11

Chapter 4

September 16

Chapter 5

September 23

Chapter 6

September 30

Second Exam

October 7

Chapter 7

October 9

Chapter 8

October 16

Chapter 9

October 23

Third Exam

October 30

Chapter 10

November 4

Chapter 11

November 11

Chapter 12


Chapter 13

December 2

Fourth Exam

December 4

Approved Make-Up Exams

Monday, December 8 at 3:10 p.m.

Contacting the Instructor

Jim Weinzierl


336 Schroeder Hall

Office Hours

2:00 - 3:00 p.m. Tuesday & Thursday
12:00 - 1:00 p.m. Wednesday

Office Phone

(309) 438-8579


Web Site

Contacting the Teaching Assistants

Beth Bobulski


336 Schroeder Hall

Office Hours

1:00 - 2:00 p.m. Wednesday

Office Phone

(309) 438-8579


Mary Calderon


336 Schroeder Hall

Office Hours

2:30- 3:30 p.m. Monday

Office Phone

(309) 438-8579


Ashleigh Wingate


336 Schroeder Hall

Office Hours

12:30 - 1:30 p.m. Thursday

Office Phone

(309) 438-8579


Click here for your first extra credit opportunity.