Dr. Sabrina Weiss specializes in developing theoretical models that represent the ethical and social dimensions of issues at the intersection of science, technology, and society. Topics of interest include gender and sexuality, discourse theory, bodies and cyborgs, bioethics, food ethics, and innovative pedagogies, as well as the institutional and change dimensions affecting those areas.
Dr. Weiss earned a B.S. from Stanford’s Science, Technology, and Society program, an M.S. in Bioethics from Albany Medical College, and a Ph.D. in Science and Technology Studies at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and is a former U.S. Naval Officer (ROTC) who served overseas in Japan and at the Office of Naval Research. An interdisciplinary and international scholar, Dr. Weiss has taught at Rochester Institute of Technology, which houses the National Institute for the Deaf, and at Leuphana University in Lüneburg, Germany. Dr. Weiss is a coauthor of Worlds of ScienceCraft: New Horizons in Sociology, Philosophy and Science Studies (2009).
Learn how to do real research like professors and professionals.
Research is a systematic way that we learn about the world around us. However, many pre-college courses only do research papers, which don’t prepare us for designing and doing research that is done in academic and other jobs. Therefore, this course will introduce basic ideas and practices that will help prepare you for doing real research that fits with university and professional expectations.
Research for Real is recommended for learners ages 13 to 18. In this course, we will start with the questions, “What is research?” and “Why is research important?” These will help us to define the scope of the course and connect to possible topics and methods that relate. From there, we will work backwards to challenge prevailing ideas of research as a one-way, definitive process. First, we will look at examples of completed research and critique how it is portrayed versus how it was actually done. Then we will look at how data is presented and how much presentation can influence how the data is received. Next we will look at how the published or defined “research question” fits with the data that was collected, as well as with constraints of the project, such as funding and timeline. We will then discuss different types of research methods and how each one helps answer different types of questions. Lastly, we will explore the question,”What makes good research?” as we discuss how to find and identify appropriate sources and give credit. Throughout this course, we will do hands-on research activities between classes to practice skills and bring back data for us to discuss.
We will have four types of final projects that will demonstrate what you have learned in this course. All sites and subjects for research should be cleared with the instructor and your parents to ensure that privacy is being respected, that the site holds minimal risk to you, and that it is an appropriate topic. All projects will require an Informed Consent form to be drafted by you that will be provided to research subjects or owners of spaces with whom you will interact.
1) Ethnographic observation: You will conduct an ethnographic observation of an everyday situation and share your findings. Observations should be done for a total of one hour, which may be divided up into up to 4 sessions of 15 minutes apiece. Final deliverables should include: a copy of research notes, a log of research activities and processes, and sharing of your project and findings in some type of final presentation (live presentation, pre-recorded video, or other appropriate format).
2) Interview: You will create a set of at least 5 interview questions that will be conducted with at least 5 subjects. Interviews may be done face to face or online using an appropriate format (check with instructor). Final deliverables should include: copy of interview questions, notes from each interview, polished results of interviews in an organized format, and sharing of your project and findings in some type of final presentation (live presentation, pre-recorded video, or other appropriate format).
3) Survey: You will create a survey with at least 15 questions and collect responses from at least 15 people. These surveys may be delivered and collected in person or digitally (check with instructor). Final deliverables should include: copy of survey questions, raw survey responses, tabulations of data, and sharing of your project and findings in some type of final presentation (live presentation, pre-recorded video, or other appropriate format).
4) Document-based Research: You will collect data from a set of social artifacts. These may be text-based (e.g. books, newspapers, internet forums), media that is not text-based (e.g. movies, television shows, music) or everyday objects (e.g. comparing furniture, cars, billboards). We will work together to identify an appropriate amount of artifacts that should be examined. You will create a codebook to analyze the data, process the data you collect, and share your project and findings in some type of final presentation (live presentation, pre-recorded video, or other appropriate format).
Sample Course Outline
This class has 8 class meetings. A suggested outline for the course is:
- What is Research? Why is it important and valuable?
- How do people describe the scientific process for research? What are advantages and disadvantages of describing it this way?
- Let’s look at examples of research and how it is presented and used
- How is data presented, and how can it be more or less effective?
- Research Questions: before or after the research?
- Research Methods: What are different types of methods? When are they each useful?
- What makes good research? What makes bad research?
- Final project work, troubleshooting, sharing
Research for Real is offered Fall 2019.