Courses taught:

Introduction to Sociology
An introduction to the study of human society. The basic concepts of society and culture and their relationships to each other are studied and then used to analyze the major social institutions.

Diverse Families and Children
Focuses on the diversity of family life in the United States. Students are encouraged to analyze and appreciate the differences that emerge from such factors as socioeconomic status, race and ethnicity (language, religion, national origin). Attention is given to the variations and commonalities in how parents teach, guide and influence children and adolescents.

Marriage and Family Relationships
Marriage and the family in contemporary society. Topics discussed will include the effects of masculine and feminine roles on marital and parent-child relationships, how role problems are resolved, sexual adjustments, financial adjustment, family planning and retirement.

Rural Sociology
An introduction to rural society, culture, social interactions and systemic change. The rural regions of the United States will be covered, but emphasis will be given to Appalachia, rural Virginia and the South.

Teaching Assistant

Social Statistics
Environmental Sociology
Aging and the Life Course
Sociology of Sex and Gender

Teaching Publications

Sparkman, Rachel. 2020. “Rural Sociology Syllabus.” Class syllabus published in TRAILS: Teaching Resources and Innovations Library for Sociology. Washington DC:  American Sociological Association. (http://trails.asanet.org/Pages/Resource.aspx?ResourceID=13782)

Sparkman, Rachel and A. Logan Clary*. (2018). “A Hands-On Approach to Introducing Oral Histories in an Undergraduate Course.” Assessment, Assignment, Audio, Class Activity, PowerPoint published in TRAILS: Teaching Resources and Innovations Library for Sociology. Washington DC:  American Sociological Association. (http://trails.asanet.org/Pages/Resource.aspx?ResourceID=13640)
*denotes Teaching Assistant

A Hands-On Approach to Introducing Oral Histories in an Undergraduate Course
This activity and final project assignment incorporates the interactive understanding of social life with the use of a qualitative methodology not commonly found in today’s sociological research: the oral history. While this resource was used for a Rural Sociology course, it can be adapted to any sociological topic. The introduction and inclusion of oral histories reinvigorates an aging methodology within the modern, digital world and makes these histories accessible to a wider audience (Woodward, 2013). While interviews are a common approach to qualitative research, the power of storytelling via oral histories is a useful and fun resource for the young sociologist’s toolbox. Using oral histories as a teaching tool also allows the students to experience personal and local stories, providing depth and complexity to topics otherwise only discussed throughout the semester (Dillon, 2000). Oral histories are introduced at various points in the semester, followed by an in-class Oral History Workshop (activity), and concluded with a final project where students conduct and analyze their own oral history with narrators (interviewees) of their choosing. The Oral History Association guidelines are used to educate students on the best ethical and research practices (Oral History Association). Students learn the value of this methodology as a research tool, as well as express appreciation and respect for their narrators through this learning experience. Along with learning this new methodology, students gain a new confidence as sociologists with a sparked qualitative inquiry. The hands-on approach to methodology as undergraduate research and inclusion of collaborative assignments makes this resource a high-impact teaching practice and learning resource (AAC&U). Oral history resources, class usage notes, workshop resources, and PowerPoint presentation are included.