photo by Janny van Houwelingen

Sociology 2270 (Families) by Distance

Abbreviated course outline

Linda Cohen, Ph.D.

Social change is inevitable, but do families change as well? Is family still important in our daily lives? With so many changes in family life and process, what do we now consider family? Perhaps ‘family’ itself is in need of redefinition? How do we visualize intimacy, marriage, parenting and childhood, aging, work? Sociology 2270: Families by Distance will help you answer some of these questions by providing a multi-faceted introduction to the social and cultural construction of family.

Required texts and course materials

  • Patrizia Albanese, ED. (2018). Canadian Families Today: New Perspectives, 4th ed. Oxford University Press. (available through the MUN bookstore)

  • Canadian Families Today, 4th ed.
  • Readings (journal articles, excerpts from ethnographies) and online video are listed in the Schedule and at the beginning of each unit. Most will be online or accessible through the Queen Elizabeth II library. They are usually available in PDF format; you will need Adobe Reader to view PDF files. Students must ensure that they have a working library card and pin number for off campus access to the library catalogue.

  • Online notes, activities and study aids are included in the course content.

Study directives

This course is delivered through a Brightspace website. The "course content" is divided into 12 units spread over the 13 week semester. Each unit includes the assigned readings for the week, study aids and directions. Please note, however, that you must buy the text.

The text chapters are supplemented by an extensive collection of anthropological articles and excerpts from ethnographies, available online as links to journal articles or as reprints (copyright approved) and accessed through the course content (online). Specific reading assignments for each week are listed in the reading schedule and at the beginning of each unit. I send out two memos during the term that will contain any revised directions but we also communicate daily on the D2L site line during working days.


Students normally have a choice of 2 evaluation schemes.
Unit quizzes: 10%
Optional online activities: 15%
Midterm examination: 35%
Final examination: 40%
Unit quizzes: 10%
Midterm examination: prorated *
Final examination: prorated *

Weekly quizzes

A quiz is set up for most of the chapters from the text by Cheal and Albanese that are assigned. Each quiz consists of 4 multiple choice or True/false questions, worth a potential total of 2%. You can do all of the quizzes and I will take your best 5 marks (to make up the 10%), or you can stop at 5. Students find such quizzes invaluable in keeping them on track so if you have problems with procrastination (and who among us doesn’t?), consider doing all that are offered. Completing 5 of these quizzes is mandatory and each will have a weekly deadline.

Optional online activities

15% of the course grade can be completed through a set of optional online activities. To participate, you must have reliable access to the Internet and you must contribute an answer in at least 5 of the weeks in which there is an activity. Each answer is worth 3%. I will take the best 5 of the marks from however many activities you complete and higher marks will replace lower ones after the first 5 are completed.

These activities will consist of reflective discussions on video supplements for the course material or skills-building exercises using the assigned readings. Specific directions for each one will be posted in the course content and the relevant “discussion” site. In general, incorporate ideas from the course readings into your answers whenever you can, along with anything else you feel is relevant (e.g., from your observations or reading elsewhere). Your answer must be legible and I will let you know if you need to improve on the grammar, content application, or length and depth for future postings. Each activity is described in the course content for the respective units and the description and weekly deadline will also be posted in the “Discussions” section of the course. Your responses and contributions must be submitted in the designated Discussion area, by the weekly deadline .

* If you opt NOT to do these online activities, the total of your two exams will be prorated to be worth 90% instead of 75%.

The exams

The midterm exam includes all of the material up to Unit 6. The final exam will only test from Unit 7 to the end of the course. DELTS will notify you of when these are to be written through your Memorial Self Service.

The exact format of the exam will be posted on the D2L site after the 4th week of classes. The midterm and the final exams are divided into unit parts with relatively equal weight. Up to half of the exam consists of long-answer questions worth 2 to 7% each. Make sure you give specific examples from the readings in your answers. The remainder is made up of 'identifier' (multiple choice and true/false) questions worth ½% each. I occasionally use matching questions (½% each). The quizzes give examples of the 'identifier' questions and you can convert the study objectives at the beginning of each unit into long answer and short essay questions to prepare for the exams. Any of changes to the materials to be examined will be emailed to you as well as posted in the course discussions. You will receive feedback on a memo that accompanies your graded midterm exam. Final exams are not returned to students.


Communication is especially important for distance students so you can contact me in a number of ways. I am available during a specific evening each week and you will be given the time, day, and my phone number by DELTS at the beginning of the term. I don't mind getting phone calls at other times, so don't hesitate to call when you have to. You can also reach me by email and online during working days.

You have daily access to online communications in the course website. In addition to the course content, this site is used for the online activities option (see above), course announcements and to go over content - related problems that come up throughout the term. Students can also get access to their midterm grades here.

There will be 2 memos sent out to students: The first is at the beginning of term and the second is sent out with the midterm exam after it is marked. Both of these contain a list of the readings you will study and review for the exams. The memos will alert you to any variations in consultation times, due dates, or assignments that are specific to the current semester. The second memo also contains an answer guide that you can use to check your midterm exam.

A pdf of the compiled statistics from the CEQs for this course is available here. Feel free to email me (Linda Cohen) with any questions you have. Other addresses:

MUN's home page

Department of Sociology, MUN

Centre for Innovation in Teaching and Learning

©Linda Cohen, 2019 (since 2003)