Current Courses

Fall 2024

  • SOC 6930-003
    Comprehensive Area Exam
  • SOC 7910-013
    Research Project

Summer 2024

Spring 2024

Professional Organizations

  • American Evaluation Association. 06/01/2020 - present. Position : Member.

Teaching Philosophy

Teaching Statement

Lazarus Adua, PhD

Assistant Professor of Sociology

As a college professor, I consider teaching, and being effective at it, as a core responsibility. This is consistent with the fact that effectively imparting knowledge to students sits at the center of the mission statements of colleges and universities across the United States. Over the course of my teaching career, which spans many years, locations (US, Ghana, and China), and various types of institutions (Community College, R1 and R2), I have approached this core responsibility with diligence and intentionality.   

My teaching philosophy revolves around two mutually enhancing notions: active learning and teaching for the development of transferable skills. Based on my teaching experience over the years and consistent with the work of many scholars of pedagogy, it is evident that it is generally difficult for individuals to learn and retain knowledge without being actively engaged in the learning process. Given this fact, I consider it as my sacred duty as a teacher to create opportunities for my students to be actively involved in the teaching-learning process. For all classes that I teach, regardless of level, students are required to engage fully with course materials and tasks—reading the assigned material, finding and bringing to class additional material related to the subjects being covered, leading class discussions, participating in group assignments, completing all course-related assignments in a timely manner, and completing self-evaluations. For example, in my undergraduate environmental sociology class, students are often required to find, bring to class, and talk about real life examples of the tragedy of the commons during the week we cover this subject.  In my graduate level  classes, it is my approach to let students work on two types of what I call In-Class Discussion Exercises—graded and ungraded exercises.  I have attached to the appendix of this statement two examples of graded In-Class Discussion Exercises and one example of an ungraded version.  In group assignments, I generally insist on each group member submitting a one-page assessment of his/her personal contributions to the group’s task as well as their assessment of the contributions of others in the group. I have also recently started using the flipped class approach where students, generally in small groups, take the lead in class discussion.

I believe that education must prepare students for life outside the four walls of the classroom. For students to be adequately prepared for their future in the society, it is my contention that they must be conscientious about whatever they do today, especially with respect to their course work. For this reason and also to ensure that students are, indeed, active learners, attendance is often a requirement for classes that I teach.  I generally check attendance, at least periodically

As already broached above, the second principle guiding my pedagogy is teaching for the development of transferable skills. I define transferable skills as those skills students learn over the course of participating in a class that can be applied to other classes/courses, social situations, or the work environment.  It is my view that with intentionality, every course can be structured to offer students some transferable skills. For example, for group research work in my introduction to sociology and research methods classes, I generally encourage and guide my students to learn to use M.S. Excel to conduct data analysis, often with the goal of letting them see how this tool may be applied in other situations. One of my recent students explained to me about how the M.S. Excel lesson he received from me helped him with his interview for an MBA program. As another example, I often require my students to write one or more memos on the subject covered in class rather than just straight essays. In this way, not only do they compose essays, they also learn about one of the most widely used tools for intra-organizational communication. In further pursuit of this principle, I also structure assignments and class projects to involve practical applications of the knowledge gained.

As part of my active learning philosophy, I make myself available as a mentor to students who desire to take class projects and develop them into publishable papers. I worked with a student who took my undergraduate environmental sociology class (SOC 3480) in Fall 2017 on a project titled, “The Paradox of Green Consumption: is it social justice?” The student presented this project at the International Sociological Society Conference in Toronto, Canada and a revised version at the 2019 ASA (American Sociological Association) meeting in New York.  The paper is currently under review by an academic journal.  I also published a paper in Socius with an undergraduate student as a co-author. This person was most recently a graduate student at Oklahoma State University. I also currently have three manuscripts under review that are co-authored with graduate students.

As part of my conclusion, I will note that regardless of what one’s teaching philosophy may be, being an effective instructor requires continual pedagogical recalibration and growth.  As a result, I believe it is important for instructors to continuously appraise and update their own instructional ability.  My approach to achieving this includes reading my students’ written evaluations/comments, inviting colleagues to observe and provide feedback on my teaching, and observing the teaching of others. I also believe that instructors must be prepared to embrace instructional approaches and arrangements that can prove beneficial for students, even if these may be inhered with some level of risk and uncertainty.  For example, this semester (Spring 2021) I embraced an instructional experiment that has brought sociology, other social science students, and Biomedical Informatic students for my SOC 6110 class.  This became necessary following the retirement of the professor who hitherto taught the research design class (BMI 6111) in the Biomedical Informatics Department of the U Medical School.  It appears, for the most part, that students in the class appreciate the arrangement and the opportunity for cross-disciplinary discussion and sharing of ideas (see attached report of students’ unedited comments). I have also attached the syllabus for the class.



Appendix 1: Graded In-Class Discussion Exercise

A: First Grade In-Class Exercise

Graded In-Class Discussion #1

Laboratory Research and Science

January 27, 2021


An environmental and environmental health researcher was interested in the question of the connections between vaccines skepticism, climate change denialism and political ideological orientation (liberal to conservative).  After conducting a study that relied on a nationwide survey that used a large probability sample and available data, the researcher identified the following patterns:

  1. There is a strong connection between vaccine skepticism and climate change denialism.
  2. Social conservatives (not fiscal conservatives) are more likely to be skeptical about vaccines.
  3. Conservatives (both social and fiscal) are more likely to be climate change deniers and skeptics.

The researcher took care to control for the impacts of other potential covariates of vaccine and climate change skepticism and denialism: education, social status, race, location in rural versus urban places, and primary source of news and information (more liberal versus conservative outlets).

As you can imagine, the researcher was excited about their findings.  They accepted an invitation to present their findings to an audience at a large Midwestern University. The presentation was well received by most members of the university.  However, a community member, who studied chemistry in college and later switched to administrative law, will not have it. This member argued that what the researcher presented was pure opinion clothed as scientific findings.  He even questioned the extent to which findings from social science and research without laboratory-based control environments can be considered as science.  

Discuss the following:

  1. How will you respond to the community member’s rejection of the findings and views about science and research?
  2. Identify “science as product” and “science as process” in this story.
  3. Is the study described here based on inductive or deductive reasoning?
  4. What comments do you have to share about the researcher’s findings?
  5. What other factors will you consider as statistical control variables?


Use the space below to document what your group has come up with:


B: Grade In-Class Exercise

Grade In-Class Discussion

SOC 6110 & BMI 6111

Experimental Research In-Class Exercise

February 24, 2021

Propose a research design (assume you have control over assignment to treatment and control groups) to provide an answer to each of the following questions. Use the X and O notation demonstrate in class. Indicate threats to internal validity reduced by your design. Indicate threats to internal validity that remain in your design.  Indicate how you will answer the counterfactual.

  1. How effective is a work release program for first-time offenders in reducing recidivism?
  1. You have been asked to demonstrate the effectiveness of a multimedia presentation on students' understanding of how a bill becomes law. Some faculty members want to know how much the assessment of students' knowledge of the public policy process before the presentation affects their understanding. But there is also concern that that any assessment before the multimedia presentation will prime the research subjects or influence the way they receive the intervention.
  1. The School's accrediting body wants data at the end of the next quarter to answer the following question: Do graduate students in our program who are enrolled in a class during spring quarter on cultural diversity report more cultural sensitivity  after completion  of  the  course when compared  to students who do not enroll in the course?


                                                                             Appendix 2: Ungraded In-Class Discussion Exercise

SOC 6110 & BMI 6111


Conceptualization & Operationalization 

Class Goal:

  1. Complete a flow chart on conceptualization, operationalization, and measurement for several variables/concepts in groups
  2. Convene full-class discussion of flow charts completed

Group Exercise: Follow the example provided for social class and complete the flow chart for the rest of the variables/concepts


Measurement steps











Nominal Definition


Operational Definition

Measurement in Real World (What will observe/what questions will you ask

Social class

Socioeconomic status




For this project, we define social class as economic (income difference)

Pre-tax income for prior year

What was your income before tax from all sources in 2020?































Health records






Soc Determinant of Health